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Full text of "Three years in the Army of the Potomac"

THEEE YEARS 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 



BY 



HENRY N. BLAKE, 

\ 

Late Captain in the Eleventh Regiment Massachusetts 
volunteees. 



' From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes, 
That I have passed ! " 



BOSTON: 
LEE AND SHEPARD, 

(SUCCESSOKS TO PHILLIPS, SAMPSON & CO.) 

18 6 5. 



E AEwl^OfH^ j 




Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by 

HENRY N. BLAKE, 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massa- 
chusetts. 



Stekeottped et C. J. Feteks & Son, 
^*o. 13 "Washington Street. 



Press of Geo. C. Raxd & Avert. 



PEEPAGE. 



/^^^HE author formed a thousandth part of the 
M^ Eleventh Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, 
^f y' and enlisted in April, 1861, and was mustered 
out of the service in June, 1864. During this 
period, he recorded in a diary every incident of interest 
which passed under his observation ; and the request of 
many comrades, who saw him take notes upon the march 
or on the battle-field, induced him to prepare them for 
general reading. In carrying out this design, the author 
has most unwillingly omitted to mention by name the 
officers and enlisted men of his regiment, although 
some of their heroic acts are briefly described. 

Rarely venturing to go beyond his limited vision, 
adhering most rigidly to fact, able to prove many 
strange statements by the testimony of thousands of 
soldiers, he has found it necessary to portray certain 
generals and other ofiicers in the strongest colors of 
shameful cowardice, drunkenness, and military miscon- 
duct. The vexations, not the results of litigation, have 
cleterred him from furnishino; the names of these ob- 
^iloxious persons ; but, to shield honorable men from 
"base suspicion by civilians, he states that the generals 
'ivho are censured, with the exception of the foreigners 
^ iii 



.IV PREFACE. 

at Fair Oaks and Cliancellorsville, one at Malvern Hill 
second, and one at Bull Run second, are mentioned 
upon some page of the book. The death of important 
witnesses might cause a slight difficulty in proving, by 
direct evidence, incidents which were seen by a A-ery 
small number of spectators. The author has not at- 
tempted to give a history of most of the great engage- 
ments in which he bore a humble part; and criticises 
only those battles which took place in the open country, 
where he could behold the chief movements of the 
Union forces. 

He has perused many works which have been pub- 
lished, upon the present war by quartermasters, chap- 
lains, and correspondents of newspapers, — a class of 
non-combatants that usually narrate what was .observed 
by others. The author considers that the facts which 
he has described in the succeeding chapters possess the 
advantages of originality and reliability. Although 
the author is aware that we are all prone to error, he 
has no hesitation in staking his reputation for veracity 
upon the truth of the statements of this work, however 
improbable they may appear to the reader. 

The names of the following generals, under whom 
the author was compelled to serve, are not always 
mentioned when their conduct is described, — Iewix 
McDowell, William B. Franklin, Alfred A. 
Humphreys, William H. French, Joseph B. Carr. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

Page. 

THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RL-^ 7 

CHAPTER n. 

THE CAMPS AT BLADENSBURG AND BUDD'S FERRY ... 32 

CHAPTER IH. 

THE SIEGE OF YORKTOWN 62 

CHAPTER ly. 

THE BATTLE OF WILLIA3ISBURG 68 

CHAPTER V. 

THE 3IARCH, AND FAIR OAKS 89 

CHAPTER YI. 

THE BATTLES OF SAVAGE'S STATION, GLENDALE, AND 
MALVERN HILL 107 

CHAPTER YH. 

THE BATTLES OF BRISTOW STATION, THE SECOND BULL 
RUN, AND CHANTILLY 120 

V 

CHAPTER YHI. 

THE MARCH TO FALMOUTH, AND THE BATTLE OF FRED- 
ERICKSBURG 142 

CHAPTER IX. 

THE CAMP AT FALMOUTH, VIRGINIA 159 

V 



VI CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER X. 

Page. 
THE BATTLE OF CHalXCELLORSVILLE 169 

CHAPTER XI. 

THE 3IARCH TO GETTYSBURG 189 

CHAPTER XH. 

THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG 205 

CHAPTER Xni. 

THE MARCH TO WILLIAMSPORT, MANASSAS GAP, AXD 
CULPEPER COURT HOUSE 224 

CHAPTER XIV. 

TO CEXTREVILLE, AXD BACK TO CULPEPER COURT 
HOUSE 242 

CHAPTER XV. 

THE ADVANCE TO MINE RUX 252 

CHAPTER XVI. 

THE WINTER QUARTERS AT BRANDY STATION 267 

CHAPTER XVII. 

THE BATTLES OF THE "WILDERNESS AND SPOTTSYL- 
VANIA COURT HOUSE 276 

CHAPTER XVIH. 

THE HOSPITAL, AND OBSERVATIONS UPON THE TREAT- 
MENT OF ARMY DISEASES 296 

CHAPTER XIX. 

GENTERAL OBSERVATIONS UPON ARMY MORALITY AND 
DISCIPLINE 309 



THREE TEAES 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, 



CHAPTER I. 
THE riRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 

#N July 16, 1861, the Eleventh Regiment Massa- 
chusetts Volunteers formed a part of a brigade com- 
manded by Col. Franklin, and a division com- 
manded by Col. Heintzelman. In compliance with 
orders, the regiment marched from Alexandria at two, p.m., 
and Idft all the diseased and feeble in the camp, under the 
charge of a sick captain, to guard the tents and knapsacks 
of the men during their absence. The soldiers composing the 
expedition displayed the highest emotion of joy ; and those 
who were compelled by their physical weakness to remain in 
the rear were affected with giief, and some shed tears. Each 
person carried his musket and equipments, containing forty 
rounds of ammunition ; and bore upon his shoulder a woollen 

7 



8 THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 

blanket enclosed in one made of gum or rubber, and a can- 
teen and haversack. The latter was filled witb rations for 
three days, which consisted of three or four pounds of salt 
pork or beef ("junk "), thirty crackers (" hard-tack "), and 
a small quantity of sugar and coffee. No one seemed to be 
informed concerning the object of the movement ; but it was 
generally surmised that a battle was one of the events of the 
uncertain future. The column marched over a narrow and 
miserable road (one of the chief features of the barbarism of 
Virginia) south of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and 
formed the left wing of the invading army, which was com- 
manded by Gen. JMcDowell. Sixteen horses could not draw a 
thirty-two-pound Parrott gun over the rugged course ; and two 
companies were detached from the regiment to assist the jaded 
animals in performing this labor. The men sustained the 
fatigues of their first march during the afternoon and evening 
in an excellent manner ; and there were few cases of utter 
exhaustion or straggling, although the halts were infrequent. 
The houses, or, to speak truly, hovels, upon the road, were 
small in number and dimension, and the country was ihickly 
"wooded. The population that was visible comprised aged 
men, women with their children, and the negroes. 

Our progress was extremely slow after sunset ; and the 
column for seven hours advanced, at iiTegular intervals of 
time, five, twenty, or one hundred feet. No orders to halt 
were received during the night from the brigade commander : 
the delays of a few seconds or minutes were uncertain in their 



THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 9 

duration ; and the men did not know when they could enjoy 
them. As soon as they had broken ranks, and prepared to 
rest after a sudden stop, they would be commanded to " fall 
in ; " and another pause frequently occurred before the moving 
mass had travelled the length of a company. The troops, ex- 
pecting to start at once, ^sometimes stood in their places half 
of an hour before the march was resumed ; and were fatigued 
during this time, as if they had been in motion. The soldiers 
were completely exhausted by this severe mode of manoeu- 
vring them, for which there was no excuse ; and many fell asleep 
upon the roadside. The regiment reached its halting-place 
near Pohick Church at 3.45, a.m., on the 17th, and welcomed 
repose without seeking any shelter. A single tree formed the 
bridge over Pohick Creek, a run which was about twenty-five 
feet in width, and too deep to be forded ; and the troops, as- 
sisted by a feeble light, crossed upon it in one rank. The 
column had been delayed several hours by this obstacle, 
which could have been easily removed by the pioneers, who 
carried fifty axes, with which they might have felled the trees 
that were standing upon the banks of the streamlet, and built 
a bridge. The most tedious portion of the march could have 
been prevented by the use of the most ordinary judgment by 
the brigade commander, who displayed a profound ignorance 
of the first lesson in the school of a general, — the art of 
marching men : instead of conducting troops a great distance 
with a small expenditure of strength, he reversed the rule, 
and caused more fatigue in marching the brigade foui'teen 



10 THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL* RUN. 

miles than tbey would have suffered in moving twice this dis- 
tance under an intelligent officer. 

The troops rested only an hour, and were awakened at four 
o'clock, and ordered to resume the march ; during which they 
nibbled their rations, for there were no chances to eat a regular 
meal. From this early moment until three, p.m., the brigade 
was mai'ched in the heedless style that characterized the pre- 
vious night ; and no stated halts took place, although there 
was an intense heat. Huudi-eds were obliged to leave the 
ranks, because they had been deprived of bodily vigor by the 
hardships of the two days ; while the brigadier and his staff, 
riding upon their horses and suffering no inconvenience, un- 
justly reprimanded them for stragghng. These unfortunate 
soldiers did not wish to avoid the dangers of a battle : on the 
contraiy, the only apprehension which they expressed, was, 
that the rebels, following the precedent established at Harper's 
Ferry and Alexandria, might evacuate Manassas. No public 
road was followed during a portion of the route, which passed 
through fields and forests in a thinly settled country. The 
forms of one half of the brigade arrived at Sangster's Station 
at three o'clock, about two hours after the South-Carolina 
troops retreated upon the raiboad from Fairfax Court House ; 
and the bridges which they had set on fii-e were burning 
when the column halted. Squads of the missing fragment 
of the command constantly joined it during the next six 
hours, until there were no absentees. Three or four men 
were killed on both days by the carelessness of soldiers 



THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 11 

who bore loaded muskets upon their shoulders for the first 
tmie. 

A drove of pigs, and flock of sheep numbering about one 
hundred and fifty, were captured by these men within an hour 
after their arrival ; and it was ascertained that they had been 
collected for the purpose of feedmg a detachment of the rebel 
army which had been stationed at this point. Some were 
killed, and roasted upon the camp-fii-es by means of a ram- 
mer, or forked tvdg, while the flesh quivered. The brigade 
commander issued an order authorizing the officers to shoot 
every man who was detected in the act of kilhng these hogs 
or sheep, and the soldiers stealthily cooked in the night 
what they had slaughtered and concealed ; but the largest 
portion of the number was abandoned to nourish the poorly 
supplied enemy. A cucular was transmitted by Gen. 
IMcDowell, reproaching the volunteers as plunderers, and de- 
nouucinoj their conduct in such strons; teiTas of undeserved 
censure, that a feehng of indignation pervaded the ranks. 
]My facilities for seeing any depredations that might have been 
committed were excellent, because the regiment had a position 
in the rear of the division ; and the behavior of the troops 
towards the people upon the road was unexceptionable. A 
house which had been deserted by its owner, who had joined 
the forces of Beauregard, was burned during the night by 
some men who were exasperated on account of the wearisome 
manner in which they were delayed. They rushed to the wells 
near some of the dwellings to procui-e fresh water, because 



12 THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 

the officer in eharo;e of the command did not halt and allow 
them to fill thcii; canteens, the contents of which had become 
too warm for use. Certain mounted officers were very con- 
spicuous in using oaths, and driving the troops from these 
places which belonged to traitors who were toiling upon the 
intrenchments of IManassas. The painful experiences and 
stringent orders of the 16th and 17th excited in the minds 
of many privates a strong prejudice against some of their su- 
periors in rank, and opinions were freely expressed 'regarding 
theu' wisdom and loyalty. The soldiers listened for the first 
time to the reports of rebel cannon upon the afternoon of the 
18th ; and gladly advanced in the direction of the firmg at 
five, P.M., and bivouacked near Centreville at midnight. 

Stacks of arms, and batteries, surrounded us in the field 
near the old road over which Gen. Braddock led his ill-fated 
expedition to Fort du Quesne. The army rested two days at 
this point, and listened to the whistle of the locomotives that 
were bringing to the junction re-enforcements for the rebel 
hordes. The soldiers eagerly walked long distances to see 
prisoners; and a defiant sergeant told the crowd of spec- 
tators that they would "double-quick back to Washington" 
within a week ; a prophecy which was fulfilled upon the 21st. 
Citizens searching for runaway negroes, or presenting claims 
for damages to their property, were protected by Gen. 
McDowell, who allowed them to examine every encampment, 
and ascertain the number and position of the troops and bat- 
teries ; after which they rode to Manassas, and communicated 



• THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 13 

the valuable information which they had acquired. A private 
of the regiment, who was wounded and captured in the battle, 
saw a person, that applied for compensation on account of the 
injury to his crops^ dressed in the nondescript uniform of the 
Southern soldiers. He spoke to him when he was posted 
upon guard, and asked, "How much money did you get for 
your wheat?" The rebel laughed at the question, but ad- 
mitted that he was the spy, ^nd entertained his companions 
by narrating the facts. Eations of pork and beef for two 
days were boiled on the 20th, and issued to the command 
at midnight. The re2;iment was formed in line at one, a.m., 
upon the 21st : the division commeiiced to move into the road 
at half-past two, and marched a mile towards the commanding- 
heights of Centreville, when it was halted to allow the com- 
mands of Tyler and Hunter to file by it. Infantry and ar- 
tillery, during the following three hours, occupied the sohtary 
avenue over whiclj the entire army passed to the front. The 
appearance of this large force inspired all with confidence ; 
and the order to advance was awaited with impatience. 

The head of the column started at the end of this unforeseen 
delay, advanced upon the Warrenton Turnpike through the 
little village of Centreville, and crossed the bridge that spans 
Cub Run, near which I noticed about twenty barouches and 
carriages that contained members of Congress and then- 
friends, who had left Washington for the purpose of witness- 
ing the approaching conflict. The divisions of Hunter and 
Heintzelman debouched from the main road, at a point two 



14 THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 

and a half miles from Centievillo, and, accompanied by a 
guide, followed a narrow pathway which was not often used, 
and led in its tortuous course through a dry territory that 
was well shaded by the forest. An open space of fifteen 
acres sometimes intervened ; but it was always enclosed by 
dense woods. The day was one of the hottest of the year : 
there was no friendly cloud to obstruct the rays of the sun ; 
and it was impossible for the ai-my to march a long distance 
with unusual speed. Nevertheless, for twelve miles, the men 
were pushed forward at an unnatural gait, generally walking 
as rapidly as possible, and double-quicking one-fourth of the 
time, to keep the diflferent regiments of the column within 
supporting distance of each other. Nearly every man 
impatiently asked, " How far is it to the Junction ? " when- 
ever the loyal citizen residing in the vicinity, who acted as 
a guide, rode along the hue. He alwnys answered the 
question in a goo'd-natured manner by saying, " Six miles." 
The brigade commander never attempted to secure a rest for 
the soldiers ; and some of them sank upon the ground, wholly 
overcome by faintness, which was produced by the intoler- 
able heat and the furious rate at which they wore marched. 
There was a very small number, if any, in the Union host, 
that wished to evade the unknovra perils of the combat ; and 
many, throwing away their blankets and rations to facilitate 
their progress, merely retained their muskets and ammunition. 
The thirty-two-pound Parrott gun opened its mouth of iron 
near the "stone bridge" over Bull Run at G], a. m. ; and the 



THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 15 

artilleiy upon the left continued to fii-e at regular intervals 
in the vicinity of the fords, while the right wing was hasten- 
ing to turn the left of the rebel line, which was posted in the 
rear of the Bull Run. The scarcity of water to allay the 
thirst produced by the causes that have been described was 
another impediment ; but the cannonading inspu-ed the men 
with patriotism, and gave them a physical strength which 
they could not have possessed under similar circumstances 
in the avocations of a peaceful life. 

They occasionally emerged from the woods, and beheld 
the long clouds of dust in the south, which showed that the 
rebels were moving in the same du-ection ; and it required no 
deep knowledge of mathematics to demonstrate that the two 
.lines of march, if extended, would soon intersect. The 
column arrived at eleven o'clock at a point that was a short 
distance fi.'om Sedley's Ford ; and a slight rest was enjoyed 
by the brigade while Hunter's division was crossing the run. 
The smoke of the exploding shells thrown by the batteries 
upon the left could be clistmctly seen. The firing of the 
infantry and artillery became very active in front, as soon as 
the advance encountered the rebels, and drove them from 
their position. While the men were filling their canteens, 
an aide-de-ca^np brought an order from Gen. McDowell 
to send foi-ward two regiments to prevent the enemy from 
flanking the left of the troops that were engaged. The 
regiment, and one from Minnesota, led by Gen. Heintzelman, 
obeyed the command with alacrity, and double-quicked 



16 THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 

through the fields, and Bull Piun, which was three feet in 
depth and twenty yards in width at this ford. The water 
was yellow with mud, and flowed between banks of red earth 
that showed the abundance of the sandstone in the soil. 
The soldiers followed the road over which the foe had been 
compelled to retire, and deployed in line upon the ground on 
which the rebel battery, which opened the contest, had been 
planted. The strange spectacle of dead and wounded men 
scattered upon the battle-field affected all with pecuhar 
sensations. While the regiment was moving to the front, 
Generals Heintzelman and IMcDowell, pointing in the direc- 
tion of the firing, exclaimed, "They are running!" "The 
day is ours ! " " They are on the retreat ! " and one of them 
remarked, " Men, I pledge you my word of honor that there 
are not three hundred rebels upon that hill." When they 
reached the scene of contest, many were in that state of 
fatigue in which it was more natural to sleep than to fight. 
The regiment was shielded from the fire of the enemy at this 
time by the crest of a hill, upon the slope of which it was 
posted. The batteries of Griffin and Kicketts, planted in a 
field upon the right, were actively engaged ; and shell and 
solid shot were thrown with rapidity. The attention was 
excited by the singular shrill whistling that accompanied the 
passage of balls and bullets through the air; but no 
symptoms of general uneasiness or fear were displayed. The 
line advanced to the crest of the hill, and saw the enemies of 
the country. 



THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 17 

They had been forced to quit the height near the Henry 
House ; and the remnant, about fifty in number, was running 
in great disorder, and entering the woods, when the regiment 
dehvered its volley, and many soldiers, like the author, 
discharged the first bullet from their muskets. The foe was 
concealed in heavy force upon the left, and quickly returned 
the fire, when the order was issued to " lie down and load 
again;" and the smoke of rifles held by invisible hands 
formed the next target. The hostile batteries were masked 
in ravines and dense thickets ; and white, sulphurous clouds, 
rising slowly at certain points, and the reports which con- 
stantly greeted the ear, were the only indications of their 
presence. While the ofiicers were re-forming the lines, which 
were sometimes disarranged in the excitement that prevailed. 
Gen. McDowell and some members of his staff, together 
with other officers that composed a group of twelve or thirteen 
persons, rode to this position, and reconnoitred the woods and 
hills in front. The soldiers were surprised to witness the 
boldness that was thus displayed ; and expected to see them 
fall; but were amazed when they retired without recei\'ing a 
bullet. When the regiment, inferring that the rebels had 
been forced from their last line of defence, advanced to the 
same point, a shower of lead welcomed it, and traced little 
channels in the ground upon which it stood. The enemy 
was again pushed back : the brigade filed to the right, and 
held a portion of the Leesburg Road, which ran through the 
stream at Sedley's Ford ; and victory seemed to be no longer 



18 THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 

a matter of doubt. The national troops hacl pursued a 
retreating army- a mile and a half: the Warrenton "Pike was 
in their possession ; and the left wing of Beauregard's force 
had been completely turned, so that his line of battle was 
formed at right angles with the Bull Pvun, which they had 
vainly attempted to defend. A lull in the infantry firing 
took place a few minutes after one o'clock, and continued half \ 
of an horn- ; during which the men that were unoccupied 
should hare attacked the rebels, who were enabled by this 
blundering delay to re-organize then shattered ranks, and 
offer a fii-m resistance when the offensive was assumed. 
These were the precious moments when a small fraction of 
the large reserve should have been ordered to complete the 
triumph that had been abeady won. The commanding 
general never submitted an excuse for this omission of duty 
that satisfied those who took an active part in the engage- 
ment. I had a good opportunity to notice the topography of 
this portion of the field, which became the centre of the most 
stubborn fighting, while the soldiers were waiting for orders 
in the narrow Leesbui-g Road, that had been excavated seven 
or ten feet below the surface of the adjoining gi'ound, and 
made a fair protection against an assault. There was a 
small wooden house, occupied by an infii-m old lady, Mrs. 
Henry, who languished upon the bed of sickness during the 
contest, and was killed by the troops who fii'ed at the dwell- 
ing when it was filled with rebel shaqDshooters. The open 
space of ground was very irregular, and located between 



THE FIRST BATTLE OP BULL RUN. 19 

successive chains of abrupt hills about a quarter of a mile 
apart, wlrich varied from one to two hundred feet in height. 
Thickets of pine and oak flourished upon the parts of the 
field in which the Hues of the enemy were established ; and the 
country was adapted by nature for defensive purposes, so that 
the rebels, when dislodged from one stronghold, always found 
another a short distance in the rear of it. They were con- 
cealed in forests which no telescope could penetrate ; but the 
formation of the Union divisions took place in the open 
ground, and could be easily perceived by the hostile generals 
from the summit of a commanding height that overlooked the 
scene. The principal portion of the cleared soil was uncul- 
tivated, and covered with dry grass, and the black weeds 
which thrive upon laud that has been poisoned by the culture 
of tobacco. The rain had formed brooks that cut numerous 
deep gullies in the slopes of the hills and every section of 
the field, and afforded an excellent refuge for the wounded 
who could not be carried to the hospitals. 

The brigade was near the centre of the line at this time, 
and missiles of lead and iron were continually flying over 
it. Although the batteries had been placed in the extreme 
advance, contrary to" the well-known precepts of military 
authors, the success which had hitherto followed our arms 
tempted Gen. McDowell to make greater risks. The regular 
artillery, which had rendered splendid service, was removed 
from a secm-e position, and pushed to the open field in front, 
which was destitute of any natural barrier or protection. 



20 THE FIRST BxiTTLE OF BULL RUN. 

*'Put the battery upon that lull, and the day is ours! " 
shouted an officer of high rank. The order was promptly 
obeyed, and the nation lost the Aactoiy. Members of the 
regiment desti*oyed a portion of the Virginia rail-fence upon 
the sides of the road, to allow the cannons to be drawn to 
the new point that had been designated. The gunners were 
proud of the success which had been achieved ; and one of 
them said with truth, as he rode l)y the company, " We made 
the secesh battery change position thi-ee times in half an 
hour." The regiment was not actively engaged at that mo- 
ment ; and most of the men were watching the section of 
Griffin's Battery, which was planted near them. A heavy 
volley from many rifles ended the silence that had existed 
in the infantry-firing, before it had discharged two rounds : 
horses, officers, and men were hilled or disabled in the 
space of a second ; and, during my subsequent experience in 
a score of engagements, I never saw the work of destruction 
more sudden or complete. The battery of Rickett, which 
was in line of that of Griffin, had been annihilated in the 
same decisive manner before the support could be placed in 
position. I did not satisfactorily ascertain by whose stupid- 
ity this body of rebels was permitted to approach within two 
hundred feet of the lines without molestation, until I read 
the testimony of Gen. Griffin before the Committee on the 
Conduct of the War. I quote his language, because this 
disaster was the first check that had occurred in the action, 
and the chief cause of the defeat. "Major Barry said, 'I 



THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 21 

know it is the battery support : it is the regiment taken there 

by Col. .' I said, ' They are confederates ; as certain as 

the work], they are confederates.' He repHed, ' I know they 
are your batteiy support.' " 

The few cannoneers that survived this fatal volley imme- 
diately rushed to the rear : wounded horses, in their agony, 
galloped through the ranks of the infantry, and trampled 
upon the dead and helpless who were lying upon the field. 
Three animals, which were harnessed, and attached to a cais- 
son, dashed through the regiment at a furious rate of speed, 
and dragged one that was severely injured : a soldier, whose 
legs had been shattered by a solid shot, sat upon the carriage, 
clinging to it with his hands ; and a stream of blood sprinkled 
the earth, and made a trail by which the eouise of the caisson 
could be traced. The troops now lost the confidence of vic- 
tory which they had hitherto possessed ; while the defeated 
and disheartened rebels, who saw eleven pieces of artillery 
in an instant placed hors de comhat, at once renewed their 
efforts, and their yells of exultation were heard above the din 
of the conflict. A squadron of their cavalry attempted to 
make a charge ; but many of their saddles were emptied, and 
they were easily repulsed by a body of men who belonged to 
different regiments. In the mean time, the rebel leaders had 
rallied their stragglers and fugitives, and advanced then- lines 
to capture the guns which were now powerless to do them 
any injury. They were triumphantly driven three times to 
the woods, and victory was once more within the gTasp of the 



22 THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 

Union general. The soldiers seized some of the pieces, and 
pulled them a few yards to the rear ; but were compelled to 
leave them, because the defeat of the enemy required the 
presence of every man in the line of battle. The regiment 
at one time stood upon the ground which was held by the 
foe when the first volley was discharged, and the dead and 
wounded were seen upon every side. The Mississippi troops 
had sustained a heavy loss at this point ; and one of them, 
who was djdng, remarked to the men, " You have fought for 
your country, and I have fought for mine." The mangled 
artillerists rested beneath the guns, in serving which they had 
so bravely fallen. 

It was three o'clock, and the soldiers had been engaged 
upon the march, or in action, during the long period of thu-- 
teen hours. A large number, from various causes, had left 
their commands and escaped to the rear, or fought without 
regard to the rules of discipline ; but the colors of the regi- 
ments, and the organizations, with many of the ofiicers and 
companies, still remained. The exhausting march, the terri- 
ble heat, the lack of water, the horrors of the battle, and, 
above all, the loss of the artillery, had affected those who 
remained, to such an extent that they became every minute 
more unfitted to resist the onset of the enemy, who main- 
tained an irregular fire from the forest. Some officers be- 
haved in the most cowardly manner ; and certain companies 
wore commanded by sergeants, because the captains and lieu- 
tenants absented themselves during the engagement. An 



THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 23 

uninjured colonel, who pretended to be severely wounded, 
and declared that he was unable to walk, was borne from the 
field by four members of his regiment. There was no gen- 
eral demoralization in the army, although many of the troops 
acted like all novices in the dreadful art of war, and exe- 
cuted some movements with great confusion. Two men 
placed their hands upon their ears to exclude the noise of 
the musketry and artillery, and rushed to the woods in the 
rear of the reguuent. A timid Cathohc took his service-book 
from his pocket, and read some of the prayers when the 
brigade was posted in the road. The shells struck rifles 
with such force, that some were twisted into the form of 
circles. A cannon-ball severed the arm of a sergeant, and 
threw it into the face of a soldier, who supposed, from the 
blow and the amount of blood upon his person, that he was 
dangerously wounded. One man stumbled over some briers 
while the column was ascenduig a hill; and a solid shot 
passed over him and killed his file-leader, when he fell upon 
the gTOund. The ghastly faces of the dead, and the suffer- 
ings of the wounded, who were begging for water, or implor- 
ing aid to be carried to the hospital, moved the heai'ts of men 
who had not by long experience become callous to the sight 
of human agony. 

The firing in front was very feeble at four o'clock ; but a 
succession of severe volleys was poured from the woods upon 
the right flank and rear. The troops were unable to offer 
any resistance, and began to retire from the field upon which 



24 THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 

they had maintained, unaided, the long struggle. The fresh 
soldiers that arrived at this opportune moment Ijelonged to 
Kirby Smith's brigade, and formed a part of the rebel army 
of Johnston in the Shenandoah Valley. Generals and 
mounted officers, among whom were Burnside, Wadsworth, 
and Gov. Sprague^ attempted in every way to form a new 
line, and prevent the retreating regiments from leaving the 
field; but the position" that was selected had no natural 
strength, and could be discerned by the enemy, who fol- 
lowed with the energy of conquerors. The colors of some 
commands were planted fii-mly ; and every man was ordered 
to rally around them, and make one more effort to win the 
battle; and officers shouted, " Eally round the old flag!" 
or, "Zouaves, remember Ellsworth ! V 

When the foe advanced with loud yells, and it was certain 
that the thousands who had remained in the reserve at Cen- 
tre ville, and rendered no service dimng the protracted con- 
test, would not assist the diminished numbers that were formed 
upon the field, despair was visible on every face^; and the 
regiments fell back about half-past four o'clock. The rebel 
artillery opened as I passed the Stone Church, which had 
been used as a hospital ; and their cavalry followed at a safe 
distance in the rear of the mass of the army, after they had 
received a few rounds of canister. The men were overcome 
by their thirst ; when they forded the run, and drank copious 
quantities of the water, which was constantly disturbed and 
filled with particles of mud by the tramp of horses and sol- 



THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 25 

diers through it. The disorder that existed was increased at 
this point ; and the sorrowful troops, who had been forced to 
show their backs to the enemy, discussed the causes of the 
repulse while the shells were bursting in their midst. All 
seemed to wish to reach some rallying-point like Centreville, • 
so that they would not be taken prisoners ; and some officers 
removed their shoulder-straps to conceal their rank, and 
rushed to "Washington. The infantry did not attempt to 
pursue the retreating columns ; and the cavalry halted for the 
night upon the south bank of Cub Eun, which flows into 
Bull Run. The disorganized brigades marched upon the 
road over which they had passed in the morning ; squads 
were scattered in all directions, stopping occasionally to eat 
the refreshing blackberries under their feet ; and few bodies 
of men were moving with regularity. 

The gunners of the Washington Artillery obtained an ex- 
cellent range upon the bridge over Cub Eun, and demolished 
an army wagon, which was not removed by the teamsters 
who blocked up the way in their eagerness to escape. The 
stream was not fordable : trains and batteries that had not yet 
crossed were abandoned, and one-thu'd of the loss that was 
sustained in the munitions of war occurred at this place. The 
general that allowed .the wagons to go to the front committed 
an inexcusable error : if they had been parked at Centreville 
with the reserve, not one of them would have been captured. 
The so-called panic, about which so much has been said by 
persons that have given a description of the battle, occuri'ed 



26 THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 

at this time. The drivers, finding it impossible to cross the 
run with the wagons and artillery, took their horses, and 
sometimes cut the traces to expedite their movements ; because 
the shells were continually bursting near them, and there were 
no troops upon that side of the stream to resist the cavalry 
if tliey made a charge. Some government teamsters, who 
belonged to no army organization, and were upon the safe 
bank, beyond the range of the rebel guns, cowardly deserted 
their wagons, and rode, without halting, until they saw the 
dome of the Capitol. The foot-soldiers, alarmed by this 
strange conduct and the absence of general officers, double- 
quicked and run ; and hundreds cast aside muskets, axes, and 
equipments, so that their flight could not be retarded. The 
appearance of so many full regiments at Centreville, that had 
been unemployed during the day, caused much excitement ; 
and the troops that had undergone the perils of the fight 
were very severe in their comments upon the ability and loy- 
alty of the commanding general. " We have been sold," 
was a common remark in their conversation. The last shot 
was fired a few minutes before sunset ; and the armies no 
longer heard, " in tones of thunder, the diapason of the can- 
nonade." The shells and bullets ceased to sing their songs 
of death in the forests of Manassas, but rushed in silence, 
until they struck the homes of their victims, in the peaceful 
villages of the north. 

I was obliged to leave the ranks durmg the latter part of 
the march, on account of exhaustion produced, in the battle, 



THE FIRST BATTLE OP BULL RUN. 27 

by a fragment of shell which had inflicted a mere scratch. 
I walked in the direction of Centreville, at daybreak, on 
the 22d, after a sound sleep in a clump of bushes, and ex- 
pected to find the army established upon the heights. In 
travelling on the road which led through this town and Fair- 
fax Court House, the amount of government property that 
was needlessly destroyed, during the retreat, was easily ascer- 
tained. There were ten or twelve commissary and ammuni- 
tion wagons in the streets of Centreville ; and three had been 
abandoned within a mile of the last-named place, when the 
rebels were at least ten miles from them. Blankets, rifles, 
and equipments of many descriptions, were scattered in the 
road, and the woods that bordered upon it ; and some had 
been thrown away by men who were near Alexandria. 
Crowds of women and negroes, like wreckers in a stranded 
ship, were taking flour and provisions from the deserted 
wagons ; and the commissary department of the enemy ob- 
tained a small number of rations at the expense of the national 
treasury. 

The houses upon the public way, and especially those of 
Centreville, were filled with the wounded who could not walk : 
there were no surgeons or nurses to dress and bandage their 
injuries ; and they implored all the able-bodied persons to tell 
the general to send doctors and ambulances. Squads of 
stragglers, and slightly wounded men, with bandaged heads, 
arms in slings, and Hmping upon sticks, were walking to over- 
take the army, which had marched during the night. A 



28 THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 

steady rain fell daring the day ; and with my musket, and 
ecjuipments for companions, I arrived at night at Alexandria, 
completely saturated. Upon the line of retreat, the natives, 
• comprising old men and the female portion of the communi- 
ty, openly expressed their joy at the result of the conflict, 
and misled the soldiers by wilfully deceiving them about the 
direction of the roads ; while others, and the L'ish settlers 
near the railroad, in every way assisted the stragglers. 
When I passed through Centreville at half-past seven o'clock 
in the morning, a loyal man, without any hat upon his head, 
which was adorned with the white hair of age, stood at the 
intersection of the streets, pointed out to all that which led to 
Fairfax Court House, and earnestly advised them to hm-ry as 
much as possible, because the rebel cavalry could cut them 
off as soon as they knew that the troops had marched to Alex- 
andria. Most of the wagons which had been purposely or 
shamefully abandoned were marked " U. S. ; " and I did not 
see a regimental team upon the route. There was an impor- 
tant distinction between the drivers : those of the first were 
hireling civilians, while the last were soldiers detailed for this 
duty from the volunteers. 

Near Fairfax there was a squad of fifty men, two of whom 
had fastened white handkerchiefs to their bayonets to prevent 
the rebels from firing upon them. Other gToups marched 
together under a commander of their choice, kept in good 
order, and avowed an intention to resist the cavalry, which 
was momentarily expected. Three men tied their muskets to 



THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 29 

tbe saddle of a horse wbich they had found, and each one 
rode a portion of the way. A soldier knocked down an offi- 
cer who was mounting his steed, jumped upon the animal, 
and, in a few minutes, there was an impassable gulf between 
the owner and the thief. Many of the ambulances and wagons, 
from which the stores had been removed, instead of conveying 
the wounded, were crowded with officers and men who wished 
to secure a ride. 

The reports of the fighting at Bull Kun were distorted ac- 
counts of a single feature of the retreat ; and the journals and 
people spoke of nothing except ihe " panic-struck troops " 
or a "routed army." Certain general and staff officers 
shrewdly and dishonorably availed themselves of this fact, 
and threw the cause of the defeat upon the *' disorganized 
volunteers," to shield themselves from the share of pul3lic 
censure which they justly deserved. Major Barry, with re- 
markable assurance, testified concerning " uninstructed," 
" raw," and " green" troops, " panics," " indolent officers," 
and '■* infantry support broken in confusion, and scattered in all 
dhections. ' ' The wisdom of Gen. Scott, in opposing the appoint- 
ment of Gen. M'Dowell, was fully confii-med ; and the soldiers 
that formed his command considered that his incompetency 
was the primary reason of the unfortunate defeat. The ef- 
fective strength of the anny was diminished by the mode in 
which it was manoeuvred and separated. Gen. Runyon was 
stationed near Fairfax Court House, which was a day's march 
from the battle-field, with seven or ten thousand men, and 



80 THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 

performed no more service for the country than the Queen's 
Guard in London. Another body of eleven thousand troops, 
tinder Col. Miles, who was intoxicated, and unrelieved when 
the fact was reported at headquarters, was posted in the 
morning at Centreville, upon the left, and remained there 
during the day, without rendering any aid to their comrades 
upon the right. A few skirmishers rarely exchanged shots ; 
and the artillery quickly dispersed a small rebel force that re- 
connoitred the position by firing nine or ten rounds of canis- 
ter. Nearly two brigades of the division commanded by Col. 
Tyler were halted upon the north bank of Bull Run, and 
most unwillingly acted the part of spectators. It will be ob- 
served that less than three-eighths of Gen. M'Dowell's force 
(about fifteen thousand men) actively participated in the com- 
bat ; and the remainder (about twenty-five thousand) did not 
fire a cartridge at the enemy. Of forty-nine pieces of artillery 
which was attached to the army, only twenty-two were planted 
upon the field of strife. This small number of gallant sol- 
diers, at times basely deserted by certain brigadiers, overcame 
serious obstacles, gained a brilliant success, which was not 
followed up, and was finally repulsed by fresh troops. If 
the list of casualties is apportioned among those that actually 
fought, and it is remembered that the contending troops were 
unused to the disturbing events of battle, and could not aim 
with the deadly accuracy of veterans, their bravery is vindi- 
cated. It is an interesting fact, that, while the so-called gene- 
rals of the rebel army suflfered a severe loss, not one wa-s 
killed upon the Union side. 



THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 31 

Many negi'oes gladly escaped from the lines of the enemy, 
and brought valuable information ; but their statements were 
unnoticed : and, contrary to every dictate of humanity, they 
were forced to return to their masters, and crouch in helpless 
agony beneath the cruel lash of fiends. Thus Gen. M'Dow- 
ell bhndly rejected the best means of learning important facts, 
and gave to the foe some laborers, who worked upon the forts 
of Centre ville and Manassas. 

The reports of rebel generals and authors, their maps, and 
especially that which was " taken by Capt. Samuel P. Mitchell, 
First Virginia Regiment," who took part in the battle, concur 
with Jefferson Davis in stating that it was " a hard-fought 
field." Prisoners always admitted that the arrival of Smith's 
brigade saved them from utter defeat. Every general and 
civilian that prefers charges of cowardice, or " panic-struck " 
flight, against the troops that attacked the foes of the country 
in the first action of Bull Kun, is a base slanderer or a cul- 
pable ignoramus. 



CHAPTER 11. 

THE CAMPS AT BLADENSBURG AND BUDD'S 
EERRY. 

/ ^ l» 'HE defeat at Bull Run disheartened the troops ; 
^1 and, like most soldiers who have taken part in an 
^^Jy engagement, they did not wish to witness another if 
it could he honorably avoided. Many who had 
approached the field with misgivings about their courage in 
the presence of death were happy in the thought that they 
had performed their duty without displaying any symptom of 
fear. The regiment returned to ils old quarters at Alexan- 
dria ; and, with the exception of frequent night-alarms con- 
cerning the rumored advance of Johnston and Beauregard to 
attack Washington, nothing of interest occurred. The stores 
of the city were closed, a regiment composed of its citizens 
was in the rebel army, grass was gi'owing in the main streets, 
and a perpetual sabbath reigned. Every soldier visited the 
Marshall House ; and, at the time I saw it, the stairs and doors 
had been wholly cut away by the hatchets and knives of 
those that earned away some rehc to " remember Ellsworth." 
The hostile opinions which the people entertained towards the 
Union forces were expressed by a daughter of a wealthy 

32 



CAMPS AT BLADEX3BUEG AXD BUDD'S FERRY. 33 

traitor, who remarked to the sentinel at the principal entrance 
to the camp, " Only niggers and trash come to see you." 

The regiment marched upon Aug. 9, and pitched its 
tents upon the battle-field of Bladensburg during the follow- 
ing day. The famous duelling-ground was within the lines, 
and furnished an excellent place for target practice. The 
First and Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers, Second New- 
Hampshire Volunteers, and Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania Vol- 
unteers, formed a brigade, and Gen. Hooker was assigned 
to the command. Orders relating to the discipline of the 
troops were issued ; and the hours for eating, driilhig, and 
sleeping, which comprise the chief duties of the military life 
in camp, were indicated by the bugle and drum. The re- 
veille, which, hke the voice in the colossal statue of rdem- 
non, welcomed the rising sun, was the signal for the soldiers 
to " fall in for roll-call ; " and those who delayed to obey the 
notes of the drum and fife were seized by the strong arm of 
"brief authority," in the person of a sergeant or corporal, 
and brought into the company street. Gen. Hooker always 
inspected the brigade at this early hour, and summoned offi- 
cers that were absent, or sleeping in their tents, to drill their 
commands. Seven hours were daily occupied in drilling, 
and one that preceded "breakfast at seven" was the fii'st that 
claimed the attention. Unlike Generals M'Dowell and 
Franklin, who always exhibited towards subalterns, and espe- 
cially enlisted men, the most supercilious beaiing, the briga- 
dier listened to eveiy person — the drummer-boy or the colo- 

3 



34 CAMPS AT BLADEXSBURG AND BUDD'S FERRY. 

nel of a regiment — with sacli candor and sincerity that he 
quickly acquired their confidence. 

The negroes that hved within fifteen miles of the camp 
walked to it upon Sunday, and brought small quantities of 
fruit, which was generally carried upon their heads. Al- 
though their masters claimed that they were well fed, all the 
unconsumed food was given to them by the soldiers, who 
watched them with amazement while they devoured enormous 
quantities. They collected the clothing that had been cast 
aside, and wore the uniforms, but since that date established 
their right to them by enlisting in the service. They were 
deceived by the whites in regard to the treatment which they 
would receive ; and the sight of a musket in the hands of one 
of the men caused general terror, and earnest prayers to 
spare their lives. They imagined that their shackles would 
soon be broken, and manifested their joy by queer songs and 
frantic dances. 

The command was sometimes under orders to move at a 
second's notice ; rations for three days were cooked, and the 
cars stood upon the railroad to receive them. The regiment 
performed picket-duty in the town, and searched every wagon 
that passed over the road to Washington to find contraband 
mails and ammunition ; but a few peaches and water-melons 
were the only articles that were confiscated. The heat was 
so intolerable during the day, that all clothing seemed to be 
superfluous ; but the cold chills in the night would be so in- 
tense, that overcoats would be required to keep their weaxera 



comfortable. Necessity compelled the men to learn many 
domestic duties. The little streams near the camps were al- 
ways occupied by groups who were washing their clothes or 
persons ; and the brook, besides its value on account of the 
water, furnished a min-or ; and the bushes that grew upon the 
banks were covered with towels and clothing. The bed was 
easily made by placing a rubber blanket upon the ground, and 
using one of wool, and an overcoat for quilts; while a pair 
of shoes and a knapsack formed the pillow. The ventilation 
of the tents, it is needless to say, was perfect ; and the effect 
of simple food, exercise, and pure air, upon the health of the 
troops, was excellent ; and some added thirty pounds of flesh 
to their bodies during the first three months of their service. 
Although many officers exposed the frauds of government 
contractors and inspectors, the army was bountifully supplied 
with defective articles of every description. The tents 
leaked " like sieves," until the general succeeded in procur- 
ing those of another pattern, that were useful when it rained. 
Many pants and blouses, which had been worn with ordinary 
care, were reduced, at the end of two weeks, to worthless 
rags, that no " stitch in time " or sewing-machine could unite 
together. The soles of thousands of shoes, if once partially 
wet, had the qualities of pasteboard ; and some blankets 
were as valuable for comfort as those which Surgeon-Gen. 
Hammond purchased for the hospitals. The slight experi- 
ence of a month satisfied the troops that the patent drinking 
tubes and filters, which adorned their necks when they 



marched through cities en route to Washington, were of little 
if any use ; and they were cast aside. Havelocks, which, be- 
sides other inconveniences, did not avert the rays of the sun, 
were torn into shreds, and furnished rags for cleaning guns 
and swords. 

Earthworks were constructed around Washington ; and de- 
tails were daily ordered to dig trenches, and fell the woods 
and orchards that interfered with the range of the redoubts 
and forts. Drills, fatigue-duty, and a review by the Presi- 
dent and Gen. M'Clellan, were the only events that dis- 
turbed the usual quietness of the brigade camp. The com- 
mand of Gren. Sickles and that of Gen. Hooker consti- 
tuted, in the month of October, a division which was placed 
in charge of the latter, and broke up its encampment upon 
the 24th. I heard a conversation, and observed certain facts 
in one regiment of the brigade previous to the march, 
and narrate them to show the manner in which some chaplains 
discharged their rehgious tasks. Two hundred Bibles and 
Testaments, and a package of tracts, had been sent to this offi- 
cer for distribution ; but his time had been occupied in acting 
as purveyor *and cook for the field and staff, and he had neg- 
lected to circulate them. When the marching orders were 
received, he was very industrious, and carefully packed his 
large stock of crockery, and private property, including a 
faded, good-for-nothing umbrella, for transportation, and sold 
the floor of his tent, consisting of eight or ten boards, to a 
citizen. The colonel said to the chaplain, when the column 



CAMPS AT BLADENSBURG AND BUDD'S FERRY. 37 

began to move, "Have you sent all your baggage to the 
train?" — "Yes," he rejolied; "but what shall I do with 
these things? " — " What things? " — "Nothing but some re- 
ligious matter," he answered, as he pointed to the Bibles and 
tracts which had been scattered upon the ground by the pur- 
chaser of the boards. " Why didn't you give them to the 
men?" — "They don't want them," the chaplain quietly 
remai'ked ; and this gift of Christian friends was left upon 
the field. The same person was ordered to preach, three 
months after this occurrence ; and obliged to borrow a Bible 
of a private in his regiment, because he did not have one 
copy in his possession. 

The division halted and encamped at a point near Budd's 
Ferry, upon the Potomac, after marching fifty-five miles in 
four days through a thinly settled section of Maryland that 
contained a few hovels which their inmates styled towns and 
villages. The troops bivouacked during the nights in the 
woods and fields near the road ; and the blazing camp-fires, 
made chiefly of rails taken from well-seasoned fences, were 
the centres of circles of twenty or thirty feet that belonged to 
the sleeping soldiers. The " general " was played in the 
morning, to notify the men to prepare for the march ; and the 
fifes spoke the words that the veteran musicians ascribed to 

them : — 

'< Don't you Lear the general say, 

* Strike your tents, and march away ' ? 
Yes : I hear the general say, 

* Strike your tents, and march away.' " 



38 CAMPS AT BLADENSBURG AND BUDD'S FERRY. 

The roads, like those of Virginia, were in a miserable state, 
and the ai't of building bridges was unknown. The rations 
consisted of salt pork, which was usually eaten without the 
aid of any culinary process, and the regular quantities- of 
coffee and hard bread. 

The division encamped at the distance of two miles from 
the Potomac ; and the regiments daily furnished details that 
performed picket-duty on the banks of the river, and more 
than fifteen miles were carefully watched to prevent illicit 
trade between Virginia and IMarylaud. The cold winds 
might penetrate the frame, snow and sleet might chill the 
limbs ; but the vigilance of the Argus-eyed sentinels never 
ceased. The rebels had constructed breastworks and forts 
in the woods, upon the steep bluffs of the southern shore, on 
Cockpit Point and Shipping Point, near Evansport, where 
the main channel ran near this bank of the river; and a 
blockade for the purposes of general navigation was estab- 
lished. Before the trees which concealed the batteries had 
been felled, and while the captains were ignorant of the 
presence of an enemy, the hostile gunners seized two 
schooners and the steamboat " George Page," and anchored 
them in Quantico Creek. The regiment guarded the ground 
which was in front of the earthworks, and within the range 
of the cannons ; and once in ten days the company, for 
twenty-four hours, patrolled the northern bank. The traitors' 
flag of three bars waved over the forts for three weeks ; when 
it was lowered, and never elevated again. A large telescope 



CAMPS AT BLADENSBURG AND BUDD'S FERRY. 39 

mounted upon a tripod could be seen; but it was soon 
removed on account of the dangerous tendencies of the shells 
"which the gunboats and a land battery threw into the work. 
Heavy siege guns, including some of English manufacture, 
had been mounted in the forts ; and from the embrasures, 

" Their mouths, ■with hideous orifice, 
Gaped on us wide." 

The thirty-two-pound Parrott gun, which opened the battle 
of Bull Run, and was lost at the Cub-Run Bridge, had been 
planted in the lower battery, and was frequently fired by the 
rebels at a high elevation, until it burst, and killed and 
wounded more in its death than during its life. 

Near a house which had been recently vacated by its 
owner, an aged lady, Mrs. Budd, the men, under cover of 
night, threw up a small earthwork, in which two pieces of 
light artillery were placed. The foe, at fii'st, often fired at 
the pickets without any serious results, and then attempted to 
destroy the httle boats and smacks which sometimes sailed by. 
Three men were stationed, at certain intervals, upon every post 
near the river, in the vicinity of the hillocks and large trees 
which were essential to their protection and comfort ; and the 
path that led from the right to the left of the line was torn, 
and many holes were excavated by huge shells from the guns 
in the " Old Dominion." The guards dug caves, and with 
cornstalks, boughs, and mud, constructed shelters and huts, 
wliich resembled in style the rude structures of savage tribes. 



40 CAMPS AT BLADENSBURG AND BUDD's FERRY. 

The fire, fed by the driftwood gathered upon the shore, 
enlivened with its warmth, day after day, and month after 
month, the pickets that in succession encircled and watched 
the cheerful flames like the vestal virgins of Rome, who 
nourished the embers that were never extinguished. While 
• the dark hours slowly sailed along, and seemed at times 
becalmed, thoughts of a cherished home arose in the mind of 
the soldier who — 

" Sat by his fire, and talked the night away." 

When there was no breeze, a person could shout across the 
Potomac, which was a mile and a half in width at this point : 
the orders of officers drilling their commands, the sound of a 
solitary bass drum, and the strokes of axes, were distinctly 
heard. The hostile pickets sometimes conversed with each 
other, and profane taunts and coarse jokes concerning " blue- 
bellied Yankees," and " ragged and shoeless secesh," passed 
from one side to the other. If one of oui' cannons was dis- 
charged at the batteries, their sentinels immediately yelled, 
" Look out ! the Yanks' shell is coming ! " and similar 
outcries. The names of regiments and generals were ascer- 
tained in these conversations ; and a rebel asked; upon one 
occasion, "Is that woman we can see riding upon a horse 
Gen. Sickles'swife?" 

Vessels loaded with cargoes of wood and hay, to the 
number of twenty, sometimes passed up the. river duiing the 
night, and rarely attracted the notice of the artillerists. The 



41 



path of tlie shell through the air could be traced by the sparks 
that fell from the ignited fusee, and the deadly flames 
removed the obscurity of midnight when it exploded. 
Oyster - boats boldly glided along in the daytime ; and 
immense amounts of ammunition were burned in the futile 
attempt to destroy them. It is very difficult for gunners to 
aim with accuracy at a moving object; and not a single 
vessel or person was seriously injured dui"ing the blockade, 
although at least eight thousand shots were hurled by the 
rebel cannons. The sailors concealed themselves in the hold ; 
while the craft, urged by the breeze, moved on, and seemed 
to be guided by fairies. The batteries, hidden in clouds of 
smoke, were active until the cause that excited their fii-e was 
beyond their range ; and the pickets on every part were suc- 
cessively exposed to the shots that passed over the boats. 
Balls and shells, varying in weight from twenty-four to one 
hundred and twenty-eight pounds, were often taken from the 
earth in which they had been buried. The enemy, in sever- 
al instances, ascertained, by some inexplicable means, the 
countersign, and shouted it across the river before it had 
been communicated to the pickets by the brigade officer of 
the day. The action of some citizens who lived in Maryland, 
and were suspected on account of their well-known sympathies 
for friends in Virginia, was constantly observed. A singular 
waving light, which was moved from point to point in a dark 
and stormy night, was once seen, and the occupant of the 
house near the stream, towai'ds which no gun was ever 



42 CAMPS AT BLADENSBURG AND BUDD'S FERRY. 

pomted by the rebel cannoneers, was promptly arrested and 
sent to Washington for the serious crime of making signals 
to the foe. When the facts were investigated, it appeared 
that he had carried a lantern to some outbuildings to awaken 
cooks, and procure food for guests who had arrived at a late 
hour; and he was released after he took the oath of allegiance. 
The Southern winter differed from that of the North in its 
essential features : rain fell instead of snow, and the ground 
was covered with a thick layer of mud. Details, that occasion- 
ally comprised the entire force, labored and corduroyed the 
roads, which were often impassable ; and when the horses could 
not draw the necessary supplies in the amiy wagons, a barge, 
manned by soldiers of nautical experience, conveyed them 
in the night, within the range of the batteries, to a point 
near the regiment. No orders were received to go into 
winter quarters when the cold season advanced ; and applica- 
tions for leave of absence were generally refused at army 
headquarters in Washington, because the " exigencies of the 
service " required the presence of every officer and man with 
his command. The balloon ascended to make reconnois- 
sances ; and it was supposed, from these facts, that the Gov- 
ernment would grant Gen. Hooker's request to attack the 
batteries and re-open the Potomac. In this state of uncer- 
tainty, many who had anticipated a movement neglected to 
build comfortable barracks until a late period. Four men 
lived in an A tent, which was fastened to layers of logs about 
three feet in height, and heated by means of a chunney 



CAMPS AT BLADENSBURG AND BUDD'S FERRY. 43 

built of sticks and adhesive mud, and surmounted by a 
barrel. 

No class of persons follow a life of greater indolence than 
soldiers who are living in winter quarters ; and the camp 
afforded good opportunities to study human nature, and learn 
the motives which actuate many that enlist in the service. 
The regiment formed a hollow square in the evening, after 
dress parade ; and the chaplains, in compliance with orders, 
offered prayers to promote the spuitual welfare of the troops. 
Those officers who seldom held any religious services upon 
the Sabbath, and employed their time in cooking, and swind- 
ling the men and poor negroes, were not hstened to with any 
feelings of respect. The author was present upon these oc- 
casions in a certain command, and noticed that the appear- 
ance of the chaplain, who had acquired the sobriquet of 
" good and holy man," on account of the peculiar manner in 
which he performed his duties, was greeted with oaths by the 
line; and the epithets, "hypocrite," "pies," "rascal," 
" turkeys," and similar words, fell upon the ear. One 
colonel sometimes reproved his chaplain by saying to him, in 
strong language, " If you don't cook a better dinner than 
this to-mori'ow, I will have you tied to the flag-staff next Sun- 
day, and make you preach two hours to the regunent." 
Threats like these made the offender redouble his eSorts ; 
and, in his anxiety to provide a good meal for his mess upon 
a certain day, he neglected to attend the funeral of a private ; 
and the surgeon read the burial service at the grave. 



44 CAMPS AT BLADENSBURG AND BUDD'S FERRY. 

Some of the citizens with treasonable prochvities, who 
resided near the camps, demanded large amounts for alleged 
damages to their property by the soldiers, when they had no 
just claim. A captain in the regiment purchased some 
boards in a shed for twenty dollars ; but the owner de- 
clined to receive the money when it was tendered, and 
remarked that it was " all right," and he did not wish for 
any compensation. The officer subsequently ascertained that 
the scoundrel presented a bill, amounting to three hundred 
dollars, against the Government^ for injuries which he had 
sustained by the loss of his lumber. Another party filed 
a long account for damages to a saw-mill; and, after his 
death, the son and administrator of the estate trebled the 
sum. When the premises were examined, it was clearly 
proved that the building was tumbling to pieces on account 
of its age, and no use had been made of it for years previous 
to the arrival of the division. 

Negroes continually escaped, and were concealed and shel- 
tered in the quarters; and disturbances always occurred 
whenever their masters, in compliance with instructions from 
army headquarters, appeared to search the camps for the pur- 
pose of seizing and carrying them to their old cabins. The 
slave-hunters were forced to leave some regiments by the in- 
dignant soldiers, who threatened to shoot them if they per- 
sisted in entering their lines. Besides this unfortunate race, 
refugees and deserters occasionally passed across the Potomac 
from Virginia by means of logs, rafts, and " dug-outs." 



CAMPS AT BLADENSBUEG AND BUDD's FERRY. 45 

The plain rations furnished by the Government did not 
tempt the palate ; but the supply largely exceeded the de- 
mand : and foreign oj6&cers who visited the camps stated that 
another force, of the same number, could be well fed by 
issuing to them the food that was wasted. The enhsted men 
who had formerly served in European armies often made the 
same assertion. An English author, who inherited from his 
literary mother a bitter enmity against the United States, 
says, " The gi-eat boast of this army was that they ate meat 
twice a day, and that their daily supply of bread was more 
than they could consume." The wife of an officer, who 
noticed with much interest the quality of food which the sol- 
diers devoui-ed at then- meals, remarked, in a tone of surprise, 
" The privates fare well : they live just as they do at home in 
jail." The third brigade, comprising regiments from New 
Jersey, joined the division ; and, like all the troops from this 
State, their gallant conduct, during the years that the com- 
mand existed, rendered invaluable aid to the national cause. 

Three companies of the regiment. A, F, and K, under 
the commmand of Lieut.-Col. Tileston (who fell in the second 
battle of Bull Run), were ordered to march through the 
counties of Lower 31aryland, in the latter part of December, 
to search for arms, and prevent the passage of recruits, stores, 
and mails, from Maryland to Virginia. The detachment was 
absent three weeks upon this service ; and the company re- 
mained a third of the time at Pmy Point, which was seventy 
miles from the camp at Budd's Ferry. The weather and 



46 CAMPS AT BLADENSBUEG AND BUDD'S FERRY. 

roads were unfavorable for public travel : the troops biv- 
ouacked upon different nights in quarters between which 
there was a vast contrast ; and occupied, according to cir- 
cumstances, court-houses and hotels, or barns and straw- 
stacks. A detail demolished at Allen's Fresh a boat which 
had frequently crossed the Potomac, although the owner 
solemnly declared that it was "as innocent as a new-born 
lamb." A squadron of cavalry patrolled the bank of the 
river, and watched the numerous inlets and creeks ; and the 
people treated the officers with extreme courtesy, and con- 
cealed, under a mask of hospitality, their inimical schemes. 
A major, who commanded the department, was especially 
welcomed by the family of one of the most wealthy and aris- 
tocratic citizens, and contracted an engagement to be married 
to his daughter. Yielding to the alluring entreaties of his 
betrothed, he overcame, by means of his position and represen- 
tations, the objections of the loyal inhabitants, and procured 
the discharge of her rebel brother and a cousin from Fort 
Lafayette, in which they had been justly confined by the Gov- 
ernment. As soon as these relatives were released from the 
walls of their prison, the artful lady, who, like all traitors, 
was destitute of every sentiment of honor, released the officer 
from his engagement, and treated hmi with the utmost con- 
tempt. 

The soldiers passed through the most thickly-settled slave- 
holding section of the State, in which, as a natural result, the 
mass of the people was ignorant, and attached to the cause 



CAMPS AT BLADENSBURG AND BUDD'S FERRY. 47 

of the enemy. The country had been settled at an early 
period ; and some of Lord Baltimore's landmarks, which in^ 
dicated the boundaries of his grants, were still standing. 
Like the M'Sweyn Family, described by Dr. Johnson, there 
was no progress from one generation to the next. " For the 
son is exactly formed upon the father : what the father says, 
the son says; what the father looks, the son looks." The 
stagnation that existed in this locality was adapted for the 
man who wished to " immerse himself and his posterity for 
ages in barbarism." Many times, when the soldiers were 
passing by a dwelling, the song of " My Maryland " was 
played upon the piano and sung by the young members of 
the household ; and wishes were uttered like the following : 
*' I hope you will always be whipped, and have to run away 
as you did at Bull Eun." In the church at Leonardtown, 
lozenges, upon which treasonable mottoes were printed, were 
scattered in the pews that they occupied. One citizen owned 
two savage mastiffs, which he had designated by the names 
of " Jeff Davis " and " Beauregard," as a tribute of respect 
for those rebels. 

The negroes were delighted to see the troops, and danced 
with joy when the officers placed in arxcst, or examined the 
premises of, " massa," who had hitherto swayed the commu- 
nity without opposition. They always told falsehoods, and 
made answers that they thought would shield them from 
brutal punishment if they were questioned in the presence of 
any white citizens ; but gave all the information they pos- 



48 CAMPS AT BLADENSBURG AND BUDD'S FERRY. 

sessed when assured of protection, and eagerly pointed out 
the places in which arms and colors had been concealed ; and, 
by this means, an old cannon was discovered in a swamp. 
They were celebrating the holidays ; and I observed with sur- 
prise, what my experience confirmed, that the majority of the 
whites and blacks of both sexes talked alike ; and the pecu- 
liar dialect which marks the performance of Ethiopian min- 
strels is the common language of some of the best classes. 
It was generally impossible to distinguish between the master 
and his slave in the night, if the tones and style of the con- 
versation formed the sole basis of the judgment. " Who dat 
trow de snowball? " was the question asked by a very intelK- 
gent citizen of Budd's Ferry, who owned more than a hun- 
dred "hands," when a mischievous soldier, by skilfully 
throwing this missile, struck his portly back. The mulattoes, 
who had lost many of the physical features of the race, were 
numerous ; and I saw near Leonardtown two men with sable 
complexions and bright auburn "wool." One of them, 
without knowing the fact, adopted an old saying, in letter and 
spirit, and stated that he did not drink any whiskey or get 
drunk until he became a Roman, and did the same as the 
Romans. The often-repeated remark, " I'se a Roman," was 
the expression which he used to show that he belonged to the 
Catholic Church. When the men referred to the peculiar 
color of his hair, he said that it " growed dar ; " and he Hked 
it because he had seen pictures of God, and " God had red 
har." This strange dogma of faith comprised the chief article 



CAMPS AT BLADENSBURG AND BUDD's FERRY. 49 

of his religion, and was maintained with great fervor by allu- 
sions to the sacred paintings, the "pictures of God," upon 
the walls of his house of worship. 

Large flocks of turkey-buzzards were constantly flying in 
I the air ; and a farmer informed me that they disappeared and 
flew to the field of carnage after the battle of Bull Kun; 
from which they returned to their old haunts, near the bluffs 
of the Potomac, after an absence of three months. The ex- 
citement and exercise attending the march in the midst of 
winter improved the health of the men; and, during the 
three weeks that followed the date upon which they rejoined 
the regiment, not a single case of sickness occurred in this 
command, while the remaining companies had from thirty to 
fifty names upon the surgeon's list. 

The natural obstacles of the climate, and winter season, pre- 
vented the entire army from advancing ; and preparations for 
an active campaign were made when the spring approached. 
Shelter-tents, that beneficial invention which enables the sol- 
dier to transport his house upon his shoulders, and cartridges 
containing three buck-shot and a bullet, were issued to the 
regiment ; and surplus stores and clothing, which could not be 
carried, were sent to Washington and Alexandria for storage. 
Upon March 9, 1862, the enemy burned the schooners and 
steamer "George Page;" evacuated the earthworks upon 
which they had daily labored for six months ; and the Amer- 
ican colors were fastened to the rebel flag-staffs in the after- 
noon. The reports of explosions in the abandoned forts and 



50 CAMPS AT BLADENSBURG AND BUDD'S FERRY. 

camps that were located in the interior gradually grew fainter ; 
and the sounds were barely perceptible when the retreating 
forces were ten miles from the Potomac. 

The river was once more free : mariners no longer pre- 
ferred darkness to light, or anxiously scanned the forests and 
hills of Virginia to discover amidst the beauty of the scenery 
the " horrid flash " of the rifles and cannon of a lurking foe ; 
and transports in large numbers hourly sailed by the silent 
forts. M«st of the siege-guns in the batteries were over- 
charged, and burst; and the carriages were burning when 
the Union forces took possession. By a fortuitous coinci- 
dence, one loaded piece, heated by the fire of the wood-work, 
discharged a ball at the moment that a schooner was withm 
range ; and this was the last solid shot which was thrown by 
rebel ordnance across the Lower Potomac. This unlooked-for 
explosion affected the tongues of the few soldiers who were 
naturally despondent, and they began to croak, " The rebels 
have not gone yet ; " or, " They are still there, and playing a 
deep game." When the appearance of the short-lived " Mer- 
riraac " alarmed the country, the barges and boats, which had 
been collected at Run Point for the purpose of transporting 
the division to Virginia to assault the batteries, were loaded 
with gravel and stones ; and men were detailed to sink them 
in the channel if the iron monster attempted to ascend the 
river and bombard Washington. 

Upon April 5, 1862, the troops, animated by the victories 
which had recently followed the Union arms, cheerfully quit 



CAMPS AT BLADENSBUEG AND BUDD'S FERRY. 51 

the familiar scenes of Budd's Ferry, bivouacked upon the 
banks, and embarked on the sixth upon the steamboat "Em- 
peror," which conveyed the regiment during the succeeding 
week down the Potomac, and up the York. 



CHAPTER in. 

THE SIEGE OF YOEKTOWN. 

{^T^ SEVERE storm prevailed during the voyage ; and 
71 the vessel was compelled to anchor at Piny Point 
y«^\/ and Fortress Monroe, and occupied six days in sail- 
^ — ^ iug a distance, which, under ordinary circumstances, 
could have been easily made in twenty-four hours. The 
"Emperor" towed two schooners that carried artillery-horses, 
a number of which died from the effects of exposure to the 
weather. The boat was crowded to excess with soldiers and 
horses ; the rations were insufficient for the unexpected length 
of the time that was consumed ; the distressing pangs of sea- 
sickness affected a number ; the fii'st wave which washed the 
deck temporarily submerged one hundred and fifty men, who 
were sleeping in their blankets ; and general discontent was 
produced by these combined causes. A happy disembarka- 
tion took place upon April 12, at Ship Point, which was ten 
miles from Yorktown ; and the regiment formed at this time 
a part of the first brigade, second division, and third corps, 
which were respectively commanded by Generals Naglee, 
Hooker, and Heintzelman. Strict orders had been issued 
that no negi'oes should be taken upon the transports at 

62 



THE SIEGE OF YORKTOWN. 53 

Budd's Ferry ; but many who had escaped from sers^itude, 
and labored for officers, mysteriously rejoined the troops at 
this place. 

The division marched through some abandoned rifle-pits 
and redoubts, and encamped in front of the works at York- 
town, within the range of rebel cannon. The men were so 
compactly massed, that brigades occupied less space than a 
regiment in its regular camp. The commands of Generals 
Hooker and Kearney pitched their tents upon the ground 
that had been the headquarters of TVashington and Lafay- 
ette in the Pvevolution ; and the fires of patriotism glowed with 
greater intensity when the soldiers beheld the mounds which 
their ancestors had built to win success and national inde- 
pendence. AYhile they were upon the march from Ship 
Point, the provost-guard passed by the column with a squad 
of prisoners ; and I saw among them a spy, who had vis- 
ited the camps at Budd's Feny, and distributed pious tracts. 
The entire country, from the landing-place to Yorktown, was 
a vast swamp : the roads, which were unfitted for general 
use, had been converted into canals by the frequent rains ; 
and it was necessary to corduroy them before the wagon-trains 
and heavy artillery could proceed to the front. There were 
many stagnant pools upon the surface; the soil was fiUed 
with springs ; and the companies obtained good water from 
wells which consisted of empty beef and pork barrels, which 
were sunk into holes two and three feet in depth. 

The soldiers of Gen. Heintzelman's corps were engaged 



54 THE SIEGE OF YORKTOWN. 

for the ensuing three weeks in fatiguing and incessant labor 
upon the works that were constructed under the direction of 
the engineers, upon the right of the army ; but some divi- 
sions that formed the reserve performed no service. The 
men were ordered to fall in quietly in the morning, between 
three and four o'clock, to form a line of battle ; and the 
ranks shivered in the cold mist that usually covered the 
earth, and remained in the rear of their stacks until sunrise. 
A majority of the regiment, and sometimes the whole of it, 
were daily detailed for fatigue-duty ; and reported with arms 
and equipments at corps-headquarters, where every man was 
furnished with an axe or spade, and large working-parties 
proceeded to the different parts of the line. It was officially 
stated that these detachments, furnished by the corps, com- 
prised fifteen thousand soldiers, which was more than half of 
its effective strength ; and the picket in its front required the 
unceasing vigilance of five thousand men. The first parallel 
was established near Wormley Creek, a sluggish stream of 
an irregular width that flowed between banks which were 
covered with a thick growth of timber ; and the siege was 
prosecuted with untiring industry. Bridges and roads were 
constructed in the ravines for the passage of cannon and am- 
munition ; and ditches, revetments, and parapets were built 
in the advance. The tract of country between the camps and 
the breastworks of the enemy was extremely level ; but for- 
ests of pine and hemlock, and the absence of commanding 
hills, prevented the rebels from discerning the movements of 



THE SIEGE OF YOEKTOWN. 55 

the besieging forces. The balloon, which this state of facts 
rendered a necessity, made daily reconnoissances ; and was 
stationed in a cavern, which seemed to have been prepared by 
Nature for this purpose, when it was not floating in the air. 
An intense excitement existed in the army upon the 28th, 
when the ropes that were attached to the car parted, and the 
balloon, containing Gen. Fitz John Porter, rose rapidly, and 
was wafted towards Gloucester Point, until another current 
bore it in the opposite direction ; and unfortunately for the 
country, and the reputation of this oJ0&cer, it fell inside of the 
Union lines. A division of labor was required to complete 
the works, and a small number felled and split trees ; but 
the main body of the troops was employed in the trenches. 
An uninjured saw-mill, that was located a short distance from 
Gen. Heintzelman's headquarters, was continually in opera- 
tion in the charge of soldiers, and furnished dimension-lumber 
to the engineers. After the first parallel had been finished in 
the solitude of the forest, regular approaches were made in 
the night, when they were invisible, and strengthened during 
the day, until the advanced works were erected upon the 
plain in front of Yorktown, within three hundred yards of the 
enemy, although the batteries and mortars were planted at 
points which varied in their distances from the town from 
one-half to one and a half miles. 

Aided by the darkness, a small force was cautiously de- 
ployed in a certain direction, and silently labored with their 
shovels, placing the excavated earth upon the side nearest the 



56 THE SIEGE OF YOEKTOWN. 

enemy ; and daybreak revealed an extended trench, that was 
two or three feet in depth and width. The laborers, knowing 
that each shovelful of gravel increased the size of their 
shield and made their position more secure, worked with great 
diligence. The officers in charge of the fotigne-parties, sur- 
rounded by circumstances that excited or confused the mind, 
sometimes committed queer mistakes. Upon one occasion, 
the gi*avel was placed upon the wrong side of the ditch, and 
the regiment, after it reheved the night detail, transferred 
the newly made bank to its proper position. The work did 
not connect upon the right in another portion of the line ; and 
an extent of ground ten yards in breadth was exposed to the 
rifles of two rebel sharpshooters, who had climbed up the 
large chimney of a burnt house, and made a loophole by 
knocking out one of the bricks. The soldiers, keeping close 
to the earth, rushed over the dangerous spot in one rank to 
the scene of their toil. These narrow trenches were enlarged 
until they were ten or twelve feet in width, miles in length, 
and four or six feet deep ; and other bodies of troops built 
traverses and magazines, and transported the artillery and 
necessary supplies to the batteries that were completed. The 
technical terms used by the engineers in giving instructions 
were remembered by the men, who always listened with con- 
fidence and respect to the comments of this superior class of 
officers, and in conversation facetiously and glibly — . 

" Talked of rampart and ravine, 
And trenches fenced with gabion and fascine." 



THE SIEGE OF YOEKTOWN. 57 

The hostile gunners and pickets saw the earth when it was 
thrown upon the parapet by thousands of revolving spades, 
and attempted to obstruct the progress of the siege ; but their 
constant efforts and volleys of shells and Minie balls tested 
the works, and the small loss that was sustained during their 
construction showed that they were properly executed. The 
soil, in many places, was composed of minute marine shells ; 
and the soldiers exhumed new specimens in widening the 
trenches, and faithfully served their country, and, at the same 
time, gratified their taste for geological studies. The redoubts 
and rifle-pits of the Eevolution, which had diminished until 
they were only twenty inches in height, intersected those of 
the Union army at several points. A few metallic relics, cor- 
roded by the rust of eighty years, were brought forth from 
their hiding-places in the earth. The workmen became ac- 
customed to the concussion of artillery, and the harmless 
results that followed a large proportion of the reports dis- 
pelled every emotion of fear; and many amusing incidents 
illustrating the good spirits of the troops occurred in the for- 
tifications. Questions relating to the claim of two soldiers to 
use the same spade often arose ; and, after the usual amount 
of reason and profanity had been exhausted, blows were ex- 
changed, and several personal encounters took place, while the 
missiles of destruction were flying over the combatants. If 
a hat and blue overcoat were placed upon the handle of a 
spade, and elevated above the bank, bullets always greeted 
them ; and sometimes, when the clothing was removed, the 



58 THE SIEGE OF YOEKTOWN. 

rebels who perceived the motives of the invisible soldier that 
held it fired to enable the men to witness their skill as sharp- 
shooters. One of the Union marksmen saw by means of bis 
telescopic rifle a man upon the ramparts of Yorktown, who 
amused his companions by making significant gestures towards 
the lines, and performed queer flourishes with his fingers, 
thumbs, and nose. The distance between them was so great, 
that the buffoon supposed he was safe ; but the unerring ball 
pierced his heart, and he fell inside of the works. The brig- 
ade commander called for volunteers to dig a sharpshooter's 
pit in a dangerous position in the front, and excused two 
men in the regiment who performed the task from fatigue- 
duty for the space of three days. 

At the end of two weeks, an important advance had been 
made from the fii'st parallel ; and the massive breast-works of 
the enemy, upon which guns of different calibers had been 
mounted, could be examined. When their artillery had a 
good range upon an unfinished work, a man was constantly 
upon the watch, and shouted, " Lie low ! " or, " Look out for 
that shell ! " as soon as the puflf of white smoke darted forth, 
and preceded by a few precious seconds the arrival of the 
iron messenger. Pick-axes and shovels were instantly cast 
upon the ground ; while those that used them jumped into 
safe ditches, and promptly resumed their labor when the shot 
passed over them, or the sentinel exclaimed, " They filled that 
ball the other way." An officer who was once engaged upon 
this duty said, "There is a big cloud, and that hundred- 



THE SIEGE OF YORKTOWN. 59 

pound gun has burst," when one of their most powerful pieces 
had been shattered into useless fragments. There was more 
danger in returning to the camp after the allotted task for the 
day was ended, than in toiling at the front ; because the foe, 
who had ascertained the hour at which the ' ' shovel divisions ' ' 
were generally relieved, opened their batteries, and scattered 
shot and shell into every portion of the road over which they 
were obliged to march. 

The proper discharge of picket-duty at this time requned 
soldiers who possessed, in the highest degree, the qualities of 
courage and self-possession. The principal part of the regi- 
ment rested during the day in a ravine which partially shel- 
tered it from the fire of the enemy ; and remained in a state 
of readiness to rush, at a second's notice, to the point that 
was attacked, whenever those upon posts crouched behind 
trees and knolls gave the alarm. The sharpshooters of both 
armies, who were concealed in little pits in the extreme front, 
were always relieved in the night ; and the person who moved 
upon the open plain was a target for deadly rifles. There 
was no relief for those that were wounded in these hazardous 
positions, until the sun sank beneath the horizon ; and some 
of these unfortunate heroes languished and died, while their 
comrades were unable to alleviate their sufferings. It was a 
difficult task for the officers to restrain the curiosity of restless 
men who wished to reconnoitre the rebel works, — which re- 
sembled in their appearance the bank of a railroad, — count 
the cannons, and recklessly expose themselves for this pur- 



60 THE SIEGE OF YORKTOWN. 

pose ; but the command, " Get down from there, you fool ! " 
or, " Stay by the stack in your places ! " made them return 
to the ranks. The chariot of Phcebus travelled slowly 
through the skies ; and durijig these weary hours, letters were 
written, books were read : but the largest number, exhausted 
by unremitting labor upon the forts, slept near their mus- 
kets, and were undisturbed by the flight of shells and 
bullets. 

The companies advanced about two hundred yards from 
the reserve after sunset, and deployed upon the field in front 
of the ravine, and groups of three men were stationed at fre- 
quent intervals. Night had blinded the eyes of the attentive 
sharpshooters; but their ears caught every sound, and the 
slight crackling of dry twigs and bushes beneath the cautious 
feet caused two or three balls to whistle in the vicinity. En- 
veloped in a rubber blanket, and resting upon then* breasts 
on the earth, two men upon each post stimulated to the ut- 
most their powers of observation, while the third — who was 
regularly relieved by a comrade — slept as well as the 
weather and circumstances would permit. If a light was 
seen, it kindled a fire of musketry which extinguished it ; 
and although nine-tenths of the soldiers, like ordinary people, 
were in the habit of stating that they could not live without 
their pipe, tobacco, and a "smoke," the rifles of the rebels 
effected a temporary reform in this respect, and there was no 
smoking upon picket-duty in the front. It seemed superflu- 
ous, but strict orders were issued prohibiting fires : and some- 



THE SIEGE OF TORKTOWN. 61 

times a reckless man, protected by the trunk of a tree, tied a 
match to a stick, and held it up to attract the notice of the 
enemy ; and the experiment was always successful. Myi-iads 
of the insect termed, in common language, the firefly, gener- 
ally filled the air ; and a field-ofiicer, observing one of them 
upon a bush in a very dark night, and supposing that it was 
the ignited match of an inveterate smoker, said, in a low tone 
of voice, " Put out that light ! " The order was unobeyed, and 
he again spoke : " Put out that light, you scoundrel ! " and 
then moved towards the object that had excited his indigna- 
tion, and frightened the fly, which flew away amidst the half- 
repressed laughter of the spectators. 

The corporal of a post that I relieved the first time the 
regiment was upon picket at Yorktown, pointing to a hole 
which had been made by the bursting of a shell about twenty 
feet from him, jocosely said, " There is a grave already dug, 
large enough for three of you." The national forces were 
not allowed to build camp-fires in the night, because it was 
thought that the rebels would gain, by this means, information 
regarding their number and position ; but the enemy exhibited 
no such ferr, and the heavens above Yorktown and Glouces- 
ter Point reflected the lights that extended four or five miles 
in the rear of their works. While the rumbliug of the artil- 
lery, and wagons conveying supplies in the distant encamp- 
ments of both armies, the sharp stroke of the axe and the 
dull ring of the spade upon the intrenchments, and especially 
the shrill clatter of the machinery of the saw-mill, confused 



62. THE SIEGE OF YORKTOWN. 

the ear with opposing sounds, an unnatural stillness prevailed 
in the space of ground between the hostile pickets, who were 
so near each other at times, that the rattling of an officer's 
sword, and the click of a rifle when it was primed, were dis- 
tinctly heard. As the Union officers expected a sortie, and 
the commander of the foe anticipated an assault, the tour of 
night duty rarely passed away unmarked by heavy firing ; and 
volleys of musketry, and charges of grape, swept over the 
field, and a decisive battle seemed to be imminent. The mid- 
night air chilled the soldiers, who were obliged to remain 
quietly upon their posts, trembling with cold ; and there was 
so much suffering in the few hours of picket-service, that 
they were willing to become disciples of Zoroaster, and wor- 
ship Ormuzd when the twilight gladdened their hearts, and 
they retired to the ravine. 

The bushes and short pines affected by the breeze, and 
flickering light of the distant camp-fires, appeared to some 
excited eyes like advancing horses, and masses of men ; and 
shots were fired at the waving branches. Negroes and small 
squads of deserters, and soldiers who lost their way in at- 
tempting to pass between the posts, came inside the lines every 
night ; and orders were given to the sentinels to allow them 
to approach, but to resist a large force. One rebel, who was 
taken by the regiment, gave an amusing account of the means 
by which he effected his escape. A man challenged, when 
he heard the sound of footsteps, and, receiving no answer, 
fired, and afterwards boasted that he had killed a " Yank ; " 



THE SIEGE OF YOEKTOWN. 68 

but his comrades saw a dead pig in front of his post upon the 
next morning. The pickets, deterred by the boundless ridi- 
cule which this incident caused in their brigade, were extreme- 
ly cautious, and did not discharge their pieces in the night, 
unless they were absolutely certain that the enemy menaced 
the line ; and this prisoner crept upon his hands and knees 
until he had "grunted by the guards." 

The troops improved their shelter tents, the ridge-pole of 
which was scarcely three feet from the earth, by making doors 
and carpets of boughs and strips of bark, which were taken 
from the trees by the use of the bayonet. At the head of 
the company street were the headquarters of the brigade com- 
mander, — a general of great wealth, who carried some pullets 
upon the campaign ; and the crowing of the rooster in the 
morning gave a domestic character to the camp. Although 
the batteries of Magruder hourly opened, our gunners, in 
those that were completed, with the exception of that upon 
the extreme right, were commanded not to return the fire, 
unless attacked ; and the garrison was slightly molested dur- 
ing the siege. The bands were silent, and no bugle or drum 
sounded the calls, which might disclose to an observing foe the 
dispositions of the Union army. The Prince de Joinville, 
who says in his pamphlet that he " used to go to the front for 
this cannonade, as if it were an entertainment," makes the 
following strange statement, which is poetical language and 
fiction : " On fine spring evenings, the troops came in gayly, 
to the sound of martial music, through the blossoming woods." 



64 THE SIEGE OF YORKTOWN. 

The soldiers, wlio did not " go " from a place of safety in 
tjae rear, but lived at the front, who were present, not 
for " entertainment," but to perform the hard labor and 
sleepless vigil, will say that the prince's description is as ac- 
curate as his painting of the battle of Gaines's Hill. 
' The dead and wounded were generally carried to the rear, 
upon the Yorktown Road, which ran by the camp ; and the 
surgeons of the brigade amputated the arm of one of the en- 
gineers, who had been injured by the fragment of a shell 
while he was reconnoitring the forts. The operation was high- 
ly successful ; and the officer remarked, in the best of spirits, 
" I finished ray sketch." He remained at brigade headquar- 
ters about two days, and then entered a hospital which was 
under the supervision of regular army surgeons. They ex- 
pressed the usual contemptuous feelings for volunteers ; called 
the work a " botch; ^' removed the old bandages; and need- 
lessly experimented upon the limb, until secondary hemorrhage 
took place, and within six hours the -person was dead. Great 
indignation was expressed by the members of the brigade, 
when they learned the facts attending his death ; and those 
who were well acquainted with the case asserted that he had 
been murdered. 

The constant interruption of sleep by the artillery and mus- 
ketry ; the formation of the line of battle at all hours of the 
day and night ; the continued labor upon the earthworks and 
roads ; the exposure and excitement in the camp and upon 
pickefc^iuty ; the rain which fell two days in three, and in- 



THE SIEGE OF YORKTOWN. 65 

creased tenfold the burdens of the troops ; the quality of army 
rations, and the absence of medical supplies ; the lack of time 
and means to preserve habits of cleanliness ; the swampy 
nature of the country, and the character of the climate, — pro- 
duced disease, and thousands were aflSicted with fevers. The 
list of patients in the hospitals included a number of cowards, 
who always disgrace every regiment, and feigned sickness to 
escape the dangers of the siege. The contents of two quart 
bottles and two pint boxes comprised the medical stores of 
many commands, and were administered as a specific for all 
complaints. I have seen a surgeon give medicuie from the 
same cup for a sore throat and a scalded foot. 

An hour before daybreak, upon April 26, two companies 
from the regiment, and a detachment from the First Massa- 
' chusetts Volunteers, captured and levelled a lunette which was 
built in an advanced position and annoyed the working 
parties. I was awakened about two hours after midnight by 
the stern voice of the captain of an adjoining company, which 
he was forming into line with difiiculty, because some of the 
men wished to drink the coffee which had been made for this 
occasion. He summarily ended this cause of delay by kick- 
ing over their cups ; and they marched with sullen steps to the 
front, but performed then duty, and received the thanks of 
the commander-in-chief. 

The preparations for the bombardment were nearly com- 
pleted ; and it was stated that one hundred and one cannons and 
mortars, some of which were two-hundred-pound Parrott guns, 



66 THE SIEGE OF YORKTOWN. 

mounted in fourteen batteries, would open upon the enemy 
on May 5, and throw into the rebel works a shell in every 
second. The cannonading was unusually active during the 
afternoon and evening of the third ; shells constantly exploded 
in the camps, with few serious results; and a desperate sortie 
was considered a sure event. The morning of the 4th was 
quiet ; and the pickets discovered that the furious artillery fire 
had deceived the general, while Yorktown had been evacuated, 
and the national flag was triumphantly placed upon the aban- 
doned forts. This was an event that had been wholly unfore- 
seen. The fatigue-details labored in the trenches during the 
night, and others had been notified to relieve them upon the 
following morning. Loud cheers resounded along the line, 
from the York River to Warwick Creek, when the result was 
officially announced ; and the bands, which had been dumb so 
long, again enlivened the soldiers ; and the notes of a thou- 
sand drums, fifes, and bugles, filled the woods with a " discord 
of melody." The division, led by Gen. Hooker, and forming 
the infantry advance of the army, with rations for three days, 
and in heavy , marching order, pushed forward at noon upon 
the Yorktown Road to support the cavalry which was pursu- 
ing the retreating forces. In passing by the tenantless pits 
of the sharpshooters upon the plain, the man who had firmly 
grasped his rifle, and crept silently from post to post during 
the perilous nights of the siege, viewed the harmless works, 
and the ruins of the storehouses and wharves which were burn- 
ing at this time, with emotions of joy; and — 



THE SIEGE OP YORKTOWN. 67 

" Full well he bore his knapsack unoppressed, 
And marched with soldier-like erected breast." 

Thousands of slaves had labored for months upon these 
fortifications, which had been designed by skilful engineers, 
and had "formidable profiles, eighteen feet thickness of 
parapet, and generally ten feet depth of ditch," "with well- 
made sod revetments." The peculiar spelling of the inscrip- 
tions, and especially the word " dide," caused much amuse- 
ment in the ranks when they passed by the graves of some 
rebel soldiers. 

Before the evacuation, the rebels buried torpedoes in the 
vicinity of the springs, hospitals, and other places which they 
supposed the soldiers would visit, and for a distance of three 
miles in the roads over which the army marched. Some of 
those who first entered the works were killed and mangled by 
this diabolical means. The newly made earth revealed the 
location of these concealed infernal machines ; and pioneers 
drove stakes into the ground, and guards were placed near 
them to caution the troops and prevent them from walking 
upon destruction. Canteens, articles of clothing, and equip- 
ments were thrown aside to tempt the unwary relic-seeker ; 
but the person who picked them up pulled the wire or cord 
which was fastened to the cap of a hidden shell. " Keep to 
the right ! " " Go to the left ! " " Don't touch that coat ! " 
the sentinels shouted to the column as it moved forward, and 
vacillated from one side of the way to the other to avoid the 
serious consequences that would follow a misstep. 



CHAPTER lY. 

THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 

/^Jfcj»'HE troops continued to march upon the Williams- 
/j burg Koacl, after leaving Yorktown, until they 
\^_L/ reached the "Half-way House," which was seven 
miles from the two places. They were compelled to 
halt three hours, because Gen. Smith's division, that had 
moved upon another and more direct road, occupied the 
highway which Gen. Hooker wished to use. A squad of 
a dozen hatless and horseless cavalry brought the news that 
the enemy was in line of battle at a point about five miles 
distant; and this was joyful inteUigence to regiments that 
were impatient to be baptized with the fire of conflict. An 
aide shouted in a loud voice, at sunset, "Gen. Smith's 
division will take the road to the right, and Gen. Hooker will 
move to the left ! " The black clouds that overcast the sky, 
and the gloom that pervaded the forest, 

"Made that darker 
Wliich was dark enough before ; " 

and the outcries of many 

" A soldier full of strange oaths " 



THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 69 

were the only guides -which were safely followed by the men, 
who pursued theu- course over a narrow pathway that led 
from Cheesecake Church through a swamp, and frequently 
stumbled over logs, or sank into the water and mud. In the 
confusion which these circumstances produced, the woods 
were filled with soldiers, who were trying to find the way 
to the fi-ont; and one corps commander, with a portion of 
his staff, was isolated from the troops, and forced to remain 
absent until daybreak. Overcome by the fatigues of the 
march, the members of the division threw themselves'" upon 
the ground a short time before midnight, and rested near the 
places in which they stood when the halt was ordered, until a 
heavy rain fell, which destroyed sleep, and increased the 
weight of knapsacks and clothing. 

The lines were quietly formed upon May 8, at daybreak; 
and the first brigade advanced, in the midst of the storm, 
which still continued, upon the Hampton or Lee's Mill Road, 
that had been cut through a dense forest. A small earth- 
work, which the enemy held against the attack of the cavalry 
upon the previous day, had been abandoned in the night ; 
and a large proportion of the command did not imagine that 
there would be any fighting until the reports of the skir- 
mishers' rifles were heard in the front, and surgeons, 
chaplains, commissaries, quartermasters, cooks, and the 
horses of officers who dismounted, promptly retu-ed to the 
rear. The brigade halted, while preparations were made for 
an engagement; and Gen. Hooker, who assigned the regi- 



70 THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 

merits to their posts, ordered the " Eleventh " to file to the 
right of the road, and smilingly said to the major, " This is 
a strong position, and the devil himself cannot drive you out 
of it." — "We are willing that he should try it," the offi- 
cer replied. The firing between the skirmishers became 
animated : but the cartridges in the muskets had been wet 
by the storm, although every exertion had been made to 
prevent this result ; and the snapping of percussion-caps was 
more frequent than the whistling of bullets. Whenever 
there was a cessation in the rain during the remainder of the 
day, the men were continually drawing their ruined charges, 
and cleaning the guns in the turmoil of the battle. 

The topographical features of the scene of conflict, which 
was confined to a small extent of ground that bordered upon 
the Hampton Road, were similar to those of York town. 
Eedoubts which extended across the Peninsula had been 
built upon a plain ; and the open space, half a mile in width, 
in front of them, in which many pits had been dug for the 
sharpshooters, was bounded by the "forest primeval," a 
large belt of which had been felled, and formed an abattis 
that no organized body of troops could penetrate. The only 
means of approaching these works consisted of two roads, the 
Hampton and the Yorktown, which were exposed to the 
guns of the largest redoubt, called Fort Magruder. The 
regiments were deployed upon the right and left of the 
Hampton Road : the skirmishers steadily advanced, while 
the enemy fell back until the men held a line in the edge of 



THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 71 

the abattis ; and the sharpshooters picked off the gunners in 
the work. The thick mist which covered the earth in the 
morning confounded the rebels, who could not see the bat- 
talions, and did not open their batteries because they did not 
know the point to which they could direct their fire with 
effect, and occasionally threw a random shot to elicit a reply 
from the artillery. A regular battery was unlimbered upon 
the plain after a delay caused by the bad condition of the 
roads; but the foe, ascertaining its position by the ratthng of 
the wheels, immediately concentrated their fire upon it with 
such deadly accuracy, that the frightened cannoneers, with a 
few conspicuous exceptions, deserted their pieces before a 
single shell had been discharged. The officers and men 
belonging to a battery composed of volunteers instantly 
rushed to the guns, and, with the aid of another body of 
artillery, silenced every cannon in Fort Magruder after firing 
an hour. When the rain stopped at 5ne time, the skir- 
mishers reported that two white flags were visible upon the 
rebel parapet ; but they were the colors of war, not peace. 

The regiment was ordered to skirmish to the Yorktown 
Road at nine o'clock to ascertain the position of the enemy in 
its neighborhood ; and no force was encountered, so that the 
connection between the front and the main portion of the 
"Anny of the Potomac" was unobstructed. The second 
and third, the Sickles or Excelsior, and the Jersey brigades 
of the division were posted upon the left of the Hampton 
Road as soon as they arrived, and the firing at noon became 



72 THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 

a prolonged volley of musketry. The rebel commander, 
deceived by the length of the skirmish line and the vigor of 
the attack in the morning, supposed that the entire force of 
Gen. McClellan confronted him, and remained within the 
breastworks, and acted upon the defensive. Gen. Johnston 
wished to detain the Union columns at Williamsburg until 
night, to enable his trains to escape : -all the retreating divisions 
were halted when the skirmishers were driven in by the 
brigade ; and some troops that were ten miles beyond the 
town countenuarched, and took an active part in the conflict 
during the afternoon. Unfortunately for the sacred cause, 
no such energy was exhibited by the commander of the 
Union forces, who styled himself the " senior officer upon the 
field," and declined to advance his brigades and make a feint, 
or re-enforce Gen. Hooker upon the Yorktown Road, althougli 
he was constantly notified in regard to the dangerous position 
which this officer was fighting to maintain. 

The regiment remained in its position, near the Yorktown 
Road, supporting a battery ; and fixed bayonets when a charge 
was expected from the cavalry which had assembled in force. 
Re-enforcements were hourly increasing the numbers of the 
enemy in front ; and the extended lines of the division, which 
was pressed at all points, slowly contracted, while the foe 
moved a heavy body in the ravines which ran across the 
plain and sheltered it from the infantry fire, and attempted to 
turn the left by a vigorous assault upon that flank. To meet 
this mass that was advancing to annihilate the second and 



THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 73 

third brigades, tlie first, which was commanded by Gen. 
Grover, was withdrawn from the right, and ordered to sup- 
port the left, which was yielding gradually, but making a 
stubborn defence. As soon as this movement was perceived, 
the rebels captured, without opposition, four guns, which were 
embedded in the mud, and could not be removed or guarded 
by the troops that were required for a more important duty in 
another part of the field. The regiment rejoined the division 
at the critical moment of the contest ; and, while a new Ime 
was established, I witnessed one of the rare exhibitions of the 
power of a commanding presence, which great exigencies de- 
mand. The remnant -of a brigade, which had resisted with 
brilliant valor the onset of superior numbers, discouraged by 
its lai-ge losses in officers and men and the absence of re- 
enforcements, retreated to escape capture ; and the regiments 
mingled together in confusion while they fell back into the 
road. The yells of the exulting rebels proclaimed their suc- 
cess ; and the gallant soldiers, who had taken the cartridges 
from the boxes of dead and wounded comrades when their 
ammunition was exhausted, commenced to rush to the rear 
in disorder. Gen. Hooker, who was riding along the lines, 
at once halted his favorite white horse in the midst of the 
medley, and exclaimed, " Men ! what does this mean ? You 
must hold your ground ! " The voice that uttered these sim- 
ple words had always taught justice and patriotism in the 
camps ; the uplifted hand had always returned the salute of 
every soldier in his division ; the form had ever been seen 



74 THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 

in the front when the storm of bullets fell and spared not ; 
the dress was the uniform of a brigadier-general, who wel- 
comed the dangers that belonged to his rank. The recollec- 
tion of these exalted qualities flashed through the minds of 
all, and the qpmmanding appearance was that of one who 
was " every inch " a general. It inspired the timid with 
coui'age ; the weak became strong ; and every man stopped in 
his place, and faced the enemy. 

Smith's New- York Battery of Napoleon guns was literally 
planted in the Hampton Road, which the rain and travel had 
converted into a bed of mud, in which the wheels and car- 
riages were partially buried; and the cannoneers sank to 
their knees while they were loading and discharging their 
pieces. The abattis was a stumbling-block that impeded the 
advance of those who had felled it to check the national 
army ; and the enemy was forced to make a long detour to 
the left to avoid it. The regiment crossed the road, and 
formed a line of battle which was parallel with it, and sup- 
ported the battery that was double-charged with canister; 
and silently waited for the grand assault, which w^as every 
moment anticipated. One captain, who had always been 
excessively particular in dressing his company in the camp, 
and was privately known as " Right Dress," displayed upon 
this trying occasion the most minute care ; and henceforth 
there was no complaint about his conduct in this respect. 
The ranks in filing into the woods were transposed, so that 
the rear rank was in front when they halted ; and some, who 



THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 75 

found themselves in this position in the rear, immediately 
forced their way into the rank that was nearest the foe. The 
hostile batteries, which had remained silent since nine, a.m., 
re-opened ; and shot and shell swept the roads and woods ; 
enfiladed the regimental-line ; and a number were seriously 
injured by the falling limbs of trees that had been severed by 
them in their flight. 

It was impossible to see objects with distinctness through 
the underbrush and huge oaks of the forest ; but the ominous 
cessation of the rebel musketry and yells at this point indi- 
cated the movement of the troops, for which the general had 
already prepared with the limited force under his command. 
Subsequent events showed that Johnston intended to capture 
the battery by deploying two columns, which would subject 
the support to a fire upon its flank and front at the same 
instant. I perceived, through a slight opening in the woods, 
the ranks of the enemy, moving,. within the distance of sixty 
feet, in a du-ection that was parallel with the position of the 
regiment; but they crouched upon the ground, with their 
faces towards me, and carried their rifles at " trail-arms." 
IMany of them were arrayed in the blue overcoats that had 
been taken from the dead and wounded when they succeeded 
in driving the brigades from the first line ; and an earnest 
debate ensued^ in which it was insisted that they belonged to 
repjiraents which had been fio-htina; in the front ; and ofl&cers 
of the highest rank ordered the men to hold their fire. 
*' They ai'B rebels !" " They are our own men ! " "Don't 



76 THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 

you see those dirty wLite bats? " " Those are oui* overcoats, 
anyhow!" " They are getting into line ! " " They would 
not be so near if they were rebels ! " were some of the out- 
cries which were spoken upon every side. " I'll fire, orders 
or no orders ! " said several soldiers ; but, when they aimed, 
their companions, who supposed they were firing upon their 
friends, grasped them, and forcibly pointed the muzzles of 
the guns towards the skies. These moments of suspense, 
when hesitation was death, were agonizing in the extreme. 
Casual glimpses through the woods convinced the men of 
their real character ; but there was no danger while the enemy 
was in motion in their front : and every person in the align- 
ment placed his musket against his shoulder, and, taking a 
careful aim, anxiously awaited the final order of command, 
" Fire ! " 

" There is a white flag ; don't shoot now ! " " They are 
coming in to give themselves up ! " were the exclamations of 
many tongues ; when the color-bearer unfurled a small white 
' battle-flag upon which a coat of arms had been formerly 
painted, which had faded so that there was a slight stain in 
the centre of it, which I noticed from my standpoint ; but it 
would be invisible at the usual distance between contending 
armies. These colors were borne by the foe to deceive the 
soldiers ; and the base purpose was successful in many con- 
flicts, in which charges affecting the honor of this mode of 
wai'fare could be sustained by the testimony of thousands. 
A private in the company upon my left walked about twen^^y 



THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBUEG. 77 

feet towards the color-bearer to '' show them the way to 
come in," and extended his hand to receive the white flao;. 
A squad instantly discharged their rifles at him, and he fell 
upon the ground, pierced by three balls ; and the entire rebel 
line faced to the front. Every doubt vanished : and, before 
they could cock their pieces, the regiment was a wall of fire ; 
and it was easier for the enemy to hew the way with swords 
-through the abattis than overleap it. The proximity of the 
forces, the accuracy of the aim, and the perfection of the 
volley, produced in the rebel ranks a havoc which was seldom, 
if ever, surpassed in the history of the war. " Shoot that 
officer on horseback!" a sergeant shouted, pointing in the 
direction in which he aimed. A section fired : he fell from his 
horse; and, after the battle, there were fifteen or twenty 
soldiers who were certain that they had discharged the fatal 
shot. Many .guns w^ere foul and damp, and the cartridges 
-were forced home by striking the rammers against stumps 
and trees durinp; the act of loadino;. Not a bullet whistled 
from the front at the end of fifteen minutes : the attacking 
party fled, leaving mere than half of their number upon the 
field; and the large wounds made by the " buck and ball " 
in this close action excited general astonishment. 

The bullets from the enfilading column, in the mean while, 
decimated the regiment ; and another change of its position 
was rendered necessary. The cannons of the battery, which 
the support had defended with such success, rewarded it by 
pouring into this advancing mass incessant chai-ges of canister. 



78 THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 

•which shattered the ranks to such an extent that they eagerly 
retreated to the ravine from which they had emerged. Jets 
of turbid water followed the recoil of the guns ; and at night 
the generals and their commands were besmeared with the 
mud in which they were so often mired during the engage- 
ment. Gen. Heintzelman, the corps commander, joined Gen. 
Hooker at the front : but the first re-enforcements of infantry 
consisted of Gen. BeiTy's brigade, which was included in the 
division of Gen. Kearney, who had marched twelve miles ; 
having left Yorktown in the rear of the army. While other 
of&cers bivouacked in the vicinity of the field, and rendered 
no assistance to those that bad hitherto performed the fighting, 
the troops of Maine and Michigan, imbued with the spirit of 
their indomitable commanders, double-quicked through the 
slough of the Hampton Eoad ; and no soldiers were ever more 
anxious to encounter the inimical forces. " Holla ! men, 
holla!" said Gen. Heintzelman, with his pecuhar nasal 
twang, to the division which had been relieved, and was 
acting in the reserve ; " Richmond is taken ! " and the first 
Union cheers during the contest rose. He was not fully 
satisfied with the response, and shouted, "Bring up the 
bands ! Play Yankee Doodle, or any thing ; but make some 
noise." A squad of musicians who belonged to different 
regiments was collected together, and the strains of Dixie 
and Yankee Doodle mingled in the din of the musketry and 
cannonade. The execution of the music in a public assembly, 
if it was viewed from an artistic point of view, would be 



THE BATTLE OP WILLIAMSBURG. 79 

pronounced inferior ; but tbe effect upon the Federal battalions 
was equal to the presence of a division or a battery. The 
soldiers, exhausted by the hardships of the preceding twenty 
four hours, received new strength ; and the loud hurrahs 
misled a discomfited enemy, who did not make another 
advance after the repulse which Gen. Kearney's gallant 
troops had made decisive ; and " the red field was won." 

The facts attending the death of two skulkers may be 
adduced to show the folly of trying to evade a soldier's duty 
in the day of battle. "While one was peeping over a log, 
behind which he had concealed himself, a bullet entered his 
temple, which was the only part of his person that was 
exposed. Another, who had cautiously moved until he was 
ten yards in the rear of his company, was pierced by two 
balls, which dodged between the legs of his comrades ; and 
died after he had lingered in agony for a fortnight. A 
captain in the regiment was compelled to quit the serv^ice 
because he used his eyes, and consulted a small pocket- 
compass, which led him, with a third of his company, towards 
Yorktown, when the reports of cannon, if he had pricked his 
ears, would have called him to the battle-field in the opposite 
direction. However, upon the roll of honor, I saw the 
names of three brave men, reported killed, who would have 
been discharged by the sm'geons for physical disabihty if they 
had not refused to accept the certificates to this effect. The 
bodies of some who were shot in the Hampton Road sank 
into the mud; and their remains were completely cmshed 



80 THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 

beneath the wheels of the vast trains and heavy cannon that 
passed over them during the succeeding week. 

The storm continued after the deadly struggle was ended ; 
but it was not heeded by those who had battled from morn- 
ins: till nio-ht. In these hours of rest for the wearied, the 
non-combatants of the army, the members of the supply 
departments and ambulance corps, clerks, teamsters, musi- 
cians, and stragglers, who remain in the rear in time of 
action, visited the field, plundered the dead of both armies, 
and rifled the knapsacks of those who had fought while they 
were asleep. The sun rose in a cloudless sky upon the 
Cth : but the enemy, having saved their trains, had fled ; and 
Williamsburg was occupied without opposition. Seven 
cannon had been abandoned, because the horses could not 
extricate them from the mud ; and shot and shell were scat- 
tered in the road. The guns had been spiked ; dishes, pans, 
kettles, and Dutch ovens, were demolished in the camps and 
redoubts ; and packs of playing-cards had been thrown into 
the streets of the town. The soldiers visited every portion of 
the field to search for wounded or dead comrades, and 
witnessed without emotion scenes which lost their horror on 
account of their frequency ; and, in many cases in which the 
death had been instantaneous, the attitude of the slain 
indicated the last act of their lives. The adjutant of a New- 
Jersey regiment was shot while he was resting upon one knee, 
and glancing towards the advancing line of the enemy through 
a field glass ; but his limbs had not relaxed. Many hands, in 



THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 81 

every motion of loading and firing, clutched mtli the firm 
band of death the rammer, gun, or cartridge. I noticed that 
a number of the dead of the Union army had been mutilated 
by bowie-knives, made of large, coarse files which the rebels 
carried in their sheaths ; and gashes disfigured the heads and 
faces. The brief experience of a single engagement satisfied 
men of the uselessness of revolvers or du'ks for the purposes 
of war, and they disappeared from both armies. Nearly one 
hundred of the enemy, in one part of the woods, had been 
killed while they were lying upon the ground; and the 
bullets had penetrated their foreheads. Some, who had lived 
a' few hours after they were wounded, grasped photogi-aphs 
or letters, upon which their dying eyes rested when the 
thoughts of cherished and happy homes banished suflfering. 
Some of the cartridges used by the foe contained no bullet, 
but consisted of twelve buckshot. The pockets of fi-iend and 
enemy had been turned inside out by the aimy thieves men- 
tioned in the preceding pages ; and the buttons of the uniforms 
of every traitor had been removed. "I wish there was a 
battle every week,"- one of those miscreants remarked, in 
speaking of the amount he had stolen. 

In wandering over the field, a corporal found in the pocket 
of a rebel a piece of tobacco upon which the blood had been 
coagulated, and the professional army thief had not touched 
it ; but he washed the article, took a " chaw," and reserved 
the rest for future consumption. Head-boards were erected 
over the graves of the Union soldiers by their comi'ades, and 



82 THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 

the corpses of the enemy were buried by fatigue-pai-ties ; and 
the spot upon which they died was their last resting-place 
upon the eartli. Details interred the horses, large numbers 
of which had been killed. The woods and abattis upon the 
battle-field were burned for sanitary reasons; and the unex- 
ploded shells which had been thrown during the conflict 
were continually bursting in the flames. A surgeon ordered 
the pioneers to dig the grave for an unconscious and wounded 
rebel, who was supposed to be dying ; but the general sent 
him to the hospital, and he lived. 

Before the regiment had received orders to leave the field 
upon the Gth, an incident came under my observation which 
illustrates the difference between an oflncer of substance and 
one of show, and the wide contrast between a hero and a 
shirk. A brigadier-general of artillery, dressed in spotless 
apparel and white gloves, who, during the fighting of the 
previous day, was standing upon the ramparts of Yorktown, 
and watching the ripples that marked the wake of the trans- 
ports when they steamed up the York, halted his horse, in 
the morning, near a battery which had taken an active part 
in the battle ; and, as a matter of course, horses, guns, and 
men were covered with mud. He rebuked its commander, 
who still suffered from his fatiguing labors, for the dirty ap- 
pearance of the artillery, and asked, in that arrogant tone of 
authority which characterizes many worthless oflScers, ' ' Is 
that battery in a fit condition to move upon the enemy? " 

" Yes, it is," he replied. 



THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 83 

** Are you a regular ? Do you say ' Yes ' to me ? " 
'* Yes, I said my battery was ready for service." 
" Say, ' Yes, sir,' " he rejoined, and placed great emphasis 
upon the term " sir." 

" Yes, sir," the lieutenant repeated with a salute ; and the 
dignitary, with his silver star and glistening gilt buttons, rode 
away. He was the type of a large class of regular and staff- 
ojficers, who always regarded external show, but never said 
any thing about the services of a battalion ; and the omission 
to use the word "sir," or a formal salute, was a greater 
blemish upon the record of a subaltern than the atrocious 
crimes of drunkenness, cowardice, or treason. 

The reader has already observed that the inexplicable blun- 
der of Gen. McDowell at the first action of Bull Run was 
committed upon a grander scale at Williamsburg, and four- 
fifths of the Army of the Potomac were non-combatants ; and 
the division was saved from destruction by the ability and 
commanding presence of Gen. Hooker. In his concise report 
of this battle, he justly writes the following sentence : " His- 
tory will not be believed when it is told that the noble officers 
and men of my division were permitted to carry on this un- 
equal struggle from morning until night, unaided, in the pres- 
ence of more than 30,000 of their countrymen with arms in 
their hands ! Nevertheless, it is true." A few shells, hurled 
from guns of a powerful caliber, wounded some of these 
soldiers who were near the field ; and one general issued an 
address to his brigade after the conflict, and thanked the 



84 THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 

regiments for their courage and patience under fire, although 
they had not discharged a cartridge in the fight. This 
document was pubhshed in the newspapers of his State to 
advance his political interests. The troops that delayed the 
regiment upon the Yorktown Eoad, at the Half-way House, 
like those that obstructed the Warrenton Turnpike at Centre- 
ville, preceded in the order of march, but took no active 
part in the action which followed. 

The total loss of the division in the battle was 1,575 ; of 
which there were 338 killed, 902 wounded, and 335 prison- 
ers and missing. TVTien these figures are compared, it will 
be seen that the number of wounded was small ; and the fact 
shows the deadly proximity of the soldiers to their enemies 
upon the field. The total loss of Gen. Hancock's command 
was 31. I mention the last item because a disposition has 
been shown by certain parties to magnify the action of Gen. 
Hancock in this engagement, and deprive Gen. Hooker of 
that credit which he had so well merited. Neither Gen. 
Hancock, nor the officers and men of his brigade, ever made 
any claim of this character, but took the opposite ground, and 
refused to accept the meed of praise which they deserved. 

The regiment encamped in the suburbs of Williamsburg ; 
and the comfort of most of the men was increased by living 
in tents which the rebels had been obliged to abandon in their 
hasty retreat. The crumbhug statue of Baron de Botetourts, 
who bad been " Governor-General of the Colony and Do- 
minion of Virginia," was typical of the decay of this portion 



THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 85 

of the State ; for the ancient city had lost its former importance, 
and was now celebrated as the seat of the College of William 
and Mary, in which some of the most eminent statesmen of 
the Unitgd States had been educated. All the desolations 
of war, the legitimate results of the RebelKon, were visible 
thi^ughout its limits ; and the public buildings, halls, chui'ch- 
es, and many dwelling-houses, were filled with the wounded 
of both armies. The yellow flags, which indicated the rebel 
hospitals (red was the color of the Union hospital-flag), waved 
in every district. The recitation-rooms of the college ; the 
aisles of the churches, from which the pews had been removed ; 
and the marble slabs in the grave-yards that adjoined them, — 
were stained with the blood of mangled soldiers. The people, 
with few exceptions, were traitors, who had always encouraged 
those that murdered the forces that upheld the National Gov- 
ernment ; and the closed and empty stores, the absence of 
the able-bodied white men, the scowls of the women and 
children, and the delighted faces of the negi'oes, were per- 
ceived by the most casual observer. When a squad of Fed- 
eral prisoners arrived during the afternoon of the battle, the 
rejoicing populace loudly cheered over the victory which they 
considered won ; and some, who armed themselves with axes 
and clubs, expressed an intention to kill the wounded upon 
the field as soon as the army retreated to Yorktown. The 
falsehoods of Northern and Southern rebels had been accept- 
ed by them as facts ; and one-half of the population, fearing 
that the troops would commit the grossest outrages, fled to 



86 THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 

Ricbmond as destitute and ten-or-stricken as the settlers upon 
tlie frontier -when the torch and scalping-knife of the savage 
commenced the work of destruction. No wagons or horses 
were seen in the streets or stables of the town ; and the slaves 
lived in the mansions of the fugitives, and enjoyed the privi- 
leges of freedom. Persons who had refused to flee, and 
ignorant women who had been left helpless by their male 
relatives in Johnston's army, bolted the doors and closed the 
blinds of their domiciles, and shuddered when they thought of 
the " monsters of Lincoln," who had a " heart of iron." The 
conduct of the Union soldiers, after the occupation of the 
place, which was humane and just, as it always has been upon 
every occasion, convinced them of the groundlessness of their 
apprehensions ; and the shutters were once more opened to 
admit the rays of sunlight into their cheerless homes. 

They stated, in conversation, that Judge Bowden was the 
sole Union man in the town ; and he remarked to the troops 
when they took possession of it, " The sound of the first vol- 
ley of musketry was music to my ears." This patriotic citi- 
zen subsequently represented the loyal people of Virginia in 
the Senate of the United States. A detail from the regi- 
ment guarded four hundred prisoners, who excitedly discussed 
the alleged demerits of their respective States ; and it was 
necessary for the sentinels to interpose in several instances to 
prevent rencounters between them. The system originated by 
Gen. IMcDowell of rigidly protecting rebel property, which 
was one of the leading ideas of the commanding general, 



THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 87 

began at this time ; and the force of Gen. A. Porter, Provost 
Marshal of the army, upon the staff of Gen. McClellan, was 
constantly employed upon the Peninsula in performing this 
odious task. While the soldiers were obliged to obtain passes 
to. escape the custody of the patrols, the rebel surgeons and 
hospital nurses, who came inside of the lines under a flag 
of truce, travelled in every direction unmolested, and were 
allowed to use their negro servants as property. 

The women, destitute of every trait that constitutes the 
lady, who had been so cowardly in the time of imaginary 
dangers, took advantage of the uniform courtesy of the " Yan- 
kees," whom they despised and hated, and haughtily walked in 
the streets with their " niggers," who carried dishes and bas- 
kets of luxuries and food for " missus," who distributed them 
among the sick and wounded rebels. They compressed their 
dresses whenever they met an of&cer or enlisted man, so that 
the garment would not touch the persons they passed. They 
pulled their hats over their faces to preclude scrutiny : but 
these precautions were useless ; for their cadaverous features 
and lank forms were sometimes seen ; and all were satisfied 
that the Southern beauties, about whom so much has been 
written, did not reside iu Williamsburg. They gladly parad- 
ed through the mud and filth of the street to avoid a squad 
of men upon the sidewalks. When two young rebel females 
were walking by some soldiers, one of them suddenly screamed 
like an affected boarding-school miss who beholds the hoj^rible 
form of a di-eadfully shocking beetle, or an awfully distress- 



88 THE BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG. 

ing toad. "Oh! oh! What have you done? Your skirt 
touched a Yankee ! " A gi'oup of these sympathizers gath- 
ered around the bed of a sufferer in the hospital who needed 
rest to recover, and persisted in talking together, and striving 
to make him more comfortable, until they produced an un- 
natural excitement, which was speedily followed by death. 
" Dear hero, I must assist you ; " " Noble soldier, what shall 
I help you to? " or, " You deserve every thing we can give," 
were the sentiments which they generally expressed, in a the- 
atrical style and tone ; and many wretches were thus killed 
by the ill-timed conduct of these well-meaning friends. 



ff 



CHAPTER Y. 

THE MAECH, AND FAIR OAKS. 

'HE distance from Williamsburg to Richmond is sixty 
miles : but the advance of the troops was extremely 
slow ; and upon May 30, twenty-five days after the 
battle, the division forming the left wing of the army 
was encamped at Poplar Hill, near Oak-Bottom Swamp, 
which was thirteen miles from the rebel capital. The dates 
of the bivouacs during the period would be uninteresting ; and 
the minutes from day to day speak continually of storms 
and miserable roads, deserted houses and farms, thick forests 
and a scanty population : and the only objects that relieved 
the monotony of the march were the "White House," and 
the church in which Washin2i:on was mamed. A bridf>;e 
one hundred and twenty feet in length had been constructed 
at Bottom's Bridge, over the Chickahominy, which flowed 
through swamps and bottom land, and enlarged its banks in 
the season of freshets until it was half a mile in width. The 
perusal of signboards might be classed as dry reading ; but 
. every regiment in the division was convulsed with laughter 
' when it marched by a board nailed to a tree at a fork of the 
road, upon which was painted, "Richmond, 17 miles." 



90 THE MARCH, AND FAIR OAKS. 

Horses and sheep, houses and forage, in every partof the 
country, were heavily guarded by the command of Gen. A. 
Porter ; and, so zealous was this officer in the performance of 
his duty in this respect, soldiers were put upon property that 
was not within the limits of the Union lines, and details from 
different regiments were required when his large force was in- 
adequate. The wives and daughters of the owners, who were 
in Johnston's army, insulted in every way the national troops, 
and rewarded those that protected their estates by acting as 
spies, and informing the guerillas of the opportune moments 
in which they could capture or murder them. Officers and 
soldiers were sometimes driven from wells by the sentinels, 
and compelled to drink the water they could find in the brooks 
and springs in the fields ; and colonels and commanders of 
batteries were not allowed to take forage for their suffering 
animals when it was impossible to procure it from the depot 
of supplies. The spirit of the instructions which the guards 
received is exhibited in the lang-uage of an infamous order 
which Gen. McDowell issued at Fredericksburg, '* to place- a 
sentinel upon every panel of fence," "if it should be neces- 
sary," to prevent the men from taking the rails to promote 
their comfort. Not a solitary rebel was wilfully injured by 
generals who seemed to forget that treason was an offonce, 
and that, as Lord Belhaven declared in the Scotch House of 
Lords, " patricide is a greater crime than parricide, all the 
world over." This cringing forbearance towards the enemies 
of the country disheartened the troops ; was viewed with con- 



91 



tempt by the rebels, and considered a proof of weakness, al- 
though they admitted that their property was ^better protected 
by the army of Gen. McCIellan than by that of Johnston. The 
colonel of one regiment, who was an M.C., often submitted 
to his own judgment certain orders that he received, before he 
complied with them, and this policy was very oBnoxious to 
him. He was once commanded to keep his troops under arms 
two hours for a trivial infraction of the rules of discipline in 
refusing to report the names of some so-called offenders. 

" I sha'n't do it," he remarked to the brigadier-general, as 
he walked to and fro, and whistled when he was not smoking. 

" Did you understand that this was my order? " inquired 
the general. 

" I don't care for you : we make fellows like you in Con- 
gress," the M.C. colonel replied; and the regiment did not 
suffer punishment. 

The stupid and inhuman treatment of the negro bondmen 
at the first Bull Run was blindly adopted by Gen. Halleck in 
the Western Department and by the commander of the army 
in Virginia. The slaves possessed the most valuable local in- 
formation concerning fords, roads, the divisions of the foe, and 
the forts that environed Richmond ; and this could be obtained 
by persons with acute minds and a knowledge of human 
nature : but the so-called Orleans princes, who had a partial 
charge of the secret-service department, were wholly unfit for 
this important office. The sad results of regarding the tales 
of negroes as valueless, and employing men who imagined 



92 



that they were born to be kings, are well known. The force 
of the enemy was always magnified at lieadc|uarters ; and tlie 
army tliat Lee directed during the " Seven-days' Battle " was 
asserted to be one hundred and eighty or two hundred thou- 
sand soldiers. The generals who expelled slaves from their 
lines in public orders, and rejected then* facts, displayed the 
same depth of ignorance as the despot who cimeters the 
heads of his couriers if they bring the unwelcome news of 
reverses. Some extracts from Shakspeare are so apposite, 
that I quote them : — 

^^JEdile. Tlipre is a slave, whom we have put in prison, 

Reports — 
Bruius. Go see this rumorer whipped. It cannot be." 

The wise advice of Menenius represents the policy of the 
present mode of gaining intelligence in fighting the Rebel- 
lion : — 

" But reason with the fellow, 
Before you punish him, where he heard this ; 
Lest you shall chance to whip your information, 
And beat the messenger who bids beware 
Of what is to be dreaded." 

On May 30 fell one of the most severe storms of the 
year, which inundated the swamps, nearly severed the com- 
munications between the forces upon the north and south 
banks of the Chickahominy, and washed away a space of the 
road that bounded the camp, about twenty feet square, to 
the depth of a yai'd. The rain continued at intervals during 



THE MARCH, AND FAIR OAKS. 93 

the next day; and at two, p.m., Gen. Hooker marched five 
miles to the battle of Fair Oaks with the second and third 
brigades; while Gen. Grover's command held the position, 
and remained in line in readiness for the onset which was 
momentarily expected. " Hold your ground at all haz- 
ai'ds ! " were the only orders that were received. Upon this 
afternoon, and the morning of June 1, the men listened to 
the dull reverberations of the distant conflict with intense 
anxiety, which was relieved by the arrival of despatches that 
contained accounts of the decisive repulse. The brigade 
joined the troops at Fair Oaks upon the 3d ; and Gen. 
Casey's division, which had suffered a severe loss in the bat- 
tle, and was destitute of tents, clothing, and cooking- utensils, 
that had fallen into the hands of the enemy, occupied Poplar 
Hill : so that the two commands exchanged their positions in 
the line. 

The regiment relieved one of the Excelsior Brigade in the 
midst of a drenching rain and the darkness of the night of 
June 3, and performed its tour of picket-duty for twenty-four 
hours. Although the defeat of Johnston had been complete 
in this terrible contest, and the authorities in Eichmond ex- 
pected an immediate pursuit of their demoralized forces, the 
extent of their losses was so slightly understood, that the 
pickets were always urged to be vigilant, because an attack 
by the enemy was hourly anticipated at this point ; and the 
men stood in line of battle before twilight. The field was 
yisible in the morning to the eyes of the soldiers, who beheld 



94 THE MARCH, AND FAIR OAKS. 

one of the most gliastly spectacles that has ever heen wit- 
nessed. Scores of horses, and the swollen and black corpses 
of hundreds of rebels, were stretched upon the gi'ound, and 
in spots lay in groups, that showed a fearful waste of life ; 
and myriads of maggots were feasting upon the putrid forms, 
and swarmed upon the earth, so that it was difficult to walk 
without crushing them beneath the feet. Many soldiers, in 
the obscurity of the night, had slept side by side with the 
bodies of the slain, supposing that they were comrades ; and 
the loathsome worms entered then: haversacks, and crept 
upon then' blankets and overcoats. Some, who had com- 
plained about a foot or boot that interfered with their per- 
sonal comfort, or the form of a person over whom they had 
stumbled when groping the way to then- posts, were amazed 
to discover that a corpse had been the subject of their oaths. 
Others, who collected wood to cook coffee and build hght 
fires, found that they had taken the rude headboards which 
the rebels had placed over the graves of those they had 
buried. The stench was continually aggravated in its inten- 
sity, until an unyielding military necessity was the only power 
that made it endurable. The fragments of shells, the debris 
of the camps of Gen. Carey's division, and the bivouacs of 
the enemy, were scattered upon the battle-field ; but every 
article had been ' destroyed. Every object showed the marks 
of the great struggle : many camp-kettles had been pierced 
by bullets ; and a Sibley tent, that stood in the midst of a 
shower of lead, dii^played two hundred and forty-six holes. 



95 



In the forest, small trees an inch and a half in diameter were 
cut in nineteen or twenty places, and limbs upon the large 
oaks had been splintered by shells. A cannon-ball, three 
inches in diameter, would sever a branch that was five inches 
thick; but, when it passed through the massive trunk, the 
elastic fibres closed up the aperture, so that I could not insert 
my sword to the depth of an inch. A portion of the dead 
were buried by the foe during the occupation of the camps 
upon May 31 ; while the largest number were plundering knap- 
sacks and the tents of the quartermaster and commissary 
department, and threw aside their dirty and ragged uniforms, 
and wore the comfortable garments and underclothing of the 
Federal soldiers. A few barrels of whiskey fell into the hands 
and mouths of the victors, and rendered mapy of them unfit 
for the conflict which was resumed upon the following morn- 
ing. One of these greedy privates, who had succeeded in 
arraying himself in three pairs of pants, was killed while he 
was putting on another pair which he held in his hands. 

The topography of the battle-field, which resembled in its 
general features that of Yorktown and Williamsburg, was 
a swampy plain covered with woods, with the exception of a 
cleared tract of land upon the Williamsburg Road, that was 
locally known as "Seven Pines." Fair Oaks, which was 
a station upon the York-River Railroad, about half a mile 
from this point, was the name given to the battle by the 
national forces ; but the Richmond newspapers, and the com- 
mander of the enemy, called it " Seven Pines." The mud, 



96 



whicli forms a leading subject in tLe history of this war, pre- 
vented both sides from using their artillery to a vast extent, 
and the contest became one between the infantry. Many 
generals expressed the opinion that the army could have 
taken the beleaguered capital at this time ; and Gen. Hooker 
remarked in a very sanguine tone, when speaking of the 
matter, ' ' Phil Kearney and I could have gone into Kich- 
mond." 

The division was encamped upon the field in the rear of 
Seven Pines until June 30 ; and, during this period, its 
history comprised a record of labor upon breastworks ; and, 
once in three days, Grrover's brigade relieved the Jersey 
brigade, which reheved that of Sickles, and performed picket- 
duty for twenty-four hours. Graves were visible in every 
direction, after the horses had been burned and the dead were 
buried : and, when the line was advanced, some were seen in 
the swamp, standing in the posture in which they were killed ; 
and, so rapidly had they decomposed in three weeks, there 
was no flesh upon the skulls, which had partially bleached. 
Eifle-pits and redoubts were constructed by the division ; and 
acres of the forest were felled to obstruct the foe, and allow 
the artillery to have a point-blank range upon the advance. 
The pickets were stationed in the edge of this abattis, and 
supported by the reserve that was posted behind the exten- 
sive fortifications. The hostile lines were engaged in an 
incessant skirmish at times, and the cannon frequently threw 
a few rounds into the woods in which the enemy was con- 



97 



cealed. The expectation of an attack was so strong, tliat tho 
troops were always formed for battle ; and tlie regiment was 
called to arms upon one day eleven times. The bugle at 
brigade headquarters sounded the order to " fall in," and the 
soldiers rushed to their stacks whenever the firing in front 
was unusually active. The rebels made a reconnoissance 
during a storm, and delivered a volley in a peal of thunder : 
but the practised ears of the men were not deceived ; and 
they left their tents and double-quicked to the line, upon 
which they formed before the call was blown. Shells were 
often thrown into the camp ; and one of them, during a can- 
nonade, entered one side of a tent in the company while the 
inmate was coming out of the entrance. There was much 
useless firing upon picket ; aud, while some regiments were 
comparatively quiet, others would shoot at random, and keep 
the supports and camps in a state of constant alarm and 
preparation. An emaciated rebel came into the Imes one 
morning, and confessed that he ran away from his regiment 
in the battle, hid in the woods, and did not wish to return to 
it, because he thought he would be shot. The pickets fired at 
him whenever he approached their posts ; and he remained in 
his place until he was compelled to escape from death by 
starvation, and run the gantlet of the bullets. The enemy 
tried to ascertain the position of the sentinels by the use of 
dogs and hounds, which rail through the forest, and barked 
when they saw any person ; but the sharpshooters always 
killed them : and sometimes the dismal howl of a wounded 
7 



98 



cur limping to his master inteiTupted the quietness of tlie 
hour. The same causes that existed at Yorktown, again 
affected the health of the men ; and the water, which was 
tainted by the decomposition of the bodies that had been 
interred near the camps, increased the long list of the sick. 
A ration of whiskey was daily issued to the troops to avert 
the malaria of the swamp ; and this remedy was more ener- 
vating than the disease. I noticed, as a singular circum- 
stance, that there was not a single case of the " Chickahominy 
fever" in the small number of those that refused to obey 
this order. 

Gen. Stuart made his celebrated raid in the rear of the 
army upon the night of the 13th; and, although its mate- 
rial results were unimportant, it frightened the sutlers and 
non-combatants, and proved the inefficiency of the Union cav- 
alry. Here, as at Yorktown, the heavy burdens of war were 
placed upon the shoulders of a part, while some performed no 
real service ; and there were regiments that had never dis- 
charged a musket in battle, or labored upon a fort, or served 
a tour of picket-duty in front. When the company was de- 
ployed upon the outposts, upon one occasion, there was so 
much infantry firing about three miles in the rear of Fair 
Oaks, that it was supposed the enemy had made an attack ; 
and the pickets were anxious about the result, until the com- 
mander of the brigade learned that the regiments of a divis- 
ion were drilHng as skirmishers, and using blank cartridges. 

The troops that were constantly employed were annoyed by 



THE MARCH, AND FAIR OAKS. 99 

noxious vermin, that lived in every resting-place in the front : 
generals and privates, however vigilant, were defiled; and 
every article of clothing was scrutinized by the men when 
they were relieved from picket. Many regiments in the aimy 
of the Potomac had been depleted by sickness and desertion 
(for the loss in battle had been lunited to a small fraction), 
and those which re-enforced it appeared as large as brigades. 
All were encouraged by the arrival of these troops, who some- 
times mentioned, as a trying hardship, the fact that they had 
had " no soft bread for two days." The surgeons in certain 
hospitals that were located in the North began a course of con- 
duct at this time that was long continued, and placed upon 
their sick-rolls the names of deserters and cowards who were 
feigning disease when the country requii-ed their services in 
the field. There was scarcely a regiment upon the Peninsula 
that did not lose at least one hundred able-bodied men by the 
connivance of these medical miscreants. Eight soldiers de- 
serted from the company at Williamsburg, and were trans- 
ported to a notorious hospital in Rhode Island, in which they 
were retained and sheltered by the officers, who were repeat- 
edly notified that they were skulkers ; and none of them ever 
rejoined the regiment, although their term of enlistment did 
not expire for two years. One of the number was employed 
by some of the surgeons and nurses to repair and manufacture 
jewelry, while the rest were engaged in similar avocations; 
and none of them were treated as patients. In striking con- 
trast with such shameful conduct was the noble action of men 



100 THE MARCH, AND FAIR OAKS. 

who returned to their commands before their wounds were 
healed, and those who were excused from duty. on account of 
sickness, but left their beds, and walked with great difficulty 
to the front with their muskets. I have heard officers tell 
them that theii- presence was not required ; but the same an- 
swer was invariably made: "I could not stay in the rear 
when I thought the regiment was fighting." 

The supplies were brought from the stations upon the York- 
River Raih'oad in wagons which were parked in the rear of 
the army at night to avoid the risks of capture. The whis- 
tles of the locomotives, and the rumbling of the trains of 
cars, blended strangely with the shrieking shells, and sug- 
gested thoughts that were as conflicting as war and peace. 
A sentinel could discern the steeples of Richmond, which was 
six miles from this point, from the top of a tall tree near the 
front, called the "lookout." A company of Frenchmen, 
that belonged to a regiment which had been inveigled at Wil- 
liamsburg by the white color that has been described in the 
sketch of that battle, was posted upon the picket-line, and 
fired upon a flag of truce which they supposed to be another 
artifice of a dishonorable enemy. While a soldier, who had 
been sleeping, was walking a short distance, two pieces of 
a shell penetrated his blanket which was spread upon the 
gTOund; and with the remark, " Did you see that strike? it 
was a lucky escape," he slept again in the same place. An 
austere colonel of a New-Jersey regiment sat upon a stump 
durino; one of the severe storms that often fell : and a drum- 



101 



mer, who observed that he had no shelter, brought him a 
rubber blanket, and said, ''Colonel, take my blanket; 
you will get wet." 

" Clear out, you scoundrel ! " was the gruff reply. 

" It is raining hard, and you will need it." 

" Go to your post at once." 

No further remarks passed between them , and the conver- 
sation, like many others, is quoted to illustrate the eccentri- 
cities of the commander ; but a commission as first lieutenant 
was given to the musician at the end of a fortnight. Gam- 
blers to the number of three hundred, equipped with the im- 
plements of then- nefarious work, — dice, props, and cards, — 
assembled near the regiment after the army had been " paid 
off," and disregarded the balls that sometimes ploughed the 
field, until the blast of the bugle summoned them to disperse 
and enter the line of battle. 

The corps was formed upon June 25 ; and the regiment, 
with others, advanced at seven, a.m., through the woods 
and swamp, that was one-third of a mile in width, and halted 
near the open field, in which a burnt chimney stood. The 
pools of stagnant water, the stumps, and the thickets, contin- 
ually threw the line into disorder, and, together with the in- 
ability to see the force of the enemy that confronted them, 
caused a slow movement. Every object that looked like a 
rebel received a bullet : the pickets, leaving their rations 
and blankets, hastily fled ; and two sharpshooters, perched 
in the tops of trees, were captured before they could escape. 



102 



The regiments upon the right of the brigade met the reserve, 
which was rc-enforeecl by a detachment. Their ranks were 
shattered ; small squads, which increased in number, began 
to leave ; and at length all were flying to iheir works, amidst 
the excited cries of the men, who said, " They are run- 
ning ! " or, " Look at that fellow tumble ! " and the troops 
that double-quicked to the front during the fight fled from it 
with greater speed. The regiment remained undisturbed in 
its place in the centre of the brigade. The firing was very 
active in the afternoon, when Gen. Kearney's division upon 
the left was attacked, and the right of Gen. Hooker's divis- 
ion was advanced ; but the contest had ended at four one-half 
P.M., and the troops held the ground which they had been 
ordered to take. The aides could not move through the for- 
est upon their horses ; and commands were passed from com- 
pany to company along the line by shouting, " Keep a sharp 
lookout upon the extreme left I " "Tell Col. -^ to re- 
port to the general upon the right ! " and others of a similar 
character. 

I was placed in charge of the skirmishers who were sta- 
tioned in advance of the regiment to prevent surprise, and 
heard the conversations of the enemy's pickets, who were 
separated from them by a morass that was covered with thick 
woods. Two of them had a quarrel about Gen. Kearney, 
whom they styled " the one-armed devil : " one swore that it 
was the left, and the other was certain that the right limb had 
been amputated. The solitary bass drum that was constantly 



THE MARCH, AND FAIR OAKS. 103 



beaten in tbe rebel camps during tlie siege was unusually dis- 
tinct in its notes ; and an officer in front shouted orders, which 
were repeated by three or four voices, for the period of four 
hours. ' ' Deploy upon the right of the Williamsburg Road, and 
don't get into seven or eight ranks ;" "Advance the skirmish- 
ers cautiously up the paths; " " Why don't those men move 
forward ? " were commands that excited the vigilance of the sol- 
diers. The loud tone in which they were uttered, the absence 
of sounds that would be caused by the 'tramp of moving col- 
umns, and the subsequent conduct of the foe, proved that it 
was a stratagem to mislead the commander, and induce him 
to draw re-enforcements from other points ; while a fierce and 
unsuccessful attack was made upon Gen. Kearney's division, 
which was posted upon the left. The members of the regi- 
ment clustered around the roots of trees in the night, and sat 
upon clumps of earth, because they were obliged to stand in 
water that was knee-deep when the line of battle was formed. 
" The endless groan " of the wounded, and the rattling wheels 
of the wagons that conveyed them to Richmond, alone dis- 
turbed tbe stillness that reigned in the swamp. A regiment 
was marching to relieve the troops at the front at midnight : 
the shovels, canteens, and equipments which they carried 
were constantly clashing together, and the sounds alarmed 
the enemy that fired at them, and revealed by the flashes the 
positions of the pickets. A flame that lighted up the forest 
for an instant darted from the smooth-bore muskets, to which 
there was no response ; and a rebel sentinel swore at his com- 



104 THE MARCH, AND FAIR OAKS. 

panion, " Don't fire again, you fool ! you will draw upon us 
another volley like that." The division returned to the rifle- 
pits : the first of the " seven-days' battle " before Richmond 
had been fought upon the left with a successful result ; and 
the position that had been gained was intrenched. 

A regiment composed of different nations, which was well 
known on account of its cowardice, was upon outpost-duty, 
under the command of a foreign lieutenant-colonel, who ex- 
citedly exclaimed to his men, " Cover yourselves mit a 
stump ! cover yourselves mit a stump ! " They were in the 
rear of the advanced ground which had been conquered : vol- 
leys were fii-ed into the woods whenever a bullet, passing from 
the front, whistled over their heads ; and many of them fled 
from their posts during the night. The whole detachment, 
with the commander in the advance, rushed toward the works 
on the morning of the 26th ; and the colonel at once deployed 
a company to stop the fugitives, and gave this instruction : 
* ' Use your bayonets upon the cowardly scoundrels : they are 
not worth the powder to blow them to hell ! " The captain 
promptly halted the lieutenantrcolonel by the use of physical 
force, and ordered him to return to his post of duty. 

"I out-rank you, capitain," he said as he displayed his 
shoulder-straps, and refused to move to the front. 

" I don't care for your rank : you must go back to that 
picket-line." 

•' My mens run away, and leave me : I no go back." 

" You ran away first, and they all followed you. You can't 



THE MARCH, AND FAIR OAKS. 105 

see one of your regiment in front of you." The determined 
conduct of the line, who is now a field-officer in the service, 
and the menace of physical violence, intimidated the poltroon, 
who sullenly skulked to his command. A month after this 
shameful occurrence, I saw with amazement, in a New-York 
illustrated paper (it was not Harper's), an engraving, in 
which this regiment appeared to bo captuiing a battery, and 
driving brigades of the enemy ; while the lieutenant-colonel, 
mounted upon his war-horse at the head of it, was cutting 
"horrid circles" with his sword. Through the untiring 
exertions of certain officers, when Gen. Meade commanded 
the Army of the Potomac, he was promoted to the rank of 
brigadier-general for " gallant conduct upon the field." The 
perusers of the foregoing facts can readily imagine the nature 
of his valiant services. He is upon detached duty in a North- 
ern city at the present time, and inspects the harbor defences, 
or acts as pall-bearer at the funerals of officers of high rank 
who have died the death of heroes. 

The enemy made feints upon the entue line : the division 
was posted behind the breastworks, in readiness to meet the 
onset ; but the grand assault was made upon Mechanicsville 
on the 26th, and Gaines's Mill on the 27th. The troops of 
the corps were withdrawn upon the 28th from the position 
which had been taken upon the 25th ; the army made pre- 
parations for the retreat during the night ; and officers who 
had seen the smoke of the burning bridge in the afternoon, 
and knew that the communications with the " White House " 



106 



had been severed, refrained from giving tbis information 
to tbeir commands. The balloon had constantly made recon- 
noissances ; and one rose for the first and only time above 
Richmond upon this day, and remained in the air a few min- 
utes. All the stores that could not be transported in the 
wagons were destroyed early in the morning of the 29th by 
details, who broke rifles, bayoneted canteens and kettles, and 
slashed tents and clothing, but burned nothing, because the 
fires would excite suspicion. Barrels of sugar, vinegar, and 
whiskey irrigated the soil of the camps ; and some soldiers, 
who were unable to restrain their appetites, stealthily drank 
the intoxicating liquor, were left upon the field, and captured 
by the enemy in a state of utter drunkenness. Gen. Hooker 
destroyed his personal baggage, and set an example of unself- 
ish patriotism, which might have been followed by other com- 
manders who encumbered the trains with their private goods, 
and cheerfully abandoned the property of the Government 
and that of the men and subalterns. The brigade retired 
from the scene of its labors after it relieved those upon picket ; 
and I never beheld so many faces upon which was depicted 
such a deep feeling of gloom. 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE BATTLES OF SAVAGE'S STATION, GLENDALE, 
AND MALVERN HILL. 

j^^fcB^HE movements of a vast army are slightly under- 
/'l stood by the men who perform the fighting ; and 
^^_iy my knowledge of the positions held by the corps 
during the retreat was obtained by noticing the re- 
ports of cannon when they were engaged with the enemy ; 
and I sketch in this chapter some incidents in the action of 
a small body of troops. The company was posted, on the 
29th, at a house upon a hillock near the railroad ; and a line 
of battle, which extended more than a mile towards the right, 
had been skilfully formed in the edge of the forest, in the rear 
of a cleared space of ground, upon which the batteries were 
planted, near Savage's Station. The occasional report of a 
sharpshooter's rifle was sometimes heard, and many were 
sleeping under the peach and forest trees which shielded them 
from the hot rays of the sun. The artillery of the rebels 
opened without any warning, at eleven, a.m., from the woods 
upon the south side of the railroad, on this position with won- 
derful accuracy ; and the first three shells that were fired pene- 

107 



108 THE BATTLES OF SAVAGE'S STATION, 

trated the walls and partitions of the house, and mangled 
those who were one-fourth of a mile in the rear, but did not 
injure the inmates, comprising women, children, and a squad 
of soldiers. Upon a bed, and unable to move, was a sick 
woman, whose husband and sons were with those who were 
trying to murder her; and the shot and shell were not hurled 
into the ranks, but purposely aimed at this dwelling ; and the 
cries of the helpless infant and the tears of the distracted 
mother were stifled by the explosions and shrill notes of the 
flying balls, until theu- batteries were silenced by Union 
cannon. An attack was afterwards made upon a brigade, 
which was enveloped in the smoke of battle ; and joy filled 
every eye when the breg'ze gradually lifted the veil, and 
revealed the American flag that waved over the victors, who 
were still invisible. The division fell back from its first line 
in the afternoon; moved with rapidity; crossed the White-Oak 
Swamp ; and at ten, p.m., bivouacked in a field near the Charles- 
City Road. Clouds of black smoke rose at certain points 
near the raih'oad stations, and immense amounts of clothing, 
provisions, and ordnance stores, were destroyed. Although 
the troops halted at Savage's Station, and many needed the 
garments, guards were posted to prevent the soldiers from 
taking a blouse or coat ; because the officer in charge had been 
ordered to burn them, and could not account for the property 
if it was worn by the men. 

The brigade rested near the church at Glendale upon the 
30th, and trains of wao'ons and herds of cattle — "beef on the 



GLENDALE, AND MALVERN HILL. 109 

hoof" — were continually passing over the road during the 
forenoon, while an active cannonading in the neifyhborhood 
of the bridge at White-Oak Swamp showed that the enemy 
was closely following the anny. There was a panic at one 
time among the teamsters, who fled from their horses in the 
most cowardly manner ; and the cavalry, with then: drawn 
sabres, forced them to return to their seats and resume the 
reins. The divisions of Hill and Longstreet advanced in the 
afternoon upon the NewmarSet Eoad from Richmond ; made 
incessant efforts to break through the lines at this point ; and 
the brigade double-quicked to support a battery, and formed, 
under the fire, as perfect a Hue as it would upon dress-parade. 
Gen. McCall's command, the Pennsylvania reserves, that 
had sustained the brunt of the attack, was hard pressed ; and 
the division ran to its new position upon their left, and turned 
the current of the battle, which had commenced to flow 
against the Union forces. The regiment followed through 
the woods a narrow way which was thronged with the gun- 
ners and drivers of the " Dutch battery," who left their pieces 
upon the field, and squads of infantry that were flying from 
the front. These circumstances did not dishearten the men 
who were marching by the left flank ; and some who belonged 
to the companies upon the right rushed fi:om their places to 
come in contact with the foe before their comrades. The 
colonel of one of the regiments that had been fighting dashed 
to the rear upon his horse, before his command had been 
driven from its post, and excitedly screamed, *'My men are 



no 



all cut to pieces! " "Hurry, oh! hurry, and save my poor 
men!" "There is one of them now, and wounded too!" 
and seemed to be demoralized by fear. The troops double- 
quicked by him amid general laughter ; and I heard a score 
of tongues utter remarks hke these: " Dry up," you old 
fool I " — " Tear that eagle off your shoulders ! " — " You 
ain't fit to be a private, you coward ! " A number of swords 
that had been thrown aside by officers were scattered upon 
the ground ; and, although I had recently exchanged my sash 
of worsted for one of silk, the quickness of the movement 
did not allow me time to equip myself. A company of cav- 
alry was deployed in the rear, and the commander trembled 
so much that he could not aim his revolver ; and some vaunt- 
ingly said, "Hooker's division don't need any cavalry to 
keep them in the front;" or, "Our hands don't shake like 
that when we are there." An officer, carrying a saddle, 
came from the front, and remarked, in a tone of intense satis- 
faction, "I have done my share : I lost my horse, but I 
vsaved my saddle." These incidents, which may appear tame 
in their recital, amused the brigade which occupied with joy- 
ous cheers the position that had been assigned to it in the 
line. 

The din of musketry and the cannonade, the yells of the 
rebels when they made a desperate assault, and the hurrahs 
of the Union soldiers when they were repulsed, did not cease 
until darkness covered the earth. " The deep-throated en- 
gines" upon the gunboats in the James River threw their 



GLENDALE; AND MALVERN HILL. Ill 

monster shells into the ranks of the enemy, upon the left of 
the line, at five, p.m. The regiment held a road which the foe 
had entered in the afternoon ; and many who had been lost 
in the confusion of the battle wandered about in the adjoin- 
ing swamp, from which a stream of prisoners was continually 
flowing into the ranks. Hundreds were yelling, in the pe- 
culiar effeminate voice of the Southerner, the names and 
numbers of their commands, — " Thu'd Alabama," " Seventh 
Georgia," "Sixth South-Carolina." A few soldiers stationed 
themselves in the advance, and sometimes shouted, "Here, 
by this oak;" "This way;" and captured a squad, who 
denounced the artifice as a "mean Yankee trick." The 
regiment took thirty prisoners, most of whom were delirious 
from the effects of whiskey, — wholly unable to point out friend 
or foe, — and boasted that they had shot " heaps " of Yankees. 
This startling fact explains the nature of that foolhardiness 
with which they charged upon batteries during the engage- 
ment. The rebel clothing (it could not be properly termed a 
uniform; for I did not see two persons that were dressed 
alike) was always faded to such an extent, that some skir- 
mishers who wore shoddy, and necessarily shabby caps, were 
mistaken for the enemy, and fired upon by men in the rear. 

The troops marched towards Malvern Hill before daybreak, 
without the benefit of sleep ; and the pioneers, who had par- 
tially cut the trunks of the trees which grew upon the sides 
of the road, waited for the column to pass them before they 
applied the final strokes. The army concentrated at Malvern 



112 



Hill upon what the Union forces always seek, and the rebels 
avoid, — an open field. The appearance of the divisions, as 
they marched through acres of wheat which was ready for 
the harvest, and was garnered into the haversacks of famish- 
ing men, was inspiriting to soldiers who had been placed, for 
a long period, in woods and swamps in which they could not 
see the right and left of a regiment. The bands, that had 
been dumb during the siege, uttered the notes of patriot- 
ism, and revived the despondent; and cheers issued from 
the throats of thousands who deployed upon the plain, which 
was two miles in length and one in width, and supported 
three hundred cannon that defied the enemy. The signal- 
flags were disclosing the movements of the foe, and convey- 
ing orders from the roofs of houses upon the right and the 
decks of the ganboats that protected the left ; while the in- 
fantry, posted upon the commanding heights, had the confi- 
dence of Stuart, who remarked to a prisoner, " If I had that 
hill, no army could drive me from it." The division was 
assigned to a position upon the left centre ; and the hostile 
batteries debouched from a road at the distance of a mile, 
and concentrated their fire, a few minutes after nine, a.m., on 
July 1, upon the brigade when it was marching to this 
point. Some soldiers had taken the honey from seven bee- 
hives near a house : swarms of the exasperated insects stung 
the horses in the vicinity, with such serious results, that a 
battery, which had fought with valor the enemies of the coun- 
try, was compelled to change its post ; and mounted general 



113 



and staff officers vigorously used their spurs to escape. The 
history of the day may be briefly described as a succession 
of desperate and reckless onsets upon various parts of the 
line, in which Lee was always unsuccessful : and his legions 
were slaughtered by the artillery, including the siege-guns 
and those upon the monitors ; while the Union loss was small, 
because the infantry was rarely engaged in close action. 
The incessant firing heated and discolored the pieces; and 
some rifled ordnance was rendered useless for accuracy, as it 
was constantly double-shotted. Quietness sometimes ruled 
during an hour, and no bullets would be discharged; but 
this was succeeded by the reverberations of cannon, which 
shook the earth in the concussion, although many who were 
not fighting, conquered by fatigue, slept upon their muskets, 
undisturbed. 

Upon July 2, drenched by the storm that always ensues 
after a great battle in which the forces of Nature have been 
violently discomposed, the array crowded in confusion upon a 
single road ; and there was a moving mass of cattle, horses, 
and wagons, besides the infantry and batteries which belonged 
to different commands. Many excited disputes took place 
regarding the right to march in advance of the respective 
bodies of troops. The flying artillery of the cavalry threw a 
few shells into the bivouac of the brigade at Harrison's Land- 
ing; but this force was dispersed. The lines were estab- 
lished two days afterwards, and rifle-pits and redoubts were 
constructed during the succeeding month. The official state- 



114 THE BATTLES OF SAVAGE's STATION, 

ments that Loe commanded 180 or 200,000 men, while Gen. 
McClellan had only 75,000 ; the failure of the former to 
capture the extensive trains of wagons that filled every road, 
or penetrate the lines in a single instance, after suffering 
enormous losses, — inspired confidence in the general, who had 
won the glory of saving the whole force from destruction. 
There was also a feeling of disappointment at the result of 
the campaign, and giief for the fate of the sick and wounded 
who had been abandoned during the retreat. More than one- 
half of the prisoners that were taken in this movement after 
the battle of Gaines's Mill deserted from their companies, 
concealed themselves in the woods, and gladly yielded to the 
rebel cavalry ; while others, who threw themselves upon the 
ground, and declared that they could not walk an inch 
farther on account of exhaustion, marched seventeen miles to 
Richmond within the succeeding twelve hours, with such 
rapidity that some of the guard fell out of the ranks. When 
the company arrived at Harrison's Landing, two men, who had 
only two pieces of tent, went to the forest to obtain a shelter 
from the storm, and occupied the ground which had been 
selected by a brigadier-general for his headquarters. 

"What are you doing here? " he asked, when he noticed 
them. 

" We were going to fasten this canvas to the boughs, but 
didn't know that you were here," one of the privates replied, 
as they started to walk away. 

" You can stay here : this is my place ; but I can move 



GLENDALE, AND MALVERN HILL. 115 

to the right," he said; and ordered the pioneers to pitch his 
tent in another spot. This gallant officer, who recognized 
soldiers as human beings, displayed a kindness that was 
seldom exhibited by his peers. Four soldiers, who reached 
Harrison's Landing before the regiment, crossed the river in a 
boat, and were fired upon by some farmers, who held them 
as prisoners until a squad of cavalry placed them upon their 
saddles behind themselves, and rode through the rebel en- 
campments, in which the empty tents were standing to keep 
up appearances, while a guard of disabled men protected the 
property. 

An excessive heat pervaded the camp ; but thousands had 
the privilege of bathing in the James, and enjoying habits of 
cleanliness, which the experience of Yorktown and Fair Oaks 
had taught them to value. Details were daily furnished to 
collect and burn the clothing which was cast aside on account 
of the vermin. Many officers tendered their resignations, 
which were generally disapproved ; others feigned sickness to 
escape from the service ; and one captain bribed two persons 
to carry him on a stretcher to the hospital-boat, and was 

absent from his regiment more than a year. In addition to 

if 

the Hst of ordinary diseases, soldiers died of the scurvy ; and 
anti-scorbutic rations were issued to check this complaint. 
The only event that disturbed the quietness of the camp 
occurred at. midnight upon Aug. 1, when the foe planted a 
battery on the south side of the James Kiver, and opened 
upon the shipping and camps ; but their guns were silent in 
half an hour. 



116 THE BATTLES OF SAYAGE'S STATION, 

The division and a brigade of cavalry moved toward Mal- 
vern Hill in the night of Aug. 2 ; but the guides misled the 
troops, and they returned to their quarters at sunrise. Gen. 
Hooker commanded the expedition, and resumed the march 
on the 4th, when the line of battle rested at midnight within 
a few rods of the hostile pickets. The force was in motion 
at daybreak ; entered the road that passed by the church at 
Glendale ; ' and attacked the rebels in their rear, at 5|-, a.m. 
The artillery opened upon the brigade with spherical case- 
shot ; obtained an excellent range ; one shell killing two, cut- 
ting off the arm of another, and wounding four men, in one 
company of the regiment : the troops pushed forward in four 
ranks, and sometimes dodged the balls ; but none quit their 
places. A thick mist hmdered a prompt advance ; and, when 
the enemy was overpowered, only one hundred were captured, 
while the remainder, with the battery, retreated upon the 
James-Kiver Road. It was assumed that they could not 
escape, because a brigade had been ordered to seize this high- 
way, and intercept them before the main body approached ; 
but the plan failed in its execution through the base conduct 
of its commander, who maintained his reputation as a notorious 
drunkard. Gen. Hooker placed the ofl&cer in arrest, and 
remarked, in speaking of this action, " More prisoners would 
have been taken if that general had not been drunk." He 
was the son of a well-known traitor in Philadelphia, and 
received no punishment ; and remamed in the army until he 
committed suicide in a fit of deluium tremens. His death, 



GLENDALE, AND MALVERN HILL. 117 

in the language of the newspapers, was produced by an 
intense devotion to the service, and exposure in the perform- 
ance of his duties. A trembling negro, who was paralyzed 
by fear, was shielded by a large oak, through the branches of 
which the shells were flying ; and his frantic appeals for aid 
excited laughter, not grief, in the spectators who filed by him. 
The prisoners, like all that I saw, were extremely ignorant ; 
not one in twenty being able to read and write : and their 
stolid faces showed a lack of mental capacity which placed 
them upon a level with the natives of New Zealand. They 
were poorly supplied : some had pieces of carpet, which they 
used for blankets; and their bread was composed of flour 
mixed with water, which was baked upon a stick or the point 
of a bayonet. A woman, who lived near the picket-line, said 
that the rebels filled her house and begged for food after 
the battle of Malvem Hill ; and they were so apprehensive of 
an advance, that Longstreet and Jackson prepared for action 
when the salute was fired in honor of the President at Har- 
rison's Landing. The owner of the house, which had been the 
headquarters of Lee, had posted up a notice that he did not 
wish to have any Yankees buried upon his land • and some 
soldiers who perused rt applied the torch, and the splendid 
edij^ce, with its outbuildings, was completely destroyed. A 
squad of stragglers, who rarely render any service, made a 
charge with theii' unloaded muskets, captured seven cavalry- 
men, and rode upon their horses into camp, while the recent 
losers walked. 



118 THE BATTLES OF SAVAGE'S STATION, 

One of the prisoners, in answer to an inquiry about the 
grave of 3Iajor Chandler, pointed out the spot in which a field 
officer had been buried ; and the pioneers disinterred the body 
of a lieutenant-colonel, and found upon his person one hun- 
dred dollars : a strange fact, which amazed all who knew that 
the army thieves seldom missed one of the slain. The posi- 
tion was evacuated upon the 7th, and the old camp was again 
occupied. The exchanged prisoners rejoined their commands 
from Belle Island ; and their emaciated frames, and tales of 
suffering, had a good influence upon those who were inclined 
to prefer captivity to the chances of battle. Many of them 
stated, that, when the officer announced that a certain squad 
would be paroled on the next day, one hundred and twenty- 
one men saw the happiest moment of their lives : the sergeant 
who had charge of it accepted bribes during the night, until 
the number was increased to one hundred and ninety-eight, 
and his haversack contained all the watches and valuables 
that the crowd possessed. 

The stores and the sick were sent upon transports to For- 
tress Monroe : the corps marched from Harrison's Landing 
on the 15th, and proceeded via Williamsburg to Yorktown. 
The people openly expressed their joy at the failure of the 
retreating forces to capture Richmond : no guards were posted 
over rebel estates during the movement ; the soldiers of Gen. 
Heintzelman's corps made camp-fires of the well-seasoned 
fence-rails, and roasted the corn and potatoes which they took 
from the fields, without offending any of then: generals. They 



GLENDALE, AND MALVERN HILL. 119 

embarked on the 21st, and sailed up the Potomac to Wash- 
ington In the crowded transports ; and gun-barrels and bayo- 
nets glistened in every part of the vessel ; and the bowsprit, 
shrouds, and rigging had a picturesque appearance. 



CHAPTER Vn. 

THE BATTLES OF BEISTOW STATION, THE SECOND 
BULL RUN, AND CHANTILLY. 



^^^^HE brilliant reputation which Gen. Pope acquired 
in the West, and the energetic orders which he issued 



i. 



upon assuming the command in Virginia, delighted 
the armies upon the James and the Potomac ; and 
the highest confidence was placed in his military abilities. 
The division was packed into cattle-cars, inside and outside, 
on the steps and platforms ; and a locomotive with the name 
and strength of "Samson" drew the regiment after sunset, 
upon Aug. 25, upon the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, 
and arrived at Warrenton Junction at midnight. A regular 
camp was laid out on the 26th, near this point ; shelter-tents 
were pitched ; the blankets were spread upon straw ; and the 
men retired to rest with the pleasant thought that they should 
soon recuperate, and purge the system of the sores and blotch- 
es with which the veterans of the Peninsula were afflicted. 
This agreeable dream was broken at four a.m., on the 27th, by 
the voice of the orderly, which was always an unwelcome 
sound at this early hour, " Captain, captain ! take three 
days' rations, fall in your company, and hold your men ready 

120 



THE BATTLES OF BPJSTOW STATION, 121 

to start at a second's notice." A few reports of cannon were 
heard in the rear ; and the division commenced to march upon 
the line of the raih'oad to search for the ubiquitous Jackson, 
who had made a detour round the right of Gen. Pope, while 
that officer in his bulletins was driving him across the Rapidan 
with his cavalry and light artillery. He burned the bridges 
over two runs, and secured trains that extended a mile u|X)n 
the track, and were loaded with army-supplies of immense 
value. The force of Lee advanced in the mean while, upon 
the slopes of the Blue Kidge, to re-enforce this detachment ; 
and the ingenious plan of operations, if executed with success, 
would have formed what was termed in popular language a 
*' bag," which would have enclosed the main portion of the 
corps of Generals McDowell, Sigel, and Banks. "While certain 
officers with characteristic treachery failed to move promptly 
from Alexandria, Generals Hooker and Kearney, whose loy- 
alty was as conspicuous as then- courage, pushed forward to 
the front ; and the sanguine hopes of the rebels vanished, 
when they unexpectedly confronted these troops from the Army 
of the Potomac. 

The division continued its march ; and the skirmishers ad- 
vanced mile after mile beyond Catlett's Station without oppo- 
sition, until an aide in the top of a tree reported that the ve- 
dettes of the enemy were visible in the woods, and the brigade 
marched in line of battle thi'ough an orchard and a field of 
corn. The heat of the day and speed of the movement 
caused a perspiration which saturated the clothes as completely 



122 SECOND BULL RUN, ANT) CHANTILLY. 

as the rain. The column was passing by a burning bridge 
about two, P.M., and the opinion was generally expressed that 
it was another raid, and the rebels were not within ten miles 
of their pursuers ; but a shell burst at that moment over the 
heads of the debaters, and finished the discussion. The Ex- 
celsior and Jersey brigades suffered severely in the fierce con- 
flict which ensued ; and the enemy was driven from the shoii; 
pines in which the lines were concealed, after fighting an hour, 
and fled over the broad plain near Bristow Station, while the 
brigade followed. The cavalry afforded no assistance, because 
the commanding officer said the horses had no strength ; and 
the infantry quickly marched by it. A batteiy which be- 
longed to one of Pope's corps was as slow as the cavalry, and 
the captain of it acted like a person who did not wish to en- 
gage the retreating soldiers ; and the men who had often 
witnessed with pride the prompt action of the artillery that 
formed a part of the division viewed it with contempt, and 
scoffed at the members. The hostile gunners entertained the 
same opinion, and did not notice the slothful battery, but di- 
rected their shell and shot at the advancing brigade, until they 
were compelled to withdraw to another position in the rear. 
The skirmishers fired at every suspicious-looking stump or 
bush when they ascended the rising gi-ound ; and the most 
anxious moments of the day were those which their cautious 
steps occupied in approaching the crest which might shelter 
the enemy. 

The sudden onset by Gen. Hooker had not been foreseen 



SECOKD BULL EUN, AND CHANTILLY. 123 

by Jackson ; and the appearance of the field showed that it 
was a hasty flight. The dead and wounded had been aban- 
doned ; knapsacks and equipments were scattered upon the 
plain; beeves had been killed; the fires were burning be- 
neath the Dutch-^.)vens, which contained baking bread or 
roasting meat ; dough was left in the pans, and dinners had 
been prepared in the houses for the oflaicers. There were also 
two bags of raw peanuts, from which the rebel cooks manu- 
factured a substitute for cofiee. The civilians, who never 
gave or sold food to Union soldiers, had collected geese, 
turkeys, and the "fatted calf," for their friends: and one 
woman cooked two barrels of cakes " for family use," so she 
said; but they were devoured by the victors. The horses 
for the field and staff officers had not been transported from 
Yorktown, so that they were compelled to march on foot; 
and although they always declared that it was more fatiguing 
to ride than walk, and mercilessly shouted to weary men, 
" Close up," or, " Double-quick," they -^ere the first per- 
sons who left the ranks : and most of the regiments were 
commanded by captains during the engagement. The num- 
ber of stragglers was very large, — one-fourth of the effective 
strength of the force; and squads of skulkers, who were 
utterly exhausted by the heat whenever a bullet whistled ^ 
near them so that they could not creep to the front, ran to 
the rear, placed caps upon the nipples of their muskets, 
blackened then: faces and mouths with powder to resemble 
those who had been engaged, and rejoined their companies 



124 



after the battle, and explained matters by saying that they 
fought in another portion of the field. 

Among others at the hospital was a German, who was 
mortally wounded, and said that there were two companies 
of his countrymen in the rebel regiment who had been forced 
to leave their workshops, and enlist in the army. He gasped, 
in his broken language, " Oh ! how hard to die, when I have 
been in this land only three months ! " The prisoners were 
constantly talking about the good qualities of their com- 
mander, who had marched them sixty miles in the last two 
days ; would seize Washington within a week ; and one of 
them exclaimed, "If your generals were as smart as Jack- 
son, you would soon conquer us." A house inhabited by an 
Irish family was exposed to the shells during this contest ; 
and the wife entered the closet, and prayed to the Virgin for 
safety, while her husband and children remained in the cellar. 
The soldiers took all the clothing they could discover in one 
building, from which the general had been fired upon ; and 
the owner remarked to one of them, — 

'* You have got on my shirt." 

" Yes ; and I intend to keep it on." 

They also ransacked another house, in which some Federal 
uniforms, stained with blood, were found ; and a light-fingered 
man stole the spectacles from the nose of an aged citizen, who 
pretended to know nothing respecting them, and complained 
about the treatment which he had received. Hundreds of 
baggage-cars, with their valuable contents, were burning five 



SECOND BULL RUN, AND CHANTILLY. 125 

miles in our front ; and the skies were darkened in the after- 
noon by a dense cloud of smoke, which was a flame of fire at 
night that lighted up the heavens. 

Jackson retreated to Manassas Junction during the follow- 
ing day, and subsequently formed his line of battle upon the 
old field of Bull Run. Gen. McDowell was ordered to hold 
Thoroughfare Gap, a position of great natural strength in the 
Bull-Run mountains ; but Longstreet, in the evening, with a 
few puffs of smoke from the rifles of his sharpshooters, easily 
gained possession of this outlet; and Lee was allowed to 
re-enforce Jackson with his whole army, without the slightest 
opposition. A portion of Gen. Pope's troops marched, on 
the 28th, by the division, which followed them along the line 
of the railroad, halted at night, moved from the bivouac at 
two, A.M., of the 29th, and stood upon the heights of Centre- 
ville an hour after sunrise. Matches were very scarce upon 
this campaign ; and a private who intended to light one gave 
public notice to the crowd, who surrounded him with slips of 
paper, and pipes in their hands. Some soldiers were in a des- 
titute condition, and suffered from blistered feet, as they had 
no shoes ; and others required a pair of pants or a blouse : 
but all gladly pursued Jackson ; and his capture was consid- 
ered a certain event. The column cheered Gen. Pope when 
he rode along, accompanied by a vast body-guard, and re- 
sponded, " I am glad to see you in such good spirits to-day. '\ 
Justice obliges me to write, that, after the experience of one 
of his mismanaged battles, the silence of deep contempt was 



126 THE BATTLES OF BRISTOW STATION, 

the sole greeting that he perceived in the faces of these disap- 
pointed soldiers. Three miles from the battle-field, the divi- 
sion met a squad of five hundred cowards, who had been 
paroled because the enemy could not, or would not, issue 
rations to them ; and they exultingly boasted that their lives 
were safe, as they would not be compelled to go into the pend- 
ing conflict. Most of this number had been detailed to guard 
the railroad or the trains, and barely surrendered their posts 
without firing a musket to alarm their companions or check 
the foe. Many of the dastards exchanged suits with the 
rebels, and wore the butternut clothing; while the latter 
arrayed their spies in the Federal uniform, and gained other 
advantages by using them. 

The stream was forded, and the graves and bones of the 
dead, the nisty fragments of iron, and the weather-beaten 
debris of that contest, reminded the men that they were again 
in the midst of the familiar' scenes of the first battle of Bull 
Eun. The cannonading was brisk at intervals during the 
day. Large tracts of the field were black and smoking from 
the effect of the burning grass which the shells ignited ; and 
a small force was occasionally engaged upon the right : but 
there was no general conflict. The brigade took the position 
assigned to it, upon the slope of a hill, to support a battery 
which was attached to Sigel's corps ; and no infantry was 
visible in any direction, although the land was open, and 
objects within the distance of half a mile were readily seen. 
There was no filing, with the exception of the time when the 



127 



troops debouched from the road in the morning ; and the sol- 
diers rested for hours until foui% p.m. At this moment, the 
enemy opened with solid shot upon the batteiy, which did 
not discharge one piece in response ; the diivers mounted 
their horses; all rushed pell-mell thi'ough the ranks of the 
fearless and enraged support, and did not halt within the 
range of the artillery from which they had so cowardly fled. 
A member of the staff, dressed like an officer of the day, 
immediately arrived, and gave a verbal order to the brigade 
commander ; after which the regiments were formed and 
marched, unmindful of the cannon-balls, towards the right 
of the line, and halted in the border of a thick forest, in 
which many skirmishes had taken place. 

"What does the general want me to do now?" Gen. 
Grover asked the aide who again rode up to the brigade. 

*' Go into the woods, and charge," was the answer. 

*' Where is my support ? " the commander wisely inquired ; 
for there were no troops near the position. 

"It is coming." 

After waiting fifteen minutes for this body to appear, the 
ofl&cer returned and said that ' ' the general was much dis- 
pleased" because the charge had not been made; and the 
order was at once issued, " Fix bayonet." Each man was 
inspired by these magical words ; great enthusiasm arose when 
this command was "passed" from company to company; 
and the soldiers, led by their brave general, advanced upon 
a hidden foe, through tangled woods which constantly mter- 
fered with the formation of the ranks. 



128 



" Colonel, do you know what we are going to charge on? " 
a private inquired. 

'* Yes : a good dinner." 

The rebel skirmishers were driven in upon their reserve 
behind the bank of an unfinished railroad ; and detachments 
from five brigades were massed in three lines under the com- 
mand of Ewell to resist the onset of the inferior force that 
menaced them. " We will stu* up these fellows with a long 
pole in a minute," one of the company said when the bullets 
beo;an to sinof ; and he welcomed the fatal shot which cut him 
dowiyn his youth. " Victory or death " were the last words 
of another humble hero. The awful volleys did not impede 
the storming party that pressed on over the bodies of the dead 
and dying ; while the thousands of bullets which flew through 
the air seemed to create a breeze that made the leaves upon 
the trees rustle, and a shower of small boughs and twigs fell 
upon the ground. The balls penetrated the barrels and shat- 
tered the stocks of many muskets ; but the soldiers who car- 
ried them picked up those that had been dropped upon the 
gTOund by helpless comrades, and allowed no slight accident 
of this character to interrupt them in the noble work. The 
railroad bank was gained, and the column with cheers passed 
over it, and advanced over the groups of the slain and 
mangled rebels who had rolled down the declivity when they 
lost then strength. The second line was broken ; both were 
scattered through the woods ; and victory appeared to be cer- 
tain, until the last support, that had rested upon their breasts 



SECOND BULL RUN, AND CHANTILLY. 129 

on the ground, suddenly rose up and delivered a destructive 
volley, which forced the brigade, that had already lost more 
than one third of its number in killed and wounded, to re- 
treat. Ewell, suffering fi'om his shattered knee, was borne to 
the rear in a blanket, and his leg was amputated. The 
horse of Gen. Grover was shot upon the raikoad bank while 
he was encouraging the men to go forward ; and he had 
barely time to dismount before the animal, mad with pain, 
dashed into the ranks of the enemy. The woods always con- 
cealed the movements of the troops ; and at one point a portion 
of the foe fell back, while the others remained. The forces 
sometimes met face to face, and the bayonet and sword — weap- 
ons that do not pierce soldiers in nine-tenths of the battles 
that are fought — were used with deadly effect in several in- 
stances. A corporal exclaimed in the din of this combat, ' ' Dish 
ish no place for de mens," and fled to the rear with the speed 
of the mythical " flying Dutchman." In one company of the 
regiment, a son was killed by the side of his father, who con- 
tinued to perform his duty with the firmness of a stoic, and 
remarked to his amazed comrades, in a tone which showed 
how a strong patriotic ardor can triumph over the deepest 
emotion of affection, *' I had rather see him shot dead as he 
was, than see him run away." 

The victors rallied the fugitives after this repulse, and their 
superior force enabled them to assault in front and upon both 
flanks the line which had been contracted by the severe losses 
in the charge ; and the brigade fell back to the first position 



130 THE BATTLES OF BRISTOW STATION, 

under a fire of grape and canister whlcli was added to the 
musketry. The regunental flag was torn from the staflf by 
unfriendly limbs in passing through the forest, and the eagle 
that surmounted it was cut oflf in the contest. The com- 
mander of the color-company saved these precious emblems, and 
earnestly shouted when the lines were re-formed, '* Eleventh, 
rally round the pole ! " which was then, if possible, more 
honored than when it was bedecked in folds of buntina;. 
Gen. Grover, who displayed the gallantry throughout this 
action that he had exhibited upon the Peninsula, waved his 
hat upon the point of his sword to animate his brigade and 
prepare for a renewal of the fight. Many were scarcely 
able to speak on account of hoarseness caused by intense 
cheering, and some officers blistered the palms of their hands 
by waving swords when they charged with their commands. 
The support was not present when the soldiers emerged from 
the woods, although an hour had elapsed since the aide stated 
that it was " coming." Another brigade soon reached the 
scene, and made a charge over the ground which had been 
recently won and lost ; but was repulsed before the raih'oad 
bank was attained. The motives that governed the officer 
in command who caused this large destruction of life were 
never understood by the fortunate survivors, who agreed 
with Gen. Hooker when he protested against the proposed 
movement as "a useless slaughter of my men to attempt 
to win a position which was of no miHtary value when it was 
gained." 



SECOND BULL RUN, AND CHANTILLY. 131 

The enemy followed the retreating troops after this disaster ; 
and the brigade retired so that the next contest would occur 
in the open field : but the rebels, who did not wish to leave 
their shelter, halted in the fringe of the forest, and formed an 
excellent line, while the " stars and bars " that glittered upon 
their brilliant crimson flags resembled the vivid hues of the 
most venomous serpents. The commander of the mountain 
howitzers promptly obeyed the order to " pring up de shack- 
asses;" the impatient cannoneers stood by their pieces, and 
urged the soldiers who were marching in front to hasten to the 
rear, so that they could open ; and the warning, " Get out of 
the way, or we'll blow your head off! " developed a new energy 
in many weary muscles. The splendid front was broken by 
the rounds of canister, and quickly disappeared in the forest, 
and left a line of skirmishers, who shot all the wounded that 
attempted to crawl from their exposed positions upon the 
field to the Union pickets. The men slept with comfort at 
night upon straw which had been taken from the same stack 
that stood upon the ground in the action of July 21, 1861 ; 
and some, who knew that a bullet had penetrated their blan- 
kets or great coats, which were tightly rolled and fastened to 
the knapsacks, found that one hole became thirty or forty 
when they were spread out for use. 

The- pickets were unusually quiet : strong re-enforcements 
arrived in the morning for both armies, and all expected a 
glorious result ; but I was soon convinced that no troops, how- 
ever large in number, could contend against Lee with success 



132 THE BATTLES OF BRISTOW STATION, 

while Generals Pope and McDowell commanded them. K 
Gen. Fitz John Porter, who received a lenient punishment 
for the crime which he committed, and other officers of high 
rank, who merited the same justice for acts equally culpable, 
had taken part in this battle, the same causes would have 
produced the inevitable defeat. Gen. McDowell was viewed 
as a traitor by a large majority of the officers and men, and 
was distrusted by officers upon his staff, by members of his 
body-guard, and those who were constantly associated with 
him; and thousands of soldiers firmly believed that their 
lives would be purposely wasted if they obeyed his orders in 
the time of conflict. From prisoners I ascertained that the 
rebel army entertained the same idea ; and Lee knew that 
thirty thousand men of the force in his front were demoralized 
on this account : and the battle that followed proved that it 
was a melancholy fact. Gen. Pope acted like a dunderpate 
durino" the day (the 30th), and scorning the wise advice of 
abler generals, like Hooker and Kearney, allowed Gen. Mc- 
Dowell to manoeuvre the troops upon the field. I boldly 
declare that the task would have been discharged with greater 
ability by intelligent sergeants in the regiments ; and the 
results were perfect illustrations of those which ensue " when 
the blind lead the blind." 

The hom's quietly passed away, with the exception of an 
occasional firing by the skirmishers, until four, p.m. ; and 
many batteries and brigades were marched to the left, to that 
plateau near the Henry House which was the scene of the 



SECOND BULL RUN, AND CHANTILLY. 133 

heaviest fighting in the old engagement. The national forces 
were carelessly deployed upon the cleared land, so that Lee, 
from a commanding hill, could perceive and inspect the num- 
ber and position of every Union regiment and battery ; while 
he massed his divisions in the woods, and it was impossible 
to see any regular body of them. Thousands of the infantry 
rested behind their stacks; and some batteries were never 
unlimbered, and rendered no service, although they were 
often required to prevent the shameful defeat that followed. 
The enemy concentrated his strength upon his right, 
made a feint upon the centre with a small force, and sud- 
denly overwhelmed the left, which was composed of Gen. 
McDowell's corps, brigades of which fled in confusion after 
receiving one volley, and did not attempt to re-form, but 
shouted defiantly to their commanding officers, " You can't 
play it on us ! " and similar cries. The troops comprising 
the right wing, which were posted one mile from this point, 
stood upon fences and the wheels of gun-carriages, and 
watched the struggle with the keenest interest until they 
were satisfied that the day was lost. 

When the eye excluded the smoke and havoc of the con- 
flict, and gazed upon the scenery, — the green belts of the for- 
est, the undulations and heights upon the field, the cloudless 
skies, and the distant summits of the Bull Eun and Blue 
Ridge that formed the back-ground of the view ; and — 

" Blue against the bluer heavens 

Stood the mountain, calm and still," — 



134 



the soul was cnclianted wltli the unsurpassed beauty of Na- 
ture. In the midst of this lovehness, the scenes of horror 
upon the phiin — the mutilated forms of suffering men, the 
prolonged roll of musketry, the reverberations of the artil- 
lery, the yells of the rebels when they charged and captured 
a battery, and the sulphurous smoke that at times enveloped 
the combatants — presented a terrible contrast. 

Cattle had been killed, and issued to the brigade, and many 
were broiling the beef over the fires while the contest was unde- 
cided upon the left. The exploding shells continually emitted 
globes of smoke ; and the difference in the color showed that 
the enemy used the finest quality of powder, which was white, 
while the other was black. Pieces of railroad-iron, that 
rushed with an irregular motion through the air, indicated a 
limited supply of ammunition. Three hours vanished while 
the brigade was alternately double-quicking upon the field, 
or halting for a brief period to support the artillery, but 
steadily approaching the left, and fearing the canister that was 
hurled over it from the batteries in the rear more than that 
of the enemy in front. The regiment at one time held the 
same position upon the Leesburg Road which it had defended 
in the first action of Bull Run ; and history narrates few co- 
incidences that are stranger than this. The field was aban- 
doned while the sun was sinking beneath the horizon ; and the 
column marched through the cold water of the runs, and biv- 
ouacked near Centre ville at midnight. All were affected 
with giief by this disaster, and I noticed officers who restrained 



SECOND BULL EUN, AND CHANTILLY. 135 

witli difficulty tears of soitow ; and general indignation was 
expressed against the two commanders who were responsible 
for the useless effusion of such precious blood. 

When the brigade had retreated a short distance, it passed 
by Gen. McDowell, who sat upon his horse in the road ; and 
the most profane oaths were uttered in reference to his con- 
duct, and his ears must have often caught the insulting 
taunts of thousands of brave and patriotic men. There was 
scarcely a moment during the march in which I did not hear 
the epithets "villain," "traitor," or "scoundrel," applied 
to his name. He wore a hat made in such a peculiar style, 
that he could be identified by the ranks of the contending 
armies. This strangely fashioned article was not a part of 
the Federal uniform; and while Gen. McDowell knew that he 
had no right to wear it, and would have roughly censured an 
officer, if he had noticed, upon an inspection, any volunteer 
who was clothed in this outlandish apparel, the suspicions of 
those who doubted his loyalty were increased by this gToss 
violation of mihtary regulations. "I would sooner shoot 
McDowell than Jackson!" "How guilty he looked with 
that basket upon his head ! " " It is an outrage to put men 
under that traitor to be mmxlered! " were remarks which were 
constantly repeated. " My men went upon- the field as if they 
were upon dress parade ; but, in a few minutes, I was left all 
alone," Gen. McDowell said to Col. Marston, who com- 
manded the Second New-Hampshire Volunteers that marched 
in the rear of the regiment. 



136 THE BATTLES OF BRISTOW STATION, 

Incidents were hourly witnessed that will be remembered 
as long as the mind retains its faculties ; and a record of 
some of them may interest the reader. Gen. Hooker aston- 
ished certain officers of the highest rank in Pope's army by 
displaying an example of courage which they should have 
followed; and one of them asked, " Who ish dat general mit 
a white horse and red face? He cares nothing for bullets." 
Untaught by the disastrous results of the battle of last year, 
batteries without an adequate support were pushed to the 
front in the same heedless manner, and upon the same ground 
on which those of Griffin and Kickett were lost ; and Lee 
captm'ed them with ease. Many of the officers and cannon- 
eers escaped, and their statements added fuel to the flame 
that was already consuming the reputation of the person I 
have so often named. " Mein Gott, mein Gott, general, the 
rebels will have mine every piece ! " one artillery commander 
exclaimed ; while another, wringing his hands with anguish, 
shouted many times, " All my guns lost, all my guns lost, 

throuo-h that infernal McDowell ! " — " Sero-eant," said 

a gray-haii-ed brigadier to a non-commissioned officer of the 
regiment, who was wounded, and travelling to the hospital, 
"how are things going?" — "We hold om- own now; but 
McDowell has charge of the left," he replied. " Then God 
save the left, if jNIcDowell has charge of it ! " the general an- 
swered in a tone of utter despair. A general, who belonged 
•to the exceedingly small circle of Gen. McDowell's military 
admirers, deserted his men, rushed to one of the hospitals. 



137 



and yelled, ** Two hundred rebel cavalry are driving my 
brigade! Can't you help me ? " His force consisted of three 
thousand infantry; and the wounded indignantly insulted 
him : "Go back to your command, you coward ! " " Shoot 
the skedaddler ! " and he rode still farther to the rear. 

Scenes illustrating the extremes in human character oc- 
cuiTed; and there were mean subterfuges to evade, and noble 
efforts to brave, the dangers of the battle. An artillery of- 
ficer was groaning, and seemed to suffer intense pain, until a 
shell burst near him ; when he jumped from the stretcher, and 
fled so swiftly, that those who were carrying him could not 
keep pace with his flying feet. A captain in one regiment 
skulked out of the fight, and passed by the provost-guard by 
showing his hands, which were covered with blood that had 
flowed from the wounds of one of his company. If officers 
were shot, or relaxed their vigilance, squads of three or four 
soldiers would leave the ranks, and carry a disabled man or 
escort an unarmed prisoner to the rear. A corporal, scorning 
aid, used his musket as a crutch, and walked to the hospital ; 
and one of the company, who was mortally wounded, im- 
plored his comrades, who had taken him from the ground 
while the brigade was retreating, to escape, as they might be 
captured by the enemy, and he did not wish them to suffer 
the privations of prisoners. Shoes and articles of clothing 
were thrown away by some to enable them to shirk their duty ; 
and others, who were actually destitute, di-agged themselves, 
upon swollen and blistered feet, to the front. Many soldiers 



138 THE BATTLES OF BPJSTOW STATION, 

were drunk in Alexandiia while their comrades were dying upon 
the field ; and the number that fought, if compared with the 
rolls of those who were paid, reveals a lax state of discipline. 
In one regiment, only 302 men in 843 were present during 
the action ; in another, consisting of 847, only 318 took part ; 
in two regiments the ratio was smaller, and 596 were en- 
gaged : so that less than three-eighths of a brigade performed 
the hazardous duty of fighting. The rebels advanced their 
lines, threw shells into the hospitals, and killed soldiers who 
were helpless on account of wounds. The frightened sur- 
geons and nurses abandoned, in one place, those who required 
their care ; while the so-called daughters of two regiments 
boldly remained, and loudly denounced the runaways. An 
orderly in the regiment found a scabbard which was besmeared 
with blood, and a private discovered the sword that was a 
shght distance from it ; and, by pitching a copper, both were 
won by the sergeant, who was afi;erwards promoted, and wore 
them until he was killed at Chancellorsville. The fragments 
of exploding shells could be easily discerned in the air, and 
I noticed one which shattered the jaw of a bugler as he was 
sounding a call. The sufferings of those who were captured 
by the enemy cannot be described: the wounded had no 
care during five days ; and others were reduced so much by 
insufficient food, that, when they were released, they gladly 
ate the crumbs of hard bread which had been scattered more 
than a week upon the ground at Centreville. The corpses 
of three hundred soldiers were placed upon each other, and 



SECOND BULL RUN, AND CHANTILLY. 139 

buried by tbrowing eartli upon them ; so that they were Hghtly 
covered. The number of ambulances was inadequate to con- 
vey the wounded that had been paroled ; and two hundred 
hacks and carriages were seized in the streets of Washington, 
and their diivers were compelled to go to jManassas for this 
humane purpose. The rebel prisoners facetiously remarked, 
that, upon the campaign, " Jackson did all the praying, while 
Ewell did the swearing." 

The army rested upon the heights of Centre ville during 
two days, and enjoyed the comfort of the barracks which 
had been occupied by the force of Johnson in the winter of 
1861-2 ; and the enemy showed no inclination to storm the 
works which they had constructed for their own protection. 
l!ee gained the position which bore the historic name of Chan- 
tilly. Gen. Pope discovered that he was flanked, and or- 
dered the divisions of Generals Kearney, Hooker, and Reno, to 
march to this point. Before the movement was commenced. 
Gen. Kearney made a speech of exhortation to his men for 
the last time ; and the troops, in the midst of the storm and 
darkness, advanced through the forests, and fields of com, in 
which a few regiments suiFered severely ; but the brigade was 
posted upon the left, and its skumishers were unmolested. 
Generals Stevens and Kearney were killed ; but the foe was 
speedily driven from the position, and the line of retreat 
between Washington and Alexandria was secured. One- 
half of the regiment was kept under arms during the night ; 
while the remainder, trembling with cold, attempted to sleep 



140 THE BATTLES OF BRISTOW STATION, 

in the rain and mud. The whole force was in motion at twi- 
light, and encamped at Alexandria upon Sept. 3. 

The Government acted with decision, and justly deprived 
Generals Pope and McDowell of their powerful command; 
and the first was banished to the frontier of Minnesota, while 
the last was not intrusted with any mihtary power until 
Gen. Grant exercised his usual sagacity, and exiled him to 
California. These just measures pleased the unfortunate sol- 
diers who had been compelled to obey then: orders ; and the 
appointment of Gen. Hooker to command the first corps, vice 
McDowell reUeved, was received with joyous shouts and 
cheers } and the wisdom of those that made this important 
change was vindicated by its brilliant conduct at South Moun- 
tain and Antietam. 

The army mourned the national loss of Major-Gen. Kear- 
ney, who was killed at Chantilly ; and_ his memory will be 
cherished as long as exalted patriotism, inspiring courage, and 
justice towards men, are revered by mankind. Quahfied to 
be the head of the army, he accepted the command of a bri- 
gade. Leaving the comforts which his large wealth afforded, 
he welcomed the most trying hardships of the service. In 
another zone, the enemies of his country had taken his arm ; 
but his zeal triumphed over the disability, and he fought until 
he had sacrificed his life. Placing the reins between his teeth, 
and grasping in his single hand the two-edged sword, he led 
his men in the charge that was never checked. Humane to 
those who were his inferiors, the orderlies were directed to 



SECOND BULL EUN, AND CHANTILLY. 141 

bring water in canteens to the soldiers when the exigencies of 
the hour requu-ed that all should remain in the ranks at the 
front. Impetuous in thought and action as the flash of his 
fiery eye, he censured with the same vehemence the misconduct 
of a private, or the general of the highest rank in the Union 
forces. Beloved by his division, the red badge which he 
instituted was always worn by the officers and men with the 
same proud feeling with which the heroic commander displayed 
the cross of the Legion of Honor, which never enrolled a 
nobler chevalier. Bravely performing his public tasks, the 
death of this pure patriot and consummate soldier was a fitting 
conclusion of his eventful life. 



CHAPTER Yia. 

THE MARCH TO FALMOUTH, AND THE BATTLE 
OF FREDERICKSBURG. 

/^■^Sifc^'HE division had marched from Warronton Junction 
gm with the expectation that it would soon return to the 
^^ y camp ; and the guards who had charge of the mu- 
nitions of war and private property destroyed them ; 
and there was hardly an officer in the command that possessed 
any clothing, besides what was upon his person, when it 
reached Alexandria. The troops daily labored upon the 
earthworks ; and the order that was issued by the President 
at this time, prohibiting work npon the Sabbath, was always 
disregarded. The privates of the garrisons in the forts were 
dressed in better apparel than the officers of the old regi- 
ments, viewed with disdain their tattered appearance, and 
played cricket and similar games for exercise, while the vete- 
rans from the Peninsula used the spade. The engineers who 
resided in Washington rode around the works once in three 
days in an elegant carriage, and gave directions, according to 
their caprices, to the officer in charge of the fatigue-parties to 
cut down a few stumps, or remove an inch of gravel from the 
crest of a parapet, or increase or diminish the angle of one 
142 



THE MARCH TO FALMOUTH, ETC. 143 

of tbe slopes five degrees. The brigade and division bad lost 
their generals by promotion, and picket-duty was performed 
under tbe supervision of a coward who never visited a post 
if tbe enemy was near it. He inspected tbe lines in places 
of safety witb great pomposity, and prohibited tbe use of 
lights at night, although those who were thirty miles from 
Alexandria had blazing camp-fires. 

Inspections, reviews, and similar features of camp-life, con- 
stantly took place ; and I was sometimes entertained by tbe 
comments of a commanding officer who examined a regiment, 
and seemed to be determined to find as much fault as possible. 
If the magazines had been supplied with ammunition, he said, 
"You coward ! why didn't you fire some cartridges in the 
fight? " If they bad not been procured, the men were re- 
proved for negligence. If a thin coating of dust was visible 
upon the head of a rammer, he remarked, "That gun is a 
solid bar of iron ;" " The rust is six inches deep in the bar- 
rel ;" or, " You might as well try to shoot with a tree." The 
" good and holy man," a chaplain, held religious services 
upon Sept. 21, in compliance with orders; and, although no 
congi'egation was present, read bis prayers in a loud voice, 
and seemed to be satisfied with his endeavors. 

The camp was broken up on Nov. 1, when the brigade 
bivouaced at Fairfax Court House ; and the command halted 
upon tbe 3d at Manassas Junction, near which many bar- 
racks of logs, and chimneys and ovens of red sandstone, were 
standing. A few guerillas captured a wood-train the day be- 



144 



fore tbo reglmont arrived ; and a joutli thirteen years of age, 
wlio lived near this jDoint and saw tbe affair, spoke with much 
frankness about the base conduct of the guard, which was com- 
posed of sixty men from a New- York regiment in Gen. Sigel's 
corps ; and bis recital of tbe facts was confirmed. ' ' Tbey were 
a lot of cowards," he earnestly said ; " and four of them bid 
in the culvert, and came out after our cavalry had gone, and 
told me and my brother (pointing to a boy about ten years 
old) not to kill them, for they were our prisoners : and I told 
them to keep still, for the cavalry might bear them, and come 
back and get them. The others ran away, and kept up with 
the horses ; and, if tbey had run as fast t'other way, tbe cav- 
alry wouldn't have got any of them." Tbe brigade bivouacked 
at Bristow Station upon the 7tb, in tbe fii-st snow-storm of 
the season, and met a portion of tbe division that was retreat- 
ing from Warrenton Junction with the news, which their 
general had communicated, that tbe rebels bad a large force 
at that place, and it was considered foolbardiness for a small 
body of troops to attack them. There was no opposition upon 
the succeeding day, when the column advanced, and no signs 
of a recent occupation by the enemy could bo perceived. 
The troops bad not baited an hour before tbe citizens in the 
vicinity visited tbe camps to purchase salt, and other arti- 
cles of food. Contrabands, carrying small packs of clothing, 
were continually passing over the railroad to Alexandria dur- 
ing tbe period in which the brigade held this post. The train 
that conveyed Gen. Hooker to Warrenton, where the army 



THE BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG. 145 

had been concentrated, stopped at the Junction upon the 11th, 
and the troops received him with loud cheers. Gen. Halleck, 
than whom no officer was more universally detested hj the 
soldiers, arrived upon the following day ; but not one voice of 
welcome was heard in the laro-e number that knew he was 
present. Three hundred rebel prisoners were transported 
upon the railroad on the 13th ; and interesting conversations 
ensued, in which opinions were expressed about different gen- 
erals, and the success of their cause. One of them said, in a 
very sarcastic tone, " McDowell is a fine general : why don't you 
give him the sole command ? " The absurd suggestion created 
shouts of derisive laughter, in which friends and foes heartily 
joined. Upon the walls of a building which was the head- 
quarters of the brigade commander I read some inscriptions 
which had been written by the pickets of the enemy : ' ' Away 
goes the Yanks when they see the rebels approach them;" 
and, " T. W. Snead will never wear the gallmg yoke of a 
Northern Parliament." 

The army began to move to Falmouth upon the 16th'. The 
troops for two days were passing through this place ; and 
general confidence concerning the result was expressed, and 
many asserted that Richmond would be captured within a 
month. This change of base had not been anticipated; 
and workmen, who constructed two water-tanks at Bristow 
Station upon the 18th, removed them upon the 19th. The 
regiment waded through the Occoquan, at Wolf Ford, upon 
the 21st; and the brigade occupied a position of gi-eat natm'al 

10 



146 



strength, which the enemy had fortified when Centreville 
was held ; and forts had been built upon the crest of the 
hills, while the pines and cedars had been felled upon many 
acres to form the abattis. These earthworks were not con- 
sidered perfect by the general; and a detail was busily 
engaged in throwing up a new redoubt, when the orders to 
march were received. The brigade disappeared, and en- 
camped in the midst of the short pines of Falmouth upon the 
28th. A division general discovered the skins of some sheep 
in a field in which his troops had bivouacked, but was unable 
to find any mutton or criminals, and arbitrarily deducted a 
supply for one day from the rations of his command as a 
punishment. 

The shameful negligence of certain officials to forward the 
pontoons from Washington caused a fatal delay in the move- 
ment of the army ; and Lee was enabled to mass his forces 
upon the heights in the rear of Fredericksburg, and fortify 
these strong positions, while Jackson started from the Valley, 
and reached the field the night before his men were required 
for action. The northern bank rose abruptly from the 
Rappahannock, and completely commanded the city, which 
was compactly built upon the opposite side ; and the narrow 
stream flowed between the pickets of both annies, who gazed 
at each other from day to day without exchanging shots. 
Conversations were frequent until they were prohibited by 
the officers ; and the following remark was often made : 
" Yanks, before you can take Fredericksburg, you will have 



THE BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG. 147 

to get up Early, go throiigb a Longstreet, cross a Lee, 
jump over a Stonewall, and climb two Hills!" Many wore 
the Federal uniform ; and the rebel sentinels sometimes put 
on the overcoats of those that they relieved, and the r.eserve 
crept into the shelters and caves which had been excavated 
in the bank. The streets were filled with vehicles of all 
varieties, which were loaded with the baggage of the terror- 
stricken inhabitants, who were leaving the city to avoid the 
dangers of the battle that was looked for every day. Before 
the wharves at Acqnia Creek had been completed, acres of 
ground near the stations were covered with army-wagons that 
occasionally waited three days for supplies ; and the wheels 
were rumbling over the roads at all hours of the day and 
night. 

Orders were received, in the evening of Dec. 10, to 
furnish every man with sixty rounds of ammunition, and 
rations for three days ; hospitals were established ; and the 
soldiers beheld upon every side the usual preparations for a 
general engagement. The reports of two cannons reverber- 
ating with a peculiar distinctness in the dai'kness, at 51, a.m., 
upon the 11th, broke the quietness of the camps; and the 
same rounds, succeeded by a volley of musketry, were heard 
fifteen minutes afterwards. These were the guns that opened 
the battle of Fredericksburg. Near the ruins of the railroad 
biidge, the engineers had built one of pontoons, which ex- 
tended two-thirds of the distance across the river ; but the 
canister of the enemy prevented them from finishing it at 



148 



that time. The division marched at daybreak towards the 
point; and one hundred and forty-three pieces of ai-tillerj 
were placed in position upon the bluffs of the north bank, 
•while most of the infantry was concealed in the woods and 
ravines. A dense fog, which prevailed during the morning 
'and forenoon, rendered the progress of the general movement 
as hazardous as a conflict in the night ; and the delay that 
occun-ed in laying the pontoons allowed the foe time to unite 
the troops that guarded the fords with the main body. The 
fire of the batteries upon the left, and the gallantry of the 
forlorn hope upon the right, triumphed over all obstacles; 
and the bridges at Deep Run were finished at noon, and those 
at Fredericksburg were completed three hours later. One 
hundred thousand infantry, and a force of cavahy and 
artillery, debouched from these two points of crossing, which 
were nearly three miles apart, and formed in line of battle. 
There was no fighting during the day between large bodies of 
troops ; although the skirmishers were actively engaged, and 
the cannonading was sometimes brisk. The most deafening 
roar resounded when the guns opened upon the town with 
shot and shell; and clouds of smoke arose from burning 
edifices in every district. The brick houses protected the 
rebel sharpshooters, who frequently attempted to deceive the 
Union forces by clothing themselves in the dresses which they 
found in the deserted buildings. 

The division was held in the reserve upon the 12th; and 
from the field it occupied could be discerned the rifle-pits of 



THE BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG. 149 

the enemy upon the liclges, the national cokimns moving to 
theii' new positions, and the batteries which successfully 
silenced those of the foe throughout the battle. The first 
cannon was discharged at 9.20, a.m. ; and for half an hour a 
vigorous firing continued, in which the siege-guns planted 
upon the banks penetrated the innermost line of works, while 
they replied at long intervals with shells that could not reach 
the superior ordnance. The bivouac in the night aflfected the 
raw troops, that were constantly coughing; and new regi- 
ments could be quickly pointed out by this means. They 
were anxious to go into the fight, and " eager to enter the 
fray," in newspaper language; while the veterans, like old 
soldiers, did not wish to deploy upon the field unless their 
presence was indispensable. The division marched to the 
left, and halted for the night ; but the regiment received 
orders for special service at 9|-, p.m., and crossed the river 
upon a bridge that was composed of sixteen pontoons, which 
it was required to guard. There were no fii-es, because there 
was no wood ; and the men walked to and fro durmg many 
sombre hours to escape the chills that threatened them if they 
sought sleep. 

A state of stillness which was unnatural, when the proxi- 
mity of hostile ai-mies is considered, existed until mid-day of the 
10th : but the dispositions preparatory to an attack upon the 
enemy had been made ; and the history of that afternoon would , 
be aptly written in the blood of the gallant soldiers who 
assaulted impregnable works upon the right, and defied death 



150 THE MARCH TO FALMOUTH^ AND 

at the stone wall, the heights, and the mill-race. A citizen 
said with truth, to some companies that were marching 
through the city to the front, " The soldiers upoa those hills 
are looking down, and laughing to see you advancing to meet 
them." The lines extended from Deep Run a mile and a half 
to the left, and deployed upon the plateau that was nearly 
two miles from the river ; and the main portion of the army, 
comprising eight divisions of infantry, with 60,000 men, 28 
batteries containing 116 guns, and the force of cavaby which 
was sheltered by the bank in the rear, awaited the orders of 
Gen. Franklin. The enemy was hidden in the belt of woods 
in front ; but the land was very level : and there were more of 
the insurmountable obstacles that blocked the path to victory 
uppn the right; and a competent commander with such a large 
corps would have easily carried the position, which was de- 
fended by troops that were inferior in numbers and resources. 
When the opinions and sympathies which this officer enter- 
tained upon the vital issues of the Rebellion are publicly 
known, and his inglorious military career, from the first Bull 
Run to the disgraceful failures of the Sabine Pass and the 
Red-River Expedition, is scrutinized, all will be amazed that 
Gen. Franklin was intrusted by the Government with any 
command in the service. The batteries shelled the forest ; and 
at one, p.m., the ceaseless roll of musketry burst forth for the 
first time during the movement, and a single division gained a 
temporary success : but the inexcusable neglect to support it, 
resulted, as a matter of course, in defeat. The troops of one 



THE BATTLE OF FEEDERICKSBURG. 151 

of tbe largest corps, with the exception of a few sku^mishers, 
did not burn a cartridge ; and less than one-fifth of this vast 
army upon the left fought in the decisive battle. 

The wounded who could travel were continually returning 
from the front, and the helpless were carried by the ambu- 
lances and stretcher-bearers over the bridge ; and great vigi- 
lance was necessary to detect those that feigned sickness or 
wounds by tying a bandage stained with blood around their 
arms or heads, and prevent them from escaping across the 
river. An officer, assisted by two able-bodied men, slowly 
moved towards the bridge, until the colonel halted them, and 
directed the soldiers, in terms of the deepest kindness, to 
rejoin their company, and assured them that their commander 
should receive the best treatment. 

"My good man, what is the matter with you?" he 
blandly asked the lieutenant who had requested that those who 
bore him from the field might be allowed to remain and assist 
him. 

" I am wounded," he replied in a weak voice ; and an ex- 
pression of the most acute pain was visible in his face. 

" Doctor, will you dress his wound? He is just from the 
front." 

" I didn't say I was wounded : I am sick, and want to go 
over the river to be treated by my own doctor," he said when 
he saw the surgeon approach. 

** You can go as soon as you have been examined and re- 
ported unwell." 



152 THE MARCH TO FALMOUTH, AND 

It 

*'I will go any way," the officer exclaimed, and tried to 
rush by the guards who aiTested him. The colonel changed 
his soft words into hard oaths, struck him, and ordered the 
men to use the bayonet if he resisted them ; and the skulker 
ran towards the front without showing any loss of physical 
strength. Many scenes hke this occurred during the after- 
noon ; and the exact situation of affairs was ascertained from the 
disabled, who were always willing to tell the news in answer 
to the usual question, " How are things gomg? " When the 
facts attending the death of Gen. Bayard were received, the 
soldiers publicly uttered the wish that the cruel shell had 
missed its noble victim, and pierced Gen. Franklin, who was 
standing near him at the time. The prisoners were happy 
because they supposed that their lives were safe for a certain 
period ; and one of them remarked, when he saw a group of 
mounted men riding upon the distant heights, * ' That is Long- 
street upon the white horse, and his staff." 

The regiment rejoined the division at midnight upon the 
plateau, and learned the position of the enemy by watchmg 
the lights of the camp-jQi-es, which shone with distinctness in 
the darkness. The skirmishers commenced to fire with the 
first ray of sunlight upon the 14th : and until one, p.m., the 
sharpshooters, who were posted in the woods about a quarter 
of a mile from the line, shot at every person and horse that 
stood upon the plain, and occasionally wounded a man ; and 
soldiers who were aligned three hundred yards in rear of the 
regiment were killed by the bullets which whistled over it. 



THE BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBUEG. 153 

The field had been planted with corn ; and beds were made of 
the shucks and stalks, that were collected together, and placed 
in little gulleys and ditches which ran through it. The reb- 
els had bui'ned a house and barn in the night that interfered 
with the range of their artillery. A battery opened on the 
brigade at daybreak, but it was promptly silenced by a com- 
pany of sharpshooters from the 2d New-Hampshire Yols.; and 
a few cannon and officers, drivers and horses, fled in confusion, 
and left the guns and caissons. Throughout this contest, the 
skirmishers sheltered themselves behind stumps and other 
barriers ; and some scooped up a slight q^uantity of earth, and 
rested their rifles upon the bodies of dead soldiers that were 
frequently mutilated by the balls which were aimed at the 
Hving. A lieutenant in the brigade was wounded in the 
extreme front, and refused to allow the man to carry him to 
the hospital while the filing continued ; and rejoined his regi- 
ment within a month, before his injuries were healed, when 
there was a prospect of another battle. 

"Captain, where shall I bring your dinner?" asked a 
servant who was retuing to cook that meal. 

" I don't know : in hell, perhaps ! " the officer answered 
as he glanced at a shell which burst near the spot at that 
moment. 

The firing ceased m the afternoon, and a tacit truce ex- 
isted, during which the rebels permitted the members of the 
ambulance corps to convey the wounded to the rear, and 
brought others who were inside of their lines to the edge of 



154 



the woods -which was neutral gi'ound. A rare spectacle in 
war was witnessed when the soldiers of both armies talked 
together in the most friendly manner upon this space be- 
tween the pickets, while an animated conflict could be distin- 
guished at the distance of two miles to the right. They 
wished to exchange tobacco for "picture-papers," because 
the ordinary news-journals did not interest the large majority, 
who were unable to read. They informed the men that Jack- 
son commanded the army in front; and said, "In three 
days he will drive you into the river, or make you cross it." 
A private noticed a rebel officer, who was a native of the 
same town, and lived near his home until he emigrated to the 
South two years before the Bebellion : but, the instant that he 
recognized him, a feeling of utter degradation seemed to over- 
come him ; and, without saying a word, he rushed into the 
forest to conceal his emotion of shame. 

" Good-by, boys ; we will meet you in the fight to-mor- 
row," one of the regiment remarked when night approached; 
and the crowd dispersed. The rebels easily counted the 
guns and troops, which were massed upon the open plain, 
and formed the left of the army; and, wisely feai'ing the 
results of an advance by these battalions if they were prop- 
erly handled, worked after sunset on the 13th, 11th, and 
15th, and felled trees and erected breastworks until morn- 
ing. One-third of the men in each company were kept under 
ai'ms during the night ; and the only sounds that fell upon 
the ears of the faithful pickets were the strokes of a thousand 



THE BATTLE OF FREDEEICKSBURG. 155 

axes, and the crash of the massive oaks when they struck 
the earth. 

The same good feeling prevailed upon the 18th; and, 
although the troops might be exposed to the fire of artillery, 
the Union forces dug no extended rifle-pits, the brigade was 
never ordered to load, and the foe showed no wish to molest 
them. The regiment was relieved for a part of the day, and 
remained in the old road, the grade of which was several feet 
below 'the surface of the plateau, and reminded one of the 
famous sunken road of Waterloo. A flag of truce entered 
the lines in the afternoon ; and the gunners, who had fled 
from the battery near the burnt chimney at sunrise upon the 
14th, attempted to take away the caissons and cannons which 
had remained in the same position more than thirty hours. 
The watchful captain opened his artillery upon them, and 
they again, within a few minutes, deserted their pieces; while 
dismounted officers and men and riderless horses scampered 
with a speed that caused general laughter. A company from 
the regiment was stationed upon picket, and an agreement 
was made that there should be no firing; and the enemy 
began to labor in the night with unusual industry. The sen- 
tinels discovered, by noticing the clanking iron, rumbling 
wheels, and similar sounds, that cannon were being mounted 
upon the forts to sweep the plateau, which presented no nat- 
ural or artificial obstacles which would check the passage of 
shells and canister. Dippers were placed, in the haversacks 
to prevent the incessant tinklmg which is always made by 



156 THE MARCH TO FALMOUTH, AND 

marching troops ; tbe force quietly glided from tbe fort a few 
minutes before midniglit ; and tbe pontoons creaked beneath 
the tread of a discomfited army during the succeeding four 
hours. The weather, which is a subject of stale conversation 
in peace, but of the gi-eatest importance to soldiers in a cam- 
paign, had been pleasant up to this time : the ground was 
hard, and the heavy guns rolled over the roads with ease. 
Nature now changed its kind aspect to favor the retreat ; over- 
cast the skies with black clouds that shut out the light of the 
moon, so that the hostile forces could not see; and roughly 
waved the branches of the forest over their heads, so that 
they were unable to hear ; and the divisions escaped to the 
old camps undisturbed by a solitary shot. The Union pickets 
did not know the time when the main body marched to the 
river, and cautiously crept upon their hands and knees to 
the sunken road, when they received orders to fall back. 

The Virginia Central Raiboad passed through the rebel 
lines, and trains constantly conveyed ammunition and re-enforce- 
ments from Richmond, or carried the wounded and prisoners 
from the battle-field ; and the smoke that arose from the con- 
flict mingled with that of the locomotives. The sutlers, and 
storekeepers of Fredericksburg, concealed large quantities of 
tobacco ; and the soldiers, among whom there was always a 
senseless clamor for a " chaw " or " smoke " (I have seen 
fools barter a day's ration of bread for a small piece of the 
weed), eagerly obtained a supply from some boxes that were 
scattered upon the bottom of the streams. Some of the 



THE BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG. 157 

troops tliat bivouacked witliin the limits of the city pillao-ed 
the deserted houses of rich rebels who had cheerfully allowed 
the sharpshooters to fii-e from the windows and murder their 
comrades. MiiTors, JDianos, and gorgeous furniture were de- 
stroyed; beautiful paintings and family-portraits upon the 
walls were cut ; busts were decapitated ; and elegant silk 
dresses and garments were torn into shreds. The bricks 
-which fell from the chimneys during the bombardment, and 
the partitions of shattered buildings, injured the soldiers who 
were deployed in the streets ; while the inhabitants that had 
not escaped crouched in cellars, and dreaded alike the balls 
that came from friends and foes. A citizen who viewed the 
subject from a personal stand-point, in commenting upon the 
conduct of the army, said, " All soldiers are the same : 
the Confederates robbed me of all I had, and you Yankees 
took all I had left." 

The rain gushed from the clouds for hours upon the 16th ; 
and^ if there had been any delay in recrossing the river, the 
cannons and wagons would have been fixed in the adhesive 
mud of a Southern winter, and the most disastrous results 
would have followed. The forces of the enemy advanced in 
line of battle in the morning as soon as the evacuation was 
perceived, plundered the dead, and gathered all the clothing 
that had been cast aside by the army ; and a battery opened 
upon them, and the battle of Fredericksburg was finished. 
The repulse caused universal despondency ; and the soldiers 
of Lee exultingly told the detail that crossed the river under 



158 THE MARCH TO FALMOUTH, ETC. 

a flag of truce to bury the dead, that there would he no 
more fighting, and the Southern Confederacy would be ac- 
knowledged as a nation within two months. The rebel gen- 
erals urged their hordes in each conflict to win the victory, 
and then they could return to their homes, and enjoy the 
rights for which they were contending, and — 

" Keap the harvest of perpetual peace 
By this one bloody trial of sharp war," 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE CAMP AT FALMOUTH, VIEGINIA. 

y^VOR three days the army had been under marching 
'^BT orders ; and the" division, equipped for battle and 
/-^/ commanded by Gen. Sickles, moved two miles at 
' one, P.M., upon Jan. 20, 1863; halted until night 
in the severe storm, and then returned to quarters. The 
troops that belonged to the left grand division, under Gen. 
Franklin, filed by the regiment, and muttered bitter curses 
against certain officers who exhausted them by moving at an 
unnatural rate of speed, and giving no permission to rest, al- 
though most of them were eight miles from the starting-point. 
These sinister commanders eJBfected their purpose, and filled 
the woods that bordered upon the roads with thousands of 
strao-Mers who could not sustain the cruel fatio;ue of the 
march ; and some reckless men openly insulted them, and 
shouted defiantly as they brandished their bayonets, " Shoot 
us, if you want to kill us ! " "Ride over me if you dare 
to ! " " Get off your horse, and carry this knapsack, and see 
how you like it!" while hundreds screamed, "Halt, halt, 
halt ! " or, " I'm demoralized ! " Less than one-half of Gen. 
Franklin's force that shouldered muskets in the afternoon 

159 



160 THE CAMP AT FALMOUTH, VIRGINIA. 

formed a part of the ranks wben the lines were established at 
ni^ht. This dishonorable conduct of certain officers of hio;h 
rank, who did not cordially support Gen. Burnside, produced 
among the soldiers a feeling of distrust regarding the success 
of the movement before the river was bridged. 

The rain continued hour after hour, while the division 
struggled through the mud, upon the 21st, for a distance of 
five miles to the right, and halted at a point that was near 
the ford at which the troops were to cross the Rappahannock. 
The soil of Virginia was a more formidable obstacle than the 
legions of Jackson and Longstreet. The animals were con- 
stantly mired, and foui* mules were entirely exhausted by 
drawing nine hundred pounds of rations from the camps in a 
wagon ; while twelve horses attached to a light cannon extri- 
cated it with difficulty, although four of them pulled the gun 
upon ordinaiy roads. "When they bivouacked, logs were 
placed under the wheels of the artillery and teams to prevent 
them from sinking into the earth which wished to receive 
them ; and most of the pontoon train was firmly planted at 
different points. The rebel pickets, who understood the state 
of facts in the army, expressed their delight by performing 
somersets and other feats of agility, and shouted, ''Why 
don't you cross the river? " " Bring up the pontoons, and 
we'll lay them for you." " The Yanks are stuck in the mud." 
The campaign ("mud-scrape") was necessarily abandoned ; 
the soldiers corduroyed the roads during the next two days 
with fence-rails and trees, so that the batteries could safely re- 



THE CAMP AT FALMOUTH, VIRGINIA. 161 

turn ; and the whole army followed them to the old camps, and 
began to erect winter quarters. 

The division, enveloped in the flakes of falling snow, 
marched to Hartwood Church upon Feb. 5 to guard the fords 
upon the river ; while a force of cavalry advanced to Rappa- 
hannock Station, and burned the bridge which the enemy had 
recently constructed. The brigade and a battery were posted 
near Richard's and United-States Fords ; and at the last- 
named place the short pines had been felled to put the artil- 
ery in position ; telegraph-poles had been erected, and the 
way had been cleared for the passage of the troops. The foe 
built some redoubts upon the opposite bank, to command the 
point of crossing, a few hours before the plan of attack was 
made ; and Gen. Burnside was again baffled. The trees had 
been marked to guide the cavalry to various positions ; and 
many pines in the forest were snapped asunder by the weight 
of snow. The regiment passed by the "gold mine," upon 
which operations had been suspended since the beginning of 
the war ; and a woman, who stood in the doorway of a house, 
said, "If I was a man, I should shoulder a musket, and 
shoot some of you." A squad of the butternut cavalry was 
upon picket ; but the river was not fordable at this time, and 
the division rejoined the corps as soon as the force returned 
from Rappahannock Station. While serving upon the staflT 
dui'ing this expedition, I witnessed an incident which illus- 
trates military matters in certain respects. The major of a 
squadron of cavalry casually remarked that he was born in 
11 



162 



the State of Rhode Island ; at which a brigade commander 
spoke, " One of my best officers came from Rhode Ishmd." 
He then introduced to him a chaplain, and added, " And a 
d — d good chaplain he is too." The clerical subject of 
the conversation with a smile of satisfaction thanked the per- 
son that uttered the compliment. The general, who lived in 
a comfortable brick mansion that was four miles from a part 
of his division and eight miles from the remainder, never 
visited the fords which he was ordered to protect ; while the 
troops, exposed to the merciless sleet, were stationed at their 
posts to resist the attack that was expected. However, he 
issued a pompous o^er of thanks to the soldiers that he had 
seen upon two occasions when they were marching from and 
to the camps, commended in tender words their fortitude in 
enduring the storm, and declared that he felt a pride in lead- 
ing such brave men to scenes of danger. 

The winter season was marked by no unusual features, and 
the routine of camp and picket g-uard, and labor upon the 
roads, constituted the military duties for four months. -The 
enormous quantity o^ wood that was requned for the barracks 
and camp-fires rapidly exhausted the forests, and thousands of 
acres were covered with stumps. An old resident said to the 
pickets that were posted near his house, " After the war there 
will be no rails, and no wood to make them." Buildings 
were levelled; fences burned; the bricks and stones of 
capacious chimneys formed the flues of log huts ; the wagon 
trains and batteries cut new thoroughfares across the estates ; 



THE CAMP AT FALMOUTH, VIRGINIA. 163 

the feet of men, and boofs of horses and mules, trampled fields 
of vegetation into ban-en wastes ; every landmark was de- 
stroyed ; and the work of destruction within the lines was com- 
plete. The indolence of soldiers dwelling in a permanent 
camp, when their eflforts are not stimulated by the presence of 
an enemy, is remarkable ; and ten men from a new regiment 
will perform as much labor as one hundred veterans, until 
they have been corrupted by the bad example of shnking 
comrades. Upon March 4th, four hundred and fifty soldiers, 
supposed to be working seven hours, corduroyed one hundred 
and fifty feet of an old road that was thirteen feet wide, al- 
though the logs were cut upon the bank, and covered it with 
a slight quantity of earth. There is much more grumbling 
and dissension in the camp than on the march : the mind is 
active when the body is inert ; and it is a singular fact, that 
those whose physical comforts were the least at home make 
the loudest complaints about the quality of the rations and 
the Government clothing; and the men that earned a livelihood 
with the shovel were generally the most unwilling to handle 
it in the army. 

The soldiers who had fought under Gen. Hooker were de- 
lighted when he was appointed to command the army ; but 
many ofl&cers of high rank were dissatisfied, and, assisted by 
others who had been most justly deprived of their positions, 
sought to undermine the confidence of the people and enhsted 
men by representhig him as a common drunkard. The cav- 
alry, which had hitherto rendered little if any actual service, 



164 THE CAMP AT FALMOUTH, VIRGINIA. 

and was usually detailed for ornamental and escort duty, was 
inspired with a new energy when he re-organized this invalua- 
ble auxiliary, and ordered the officers to prepare for the severe 
jQghting from which they had been so long exempt. A vast 
injury had been inflicted upon the country by the department 
which followed the erroneous advice of Generals McDowell, 
Franklin, and others who entertained the same views, and 
prohibited in the first year of the war the formation of the 
mounted regiments that were demanded. The following brief 
extracts are taken from their testimony under oath before the 
Congressional Committee, and show a deep ignorance of the 
science of war, which seems astounding when their advan- 
tages of education at West Point are considered. Gen. 
Franklin said, in different answers, " We have a great deal 
more cavahy than any of us need." "I really think that 
two thousand cavalry is all that we want for the whole army. 
I would not give a snap for more than one-third of what I 
have now." He had less than a thousand cavalry with his 
division, that exceeded twelve thousand soldiers. " I would 
never think of making a cavalry fight or a cavalry charge." 
Gen. McDowell remarked in reply to questions, "I think 
we might do with less than that " (meaning thereby less than 
twelve regiments of cavalry to one hundred and forty-four of 
infantry) . " If we were to be organized by corps of three 
divisions each, two regiments of cavalry would be perfectly 
sufficient for the three divisions " (meaning thereby that a 
force of eight thousand cavalry " would be perfectly sufficient " 



165 



for an aimy of one hundred and forty-four thousand infantry). 
The world has long ridiculed Phormio, the civilian, for de- 
livering an oration to Hannibal upon the strategy of war ; but 
he was wiser than these military teachers who were examined 
by the Congressmen searching for knowledge. A private 
who should express shallow opinions like the foregoing would 
not be reccommended for the rank of corporal in a colored 
regiment by a competent board, that ' ' would not give a snap 
for more than one third of" such an ignoramus. What dire- 
ful results would have ensued if these generals had succeeded 
in their aspirations to attain the command of the Army of the 
Potomac, and paralyzed that cavalry which has won a glory 
as brilliant as that of the divisions that followed the white 
plume of INIurat ! A force of cavalry crossed the river at 
Kellv's Ford upon March 17 ; defeated the enemy in a desper- 
ate fight and charge, which amazed those who " would never 
think " of making them; and returned to the camps elated by 
their first victory upon the field of battle. 

Gen. Kearney, at Fair Oaks, ordered his soldiers to sew 
a piece of red flannel to their caps, so that he could recognize 
them in the tumult of a battle, and detect those who attempted 
to evade the performance of their duty. Gen. Hooker intro- 
duced into the whole army the system of badges, which was 
of incalculable value; and henceforth the members of the 
various divisions in the corps wore, as emblems of honor, 
the red, white, or blue circle, the trefoil, the lozenge, the 
Maltese and plain cross, and the star. The men inscribed 



166 THE CAMP AT FALMOUTH, VIRGINIA. 

upon them the names of generals whose memories were cher- 
ished ; and, disregarding the actual commander, styled them- 
selves as soldiers of their " old brigade," or " old division." 

Thus month after month passed quietly away. The gi'ass 
began to sprout in the sods of the barracks, and the rumors 
of an advance daily thickened. No shots were exchanged 
between the pickets, who pushed their bayonets into the 
ground, and made water-wheels or ornaments of bone and 
laurel-wood to occupy the weary hours, and floated across the 
river boats and sticks, to which newspapers were fastened for 
sails. The brigade guarded the right of the army, and re- 
mained three days upon this duty, during which it was usually 
commanded by a field-officer, while the general enjoyed the 
safety and comfort of his tent in the camp. Upon one 
occasion, when Stuart crossed the stream and an attack was 
anticipated, a brigadier boldly ordered a colonel, who had 
arrived from his home which he had visited with leave, to 
proceed at once to the front, and take charge of his troops. 
The conduct of this starred poltroon was in striking contrast 
with that of commanders like Generals Kearney, Hooker, 
Grover, and others, who frequently inspected their picket- 
lines, and bivouacked at the front whenever a contest was 
imminent. It was a common practice to fish in the Eappa- 
hannock, until it was forbidden, because the citizens of 
Falmouth were detected in the act of signalizing to the enemy 
by means of the poles. The soldiers generously supported a 
foe, who was a cripple, and lived with his family near the 



THE CAMP AT FALMOUTH, VIRGINIA. 167 

outposts ; and every relief shared witli him the rations, split 
and carried wood to his hovel, and heaped coals of fire upon 
his hearth. 

The removal of the surplus stores of private and public 
property, and the activity which was visible in every branch 
of the service, were the forerunners of another campaign; 
and the disappearance of the mud would be the signal for 
the forward march. Inspections and reviews were often 
witnessed; and the spectators beheld with admiration the 
generals, with their gayly dressed staffs, mounted upon richly 
caparisoned steeds, as they dashed with great speed along the 
extensive lines, and the martial tread and evolutions of the 
vast columns comprising 60,000 soldiers upon the cheerless 
plains of Falmouth. These occasions were extremely dis- 
tasteful to the rank and file, who viewed with indignation 
hundreds of showy officers who were non-combatants, and 
never faced the rebels upon the battle-field, but lurked in the 
rear with the trains of wagons and herds of cattle. I have 
frequently seen only four or five aides with the general when 
the conflict was raging, while upon the harmless parade the 
number increased to a score, who rushed over the ground 
with the velocity and importance of a " great god of war," in 
a militia sham-fight. Orders were received upon April 13 
to march with rations for five days in the knapsacks, besides 
the ordinary supply fur three days in the haversacks ; but a 
flood checked the movement on the day that was designated, 
and the food was consumed in the camps. I quote, in this 



168 



connection, another strange and inaccurate statement from the 
pamphlet of the Prince de Joinville, without further comment: 
*' In Europe, our military administration assumes that the 
transjDortation-service of an army of one hundred thousand 
men can only provision that army for a three-days' march from 
its base of operations. In America, this limit must be reduced 
to a single day. An American army, therefore, cannot 
remove itself more than one day's march from the railway or 
"water-coui'se by which it is supplied." 



CHAPTEE X. 

THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLOESVILLE. 

/^l^j^HE divisions of the army, laden with sixty rounds 
/'J of cartridges, and rations for eight days, comprising 
^^jy five articles, — salt pork, hard bread, salt, sugar, and 
coffee, — broke up the encampments upon April 27, 
1863, in which they had lived for the period of six months ; 
and quit them for the fourth time, with the expectation that 
they would never return to Falmouth. The long columns of 
infantry, followed by the batteries, the packed mules, and 
the ambulances, marched in the afternoon in a tortuous 
course behind the hills upon the northern bank of the river 
to conceal theu' movements from the eyes of the enemy. At 
midnight, three corps, the first, thhd, and sixth, concentrated 
at the same point, near Deep Eun, which the regiment held 
in December ; while the remaining corps, including a part of 
the second, passed by the brigade when it was upon picket, 
and moved in the direction of the upper fords of the Eappa- 
hannock. The pontoons were placed upon the shoulders of 
the men, who transported them to the river, over which they 
stealthily glided, and captured the rebel force that was shel- 
tered behind two rifle-pits to resist the attempt of any body 

169 



170 THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLORSVILLE. 

of troops to cross. Two divisions were deployed in line of 
battle upon tlie opposite bank during the day : the hostile 
skirmishers sat upon the plain a few rods apart, without firing 
or making any advance ; and, at times, the flashing bayonets 
showed that columns of the enemy were marching in the 
sunken road. It rained at intervals upon the 29th, but no 
changes were observed in the dispositions upon the left ; and 
these troops, exposed to cannon and thousands of rifles, which 
might open upon them at any instant, stacked their guns, 
pitched shelter-tents, cooked their meals, and the officers of 
many cpmpanies, upon both sides of the river, were making 
the regular muster and pay-rolls. A dense fog obscured the 
view during the forenoon of the 30 th ; but the same state of 
quietness reigned until the order of Gen. Hooker was read to 
the soldiers amidst loud cheers, when they learned that the foe 
must " ingloriously fly," or "give us battle on our own 
ground, where certain destruction awaits him." The balloon 
rose at noon in the south-west, and appeared, from this stand- 
point, to be in the rear of the Heights of Fredericksburg, 
and removed every doubt regarding the success of the Union 
arms. ^ few minutes before twelve, m., the division com- 
manded by Gen. Berry, and the thnd corps, under Gen. 
Sickles, meandered through valleys and over the slopes of 
rising ground ; and no men were allowed to stand or walk 
upon the crest : so that they were shielded from observation. 
They bivouacked near Hartwood Church at midnight. The 
excessive weight which was carried by the troops increased 



THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLORSVILLE. 171 

the severity of the long march, the line of which could be 
traced by glancing at the overcoats and blankets which were 
scattered to alleviate suffering, and formed, in many sjDots, 
a carpet upon the road. 

The corps was in motion at the dawn of May Day ; and 
reeled across the stream at the United-States Ford, with the 
uncertain steps of the drunkard, upon the pontoon bridge 
which swayed to and fro in the rapidly-flowing current. One 
hundred squalid prisoners, who were captured at Germania 
Ford upon the Rapidan, passed by the column under guard; 
and one of them shouted, " You will need three years' rations 
before you can get Richmond." Their action in surrendering 
to the national forces refuted their constant boasts that they 
would fight until the last drop of blood was shed. The regi- 
ment rested in an old rebel camp until five, p.m. , when the 
cannonading was active : the division was ordered to double- 
quick to the front, and formed at sunset a part of the army, 
of which the principal portion had been massed at Chancel- 
lorsville, with scarcely any loss, by the consummate ability of 
its commander. The aristocratic slave-holders of Virginia, 
adopting the custom which their ancestors had brought from 
England, gave to their estates the name of the family, with 
the suffix of a ly, or dale, or ville ; and some of these do- 
mains, like Chantilly, had been the scenes of deadly conflict, 
and become endeared in many Northern homes. Chancel- 
lorsville consisted of a large brick building, built in the style 
of the last century, and with the exception of massive pillars 



172 THE BATTLE OP CHANCELLORSVILLE. 

in its front, that extended from the basement to the roof, was 
very plain in its appearance. Negro cabins, cooking-houses, 
and other small outbuildings, were upon the grounds near 
the dwelling, which was occupied by the Chancellor Family ; 
and the garden contained a private cemetery, which was 
planted with pines and savins, beneath the branches of which 
the kindred of the proprietors slept in their graves. The 
regiment loaded the muskets while it was moving upon the 
road which led from the United-States Ford ; bivouacked in 
the forest, a short distance from the mansion ; and the can- 
nonading and picket-firing caused the formation of the lines 
for action several times during the night. Three companies 
were detailed to guard prisoners and cattle, and those who 
had charge of the latter found that it was the most difficult 
task. 

The sky displayed its clearest blue at day-break upon May 
2 ; and from right to left the skirmishers and sharpshooters 
of both armies were continually engaged ; and — 

"'Twixt host and host but narrow space was left, — 
^ A dreadful interval." 

In the vicinity of Chancellor House there was a large tract 
of open ground, upon which the artillery was posted in large 
force ; and the brigade, relieved of its knapsacks and haver- 
sacks, which were left in the woods under a small guard, 
marched to this point, and supported a battery which was 
planted across the plank road that ran from Fredericksburg 



THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLORS VILLE. 173 

to Orange Court House. The gunners cheered during a spir- 
ited contest with the enemy ; and the huge volume of smoke 
which slowly ascended showed that a well-directed shot had 
exploded a caisson. The troops, at this time, were in an ex- 
cellent state of discipline : there were not six soldiers absent' 
without leave from the regiment ; and the few stragglers were 
arrested by the provost-guard, and placed with tjae skirmish- 
ers in the extreme front; and some received the mortal 
wounds which they had tried to shun by dishonorable con- 
duct. The first line was resting behind a strong breastwork ; 
and the soldiers were cooking coffee — the chief luxury of 
the army — upon their fires, as unconcerned as if they were 
in camp. 

The regiment was detached for a special service at half- 
past seven, a.m., and advanced towards the run, with five 
companies deployed as skirmishers, upon both sides of the 
plank road, in the form of an inverted <1 with the apex 
in the centre of it, and forced back the enemy half a mile, 
until the muskets commanded the ground ; upon which I saw 
a confused mass of dead horses, broken wheels^ and the frag- 
ments of the shattered caisson. At three, p.m., the pickets 
upon the right heard a few sentences of the speech of an 
officer to his command, in which he reminded the soldiers that 
the "Yanks" had plenty of rations; and concluded by 
asking, — 

" Men, will you sleep upon that hill to-night? " 
"Yes!" "Yes!" " We will ! " "WewiU!" many 



174 THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLORSVILLE. 

voices answered. The skirmishers were quickly driven in by 
the onset of a brigade that advanced with fixed bayonets 
and a terrible yell that defined with accuracy the extent of 
^the line of battle, so that the men knew in what direction to 
aim, — a fact of vital importance, that could not be ascer- 
tained in the forest, which was overgrown with stunted oaks. 
The companies that had been stationed upon the outposts 
hurriedly formed upon the reserve, which was posted in the 
road ; and a battery enfiladed the ranks, while a fierce charge 
was made upon them by an infantry force. The enemy was 
repulsed at the end of three-quarters of an hour in the most 
signal manner ; and the commander expressed his satisfaction 
with the glorious result by shouting, — 

" Now, my good men, give three cheers for hell ! Three 
cheers for hell!" he repeated; and the victors huzzaed. 
The skirmishers were promptly deployed ; and the rebels, who 
tried to mislead and draw their fire by displaying blankets 
and butternut clothing, dodged from tree to tree until the 
orio;inal line was ao;ain established. 

A professional skulker, who had been unable to elude the 
vigilance of his officers when this assault was made, threw 
himself upon the ground, groaning and whining, " Oh ! I'm 
so sick! — oh! I'm so sick!" — but his disease vanished 
when the foe fled. A man who was loading his musket 
threw away the cartridge, with a fearful oath about govern- 
ment contractors ; and I noticed that the paper was filled with 
fine grains of dry earth instead of gunpowder. In the thick- 



THE BATTLE OP CHANCELLOESVILLE. 175 

est of the firing, an officer seized an excited soldier wlio dis- 
charged his piece with trembling hands near the ears and en- 
dangered the lives of his comrades, and kicked him into the 
centre of the road. Trade prospered throughout the day, and 
the United-States sharpshooters were constantly exchanging 
their dark-green caps for the regulation-hats which were worn 
by the regiment. The captain of one of the companies of 
skirmishers was posted near a brook at the base of a slight 
ascent upon which the enemy was massed, and there was a 
scattering fire of bullets which cautioned all to " lie down." 
While he was rectifying the alignment, he perceived with 
amazement one of his men, who sat astride a log, and washed 
his hands and face, and then cleansed the towel with a piece 
of soap which he carried. One sharpshooter shielded himself 
behind a blanket, and another concealed himself behind an 
empty cracker-box, the sides of which were half an inch in 
thickness, exposed his person as little as possible, and felt as 
secure as the ostrich with his head buried in the sand. 

At five, P.M., the sentinel in the top of a high tree re- 
ported that the rebels were forming then- Hnes of battle upon 
the left, near the point at which there were three companies, 
■which were supported by small details from several regiments 
in Gen. Hancock's division of the second corps. Another 
force menaced those upon the right at the same tune. The 
reserve of the first body of troops held a rifle-pit which had 
been built across the plank road ; and the two lines of battle 
formed the base and perpendicular of a right-angled triangle, 



176 THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLORSVILLE. 

SO that the bullets fired by the CDomy at one detachment 
would enfilade the other : but a few large oaks and the for- 
mation of the gi'ound afforded a slight protection. The omi- 
nous silence of the sharpshooters in front was a sure indication 
that the main force was approaching ; and a rebel ofiicer upon 
the left brought every man into his place in the ranks by ex- 
claiming to his command, " Forward, double-quick, march ! " 
** Guide left ! " The hideous yells once more disclosed their 
position in the dark woods ; but the Yollcys of buck and ball, 
and the recollection of the previous repulse, quickly hushed 
their outcries, and they were again vanquished. The conflict 
upon the left still continued ; and the defeated soldiers began 
to re-enforce the troops that were striving by desperate efforts 
to pierce the line, until a company swept the road with its fii-e, 
and checked the movement ; and only one or two rebels, at 
intervals, leaped across the deadly chasm. A demand for 
ammunition was now heard, — the most fearful cry of dis- 
tress in a battle, — and every man upon the right contrib- 
uted a few cartridges, which were carried to the scene of 
action in the hats of the donors. The forty rounds which 
j&ll the magazines are sufficient for any combat, unless the 
troops are protected by earthworks or a natural barrier ; and 
the extra cartridges, which must be placed in the pockets and 
knapsacks, are seldom used. 

Two companies, including the one to which the author was 
attached, double-quicked to the rifle-pit ; while those who were 
in the road, and not engaged, loudly cheered to deter the 



THE BATTLE OP CHANCELLORSYILLE. 177 

foe : and tlie men fought behind breastworks for the first time, 
although they had performed months of labor upon fortifica- 
tions which were never assaulted. It was after sunset ; but 
the flashes of the rifles in the darkness were the targets at 
which the guns were fired, until the enemy retired at nine, 
P.M., and the din of musketry was succeeded by the gi'oans 
of the wounded. Fresh troops had been thrown upon this 
point : the flying balls drummed a queer discord when they 
struck the logs and bank, but the defenders entertained no 
thought of retreating; and, when the last bullet had been 
discharged, the bayonet was fixed ; and it was a common re- 
mark, " When they come near enough, I will use this." 
The song of the whippoorwills increased the gloom that per- 
vaded the forest ; and the pickets carefully listened to them, 
because the hostile skirmishers might signal to each other by 
imitating the mournful notes. The rebels gave a yell as soon 
as they were beyond the range of Union bullets, and repeated 
it in tones which grew more distinct when they had retreated 
a gTeat distance and considered themselves safe. The abat- 
tis upon the extreme left was set on fire in this prolonged 
struggle ; and a gallant sergeant — who fell at Gettysburg 
— sprang over the work, and averted the most serious results 
by pouring water from the canteens of his comrades until the 
flames were extiDguished. The regiment was relieved at 
midnight, and returned to the bivouac, where the men grasped 
the haversacks which had remained there since the morning, 
and eagerly devoured the simple rations with the sauce of 
12 



178 THE BATTLE OP CHANCELLOESVILLE. 

Iiuuger, which the lack of food for eighteen hours, and espe- 
cially the excitement and labor of the day, had rendered in- 
tense. Gen. Hancock, who belonged to a different corps, 
made an honorable mention in his report of their behavior, 
with which he was perfectly satisfied ; and addressed a special 
letter of thanks to the colonel and the command for their 
valuable services. 

While this small force had thus valiantly performed its duty, 
and repelled the successive assaults of superior numbers, the 
musketry resounded two miles to the right ; and a spectacle of 
shameful cowardice was witnessed, which can be rarely paral- 
leled in the history of civilized warfare. The eleventh corps, 
which was the largest, and held the post of honor upon the 
right of the army, was stationed behind strong earthworks, 
which, according to military treatises, rendered one soldier who 
defends equal to at least three that attack. The yells of 
Jackson's advancing troops broke these powerful lines a few 
minutes after four, p.m. ; and the German regiments that 
composed the main portion of the corps basely fled without 
receiving a volley, and rushed pell-mell by thousands upon 
the road to the ford, wholly demoralized by fear, and made 
no attempt to re-form their ranks. Rebel prisoners who were 
captured upon the following day assured me that their brigades 
reached the works without any opposition ; and the command- 
ers were convinced that there must be some artifice, because 
no one could conceive any excuse for the sudden evacuation 
of rifle-pits of such formidable strength. The officers of other 



THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLORSVILLE. 179 

corps made themselves speechless by striving to rally the 
"flying Dutchman," who was no longer an illusion, but a des- 
picable reality ; and the cavalry with their sabres, generals 
and staffs with revolvers, and artillerists with whips and ram- 
mers, vainly attempted to stop the disgraceful flight, which was 
finally checked by the Rappahannock. "Yar ish de pon- 
toons?" " Der wash too many mens for us ; " "I ish going 
to mine company," they continually exclaimed. A squad of 
the fugitives entered the regiment, and repeated the skulker's 
stoiy, that their commands were " all cut to pieces;" " We 
are aJI that are left ; " and, " They fought until their ammuni- 
nition was gone." The colonel, observing that their muskets 
were unstained, opened their magazines, and, finding that they 
had not used a solitary cartridge, denounced their conduct in 
the strongest language, and remarked, " I should detail some 
of my good men to shoot you ; but they have no ammunition 
to waste upon your worthless carcasses. ' ' A cavalry-man halted 
one of the foreign generals who was dashing to the rear ; who 
indignantly asked, " What for you stop me ; you a private, and 
me a general? " — "I don't care who you are : I should stop 
you if you had been the devil," the soldier defiantly replied. 

" That d d eleventh corps stole my voice," whispered a 

field-officer upon Gen. Hooker's staff on the next morning. 

Gen. Howard, who commanded them, performed his duty, 
and was cheered by the troops of other corps ; but he was 
oppressed by the feeling that his reputation had been ruined, 



180 THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLORSVILLE. 

and he sadly spoke : " Don't cheer for me; I don't deserve 
your cheers." The poet has truly said, — 

" What can ennoble . . . cowards ? 
Alas I not all the blood of all the Howards." 

The Germans sought to escape the censure which the whole' 
army justly bestowed upon them by tearing the badges from 
their caps, — for the crescent was recognized as the insignia of a 
poltroon, — and giving the number of "one of the reliable corps 
if they were questioned about the command to which they be- 
longed. The few brave American regiments shed tears of 
mortification, and earnestly entreated that they might be 
transferred to brigades which were composed of their country- 
men. Thus a splendid position that had been gained was 
lost ; a large body of troops showed that they could not be re- 
lied upon if placed in any post of danger ; and the army nar- 
rowly avoided the destruction which had been skilfully planned 
for the enemy. V 

The division formed its line in the woods upon the jDlank 
road, and checked the advance of the foe ; and the soldiers 
marched by the Chancellor House during the night, noticed 
with pride that the headquarters of their old commander bore 
the marks of the conflict, and rejoined the brigade which was 
posted upon the right of the broad avenue. The first line of 
battle built a slight earthwork with a few spades which had 
been thrown away by the pioneers of the eleventh corps. 
The skirmishers began to exchange shots at daybreak upon 



THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLORSVILLE. 181 

^lay 3 ; and a bullet penetrated the head of a lieutenant who 
was asleep in the adjoining company, and he never moved. 
There was a ceaseless roll of musketry : at half-past five, a.m., 
the batteries emitted destructive charges of canister, and most 
of the men in the ranks of the support crouched upon the 
ground while the balls passed over them. For two hours 
the hordes of Jackson, encouraged by their easy victory upon 
May 2, screamed like fiends, assailed the troops that defended 
the plank road, and succeeded in turning their left, and com- 
pelling them to retire through the forest, and re-form their 
shattered lines. There was no running : the soldiers fell back 
slowly, company after company, and wished for some directing 
mind to select a new position. Unfortunately the national 
cause had lost Gen. Berry, the brave commander of the 
division ; the ranking brigadier. Gen. Mott, was wounded; 
another brigadier was an aiTant coward ; and the largest part 
of nine regiments were marched three miles to the rear by one 
of the generals without any orders. The regiments of the 
brigade, under the supervision of their field and line officers, 
rallied in the open field near the Chancellor House, which was 
the focus upon which Lee concentrated his batteries, until the 
shells ignited it ; and the flames consumed some of the wounded 
who were helpless ; and three women, that remained in the 
cellar for safety, barely escaped from the ruins. The brigade 
was aligned upon the road to the United-States ford at nine, 
A.M., and the men recovered their knapsacks in the midst of 
a heavy cannonading which still continued. No symptoms 



182 THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLORSVILLE. 

of fear were manifested, altliougli the artillery was planted 
upon the left, in the rear and the front, from which point 
most of the shells were hurled ; and the force was threatened 
with capture. The infantry firing ceased at ten, a.m. ; and * 
the rebels that had suffered a large loss and achieved a partial 
success fortified their new position, which was parallel with 
the plank road, and posted their left in the woods upon the 
same ground which the division had been forced to leave. 
The corps was massed at eleven, a.m., near the White House, 
which was a mile from Chancellors ville ; and the remaining 
hours of the day were frequently disturbed by the picket- 
firing and an occasional shelling. 

The scenes that are always witnessed upon the field of car- 
nage were increased by the fires in the extensive forest, which 
burned the wounded of both armies, and tortured the just 
and the unjust. Some soldiers of the regiment, who felt the 
glow of the raging flames that every second came nearer, 
and knowing that their comrades were fighting in another 
part of the hue, and the ambulance corps was miles in the 
real', calculated the number of minutes which they expected 
to survive. A small brook of stagnant water, which divided 
the company into platoons, in the morning became a river of 
life, over which the fire hissed, and vainly darted its deadly 
tongues to strike the helpless. A rebel and a member of the 
brigade rested together near an oak, and mutually assisted each 
other to fight this terrible enemy ; and joyfully clasped their 
scorched and aching hands in friendship, when it was quelled. 



THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLORSVILLE. 183 

Colors were captured, and hundreds of the foe threw down 
their arms, and retreated with the Union forces ; and happy 
equads without any guard were walking upon the road, and 
inquiring the way to the rear. Three batteries lost most of 
their horses and a large proportion of their men by the con- 
centration of Lee's artillery, and the bullets of the sharp- 
shooters, who were specially instructed to pick off the animals 
before they shot the gunners. Several pieces, including one 
without wheels, which had been demohshed, were drawn from 
the field by details from the infantry. Some of those who 
were slightly injured returned to their commands after their 
wounds had been dressed, and fought again. One cannon- 
ball killed a cavalry-man and his horse : and a shell tore the 
clothing from an aide, but inflicted no personal hurt ; and he 
returned, after a brief absence, to search for his porte-mon- 
naie, which he carried in the pocket that had been so sud- 
denly wrested from him. 

The corps-color was always waving in the front ; and Gen. 
Sickles, smoking a cigar, stood a few feet from the regunent, 
in the road up which the troops had marched from the Chan- 
cellor House ; and aides and orderlies were riding to and fro, 
one of whom reported that his steed had been killed. " Cap- 
tain, the Government will furnish you with another horse," he 
complacently replied. A rebel officer of high rank, who had 
been captured, stopped near the general, and sought to open 
a conversation, with the following result : — 

** General, I have met you in New York." 



184 THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLORSVILLE. 

** Move forward that battery." 

** General, I have seen you before." 

*' The brigade must advance to the woods." 

" General, don't you remember " — 

" Go to the rear, sh' : my troops are now in position." 

There were few, if any, stretcher-bearers at the front, and 
wounded men that had lost a leg or an arm dragged them- 
selves to the field-hospital ; and the surgeons of some regi- 
ments which had not been engaged in the battle sat upon a 
log in idleness, and refused, with a great display of dignity, 
to assist the suffering who were brought to them, because 
they did not belong to their commands. This shameful con- 
duct, which I .often witnessed, exasperated the officers and 
soldiers ; and they compelled the surgeons to discharge their 
duty in a number of cases by threatening to shoot them. 
The heat was very severe : many cannoneers divested them- 
selves of their uniforms while they were working; and a 
number of the skiiTnishers, who were posted in the open 
field, and obliged to lie low without any shelter, were some- 
tunes afilicted by sunstroke. "I will win a star or a coffin 
in this battle," remarked a colonel as he was riding to the 
scene of conflict, in which a bullet checked his noble military 
aspirations. " To take a soldier without ambition is to pull off 
his spurs; " "I have got my leave of absence now," gladly 
said an officer, whose application had always been refused at 
headquarters when he left the regiment to go to the hospital. 
The appearance of a rabbit causes an excitement and a chase 



THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLORSVILLE. 185 

upon all occasions, and one ran in front of the line as the 
action commenced ; and the birds were flyhig wildly among 
the trees, as if they anticipated a storm; and a soldier 
shouted, "Stop him, stop him! I could make a good 
meal if I had him." — "This is English neutrality," an 
intelligent metal-moulder remarked in examuiing the frag- 
ment of a shell, and explaining the process of its manufac- 
ture to the company ; while the rebel batteries every minute 
added some specimens to his collection. The officials in 
Kichmond published at this time an order, directing that the 
clothing should be taken from the bodies of their dead, and 
issued to the living. They always stripped the dead and the 
dying upon every field ; and I noticed that one man who 
had been stunned, and afterwards effected his escape, wore 
merely a shu:t and hat when he entered the lines. The 
regiment changed its position nine times during the day, in 
compliance with orders : rifle-pits were erected upon the last 
line of defence, and no fires were allowed at night. 

Several volleys from the pickets ushered in May 4 ; but 
the brigade made no movement, and no advance took place. 
An officer who was going the rounds in the night was sur- 
prised to find one of his most faithful men who returned no 
answer to his inquiries ; and, supposing that he had been 
overcome by fatigue, and fallen asleep, grasped his hands to 
awaken him : but they were cold with death. The soldier, 
killed upon his post of duty, rested in the extreme front, with 
his musket by his side, and face towards the enemies of his 



186 THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLOESYILLE. 

country. Gen. Whipple, the able commander of the thh'd 
division of the corps, was mortally wounded by a sharpshooter 
who was one-third of a mile from him ; and a priest admin- 
istered the last rites of the Koman-Catholic Church upon the 
spot where he fell, in the presence of his weeping staff and 
soldiers, by whom he was greatly beloved. A brigade made 
a reconnoissance in the forest at one, p.m., and captm-ed forty 
sharpshooters who were perched upon the limbs of lofty oaks, 
and could not descend and escape before this force advanced. 
Whenever the picket-firing became active, shelter-tents were 
removed from the stacks ; knapsacks were " packed up ; " boil- 
ing" coffee was swallowed, or thrown away; and the men stood 
in line, and were ready to obey the order to march before 
their officers had commanded them to " fall in." Groups of 
soldiers were writing letters, sleeping, or playing cards ; and 
as one gambler said, " I will bet," an exploding shell inter- 
rupted his sentence ; and he added, " A quarter better." 
The rebels ascertained the location of the trains upon the 
north bank of the Eappahannock ; opened a battery upon 
them ; and a squad of three hundred prisoners uttered a ytU 
of joy when they saw a cannon-ball enter a large tent which 
was crowded with the dying and disabled. The direction of 
the fii'ing was changed, and caused utter dismay when some 
of the number were killed by the missiles that were hurled 
by their comrades in the army of Lee. The pioneers cut 
roads through the woods for the passage of the troops and 
artillery, and constructed booths of boughs for the field-hos- 



THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLORSVILLE. 187 

pitals, from wbich the ambulances were hourly conveying the 
inmates across the river. The army-wagons were parked 
upon the safe bank, and did not encumber the movements of 
the 'corps ; and the packed mules, which were generally used for 
the fii'st time, transported the ammunition, while the cooks 
brought fresh beef to the front by suspending a quarter to a 
rail. 

A dense fog obscm-ed the river upon the morning of May 
5, and clouds which discharged a few drops of rain overcast 
the sky. The skirmishers were hotly engaged at certain 
points, while the main body was quiet ; and the brigade re- 
tired at 10.40, A.M., two hundred yards to the rear of its po- 
sition, and quickly formed breastworks by cutting the oaks 
down and throwing the earth up. Two sick Germans in the 
company (they did not belong to the eleventh corps), who 
were excused by the surgeons from perforaiing any military 
services, and could not carry their knapsacks or rations for 
more than two days, or keep with the ranks of the regiment 
upon an ordinary march, participated in all the fighting ; and 
no command could produce nobler soldiers. A dismal rain 
drenched the men in the night, and swelled the waters of the 
RappaliAnnock so suddenly that the pontoons were endangered, 
and the communications of the army were seriously menaced ; 
and men were placed in the boats to hold the anchors, and one 
bridge was taken up to lengthen the others which did not 
connect with the banks after the freshet. The brigade, which 
was nearly exhausted by standing in line of battle, evacuated 



188 THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLORSYILLE. 

the bivouac in the woods at three, a.m., upon the 6th ; waded 
through the mud of the road, unmolested by the enemy ; and 
reerossed the pontoons at the United-States ford at daybreak. 
The Army of the Potomac, baffled, weary, and footsore, 
marched in the midst of the storm, which never ceased during 
the day, and enlarged pools into lakes, while ruts became 
streamlets, and sought rest in the* old camps which they had 
so often quit with high hopes that were not realized. 



f 



CHAPTER XL 

THE MARCH TO GETTYSBURG. 

'HE ordinary labors of the camp were resumed ; the 
old lines were again guarded ; and one regiment near 
the brigade was drilling upon the plain the day 
after it returned to quarters. As a sanitary precau- 
tion, the barracks used in the winter were levelled ; the tents 
were pitched upon ground that had not been occupied ; and 
the blankets of the soldiers were spread upon a network 
of branches which was eighteen inches above the surface of 
the earth. The camps, in June, presented a gala appear- 
ance ; the streets between the companies were adorned with 
arches and festoons of evergreen ; and short pines and savins 
which had been transplanted from the forest difiused their 
genial shade. Although the corps had nc^ly performed its 
duty at Chancellorsville, none of its brave members were 
allowed to receive furloughs or leaves of absence, because an 
inspector-general, one of those contemptible staff-officers that 
skulk to the rear in a battle, and display feats of horseman- 
ship to the cooks, teamsters, pioneers, and other non-combat- 
ants, falsely reported that it' was demoralized. The only 
fact upon which this unjust action was based was the neglect 

189 



190 THE MARCH TO GETTYSBURG. 

of many soldiers to salute these gayly dressed cowards Tvhom 
they despised. Desertions from the enemy were frequent ; 
and an Alabamian swam across the river upon June 6, and 
brought a gold watch which his captain lent to him to regu- 
late the reliefs, with strict orders to be vigilant and keep a 
good watch ; an injunction that he followed in letter, if not in 
spirit. 

The terms of service of many regiments which had en- 
listed for nine months or two years daily expired ; and the 
army was constantly diminished, while Lee concentrated 
from all portions of the South every available regiment, and 
prepared for a bold invasion of the North with the most pow- 
erful force that the rebels ever organized. Every object 
south of the Rappahannock was scanned by many eyes : the 
troops were ordered to keep constantly on hand rations for 
three days ; and when two divisions of the foe marched upon 
June 3 to Culpeper Court House, the movement was dis- 
covered; and at 3.10, a.m., on the following morning, the 
brigade was notified to "pack up," and be ready to start at 
a second's notice. The pontoon-bridge was constructed on 
the 6th near Deep Run, upon the left of Fredericksburg: 
the soldiers crossed at this point for the third time ; and the 
enemy that had been invisible for a few days issued from 
the woods, appeared in front, and received a severe fire from 
the artillery which was posted upon the bank. The regiment 
was on picket, watching with interest the bursting shells, and 
discussing the probabilities of a conflict. 



THE MARCH TO GETTYSBURG. 191 

''There's a pretty grape-vine ready to set out," said one 
person wbo noticed the beauty of the scenery. 

" Take it up, and we'll set it out on your grave to- 
moiTOw," lightly remarked one of the group. 

Division generals and subalterns seldom know more than 
the rank and file about the intentions of the commander of a 
large body of men : and the regiment was engaged in making 
preparations to celebrate the 13th day of June, which was 
the anniversary of its muster into the service ; and many of 
the line officers were playing a game of base ball, when the 
adjutant arrived with marching orders ; and within half an 
hour tents were struck, knapsacks packed, and the column 
in motion at IJ, p.m. The general commanding the brigade 
pushed forward the troops in the most unmerciful manner, 
and great joy was manifested when they bivouacked near the 
Hartwood Church. 

Hundreds of blankets and overcoats were left upon the 
field in the mornino; of the 12th : and the natives and ne2:i'oes 
of both sexes collected them as soon as the march was re- 
sumed. Caligula and other monsters of antiquity never dis- 
played a more diabolical spirit than certain generals in the 
corps, who murdered the unfortunate • soldiers that were com- 
pelled to obey their orders, by exhausting their strength, and 
needlessly exposing them to the rays of the sun, which, 
through their cruelty, became as deadly as Minie balls. 
There is not more than one in ten officers of high rank that 
understands the proper mode of moving divisions ; and the 



192 THE MARCH TO GETTYSBURG. 

fiitiguc that so often results is caused, not by merely travel- 
ling a laro^e number of miles, but by the omission to halt 
them at re2;ular intervals after marchinu; short distances. 
Mounted upon their horses, unencumbered by rations or 
clothing, and usually carrying a small flask and a light 
sword, it Tvas a pastime for the subordinate generals and 
their staffs to ride or race from town to town, and issue strin- 
gent orders to court-martial the weary men for what they 
termed straggling. The division marched from 5.20, a.m., 
until 9.20, P.M., upon one of the warmest days of the month, 
and was always designedly halted in the open fields, while a 
general and his staff enjoyed the comfort of the extensive 
forests in the vicinity, and, with the hearts of demons, laughed 
and uttered jokes about the soldiers who were dying or wi'ith- 
ing in the asfonies of sun-stroke. Some sur2;eons and ref>;i- 
mental commanders remonstrated against this inhuman 
conduct, and told a general that it was killing the men ; but 
he sneeringly remarked, "I want to tire them out, so they 
can't run away;" " If I can stand it, the men can;" or, 
" The sun will dry their shirts, if they are wet with perspira- 
tion." I speak in emphatic language, for I recall the forms 
of prostrate heroes who had escaped the bullet, the shell, and 
the "fiery darts" of the foe in scenes of combat, and fell 
fainting by the roadside, to die, or linger in pain from which 
they never recovered. Thousands of throats were sometimes 
screaming, "Halt, halt!" and there' were universal cries, 
" Kick hun out of the house !" " I hope the rebels will, kill 



THE MARCH TO GETTYSBURG. 193 

him !" " Shoot the scoundrel ! " interlarded with the most 
prbfane oaths ever uttered, when the command passed by the 
mansion selected for headquarters. Some men seized the 
general's servant, who had walked a long distance to procure 
cool water, and spitefully confiscated the property. Less 
than one-third of the division bivouacked at Beverly Ford ; and 
the stream of soldiers that had been forced by the foregoing 
causes to leave the ranks was continually flowing into the 
regiment during the night. 

The cavalry had crossed the Kappahannock at Kelly's 
Ford and this pomt on the 9th, and fought a successful 
battle, which completely fmstrated the plans of Stuart, who 
had assembled his force near Brandy Station for the pui-pose 
of making a formidable raid. The rebel pickets rested on 
their horses in the rifle-pits upon the opposite bank ; and the 
presence of the enemy intimidated the general who had been 
so eager to place his troops in the open fields upon the march. 
The camp-fires were prohibited or kept low, and strong 
guards were posted to prevent them from leavmg the woods 
in which they were concealed. The river was only one hun- 
dred feet in width at the ford, which was protected by a 
rude breastwork of rails. "Wounded horses were limping 
about on the gi'ound in the vicinity ; the carcasses of dead 
animals that had *' fought like men " were scattered in every 
dh-ection ; and I saw one floating in the stream, that was fully 
equipped, and still bore the rations, blankets, and overcoats 
of its absent rider. Redoubts for four guns were erected in 

13 



194 THE MARCH TO GETTYSBURG. 

the night of the 13th by details from the brigade. The 
newspapers contained, at this time, accounts of the operations 
of Gen. Grant, which resulted in the capture of Vicksburg, 
and described the scanty wardrobe with which he was fur- 
nished upon the campaign ; and the contrast between this 
simplicity and the immense quantity of personal baggage 
which the general commanding a brigade carried in the 
wagons was as striking as their difference in courage and 
military ability. Whenever a halt was ordered at the end of 
a march, a score of servile pioneers pitched his capacious tent 
upon the most pleasant spot of ground, and placed in it a 
carpet, camp-chairs, tables, and an iron bedstead, so that he 
was probably more comfortable than he would have been at 
home. 

The brigade was relieved by the cavalry after sunset on the 
14th, and marched throughout the night until 7.10, a.m., of 
the 15th, to Catlett's Station, where it remained an hour and 
a half; and moved again at 8.40, a. m., until it bivouacked 
near Manassas Junction after midnight. The division was in 
the rear of a train of wagons which constantly obstructed the 
road and interrupted the passage of the troops, so that a gen- 
eral was obliged to halt when he wished to advance. There 
was no enemy in front ; and the quartermasters, commissaries, 
and other staff-ofl&cers, who are never seen near the general 
in a battle, accompanied him upon the march ; and the number 
of his victims was increased by the same infernal conduct that 
has been already noticed. The soldiers were forced to halfc 



THE MARCH TO GETTYSBURG. 195 

in the fields, without any shelter from the sun ; and those who 
were overcome by the severe fatigue which always follows a 
movement in the night, and fell asleep, awoke to suffer from 
an intense faintness and pain, which disabled them for years. 
There was sometimes a solitary oak or pine that stood upon 
the plain like a rock in the desert; and the limits of the 
shadow upon the ground enclosed a small squad that crowded 
together to enjoy the protection of the enlivening foliage ; 
while others slept in the dust of the road, beneath the wagons. 
Many a soldier uttered the wish that he might be permitted 
to serve out the remaining months of his term of service in 
some prison, or be changed into the general's horse, when he 
beheld that officer with his staff and their steeds reposing in 
the vast forest from which they were excluded. The region 
was unusually dry ; and the men, urged by necessity, slackened 
to a slight extent their thirst by extracting the moisture from 
the lumps of damp earth. Thousands were exhausted, and 
sought the woods to recover their strength ; but a general issued 
orders to the provost-guard to set the dry leaves on fire, and 
thus drive the members of his force into the cleared tracts of 
land, and clouds of smoke rolled upwards in the rear of the 
column. The combined heat of the rays of the sun and the 
burning forest was unendurable ; the breath seemed to be a 
flame ; and less than one-fourth of the division rested at tho 
bivouac. 

No movement was made upon the IGth ; and the troops 
fixed bayonets, stuck them into the ground, and put up their 



196 THE MARCH TO GETTYSBUEG. 

tents bj fastening pieces of slielter to the muskets. In ac- 
cordance with orders from the headquarters of the army, the 
bands and field music performed the principal portion of the 
day to mislead the scouts of the enemy, so that they could not 
ascertain the point at which the largest force was concentrated. 
In addition to the regular rations which were issued to the 
soldiers, they lived upon the resources of the country, and 
devoured many highly seasoned dishes of frogs and box-tur- 
tles. The lines moved a short distance to the right on the 
17th and 18th; and a general, to gi'atify his savage disposi- 
tion, placed his staff at the dry crossings near Blackburn's 
Ford to force the brigade to wade through the stream ; but tlie 
use of the bayonet and musket upon the horses defeated this 
design, and the enraged officer remarked, "The men acted 
like sheep." The companies were now commanded to attend 
roll-calls eight times daily ; the names of absentees were re- 
ported for punishment ; and, while the regiment was pitching 
its tents upon an established line, marching orders were re- 
ceived at two, P.M., and the column bivouacked at the end of 
eight hours near Gum Spring. A general who was alarmed 
by the dense clouds that darkened the earth deserted his 
troops that were moving upon the road, galloped to the village 
with his staff, and selected the largest edifice for his head- 
quarters, while his command under other officers was posted 
on an important picket duty in the midst of one of the most 
copious rains which ever fell in the South. A field-officer on 
the corps-stajff, who frequently said, "Boy and man, I have 



THE MARCH TO GETTYSBURG. 107 

been in the regular service twenty-five years," and acquired 
the sobriquet of " crazy " on account of his lack of common 
sense^ flourished a revolver to drive the men from wells on the 
march, and acted the part of a useless and harmless non-com- 
batant in the time of action. 

Gen. Braddock bivouacked his little army at this point 
while he was marching upon his ill-starred expedition, and 
gave the name to the hamlet, the old inhabitants said, from 
the ever-flowing spring, which was celebrated for its purity, 
and a gum-tree that was still standing, although many of the 
branches wore rotten, and showed marks of its advanced age. 
Guards were placed over it to prevent the soldiers from en-* 
joying the priceless liquid without a permit in writing from 
the general. The drivers, who daily renewed the water in 
the kegs which are attached to the ambulances to convey a 
fresh supply for the weary, the sick, or the wounded, were 
pushed aside at the point of the bayonet, and directed to go to 
a turbulent run in which horses and mules were standing or 
walking, and the men were washing their persons and clothes. 
Twenty members of this corps were performing this labor at the 
streamlet ; and I heai'd one of them say (with many oaths, as 

a matter of course), " I hope Gen. will be shot, and 

live just long enough for me to pour my keg-full of this gravel 
down his throat! " a righteous sentiment, which was reiterated 
by the score of tongues. 

The division, leaving hundreds of sticks, barrels, and boards 
which are always seen upon every field in which troops have 



198 THE MARCH TO GETTYSBURG. 

bivouacked, commenced a mareli, wliich, like those I have 
described, will never be forgotten for its severity. It was a 
ceaseless tramp for eighteen hours, with only one regular .halt, 
that occurred in consequence of a misunderstanding regarding 
orders. The Potomac was crossed at Edward's Fen-y upon a 
pontoon-bridge consisting of sixty-four boats, more than a 
quarter of a mile in length, and travelled upon the narrow 
towpath to the mouth of the JMonocacy, and bivouacked after 
midnight, twenty-nine miles from the point of departure. The 
rain in the latter part of the night created new obstacles : men 
were continually falling from utter exhaustion, and limbs were 
sometimes broken upon the sharp rocks. A few slipped into 
the canal ; and some who were always "jolly " under all cir- 
cumstances gTceted the ears of their unfortunate comrades, 
when they rose to the surface, with the consoling words, "It 
will take a month's wages to pay for that musket." The tow- 
path, which did not exceed twenty feet in its width, had been 
c-onstructed between the Potomac River on one side, and the 
Baltimore and Ohio Canal upon the other ; and two generals 
chuckled, and said that there could be no straggling in such 
a place, and dashed ahead of the column to secure a pleasant 
repose for the night. The physical power of the soldiers was 
reduced to such an extent, that when the regiment was 
halted by its commander, who acted without orders in their 
absence, only eighteen muskets were stacked in a line that 
should have had 325 arms : two line officers were present, and 
the other orfjanizatious of the division were scattered in the 



THE MARCH TO GETTYSBURG. 199 

same manner. A general greeted the appearance of the rem- 
nant of his command in the morning with hearty laughter, and 
uttered many gibes concerning their weakness, and the condi- 
tion of those who were without shoes, and bound handkerchiefs 
and towels around their feet, or wore two or three pairs of 
socks ; and made this remark about the regiment as it filed 
by him : "What regiment is that ? Bring them here, and we 
will pray for them." 

The column steadily advanced upon the remaining days of 
the month of June, and bivouacked upon the 30th at Bridge- 
port, after proceeding through Burkettsville, 3Iiddletown, 
Frederick City, and Taneytown. The Potomac, that sep- 
arated Virginia from this section of Maryland, was the bound- 
ary between institutions as conflicting as slavery and freedom, 
or ignorance and intelhgence. The soldiers had witnessed 
for two years, in the first State, barren lands, a treacherous 
and benighted race, children in rags and filth, miserable roads, 
the rude cabins of the " poor whites " and African bondmen, 
and empty churches ; for the bells were cast into cannon, and 
religion and morality were sacrificed to gain Southern inde- 
pendence. The scenes were changed so suddenly, that it 
seemed like a delightful vision to behold the schoolhouses ; 
the noble faces of the people ; the splendid streets of a civil- 
ized age; the cultivated farms and orchards; the cottages 
ornamented with flowers ; and, above all, the smiles and 
words of welcome from loyal men and women who publicly 
displayed the American flag, gave refreshing water to the 



200 THE MARCH TO GETTYSBURG. 

soldiers while they were marching, and refused in many 
places to accept any compensation for food. A number of 
mills were in operation upon Sunday to supply the inhabitants 
with flour, because they had exhausted their store in making 
bread for the Union army. The brutality of the generals 
was almost forgotten ; and weary feet regained their strength 
when they touched the soil and moved over mountains ; while 
the eye saw, in the magniiicent valleys, communities that re- 
sembled their homes in New England. The conduct of the 
troops, with the exception of many non-combatants, the army- 
thieves, and plunderers of the dead, was unexceptionable ; 
and no profane or improper expressions were heard by any 
of the citizens. A general placed sentinels upon the houses 
in many towns, not to protect the property, but to obtain for 
the use of Jiis mess all the luxuries which they contained ; 
while the line-officers and enlisted men were driven from the 
premises, and not allowed to purchase articles of food. One 
general in the division, well known for his cowardice, marched 
through the populous districts with much ostentation at the 
head of his brigade, and shouted orders in a pompous tone 
of authority to attract the notice of the crowd ; while the sol- 
diers were saying, " It is perfectly safe to be in front now ; " 
"There won't be any fighting while he leads the brigade," 
and similar sentences. This officer had taught dancing 
schools of a low character before the war ; and the members 
of some companies would " call off "'the various changes, — 
"Right and left," " All promenade to the bar," &c., when- 



THE MARCH TO GETTYSBURG. 201 

ever he rode by them, for the purpose of insultiDg him. The 
herds of cattle from which the supply of fresh beef was ob- 
tained moved upon the roads with the trains, bearing upon 
their horns and backs the knapsacks and muskets of the 
guard, and followed the leading ox, which was conspicuous 
on account of its size. At other points of the march, several 
hundred cavalry-men were asleep upon the ground at the 
feet of the horses, with the reins in their hands ; and I was 
informed that no one was ever injured in this position. The 
rebel cavalry committed many outrages in the tracts which 
they visited ; demolished brick ovens, and plundered dwell- 
ings, lilvc thieves ; but sometimes behaved with moderation ; 
and, in one village, riddled with bullets an innkeeper's sign 
upon which the American eagle had been painted. The 
attention of an officer of high rank was called to the large 
number of deaths and casualties from sunstroke and exhaus- 
tion in a certain command ; and the generals were compelled 
to halt a few minutes in every hour ; and long distances were 
thus marched with ease. 

The ai-my received the news of the removal of Gen. Hook- 
er, and the appointment of Gen. Meade, with amazement, and 
refused to believe the fact until the orders were read ; and 
the opinion was expressed that he had fallen a victim to the 
implacable hatred of Gen. Halleck and the machinations of 
Pennsylvania politicians. When we consider that the corps 
were marching to encounter the enemy, and daily expected 
to fight the decisive battle ; that Gen, ]Meade was unknown to 



202 THE MARCH TO GETTYSBURG. 

the troops, and bad never commanded under a heavy fire 
a body of infantry exceeding a division ; that other officers 
were superior in rank, capacity, and experience ; and that 
Gen. Hooker had made every movement with consummate 
ability, — it was an act of the most hazardous character. K 
the question is viewed from a military point of view, and it is 
remembered that Gen. Halleck, untaught by the surrender 
of Harper's Ferry in the previous year, wished to maintain at 
that post a large garrison and withhold it from the main force, 
the views of Gen. Hooker are so clearly right, that all must 
conclude that it was a shallow pretext for the unjust re- 
moval of one of the most loyal and gallant soldiers that 
the country ever produced. The rebels were delighted with 
the change; and, while Lee denies in his report that his 
cavalry was defeated in any engagement, he admits that the 
dispositions of the army by Gen. Hooker completely baffled 
his plans for the capture of Washington, and forced him tc 
fight the battle of Gettysburg. The system of his mind was 
such, that the succession in commanders caused no delay in 
the advance of the different columns. 

The division reached Emmettsburg upon July 1, and the 
beautiful clouds upon the summits of the mountains seemed 
to be within the grasp during the copious rain that ensued. 
At ten, A.M., I heard the report of a cannon which was dis- 
charged in the State of Pennsylvania when the first conflict 
took place between the cavalry and the vanguard of Lee's 
gTand ai-my ; and there was a general feeling of relief that the 



THE MARCH TO GETTYSBURG. 203 

long marches were ended, and tlie foe, that must be fought at 
some point, was preparing for the most desperate battle of 
the war. A squad of rebel prisoners passed to the rear, and 
the usual salutations were exchanged, " How are you, Johnny 
Reb ! " **How are you, blue -belly?" The brigades of 
the division were posted in Echelon, after manoeuvring two 
hours ; sentinels were stationed to guard the lines ; and the 
troops, stimulated by the heavy cannonading upon the right, 
advanced towards Gettysbui'g at four, p.m. A negro, who 
was greatly excited and scarcely able to speak because he 
knew that the soldiers were marching in the wrong direction, 
earnestly said to a general, "The road is full of 'em, — 
heaps of rebels ! " but that ofl&cer avowed his leading princi- 
ple to be, " Never believe a nigger; " and the column pushed 
on. The regimental band played "Home, sweet Home," 
when the boundary-line was crossed ; and the Twenty-sixth 
Pennsylvania Volunteers, which formed a part of the brigade, 
and conferred high honor upon its State by bravery upon many 
a stubborn-fought field, greeted their native soil with enthu- 
siastic cheers. The infantry was forced to wade through 
Marsh Creek several hundred yards, and not allowed to pass 
over the covered bridge ; while a general and his staff sat 
upon their horses, and amused themselves by laughing at 
those on foot in the stream. A citizen remarked, "If you 
go on, you will have a fight in the night; " and one of the 
rebel pickets who was searching for water found himself a 
prisoner in the hands of the advance guard at ten, p.m. The 



204 THE MARCH TO GETTYSBURG. 

regiments were at once halted in tlie road, and ordered not to 
talk or light matches ; while the mounted officers above de- 
scribed, includmg "Crazy," promptly retired to the rear; 
and the three long miles which had been uselessly travelled 
were retraced in silence. "VVilloughby's Run was forded; 
the vedettes of the cavalry were passed within a short dis- 
tance of the blazing camp-fires of the enemy ; and the divi- 
sion joined the third corps, and bivouacked upon the plains 
of Gettysburg at half-past two, a.m., on July 2. 




CHAPTER Xn. 

THE BATTLE OE GETTYSBURG. 

UEING- the night, the picket-firing did not interrupt 
the sleep of the soldiers, who were astonished when 
the morning came to see the Union skirmishers ad- 
vance and receive volleys from the enemy, that occu- 
pied the road over which the division had marched five hours 
previous. The batteries were pointing in the same direction, 
and the first movement which the regiment executed was a 
countermarch, so that it faced the foe, that slowly deployed 
its columns in line of battle, until the incessant rattling of 
the rifles of sharpshooters and those upon the outposts gi'adu- 
ally extended from right to left along the vast front. Some 
regiments were detailed to leave their stacks and equipments 
and demoHsh the rail-fences which had been constructed upon 
the large open field, and would be obstacles to the c[uick 
movements of the troops or artillery. The unpleasant mist 
and the clouds that threatened a storm at daybreak disap- 
peared before noon, and both armies were engaged in the 
different manoeuvres which always precede a battle. The 
principal portion of the inhabitants deserted their houses with 
their families, and fled many miles to places of safety ; while 

205 



206 THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 

others rendered good service by acting as guides for the cav- 
ahy and the national forces. 

The pencil of the artist has portrayed the topography of 
the scene of conflict and indicated the position of all the 
troops with such wonderful accuracy, that no pen can make 
its history more complete. The corps advanced in a brilliant 
line half a mile at three o'clock in the afternoon, and the 
regiment was formed upon the Emmettsburg Road, and par- 
tially sheltered by the house and barn of Peter Rogers, upon 
the crest of the rising ground. The enemy was concealed in 
the forest, and the main force was unusually quiet until the 
rebel skirmishers applied the torch to some houses, and the 
consuming flames and clouds of smoke excited yells of joy. 
The eye beheld, in every direction, battery and brigade ex- 
tended from point to point ; the moving columns and gay 
banners ; the white marble monuments in the cemetery upon 
the right, that contrasted strangely with the glistening can- 
non ; the signal-flags that were waving from the craggy sum- 
mit of Roundtop Mountain upon the left : but there were no 
tragic pictures of human strife, and it appeared to be a peace- 
ful review. A herd of thirteen or fourteen cows was quietly 
grazing upon the field ; flocks of tame pigeons sat upon the 
dovecots and sheds ; and the lady who lived in the cottage 
was baking bread, and sold chickens to soldiers in the regi- 
ment. 

A rebel battery opened^an enfilading fire upon the brigade at 
forty-five minutes past three, p.m., with solid shot, which were 



THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 207 

discharged from the pieces at a depressed angle, struck the 
earth, bounded into the air, and leaped like a rock skipped upon 
the surface of the ocean by the powerful arm of a giant. The 
balls penetrated the building within a few minutes, and one shat- 
tered the oven ; but the woman was undaunted, and exclaimed, 
" I will never leave the house," and retreated to the cellar 
at the request of an officer. Her husband, who had been 
trembling with fear for hours in his place of refuge, whiningly 
said that it was strange that they could not fire over his dwell- 
ing, and not through it. The great contest began upon the 
extreme left, and soon raged with such intensity that the troops 
were enveloped in the smoke of battle ; and it was evident that 
Lee was exerting every effort to gain the Round top Heights, 
from the summit of which a battery that had been drawn up 
the abrupt and stony sides with immense difficulty belched 
forth shell and canister into the corps of Longstreet. The 
skirmishers in our immediate front reported that the rebels 
were massing theii* brigades for an assault upon the position 
held by the division ; and the men, without erecting breast- 
works, prepared to resist the onset : and every one, knowing 
the vital importance of the pending struggle, stood firmly 
upon his foot of ground, which he determined that he would 
never yield. The batteries and infantry which were posted 
on the extreme left were steadily driven towards the centre, 
and were rapidly moving half of a mile in the rear of the 
division before the yells and buUetg of the enemy showed that 
the long-expected line was advancing. Soldiers who had 



208 THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 

been forced to leave tbe ranks upon the exhausting marches 
continually rejoined their commands, and some without mus- 
kets were waiting to seize and use the arms of those who 
should be killed or disabled. A snake that rustled through 
the grass at this exciting moment was promptly despatched by 
a S(iuad whose minds were not discomposed by the perilous 
state of affliirs. The sku-mishers fell back to the main line , which 
was calmly resting in the road, and holding its fire until the 
rebels should reach and attempt to climb a rail fence in front. 
The regular battery, planted upon the left of the regiment, 
decimated their ranks with terrible charges of canister, that 
swept the field again and again, and caused a cloud of dust ; 
and all thought that the repulse might be decisive. When 
the musketry riddled the house, a kitten, mewing piteously, 
ran from it, jumped upon the shoulders of one of the men, and 
remained there a few minutes during the fight. 

Before the regiment could deliver its volley, the companies 
about-faced in pursuance of the orders of some stupid general, 
and executed a right half- wheel under a severe fire, with as 
much regularity as if they had been upon parade, and thus 
abandoned the advantages of the strong line of defence in 
the road. The "stars and bars" of treason were visible 
when the infantry could not be seen ; and the column which 
had been shattered by the battery appeared in front, and 
began to shoot the gunners, who performed their duty with the 
utmost fidelity, and retired at last to escape the capture which 
seemed to be unavoidable. While the rebel standard-bearers 



THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 2/09 

waved their colors, the oScers beckoned with their drawn 
swords, the men with their hands exultingly pointed to the 
divisions that were flying from the left; tnd sought by their 
shouts and gestures to encourage the timid and quicken the 
march of the support, and the soldiers were constantly load- 
ing and aiming their rifles at the breasts of the members of the 
regiment, orders were duly transmitted from a blockhead, 
termed upon the muster-roll a brigadier-general, not to dis- 
charge a musket, because they ' ' would fire upon their own 
men ; " and the enemy was enabled in this way to cut down 
the ranks, and dhninish the effect of the first volley. Candor 
compels me to admit that this mistake was excusable upon 
this ground, that the officer from his standpoint, which was 
far in the rear, could not distinguish one line of battle from 
the other. The command was disreg-arded : the foe stood in 

o 

groups of three or four, and the large number of gaps or in- 
tervals which were not closed up revealed the extent of the 
slaughter ; and the survivors, always seeking, like Indians, 
a hiding-place, entered the road, sought the protection of a 
slight ridge, and then- advance was entirely checked. 

A heavy mass of infantry appeared upon the right of the 
house at this glorious moment, and the new formation of the 
regiment exposed the line to an enfilading fire which was very 
destructive. The right of the brigade was not within the 
supporting distance of the second corps : the left of the di- 
vision had been forced to fall back, so that the troops were 
subjected in certain positions to volleys from thi'ee distinct 

14 



210 THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 

points, and th'^. men slowly retreated, foot by foot ; while tbou- 
sands, pierced by the deadly 3Iinie balls, or torn asunder by 
the explosion of the infernal shell-bullet, fell, and saturated 
the plain with their blood. Aa soon as the bullets began to 
whistle, a general said to the orderly who carried the cOiOi' of 
his brigade, which he supposed would attract notice and draw 
the fire of the enemy upon him, " Take away that flag ; " " Go 
to the rear with that flag ; " and the person who obeyed this di- 
rection remarked in stating it, " Faith, an' I was as willin' to 
run with it to the rear as he was to have me." The most de- 
moralizing results would have occurred if the troops had been 
new when this event took place ; but they were veterans, and 
the shameful misconduct of the officers who commanded them 
did not alFact their constancy or firmness. The long distances 
over which the rebels marched to make their grand charge, and 
the serious losses which they sustained when they gained the 
Emmettsburg Eoad, had reduced their numbers and strength, 
so that a vigorous attack upon their left flank by the second 
corps, the concentration of the batteries that were posted upon 
the interior lines, and the resistance of the troops that rallied, 
repulsed them at sunset. At this critical time, in obedience 
to a universal cry among the soldiers, " Charge on them ! " 
"Take our old ground! " the fragment of the brigade, with 
the colors of five regiments unfurled within the distance of 
one hundred feet, in the absence of its general, and against 
the orders of Gen. Humphreys, the division commander^, who 
vainly shouted, "Halt, halt! — stop those men!" pursued 



THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 211 

the enemy half of a mile, Cc'ipturecl several hundred prisoners, 
retook cannon that had been left upon the field, and assisted 
to achieve a conclusive success. Those who suffered from 
fatigue in retreating before a victorious foe until they could 
barely move recovered their strength when the circumstances 
were reversed, and they gladly ran to overtake the defeated 
force. Ten thousand of the dead and wounded of both armies 
were mingled together upon an open space of ground, less than 
three-c[uarters of a mile square ; and it was sometimes almost 
impossible to advance without walking upon the form that four 
hours before had been strong with life, and animated by its 
high hopes. The disabled Union soldiers and some of the 
enemy expressed their joy, and uttered many welcomes, when 
the troops followed the receding lines ; and there were cries, 
" Go in ! " " Go in ! " " Drive them from the field ! " " I don't 
care for my wound, if we only whip them." The rebels told 
me that their generals and ofiicers said that there was nothing 
in their front except a force of militia, which would run away 
at the first volley ; but this falsehood was detected as soon as 
the fighting commenced. They deceived others, who implored 
the national troops not to kill them. I observed one wounded 
youth about sixteen years of age, who was crying, and stated 
the cause of his grief, that " Gen. Lee always puts the Fifth 
Florida in the front." 

The batteries of the enemy were very active, and furrowed 
the field with shot and shell which mangled the bodies of the 
dead and dying ; and those who could move had crawled into 



212 THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 

little gullies, or protected themselves behind the rocks, which 
were numerous. When the flying rebels disappeared behind 
the crest of the elevation near the Emmettsburg Road, mem- 
bers of both armies, who had thrown themselves upon the 
ground from exhaustion and other causes, and were stretched 
upon the plain apparently lifeless, rose uninjured in every 
direction. The enemy had examined the officers, and sent to 
the rear as prisoners those on whom they found no wounds. 
The Union soldiers immediately inspected every man that 
wore the butternut uniform, and discovered many who were 
feigning severe bodily injuries by uttering groans and similar 
devices. Squads seemed to be terror-stricken, and dodged 
-or crouched upon the earth whenever the shells that were 
fired by their batteries exploded near them. This reverse 
was so unexpected by Lee, that three pieces of artillery upon 
. the left of the regiment, which had been abandoned when the 
troops that supported them were forced from their position, 
had not been removed, and were captured by the troops; 
and one was retaken, together with twenty rebels, who had 
pushed it about one hundred yards. The prisoners assisted 
those who were pulling the cannon from the field, and gladly 
rushed with it to the reserve to escape the storm of shot. 
The wounded that were not utterly helpless slowly travelled 
to the hospital ; and the ambulance corps, with the exception 
of a few faithful stretcher-bearers, did not render any aid to 
the others. 

One of the staff arrived, and stated that a brigadier-general 



THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 213 

had decided to establish a new line of battle abont a mile in 
the rear, but was unable to find his regiments, and delivered 
an order for the ranks to return at once to that point. The 
men were very indignant, because they wished to enjoy that 
rest which is so precious to every soldier, — a sleep upon the 
field which they had won by their bravery ; and an officer 
said, " Tell the general, that, if he will come to the front, he 
will find his commands with their colors ; and, if he was not 
such a d — d coward, he would be here with them." They 
groped their way through the obscurity of the darkness, and 
passed by the first line, which was posted half of a mile fi'om 
the Eramettsburg Ptoad ; and many of the troops were resting 
their rifles upon the rail-fence, and awaited an attack from 
the foe that was every minute anticipated ; while the latter 
were dreading an onset by the pursuing forces. The halt 
was ordered for the night at ten, p.m. ; a quietness that was 
rarely broken by the vigilant sharpshooters continued until 
morning; but the humble heroes of the day, not satisfied 
with their deeds of valor, requested leave from the general to 
go upon the field and succor their wounded comrades. The 
exigencies of the situation required their presence with the 
division : and the members of a small detail from each regi- 
ment took the canteens of those who slept, and carried the 
precious water, for which there was a universal cry, and bore 
the suffermg to the hospitals in blankets and upon muskets. 
and rails ; while the chief portion of the ambulance corps was 
secluded in safe positions. Squads of rebels, \vho wandered 



214 THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 

over the plain upon a similar mission, strayed inside of the 
pickets, who captured them ; but released one man, who said, 
" I am your prisoner, if you say so ; but I am giving water 
to all that ask for it," and allowed him to continue his philan- 
thropic labors. A stretcher-bearer was badly wounded ; and 
some surgeons expressed gi-eat surprise, and seemed to speak 
in terms of censure, because, unlike the majority of his rank, 
he had performed his duty upon the field, and incurred the 
dangers which were incident to the same. 

Among the few Southern politicians, who fought on the 
battle-field for the diabolical treason which they had incul- 
cated in the National Congress, was Barksdale of Mississippi, 
who led his brigade in the charge, and was mortally wounded 
within a short distance of the second line of batteries. He 
told the nurses of the regiment who were near him that he 
did not wish for any care, because he knew that he must die ; 
and spoke of his family and home ; and made only one allu- 
sion to the army, when he remarked, " Gen. Lee will clean 
you out of this place to-morrow." Major-Gen. Sickles, who 
was esteemed for his fearlessness by the corps which he com- 
manded, received a severe wound in the leg, which was am- 
putated. The officers of high rank, who criticised in such 
strong and unqualified language his conduct in advancing t6 
the front and fighting the enemy instead of evading the 
onset, and sought to injure his reputation with the army and 
the people, would have displayed more wisdom and patriotism 
if they had adopted his policy in this respect, and remem- 



THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 215 

bered the maxim, that "errors of forwardness are forgiven, 
not backwardness." The number of killed and wounded in 
this contest was very large : more than one-half of the divi- 
sion was disabled ; eight color-bearers of the regiment fell ; 
while the flag passed from one to another, and was never 
lowered ; and the company to which I was assigned, which 
had thirty muskets at the commencement of the action, lost 
nineteen men by the bullet, seven of whom died of their 
injuries. A part of the line upon the right had been forti- 
fied, and breastworks were constructed at other points during 
the night. 

The rebel artillery opened with the dawn of daybreak, at 
half-past three, a.m., -upon July 3, and continued their fire 
with unusual accuracy for an hour, at the position which was 
held by the left centre. The third shot exploded a caisson 
in the battery which was planted upon the left of the regi- 
ment; and fragments of wheels, and the woodwork, balls, 
and shells, ascended in a cloud of smoke and flame about one 
hundred feet into the air, and reminded me of the pictures 
which represent the eruption of a volcano. The division 
marched to the rear at eight, a.m., and was ordered to 
" ground arms " in the forest ; and remained in a state of 
readiness to move to any point which might be assailed, 
Ptutions were issued, and greedily devoured ; and no one who 
perceived the stillness that ruled at ten, a.m., would have 
imagined that two large armies confronted each other with 
the deadliest weapons of modern warfare in their hands. 



216 THE BATTLE OP GETTYSBURG. 

The concentrated batteries of the enemy opened at one, p.m., 
and shook the earth for an hour and a half with the terrific 
cannonade, — 

" Whose roar 
Embowelled with outrageous noise the air." 

Lee had once more massed his infantry, and determined to 
make another desperate effort to pierce the left centre ; and 
the division double-quicked to support those who occupied the 
earthworks in the front. The adjutant of one regiment, who 
noticed that his weak horse could not move as rapidly as the 
troops, dismounted, and ran to the scene of action, while he 
waved his sword with one hand, and led his steed with the 
other. The lines were formed at half-past three, p.m., and 
rested upon the ground, about six paces apart, during the 
conflict in which the fearful assault was triumphantly re- 
pelled; and Pickett's division was actually " cut to pieces" 
with spherical case-shot, canister, and lead. 

" Grim-visaged war" had suddenly ajDpeared upon the 
field in which the division was aligned : the peach-orchards, 
flower-gardens, plats of green grass, and the golden harvest, 
pleased the eye, while the ear was entertained by the cackling 
of hens and chickens, and the squeals of pigs in the neigh- 
boring sty. The range of the rebel cannon was deadly ex- 
act ; and different shells struck six men who occupied in suc- 
cession the same place in the ranks ; and the houses, barns, 
cellars, and yards were crowded with the wounded soldiers, 
who received accessions to their numbers during every min- 



THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 217 

ute. " Look out for that solid shot ; don't stop it ! " exclaimed 
a lieutenant, when the ball was rolling upon the ground 
towards the brigade ; and a group of men in each regi- 
ment rose up, and left an interval through which it passed ; 
but the spherical case-shot, which scattered scores of cast-iron 
bullets when it exploded, could not be avoided in this easy 
manner, and was very destructive. The Whitworth guns threw 
their bolts a long distance ; and the reports, unlike those of 
other cannon, could not be heard ; and the pecuhar humming 
of the shot would be the first intimation of the discharge. 
Two soldiers in front of me were wounded by a piece of 
a gun-baiTcl, and others were lacerated by spikes. An ar- 
tillerist, who was besmeared with blood, limped to the rear, 
and caused much laughter by his original and frightful oaths. 
The most amusing spectacle that I witnessed was a frightened 
brigadier-general, who sat in a wheelbaiTOw near a fence, 
dodged the missiles which did not^ come near him, and 
seemed to shrink to about one-third of his natural size. 

" Lie down ! " " Lie down ! " was the invariable order for 
those who were not engaged with the enemy ; and at one 
time, when two rebel caissons burst, Kearney's old division, 
which had been invisible, jumped upon their feet in front, 
uttered loud cheers, and then disappeared, apparently into 
the bowels of the earth. It rose again, when three thousand 
prisoners of the assailing horde were captui-ed ; and hundreds 
of hands pointed towards them before they were discerned 
by the brigade ; and the soldiers turned their backs upon the 



218 THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 

foe in the midst of tlie shelling, as they gazed at the force 
which followed the roads to the rear "with their colors. The 
black clouds overhung the sky during this fierce encounter ; 
but the sun burst forth when the brilliant victory had been 
won, and cheered the wounded with its enlivening beams. 
The rebels were dispirited by the repulses upon the 2d and 
3d; called the plain a "slaughter-pen;" declared that fur- 
ther fighting was useless ; and sqme, who considered Jackson 
their " very heart of hope," mournfully said, " We have not 
got Stonewall with us now." They related the following in- 
cident regarding Amistead, who commanded a brigade, and 
was killed in the unsuccessful charge. He skulked behind 
the trunk of a poplar-tree, in one of the battles before Rich- 
mond ; and, as they advanced upon the open plain, several 
men who disliked him shouted, " There are no poplar-trees 
to get behind now; " and he replied to their taunts by say- 
ing, "Before this charge is ended, you will wish that there 
were some poplar-trees here." Some fields upon which the 
wheat flourished became the centre of conflict ; the spires 
were trampled into the earth, and it was impossible to find 
one that was standing. Details were employed upon the 
forenoon of the 4th in burying the dead, and relieving the 
wants of the wounded, many of whom had remained upon 
the field nearly forty-eight hours, and were exposed to the 
perils of the sanguinary encounter which took place over their 
bodies. The rebel sharpshooters fired at all the fatigue-par- 
ties, and often shot at those who sought to alleviate their 



THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBUEG. 219 

own comrades, that lan^iished upon the ground within the lim- 
its of the Union hnes, and could not be assisted by their friends. 
The supply of food, from some unknown cause, was deficient 
in the field-hospitals; and an application was made to the 
enlisted men in behalf of the wounded, and every soldier 
contributed liberally from his scanty store of rations. Expe- 
rience in battle soon proved that the weapons manufactured 
in the United States were superior to those which were im- 
ported from foreign countries ; and one regiment in the bri- 
gade, that bivouacked near a stack of several thousand arms 
which had been collected upon the field, threw aside their 
Belgian rifles, and selected those of the Springfield pattern. 
A member of a Pennsylvania regiment, who was at one stage 
of the conflict skirmishing upon his father's fainn, near the 
house in which be was born, while the enemy held a position 
at the barn, refused to be relieved from his post of duty when 
the company was ordered to rejoin its command. Little did 
he dream that the strong arm and loyal heart which had con- 
tended against the foes of his country in the solitudes of 
Virginia would one day be required to attack them amidst 
the familiar scenes of his youth and home, and battle there 
with a courage which could never falter. All knew at noon 
that Lee had retreated ; because the bands, clerks, and other 
non-combatants, arrived from the rear ; and strains of music, 
intermingled with cheers, resounded along the lines from 
Wolf Hill to Roundtop. 

The citizens, who deserted then- houses when Lee ap- 



220 THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 

proacbed, returned, with tbeir large families of small children, 
in haycarts and similar vehicles, which were followed by the • 
horses, cattle, and swine which they had wisely taken away 
with them, and found in several instances merely a pile of 
bricks, and some charred wood in the cellar. Although a 
few of the inhabitants manifested a strong sympathy, and 
said, " Destroy our property, but drive away the rebels, and 
we are satisfied," Gen. Hayes, a gallant Pennsylvanian, 
who fell in the Wilderaess, asserted in my hearing, that 
' ' the people who live on the border, in the vicinity of 
Gettysburg, are as base traitors as can be found in Virginia." 
Another officer from the same State remarked to me, " These 
Dutch farmers care-for nothing except their cabbages ; and, if 
they can make money out of Lee's army, they don't care how 
long they stay here." These tight-fisted miscreants, taking 
advantage of the necessities of the wounded, obtained a 
dollar for a loaf of bread or quart of milk ; named a price for 
water and bandages ; and, in the absence of most of the 
ambulances, conveyed them in their miserable wagons from 
the hospitals to the railroad depot, and demanded the most 
exorbitant amounts for their services. The clergymen and 
other prominent civilians of Gettysburg published a card in 
the newspapers, and boldly denied the truth of statements of 
this character ; but I throw into the scales of justice the un- 
broken testimony of sixty thousand soldiers of the Army of 
the Potomac. 

The force of Lee, which had been so recently flushed with 



THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 221 

the thought of Southern indepeiidence and the hopes of 
plundering the great cities of the North, retreated upon the 
night of the 4th from their earthworks, and abandoned 
thousands of the wounded, who were placed in the houses of 
the people upon the rbads. The cavalry, led by its gallant 
commanders, at once commenced the pursuit; harassed the 
flanks and rear-guard of the enemy, and captured the trains 
of wagons : but the movement of the infantry was delayed, 
and the corps listened to the dim reports of the flying artillery 
of Buford, Kilpatrick, and Gregg, but did not march for 
three days, although it was under orders "to be ready to 
start at a second's notice." The bugle at midnight awoke 
the soldiers, who were sleeping upon the huge rocks in the 
woods ; and the troops, binding cords and straps around the 
legs of the pants to prevent chafing, advanced, and marched 
upon the road to Emmettsburg at 2^, a.m., of the 7th. A gen- 
eral and certain mounted officers, who always procured govern- 
ment animals when a conflict was imminent, rode again upon 
their private steeds, which had been brought from the rear ; 
but the majority considered that the most valuable horses 
were required at such a time, when the gain of a few seconds 
might change the history of an engagement. A brigadier 
remarked, in alluding to this fact, " I had two horses shot 
under me, and lost $1,200 at the battle of Gettysburg ; but, 
if I had possessed twenty, that number would have been 

needed to keep in their places the cowardly regiment," 

which was composed of ill-disciplined foreigners. The trees 



222 THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 

and houses for some distance bore the scars of the battle : 
many breastworks of rails and earth had bee» constnicted 
to shelter the rebel lines ; pits had been dug ; and structures 
of small stoues had been erected for their sharpshooters ; and 
the right flank of Lee's army was protected by a formidable 
field-work, which had been ingeniously covered with branches, 
bushes, and transplanted savins, to conceal the troops and 
batteries, and deceive the distant Federal observer. 

When all the facts attending this battle are fully under- 
stood, the historian will award the highest praise to the 
courage of the rank and file and the skill of the subordinate 
officers, and ascribe to Gen. Meade a very small degree of the 
honor for this decisive triumph. The conflict of July 1 was 
fought during his absence : the first corps captured a large 
number of prisoners ; but the death of the accomplished Gen. 
Keynolds, and the re-enforcements which arrived for the foe, 
enabled Ewell to force the Union troops from their position, 
and drive them through the streets of Gettysburg. Gen. 
Howard had posted a division of the eleventh corps in reserve 
at Cemetery Hill ; and this officer, assisting Gen. Hancock, 
who had the sole command, together with Generals Warren, 
Buford, and others, who noticed the great natural strength of 
the ridge, formed the divisions of the various coi'ps upon the 
right and left of it ; and thus the wise selection of the battle- 
field, a matter of the highest imjDortance, which requires the 
exercise of the finest military judgment, was the result of a 
defeat. A part of this line, which these brilliant officers 



THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 223 

established while the commander of the army was several miles 
in the rear, was changed upon the 2d by Gen. Sickles, without 
any orders ; and the enemy for two days vainly assailed the 
gallant forces that held the original ground. During the 
gigantic struggle, Gen, Meade neither attacked the rebels, nor 
pursued them when they were completely shattered and had 
fled in confusion, but acted solely upon the defensive ; and 
his able subordinates and their brave soldiers sowed, while 
he reaped, the harvest of martial glory which was produced 
by their successful labors upon the plains of Gettysburg. 



CHAPTER XIII. 



THE ^lARCH TO WILLIAMSPORT, MANASSAS GAP, 
AND CULPEPER COURT HOUSE. 



> "^^ 'HE corps marcbed daily, from tbe seventh until the 
twelfth, throuf^h the beautiful scenes which have 



'(L 



been described, and hourly received the sincere 
welcomes of the loyal citizens of Western Maryland. 
Severe storms frequently occurred, and affected in certain 
places the condition of the roads to such an extent that the 
wheels of the artillery and long trains of wagxjns made them 
impassable for the infantry that usually moved across the 
fields. A general, who sought to shield his acts of cowardice 
in the presence of the enemy by a display of arbitrary authori- 
ty upon the march, stationed his staff to guard the bridges, 
and compelled the men to wade through the streams which 
often intersected the pathway, without allowing them any 
time to remove shoes or clothing. This, with the exception 
of the infernal conduct of a commander who exposed the sol- 
diers to the deadly rays of the Southern sun, or marched them 
for hours without a halt, is the surest mode of torturing them, 
or exhausting their energies; because the feet are quickly 
blistered, and a lameness ensues which cannot be healed for 

224 



THE MARCH TO WILLIAMSPORT, 225 

a long period. The Seventh New- York Regiment, which was 
encamped at Frederick City, and was the first force of militia 
that had been seen -by the troops that performed the fight- 
ing, was greeted with derisive shouts by the veterans that 
belonged to the same city and State. 

Suspended to the limb of a tree which gi-ew near the town 
was the body of a spy that had been hung by Gen. Buford, 
who acted promptly in this matter, without waiting for orders 
from the authorities at Washington. The collectors of 
relics had stripped the bark from the trunk, and taken from 
his person every rag except the portion of his clothing 
which was firmly held around his neck by the tent cord ; and 
most of the old soldiers recognized him as one who had sold 
newspapers and maps to the army. A captain in the regi- 
ment took oflf his shoes, and gave them to a notorious skulker 
who had alleged this pretext, and evaded the battle of Gettys- 
burg, so that the man would have no similar excuse for his 
cowardice in the next conflict. The division marched over 
the battle-ground of the South-Mountain Pass upon the ninth, 
when — 

*' The shades of night were falling fast; " 

and the color-bearere, who carried the blue silk flags of the 
Excelsior Brigade that formed the advance, reminded one of — 

" A youth who bore, 'mid snow and ice, 
A banner with the strange device, — 
Excelsior 1 " 

** Here Gen. Reno fell," was the simple inscription upon a 
15 



226 



plain rock near the road, which marked the spot on which 
America lost one of her greatest ofl&cers ; and it is a melan- 
choly fact, that he was killed by the excited members of a new 
regiment who delivered a volley in the night. 

Upon July 12, the Army of the Potomac confronted Lee, 
who had concentrated his troops at Williamsport : the rolls of 
the companies were called once in two hours, and the usual 
arrangements were made for the battle which was every moment 
anticipated. The correspondents of the press misrepresent 
the facts nine times in ten when they assert that veterans are 
anxious to fight ; but upon this day the soldiers who bore 
muskets wished to hear the commands, " Take arms," and 
" Charge," because they knew thiin^ what is conceded now, 
that it would have captured all the cannon, materiel, and men 
from the enemy, and finished the Rebellion without a hard 
contest or a large loss of valuable lives. When I recall the 
emphatic language that was used by rebel prisoners who 
were subsequently taken, refugees, civilians who were seized 
and detained to prevent them from communicating this infor- 
mation, and Union soldiers who escaped from their lines or 
were released and exchanged, I boldly state that nine-tenths 
of the officers and men of both armies would assent to this 
startling proposition, because I never heard one of them deny 
it. Lee had exhausted immense quantities of ammunition in 
the terrible combat at Gettysburg ; many of his caissons and 
magazines did not contain a cartridge ; and his horde could not 
withstand any onset. His men, disheartened by the knowl- 



227 



edge of this fact and their" heavy losses, wearied by the 
anxiety and severity of the hurried march upon the retreat, 
and unable to ford the Eappahannock, which separated them 
from the base of their supplies, earnestly prayed that they 
could touch the soil of Virginia before the victorious Yankees 
arrived. The national soldiers, thoroughly equipped and fur- 
nished with sufl&cient ammunition ; animated by the glorious 
triumphs of Gettysburg, the surrender of Yicksburg, the re- 
pulse at Helena, and the success which crowned the cause in 
every section of the country ; knowing the perilous circum- 
stances of the disorganized mass in their front, and that a battle 
fought at this point would prevent an almost endless tramp, 
besides numberless " conflicts in the disagreeable wildernesses 
of Virginia, — wished with a united voice to be led to the 
work of carnage. 

The mountains, which the archangel Michael, — 

" Of celestial armies prince," — 

wielded with such supernatural power when he crushed the 
hosts of Satan and Belial, were potent weapons in the all- 
powerful hands of Nature to assist the Union columns. The 
rain daily surcharged the springs that bubbled in the forests 
of oak upon the heights, and sent upwards slender clouds of 
vapor to stand in the air like sentinels, and point out to the 
national soldiers that were marching in the valleys, the abodes 
of their allies ; while a thousand overflowing rivulets rushed 
down the steep sides of the lofty hills, enlarged their banks, 



228 MANASSAS GAP, CULPEPER COURT HOUSE. 

removed the bridges and works of man which attempted to 
check the currents, and poured their waters into the Potomac 
until they had placed a stronger barrier than redoubts of earth 
or forts of stone in the rear of the " armed files " of treason, 
who were held day after day upon the fields of Williamsport, 
and threatened to ingulf them whenever they fled before the 
avenging bayonets and rifled ordnance of the Northern forces. 
Gen. Meade, disregarding the wise advice of the heroes of 
Gettysburg, the fearless officers of the cavalry, and the gene- 
rals that have been mentioned in tenns of praise in the pre- 
ceding chapter, read the bombastic address which Lee posted 
upon the walls of Hagarstown, listened to the counsels of the 
timid and irresolute, was "afraid to strike." The stream sub- 
sided, and the golden opportunity was lost forever. The bri- 
gade advanced upon the morning of the 14th, and occupied 
the breastwork which had been erected by those who were 
posted in the extreme front ; while three lines of battle marched 
over the bluff without opposition, and resembled in the dis- 
tance the waves that roll over the ledges of a " rock-bound 
coast." A few slight pits for the infantry and sharpshooters 
were encountered, but they had been hastily constructed for 
show, and not actual service ; while a number of men of straw 
appeared to be guarding the deserted ground. Deep gloom 
pervaded the army as soon as it was ascertained that Lee had 
been allowed to escape destniction ; and, so eager vi^re the 
soldiers to attack the enemy at this point, the reports of Gen. 
Kilpatrick's cannon at twelve, m., produced cheers of exulta- 



THE MARCH TO WILLIAMSPORT, 229 



tion. For a long time the most awful curses were uttered in 
connection with the names of Meade and certain generals who 
opposetl the assault. Six months after this shameful failure, 
I heard the shouts of some men, "Who voted against the 

attack at Williamsport ? " "The drunkard ! " " The 

traitor ! " and noticed one of these obnoxious corps com- 
manders, who was reelicg to and fro upon his horse. Several 
hundred lank and careworn prisoners, more than one-half of 
wh(5m had no shoes, passed by the bivouac under guard ; and 
one of them remarked as he pointed to a negro who was ar- 
rayed in the rebel unifonn, " That is a Georgia cotton-pick- 
ing nigger who would bring sixteen hundred dollars ; but I will 
sell him to you now for a loaf of bread." 

The troops in the field diminished rapidly from losses by 
battle, exposure, and desertion ; and a division, which was com- 
posed of the garrisons of forts at Baltimore, Washington, and 
Harper's Ferry, that had never seen a skiimish, contained six 
regiments with seven thousand men, while the forty-two regi- 
ments of the veteran divisions of Hooker and Kearney pre- 
sented for duty about six thousand men. The brigade 
marched upon the 15th across the field of Antietam : the soil 
which had been fertilized with the blood and bones of the 
slain bore bountiful harvests of wheat and corn ; and the peace- 
ful yeoman gathered the life-preserving grain upon the spot 
where, ten months before, death wielded his terrible sickle. 
A portion of the forest, which had been felled upon the crest 
of the m.ountain that towered above the battle-fn-ound, formed 



230 MANASSAS GAP, CULPEPER COURT HOUSE. 



an open space which the people called " McClellan's look-out," 
because that general viewed from this commanding height 
the conflict which raged beneath him. Although the foe was 
south of the Potomac, and there was no necessity for a forced 
movement, the corps was marched for seventeen miles, at the 
utmost rate of speed, from seven, a.m., till two, p.m. ; when it 
halted for the day in the open field which was enclosed by 
pleasant woods that were reserved for the use of the generals 
and their staffs and horses. The sun diffused rays of fire ; 
many raved in the delirium of its deadly stroke by the road- 
side ; and some surgeons rode by the unfortunate victims with- 
out proffering their services, because they belonged to another 
command. 

The brigade reached the ruined structures of Harper's Fer- 
ry, which nestled in the midst of the most picturesque and ro- 
mantic scenery, and crossed the Potomac at eight, p.m., on the 
17th, upon a pontoon bridge that was supported by twenty- 
five boats, and the wire bridge that spanned the Shenandoah. 
The first woman that I saw upon the southern bank repeated 
several times the characteristic wish, " I hope you will all get 
bullets in your heads;" which elicited from the soldiers a 
general reply, " How natural that sounds in Virginia ! " No 
property was protected in the States of IMaryland and Penn- 
sylvania, and the loyal citizens never uttered a murmur about 
the conduct of the men who conquered the foe at Gettysburg ; 
but guards were placed upon the houses of rebels and gueril- 
las as soon as the Union forces crossed the river. A vague 



THE MARCH TO WILLIAMSPORT, 231 

order was issued, allowing the soldiers to " take the top rail ; " 
and a liberal construction was put upon this command, 
the qualifying word being considered a relative term ; and 
each one was seized until the whole fence had disappeared, 
and the bottom became the " top rail " of the glowing camp- 
fires. The corps held the right, and daily advanced along the 
base of the Blue Ridge, which separated the two armies, until 
Manassas Gap was occupied upon the 23d. All were inspir- 
ed by the beauty of the mountains, the heights that receded 
at the gap, the variegated forest which adorned them, and the 
exhilarating atmosphere ; but an ugly and degraded race of 
Virginians lived upon the slopes, waylaid the stragglers, and 
murdered the weary soldier who slept in the cabin in which 
he had been insnared by their hypocritical welcomes. The 
troops were always stupidly placed in the cleared sections 
of the country ; and a citizen of one of the villages said that 
the rebel scouts upon the hills easily counted the divisions 
and noticed their positions, and repeated some of their state- 
ments, which showed an accurate knowledge in these respects. 
JMany cripples were seen in the towns, who had lost their 
limbs while they were fighting against the national flag ; and 
they invariably stated that they had been injured by reaping 
or farming machines. The blackberries were abundant ; and ^ 
the fields which bordered upon the roads were covered with 
soldiers searching for them, whenever a halt was ordered. 
The people with scarcely an exception were rebels; and, while 
money would not tempt them to sell food, a small quantity 



232 



of coffee overcame every scruple ; and certain commissaries and 
similar officers made large profits by illegally selling the gov- 
ernment rations, A general gratified his tyrannical disposi- 
tion by sending the pioneers in advance of his command to 
cut down and destroy all "foot bridges," so that the men 
would be compelled to wade through the numerous streams 
that intersected the road, and endure the suffering which al- 
ways followed ; while the scene highly entertained him and his 
staff. A woftian in a village complained that a certain general 
treated her worse than the privates of his brigade ; but cheat- 
ing ignorant people in making change, or obtaining baskets 
and dishes by promising to return them when their contents 
had been consumed, were laughed over as splendid jokes at 
his headquarters. 

The column moved 15 ve hours upon the 23d near the Ma- 
nassas-Gap Hailroad, which had been completely destroyed; 
and one resident near Piedmont made an ornamental iron 
fence of the rails which' had been heated and bent in the 
centre. The utter depravity of the Southern slaveholder was 
daily revealed : a man who stood at the gate of his house, in 
reply to a question, answered, " There have been no rebels in 
this place within six months ; " while his wife, who was in the 
kitchen, said, " A portion of Lee's army passed the day before 
yesterday." While the column was fording a broad stream 
that was knee-deep, a general (for whom, viewed as an officer 
or man, no one entertained any respect) vainly ordered the 
soldiers of his command to march in another place, and shout- 



233 



ed to an officer as he pointed to a hole in the road where the 
water was four feet in depth, " Lieutenant, you go throuo-h 
there." No delay would have been allowed; and this lieuten- 
ant, knowing that the rations and ammunition of his compa- 
ny would be ruined if this useless order was obeyed, did not 
deviate from his course, and, by refusing to walk through cold, 
soon found himself in hot water, and was placed in arrest. A 
court-martial convened three weeks after this event ; and al- 
though the general committed perjury, and testified among 
other falsehoods that ' ' the brook in the deepest part of it was 
not six inches deep," witnesses of inferior rank, but superior 
courage, honor, and veracity, contradicted his evidence ; and 
his chagrin can be imagined when the subaltern returned to 
duty, and received no punishment. 

The corps relieved the cavalry at Manassas Gap, and the 
rebels held possession of a part of it ; while the rear-guard of 
Lee's army, which had marched from Winchester, passed 
from the valley to Culpeper Court House. Their skirmish- 
ers deployed at four, p.m., upon the crest of a high hill in 
front, which was the key of the position, and from which they 
were quickly driven, when the Union lines, more than a mile 
and a hslf in length, advanced. A number purposely re- 
mained to be taken prisoners ; and one of them said, '' I am 
all right now." The soldiers in the extreme front moved 
forward with their usual coolness, picking and eating berries, 
and loading and firing their muskets as they clambered up the 
heights. The eyes were dazzled by the loveliness of the- view 



234 MANASSAS GAP, CULPEPER COURT HOUSE. 

from this point : hill rose above hill ; the mountains changed 
their hues from green to the lightest shade of blue, until they 
became invisible ; and the fields of wheat, with their rows of 
oats, looked like a vast network of gold in the valley through 
which the Shenandoah flowed. The trains of the enemy 
could be discerned in the distance upon one side of the moun- 
tains, while the Anny of the Potomac was marching towards 
the gap ; and Gren. Meade said in a tone of confidence, " We 
have got them foul now; to-morrow we will attack them." 
A corps commander, who was drunk, and scarcely able to re- 
tain the seat upon his horse, rode along the lines, accompanied 
by most of his staff, including the non-combatants ; and re- 
marks like these arose : ' ' There are no rebels here ; ' ' 
"There won't be any fighting to-night;" and the men felt 
perfectly safe while they were present with them. 

The soldiers rested upon a bed of rocks during the nighi ; 
and the division with a squadron of cavalry and a battery 
made a reconnoissance in the morning of the 24th, dis- 
covered that the enemy had vanished from their position, and 
marched in pursuit to Front Royal, upQp the road which was 
easily traced by noticing the newspapers, bags of ammunition, 
flour, and half-baked biscuits, which had been cast aside du- 
ring the flight. The wounded were uncared for ; the dead 
were unburied; and a faithful hound howled in the most 
mournful manner over the body of his master in the forest 
near Wapping Heights. A battery threw three shells at the 
head of the column at nine and a half, a.m. : the brio;ade at 



235 



once filed to the riglit of the road, formed a line of battle in 
the woods, and waited for further orders. A small hill which 
rose abruptly in front interfered with the view in that direc- 
tion : and, after the skirmishers had advanced, aides and 
other officers boldly rode upon the crest, and examined the 
ground ; while a general who showed base cowardice upon 
every occasion of danger timidly stood upon the slope, so 
that his eyes could barely see the position, and, repeating 
his ignoble conduct at Gettysburg, told the color-bearer of 
his brigade to "goto the rear." When the troops were 
ordered to move forward, thi^- eneral was attacked by a dis- 
ease which might be truly tenned a case of indisposition ; and 
the command devolved upon a lieutenant-colonel, who shouted 
the orders in a loud voice which might have been heard by 
the entire force of both armies. The first height was passed 
without opposition ; and the men expected to receive a volley 
from the thick woods that crowned another hill which was 
beyond it, until the skirmishers reported that the rebel cavalry 
were racing through the streets of Front Royal. "When those 
in the rear learned this fact, the general, whose recovery had 
been as sudden as his illness, resumed his place amidst a 
thousand half-suppressed mutters and curses about the ' ' cow- 
ard " and " playing sick." 

The column halted at this point an hour ; retraced its steps 
at one and a half, p.m. ; bivouacked near Piedmont ; and en- 
camped at Beverly Ford upon Aug. 1, after a number of 
marches. The rebel generals issued orders forbidding their 



236 MANASSAS GAP, CULPEPER COURT HOUSE. 

soldiers to ask any questions concerning the towns through 
which they passed; and it is stated that Jackson always 
halted at the cross-roads at night, so that they would be un- 
able to decide which route he would take in the morning. 
No such restrictions existed in the Union army ; ' and the in- 
habitants were plied with inquiries, ' ' What is the name of the 
next place ? " or, " How far is it from here ? " One sagacious 
native of Salem, not wishing to be annoyed in this way, ren- 
dered a service by holding upon his knees a signboard, upon 
which all could read, " Warrenton, 13 miles." The regiment 
had marched four hundred and ten miles from June 11 to 
Aug. 1, and seldom bivouacked two successive nights upon 
the same ground ; and the rest at Beverly Ford was very 
desirable. The soldiers carried knapsacks when the gi'and 
movement commenced at Falmouth ; but at this time most of 
them had a small roll, and did not possess more than one 
shirt, which was washed and worn again as soon as it was dry. 
The daily routine of camp-duty was resumed ; and the regi- 
ment furnished details to picket upon the Rappahannock near 
Freeman's Ford, where it was only forty feet in width and 
about two feet deep. The people who had transported then: 
cattle, hay, and grain to the South to supply the rebel anny, 
applied with their usual assurance to the commissary for ra- 
tions to save themselves from starvation. They had sent 
aWlay the few negroes who had not escaped to the North ; and 
the able-bodied whites were fighting under Lee, so that la- 
borers could not be procui*ed to take charge of their estates ; 



237 



and the provost-guard was ordered to protect them. During 
the winter they had filled the ice-houses, which are usually 
built near the mansions of the wealthy, for the use of the sick 
and wounded in the hospitals at Richmond ; and the luxury 
was confiscated for the benefit of the Union soldiers. A party 
of negroes ran away from Culpeper Court House ; and, within 
half of an hour after they had escaped across the Rappahan- 
nock, four blood-hounds, following their footsteps, appeared 
upon the opposite bank, and were shot by the pickets. Re- 
connoissances were frequently made, and several engagements 
took place at Brandy Statioji between the cavalry forces of 
both armies ; and, upon Aug. 4, the puffs of smoke from the 
cannon and exploding shells mingled with the clouds, and the 
reports of the artillery clashed with the reverberations of 
thunder during a severe storm. _ The Blue Ridge was unob- 
scured by its drapery of vapor upon the following day. In 
the language of the residents, " The mountain took off its 
night-cap," and the rain ceased. An officer of the day di- 
rected a captain to examine that part of the river which was 
guarded by the division, and ascertain, if possible, the num- 
ber of points at which it could be forded. The clothes of the 
officer were thoroughly drenched with water when he returned 
in the afternoon, and reported that he had waded in the cen- 
tre of the stream nearly a mile, narrowly escaped drowning, 
and stated the results of his unforeseen method of sounding the 
Rappahannock. 

The camps witnessed an affecting spectacle upon the 14th. 



238 MANASSAS GAP, CULPEPER COURT HOUSE. 

The veterans of many honorable battles — the officers and men 
of Kearney's and Hooker's divisions of the third corps — 
contributed their pay for one day to purchase for Gen. Sic- 
kles, their gallant and disabled commander, a carriage, horses, 
and harness, as an expression of their respect ; and, when the 
wounded returned from the hospitals, they would not be paci- 
fied until their names were added to the long list. The good 
opinion of these brave soldiers — of one man who bore a mus- 
ket, and had seen and admired his conduct at Chancellors- 
ville and Gettysburg — was of far greater weight than the 
carping of generals who sat in their chairs of ease and safety 
at Washington. The cheers of such voices, and especially 
thof;e from the ranks, will resound through future centuries, 
while the contemptible sneers at Gen. Sickles and the heroes 
of Newberne and Lookout Mountain are imperceptible. 

A squad of two hundred substitutes (there was not one 
conscript among them) was assigned to the regiment after 
tattoo on the 23d ; and the utmost vigilance was required to 
retain them within the limits of the camp. A more motley 
crowd was never inspected. Every nation and occupation 
was represented : thieves, organ-grinders, garoters, and New- 
York rioters, formed a majority ; and all, with a few excep- 
tions, intended to desert at the first opportunity, to obtain 
another bounty. Twenty or thirty had been daily tied up by 
the thumbs during the voyage ; some had been shot while they 
were swimming to the shore ; and others, by a system of 
general pillage, accumulated amounts that exceeded two thou- 



THE MARCH TO WILLIAMSPORT, 239 

sand dollars. Many had deserted from various branches of 
the service, and understood the manual of arms and the com- 
pany movements. It had been announced that five bounty- 
jumpers would be shot in the fifth corps upon the 29th ; and 
the day was awaited with the deepest impatience by the offi- 
cers, who could not be held responsible for a lax state of dis- 
cipline if the villains were pardoned by the President, and by 
the substitutes who made preparations to leave if the execu- 
tion was postponed. The miserable wretches were marched 
to the ground where five graves had been dug two hours be- 
fore the fatal moment : each man gazed upon his last resting- 
place, and then returned to the prison. The fifth corps was 
formed under arms upon the field, besides squads of con- 
scripts who were under guard ; and most of the third corps 
were present as spectators. The band of the regiment played 
the "dead march" while the procession was moving to the 
scene ; and each prisoner, with his hands manacled behind 
him, walked in the rear of his coffin, which was canied by 
four soldiers, and placed in front of the grave. Two were 
Jews, and two were Roman Catholics ; and the rabbi and 
priest who accompanied them had a dispute about precedence, 
and urged their respective claims upon theological tenets ; 
but the commander of the provost-guard viewed the subject 
in a military light, and decided the novel question by allow- 
ing the rabbi to walk first, because his faith was the oldest 
and outranked the other. The last solemn rites were cele- 



240 



bratcd ; each culprit sat upon bis coffin ; their eyes were ban- 
daged ; within a second the bullets from fifty muskets pierced 
them, and soon five mounds of earth covered their bodies. 

The orders to march at sunset upon Sept. 15 were so un- 
expected, that a wagon loaded with evergTecn and boughs for 
headquarters passed by the camp while the "general" was 
beating, and the soldiers were striking tents and packing up 
their effects. The column moved at half-past seven, p.m. ; 
but a major-general was intoxicated ; great confusion pre- 
vailed in consequence of conflicting orders ; and the division 
marched in a circle through the woods, hour after hour, until 
one, A.M., of the IGth ; and actually halted for the remainder 
of the night, at the end of this most tiresome and needless 
gyration, within an eighth of a mile of the quarters which 
had been abandoned. It was a mile and a half to the ford 
at which the crossing should have been made ; and a large 
number of officers and men could have pointed out the place 
without any difficulty, and avoided this over-exertion. The 
troops, at an early hour upon the 16th, forded the Rappahan- 
nock, which was knee-deep ; and subsequently Hazel Run, 
which was hip-deep ; and Gen. Prince, a most exemplary offi- 
cer, who commanded the division, was placed in arrest because 
he allowed them to remove their shoes or boots when they 
travelled through the water. The enemy retreated south of 
the Rapidan ; and the camp of the regiment was located, upon 
the 17th, about a mile in the rear of Culpeper Court House. 



THE MAECH TO WILLI AMSPORT, ETC. 241 

The cold often interraptecl sleep at this season, before the oc- 
cupation of the winter barracks ; and the fires would be sur- 
rounded by groups of shivering soldiers, two or three hours 
before twihght. 

16 



CHAPTER XIV. 

TO CENTKEVILLE, AND BACK TO CULPEPER 
COURT HOUSE. 

CULPEPER COURT HOUSE consisted of desert- 
ed buildings with broken windows ; empty stores ; 
a few destitute natives ; a jail, and similar institu- 
tions ; and four churches, from which the pews had 
been removed to render them fit for occupation by the sick 
and wounded soldiers. The commanding heights, the Blue 
Ridge, and Cedar Mountain, which is known among the 
natives by the common family name of "Slaughter," which the 
disgraceful blunders of the battle made very appropriate, rose 
in the front, and suiTounded the city. The most stringent 
commands were issued to the members of the brigade to 
prevent them from taking the fences of a notorious rebel, 
an Ex-M.C, upon whose grounds the camp had been estab- 
lished : a large force was detailed to guard them, and four 
written orders were read to the men upon this subject in the 
course of half an houi\ The troops of Lee's army did not 
injure the property when they bivouacked in the same field ; 
and I f^olved the perplexing problem regarding this singular 
conduct, when I ascertained that the wealthy owner was the 

242 



TO CENTREVILLE, ETC. 243 

father-in-law of one of the generals of the Union army. The 
quartermasters and teamsters of one division pitched their 
tents and parked theii* wagons in a cemetery ; and some of 
these unfeeling non-combatants levelled the mounds of earth to 
secure a better floor for their shelters. The health of a num- 
ber of substitutes in this brief period seemed to be as frail as 
theu' reputation for honor ; for some of them were crippled or 
unsound in an organ of sense ; one was so blind that he was 
always piloted ui the night by seizing the end of a musket, 
while a faithful comrade carried the other ; black hair gi-ad- 
ually lost its color, and the white head of a person too old for 
any service appeared ; and two died of consumption within a 
month after their anival. 

The military position was unchanged until Oct. 8, when 
the division was detailed for special duty, and marched to 
James City to support Gen. Kilpatrick during the skirmishes 
between the cavalry. The rebel camp-fires burned at night 
with their usual brilliancy ; the tents and shelters were not 
removed ; the pickets maintained a strong force at the same 
fords upon the Rapidan ; while Lee moved his army upon 
" circuitous and concealed roads," and intended to pass by 
the right flank, and rush to the strong position of Centreville. 
The observing eyes of the signal-coii3S, who were posted upon 
the summits of the mountains, promptly discovered this inge- 
nious design. The infantry acted as a support for the cav- 
alry ; and general quietness reigned until three, p.m., of the 
10th, when a brisk skirmish commenced that did not cease 



244 TO CENTREVILLE, AND 

until night, and the enemy was completely foiled. In the 
mean while, the cars were loaded with stores, and sent to 
Alexandria ; the wagon-trains were in motion ; the main body 
of the army was already preparing to retreat across the Eap- 
pahannock ; and the division began to return before sunset, as 
the orders were explicit to avoid bringing on a general en- 
gagement. The troops filed into the fields near the road to 
bivouac for the night; and had barely fallen asleep before 
the march was resumed, and there was no halt until mid- 
night. Most of the corps crossed the river upon the 11th, 
and every man uttered a yell while he forded it. The rebel 
cavahy closely followed the rear to pick up stragglers, while 
tlie infantry was attempting to make a grand flank move- 
ment : and the contest became a race between the two armies,, 
which hastened, upon routes that were nearly parallel, to gain 
the same point; and, although the Federal forces were en- 
cumbered by the trains, they won the position, and were only 
two hours ahead of the advance of the enemy. Some gen- 
erals injured the service by placing their sons and relatives 
upon their staffs, and sending orderlies to perform their duty, 
and carry important commands, when their lives were en- 
dangered by the battle ; and the officers of the cavalry 
.usually detailed for this 25nrpose the most worthless soldiers 
that were mustered upon the rolls. One of this class, who 
could not speak English, delivered an order to me when I 
commanded the skumishers that covered the brigade as it fell 
back from James City; and I was unable to interpret his 



BACK TO CULPEPER COURT HOUSE. 245 

jargon at a time wben a deviation from the proper path 
involved capture and other serious results. 

The regiment was stationed at Beverly Ford upon the 12th, 
behind the earthworks which they assisted to build, while 
on the march to Gettysburg, to prevent the enemy from cross- 
ing at this point. The pickets of the rebel cavalry that were 
posted in groups upon the opposite bank hastily rode away 
as soon as Stuart was forced to retreat to Culpeper Court 
House; and their rapid flight was the first result of the 
national success. The division marched from sunrise to sun- 
set upon the 13th, and was delayed during the night by the 
bad state of the road ; and fii-es were built when these irre- 
gular halts occurred, and several miles of rail-fence were 
destroyed. The column rested at Greenwich only two horns ; 
moved at daybreak with great caution : flankers marched 
through the woods and fields ; and ^companies held the by- 
paths to protect those in the road against a sudden attack. 
The lines of battle were formed at two, p.m., upon the heights 
of Centreville, where the regiment was aligned for the eighth 
time during its various campaigns, which were termed by the 
men " forward and back " movements. 

" We must pass through the crack of a door," Gen. Prince 
remarked in the morning; and the fatigued soldiers were 
urged to keep in reserve all their strength, because the safety 
of the army depended upon their promptness and power of 
endui'ance. These forced marches, which could not be avoid- 
ed, caused great exhaustion ; and many substitutes gladly 



246 TO CENTREVILLE, AND 

straggled from the ranks, and concealed themselves until tbe 
rebel cavalry advanced, wlicn they surrendered like willing 
prisoners. The natives of this section of Virginia did not 
appear to own any of the estates which they occupied ; and 
most of the houses displayed a signboard, upon which was 
painted, " British property. Safeguard placed by Gen. Si- 
gel or Bleade." 

The corps constituted the left of the army upon the 15th ; 
and the division proceeded to Union Mills, where one com- 
pany from each regiment of the brigade was detailed for 
picket-duty. The main body was posted at the ford and 
bridge that crossed Bull Bun at this point ; and the company 
of which I had charge halted at the base of a hill which 
commanded the stream, and upon which earthworks had been 
constrr.cted by the troops of the right wing of Beauregard's 
force at the first battle in 18G1. Three men and a corporal 
relieved a squad upon the crest ; and a staff-officer who gave 
instructions, and the men that composed the old guard, said 
that no rebels ever molested them, and there was no necessity 
for unusual vigilance. When I reconnoitred the ground in 
the vicinity, and passed through the thin belt of woods which 
was two hundred yards in front of the outposts, I saw, at the 
distance of half a mile upon the broad plains of Manassas, 
a line of advancing skirmishers, which was supported by a 
battery and a regiment of Stuart's cavalry. The company and 
a few riflemen from the reserve were ordered to re-enforce the 
little command of the corporal. The first ball surprised their 



BACK TO CULPEPER COURT HOUSE. 247 

ears, and was followed by a halt ; after which the principal 
portion dismounted ; and every man in the rear held the reins 
of four horses that belonged to his comrades, who were re- 
pulsed in every effort which they made to surround the pick- 
ets; and a scattering fii'e continued for two hours. They 
then moved to the right, planted their battery near McLean's 
Ford, and surprised the pickets that were compelled to rccross 
the river. The four soldiers who had been relieved belon2:ed 
to a brigade that had recently arrived from Suffolk ; and one 
of them entertained the listeners by describing the number- 
less battles in which he had participated upon the Blackwater. 
When the bullets whistled over the crest, and I was watching 
the movements of the foe, they ran to the rear ; but the story- 
teller was seized and thi'ust into the front rank, although he 
pleaded most earnestly for his release, and admitted that he 
had never seen a fight, and that his brigade had ' ' done 
nothing" since it entered the service. A sergeant, wbo in- 
effectually kicked a substitute that crouched upon the earth 
and refused to rise and discharge his musket, grasped him by 
the collar, and held him up : so that he was exposed to the 
fii-e of the enemy, until he brought his piece to the shoulder 
and pulled the trigger. The storm which arose in the night, 
and the tall wet grass, chilled the sentinels, who remained in 
the same spot, without any fires. In the morning, a chain 
of pickets, who sat upon their horses, extended from this 
point more than a mile to the rebel camp. 

The subtle plans of Lee had wholly failed, and no wagons 



248 TO CENTREVILLE, AND 

or organized bodies of infantry were captm-ed ; but he was 
leisurely followed when bis forces were -^thdrawn : and the 
division was encamped near the Junction, about seven miles 
from Bealeton, upon Oct. 30, while the right of the army 
extended to Warrenton. The corps commander most unjust- 
ly favored the third division, that had never performed any 
fighting, by always placing it in safe positions ; while the first 
and second, which had fought the enemy again and again, 
were exposed to every danger. The roads were so narrow, 
that a single team obstructed the passage of those that were 
in the rear of it : and government property was summarily 
destroyed if it could not be removed ; but the covetous sut- 
lers were unwilling to adopt this policy, and often blocked 
the trains during the movement. Gen. Meade issued a just 
order, which restrained their privileges, and banished them 
from the amiy for a certain period. The rebels injured the 
Orange and Alexandria Raiboad to the utmost extent ; de- 
molished the bridges, water-tanks, and culverts ; and ruined 
the ii-ou rails by placing them upon a pile of burning sleep- 
ers, the heat of which softened the centre, so that the ends 
rested upon the earth; and some were twisted around the 
trunks of oaks which gi-ew near the embankment. The track 
to Warrenton had not been disturbed ; and the rain inter- 
fered, at certain points, with the work of destruction, which 
was imperfectly executed. The soldiers were now required 
to perform a new species of labor; and large details were 
daily furnished to grade the road and fell the trees, and cut 



BACK TO CULPEPER COURT HOUSE. 249 

sleepers or ties. The Tbuilclings and fences had disappeared ; 
and the general barrenness which prevailed was occasionally 
relieved by the green spots of ground, in which the gi^ain that 
had been scattered by the cavalry had taken root, and sprouted. 
Two dead horses, which were respectively branded " C. S." 
and "U.S.," were stretched upon the field, near Bristow 
Station, with their heads a few feet apart ; and all who wit- 
nessed them asked, " Where are the riders ? " A rebel cav- 
alry scout captured three unarmed soldiers who were wander- 
ing outside the picket, and ordered them to take down a 
fence which his horse could not leap ; and each one seized a 
rail, dismounted him, and retraced their steps with the pris- 
oner. 

The army, like all travellers, "took an early breakfast" 
upon the morning of Nov. 7, and advanced towards the 
Rappahannock in two columns; and the corps marched to 
Kelly's Ford, where it arrived at three, p.m. The hill upon the 
northern bank commanded the position ; and the third brigade 
of the first division waded through the river while the batteries 
were briskly engaged, successfully charged upon the rifle-pits, 
and took five hundred prisoners. A bridge composed of 
eight pontoons was immediately constructed over the stream 
which had been many times passed and repassed, guarded 
and reguarded, by the Federal army ; and the brigade 
crossed at sunset, when the flashes of the rifles revealed the 
locahty of every skirmisher, and the cannonading resounded 
from Rappahannock Station. A Union captam was killed by 



250 TO CENTREVILLE, AND 

a sharpshooter while he was in the act of giving some water 
to a wounded rebel who was moaning upon the field. 

"You have got our winter quarters," exclaimed some of 
the prisoners, who stated that they were completely surprised, 
because they had often foimed in line of battle to no purpose 
when the cavalry was reconnoitring in their front, and ex- 
pected no unusual event when their pickets escaped to the 
support. ' The vent-hole of a cannon is always closed when 
the gunners are loading it, and a thumb-stall is generally 
worn to prevent the blisters which would arise if the piece 
became heated during an active engagement; and an accidents 
seldom occurred. In this contest the person instinctively 
removed his thumb, which was unprotected ; and a premature 
explosion resulted, by which three men were mangled. The 
enemy retreated across the Rapidan in the night ; and the 
division marched to Brandy Station without opposition on the 
morning of the 8th. Several negro servants that labored for 
rebel officers of high rank entered the lines, and brought with 
them the horses and overcoats of their masters; and one 
carried a large basket which contained the dinner and dishes 
of a brigadier. 

Lee's army had constructed barracks for occupation during 
the winter in the dense forests in the vicinity of Brandy 
Station, and collected bushels of acorns for food. The 
quartermasters issued clothing without any buttons, which 
were cut from the old and discarded garments, and sewed on 
the new by the fortunate receivers of the butternut. They 



BACK TO CULPEPER COURT HOUSE. 251 

had gathered hundreds of empty tin cans, which had been sold 
by the sutlers when they were filled with pickles or preserved 
meats, and intended to use them as dippers ; and many cor- 
respondents at once inferred from the labels that there had 
been illicit trade between the North and the South. The 
division occupied the camps which had been allotted to some 
I brigades in Ewell's corps; and the log structures afforded 
comfort to the enemies of the builders. 



CHAP TEE XV. 
THE ADVANCE TO MINE RUN. 



i^^^HE extensive preparations for a decisive battle had 
been completed, and the pontoons whicli rumbled 



i. 



upon Nov. 23 over tbe roads that led to the fords 
of the Rapidan were the forerunners of a general 
advance. Marching orders were received at the unwelcome 
hour of midnight, but countermanded at daybreak when the 
regiment was forming its hne"; tents were re-pitched in the 
midst of a rain, and the mud held fast many wheels which 
must revolve to supply the necessities of the army. Upon the 
26th, as the beams of the rising sun touched the wintry frost, 
and concealed the crests of the Blue Ridge in the clouds of 
its vapor, the corps abandoned their camps ; and the procla- 
mation that was printed in the newspapers was the only 
evidence which satisfied the soldiers that it was a day set 
apart for Thanksgivings Great enthusiasm was produced by 
the reading of the despatch of Gren. Grant, announcing his 
victory at Chattanooga. The grand force moved forward, 
and was soon separated from any base or line of communica- 
tions. The cavalry menaced the upper fords to deceive the 
enemy, while the infantry advanced in a different direction ; 

252 



THE ADVANCE TO MINE RUN. 253 

and the corps (the third) , followed by the sixth, constituted 
the right column. The brigade was posted in the advance, 
and passed by only four dwellings in marching fourteen miles, 
and halted in the woods about half of a mile from the, stream, 
at a point which was styled, by the name of the nearest inhab- 
itant, Jacobs' Ford. The bluffs of the southern bank rise 
very abruptly one hundred or one hundred and fifty feet in 
height, and are well adapted for defensive operations. 

The passage of a river by a corps, in the face of an enemy, 
is considered in military treatises one of the most difficult 
movements known in war ; but the Army of the Potomac 
has performed this hazardous undertaking with success upon 
every occasion, while the rebels never attempted to effect it. 
The skirmishers of the brigade deployed from the forest, and 
marched to the ford, which is located at a sharp bend : a 
battery was planted to protect them ; and the small body of 
rebel cavalry that witnessed these dispositions fled without 
firing a carbine. The pontoons were transported to the river, 
and placed in the water ; and the skirmishers, supported by 
four companies of the regiment, immediately embarked in the 
boats, and clambered the heights, upon which the brigade- 
color waved without opposition. Two incidents which fell 
under my observation at this time show the results of the 
negligence of some staff or general officers to thoroughly per- 
form their duty before the movement commenced. The 
width of the narrow stream had been miscalculated, and there 
was a deficiency in the number of boats that were required, 



254 THE ADVANCE TO MINE RUN. 

SO that a delay of an hour occuiTod whilo the pioneers were 
constructing a support of earth and logs for the southern ex- 
tremity of the bridge. The men who had been drilled to 
execute this peculiar labor quickly anchored the pontoons at 
certain intervals m the swiftly flowing current, arranged and 
fastened together the planks of the trestle-work, with the 
regularity that characterizes the movements of a machine. 
The troops began to cross at three, p.m. ; and discovered 
another oversight which was obvious at a glance, that the 
slopes were too precipitous for the passage of cannon and 
wagons ; which were then sent to another ford that was two 
miles from this point, because there was not time to cut a 
new road. A severe battle had been anticipated at the fords; 
and every eye looked upwards with earnestness during the 
most anxious moments of the day, when the skinnishers 
slowly approached the crest of the bluff. ' ' Is the foe con- 
cealed behind the hills that frown upon us ? Does he crouch 
in ambush in the thickets of the Wilderness beyond them ? " 
These thoughts flashed through the mind ; and the steps are 
slow ; the musket is held with a firmer grasp ; the finger 
constantly rests upon the trigger ; and every object is scru- 
tinized, because a single mistake might cause death or de- 
feat. Thus the Army of the Potomac won its new position 
south of the Kapidan, before sunset, without losing a life; 
and Lee, who had massed his columns to resist the advance 
of the national forces at the points where the cavalry was 
making alluring feints, was chagruied to find that he had been 



THE ADVANCE TO MINE RUN. 255 

outgeneralled, and his enemy threatened his rear and right 
flank. 

Glorious visions of success abeady enlivened the hopes of 
the soldiers. Celerity of action, the concentration of the 
corps at Robertson's Tavern, which placed them between the 
commands of Ewell and Hill, would produce a conflict with a 
foe cut in twain, which must insure the victory. The brigade, 
enclosed by strong lines of skirmishers and flankers, still 
formed the head of the column, and marched in compliance 
with instructions upon a narrow pathway which led through 
the almost impenetrable Wilderness until the rebel pickets 
were encountered. They were speedily driven more than a 
mile ; and the yelping of a wounded dog, an animal which 
always accompanies them, indicated the course which they had 
pursued in the darkness. 

' ' Tell the division general that my skirmishers are scalp- 
ing the devils like h — 1 ! " was the verbal message which the 
colonel commanding the brigade duly transmitted to announce 
his triumph. 

''^Ve are in the bowels of the enemy," remarked Gen. 
Piince, who ascertained that the troops had moved upon the 
wrong road, and were advancing to the fortified stronghold at 
3IOiton's Ford. He ordered them to countermarch : a tangled 
and unbroken forest increased the gloom and weariness of 
the three miles which were retraced to a point near the ford, 
and the bivouac was established for the night. These pre- 
cious hours that had been lost by the faithlessness of a corps 



256 THE ADVANCE TO MINE RUN. 

commander delayed the wliole army ; enabled Lee to unite Lis 
dissevered divisions ; and the sacred cause of the country was 
frustrated for many months. 

The breakfast of coffee and hard bread was devoui'ed before 
daybreak upon the 27th ; and the Hues were formed to resist' 
any attack which might be made by the enemy that hovered 
in the front. The march was resumed in the morning in 
compliance with orders from a corps commander ; light skir- 
mishes frequently took place with small squads of cavalry ; 
and at noon there had been no junction with the main body, 
although Gen. IMeade had labored unceasingly to secure this 
object. In consequence of the blundermg oversight which 
has been noticed, the ammunition trains and the artillery were 
not present to assist the infantry ; and the perilous situation 
in which the latter was placed can be discerned without a 
lengthy explanation. A long arid vexatious delay occurred 
because another move had been made in the wrong direction ; 
and the men, justly dissatisfied, rested in the road, and pulled 
down the fences to build fires, which were extinguished to 
prevent the scouts from gaining a knowledge of the brigades 
by watching the thin clouds of smoke. A corps general, who 
entered the house of Jacobs upon the preceding afternoon, 
and remained in the rear while thousands of his victuns were 
wandering in an unknown region, arrived ; established his 
headquarters in another dwelling; and I did not see hmi 
again during the eventful day. 

Although this ofiiccr was usually known as the personal 



THE ADVANCE TO MINE RUN. 257 

friend of Gen. Halleck, justice demands that his shameful 
conduct should be fally described ; because the failure of this 
finely conceived movement, in the opinion of the author and 
thousands of his comrades in arms, was caused by one of the 
corps commanders, who discarded Mars, and served Silenus. 
Habitual drunkenness had covered his face with frightful 
blotches, and destroyed his control over some of his muscles ; 
the cheeks twitched convulsively, while the eyes and mouth 
opened and closed in a comical manner which would have 
insured the fortune of a clown. The derisive laugh which 
an intoxicated fool always excites greeted his appearance ; 
and I extracted from the numberless oaths and jeering 
remarks that were uttered at this time the following speci- 
mens : " Old blinky has got up at last ! " " His horse is 
drunk again to-day ! " "Here comes the old gin barrel ! " 
" I should like to tap him ! " "I hope the first cannon-ball 
that is fired will knock his head ojff." Discipline under such 
a sot is maintained by the ceaseless efforts of the subalterns 
and the undying patriotism of the men who mourn the ab- 
sence of tlie gallant and noble-minded leaders of other days, 
who died amidst the stomis of conflict. However, the cow- 
ard, the traitor, and the drunkard of high rank may skulk fi:om 
the scene in the decisive hour of the combat ; but the vete- 
rans that never quailed are inspired by the dead heroes who 
mount again their war-horses, draw from their scabbards the 
two-edged swords, and advance in the charge. 

The brigade pushed forward in line of battle through the 
17 



258 THE ADVANCE TO MINE RUN. 

woods upon both sides of the road, and drove the rebel 
pickets, with their supports, two miles, until they reached a 
house which stood in an open field. The troops double- 
quicked at two and a half, p.m., from this point to Locust or 
Orange Grove, in which a sharp contest ensued between the 
skirmishers, and steadily forced the enemy to rejoin the prin- 
cipal force which was posted in the road that ran to Haccoon 
Ford, The regiment, and that upon its left, held a position 
upon the slope of a gentle ascent against an attack; and the 
rebels, who could, not stand erect and face the shower of lead, 
crouched upon the earth, and sought the protection of the 
crest. A part of another brigade gave way upon the right, 
and exposed that fiank, so that the regiment was obliged to 
fall back to the cleared tract, where it re-formed its ranks, 
and at once entered the forest and resumed the old ground. 
Fourteen or fifteen rebels who belonged to North Caro- 
lina concealed themselves between logs, to be sheltered from 
the fire of friends and enemies during this last advance ; and 
gladly rose up, cast aside their equipments and rifles, and, in 
the excess of their joy, actually threw their arms around the 
necks of the astonished soldiers. A private who belonged 
to a detachment of Union prisoners, and a member of the 
guard that accompanied them from Chancellorsville to Rich- 
mond, recognized each other, and grasped hands in the most 
cordial manner. 

" Come in! " " Come in ! " the skirmishers shouted, and a 
number comphed with the request : but one boldly yelled. 



THE ADVANCE TO MINE RUN. 25'9 

*' No, I don't ; I'm no such man as that ; " and three bullets 
shattered his limbs while he was trying to escape. A rebel 
battery opened at sunset, and continued to fire for two hours, 
during which the flashes lighted up the forest. The enemy 
abandoned the road, when quietness ruled the night. 

The substitutes, with a few exceptions which are always 
found in a certain number of persons, bravely withstood the 
shock of the battle ; and it is a strange circumstance that the 
list of killed in the reo-iment consisted of the orio-inal mem- 
bers. When the brigade charged across the field near the 
house, some frightened hens left their nests in the bushes, and 
flew before the men with a shrill cackling which afforded 
much amusement in the midst of the hissing balls. A cap- 
tain of the skirmishers basely deserted his post, and attempted 
to pass through one of the companies, but was halted by a 
fiiithful sergeant, who seized liim by the collar, and said, " You 
are setting a pretty example to your men : go back, you cow- 
ardly scoundrel 1 " and compelled hun to return to the front. 
The rebels in one onset rushed with yells, which the first 
volley converted into gToans ; and a soldier remarked as ho 
elevated his piece, " If I am hit, I hope it will be a finisher ; " 
and within the space of a minute a bullet penetrated his eye, 
and his wish was gratified. 

The corps suffered a loss of ^ve hundred killed, wounded, 
and missing, in the valueless engagement : the unpardonable 
delay was hourly prolonged ; and an almost impassable chasm 
still existed between the right wing and the Army of the 



260 THE ADVANCE TO MINE RUN. 

Potomac. The ignominious result of this conflict produced 
intense dissatisfaction among the soldiers, who sadly pictured 
the brilliant victory that might have been gained if a sober 
and intelligent officer had "wielded the immense power which 
had been so heedlessly conferred upon a besotted major-gene- 
ral. The happy North Carohnians who were captured by 
the regiment most willingly and truthfully said that Johnson's 
division of Ewell's corps comprised all the troops that were 
posted in tlie Raccoon-ford Road ; and the thin line of skirmish- 
ers won a part of this position upon the right, which was 
entirely undefended. Six Union divisions confronted one 
composed of rebels : a force could easily turn their left flank ; 
and they would have been routed by the overwhelming masses 
of the tliird and sixth corps, which were aligned near this 
point. A division that was termed by the veterans " pets," 
or "lambs," because a corps general bestowed every favor 
upon it, was placed within the range of hostile cannon for the 
first time ; but it was demoralized by the pernicious example 
of this drunkard and the cowardice of its commander, and 
tarnished its history with disgrace, which subseq^uent service 
under brave leaders removed. 

The sixth corps marched at midnight in the proper direc- 
tion to Robertson's Tavern : the division retired from its po- 
sition at daybreak upon the 28th, and plodded slowly through 
the rain, which did not cease until noon, and covered the roads 
with mortar-beds of red mud. The corps advanced several 
miles upon the broad turnpike that passed through Orange 



THE ADVANCE TO MINE RUN. 261 

Court House, and tlien moved in the rear of the army from 
the right to the left ; and the men ascertained the lines that de- 
fined the front hy listening to the intermittent volleys of the 
skirmishers. The enemy gradually fell back ; and shelters of 
small stones which the sharpshooters had occupied were scat- 
tered at short intervals in many places. Near one of them 
I saw the body of a dead rebel, who carried a haversack which 
was filled with his rations, that consisted of nothing except dry 
corn. The column bivouacked after sunset, and furnished 
details for picket-duty, who were ordered to report to one of 
that large class of staff-officers that are always inefficient in 
the presence of danger. Those that belonged to the regi- 
ment marched two miles in the night, forded runs, leaped 
walls and fences, and discovered with amazement upon the 
following morning that their companies were only a few paces 
in the rear of their posts. 

The array had finally concentrated ; and the soldiers arose at 
half-past four, a.m., upon the 29th, and prepared for action, not 
against a divided and surprised force, but one which was on 
the alert, and strong. The dark clouds lowered constantly 
during the day, and occasionally parted to remind those upon 
the earth of their existence ; while the division upon the left 
of the corps made a reconnoissance, and connected in the after- 
noon with a laroe flankino; force under the command of Gen. 
Warren. ""Where are we?" some of them asked an old 
inhabitant. 

"Ringe County," he replied. 



262 THE ADVANCE TO MINE RUN. 

The trees were judiciously cut to guide the moving lines ; 
but the thickly wooded country and the state of the impassa- 
ble roads continually hindered them, and the powers of dark- 
ness prohibited an attack, when three signal guns were fired 
at half-past five, p.m. A horse, laden with tm-keys and 
chickens for the use of a general, passed by the regiment a 
few minutes after orders were read to the men to live upon 
half-rations, and became the innocent subject of many emphatic 
phrases. The division bivouacked at nine, p.m., and thou- 
sands of cold and weaiy forms clustered around the low fires 
which were allowed ; and commands were frequently issued, 
" That fire is too high," " Take off that log at once," wdicn 
a desu'e to receive comfort triumphed orer caution. 

Nov. 30, 1863, is a day that will be long remembered by 
the troops that were massed at Mine Run ; not because a 
battle was fought, but for the singular reason that no conflict 
took place. The division was under arms at one, a.m. ; in- 
structions were repeated in whispers by the officers ; and no 
conversation or unnecessary noise was permitted as it marched 
upon the famous plank road, from which it debouched to the 
left, formed in three lines, and the brigade was placed in the 
front and supported by the "Excelsior" and Jersey bri- 
gades. Gen. AYarreu commanded six divisions, comprising 
twenty-eight thousand men, and extending three miles, that 
were aligned in a similar manner for the purpose of storming 
the breastworks of the rebels, who had fortified the strong 
ridges west of Mine Run. This is an insignificant tributary of 



THE ADVANCE TO MINE RUN. 263 

the Rapidan, tbat varies in depth from three to five feet, and 
i^ crossed by the phmk road near old Yerdiersville. The 
mathematicians in the ranks amused themselves by multiply- 
ing three miles by three lines, and obtaining a product which 
they termed a " nine-mile charge." All the dispositions f@r 
the assault had been made before daybreak ; many knapsacks 
and haversacks had been unslung to relieve the bearers of the 
weight; muskets had been stacked; and at eight, a.m., the 
signal-gun would resound through the forest from the right ; 
the trusty bayonets would be fixed ; the vast columns with 
their tattered flags would rush forward with hurrahs ; and the 
caps had been removed from the pieces to prevent those that 
carried them from discharging a bullet. The night had been 
excessively cold ; the blankets and clothing were covered with 
frost ; the water in the canteens was condensed into a cake of 
ice ; and it is a sad fact that Union soldiers were benumbed 
and died upon the picket-posts. The fires were extinguished, 
and every one sought physical warmth and excitement by 
keeping all the limbs in motion ; and squads were running, 
wrestling, or striking hands, for several hours; and some 
chmbed up the trees to gather persimmons. Several unlucky 
pigs which wandered from the safe woods at this opportune 
moment were relentlessly pursued until rations of fresh pork 
were secured. 

The division awaited the final word of command behind a 
hill which protected it ; and most of the ground in its front 
was cleared, so that groups examined the works of the en- 



264 THE ADVANCE TO MINE RUN. 

emy, which had been constructed upon another elevation that 
rose at the distance of a quarter of a mile, and was parallel 
with it ; and Mine Run flowed through the valley between the 
heights. The rebels were strengthening their position every 
moment by untiring labor, which the necessity for bodily exer- 
cise greatly increased ; their lines were defined by the strokes 
of axes and the crash of falling trees ; while squads were car- . 
lying logs or plying the spade. No shells were fired : the 
skirmishers thnist their bayonets into the hard and frozen 
soil, and ran to and fro to conquer the cold, and never mo- 
lested the thousands who were scanning their rifle-pits and 
redoubts. Mounted officers posted the re-enforcements of 
infantry and artillery which arrived behind the walls upon 
which the rags of treason were conspicuously displayed ; and 
many waved the staffs, beckoned with their hands, or threw 
their caps into the air, and shouted, in tones of defiance, 
" Come on ! " The spectators, including generals and pri- 
vates, concurred in the same opinion regarding the under- 
taking ; and the heart of the bravest sank within him as he 
gazed upon the scene, because a disastrous repulse was the 
certain result ; and all calculated the number of steps which 
could be taken before the fatal bullet struck the vital part. 
I never beheld such a universal expression of gloom and dis- 
may : watches and other valuables were deposited with chap- 
lains, quartermasters, and other non-combatants; and brief 
epistles were written by those who felt like persons upon the 
couch of death. The ignoble poltroon skulked to the rear 



THE ADVANCE TO MINE RUN. 265 

when unobserved; but those that remained resolved that 
they would not turn back, but advance, unmindful of can- 
ister or balls, until their feet touched the frowning crest. 
The soldiers watched with impatient eyes the sun, which 
seemed to stand still ; but the long-dreaded hour came, and 
an active cannonade opened upon the right at eight, a.m. 
The ranks were promptly fonned ; the names of the absentees 
were recorded ; and all expected to hear the decisive order, 
"Forward in hue, guide right!" Gen. Warren, with a 
sense of honor which cannot be too highly praised, declined 
to sacrifice the lives that had been placed in his charge. Gen. 
Meade decided most wisely to abandon the proposed move- 
ment ; and the position of the troops was undisturbed until 
night, when the elated division joined the corps. 

The expediency of attacking the enemy at Williamsport 
and Mine Run is determined by examining facts that clash 
in every respect ; and it does not appear strange, when the 
motives are understood, that the generals who opposed the 
first favored the second proposition, and vice versa. When 
Lee trembled upon the banks of the Potomac, destitute of 
ammunition, disheartened by defeat and heavy losses, sur- 
rounded by a loyal people, and victory was sure, they de- 
scribed his impregnable position, the unbroken morale of his 
army, and the insecurity of Washington if a defeat was sus- 
tained. When the circumstances were reversed, and the 
rebel chieftain stood in his elaborate field-works at Mine 
Run, and invited an assault, furnished with the supplies of 



2o6 THE ADVANCE TO MINE RUN. 

war, his lino of retreat open, in the midst of friends and 
abetters, and disaster was certain, these obtuse military 
judges declared in favor of an onset by the Union forces. 

Dec. 1 was unmarked by any conflict; and the brigade 
was detached for special duty in the afternoon, to report to 
Gen. Grregg, to support the cavalry at Parker's Store, where 
the rebels had made a desperate effort to gain the road upon 
the preceding day. The soldiers burned the barn which be- 
longed to a woman who gave information to the enemy con- 
cerning the number and position of ij'ae Union troops ; and a 
strong guard was posted upon her house to save it from the 
same destruction. The bodies of two men (who had been 
killed in the action) were found near this position ; and 
they had been entirely stripped, and -left in the woods by 
Stuart's cavalry. Large fires were built by the reserves to 
deceive the watchful line of sentinels ; a volley was delivered 
as a signal at two, a.m., of the 2d ;.the pickets withdrew from 
the front ; and the main portion of the army marched by the 
bivouac during the night. The brigade moved at daybreak ; 
and this infantry force actually covered the retreat of the 
cavalry, crossed the pontoon bridge, that consisted of eight 
boats, at Culpeper "Gold-mine" Ford, and occupied the 
old camps at Brandy Station. 



CHAPTEK XYI. 

THE WINTER QUARTERS AT BRANDY STATION. 

>^^te»^HE army steadily advanced in successive years from 
/| river to river, and erected its winter quarters upon 
\J_L/ the banks of the Potomac, the Rappahannock, and 
the Kapidan. The headquarters were established at 
the same point that had been occupied by Lee, and the staff 
which he left in his hasty flight was unadorned ; while the 
American flag daily ascended and descended the high pole 
when the call "to the color" was sounded at sunrise and 
sunset. The telegraph-office in the town was occupied by 
the same operator for the fifth time in the various changes 
that had taken place in the position of the army : the rebels 
always possessed it for a similar purpose as soon as it was 
abandoned; and both parties used the same table, and several 
miles of the same wire. Operations against the enemy, and 
drills, were sus;3ended durino- the inclement season ; and de- 
tails to guard the trains, the camps, and the picket-lines, and 
labor upon the roads, comprised the routine of duty. Courts- 
martial assembled frequently to determine the nature and 
punishment of military crimes ; and one tribunal, of which 
the author was judge-advocate, tried about forty men for mis- 

267 



268 WINTER QUARTERS AT BRANDY STATION. 

conduct ill skulking from Mine Run ; and a chaplain was 
found guilty of stealing a horse, and dismissed from the ser- 
vice by order of the President. 

The face of the country soon assumed the barren aspect 
of Falmouth ; and the pickets of the brigade, for a month, 
made their fires of the woodwork of corn-sheUing, threshing, 
and the numerous machines with which a large farm was suj> 
plied; and ii'on rods, bolts, ploughshares, cranks, and cog- 
wheels were sprinkled upon the ground in the vicinity of the 
posts. The fifteen hundred inhabitants that lived in Cul- 
peper before the Rebellion had been reduced to only eighty 
persons, who were chiefly dependent upon the Government 
for the means of sustenance. The court-house and slave-pen 
had been gutted, and were used as places of confinement for 
rebel prisoners. The fences that enclosed the cemeteries 
which were attached to the churches had been torn down 
and burned; and sinks, booths, stables for horses, and the 
fires of the cooks, were scattered in the midst of the grave- 
stones and tombs. The state of destitution that prevailed 
may be illustrated more clearly by quoting the remark of a 
young woman who resided in the place: "My father was 
worth $300,000 ; but all his people, except a small boy, ran 
away with your folks ; his large house was burned by your 
cavalry ; we eat your pork and bread ; and, just think of it I 
I haven't had a new dress or bonnet since the war began." 
The refugees and their families constantly entered the hues ; 
and one of them said that he was assisted by a friend, who gave 



WINTER QUARTERS AT BRANDY STATION. 2G9 

liim his horse, and manifested much indignation, and declared 
that the animal had been stolen, to mislead the neighbors, 
when he received the news of his successful escape. De- 
serters exhausted their ingenuity in finding ways to reach the 
cavalry vedettes ; and some gladly swam across the Rappa- 
hannock in the coldest nights of the year. 

The old residents asserted that the ground upon which the 
division had encamped was always submerged in winter, and 
it would be impossible for the men to remain there until 
spring : but the barracks were never swept away by any in- 
undation ; and they explained the matter by saying that it 
was the driest season that had existed for thirty years. The 
results of one severe rain, that deluged the plain, showed 
that, if they were often repeated, all persons would perceive 
the wisdom of the warning. The river rose and overflowed 
the swamp so suddenly, that the members of seven posts 
which were located near it were obliged to climb trees to 
avoid the unlooked-for danger of drowning; and the brief 
tour of picket-duty was extended many hours. Squads that 
were not stationed in the forest found themselves upon an 
island, and waded through the deep water a long distance ; 
and some were compelled to swim to reach the reserve upon 
what was the main land. A small stream was enlarged to 
the dimensions of a lake, one-fourth of a mile in width ; and 
a part of the cavalry provost-camp was submerged, and an 
officer discovered that the rushing water was two feet deep 
in his tent when he awoke. The weather -wisers always 



270 WINTER QUARTERS AT BRANDY STATION. 

glanced at the mountains ; and the voices of experience ut- 
tered the following precept, — that there would be rain once 
in every two days as long as the snow crowned the crests of 
the Blue Ridge. 

During this period the enemy did not attempt to make any 
movement, although a long line of raih'oad conveyed supplies 
from Alexandiia ; and the troops of Lee labored unceasingly, 
and constructed miles of earthworks upon the bluffs that had 
been fortified by Natui-e; while the Union forces rested in 
their camps, and relied for defence upon the strong arm and 
loyal heart. A number of false alanns occurred, and the 
soldiers were sometimes ordered to be in readiness to march at 
a second's notice to resist an advance ; and, upon two occa- 
sions, the main body of the infantry co-operated with the cav- 
aliy, and made feints to cover the blow that was aimed at 
other points. At four, a.m., upon Feb. 6, the troops were 
commanded to procure the usual amount of rations and am- 
munition for a campaign, and concentrated near the fords for 
the ostensible purpose of crossing. The division halted in a 
swamp, about a mile from the river, and acted as a support 
for the second corps ; one division of which forded the stream, 
gained a position upon the opposite bank, and recrossed at 
night. No shots were fired on the 7th ; and the army, hav- 
inc' attracted the gaze of the foe, withdrew late in the after- 
noon, at the time that an expedition was in motion upon the 
Peninsula against Eichmond. Another demonstration was 
made upon Madison Court House on the 28th to conceal the 
raid Oi Gen. Kilpatrick. ^ 



WINTER QUARTERS AT BRANDY STATION. 271 

The number of officers' wives and other ladies that were 
present in the camps was much larger than at any previous 
period ; and halls and similar festivities relieved the monotony 
of many winter quai-ters. Large details, that sometimes com- 
prised a thousand men, were ordered to report at certain 
headquarters for the purpose of constructing suitable halls of 
logs and the '' sacred soil" of Ynginia. A chapel was built 
within the limits of the brigade by the soldiers, who daily la- 
bored upon it for thi-ee weeks ; and many of the officers con- 
tributed money to purchase whatever appeared to be required 
for it. An agent of the Christian Commission furnished a 
capacious tent which formed the roof; and religious, temper- 
ance, and 3Iasonic meetings were frequently held, until this 
apostle, who employed most of his time in writing long letters 
for the press, that portrayed in vivid colors the " good work " 
which he was accomplishing, removed the canvas because an 
innocent social assembly occupied it during one evening. 
The enlisted men, who rarely enjoyed the benefit of these 
structures which they erected, originated dances of a singular 
character. By searching the cabins and houses of the natives, 
and borrowing apparel, and a liberal use of pieces of shelter 
tent and the hoops of baiTcls, one-half of the soldiers were 
an-ayed as women, and filled the places of the seemingly in- 
dispensable partners of the gentler sex. The resemblance in 
the features of some of these persons was so perfect, that a 
stranger would be unable to distinguish between the assumed 
and the genuine characters. 



272 WINTER QUARTERS AT BRANDY STATION. 

The sewers of recruits and substitutes that had received 
enormous bounties, and possessed the same qualities as theii* 
predecessors who joined the regiment at Beverly Ford, con- 
tinually flowed into, or, to speak with more accm-acy, thi'ough 
the army. Those that had served in the rebel ranks were 
sent to the north-west to assist Gen. Pope in subduing the 
Indians ; others who had been seamen floated into the navy ; 
and some entered the hospital : so that, when the spring cam- 
paign opened, only a small fraction crossed the Rapidan. A 
number that arrived at the camp after sunset escaped before 
morning ; so that the officers of the company who had not 
seen them could not identify them when they were an-aigned 
and tried, for desertion, before a com-t-martial. The thou- 
sands of crows rendered more actual service than a majority 
of this class of persons, and devoured the entrails of animals 
which had been slaughtered by the butchers, and the carcasses 
of dead horses and mules. They were never shot, because 
the citizens had no guns, and the soldiers would be punished 
if they wasted ammunition ; and they grew tame and fat in 
opposition to the well-known saying, and propagated so rap- 
idly that their immense numbers blackened acres of ground 
in the vicinity of the camps. One noticeable event was a fire 
which swept over the field of Cedar 3Iountain, and caused 
the explosion of shells that had remained there nearly two 
years after the battle. 

An episode occurred in my military career, which may not 
be of general interest ; but an omission to allude to it might 



WINTER QUARTERS AT BRANDY STATION. 273 

produce a slight degree of surprise and criticism. I was de- 
tailed to act as judge-advocate of a court-martial in the morn- 
ing, placed under ai-rest in the afternoon, and transported with 
four ofiScers in a wagon which was marked very conspicuously 
** Provost Guard," and followed by a detachment of soldiers 
to the headquarters of the corps. I was closely confined 
three weeks in a log shelter in which there were no windows, 
but the rents in the roof admitted light. No friends were 
allowed to visit the quarters unless the corps commander 
granted permission ; and sentinels constantly paced their 
beats at all hours, and watched the prison, because I had 
acted as secretary of an orderly meeting of of&cers that 
adopted resolutions of the highest loyalty and patriotism, 
which were duly transmitted to Gen. Meade and the Chair- 
man of the War Committee of Congress. The perjury of three 
unscrupulous witnesses complicated the case ; and, while some 
were dismissed from the service, a heavy fine was imposed 
upon the author, and subsequently remitted by the com- 
mander of the corps, who was convinced of its utter injustice. 
A field-officer of a 'regiment, who enforced the principle es- 
tablished by this decision and sentence, dispersed an assem- 
bly of subalterns that had convened for the purpose of tak- 
inu; measures to send home the remains of a comrade who 
was killed at Mine Eun. 

The ordinary preparations for active operations were made 
as soon as the roads became dry and hard : the ladies were 
notified to leave the camps previous to a specified date ; sur- 

18 



274 - WINTER QUARTERS AT BRANDY STATION. 

plus baggage resumed its annual visit to tbe storehouses in 
the rear ; and reviews, inspections, and target-practice, daily 
took place. The ai-my was re-organized, the troops were con- 
solidated into three corps, and the division which had always 
belonged to the third constituted the fourth division of the 
second corps. The brigade, which was one of the oldest in 
the volunteer service, was dismembered ; and the needless 
separation of regiments that had so long fought side by side 
the common enemy resembled the breaking-up of a family. 
Gen. Meade displayed a censurable ignorance, or lack of 
judgment, when he assigned certain generals to ^heir positions ; 
and one division was almost demoralized by the appointment 
of a notorious coward, knave, and ignoramus to the command. 
A general, who always deserted his brigade whenever the 
trials of battle demanded his presence ; who never discharged 
the numberless accounts of the sutlers and commissaries for 
the food, rations, and liquors which he consumed ; who em- 
ployed escaped negroes as servants, and defrauded them of 
their just compensation ; who displayed a profound ignorance 
upon every subject, which made him the butt of "ridicule for 
soldiers of all ranks, from the highest to the lowest ; who had 
been originally commissioned as colonel by the influence of a 
base pugilist of New York, and who was promoted because he 
was a foreigner, — was crowned with honors when he merited 
disgrace. Gen. Alexander Hayes of Pennsylvania, a gradu- 
ate of West Point, one of the most fearless and honorable 
officers in the national forces, whose pre-eminent gallantry 



WINTER QUARTERS AT BRANDY STATION. 275 

infused confidence upon doubtful fields, was degraded from 
the command of a division to elevate this Celtic vagabond. 
A meritorious commander, who bore upon his person the scars 
which are the soldier's badges of honor, annoyed the head- 
quarters of the army by preferring chai-ges of cowardice 
against one of these favorite division appointees, and was or- 
dered to report for duty in the West. The words and deeds 
of Gen. Hancock were narrowly scrutinized, to detect, if pos- 
sible, some pretext upon which to base his removal ; and his 
official action was continually embarrassed by this contempti- 
ble surveillance. Fortunately, Congress revived the grade of 
lieutenant-general, and the soldiers rejoiced that the pernicious 
influence of Gen. 3Ieade was seriously crippled. All antici- 
pated the removal of tliis officer, — a question that had been 
often discussed in the newspapers and around the camp-fires ; 
but the wise conduct of Gen. Grant, who, unlike his immediate 
predecessor, Gen. Halleck, preferred the dangers of the front 
to the safety of the rear, fixed his headquarters, not at Wash- 
ington, but at Culpeper Court House, and thereby saved the 
Army of the Potomac from the annihilation which awaited it 
under incompetent commanders. 



CHAPTER XVII. 



THE BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS AND SPOTT. 
SYLVANIA COURT HOUSE. 



c: 



'HE fifth corps, which had guarded the hne of commu- 
nications — the Orange and Alexandria Railroad — 
during the winter, and the ninth corps, joined the 
main army upon the first and second days of May : 
the log huts were destroyed, and the troops bivouacked in the 
fields, to prevent delay in marching whenever the orders were 
received. At sunset, the commands were issued for the regi- 
ments to move at half-past ten, p.m. : all unusual fires were 
prohibited ; the tattoo and taps at the stated hours were heard 
by many for the last time ; and the long columns and trains 
advanced to the fords of the Rapidan at one, p.m., upon the 
4th. The veterans, that had made their foot-prints upon 
many lengthy and dreary roads, reserved their strength, and 
silently followed the file-leaders ; and verdant recruits and sub- 
stitutes were the only babblers. The beginning of this cam- 
paign was like all those which had preceded it ; and thou- 
sands of overcoats and blankets were scattered in the woods 
and fields through which the soldiers passed. The cavalry 
gained the commanding heights of the Rapidan without a con- 

276 



THE BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS, ETC. 277 

test ; and tlie regiment crossed the river at Ely's Ford at half- 
past twelve, P.M., upon a pontoon bridge that consisted of 
nine boats which were anchored twenty-one feet apart. The 
felled trees and other obstructions in the roads were removed 
by the axes and spades of the pioneers ; and the troops 
marched with gTeat rapidity until three, p.m., when the corps 
halted, and formed its lines upon the old battle-ground of 
Chancellorsville. The numerous breastworks that were 
thrown up by both armies to hold their positions, the shat- 
tered oaks and splintered limbs, and the fragments of weath- 
er-stained clothing and equipments scattered upon the j&eld, 
reminded the men of the famihar scenes of that sanguinary 
struggle. Many of the Union dead had been exhumed, or 
remained unburied ; jaws, arms, and legs were bleaching 
upon the soil ; and the wasps and moles made their nests in 
some of the skulls. Not a shot was fii*ed during the day ; no 
bugle or drum resounded through the forest ; the unnatural 
stillness which precedes the dreadful tempest reigned ; and 
the brigade bivouacked upon the same spot that it occupied 
on the same date of the previous year. 

The soldiers were awakened at three, a.m., on the 5th ; the 
humble meal termed a breakfast was prepared; and they 
marched at five, a.m., to the ruins of the Chancellor House, 
from which the corps under the command of Gren. Hancock 
pushed forward towards Spottsylvania Court House. The 
hordes of Lee emerged from' the fortifications which had been 
rendered useless by the passage of the Rapidan ; a halt took 



278 THE BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS 

place near TodJ's Tavern at ten, a.m. ; and the corps was 
ordered to change its dkection, and hold the junction of the 
Fredericksbui'g Plank Road and that which ran from Ger- 
manna Ford. The report of a rifle occasionally indicated the 
presence of the enemy; and at twelve, m., the first cannon 
sounded the prelude to the battle of the Wilderness. This 
chapter, it may be needless to remark, does not narrate the 
movements of the entu'e anny, because the character of the 
country, and position of the author with the rank and file, lim- 
ited his view ; and the incidents of a part of the lines, that 
extended five miles, are described. The division hastened to 
the vital point, which it reached in the afternoon, and re- 
mained in the reserve, rushing from post to post, until 4.10, 
P.M., when the musketry in front assumed ^the prolonged roll 
that always marks a heavy engagement. There were no com- 
manding elevations or open tracts of ground upon which the 
artillery could be planted ; and the firing was necessarily re- 
stricted to the small-arms, that slay the tens of thousands 
while the shells and solid shot destroy the thousands. The 
great contest occurred in the midst of an almost impenetrable 
jungle of scrub oak, decayed trees, dense underbrush, and 
short pines, in which a regiment could not be discerned at the 
distance of a hundred feet ; and the proper formation of the 
ranks seemed to be an impossibility. It was rarely inter- 
sected by public ways over which the infantry could move ; 
and the pioneers were continually engaged in felling trees 
and cuttins; new roads to facilitate the communications be- 



AND SPOTTSYLVANIA COURT HOUSE. 279 

tween tbe right and the left. Packed mules, which trans- 
ported axes and shovels, were attached to every brigade, and 
formed an invaluable auxiliary during the campaign. Breast- 
works were hurriedly constructed to defend the Germanna- 
Ford Road ; and the dry logs of which they were principally 
composed were easily set on fire, so that it was often neees- 
! sary to remove a part to save the rest. Sunset came : the 
darkness of the night followed, but did not check the din of 
the conflict, which continued when the combatants were un- 
able to perceive friends or enemies, and suddenly ceased at 
eight, P.M. The Union forces did not yield a single position ; 
and eveiy attempt which was made by Lee to overpower the 
columns that were advancing by the flank was successfully 
baffled. 

The wounded and d3ring were borne upon stretchers to the 
hospitals in the rear; and the usual number of skulkers 
sought to escape the perils of the battle by travelling in the 
same direction, and eluding by ingenious devices and shams 
the vigilance of the provost-guard. The colonel halted this 
class of persons whenever they passed through the regiment, 
and detained them if he was satisfied that they were neglect- 
ing their duties. Many conversations like the following en- 
sued between the colonel and the members of these squads ; 
and the questions and answere show clearly the rank and in- 
tentions of the parties, without any explanation : — 

*' My good man, where are you going ? " 

" I'm sick, and the captain told me to go to the hospital.'* 



280 THE BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS 

*' Have you got a pass ? " 

"No." 

" You are very weak, and find it hard to travel ? " 

" Yes : I can hardly walk." 

*' The hospital is two miles from here ; and you are used 
up, and can't go there. Rest here with my brave men ; and 
I will take your name, and notify your officers if you are 
killed or wounded." 

The soldier, knowing he could not extricate himself from 
the toils of his pretext, usually pleaded another, which was 
equally shallow; and sometimes attempted to run away. 
The colonel at once denounced him in language which could 
not be strengthened in its style, and concluded by uttering 
his customary orders upon similar occasions. 

" Captain , detail one of your trusty men to report to 

me with a loaded musket." 

" Private , you are responsible for this cowardly 

skulker. If he tries to get away, blow his brains out ; but, if 
we are fighting, crack his skull with the butt of your gun, and 
he will never trouble you again." 

Thirteen stragglers of this description, and others who pre- 
tended to be seaehing for their regiments which they had lost, 
were collected during the afternoon by this summary process, 
and assigned to different companies in the regiment. 

There was little picket-firing in the night ; and the sleep of 
those who were not upon the outposts was undisturbed until 4 J, 
A.M., of the 6th, when the divisions were massed for a renewal 



AND SPOTTSYLVANIA COURT HOUSE. 281 

N 

of the battle ; and the musketry recommenced in the depth of 
the vast forest at 5.10, a.m. Squads of rebel prisoners were 
frequently taken to the rear, and many friendly remarks were 
interchanged ; and one of them said, " Your fellers went over 
our breastworks this morning like rabbits;" and, "In four 
rows git, and march endways." The brigade moved forward 
at 5.30, A.M., to support the advance, and within a brief period 
constituted a part of the front, and a fierce engagement followed. 
The men reclined upon the ground, and returned the fii-e of 
the enemy until the forty rounds of cartridges were exhausted. 
There was a most eai-nest clamor for cartrido-es : and the boxes 
of the slain and wounded were opened and emptied, and a 
supply of those that were fitted for rifies, but unsuited to the 
caliber of the smooth-bore musket, was issued to the regiment 
in this distressing emergency by some blundering official. 
The proper balls were brought up after a perilous delay, al- 
though some of these cartridges consisted of a sohd cake of 
powder ; and some exhibited a feeling of discontent because 
there were no buck-shot. The bullets beat an unpleasant 
discord by striking the trees, which were clipped from the 
roots to the top, that was sixty or seventy feet above the 
ground. ' 

The firing indicated at this time, when the brigade was 
posted half a mile in front of the Germanna-Ford Road, the 
singular formation of the troops that were invisible upon the 
right and left. A force which was compelled to leave its 
position fled through the regiment, when the soldiers supposed 



282 THE BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS 



^ 



that tbcy were retreating to the reserve ; and soon a compact 
mass of men was enclosed in a cul-de-sac, and the foe pressed 
closely upon the front, rear, and left fiank. They made a 
detour to the right, crossed the plank road, reached the origi- 
nal line of earthworks at mid-day ; and the ground that had 
been gained by the corps was lost. The extreme heat of the 
day increased the fatigue, and tears were shed by some who 
overrated the serious results of the disaster. The slaughter 
in many regiments had been large ; and at one point the 
bodies of the killed remahied in the places whore they fell, 
and defined with a terrible exactness the position held by the 
Union troops ; and a long line of rebel corpses was extended in 
front of it. Some of the recruits, who joined their commands 
about forty-eight hours before the army evacuated its winter 
quarters, were slain in this encounter. One of the flag-staffs 
of the regiment was severed by a bullet, and each hand of 
the bearer grasped a piece of it. 

The fighting, like that upon the preceding day, was con- 
fined to the infantry, on account of the impracticability of 
using the artillery : only three shells were thrown by the 
rebel gunners ; and upon the Union side two brass pieces of a 
Maine battery swept the plank road with canister. The dis- 
lodgement of the advanced force was not sharply followed by 
the enemy, and few bullets interrupted the rule of quietness 
during the succeeding four hours. Squads which had been 
separated from their companies in the confusion attending the 
retreat through the bewildering thicket continually re-enforced 



AND SPOTTSYLVANIA COURT HOUSE. 283 

the ranks. Tho division was posted once more behind the 
slight breastwork which had been erected upon the Germanna- 
Ford Road ; the skirmishers were deployed in its front at four, 
P.M., and the author commanded the detachment from the reoi- 
ment. The groups were properly aligned within the next ten 
minutes, when the tramp of a heavy force resounded through 
the woods. Orders were excitedly repeated, "Forward!" 
" Guide right ! " " Close up those intervals ! " and finally 
a voice shouted, " Now, men, for the love of God and your 
country, forward ! " The legions of Longstreet advanced 
without skirmishers ; the veterans trained by the experience 
of three years beheld — • 

" A horrid front of dreadful length ; " 

the muskets of the feeble hne were discharged to alarm the 
reserve ; the men upon the outposts rushed to the main body ; 
and thousands of ghstening gun-barrels which were resting 
upon the works opened, and the fusilade began. 

The soldiers crouched upon the ground ; loaded their pieces 
with the utmost celerity; rose up, fired, and then reloaded 
behind the shelter ; so that the loss was very slight ; while the 
enemy suffered severely, as the trees were small in size, and 
there was no protection. The only artillery that was used in 
the afternoon was planted upon the left of the brigade, and con- 
sisted of four cannons, which hurled canister, shell, and solid 
shot, until their ammunition was exhausted. Unfortunately, 
the dry logs of which the breastwork was formed were partially 



284 THE BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS 

covered with earth ; and the flames, ignited "by the burning 
wadding during the conflict, — an enemy that could not be re- 
sisted as easily as the myrmidons of Longstreet, — destroyed 
them, and every second of time widened the breaches. The 
undaunted men crowded together until they formed fouiieen 
or sixteen ranks ; and those who were in the front discharged 
the guns which were constantly passed to them by their com- 
rades that were in the rear and could not aim with accuracy 
or safety. The fire triumphed when it flashed along the en- 
tire barrier of wood, reduced it to ashes, and forced the de- 
fenders, who had withstood to the last its intolerable heat, to 
retu-e to the rifle-pits which were a short distance in the rear. 
The shattered rebel columns cautiously approached the road ; 
but the impartial flames which had caused the discomfiture 
of the division became an obstacle that they could not sur- 
mount. The same misfortune followed the Union forces, and 
no esertions could check the consuming element ; and the 
second line was burned like the fii'st. The conflagration in 
the road had nearly ceased at this time ; the enemy yelled 
with exultation ; the odious colors were distinctly seen when 
the smoke slowly disappeared ; a general charge was made, 
which resulted in the capture of the original position ; and the 
pickets were stationed half of a mile in the advance at sunset 
without opposition. 

IMany were eating their dinners when the assault com- 
menced ; and an officer hurriedly rushed to the works with a 
spoon in one hand, and a fork in the other. A panic-stricken 



AND SPOTTSYLVANIA COURT HOUSE. 285 

skulker created a laugh, in wliich the division general joined, 
by crawling upon his hands and knees from the brigade to 
the woods during the fighting. An enormous quantity of 
fixed ammunition was expended, — most of the soldiers of the 
division used sixty or seventy cartridges ; and fingers were 
bhstered by the muskets, which became very hot in conse- 
quence of the rapid firing. The guards of both armies, in 
charge of prisoners, frequently lost their way in the labyrinth 
of stunted oaks, and entered the wi'ong lines, where the re- 
lations of the parties were transposed. The hurrah which 
has always been a characteristic of the national army was 
modified, and resembled the yell of the enemy to such an 
extent, that it was impossible to detect by this means the 
success of loyal or rebel charges; and some were occasionally 
disheartened by the joyful shouts of then- friends in the dis- 
tance. The division acted with the reserve, but its services 
were not required during the day; and an abstract of my 
notes shows the slight knowledge that I possessed of the 
manoeuvres of the army and the events that transpired. 
Musketry filling was often heard upon the right and left; 
skirmishing was active at times in the fi-ont ; and columns 
moved in different directions, and sometimes passed by each 
other upon the road. Lee was at last outgeneralled, and 
forced to abandon his position ; and the regiment performed 
its duty upon picket without molestation ; while the troops 
marched in the night towards Spottsylvania Court House. 
The companies retired at eleven, a.m., of the 8th, from their 



286 THE BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS 

posts to tlie road, which was wholly deserted by the infa-ntry ; 
and small squads of cavalry patrolled the lines that had been 
so recently defended by 130,000 soldiers. In the march 
from these scenes which now form a glorious page of the 
national history, some of the men were so much exhausted 
by the hardships that necessarily followed the great contest, 
that they fell asleep if they sat upon then- knapsacks during 
a brief halt. Breastworks were built to hold the new position ; 
rations were issued ; fires were prohibited during the night ; 
and, in the language of those whose terms of service soon 
expired, "there was one more day less." 

The brigade was mider arms at four, a.m., upon the 9th, 
and marched to Todd's Tavern, — the same point which the 
corps reached on the 5th, and upon which the cavalry fought 
the decisive battle that turned the rebel right and compelled 
the retreat of Lee. The column halted near a group of 
mounted officers, among whom were Gen. Grant, one of the 
greatest, and Gen. Meade, one of the smallest, warriors that 
have led an American army. The corps commanders report- 
ed at this hour for instructions; and the attentive soldiers 
observed, with increased confidence Id the successful result 
of the campaign, that Gen. Meade did not give a single 
direction, and that Gen. Grant alone was the controlling 
mind. " Gen. Meade is nothing but an adjutant for Gen. 
Grant ; " " I'm of more account with my musket than he is 
now;" "They don't notice him so much as they do the 
orderlies," — illustrate the style of the remarks that were fre- 



AND SPOTTSYLVANIA COURT HOUSE. 287 

quently uttered by the rank and file who were interested 
spectators. The ambulances were insufficient for the trans- 
portation of the wounded; and the generals, with exalted 
philanthropy, tendered their private wagons, which were used 
several days for this object. An inexperienced heavy-artillery 
regiment, numbering twenty-eight hundred men, performed 
picket-duty, and continually discharged volleys at the bushes 
and other imaginary enemies ; and a sleepless night followed. 
The division, guided by a negro of eminent dignity, marched 
at 3.40, A.M., on the 10th; halted in the road at seven, 
A.M., about two miles from Spottsylvania Court House; and 
the open fields were viewed with delight by those that recalled 
the horrors of the Wilderness. The skirmishers were de- 
ployed, and drove those of the enemy until they reached the 
intrenchments ; and the line of battle was established in an 
advanced position ; and a belt of woods, comprising pines of 
large growth, intervened between the hostile armies. Labor 
upon the breastworks was stimulated by the exploding shells; 
rail-fences in the vicinity were speedily demoHshed; the 
small stones were collected ; a few outbuildings were torn 
to pieces to make the revetment ; the stakes were bound to- 
gether with strips of cloth, which the men tore from their 
overcoats and blankets ; and gi*een boughs were placed upon 
the logs to protect them against the fii'e. The officer in 
charge of the packed mules remained in the rear ; and the 
soldiers who were unable to procure shovels and axes 
scooped up the earth with their dippers and tin plates. The 



288 THE BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS 

news that Johnston had been forced to evacuate Dalton was 
officially communicated to the troops at noon, with special 
instructions to avoid cheering, because the foe might ascer- 
tain the number and position of the troops. The skirmish 
fii'e was incessant ; the cannonading was very heavy during the 
afternoon ; and the floating clouds of dust and smoke, three 
or four miles upon the left, showed the progress of the corps 
of Burnside. The division made an unsuccessful charge at 
half-past five, p.m., previous to which the officers of the regi- 
ment were told that there were probably not more than two 
hundred sharpshooters behind their works; but the instant 
that the movement commenced, loud yells arose, which showed 
the presence of a superior force. 

The troops were aroused at 3.25, a.m., on the 11th, in the 
midst of a severe skirmish engagement ; and the division was 
transferred to a point near the centre. A light shower of 
rain, which was the first unpleasant weather that had occurred 
since the campaign opened, fell in the morning. Musicians 
usually lurk in the rear ; but a band that was sheltered by the 
line of breastworks in the front played martial airs at intervals, 
and invariably enlivened the soldiers, who loudly cheered. 
The watchfiil sharpshooters pierced with their unerring rifles 
every -object that might be a human being ; the cannon re- 
sounded occasionally ; but there was no serious battle during 
the day, although the sixth corps was massed at the right 
centre for an extensive movement, and withdrawn at sunset. 
The division re-occupied at midnight the earthworks which it 



AXD SPOTTSYLVA^^IA COUKT HOUSE. 289 

constructed upon the 10th ; and preparations were made for a 
grand charge by the corps, the brigades of which were ahgned 
and assigned to then- positions in the course of the next three 
hours. Nature, that had so often ftivored the national cause, 
deployed its powerful forces ; the night was darkened by the 
clouds, which sometimes touched the earth ; no camp-fires 
glowed within the Union lines, while those of the enemy re- 
flected upon the heavens like the northern lights. A dense 
cloud of mist, that concealed every moving body of troops,, 
filled the air at twilight ; the columns received the final order 
to advance at 4.40, a.m., of the 12th ; and thousands of hearts 
trembled vv^ith anxiety, as they silently and firmly approached 
the unknown dangers of the rebel stronghold. The pickets, 
whose vigilance had been lulled by the unfavorable character 
of the elements, were surprised before they could awaken their 
comrades in the reserve, most of whom were .sleeping behind 
a formidable earthwork, which was gained without firing a 
shot. While the supports were anticipating a dreadful volley, 
a spectacle which seemed like a dream greeted their delighted 
eyes. The faded banners of ungodly rebellion ; two chief- 
tains, — Johnson upon ahorse, and Stuart on foot ; hundreds of 
prisoners of different grades; batteries and artillery-horses 
driven by the happy conquerors, — these trophies of Union suc- 
cess passed to the rear of the scene of action. A shout of joy 
that burst from the lips of the men who were elated by the 
triumph alai'med the forces which held the second line, that 
was parallel with the first that had been taken ; and rebels 

19 



290 THE BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS 

who were subsequently captured stated that their army was 
aroused and saved by this cheering. 

The enemy opened before all the guns had been removed; 
and the woodwork of Ihose neai' a salient angle of the fortifi- 
cation, which was .the centre of the ceaseless combat during 
the day, was riddled and rendered useless by the thousands 
of bullets that were aimed by both annies. The regiment 
was temporarily detached to assist the provost-guard at a cer- 
tain point ; and all stragglers, without regard to excuses, and 
those who bore wounded officers, comrades, and even brothers, 
ft'om the works, were halted, and obliged to rejoin then- com- 
mands. The situation of the disabled, who were exposed 
within the range of shells and cannon balls, was made heart- 
rending in the extreme by the absence of the ambulances and 
stretcher-bearers who should have carried them from the field 
to the hospitals, where their sufferings would be alleviated. 
The prisoners were ordered to convey them to the rear, and 
gladly hastened to discharge the duty, because theii* lives were 
imperilled as long as they remained in the front. The heavy 
shower which fell at eight, a.m., ruined the cartridges in some 
muskets, but did not stay the work of carnage, which con- 
tinued until sunset. x\.t this time the author was detailed by 
Gen. Mott, the faithful commander of the division, to recon- 
noitre the position of the foe with his company, and report 
the strength of the force in front, which was invisible on ac- 
count of a slight elevation that arose between the first and 
second lines of breastworks. While I was reading at 8.50, 



AND SPOTTSYLVANIA COURT HOUSE. 291 

A.M., the inscription upon a large flag, from a point of obser- 
vation that had been gained with ease, my right thio-h was 
affected by the sensation that follows a sudden blow : the mus- 
cles of the leg instantly contracted ; and I was surprised when 
I discovered that a bullet had ploughed through the flesh. 

My steps to the rear were necessarily slow : the reserves, 
the headcjuarters of the corps, the sentinels of the provost- 
guard, and squads of non-combatants, were passed ; and more 
than two hours elapsed before I ai-rived at the division hospi- 
tal, which was two miles from the field. Gen. Hancock was 
issuing orders to arrest the cowards who were constantly es- 
capmg fi-om the front, and exclaimed, " These skulkers wish 
to enjoy the fruits of victory, but are unwilling to share the 
dangers to win it." The arrangements for the treatment of 
the disabled were most excellent : a board of experienced sur- 
geons held a consultation upon every case in which amputation 
took place ; and all that medical skill and attention could ef- 
fect was readily performed. The Government supplies were 
abundant ; nourishment of every description was bestowed ; 
and faithful nurses often brought the cold water, which was 
Nature's restoring Hniment, and saturated the bandages. A 
small strip of white cloth was fastened to the button-hole of ' 
the coat as soon as the names of the wounded were recorded ; 
and the sufferers of every rank and both armies received the 
same kind treatment, and reposed upon beds of pine boughs 
in the capacious hospital tents. IMore than tlu-ee-fourths of 
the number were untroubled by pain ; and one man who had 



292 THE BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS 

*lost a' leg remarked, " I should tMnk that my foot was on, for 
I have a queer feeling in the ankle : " another replied to this 
as he raised the stump that had once been the right arm, " I 
have the same feeling in my wrist which you have in your 
ankle." The rebels frankly admitted that their wounds were 
better dressed than they would have been if they had not 
been taken prisoners ; and many amicable conversations en- 
sued between those who had been rendered helpless while 
engaged in the deadly combat. Strange as the statement may 
appear, the rank and file always expressed the same opinions ; 
earnestly wished to see a united country ; indulged in con- 
templating visions of its strength ; and portrayed the resistless 
power with which the ablest officers. North and South, leading 
their commands of veterans in a common cause against the 
English in Canada and the British Provinces, and the French 
in Mexico, would sweep them into the ocean and the gulf. 
Those who belonged to Stuart's brigade evinced a deep hatred 
towards him on account of his tyrannical conduct, and hoped 
that he would be treated in the harshest manner by the Union 
troops. They said, that, when the batteries were hurluig 
solid shot against their breastworks upon the 11th, he coolly 
shouted, " They have thrown balls enough : I h(^pe they will 
send some chains ; and then I can fasten them to the legs of 
my men, so that theyjcannot run away." 

The correspondents of the newspapers eagerly questioned 
the staff-officers to ascertain the details of the battle which they 
had not witnessed; and by this means I obtained a knowl- 



edge of the origin of mauy imtrutliful items, — that Gen. This 
saved the day at one point, and Gen. That at another time 
turned defeat into victory. A large number of skulkers con- 
cealed themselves in the forests, or bivouacked near the hos- 
. pitals, and feigned wounds by binding up their heads and 
arms in blood-stained bandages, or limped, vrith the assistance 
of a crutch, in apparent pain ; and details of the provost-guard 
frequently patrolled the ground to seize these base wretches, 
and escort them to the front. 

The array thieves, who lurked in the rear and waited for 
the cessation of the conflict before they plundered the slain, 
grasped with their remorseless hands the valuables, clothing, 
and rations of the unwary, wounded soldiers, the flattened 
bullets that had been retained as priceless rehcs by those 
from whom they were extracted, and the invaluable swords 
which officers had borne vdth honor through scenes of car- 
nage. In the tent to which, with twenty others, I was as- 
signed, a member of the regiment was robbed of every thing, 
including an old knife and a diary, while he was unconscious 
on account of a ball which entered his head; and another 
person was plundered in a similar style before he had recov- 
ered from the effect of the ether which had been administered 
when his arm was amputated. 

The heavy musket-firing, which continued throughout the 
night, ceased on the morning of the 13th, and quietness 
reigned until half-past eleven, a.m., when the first cannon 
id in a slisrht ensraorement. Boughs and leaves were 



294 THE BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS 

.placed in the wagons that were proceeding to Acqiiia Creek 
for ammunition, forage, and army supphes, to make them 
suitable for the transportation of the wounded ; and in the 
afternoon the lengthy trains of the ambulances, accompanied 
by hundreds on foot who were not severely injured in the 
head and upper extremities, moved upon the plank road to 
Fredericksburg. The conduct of unscrupulous agents, who 
acted in behalf of societies that induced the Grovernment to 
allow them to supply the wants of the disabled at this point, 
caused a scarcity of food, lack of attendants, and universal 
suffering, to such an extent that many clamored to be sent 
to the front ; and a shout of joy was heard when the march- 
ing orders were received. Nothing could be purchased in 
the desolate city, which had remained unaltered since the 
bombardment, and consisted of empty storehouses, deserted 
buildings, and a small number of scantily clothed and fed 
citizens. The chaplain who had been dismissed from the 
service for steaHng a horse was very active, and circulated 
Bibles and tracts for the Christian Commission among the 
wounded. The ambulances were slowly driven through the 
fields upon which the army had encamped at Falmouth, and 
reached Belle -Plain Landing at midnight on the 15th. 
Four thousand rebel prisoners, awaiting transportation, were 
confined, near the mouth of the Potomac Creek, in a natural 
basin that was enclosed by high hills upon which were posted 
guards, and guns loaded with canister. The wounds of all 
were examined before they were allowed to enter the trans- 



AND SPOTTSYLYANIA COURT HOUSE. 295 

port, to detect the cowardly impostors, a large squad of whom 
was sent under guard to the detachment of skulkers, which 
numbered a thousand. A body of twenty shirking officers, 
some of whom were in irons, who had escaped from the 
battle of the Wilderness to Washington, marched by the am- 
bulance ; and I could not imagine a stronger cause for the 
emotion of humiliation and shame which was expressed by 
their dejected and averted faces. The steamer that had been 
fitted for its use with commendable foresight before the army 
crossed the Rapidan was amply supplied by the Government, 
with every article that was requii-ed for the shattered frames 
of its passengers. 



CHAPTER XVin. 

THE HOSPITAL, AND OBSERVATIONS UPON THE 
TREATMENT OF ARMY DISEASES. 

i^^fc^HE strength of the wounded was completely ex- 
^1 hausted in Washington by waiting u|X)n pompous 
^^Jy and unfeeling officials, who viewed with contempt 
the men that performed the fighting in the front 
while they flourished in luxurious ease and safety in the rear. 
The surgeons in the office of the medical examiner ordered 
me to report to the hospital at Annapolis for the purpose of 
obtaining a leave of absence, which they said they could not 
grant on account of the large number of cases that demanded 
their services. A friend who had been crippled in the army 
remarked in emphatic terms, when I communicated this fact to 
him, " Don't go : it is all made up between them and the 
doctors in Annapolis ; tbey lied to me in the same way when 
I was sent there." I again reported for instructions, to pre- 
vent any mistake ; and they asserted in the most positive lan- 
guage to my comrade, a wounded officer of the regiment, 
" You will get your leaves as soon as you arrive at An- 
napolis." An ex-lieutenaut-colonel, who had served upon 
the staff of a commander of the Army of the Potomac, said 

296 



297 



to me -when I left the hotel in the evening, " I am very 
sorry that I didn't gee you when you came : I should have 

introduced you to , who has the papers put through, and 

gets twenty or thirty every day. It would cost you a trifle 
for his trouble." The captain of a New- York regiment pro- 
cured without delay a leave from Secretary-of-War Stanton, • 
through the influence of an M.C. who was a notorious enemy 
of the Government ; and an officer from the same State en- 
tertained the crowd "by saying, " This was the style when I 
applied for my document ; " and then limped with groans, 
and a countenance upon which extreme agony was depicted. 
"This is the style now that I've got it," he uttered with an 
animated laugh, as he danced upon the floor and invited 
everybody to walk to the bar. 

The brick buildings that had been used by the students 
and professors of the Naval Academy had been converted 
into hospitals, and I was conducted to a pleasant room or 
" ward," from which the eye could gaze at the beautiful 
grounds and the Chesapeake Bay. My astonishment may 
be imagined when a surgeon informed me that " we never 
gi'ant leaves of absence ; and you must remain in this place 
*until your term of service expires, because your wound will 
not be healed previous to that time.'^ He made another con- 
soling assertion : * ' It is useless for anybody to seek to escape, 
as Gen. Halleck always disapproves every application which 
is not sanctioned by the officials of Annapolis." When this 
conversation was repeated, I found that most of the wounded 



298 THE IIOSriTAL, AND OBSERVATIONS UPON 



patients, comprising fifty or sixty in number, bad been de- 
ceiYed by tbe same false promises from the medical authori- 
ties of Washington. In reply to a remark which I made to 
the nurse, he said that he did not know the proper mode of 
applying bandages, because it was the first day that he had 
been detailed for this duty ; and the visiting surgeon, a most 
excellent and faithful public servant, stated that their attend- 
ants were ignorant, for they had been compelled to detach 
those who possessed experience for service in the front. Per- 
sons who understand the nature of wounds, and the necessity 
of the best treatment and watchfulness, can realize the gad 
condition in which officers were placed who must linger for 
months among heartless strangers when they most ardently 
desired to return to their homes. Many indignantly protested 
that their conanoment was a punishment for the faithful per- 
formance of their duty upon the battle-field. Wines and dif- 
ferent kinds of liquors, which were daily prescribed for three 
of the most helplesss victims in the ward, were received in 
very small quantities about twice a week ; and the nurses 
were frequently intoxicated, and disturbed the suffering in- 
mates by their boisterous conduct. 

" Where were you yesterday? " an officer asked : " there 
was no one to wait on us for twenty-four hours." 

" I was dnink, and shut up in the guard-house," the man 
truthfully replied. 

" Where do you all get so much liquor ? " 

" It don't cost any thing. It comes from the ," nam- 



THE TREATMENT OF ARMY DISEASES. 299 

ing, not the Goyernment, but a vast association wliicL is boun- 
tifully sustained by the large heart of the patriotic North. 

This hospital, like most of those which are located in the 
rear, furnished a splendid refuge for skulkers of every rank. 
Some had lived within its walls two years in perfect health ; 
and I discovered one worthless fellow who had been absent 
from the regiment smce the first battle of Bull Kun. A few 
officers openly an-ayed themselves in the apparel of civilians, 
without receiving a reprimand, — although it was contrary to 
explicit orders from the War Department, — and enjoyed the 
privileges of the town, which were more agTceable to them 
than the display of courage which defies the bullet and rifled 
cannon. The most pitiable class of patients consisted of 
prisoners that had been recently released from the horrors 
of Libby Prison ; and some, whose minds had been tempora- 
rily weakened when their frames became emaciated, talked 
and played together with the simplicity of youth. The un- 
tiring exertions of Hon. Oakes Ames, the representative in 
Congress from the district, overcame every obstacle ; and I 
succeeded in procuring the much-desired leave of absence 
from the Secretary of War upon the 27th, after a vexatious 
controversy with the chief surgeon ; and no Gen. Halleck or 
medical director could withhold it. Another surgeon, to 
whom the " almighty dollar " per day was paid for board, 
stated that an ambulance would be furnished to convey me 
and my comrade to the railroad depot ; but none was sup- 
plied, although there were ten or twelve which were parked 



300 THE HOSPITAL, AND OBSERVATIONS UPON 

in the stables. The evening train was thus lost ; a delay of 
twelve hours was caused by this broken promise ; and upon 
the morning of the 28th I gladly quitted the scenes in which 
my brief sojourn had been so gloomy and unpleasant. 

The result of the experience and personal observation of 
the author, and the unbroken testimony of those who had been 
disabled in the service, support the disgraceful facts which 
are recorded in this paragi-aph. The convalescent and parole 
camps and ihe permanent hospitals that were established in 
the vicinity of the cities of the loyal States, with a few honor- 
able exceptions I trust, have been the centres around which 
deeds of iniquity revolved ; and a majority of the surgeons con- 
nected with them have been base vampires, that exhausted the 
vitality of the Union armies in the darkest hours of this strug- 
gle. Their lists of able-bodied soldiers whom they falsely 
reported upon the sick-rolls grew larger and larger ; while the 
regiments in the front, in the same ratio, became smaller and 
smaller. More than two-thirds of the hirelings styled nurses 
and servants, that were employed in these institutions, were 
cowards and skulkers of the vilest order, who ran away from 
their comrades in the day of battle, and gained the favor of 
their medical officers by the most abject servility. When 
the infamous system began upon the Peninsula, the company 
commanders refused to forward the papers which the surgeons 
demanded to enable them to defraud the Government by 
receiving the pay that is due to soldiers ; and Secretary Stan- 
ton vainly menaced them, "by order of the Secretary of 



THE TREATMENT OF ARMY DISEASES. 301 

"War," with threats of dismissal from the service for neglect 
of duty. That boud of wickedness, the "partial descriptive 
list," was then framed and issued by the departments, by 
means of which millions of the national treasury have been 
regularly paid to thousands of deserters, who were sheltered 
from arrest by the medical directors, who were sustained by 
the powerful authority of tlie Secretary of Yv'^ar. Hundreds 
of cunnino; malino;erers lurked in these secure retreats ; and 
noble men who had been wounded were not allowed to return 
to the front when they had recovered, although they sometimes 
applied eight or ten times for permission, and at last rejoined 
their commands by eluding the vigilance of the guards. Sol- 
diers of the last honorable description could be found in 
every company of the regiment ; and the officers always com- 
mended theu' conduct, and tore into shreds, or cast into the 
fire, notices stating that they were deserters from the so-called 
hospitals. Delicacies and all that satisSed the appetites of the 
body, which had been abundantly supphed by the philanthropy 
of the American people, were usually stolen by these miscre- 
ants ; although I admit that they never withheld or retained 
for their private use the tracts and Bibles which had been 
presented as food for the soul. The author most cheerfully 
excepts from this severe criticism the female nurses, who 
performed their tasks, in the few places from which the ma- 
lignity of unscrupulous surgeons could not exclude them, with 
a tenderness and honesty fhat secured for them the esteem of 
every person who was the fortunate subject of their attentions. 



302 THE HOSPITAL, AND OBSERVATIONS UPON 

The substitution of these high-minded attendants of the gen- 
tler sex for the diabolical wretches who should be transported 
to the front would re-enforce the army, and encoui-age those 
that meet the enemy upon the field of conflict. 

The policy thus accurately described was so generally car- 
ried into execution, that it was a maxim among officers and 
men, that no soldier who entered a hospital in the rear ever 
shouldered again his musket with his comrades in the ranks. 
Discharges from the service were often issued to those that 
were able-bodied ; and, upon one occasion, the passenger-car "in 
which I sat was filled with these knaves, who uncorked their 
bottles of stolen liquors as soon as the train started from Wash- 
ington, and publicly boasted that they had never seen a fight, 
but "beat the Government " one or two yeai'S, and bought their 
final papers for certain amounts of money. A brief career of 
dissipation exhausted their funds, and many of them rejoined 
the army within a month after they had left it. A member 
of the company skulked from Williamsburg, and joined a 
hospital ; which alarmed his wife, who supposed that he was 
seriously ill, and wrote letters of anxious inquiry to the regi- 
ment : but he informed her that he was feio-ninsj sickness to 
escape the dangers of battle, and pacified her by the pleasant 
suggestion that he could not be killed. The surgeons aided 
the shhk in every way, and applied about once in two months 
for his descriptive list during the ensuing two years, although 
they were continually notified rc!:^arding his real character ; 
and finally granted him an honoi le discharge. The topic 



THE TREATMENT OP ARMY DISEASES. 303 

of malingering is endless ; and many incidents migbt be nar- 
rated to illustrate tlie various " dodges," or means of " play- 
ing it." The tricks of European soldiers were revived by 
foreigners fi-om the Continent; and the regimental surgeon 
detected the copper which produced a frightful sore upon the 
knee of one of the company by noticing the impression of 
the American cent. Others pretended to be afflicted with 
every disease that troubles the human system ; but the fre- 
quent prescription of the most nauseous doses sometimes 
checked their complaints. A private was excused fi-om per- 
forming any duty for three months on account of rheumatism ; 
and always walked with great difficulty by the aid of a cane, 
and daily expected to receive a discharge for disability. Un- 
fortunately for his well-laid scheme, he foolishly became 
intoxicated, and appeared upon the parade-ground without any 
artificial means of support, and ejaculated to the astonished 
crowd, " I ain't lame ; " " I'm playing it ; " "I don't need 
any stick." He was detailed for guard upon the following 
morning ; subsequently deserted from the regiment at Fair 
Oaks; and, like thousands of similar rascals, obtained an 
honorable discharge from the hospitals. "That's the way I 
got it," he remarked as he chuckled, and slapped his hands 
upon his pocket in a significant manner. Fingers were some- 
times shot off, and other wounds were self-mflicted, to attain 
this object ; and in two instances a serious miscalculation re- 
sulted in the loss of a foot and an arm. A substitute of the 
adjoining regiment persisted in carrying a cane upon the 



301 



marches, reviews, and inspections which- he was obliged to 
attend, and declared that he could not walk without using it ; 
but at Locust Grove the bullets frightened him, and he ran 
from the woods with a speed that was seldom excelled. 

The uniform of the invalid corps, which was wisely de- 
signed for the most exalted purposes by its authors, is dis- 
graced by a majority of the skulkers that wear it ; and the 
number of the disabled in its ranks who could 

" Count the dates of battles by bis scars " 

is very limited, A multitude of worthless officers and men, 
enfeebled by the " cannon-fever," rushed into its regiments, 
which in physical vigor were often superior to those that 
labored in the trenches or fought the enemies of the country. 
The surgeons once more decimated the national forces by or- 
dering the names of those who were asking for permission to 
return to their old commands to be enrolled as members of 
this corps. Its reputation was so seriously impaired by these 
practices, that soldiers of honor and principle, who had been 
crippled in the service, refused to enlist in it, because they 
knew that their military fame would bo tarnished by the in- 
glorious action of their associates. 

The ambulance system, and the means provided by the 
Government for the speedy removal of the wounded, were 
most excellent ; but the evasion and the negligence of the 
agents to whom they were usnally intrusted, rendered them, 
at times, valueless. Officers and men of doubtful courage 



THE TREATMENT OF ARMY DISEASES. 305 

used every exertion to be detailed for this service, because 
they considered it a safe position; and, with rare ex- 
ceptions, remained in the rear while the wounded were 
stretched upon the field and praying for assistance. The 
regimental commander, upon one occasion, issued the follow- 
ing order to the company officers when he received a notice 
to detail ten soldiers for duty in the ambulance corps : — 

" Take the most worthless cowards and stragglers that you 
have got : I won't insult my good and brave men by sending 
them to such a lot of scalawags," 

There was scarcely a day upon which the wagons were not 
used for some foreign purpose ; and, upon the march to 
Gettysburg, a general in the corps appropriated three of them 
which conveyed sumptuous stores of iuxmies and liquors, 
and retained them when the Dutch farmers were filching 
money from the helpless whom they transported a short dis- 
tance. When the drivers bivouacked upon the road to Fal- 
mouth, they compelled the sick to leave the ambulances in 
the midst of a pitiless storm ; and commanded them to go to 
their regiments, which were five miles from that point, because 
they wished to sleep in them during the night. One victim 
of this heartless cruelty, unable to walk, and overcome by 
the state of despair that enveloped him, finished his life 
with the musket that he had so often aimed at the ranks of 
the enemy. A formal complaint, which recited these facts, 
was forwarded to headquarters by the regimental surgeon ; 
but the only notice that was taken of it was the extraordinary 

20 



306 THE HOSPITAL, AND OBSERVATIONS UPON 

answer, tliat such conduct wiis customary, and in accordance 
with standing orders. The appointment of brave officers and 
men for this department, throughout the army, would save 
many valuable lives, and silence the objections that have been 
publicly urged against the corps. 

The hospitals in the front, without many of the external 
conveniences, rank high above those in the rear, because they 
were usually managed for the best interests of the service ; al- 
though some of the abuses that always follow the employment 
of non-combatants in the field were occasionally developed. 
The presence of comrades who made frequent visits to assist 
the suffering, the superior care of friendly attendants who did 
not wish to pilfer, and the bands which were detailed to play 
upon certain days, bad a beneficial efiect. Gen. Hooker en- 
tered every ward at Falmouth after the battle of Chancellors- 
ville ; remedied all the defects that were visible ; conversed 
with the wounded ; and wrote a pass for the mother of a sol- 
dier who had hastened to Washington, but, unsupported by 
influence, was unable to reach the couch of her dying son. 
Every means were used thiit conduced to preserve a cheerful 
and contented disposition, which decided the issue in doubtful 
cases in favor of life ; for what is termed homesickness has 
caused the death of many soldiers. Mangled men played 
games of cards or checkers ; those without a leg proposed to 
dance or race ; others, without an arm, challenged a comrade 
equally helpless to box or wrestle ; incidents of the battle 
were described while the tobacco in the pipe was uncon- 



THE TREATMENT OF ARMY DISEASES. 307 

sumed ; grotesque and useful articles were ingeniously made ; 
and the soldiers sometimes carved into ornaments the bones 
which had once formed a part of their bodies. 

The effect of wounds upon different constitutions, in the 
excitement of the conflict, was very striking; and those 
with the slightest injuries frequently exhibited the utmost 
distress. An olBcer who bivouacked with the regiment 
at Gettysburg, and was certain that he had not been struck, 
and walked unassisted to the hospital, because his "side 
felt so sore," was not more amazed when the surgeon 
mformed him that a bullet had barely missed his lung, 
than a colonel whose uniform had been perforated by 
balls, and who was borne upon a stretcher from the field, 
after exhorting his men to boldly face the foe, when he was 
told that there was not a scratch upon his person. The most 
heart-rending scenes that I ever witnessed in my eventful 
experience were those in which the helpless vainly and 
piteously implored their comrades to shoot them, and end 
their excruciating agonies. Careful habits proaioted the 
health of the soldiers ; and the rules of army mortality were 
reversed in many of the regiments (including the 11th) 
that performed severe fighting; and four or five men died 
by the casualties of battle to one that perished by disease. 
The roar of artillery, and the sudden shock of conflict, 
occasionally produced deafness or speechlessness; and the 
concussion of a shell sometimes killed a man, or fractured a 
limb, without inflicting a wound. The bullets rarely travelled 



308 THE HOSPITAL, AND OBSERVATIONS, ETC. 

in the same grooves through the air ; but an officer was struck 
in the same place in his jaw at Fair Oaks and Fredericks- 
burg, and one soldier received four wounds in the left arm in 
different battles. Anxiety and responsibility, which were sus- 
pended over the head like the sword of the ancient emperor, 
produced premature old age : many generals soon lost their 
youthful looks ; and it was not uncommon to see gray-haii-ed 
veterans who had not lived twenty-five years. The proximity 
of battle always affected the health of certain soldiers ; and 
there were persons of high rank that were sick upon such 
occasions, and never exposed themselves within the range 
of rebel cannon. There is a class of generals that are 
never attacked by disease whenever they are engaged upon 
court-martial, provost-guard, and similar duty at Washington, 
or the safe places of the North ; but an order to re])ort to the 
front is always succeeded by prostration and weakness. 

Statements that "only forty men are left in a regiment 
that once numbered a thousand," and the exciting and ex- 
aggerated accounts about the havoc of battle, have led many 
to largely over-estimate the number of those that die in the 
service. The long list of the deserters, the discharged, and 
the non-combatants, that some'-iraes include one-fourth of the 
aggregate strength, explains the nature of this apparent waste; 
and there were few of the three-years' regiments which lost 
more than ten ofScers, or two hundred and fifty men, by 
death from all causes. 




CHAPTER XIX. 

GENEEAL OBSERVATIONS UPON ARMY MORALITY 
AND DISCIPLINE. 

ANY facts which have been narrated in the 
foregoing chapters might be classed under this 
head ; but a separate discussion of the subject 
has been deemed of importance. The religious 
belief of the army was simple, and consisted of two articles of 
faith: first, that "a man will die when his time comes;" 
and secondly, that "a soldier who is slain in the service of 
his country is sure to enter the gales of heaven." The 
arguments of books and the sermons of divines could not 
undermine these ideas, in the sincere profession of which 
thousands fought and died upon the battle-field. The chap- 
lains of the army, those that should be the types of its purity, 
were commissioned without regard to their moral qualifica- 
tions ; and, as a class, exerted a debasing influence upon the 
soldiers : so that it was generally impossible to perceive any 
distinction between the man of God and the man of sin. 
The ofBcers of some regiments, from which they had been 
dismissed for military offences, voted that it was inexpedient 
to procure another spiritual adviser, because they considered 

3G9 



310 GENERAL OBSERVATIONS UPON 

that his example would be as pernicious as that of his prede- 
cessor and brethren in the service. Tracts upon the wicked- 
ness of dancing, attending theatres, sleeping in church, 
extravagance in dress, and similar matters, were extensively 
circulated among the troops; and it was evident that the 
dealers had shrewdly cleared their shelves of the unsalable 
rubbish which had been accumulating for years. The letters 
that were frequently published in the religious papers por- 
trayed the marvellous results which ensued when they were 
distributed, perverted the facts, and deceived those well- 
meaning philanthropists that contributed them. Less than 
five soldiers in the regiment perused them with a conscientious 
interest ; and this small number of readers was not largely 
exceeded in other commands that passed within the range of 
the author's notice. I have often witnessed the following inci- 
dents when a certain chaplain appeared in the company streets 
to give away the tracts which had been consigned to him. A 
squad of men, jostling each other, and using many oaths, sur- 
rounded him, and shouted, " I don't want them little things : 
give rae some of those big papers with the flag on them. I am 
going on picket, and want some to put my rations in." "Those 
tracts are just what I want to light my pipe with." " Give 
me some too : they are first-rate to kindle fires." The chap- 
lain gratified the request of each person ; had a jocose answer 
for all; and said, with many repetitions, " Use them for any 
purpose you see fit. It is my business to get rid of them ; 
and it is nothmg to me what you do with them." If they 



ARMY MORALITY AND DISCIPLINE. 311 

asked for some flashy novel, he replied, " I have not got it 
now, but will let you have it if it is sent to me." 

The week that succeeded pay-day was noticeable, because 
groups of men assembled in the vicinity of the regiment, and 
gambled hour after hour with cards, dice, and props, and rubber 
blankets, upon which certain sq^uares and digits had been rudely 
sketched. The number of players gradually diminished ; and 
the few winners, who had acquired the stakes which had been 
lost by the majority, contended for heavy amounts, and one 
hundred dollars were frequently placed upon the board. Some 
gained by this means large sums ; and a soldier at Culpeper 
Court House accumulated one thousand dollars in the course 
of twenty-four hours. It was usually prohibited by officers, 
and guards sometimes patrolled the camps to enforce the order ; 
but others did not interfere ; and the brigade commander 
remarked to the division general when they inspected the 
grounds which the gamblers occupied, " God Almighty never 
made a better place than these woods for men to gamble in." 
The passion displayed itself upon every favorable opportunity ; 
and the implements of the various games were actively used 
upon the march, the picket-reserve, and the battle-field. A 
chaplain, who acted the part of a spectator, innocently in- 
quired, " How does this man take that man's money ? " The 
problem was quickly solved ; and whenever he was invited to 
join, or " take a hand," he declined, not by uttering stern 
reproof, but some facetious remarks, " I have two hands now, 
and don't want another : " or, " I am afraid that I should lose 



312 GENERAL OBSERVATIONS UPON 

my money if I played with such sldlful experts." Th.e 
" lucky ones " generally rolled their greenbacks together like 
a twist of natural leaf-tobacco, and forwarded them home ; 
although some honorable chaplains refused to assist any gam- 
bler in saving his gains, and delivered strong addresses against 

the allurinir vice. The conduct which has been censured re- 

o 

lates wholly to a class that comprised about one-tenth of the 
enlisted men in a regiment ; and, with the exception of a soli- 
tary occurrence in. another brigade, I never observed an in- 
discriminate medley of oflBcers and soldiers in the crowd of 
players. 

Profanity, which was' unchecked by the presence of the re- 
straining influences of home and a civilized community, was 
a habit that e"kisted in every rank and grade ; and the old 
saying, "to swear like a trooper," was hourly confirmed. 
The language generally used in the sunnnons to surrender, by 
the members of both armies ; the actual terms employed by 
officers of high rank in giving orders ; the exclamations of 
the wounded, and the last words of dying heroes, — seldom 
appear in the volumes of the historian. It was an interesting 
study to observe that foreign recruits, who were unacquainted 
with the English tongue when they entered the regiment, 
quickly acquired a proficiency in the use of the, strongest 
oaths before they had mastered the rudiments of their adopted 
language. This discreditable feature of the army always 
struck the attention of visitors by its publicity ; and many 
tboughtlessl}^ uttered another ancient maxim, " The worse 



ARMY MORALITY AND DISCIPLINE. 313 

the man, tbo better the soldier." A brief mihtary experi- 
ence will satisfy all concerning the falsity of this remark. 
The worthless bully and idler in the abodes of peace invari- 
ably form the most useless parts of the engine of war ; while 
the quiet and industrious civilians constitute the motive power 
and essential portions. A lofty principle of action, not physi- 
cal brutality, is the basis of that courage and heroism w^hich are 
absolutely necessary to insure the success of the subtlest 
planned campaign. I have seen the pugihst who feared no an- 
tagonist in the wrangles and scuffles of a mob tremble with 
fright, and flee, upon the field of carnage ; while a youth ani- 
mated by pure patriotism, who timidly shrank from the quai*- 
rels of the street, was the foremost in the charge of victory, 
and the most steadfast in the severe trial of defeat. 

" I was brought up on a bottle, and never saw any harm in 
it, " was the observation of a drunken chaplain, that furnishes a 
text for this paragraph. The enforcement of stringent orders 
prevented the sale of liquor to the rank and file, so that a 
compulsory sobriety existed ; and the number of intemperate 
soldiers who bore muskets with their commands was extreme- 
ly small. Some, who foolishly supposed that this stimulant 
was indispensable, admitted their mistake when they were 
compelled to perform fatiguing labor without it ; and the 
array in this way aided a great reform. Venal officers, sutlers, 
and commissaries, made enormous profits by covertly selling 
the forbidden beverage ; and privates sometimes willingly paid 
the hard-earned wages of a month to procure a canteen of 



314 GENERAL OBSERVATIONS UPON 

whiskey which cost the vender twenty cents. The course 
of the Government and charitable, associations in issuing it as 
a ration, in certain circumstances, to the enlisted men, pro- 
duced evils that are boundless in their extent. The well- 
known demoralization and inefficiency in battle of many Ger- 
man regiments, especially those that " triuks mit everybody 
and runs mit Howard," were caused not by the Teutonic but 
the lager-beer blood that pervaded their systems. I exjiess 
in print what has been said many times in conversation by 
officers, that the total prohibition of the use of intoxicating 
liquor for any purpose by any class of persons in the army 
would have preseiTcd the lives of thousands, and shortened 
the duration of this war at least one year. The careful reader 
has noticed that the shameful drunkenness of a corps com- 
mander became the stumbhng-block in the path to victory, 
when Gen. Meade was foiled in the movement which termi- 
nated at Mine Run. 

A broad distinction was established ; and it is a sad fact, 
that, with rare exceptions, the commissioned officers were not 
only unhindered, but even aided, to obtain the ardent spirits 
which they desired ; and every brigade commissary was sup- 
plied by the Government with barrels of whiskey for this 
purpose. It was a sharp device, at one time, for privates to 
put on shoulder-straps, and purchase liquor, which was deliv- 
ered to them upon the supposition that they were officers. 
The tents of many generals and subalterns presented the 
appearance of the glittering and highly-colored glasses and 



ARMY MORALITY AND DISCIPLINE. 315 

bottles of a bar-room ; and the presence of one of them, ujK)n 
a visit or special duty, was the signal for the production of 
*' something to take." From the first battle of Bull Run, at 
which Miles was allowed by Gen. IMcDowell to disgrace him- 
self and the nation with uupunity, to Spottsylvania Court 
House, where I counted, a few minutes before I was wound- 
ed, twenty-siK general and staff officers that rode upon their 
horses with great difficulty on account of intoxication, my 
minutes contain notices of drunkenness upon every scene of 
conflict in which I was engaged. To avert unjust suspicion, 
I desire to state, that none of the officers with the regiment 
were rendered inefficient by this cause, in such important cri- 
ses. The practice existed to such an alarming extent, that, 
when certain persons fell in the time of action, it was a sub- 
ject of doubt, with the distant spectators, whether the cause 
was a bullet or the contents of a flask. " I need three can- 
teens a day now," a staflT- officer remarked during the last 
campaign. The rebel prisoners with whom I conversed ad- 
mitted that the same state of facts prevailed in their army, 
and mentioned the names of some of their commanders who 
were notorious drunkards. The rights of subordinates were 
disregarded to pamper to this debasing appetite ; and a gen- 
eral seized the mail-wagon of the division upon a long march, 
and retained it more than two weeks (during which time the 
soldiers received no letters) , in order that his stock of lirjuors 
might be transported, — a fair quantity of which he openly 
imbibed upon the battle-field. I was stationed upon picket 



316 GENERAL OBSERVATIONS UPON 

•when the ambulances returned from Chancellorsville, which 
they had visited by means of a flag of truce ; and men of 
veracity, who belonged to the regiment, assured me that 
many of the surgeons were "tight;." and they preferred to 
keep on their bandages of shelter-tent, which were black with 
clotted blood, and allow their wounds to remain undressed, 
because they did not wish to submit to the care of such mis- 
creants. 

Deserters formed the largest class of criminals in the army ; 
and nearly every regiment that has been posted in the front 
lost more men from this cause than the aggregate of all the 
others. The wholesale villany of the bounty-jumpers has 
doubled the names that are recorded upon the rolls of dis- 
honor. The friends of the rebel conspiracy in Alexandria, 
Washington, and other cities, afforded all the assistance in 
their power to men that wished to escape from the service ; 
and furnished money, suits of clothing, and forged passes, 
discharges, furloughs, and similar documents, whenever the 
necessities of the case required them. 

The subject of crime naturally leads to a consideration of 
military discipline, and the punishment inflicted for the com- 
raission of oflfences of diflferent degrees. The constant inter- 
ference l^y generals of high rank, and intermeddling officials 
in Washington, have often seriously impaired the efficiency 
of the troops, by preventing the impartial administration of 
justice, and the expiation of penalties which should follow a 
just sentence by a court-martial. The first abuse could be 



ARMY MORALITY AND DISCIPLINE. 317 

easily remedied by a revision of the articles of the military 
code which relate to the measures that precede the trial of 
the prisoner ; but the second cannot be corrected. Charges of 
a serious character must be approved by a general officer, who 
may deliberately suppress them without any regard to the 
just interests of the service, if the culprit is one of his fiiends, 
or can repay him for his sinful kindness. Specifications that 
were filed against the brother of a division commander for 
habitual drunkenness never emerged from their hiding-place 
when they reached his headquarters. A medical director 
issued an order that an officer should be arraigned for fbio-ninoj 
partial blindness to procure a discharge ; and although he had 
been fined by a court-mar :;ial for cowardice, and a complaint for 
drunkenness had also been preferred, they were promptly 
cast aside, because he perjured himself at the trial of some 
parties who had incurred the displeasure of the general. 
■Charges of cowai'dice which were submitted by one division 
commander against another were repeatedly suppressed be- 
cause the guilty person was a personal admirer and flatterer 
of the head of the army ; while the subalterns, who said that 
they could prove them in any court, were summarily dis- 
missed from the service for the use of disrespectful language. 
Generals who were inebriates, poltroons, or traitors, were sel- 
dom if ever punished, but promoted, to demoralize, by their 
ignoble conduct, the unfortunate brigade, division, and corps 
commands which were obliged to serve under them. Rec- 
ommendations from officers of equal or higher rank triumphed 



318 GENEEAL OBSERVATIONS UPON 

over the just objections of subalterns and enlisted men, and 
gained a confirmation by the Senate. 

The enforcement of the death-penalty against every deserter 
would have retained thousands in the army, and had an ex- 
cellent effect upon its discipline ; while the clemency that was 
shown towards them actually encouraged soldiers to commit 
this infamous crime. Many of the vilest substitutes, who 
enlisted with the intention to escape from the lines, were 
pardoned by the authority of Washington dignitaries, al- 
though then- officers reported that there were no mitigating 
cu'cumstances in their cases. One of them openly declared 
to his comrades that he should desert, and no power could 

injure him, because Senator of Wisconsin and his 

father were intimate friends. He ran away at the end of a 
fortnight ; was apprehended, and sentenced to be shot by the 
unanimous vote of the members of the coui't-martial, who 
noticed the utter depravity that was visible in his face and 
demeanor when he boldly said, ' ' I suppose I deserted to 
swindle the Government." The commander of the company, 
in answer to inquiries from the Wai- Department, replied that 
he was the worst soldier that he had ever seen ; but the sen- 
tence was remitted in compliance with the request of Senator 

of Wisconsin. A thousand facts like these which have 

been recited affected the authority of officers by rendermg 
the enlisted men defiant, and at times nearly destroyed that 
discipline, without which an army becomes a mere assembly 
of citizens equipped for military duties. The state of perfec- 



ARMY MORALITY AND DISCIPLINE. 319 

tion wbicli existed in many of the batteries tbat belonged to 
the regular service exhibited the beneficial results of an 
implicit obedience to orders. An inflexible command, that 
was never modified by superiors, moulded the best artillerists 
in the world from a nucleus of fifteen or twenty members ; 
while the main portion was composed of the most useless and 
refractory soldiers that could be found in the guard-houses 
and prisons of the regiments from which they were detailed. 



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