Skip to main content

Full text of "Three years in the Sixth Corps"

See other formats




Presented to the 

LIBRARY of the 






- -t 








gcfa fork: 


23 Murray and 27 Warren Street. 


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1S70, by 

is the Office of the Librarian of Cougresf, at VTashiugtco. 









In presenting to the public a revised edition of this work, 
I gladly embrace the opportunity for expressing my obliga- 
tions to the many friends of the Sixth corps who have in- 
terested themselves in its revision and its success. Es- 
pecially am I indebted to Major-General H. G. Wright for 
the great assistance he has rendered me in correcting the 
narrative and furnishing new material for this edition. To 
Brevet Major-Generals J. M. Warner, J. Warren Keifer, 
Alexander Shaler, and Colonel S. M. Pingree I am also 
under special obligations. 

Many portions of the work have been re-written, and 
much new material added. It is hoped that in its present 
form the work will be more than ever acceptable to the 
members of the grand old corps, as well as to others who 
feel an interest in the deeds of brave men. 

16 North Pearl Street, 

Albany, N. Y., April 10, 1867 



The following pages are offered to my old comrades of 
the Sixth Corps, with the hope that they may pleasantly 
recall the many varied experiences of that unparalleled 
body of men. If much has been omitted which should 
have been written, or if anything has been said which 
should have been left out, I rely upon the generosity of 
brave men to treat with leniency the failings they may 

I have endeavored to present without exaggeration or 
embellishment of imagination, a truthful picture of army 
life in all its vicissitudes ; its marches, its battles, its camps, 
•and the sad scenes where the victims of war languish in 
hospitals. The story is written mostly from extensive 
notes taken by myself amid the scenes described ; but offi- 
cial reports and letters from officers have been used freely 
in correcting these notes, and gathering fresh material. 
The narrative commences with the experiences of my own 
regiment; then when that regiment became a part of 
Smith's division, its incidents and history includes the 
whole. From the organization of the Sixth Corps to 
the close of the rebellion, I have endeavored without par- 
tiality to give the story of the Corps. If I have failed to do 
justice to any of the noble troops of the Corps, it has been 
from no want of desire to give to each regiment the praise 
due to it. 



I cannot close without acknowledging my many obli- 
gations to the numerous friends, officers and soldiers of 
the Corps, and others who have favored me with their 
assistance. I take especial pleasure in acknowledging the 
kindness of Miss Emily Sedgwick, sister of our lamented 
commander ; Vermont's honored son, Major-General L. A. 
Grant, Major-General Thomas H. Neill, Colonel James B. 
McKean, Colonel W. B. French, Chaplain Norman Fox, 
and Mr. Henry M. Myers. I am also indebted to the friends 
of Samuel S. Craig for the use of his diary, extending from 
the early history of the Army of the Potomac, to the death 
of the talented young soldier in the AYilderness. 

The engravings are nearly all from sketches taken by 
myself on the ground, the others are from the pencil of the 
well known artist. Captain J. Hojje, and all have been sub- 
mitted to his finishing touch. 

The typographical portion of the work has been done in a 
style of beauty and finish for which the work of Weed, 
Parsons and Company is so well known. 

18 North Pearl Street, Albany, N. Y. 

September 5, 1866. 



1. PoETBATT OP Geneeal John Sedgwick Frontispiece. 


3 . PoRTEAiT OP Geneeal W. F. Smith 13 

4 . The Old Chubch at Hampton 27 

5 . The Quakee at Newpoet News 31 

6. Charge op the Veemontees at Lee's Mills 40 

7. Charge of Hancock's Bbigade at Williamsbuegh 54 

8. Poetbait of General "W. B. Feanklin 58 

9 . Portrait of General H. W. Slocum 61 

10. Charge of the Seventy-seventh New York at Mechan- 

icsvtlle 64 


12. Charge of the Sixth Corps at Buekettsville 136 

13. White Oak Chtjech, Va 174 

14. Storming of Marte's Heights by Newton's Division 196 

15. " What'll Ole Missus Do Now?" 276 

16. Chtjech Call 303 

17. Poetbait of Geneeal H. G. Weight 348 

18. Battle of Foet Stevens 379 

19. "Why Don't HE Come?" 407 

20. "Going Noef" 416 

21. Diagram of the Charge of the Sixth Coeps, Apeil 2, 1865. 437 
22 DiAGEAM of the Battle Field op CHANCELLOESvnjiE 447 



A New Regiment goes to the War, „ ^ 1-7 

Organization of the Seventy-seventh N. Y. V. — Departure from Sara- 
toga—Greetings by the way — New emotions — The noble dead — On 
board the Knickerbocker — At New York — Presentation of flags — 
Beauties of monopoly— Hospitality of Philadelphia — Incidents on 
the route — Arrival at Washington — In camp. 

Akmy Life at Washington, 8-17 

Meridian Hill — Neighboring scenery— First Sunday in camp — Drills 
— Sickness — The Hospital — General Casey — "Why don't the army 
move?" — Washington blockaded — Burnside's heroes — Orders to 
move — Something of a train— Smith's division — Our first reconnois- 

The Manassas Campaign, 18-24 

Orders to march — A grand spectacle— Bivouac near Fairfax Court 
House — The camps at night — Visits to Manassas and Oentreville — 
Dissatisfaction in the army- A deserted country — Lawless soldiers — 
Fairfax Court House — A representative Southerner — Review by Gen. 
McClellan — March to Alexandria — "Camp Misery." 

The Army Transferred to the Peninsula, 25-32 

Embarking for the Peninsula — Mount Vernon — On the Potomac- 
Hampton- In camp — Orders to march — A night visit to Fortress 
Monroe — The advance — A sifting— A Quaker battery — At Newport 
News — Compliments of the Teaser. 

YORKTOWN, 33-19 

The advance to Yorktown — A thunder storm — "Reliable contra- 
bands"- Facing the enemy — A strong position — The Union line — A 
rebel we'.come — Digging — On picket — A dreary country — An enter- 
prising planter — Active work — Battle of Lee's Mills — Charge of the 
Vermont brigade — Progress of the siege — Ravages of disease — A 
front seat — Short supplies — The rebels withdraw- Entering the 
strongholds- Infernal machines — March to Williamsburgh — Victims 
of disease. 



Battle of Williamsburgh — The army not organized — The medical 
department— Hooker's gallant fight— Hancock's charge— McClellan 
at Yorktown— Night on the battle-field. 

The March up the Peninsula and the Organization of the 
Sixth Corps 58-04 

March up the Peninsula — Joy of the contrabands — Cumberland 
Landing — The Sixth Corps organized — At White House — On the 
Chickahominy— Fight at Mechanics ville— Battle of Hanover Court 

On the Chickahominy, 65-76 

Gai nes' Farm — The line of battle — Battle of Seven Pines — Sedgwick 
and Kearney to the rescue — Hooker's charge — A lost opportunity— 
Golden's Farm — Ditching— Malaria— Chickahominy fevers — A Ger- 
man regiment— Stuart's raid. 

The Seven Days' Battles, 77-98 

The army united— Plans and counter plans— Battle of Fair Oaks— 
Lee's plan — The situation — Stonewall Jackson on the ilank — Bat- 
tle of Mechanicsville — Joy in camp — Porter's corps retreats — An 
astonished army- Battle of Gaines' Farm — Slocum's division at 
Gaines' Farm— Ketreat to the river — Battle of Golden's Farm- A 
young hero — A Union victory — Our right exposed— The sick aban- 
doned—A night of sorrow- The grand retreat commenced — Sad . 
scenes at Savage's Station — A meteor railroad train. 

The Grand Retreat, 99-UO 

Lee's army in pursuit — Sumner and Smith at bay — Battle of Savage's 
Station — The Vermont brigade — Sick and wounded abandoned — 
Ketreat to White Oak Swamp — Battle of White Oak Swamp — An 
astonished division — A night march — A mystery — In sight of the 
James — Battle of Malvern Hill — Departure of the princes — Gloom 
and anxiety — Lee's attack— The rebels demoralized. 

Harrison's Landing, 111-119 

March to Harrison's bar — A scene of confusion — A beautiful land- 
scape— Fourth of July in camp — Gloom at the north — Cause of the 
disasters — Prevalence of disease — Review by the President — A night 
demonstration by the enemy — Reconnoissance to Malvern HDl — 
Departure of General Davidson — A retrospect. 

Retreat from the Peninsula, and General Pope's Bull 

Run Campaign, 120-133 

Premonitions of a change of base — The transfer commenced— March- 
ing down the Peninsula — On board transports — A contrast- Arrival 
at Alexandria — Unaccountable delays — General Pope's campaign— 
An obstinate general — Causes of Pope's failure. 



The Maryland Campaign, 134-141 

General McClellan restored to command— March through Washing- 
ton — Leisurely campaigning — Battle of Crampton Pass — Death of 
Mathison — Battle of South Mountain Pass — Death of Reno — Sur- 
render of Harper's Ferry — March to Antietam. 

The Battle of Antietam 142-161 

The Valley of the Antietam — Gathering of the hosts — The battle- 
field—The battle commenced — Splendid fighting of Hooker's forces 

— Successes and reverses of Sumner's troops — Timely arrival of the 
Sixth corps — A gallant charge — Losses of the corps — Burnside'3 
attack — Hours of suspense — The enemy defeated at all points — Re- 
treat of the rebels — Scenes on the battle-field — At the hospitals — At 
Sharpsburgh — A division of militia — Couch's division joins the Sixth 
corps — Visit of the President — Recruits — Energy at the north — At 
rest — Want of clothing — Stuart's raid— Delays — Clear Spring— Gen- 
eral Brooks. 

The Second Advance into Virginia, and the Battle of 
Fredericksbttegh, 162-173 

Marching in Maryland — Arrival at New Baltimore — General McClel- 
lan superseded by General Burnside— Thanksgiving in camp — The 
grand divisions organized — The march resumed — Fatal delays — In 
order of battle — The crossing — Fredericksburgh bombarded — Situa- 
tion of Fredericksburgh — Scenes of activity — The Bernard house — 
Scenes at the hospital — The battle on the right — Charges of the Penn- 
sylvania reserves — The river recrossed — Reflections. 

The Winter at Falmouth, 174-187 

Camp at White Oak Church — "The mud march" — Return to camp- 
General Neill — General Hooker supersedes General Burnside — Burn- 
side's magnanimity — General Hooker as a soldier — Reconstruction — 
The cavalry organized — Business departments renovated — The medi- 
cal department — Ambulance system — Quartermasters' and commis- 
sary departments — Life in camp — Snowball battles — In the Seventy- 
seventh— The Light division — Review by General Hooker — General 
John Sedgwick — Scene at head-quarters — Review of the army by 
the President — Preparing for the campaign. 

The Chancellorsv^lle Campaign, 188-2U 

Orders to move — The river crossed — Sedgwick's command — The 
First corps withdrawn — Gallant conduct of the Light division — Ad- 
vancing to the heights — The line of battle — The columns of attack — 
Attack of Howe's columns — Of Newton's column — Of Burnham's — 
Misfortune following victory — Fight of Bartlett's brigade— The First 
division at work — A critical position — The Sixth corps surrounded — 
Savage fight of Neill's brigade — The corps withdraws to Banks' Ford 

— Recrosses the river — Hooker's operations on the right — Position 
of the corps — Rout of the Eleventh corps — The rebels repulsed — 
Jackson renews the attack— The rebels again repulsed— Hooker 
recrosses the river. 



Second Encampment at White Oak Chtjrch and the Penn- 
sylvania Campaign, 212-233 

The army in its old position — A trip to Dixie — The wounded at the 
hospitals — Introduction of army badges — Adornments of the camps — 
The "Third crossing" — The Barnard mansion — Exchanging papers 
— A brolten lieutenant— The Pennsylvania campaign commenced — 
Restriction of baggage — A severe march — An army bathing — At 
Centreville — Bristoe Station — March to Maryland — General Hooker 
succeeded by General Meade —Position of the army. 

The Gettysbxjrgh Campaign, 234-252 

The rebels in Pennsylvania — Panic at Harrisburgh — Alarm at Balti- 
more and Washington — Sixth corps leaves Bristoe Station — A sur- 
prise — General Meade takes command — Position of the army — 
Marching through Pennsylvania — An unprecedented march — Ex- 
citing news — Battle of Gettysburgh — Death of Reynolds — First and 
Eleventh corps fall back— Second day's battle — The battle-field — 
Fighting at Round Top — On the right — The grand onset — The battle 
decided — Rebel and Union wounded. 

Pursuit of Lee's Army, 254-270 

Scenes of the field of Gettysburgh — The rebel hospitals — The sight- 
less rebel soldier boy — The Sixth cops at Fairfield — "Hurrah for the 
Union " — Kilpatrick's handiwork — At Waynesboro' — On picket — A 
division of militia — The Vermonters at Funkstown — The army at 
Funkstown- Meade's failure to attack — New York riots — Return to 

Camps at Warrenton, the Centreville Campaign and the 
Battle of Rappahannock Station 271-289 

Camp at Hart's Mills— A ride to the Sulphur Springs — Contrabands 
going north — The Vermonters go to New York — Jersey brigade at 
Warrenton — The Sixth corps at Cedar Mountain — Retreat to Centre- 
ville— Battle of Bristoe Station — Advance to Warrenton — Battle of 
Rappahannock Station — Flight of Lee's army. 

The Army at Brandy Station 291-303 

Encampment at Brandy Station — The Mine Run campaign — Crossing 
the Rapidan — Battle of Locust Grove — The army on Mine Run — The 
order of battle — The army withdraws — Back at Brandy Station — 
Reconnoissance to Madison Court House — Ladies in camp — Chapel 

The Wilderness Campaign, 305-824 

Preparing to leave camp— General Grant In command — The last 
advance across the Rapidan— The battle-ground — Battle of the Wil- 
derness—Noble fight of Getty's division —Hancock's fight on the 
left — Rickett's division driven back — The ground retaken — The 
wounded — Duties of the surgeons —The noble dead. 


Bpottsylvania, 826-841 

Moving by the flant — The wounded abandoned— The Fifth corps at 
Bpottsylvania — Arrival of the Sixth corps — Getting into line — Death 
of Sedgwick — General Wright in command — Battle of the 10th of 
May — Upton's splendid charge — Battle at "the angle " — Another 
flank movement. 

The Hospitals at Fredebicksbitegh, 842-349 

The journey from the battle-field— Sufferings of the wounded— A sur- 
geon's letters — Rebel hatred — Assistance from the north— A father 
in search of his boy— The wounded sent to Washington. 

Ck)AL Harbor, 850-363 

At Hanover Court House — The Eighteenth corps joins the Army of 
the Potomac— The armies meet at Coal Harbor— Battle of June 1st— 
Battle of June 3d — Terrible exposure — The army strikes for Peters- 
burgh — Charles City Court House— A centenarian— Review of the 
overland campaign. 

Petehsbitbgh, 364-311 

The march to Petersburgh — Smith's successes — The battle of June 
18th — The Sixth and Second corps sent to the left — Rebels penetrate 
• the line — Progress of the siege — Sixth corps proceeds to Reams' Sta- 
tion — Kautz's and WUson's raids. 

Sixth Corps Transferreb to Washington— Battle op Fort 
Stevens, 8T2-382 

The Shenandoah Valley— Hunter's advance to Lynchburgh— The 
retreat— Rebels advance into Maryland— Battle of Monocacy — Sixtii 
corps goes to Washington — Battle of Fort Stevens. 

The Shenandoah Valley, 383-39T 

The Sixth and Nineteenth corps follow the enemy — Crossing the 
Potomac — AveriU's fight at Snicker's Gap — Return of the Sixth 
corps to Washington — March back to Harper's Ferry — Return to 
Maryland — Death of Major ElUs — General Sheridan assigned to com- 
mand—Back in the Valley— Charlestown— John Mosher — March 
to Fisher Hill — Return to Charlestown — Fight at Charlestown. 

Battle of Winchester, 398-403 

Encampment at Berryville — Leaving camp— The advance — Taking 
position — Advance and retreat— Death of Russell — "I know they'll 
run " — Reminiscences — At the hospitals —A regiment going home — 
" Why don't he come." 

Fisher Hill, 409-417 

March up the valley — Strasburgh— The army confronting Fisher 
Hill— The flank movement — Flight of BHrly — The pursuit— Guer- 
rilla warfare— Southern refugees— Starting for Washington— Return 
to Cedar creek. 



Battle of Cedar Creek, 418-432 

Position of the Union forces on Cedar creek — Demonstrations by 
Early — The morning of October 19th — Eighth corps straggling — 
Nineteenth corps routed — The Sixth corps to the rescue— Death of 
General Bidwell — The Sixth corps holds the enemy— General Wright 
prepares for another attack — Arrival of Sheridan — The charge — The 
rout — Guns, wagons and prisoners — The victors in camp— the Sev- 
enty-seventh goes home. 

The Final Campaign, 483-445 

Sixth corps returns to Petersburgh— Condition of the corps— Sheri- 
dan joins the grand army — Capture of Fort Steadman — The last 
grand charge — The pursuit of Lee's army- Tributes to the Sixth 
corps — Disbanding. 

AprENDix, , 447-449 




Organization of the Seventy-seventh N. Y. V.— Departure from Saratoga— Greet- 
ings by the way — New emotions — The noble dead — On board the Knickerbocker 
— At New York — Presentation of flags — Beauties of monopoly — Hospitality 
of Philadelphia — Incidents on the route — Arrival at Washington — In camp. 

Our regiment was organized at Saratoga Springs, the 
historic scene of the battle of Bemis Heights and the sur- 
render of Burgoyne — hence its name, "The Bemis Heights 
Battalion." Hon. Jas. B. McKean, then member of con- 
gress, a gentleman of well known patriotism, was made our 
Colonel. We left our rendezvous on the 26th of Novem- 
ber, 1S61, Thanksgiving day, having been mustered into 
the United States service three days before. 

As the long train of cars bore us from the station at 
Saratoga Springs, the thousands who had gathered to wit- 
ness our departure united in cheer after cheer until all 
the groves and vales of that charming resoi't rang with the 
echoes of the tumultuous shouting. 

The thousand brave fellows, who were about to try the 
stern realities of war, were by no means backward in 
replying to these hearty expressions of good wishes. 
Long after we had lost sight of the lovely village, the 
shouts of the multitude could be heard and the hills rang 


again with the responding cheers of those in the cars. 
At each station, as we passed, crowds of people pressed 
to greet us, and loud and long were the cheers that bade 
us " God speed." 

"We were now fairly off for the war. We who had 
followed the various peaceful avocations of life, in the 
professions or in the workshops, in trade or in husbandry, 
had now turned away from the office, the desk, the shop 
and the plough, to join the Grand Army ujjon which the 
hopes of the nation were staked, and which we confidently 
believed was soon to sweep the rebellion to destruction. 

Emotions hitherto unknown to us filled our hearts. We 
were soldiers, wearing for the first time the army blue, and 
perhaps soon to be called out to meet in deadly strife an 
enemy whose prestige for valor was already too well 

Were we to return to the friends from whom we had 
just parted, bearing the chaplet of victory, or were we to 
find a last resting place on some field of the south, never 
again to meet Avith wife or sister, fiither or mother ? Foiir 
years have passed and those doubts have been solved. 
Many of those brave men have gone to their long. rest. 

" Their graves are severed far and wide." 

Some sleep beneath the tall pines of Torktown ; and the 
bright azalia casts its purple blossoms over the graves of 
many who lie in the swamps of the Chickahominy. The 
Antietam murmurs a requiem to those who rest on its 
banks, and green is the turf above the noble ones who fell 
gloriously at Fredericksburgh. Some rest amid the wild 
tangles of the Wilderness, and upon the arid plain of Coal 
Harbor. Many of their graves are upon the banks of the 
Ny and the Po. The marble monument at Fort Stevens 
tells the names of some who gave their lives in the defense 
of the Capital, while the simple headboards of pine tell 


where repose many in the valley of the Shenandoah, and 
before Petersburgh. The remains of some have been 
brought back to the peaceful cemetery at home to rest 
beside the dust of loved ones, 

" 'Tis little ; but it looks in truth 
As if the quiet bones were blest 
Among familiar names to rest, 
And in the places of their youth." 

Must it be said, many of the strongest yielded to the 
grim monster starvation in the rebel prison pens, and 
found relief from their tortures in lowly graves at Ander- 
sonville and Salisbury. 

A little band, with bronzed faces and manly hearts, 
returned home. Their glorious and unspotted record had 
preceded, them. They needed no song of victory, and. 
they desired no greater marks of honor than their simple 
silver crosses, the badge of their corps. 

No incident worthy of note occurred until we reached 
Albany, where we left the cars and embarked upon the 
steamer Knickerbocker, an old dismantled craft, unfit for 
any purpose but the transportation of soldiers ; Avhose 
decks were covered with mud an inch in depth, and 
whose doors having been thrown overboard, a free circula- 
tion of the rough November air was allowed in every part. 
The men had no rations, and some of them became clamor- 
ous ; but order was soon restored, and rations of bread and 
ham with coffee were distributed. They could not, how- 
ever, all be brought to a perfect state of quietude. Some 
were determined not to submit, and passed the night in 
carousal, while those sobei'ly inclined tried in vain to sleep. 
The officers found lodging in the after cabin, where some 
in berths and some on the floor, we passed a restless night. 

As we approached New York in the morning, the sky 
was hung with heavy clouds, and as we left our rickety 
old craft for terra Jirma, the rain poured in fresh torrents 


upon us. "We marched through 14th street and Broadway 
to the Park. We Avere to remain in New York until six 
o'clock in the evening, and the Sons of Saratoga were to 
present us with a stand of colors and guidons. They com- 
menced by presenting us with an excellent dinner, at which 
speeches were made by the committee, and responded to 
by Colonel McKean and others on our part. 

Dinner over, the regiment was drawn up in front of the 
City Hall, where the ceremony of presenting the flags 
took place. The banner was an exquisite piece of work, 
of the richest fabric ; a blue ground with elegant designs 
in oil. On one side was represented an engagement in 
which the American soldiers, led by Washington, were 
fighting under the old flag — thirteen stripes and the 
union jack. On the reverse was pictured the surrender 
of Burgoyne, at Saratoga, under the new flag — the stars 
and stripes — first unfurled in the goodly city of Albany, 
and first baptized in blood at the decisive battle of Bemis 
Heights, which resulted in the surrender of Burgoyne and 
the virtual success of the Revolution. 

We had already a beautiful national flag, the gift of the 
patriotic young ladies of Mr. Beecher's seminary, at Sara- 

The hour for departure arrived, and we crossed to 
Amboy by ferry. We wei-e in New Jersey. We had 
heard disparaging things of the railroad management of 
this State, but we were now to realize the beauties 
of monoj^oly. We learned afterwai'ds to respect New 
Jersey's soldiers, many of whom fought shoulder to 
shoulder with us, and were among the bravest of the 
brave, but we never forgave her railroads. The men were 
crowded into a number of shaky old cars, reeking with 
filth, and redolent of most noisome odors. It was in vain 
that we protested that these vehicles were unfit for trans- 
porting men ; we were ofiered by the agent of the road 


the alternative to take these cars or remain where we 
were. We concluded to go on. 

At four o'clock we had passed over the whole of the 
Camden and Amboy road. Another ferry crossed, and 
we were in Philadelphia. Glorious, generous, enlightened 
Philadelphia ! Many of our men were sick when we left 
Saratoga, and the unaccustomed hardships, with the cold 
and rain thus far on the route, had greatly prostrated 
them. Many others had also been seized with violent 
illness, so that our single medical officer had been taxed 
beyond his strength in looking after the wants of the sick, 
while the little case of medicines with which we started 
from Saratoga was exhausted. Among the first acts of 
kindness of these excellent people was the care of our sick. 
A gentleman, with countenance beaming with benevolence, 
said to the doctor, "If you will get your sick together, we 
will' conduct them to comfortable quarters, and see that 
they are well cared for." The heart of the surgeon leaped 
with joy at finding some one who could and would help 
to care for the poor fellows. 

The sick being collected, our friend mounted a barrel 
and called to the soldiers to hear him a moment. " You 
are welcome," said he, " to Philadelphia, and to show you 
that we are glad to see you, it gives us pleasure to invite 
every man of you to partake of a warm breakfast which 
will be ready for you in a few minutes." This speech was 
greeted by three hearty cheers for Philadelphia. 

The doctor soon had his sick removed to the Soldiers' 
Retreat, a place fitted up by the noble-hearted people of 
Philadelphia for the entertainment of soldiers passing 
through their city. The upper part of the building was 
arranged with exquisite taste and order for a hospital. 
Here were many sick men left by the various regiments 
which had jjassed through the city. Our sick boys were 
placed in beds, with expressions of gratitude that, not- 

6 rsrciDENTS on the route. 

withstanding their illness, their lot had fallen in pleasant 

Presently the men were marched into the long saloon, 
•where all took their places at tlie well spread tables. 
The repast being over, Colonel McKean called upon the 
men for three cheers for the Philadelphians ; remarking 
that there need be no fear of raising the roof, for even 
should such an accident occur he doubted not these gen- 
erous people would willingly rejjlace it. Then came 
the cheers ; and such cheers ! only to be surpassed by the 
three more and then three more that followed. 

The long years of our campaignings never diminished the 
lively feelings of gratitude we experienced that morning, 
and to this day our veterans never speak of Philadelphia 
but with pleasing recollections of the friendly reception 
given them by the goodly inhabitants of the Quaker city. 

The sun was up when we resumed our journey,- and 
again we were met with surprises. All along the track 
of the raih'oad, men, women and children, filling the win- 
dows of the houses and thronging the wayside, cheered us 
on our way, shouting and waving flags and handkerchiefs. 
Children in the arms of their nurses waved little flags from 
the windows in great glee, while gray haired old men 
in piping tones cried " God bless our soldiers." This 
unlooked for, and to us surprising ovation continued until 
we had passed the limits of the city, and indeed did not 
cease till we had left the station many miles behind. In 
the train, the men kept up a continuous cheering; teai:s 
stood in the eyes of many, and the most enthusiastic 
expressions passed from lip to lip. 

The experience of our regiment was only that of others 
who passed through this noble city, and often during our 
long campaigns, the soldiers of different regiments would 
gather round their camp fires, and relate to each other the 
kindnesses received by them in the City of Brotherly Love. 


We were cordially welcomed in Delaware, the people 
waving banners and handkerchiefs, and when those were 
not at hand, newspapers or even articles from the clothes 
lines answered to show their good will ; and tlie negroes in 
the fields swnng their hats and their hoes with great spirit. 

We reached Baltimore in the evening, where we were 
kindly received, furnished with supper and sent on our 
way. After many delays we reached Washington at four 
o'clock Sunday morning, and were assigned to temporary 
quarters near the station. Who would have suspected 
that it was the Sabbath ? Now we began to see some- 
thing of the circumstance of war. Horsemen were gallop- 
ing in every direction ; long trains of army wagons rattled 
over the pavements at every turn of the eye; squads of 
soldiers marched here and thei'e ; all was hurry, bustle and 

It was night when we reached the ground for our 
encampment on Meridian Hill. The men had suffered 
much from cold, and what at that time was hardship. 
Not less than a hundred of them were sick. It was not 
long before tents were up, and for the first time the regi- 
ment was under canvas. 

Our camp was pleasantly located, commanding a fine 
view of Washington, the Potomac, Alexandria and other 
points of interest. We were surrounded by the camps of 
other regiments, some arriving and some departing almost 
daily. We had not been two days here when we began 
to get a taste of camp rumors. One rumor declared that 
we were to have barracks erected, and we were to go into 
winter quarters, while another assured us that we were to 
have an immediate taste of actual warfare. These proved 
quite as reliable as the thousands of rumors which during 
all our years of service were afloat throughout the army, 
and acquired the expressive appellation of " Camp Yarns." 



Meridian Hill — Neighboring scenery — First Sunday in camp — Drills —Sickness 
— The Hospital — General Casey — "Why don't the army move?" — Washington 
blockaded — Burnside's heroes — Orders to move — Something of a train — Smith's 
division- Our first reconnoissance. 

We encamped on Meridian Hill December 1st, 1861, 
with 960 men. 

Meridian Hill is the most delightful locality in the 
vicinity of Washittgton. The plain on which the city 
stands, extends northward from the Potomac about two 
miles where it is abruptly terminated by a line of hills. 
From the summit of these hills stretches back another 
plain, at an elevation of one or two hundred feet above the 
first. Along the margin of these eminences were some 
fine old suburban mansions. On our right towards 
Georgetown, was Kaloraraa, a chai-ming spot, once the 
residence of Joel Barlow, the author of the famous poems 
" Hasty Pudding" and " The Columbiad." Now the build- 
ing was converted by the government into a hospital. In 
close neighborhood to us was Columbia College, also used 
as a hospital, and to the east was the fine mansion of 
Colonel Stone, and other superb places, all of which, like 
Kalorama and the college, were full of sick men. 

Meridian Hill was in the center of this line of once 
beautiful country residences, directly north of the Presi- 
dent's house. It had been the residence of Commodore 
Porter, and the house still bore the name of " the Porter 
Mansion." The grounds had been elegantly laid out with 


box and juniper, while tlie rich groves of oak and chestnut 
surrounding lent additional charms to the locality. The 
hill was dotted with the white tents of a dozen regiments, 
but none were so pleasantly located as our own, under the 
shadow of those grand old trees. 

The mansion itself became our hospital, and for a time 
also served as our head-quarters. From its broad piazza 
we could look upon the busy scenes of the city, and watch 
the vessels passing up and down upon the rivei*. A week 
had passed before we were fairly established in our 
quarters, but we rapidly Icai'ned the mysteries of the 
soldier's life. 

The weather was delightful ; more like Sejstember than 
what we were accustomed to experience in December. 
Although heavy mists hung over us until nine or ten 
o'clock in the morning, they were dispelled by the warm 
sunshine, and then all was bright as midsummer. This 
lovely weather continued until about the first of January. 

The country in rear of our encampment was charming. 
Fine groves, traversed by streams of pure, sweet water, 
and fields surrounded by hedges, stretched far to the 
northward. The dark green leaves of the magnolia were 
to be seen here and there among trees of larger growth, 
and the shining, ever-green laurel forming a dense under- 
growth, gave the woods a lively and spring-like appearance. 
On the open plain might any day be seen a regiment of 
Lancers, wheeling and charging in their brilliant evolu- 
tions, their long lances with bright red pennons adding 
greatly to the beauty of the disj)lay, and, as we at that 
time vainly believed, to the efiicacy of the troop. 

The first Sunday came, and we had religious services. 
The regiment was formed in front of the mansion, every 
man being called out, unless on duty or excused on account 
of illness. This became an established rule with us for 
all time ; every man was required to attend divine service 


unless especially excused. Chaplain Tully and the mem- 
bers of the staff occupied the piazza. The chaplain oflered 
a prayer for the loved ones at home, and then we all sung 
" Coronation," and after the sermon, we sung " Cambridge" 
and " Old Hundred." The men seemed deeply aflected by 
the simple service, and many a quivering lip betrayed the 
emotions of the heart. 

Drills became the order of the day. Every morning 
the hill rang from one end to the other with the sharp 
commands of the company officers to " Order arms ! " 
" Shoulder arms ! " as the men exercised by squads. 
Besides the regular drill in the manual of arms, some of 
the companies delighted in that system of military gym- 
nastics called the bayonet exercise. In the afternoon 
Colonel McKean usually trained the regiment in the more 
difficult exercises of the battalion drill. 

But we began to feel the scourge of new regiments. 
Disease became almost universal. We had but a single 
medical officer and he was tasked beyond his strength. 
One hundred and fifty or two hundred men were pre- 
scribed for every morning, aside from those so ill as to be 
in the hospital. 

The large parlors of the old mansion were neatly fitted 
up for our hospital, for which they were admirably adapted. 
The two principal wards were the large front parlors, 
which communicated by folding doors ; the ceilings were 
high, and the large open fire places in either apartment 
served the double purpose of supplying heat and ventila- 
tion, so that while about fifty beds were always occupied, 
the air was kept fresh and pure. Typhoid fevers, typhoid 
pneumonias, diphtheria, and remittent fevers were preva- 
lent, w^hile now and then the malaria manifested itself in 
the form of the terrible spotted fever. Besides, as usually 
occurs when the last named disease prevails in camps, 
some died suddenly from unknown causes. 


By the tenth of tlie month the majority of the men 
were unfit for duty. In one company the three commis- 
sioned officers were in the hospital, and but twelve men 
could be mustered for evening parade. The labors of the 
medical oflicer who undertakes single-handed to minister 
to the wants of a regiment of recruits can only be known 
to those who have tried it. Our doctor was as much worn 
out by the perplexities of organizing his department as by 
the actual attendance on the sick. New demands came 
almost every hour of the day and night, and it was only 
when the violence of disease had subsided, and another 
officer was added to the medical stafl:', that our weary son 
of Galen found a degree of respite. 

We were in the command of General Silas Casey, a 
noble specimen of a man and a soldier. His manly 
dignity and kindly bearing impressed all with profound 
respect for him, and although we were but a few weeks in 
his command we never ceased to remember him with 
pleasure. The prpvisional brigade and division to which 
we were attached was frequently reviewed and drilled by 
the general, and made a fine appearance. 

Thus the time passed until the opening of the New Year. 
Our men, like most fresh soldiers, were anxious for a fight, 
and were heartily tired of what they considered inglorious 
inactivity. Many of them expressed great fears that they 
would be obliged to return home without ever hearing the 
sound of battle. How greatly they were mistaken we 
shall see as we trace the bloody campaigns of more than 
three years of hard fighting. 

Our friends at home were not unmindful of us. Boxes 
of clothing and other comforts for the sick were sent in 
goodly numbers ; so our sick were well supplied with 
bedding and changes of clothing, as well as jellies and 
other luxuries. Our friend, McMicheal, of Congress Hall, 
Saratoga, thinking we could better celebrate the New 

12 "why dox't the army moye?" 

Year with a good dinner, sent us one worthy of his fame 
as a landlord. Could Mack have heard the cheers of the 
boys that made the ground tremble as the four hundred 
pounds of cooked chickens and turkeys were distributed 
among them, his glory as a caterer would have been com- 
plete. With the Xew Year came stormy weather; rain 
was the rule, sunshine the exception. The mud became 
almost unfathomable and it was not uncommon to see the 
six mules attached to an army wagon tugging and striving 
with all their power to drag the empty wagon out of a 
mud hole. Boys who had plied the trade of bootblack 
gave up their profession and with pail and sponge in hand 
called to the passer by, " Wash your boots, sir ?" During 
the lovely month of December we had been impatient for 
action ; but noAV the oft repeated question, " Why don't the 
Army of the Potomac move ?" became ludicrous to our ears. 

Thus passed another month in drills and camp duties. 
Some recruits came to us, while many of the men who 
came out at first were found unfit for field duty and were 

Distrust arose among oiBcers and enlisted men of our 
army about the capital, in regard to the manner in which 
the army was managed. A wilderness of men surrounded 
Washington, and yet we were blockaded by the rebels on 
all sides except one. 

Government was paying enormous prices for fuel con- 
sumed by the army, because the Potomac was closed, and 
all wood had to be brought by rail from the sparsely 
wooded districts of Maryland. Provisions sold at fabu- 
lous prices, and Washington was in fact a beleagured city. 
Some rays of light from the west penetrated the thick 
darkness; but it cannot be concealed that while the Grand 
Army stationed about the capital panted for action and 
longed for the glory of the battle-field, a gloom possessed 
the spirits of the men, and a feeling, that all this splendid 


Maj . Ge kt. w_ f. s mtt h . 

BURNSIDe's heroes — ORDERS TO iTOVE, 13 

material was destined to a "masterly inactivity," prevailed. 
Our hojDes vs-ere newly kindled when the affairs of the 
War Department passed into the hands of a live man, 
and when Mr. Stanton's practical energy began to be 
manifested both in the department and in the field. 'We 
heard from Burnside ; first sad news, and then of success ; 
and our hearts burned to be with him. Fort Donelsou fol- 
lowed Roanoke ; and Price's army was routed in iNlissouri. 
We envied the men who had been our nearest neighbors, 
but who had followed Burnside to the South, Glorious 
fellows ! What cared they now for the fury of the waves 
or the hardships of short rations ? AYe were afraid of 
being left as idle spectators of great things in which we 
should not be allowed to participate. 

On the 15th of February came an order for us to move 
in a few days, and join Smith's division. This division 
lay upon the other side of the river, and although we had 
been anxious to move we did not wish to get permanently 
fixed in the mud by moving there. We knew little of 
General Smith or his division, only that the general had. 
been trying very hard for some time past to get the regi- 
ment, and we had little hope of good from tlie new 
arrangement. Hoav little did we then sui^pose that the 
cross of tliat old division would be one of the proudest 
badges of honor that men could wear ! 

Sunday night came, and the order to move at once, 
came also. What a scene of confusion ! We had never 
broken up camp before, and the excitement ran high. The 
pounding and tearing of boards, the shouting of men and 
braying of mules, combined in a grand uproar. Bonfires 
blazed from every part of the camp, and the whole night 
was spent in tearing down quarters and loading the stuff 
into army wagons as they presented themselves in great 
numbers. It was a rare sight. The camp glowing with a 
hundred fires, and the men and teams moving about among 


them like spectres. Morning came, and the teams -vrere 
loaded, and the men ready to march. The teams drove 
out and formed a line reaching down 14th street from our 
camp neai-ly to the White House ! One hundred and five 
six-mule teams constituted the train for our regimental 
baggage ; and so much dissatisfaction prevailed among 
certain company officers that we were allowed twenty-five 
more teams next day ! Rain had fallen nearly all night, 
and the prospect looked dreary. As the day advanced 
the rain came faster and faster, until it fairly poured. The 
men waded through moi'tar nearly to theii- knees. 

It was three o'clock in the afternoon when we reached 
Smith's division and the ground on which we were to make 
our camp. The prospect was not cheering, and as two or 
three of our staff officers rode upon the ground, the place 
seemed forbidding enough. It had been recently the loca- 
tion of a thicket of scrub pines, but the trees had been 
cut down for fuel, and the stumps and brush remained, so 
that the mounted officers found much difficulty in reining 
their horses into the midst. Snow covered the ground to 
the depth of several inches. Here our men, tired and 
wet, cold and hungry, were to pitch their tents, cook their 
suppers, and make their beds. 

The men fell to work heartily, and by dark they had 
cleared off the snow and brush enough to make room for 
their tents, and many cook fires blazed over the camp. 

The regiments of the division showed us much hospi- 
tality, and a very pleasant acquaintance commenced on 
that day, which was destined to become earnest friendship. 
The next day was spent in putting the camp in order. As 
rain continued to fall, the mud in the company streets 
became knee-deep. Our sick, those unable to walk, had 
been left in our old hospital with a sufficient number of 
faithful nurses, under charge of the surgeon of one of the 
reo:iments that remained. 

scrim's DIVISION. 15 

Let ns for a moment glance at tlie composition of the 
division of wliicli we now formed a part. We "were 
assigned to the Third brigade. It comprised, beside our 
own, the Thirty-third New York, Colonel Taylor, a regiment 
whose gallantry at Yorktown, Williamsburgh and Fred- 
ricksburgh fully established its reputation as one of the 
best fighting regiments in the army. The Forty-ninth 
New York, Colonel Bidwell, a noble regiment with a 
noble commandei', a regiment which could always be 
counted on to do all that men could do ; the Seventh 
Maine, Colonel Mason, whose men were patterned after 
the pines of their own forests, tall, straight and powerful 
fellows, who never forgot their proclivities for hunting, 
and who were never so happy as when they could jjick off 
a few rebel pickets with their rifles. The brigade was 
commanded by General Davidson, who afterwards made 
himself exceedingly disagreeable to the rebels, and famous 
at the north by his daring cavalry raids in the west. The 
first brigade included the Forty-third New York, Colonel 
Vinton ; the Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, Colonel Irwin ; the 
Sixth Maine, Colonel Knowles ; and the Fifth Wisconsin, 
Colonel Cobb ; all of them excellent regiments, under com- 
mand of General Hancock, who has since placed his name 
high on the roll of fame as the commander of the old 
Second corps. 

The Second brigade was composed entirely of Vermont 
troops, including the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and 
Sixth Vermont regiments, commanded respectively by 
Colonels Henry Whiting, B. N. Hyde, E. H. Stoughton, L. 
A. Grant and N. M Lord, and known as the " Vermont 
Brigade," and nobly did they sustain the traditional repu- 
tation of the Green Mountain Boys, as stern patriots and 
hard fighters. They wei*e commanded by General Bi'ooks, 
who afterward commanded the Tenth corps. 

General William F. Smith, or, as he was familiarly 


known, " Baldy Smith," commanded the division. He is 
too well known to all who admire a true soldier to require 
more than a mention here, and his great fame has been 
well and faithfully earned. 

No more splendid material, either for officers or men, 
ever entered into the composition of a division, and how 
nobly it played its part in the great drama of the war, it 
shall be part of our duty to record. Drills, regimental, 
brigade and division, were again in order, and picket duty 
now became a part of our routine. 

The new regiments were also made to some extent famil- 
iar with the duties of active campaigning, by being sent on 
incursions into the country l3'ing between the lines of 
the Union and rebel pickets. A single instance of these ex- 
peditions into the hostile territory will illustrate the kind of 
harmless duty which often produced in new regiments as 
much excitement as in later times would have been caused 
by a severe engagement. 

The news spread through the camp, and the regiment 
was ablaze with excitement. Some who had been on the 
sick list, and were excused from camp duty, sought from 
the surgeon permission to accompany the expedition, 
while a few who had been, up to this time, well, were 
earnest in their applications to be excused from the march. 

The regiment was formed at ten o'clock at night ; thick 
darkness, darkness of the blackest and most intense 
degree, prevailed. One could scai'cely see his neighbor 
whose shoulder touched his own. We were miles away 
from the enemy, but the men were to be instructed in 
performing their movements in secresy ; so the commands 
were passed along the line, as the companies were form- 
ing, in whisper. No lights were allowed, and we left oui 
camp a column of blackness. We were presently joined 
by a guide who carried a lantern. We passed a great 
many regiments, all the while observing strict silence. 


The mud was deep, very deep ; some of the men lost their 
shoes in the depths of the mire, and some even lost them- 
selves, and were only discovered when they arrived in 
camp some hours earlier than the regiment. Through the 
darkness we plodded until we reached our destination, at 
daylight on the following morning. Here we found bough 
houses which had been used by rebel cavalry; and the 
tracks of many horses imprinted only a little while before, 
whether by the horses of our own cavalry; or by those of 
the enemy, we never knew. The battalion was halted 
and scouts were sent to the front and on the flanks. Some 
of the boys who had lost their shoes in the mud before 
we had advanced the first mile, had made the whole march 
in their stockings; while others, who had been sick, looked 
as though they could never get back to camp. The com- 
panies deployed and marched through the woods, but as 
the enemy was on the other side of Vienna we saw no 
rebels. It was noon when we reached our camp, tired 
and covered with mud. Those who went laughed at those 
who remained behind, and called them " dead beats ! " 
The "beats" tauntingly demanded of the others what all 
their demonstration had amounted to. 

The "New York papers heralded the exploit as a grand 
advance on the enemy, and we said little about it. 



Olders to march — A grand spectacle — Bivouac near Fairfax Court House — The 
camps at night — Visits to Manassas and Centreville — Dissatisfaction in the 
army — A deserted country — Lawless soldiers — Fairfax Court House — A repre- 
sentative Southerner — Review by Gen. McClellan — March to Alexandria — 
"Camp Misery." 

The first week in March brought lovely weather : birds 
sang more sweetly, the sun shone more brightly, and 
bands played more merrily than usual, and friends passed 
from regiment to regiment seeking social pastime with 

We had known no such pleasant times in camp ; still we 
were waiting for orders to advance. During the night of 
Sunday, the 8th of March, the order came : " This division 
will move at four o'clock in the morning with two days' 
rations in haversacks." Little rest we got that night ; the 
hanjmer and the axe were plied vigorously in tearing 
down quarters and packing stores, and as the sun rose in 
the morning the whole army was in motion. It was a 
sublime spectacle : that immense line of troops pouring 
along hour after hour, stretching over the hills as far as 
the eye could reach ; a hundred and twenty thousand 
troops on the move ! Just beyond and above them, in the 
gray sky of the morning, hung a beautiful rainbow. At 
six our division commenced to march. Rain soon began to 
fall, and continued all day. We passed through Vienna 
and Lewinsville, each a hamlet of a dozen houses, and 
reached our camping ground at five o'clock in the after- 
noon, tired, and drenched, and hungry. 


Great numbers of troops had already occupied the fieUls, 
and the whole country seemed alive with men and horses, 
artillery and wagons. We were in the vicinity of Faii-fax 
Court House, about a mile to the northward, on what was 
called Flint Hill. 

The army, for the first time, was under *' tentes cVahrl,^'' 
or, as they are now called, shelter tents. Until now 
the enlisted men had occupied the spacious Sibley, or 
the comfortable Avedge tents, and all officers Avere quar- 
tered in wall tents ; now, line officers and enlisted men 
were to occupy shelter tents, which they were to carry 
on their shoulders ; and although a small number of 
wall tents could be carried in the wagons for field and 
staff officers, yet so imperfect was the understanding, 
in or out of the quartermaster's department, of what 
could or ought to be done, that most regimental field 
and staff officers were left without any shelter at all. 

The men proceeded to make themselves as comfortable 
as possible under their novel coverings, and as evening 
approached, the hills were magnificently illuminated with 
thousands of camp fires. Very few men occupied their 
new tents that night. They had not been accustomed to 
lie upon wet ground, with only a single blanket wrapped 
about them, so during all the night groups of soldiers 
stood about the camp fires, talking in low tones and won- 
dering what was to happen in the morning. The .sky was 
clear and bright when the sun rose, and as Ave looked out 
upon the hill tops, dotted with clean white tents, and 
bristling Avith stacks of shining muskets, Ave exulted in 
tlie thought that Ave Avere part of the Grand Army that 
was now at work. Soon we kneAV that Ave Avere not to 
fight here. The cavalry, and some of Porter's division, 
were returning from Manassas and Centreville, both places 
burned and deserted. Were Ave to pursue the retreating 
army, or were we to return to Washington to take a neAV 


Start ? Parties from the division rode to Centreville and 
Manassas. The works were indeed formidable and the 
barracks extensive ; and the old chestnut logs with black- 
ened ends, that were mounted in some of the embrasures, 
had, at a distance, grim visages. The smoking ruins 
betokened the destructiveness of war. On the old battle- 
field lay bleaching the bones of horses and men, and here 
and there might be seen portions of human skeletons i)ro- 
truding from the shalloAV graves where some pretense had 
been made at burial. Fragments of shells, broken mus- 
kets and solid shot strewed the ground. 

Head-quarters of the army were established at Fairfax 
Court House, and thither repaired the corps commanders 
to hold a council in regard to our future movements. The 
country about our camp was rolling and sparsely settled. 
Nearly all the houses were deserted, and most of them 
destroyed so far as any future usefulness was concerned. 
One house, the ruins of which stood not far from our 
camp, and which had been the most comfortable place in 
the whole section of country, had been the residence of a 
northern farmer. Although the house was completely 
stripped, and nothing of the barns and outhouses remained 
but the frames, yet there were many evidences of the thrift 
and comfort of the former occupant. A northern reaper, 
several horse rakes, ploughs of improved patterns, and 
other modern implements of agriculture, betokened a 
genuine farmer. We were told that he was driven from 
his home early in the war, and had now found refuge 
among his friends in New Hampshire. But the houses of 
the southerners had not been exempt from the general 
devastation, and some who had sought refuge in Rich- 
mond had left their homes to ruin. The people were 
evidently strongly " secesh," although some of them pro- 
fessed to be glad to see us. 

It cannot be said that the presence of our army afforded 


them great protection, for the men, unused to the strict 
discipline which afterward pT-evailed, coolly appropriated 
whatever articles seemed to them to be of use either for 
the present or the future. It was amusing to see the sol- 
diers of some of the divisions in which less than the usual 
discipline prevailed, peering and creeping about wherever 
there seemed a prospect of plunder. Now one would pass 
with a pair of chickens ; next, one bringing a clothes line ; 
then one with part of an old table, and still another with 
half a dozen eggs. This system of plunder was at length 
checked, in a measure at least. Fowls, eggs and potatoes 
could be purchased of the people at fair rates, while rebel 
currency could be bought for silver at a very considerable 
discount. Twenty-five cent and one cent shinplasters were 
brought into camp and laughed at by men who were after- 
ward glad to get shinplasters from another manufactory. 
To Fairfax Court House was but a short distance ; and a 
ride to the village afforded a pleasant gallop of a morning. 
The place, and the country half a mile on each side, waft 
occupied by McCall's division. The village was pleas- 
antly located on high ground, surrounded by fine groves. 
It contained some pretty residences, which were occupied 
by officers as head-quarters : their horses, in some instances, 
being picketed on the porticos, and in others in the 
kitchens. The village was nearly deserted by its own 
people, not more than fifty of the original inhabitants 
being left, though the population of the town before the 
war was nearly six hundred. Houses which were deserted 
were generally stripped of everything. The court house 
was a solid old brick building of very limited dimensions, 
with a little bell swinging in a comical looking steeple. 
The court house was by no means an exception to the 
general rule of destruction ; the seats were torn out, and 
the judge's bench had been split in pieces, and nearly all 
carried away by pockets full, as relics. At one of the 


houses where the family still remained, a party reined up 
and made some inquiries of the pater famillas, a hang- 
doo- looking specimen, with an old slouched hat covered 
to the crown with rusty crape, a mark of second-hand 
gentility in these parts. He said that "this yer war" 
had caused such a famine among the people, that nearly 
all of them had been obliged to leave ; some had gone to 
Washington and some to Richmond, " a right smart lot 
of them had gone to Richmond." He had " reckoned 
onct or twict " that he would have to go too, but he 
" had succeeded in hanging on so long." 

Our division was reviewed by General McClellan, who 
was received with enthusiasm. Although many of us 
vrere familiar with the appearance of the Commander-in- 
Chief, this was his first appearance to us as a division. 
The General appeared a man below the medium height, 
with broad shoulders, full chest and a round pleasing face 
relieved by a heavy moustache. He sat his horse well 
and rode with great speed. While his appearance and 
address were pleasing, there seemed in his smooth face 
and mild eye nothing to indicate a man of brilliant genius 
or great purpose. 

At length the council of corps commanders had rendered 
its decision, and the grand campaign of the Virginian 
Peninsula was planned. On the moi-ning of the four- 
teenth of March, Avith buoyant hopes and exulting antici- 
pations of a " quick, sharp and decisive," and as we 
devoutly believed, a successful campaign, we left our camp 
at Flint Hill. It had few charms for us, and we were glad 
to leave it. How little we yet knew of real campaigning. 
Although we had notice several hours beforehand that 
we were to move by daylight, yet many, indeed, the 
majority of us, marched that morning without breakfast. 

No morning sun cheered us as the day began, but the 
sky was hung with heavy clouds. A drizzling rain, now 


diminishing almost to a heavy mist, and now coming in 
fresh showers, made the marching heavy and unpleasant. 
Grandly appeared that majestic army as it filed down the 
turnpike to Alexandria. At times the elevation of the road 
afforded a view of the mighty column for miles to the front, 
and at other times we could see it pouring onward an 
endless stream of cavalry, infantry, artillery and wagons, 
far from the rear. 

So grand a spectacle had never been witnessed on this 
continent before. Our march was rapid and we made no 
halt for dinner : those who went without breakfast had 
poor chance for coffee that day. 

Towards evening the rain increased, and as we drew off 
into a piece of woods five miles out from Alexandria, the 
rain came down in sheets. Near our halting place were 
some deserted houses. No sooner had we stopped than 
began the work of destruction, afterward so familiar to 
us, and in less than an hour there was not a board or 
timber left of either building. The ground, although 
quite uneven and sloping, soon became so flooded that 
tents, even when they could be pitched, were untenable. 
The men attempted to build fires, but in most instances 
the floods of water quenched the flames. Some, however, 
succeeded in starting huge fires, and around these stood 
the men during the whole night, while the tempest poured 
in torrents upon them. A few of the ofiicers of the divi- 
sion, among whom was one who afterward became noted 
for looking out for and providing good things for his regi- 
ment as quartermaster, sought refuge in a house not far 
off, where, for the moderate sum of twenty-five cents 
each, they were allowed by the people sleeping room upon 
the floor. Never since the times of Pharaoh was an array 
80 thoroughly drenched. During more than three yeara 
campaigning in the field our boys never forgot that night ; 
and to this day they frequently refer to the disagreeable 


experience in what they not inappropriately term " Camp 
Misery." Here, in " Camp Misery," we remained several 
days, waiting to embark for Fortress Monroe. 

Without doubt, the rebels all this time knew of our des- 
tination ; for the people among whom we were encamped 
were by no means our friends or indifferent to the success 
of the rebels, and the point of our destination was well 
known and freely SDoken of among them. 



Embarking for the Peninsula — Mount Vernon — On the Potomac — Hampton — In 
camp — Orders to march — A night visit to Fortress Monroe — The advance — A 
sifting— A Qualier battery —At Newport News — Compliments of the Teaser. 

Ox Sunday morning, March 23d, we mavclied to Alex- 
andria. The whole of our division, and of the other 
divisions of Keyes' corps, were there, besides part of 
Heintzelman's corps and other troops. In the course 
of the afternoon, this great body of men was embarked 
upon the transports. The vessels having received their 
lading, swung out upon the river and laid at anchor dur- 
ing the night. Early in the morning the whole fleet was 
under way, steaming down the river. We passed Mount 
"Vernon — the bells of the fleet tolling. The tomb lies in 
the midst of a clump of firs just south and a little below 
the house; the mansion and the grounds are nearly as 
they were left by Washington, and the whole looks down 
upon the river, calling upon the passer-by for a thought ' 
upon the great man whose dust lies beneath the fir trees. 
After passing Mount Vernon, nothing of special interest 
was seen except the broad expanse of waters of this mag- 
nificent stream. A few large mansions, a few inferior 
houses, and now and then a little hamlet, appeared on the 
banks ; and at Aquia creek could be seen the insignificant 
earthworks that had covered the few field pieces which 
for so many months had kept up an eflicient blockade of 
the Potomac. 

How dilFerent was all this from our Hudson ! The 
country bordering on the river is beautiful; nature has 


done everything for it, but a cursed institution has blighted 
it. There is not a country in the world where nature has 
been more lavish with its blessings, and yet it is forsaken, 
worn out, almost a wilderness. The magnificent rivers 
and unsurpassed harbors of Virginia, its natural fertility 
and the mildness of its climate, present natural advantages 
scarcely equaled by any country. As we stood upon the 
deck of the steamer, watching and admiring the ever-vary- 
ing beauties of the noble stream, some one repeated these 
lines from Barlow's Columbiad : 

•' Thy capes, Virginia, towering from tlie tide. 
Raise tlieir blue banks, and slope thy barriers wide, 
To future sails unfold a fluvian way. 
And guard secure thy multifluvian bay. 
That drains uncounted realms and here unites 
The liquid mass from AUeganian hights. 
York leads his way embanked in flowery pride, 
And noble James falls winding by his side; 
Back to the hills, through many a silent vale, 
Wild Rappahannock seems to lure the sail ; 
Patapsco's bosom courts the hand of toil ; 
Dull Susquehanna laves a length of soil ; 
But mightier far, in sea-like azure spread, 
Potowraac sweeps his earth disparting bed." 

At night we were on the broad Chesapeake. A stiff 
breeze set our fleet rocking, but we slept quietly, leaving 
the waves to take care of themselves and the pilots to 
take care of the boats Reveille awoke us in the morning 
to discover on the one side of us the world-renowned 
Fortress Monroe and on the other the equally famous 
Monitor. At our bow lay the village of Hampton — or 
rather the chimneys and trees of what had been Hampton, 
Orders came for us to disembark here, and Ave were soon 
among the debris of the town. A sadder commentary on 
war could hardly be found than the ruins of this beautiful 
village. A forest of shade ti'ees and chimneys marked the 
place where a few months before had stood one of the most 
ancient villages in America. Hyacinths and daffodils, 



peach trees and roses, were in bloom in the deserted and 
fenceless gardens ; and the dark green leaves of the 
japonica and laurel covered many a heap of unsightly 

The walls of the old church, the most ancient in the 
State, stood like silent witnesses against the reckless 
spirit of destruction of the rebels. Although not large, the 
church had evidently been a fine old structure, having 
the form of a Greek cross. About it were the graves of the 
forefathers of the village, reposing under the shadow of 
those old trees. Many of the tablets were ancient, dating 
back as far as 1706. 


The whole army was pouring out uj^on this shore, and 
at Fortress Monroe. Dense masses of infantry, long 
trains of artillery and thousands of cavalry, with unnum- 
bered army wagons and mules, were mingled in grand 
confusion along the shore; the neighing of horses, the 
braying of mules, the rattle of wagons and artillery, and 


the sound of many voices, mingled in one grand inhar- 
monious concert. 

Our division marched along a pleasant route to a field 
about midway between Fortress Monroe and Newport 
News. We rested until March 26th, when an order came 
at midnight for the army to march very early in the morn- 
ing. We were short of some medical stores and quarter- 
masters' supplies, and officers at once mounted their horses 
to ride through the thick darkness to Fortress Monroe, to 
procure the needed articles. Along the road men were 
already cooking their breakfasts, and artillery was hurry- 
ing towards Newport News. At short intervals along 
the road, sentinels were posted ; and as the sounds of the 
horses' hoofs were heard, the sharp command rung out 
through the darkness, " Halt ! who comes there ?" and the 
galloping horses would suddenly halt at long distance from 
the sentry. 

"Friends with the countersign." 

"Dismount and advance one; and give the counter- 

One of the parties, leaving his horse with the other, 
would advance and give the required word, and on we 
rode again until suddenly halted by a similar warning. 
As we approached the fortress, the sentinels were more 
frequent, until, as we came within half a mile of our desti- 
nation, the guards were posted so frequently that we had 
hardly passed one, before the sharp command to "Halt !" 
was heard again. We crossed the drawbridge, and at 
length found ourselves in the little village in rear of the 
fort. Passing here many sentinels who examined us very 
carefully, we reached the door of the citadel. Here we 
were halted by a sentinel, and each examined for the 
countersign. The sentinel called the corporal of the guard; 
who after satisfying himself that we were Union officers 
shouted to the sergeant. The great iron door ground 


upon its massive hinges as it swung open just f^ir enough 
to permit the sergeant to squeeze through, and again it 
was closed, and the heavy bolts rung as they flew back to 
their places. The sergeant, after asking a few questions, 
"went back into the fort, and soon returned with the officer 
of the guard, who, after receiving the countersign, ques- 
tioned us closely as to our business, and who we were. 
Satisfied, at length he ordered a soldier to take our horses, 
the heavy door slowly opened, and we were admitted 
within the walls. Such were the precautions in admitting 
strangers to the stronghold. 

At six o'clock the division was in line and on the road. 
The morning was indescribably beautiful. The vapors 
that rose from the broad expanse of waters were tinged 
with a thousand gorgeous hues as they rolled away, dis- 
persed by the morning sun ; and the tall yellow pines 
were crowned with rich golden coronals of lio;ht. The 
road was perfectly level and dry, and the country delight- 
ful. Long rows of locusts and pines lined the sides of the 
road, and the rich groves of oak just sending forth their 
foliage, were beautifully interspersed with the holly, with 
its bright red berries and rich evergreen leaves. Peach 
orchards in full bloom added to the beauty of the scene, 
and when at times we could see the lines of troops, two and 
three miles in extent, their muskets glittering in the bright 
sunlight, the enthusiasm of the men was unbounded. 

All the bridges over the route had been destroyed by 
the enemy, but pioneers advanced at the head of the 
column, and as the bridges were all small they were 
quickly repaired. A march of a few miles brought us in 
eight of the James river; a noble stream, at least five 
miles wide at this point. Not far from the shore appeared 
the masts of the U. S. frigate Cumberland, sunk in the 
memorable fight with the Merrimac. As our march led 
us along the banks, the views were charming. On one 


hand was the noble river, and on the other the orchards 
and groves. Deserted houses, and gardens blooming with 
hyacinths and other blossoms of early spring, were passed. 
On the opposite side of the river lay a rebel gunboat, 
watching our movements. 

Our division. Smith's, had taken the lead on the James 
river road, while Porter's division had marched ujion Great 
Bethel. After a march of fifteen miles, our division was 
drawn up in line of battle near Warwick. Porter's division 
had already reached Great Bethel, on our right, and we 
could see huge columns of smoke rising in that direction, 
and hear the roar of artillery. An aid dashed up and 
informed General Davidson that the enemy were in line of 
battle ready to receive us. Soon the order came to advance ; 
the line swept onward through the woods and over a 
cleared field, but found no foe. A few cavalry pickets 
only were seen, and a shell from one of our Parrott guns set 
them flying towards Yorktown. We passed through the 
confederate encampments where their fires were still blaz- 
ing, but soon turned round and bivouacked on ground last 
night occupied by rebels. 

In this advance or reconnoissance of the Avhole army, 
the qualities of the individual soldiers composing it 
were brought out in bold relief. The efiect on our own 
division was marked. During the months we had been 
in winter quai'ters, many officers and men had established 
marvelous reputations for bravery and hardihood, merely 
by constantly heralding their own heroism. But from 
this time these doughty heroes went back. Officers sud- 
denly found cause for resigning; and enlisted men managed 
to get sent to the rear, and never showed their faces at the 
front again. On the contrary, some who were really 
invalids insisted on dragging themselves along with the 
column, fearful that an engagement might take place in 
which they would not participate. A sifting process was 



thus commenced throughout the whole division, and tc 
its honor the poltroons were very soon sifted out, and from 
that time forth. Smith's division never afforded a comfort- 
able resting place for men of doubtful courage. " They 
went out from us, because they were not of us." 

Next morning we retired over the road upon which we 
had advanced, and encamped near Newport News. As 
we passed this place on our outward march, we saw at a 
distance what apj^eared to be a heavy gun, but as we 
approached it proved to be a large cart, on which was 
mounted a gi'eat wooden mortar, which had, perhaps, 
been used by negroes for cracking corn. When we returned 
a hog's head was fixed in the mouth of the mortar. 
" There," remarked an officer, " is the first Quaker we have 
seen on the Peninsula." " You must sketch it," said the 
colonel of his regiment, and the officer obeyed. 


The division encamped upon a low plain covered with 
sedges and reeds, a good enough encampment while the 


dry weather lasted, but when the rain came in floods two 
nights after we pitched our tents here, the whole division 
was inundated, and we moved to higher and better 

The masts of the Cumberland greeted our eyes whenever 
we turned toward the river, and the rebel gunboats made 
short excursions toward our side of the stream. One day 
large numbers of men, mostly from the Vermont brigade, 
were on the shoals of the river bathing and gathering 
oysters. The gunboat Teazer discovering them, steamed 
down toward them, and threw some heavy shells, shriek- 
ing and cracking among them, causing great consternation 
among the bathers, and some confusion and much amuse- 
ment on shore. 



The advance to Yorktown — A thunder storm — " Reliable contrabands"— Facing 
the enemy — A strong position — The Union line — A rebel welcome — Digging — 
On picket — A dreary country — An enterprising planter— Active work — Battle 
of Lee's Mills — Charge of the Vermont brigade — Progress of the siege — Ravages 
of disease— A front seat — Short supplies — The rebels withdraw — Entering the 
strongholds — Infernal machines — March to Williamsburgh — Victims of disease. 

At length, on the 4th of April, the army was pnt in 
motion for Yorktown, The General-in-Chief had arrived 
at Fortress Monroe the evening before, and at once the 
army became the scene of prodigious activity. Keyes' 
corps, our own division in advance, took the road along 
the banks of the James river. The rest of the army, 
headed by Porter's division, advanced on the more direct 
road to Yorktown, through Great Bethel, accompanied by 
General McClellan. 

The day being clear and warm, the men soon began to 
realize the difficulty of transporting large amounts of 
clothing and camp equipage on their shoulders, and the 
roadsides were strewn with blankets and overcoats, dress 
coats and pants. The bushes and trees for miles along the 
route were thickly hung with articles of clothing, mostly 
new, and all good. Soldiers who had put on their march- 
ing suit would fall out of the ranks, the knapsack would 
quickly disgorge a new coat and pants, the wearers 
would as quickly divest themselves of the soiled garments 
and replace them with the new ones, the others being left 
on the ground. Whenever a halt was ordered this shift- 
ing process became general. 


The roads, which at first were dry and firm, w^ere as we 
advanced badly cut up, and great difficulty was experi- 
enced in getting the trains along. 

An advance of ten miles brought us in front of Younsr's 
.Mills, a strongly fortified position five or six miles from 
Yorktown. The corps was drawn up in line of battle 
and cavalry sent to reconnoiter the position. The works 
were deserted, but camp fires still blazed in them. Hero 
we rested for the night. At daylight next morning the 
advance was renewed. The roads were even worse than 
the day before. Infantry could get along well enough, 
but artillery and army wagons had a hard time of it. 
Each piece of artillery made the road worse, until the 
axles dragged in a river of mud. AVe passed the little 
village of Warwick Court House. There were here a 
little brick court house, a jail and a clerk's office seven 
feet by ten, a store and a tavern. There were also two 
small dwelling houses. 

After a march of three miles the division was drawn 
up in line of battle. "We had reached the hostile works 
before the rest of the army. Skirmishers were sent to the 
front and Ave advanced slowly and cautiously through 
the woods. A terrific thunder storm burst upon us and the 
roar of the heavenly artillery seemed to mock any efforts 
at martial grandeur. Seldom, if ever, had we of the 
northern states witnessed such an exhibition of sublimity 
and terrible magnificence of the workings of the elements. 
The "\dvid lightning and terrific peals of thunder seemed 
to the men the presage of deadly work to come. The 
advance was A'ery difficult, the woods being marshy and 
filled with tangles and briars. The men were scratched 
and bleeding. The long line of battle presently emerged 
from the woods and occupied a clearing, in the center of 
which was a mansion, the late residence of a rebel officer. 
Some scouts brought from the house a couple of negresses 

"reliable contrabands.' 35 

whom they led to General Keyes. They communicated 
their infoi*mation with an earnestness that proved their 
sympathies Avere not with their late master. It Avas a 
picturesque scene; those tall negresses Avith their bright 
red turbans and long white woolen gowns, telling Avith 
earnest gestures Avhat they knew of the position of the 
enemy, AA^hile the generals and their staffs listened eagerly 
to their words. They said that when we passed over the 
little hill just in front, we should be under fire from 
the batteries of the rebels, Avho AA'ere in large force; "but 
laws a massa, noting like all dese yer," said they, pointing 
to the troops of our division. 

Cautiously the clearing was crossed, the long line of 
battle moving in beautiful order — Kennedy's, Ayres' and 
Wheeler's batteries each accompanying a brigade. 

Again Ave entered a heaA^y pine Avood in which the 
swamp Avas deeper than ever, and adA^ancing through it 
Ave came face to face Avith the enemy. WarAvick creek, a 
marshy stream Avhich had been dammed by the rebels, 
raising its Avaters into ponds and deep morasses, Avas be- 
tween us and their works, and the accessible points AA^ere 
guarded by artillery. Two regiments were at once 
deployed as skirmishers and sent in advance, and our 
batteries were planted along the edge of the Avood with 
the line of the infantry. Only Smith's division Avas in 
line, the others wei*e waiting on the road for orders to 
come up. 

Along the road, for more than half the distance back to 
Young's Mills, the brigades of Couch's and Kearney's 
divisions AA'ere resting on their arms, AAdiile cannon by 
scores Avaited to be called into action. 

The enemy Avas not slow to acknowledge our presence, 
and as a token of greeting sent some twelve-pound shells 
crashing among the trees about us. The firing now be- 
came brisk on our side, and the rebels replied sj^iritcdly 


"with tlieir twelve-pounders. Hundreds of men were now 
called up from the rear brigades and detailed to build 
corduroy roads. Ti'ees were cut down and trimmed of 
their branches, and laid side by side so as to form a kind 
of bridge over the swamp to enable more artillery to come 
up. The rapidity with which such roads were built was 

By this time the column on the right had reached the 
works in front of the town. The position here was also 
strong. Although the Warwick did not interpose, yet 
high bluffs, crowned with redoubts in which were mounted 
heavy guns, fi-owned uj^on the assailants. Thus far it 
appears that the leaders of our army had been totally 
ignorant of the position and strength of the enemy, and 
had led it up to the works, blindly feeling the way with- 
out maps or guides.* The defensive works were now 
found to consist of a series of redoubts and rifle pits 
stretching across the Peninsula, seven miles in extent, 
with high bluffs on the right and Warwick creek in their 
front on the left. 

The position occupied by our division was known as 
Lee's Mills, and to our right, nearly three miles, was the 
village of Yorktown. The line of battle was now arranged 
in the following order from right to left: Heintzelman's 
corps, consisting of Porter's, Hooker's and Hamilton's 
divisions, were in front of the town ; Sedgwick's division 
of Sumner's corps on the left of them, and Keyes' corps, 
comprising Smith's and Couch's division (Casey's division 
arrived in a few days), held the position on the Warwick 
at Lee's Mills. 

The position of the enemy was, without doubt, one of 
great strength, and everything had been done to render 
it more formidable. Yet it was by no means too 

*McClellaa'B Report. 


strong or sufficiently well garrisoned to resist an assault 
from such a body of men as now appeared in its front. 
TKat there were weak points in this line of defenses, 
stretching seven miles, was afterwards demonstrated ; and 
that the forces behind the works Avere by no means suffi- 
ciently numerous, at the time of our approach, to afford 
formidable resistance at all points in their extensive line, 
is now well known. 

It appears from the official report of the rebel General 
Johnston, who then commanded all the rebel forces in Vir- 
ginia, that at the time of the ajjpearance of our army 
before Yorktown the works were defended by only about 
eleven thousand men, and that even after he had reinforced 
the garrisons by the troops which he was hm-rying from 
Manassas, his army amounted to only fifty thousand 

The artillery duel was kept up until night. "We had lost 
some men during the day, but not so many as we had 
feared. First a poor fellow from the Seventh Maine, his 
heart and left lung torn out by a shell ; then one from the 
Forty-ninth New York, shot in the head ; the next was 
from our own regiment, Frank Jeffords, who Iiad to suffer 
amputation of a leg ; then a man from the Forty-ninth 
was sent to the rear with his heel crushed. In all, ovir loss 
did not exceed twenty men. The casualties in the other 
brigades were less than in our own. 

As night approached, the firing gradually ceased, and 
nothing but the scattering shots of the skirmishers was 
heard. We lay down in the swamp with no tents, and 
many of us without food. Officers and men built plat- 
forms of logs and bark to keep out of the water where 
they were not fortunate enough to find a dry place. 
General Smith bivouacked near the line of battle, making 
his bed at the foot of a pine tree, with nothing but his 
overcoat for shelter. It may not be amiss to say here 


tliat General Smith, unlike most gentlemen with stars on 
their shoulders, was always in the habit of sleeping at the 
very front. 

All the following clay, and the next, the firing was kept 
up steadily on both sides. At night showers of cannister 
and grape would fall in our camp, and fortunate Avas he 
who had a good tree or stump between him and the rebel 
works against which to lay his head while he slept. 

We at length became so accustomed to the continual 
skirmishing, that unless the firing was in fierce volleys we 
took no notice of it. The boys of the Thirty-third New 
York being on the skirmish line on the 8th, charged a i-ifle 
pit with shouts and hui'rahs, and drove the rebels from it. 
An attempt was made to retake it, but the boys held their 

The men performed herculean labors on the roads, 
and in throwing up earthworks. No rest was allowed. 
When not on picket they were cutting down trees or 
throwing up earthworks or building bridges. Such con- 
stant labor soon began to exhaust the strength of the 
stoutest, and hundreds of them yielded to disease who 
supposed themselves capable of enduring any amount of 
hai-dships. Yet there was now and then a grimly gay 
episode in this hard routine. Here is an incident that 
occurred two or three days after we approaclied the works, 
and aifords a good sample of picketing between us and 
the forts. Our pickets were within speaking distance of 
those of the enemy; each party kept, if possible, snugly 
behind some big stump or tree, out of the reach of his dis- 
agreeable neighbors. A good deal of hard talk had passed 
between one of our pickets and one of the "Johnnies." 
Finally the rebel thurst his hand beyond his tree holding 
in it a bottle, and sliaking it, challenged the Yankee to 
come and take it — '■'• crach'''' weut the Yankee's rifle at the 
hand. " Ha, ha ! why don't you hit it ? What do you 


think of Ball Run ?" " IIow do you like Fort Donelson ?" 
responded the Yankee. 

While this colloquy was going on, Yankee number two 
crept round behind a log, and drawing on tlie southerner, 
blazed away at him. The son of chivalry clapped his 
hand to his shoulder and ran off howling. "There, you 
fool," shouted Yankee number one, " I told you that blind 
man would be shooting you pretty soon." 

The country about us was uncultivated and unhealthy. 
The lands were low and swampy, and mostly covered with 
a heavy growth of yellow pines. The few remaining 
inhabitants were mostly women, negresses and children ; 
now and then a disabled specimen of poor white trash, or 
a farmer too infirm to be of service in the rebel army, was 
to be met with. All were alike destitute of enterprise, 
and the houses upon the " plantations " were of the mean- 
est order, raised three or four feet above the ground upon 
posts without the usual foundation of stone. The " plan- 
tations " consisted usually of about ten or twenty acres 
of cleared land in the midst of the forest, Avith narrow 
roads among the pines leading to neighboring plantations. 

The writer inquired of the proprietor of one of these 
isolated spots, who also had some forty negro women and 
children, how he managed to support so large a family 
from the proceeds of so little land. " Well," said he, " I 
could not support them from the proceeds of the land 
alone, but you see I sell a few negroes every year and buy 
corn with the money; so with what we raise and what we 
get for the sale of the negroes, we get along very well." 

" But why do you not cut doAvn some of this forest and 
till more land ? You own a large tract of land which is 
entirely worthless as it now is." 

"There is where you are greatly mistaken, said thfe 
enterprising southerner, my timber land is my best prop 


But of what use do you make it ? " Oh, I sell a great 
deal of wood. I take it to Fortress Monroe and Hampton 
and get two dollars and a half a cord for it !" 

The reader will perhaps understand the profits drawn 
from the wood lands, when it is remembered that Fortress 
Monroe was twenty miles distant. 

Night attacks by the enemy became connnon ; and it 
was not an uufrequent occurrence for the whole division 
to be called suddenly to arms at midnight and stand in 
line until morning. Skirmishes and sharpshooting con- 
tinued with little intermission ; bullets of rebel riflemen 
whizzing through our camps or unceremoniously entering 
our tents at all times. Rebel gunboats approached the 
mouth of the Warwick and by their assistance the rebel 
infantry attempted to turn our left flank, but the troops 
of our division gallantly met their attack and drove them 

This state of affairs continued until the 16th of April. 
That morning, word passed through the division that 
we were to make an assault. Orders came to move, and 
the division was massed near some ruins, known as " The 
Chimneys," in front of one of the rebel forts ; the Second 
brigade holding the front line, supported by the First and 
Third brigades. As we moved round to take our posi- 
tions, an American eagle whirled above our heads in 
elegant circles and at length floated away toward the 
south, the boys swinging their hats and cheering the bird 
with loud huzzahs. 

The fort in our front covered the road from Newport 
News to Williamsburgh, and could we get possession 
of it we could turn the flanks of the enemy, obliging 
him to abandon his position and enabling us either to 
prevent his escape or to harass him in his flight. In 
front of the fort the creek had been dammed and a deep 
morass interposed between us and the works. General 

'''iiiiiirriiVi'iM'iM ti i ffl iw ^ w ,! ! 


'iM'™iii';:i"ini-iia:i idiii'iiniiih iii!iii'iiiiiiiniiiiiiaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiir!iiiiiiili|ii|ll|i' 


McCIellan and his immense suite rode to the point from 
which the attack was to be made, and communicating a 
few minutes with Generals Keyes and Smith, left the field. 
Mott's battery was now brought into position on the open 
plateau and opened a fierce cannonade, to which the rebels 
replied with spirit, dismounting one of our guns and killing 
several of the gunners at the very start. Mott was rein- 
forced by Kennedy's and Wheeler's batteries, and the 
hostile guns were soon silenced. Our batteries then 
advanced within five hundred yards of the fort, and the 
gray-coated rebels Avho were seen to fill the woods, were 
soon dispersed. Two companies of troops, from the Third 
Vermont, were now ordered forward. Down from the 
woods they came, rushed into the water to their waists, 
and gallantly made for the rebel rifle pits. The first line 
of the works was gained and then the second. The fort 
was empty, but a ditch to their left Avas filled with men. 
They poured a volley among them and the gray coats fled. 
Thus the fort was actually in their possession, and was 
held for some minutes by the noble fellows, but when they 
looked for support, none came. The three brigades stood 
upon the opposite bank, ready to plunge through the 
stream, and waiting with intense anxiety for the order, 
" forward ;" but no order came, and the brave Green Moun- 
tain boys who had so nobly performed their part of the 
work, were forced to fall back under a galling fire from 
the rebels, who rushed back to their pits as soon the Yer- 
monters had left them, pouring volley after volley into the 
reti'eating forces, who, their ammunition spent, could not 
reply to the rebel fire. Before they were able to reach the 
shelter of the woods, sad havoc was made in their ranks. 
Skirmishing was kept up for some hours, by other regi- 
ments, but with no result except the loss of men. 

The following list of killed and wounded was obtained 
the next day after the battle : 



2d Vermont — 1 killed. 

3d Yermont — 24 killed, 7 mortally wounded, 56 wounded, 

1 missing. 
4tli Vermont — 3 killed, 30 wounded. 
5th Vermont — 2 killed, 6 wounded, 
6th Vermont — 11 killed, 77 wounded. 

Total loss to the brigade, 218. 

Thus ended the fight known as the "Battle of Lee's 
Mills," a battle in which two hundred men gallantly cap- 
tured an imjjortant work of the enemy, and thousands of 
their companions burning with desire to share in their 
glory stood by and saw them abandon it ! Why thf 
other brigades were not ordered forward has never been 
explained satisfactorily. That General Smith would gladly 
have sent them forward we earnestly believe ; but we now 
know that General McClellan desired that a general 
engagement should not be brought on at that time. 

The wounded men exhibited the same bravery, while their 
wounds were being cared for, that characterized their bril- 
liant charge. Men badly mutilated, with bullets in their 
heads, or breasts, or limbs, refused to receive attention 
from the surgeon who dressed their wounds, until their 
more unfortunate companions were cared for. " Don't 
mind me, doctor, there are others hurt worse than I am," 
said many a brave fellow, as he lay upon the ground 
bleeding from his wounds. 

The following incident connected with this noble chai'ge 
will be remembered by all who were at that time members 
of Smith's division, and by hundreds who saw accounts 
of it in the newspapers of the day : 

Private William Scott, of Company K, Third Vermont, 
was, in the autumn of 1861, found asleep at his post on 
the picket line. It was a grave fault; but the weary 
soldier, inexperienced in the service, and unaccustomed to 
such night vigils, in an evil hour yielded to the demands 


of tired nature, little thinking that the lives of hundreds 
of his comrades were periled by his unfaithfulness. He 
was tried by a court-martial and sentenced to be shot. 
The sentence was approved, and at the appointed time he 
was brought forth to execution. General Smith, desiring 
to impress upon the minds of liis men the terrible conse- 
quences of such an offense, formed his troops in line. 
The culprit was brought out before them, and led to the 
place of execution. The guard, with loaded muskets, 
stood ready to execute the dreadful sentence, which was 
read before all the troops. All waited in breathless 
expectation for the order to fire; but instead another 
paper was read. It was a pardon from the President ! 
Then the wildest shouts of joy ran along the line. Shout 
after shout arose from the division, and hundreds blessed 
the name of President Lincoln. 

There were many circumstances to render this a case 
of peculiar interest. It was the first sentence of the kind ; 
it was at the beginning of the war, when a soldier's life 
was regarded of value, and when all eyes were riveted 
upon the army, and every incident was of interest. It was 
also the first instance of the kind in which the executive 
clemency had been exercised. So near had the hour of 
execution arrived when the President signed the pardon, 
that, fearing it might not be received in season, he took 
his carriage and drove to camp, to assure himself that 
the man's life should be spared. 

" I will show President Lincoln that I am not afraid to 
die for my country," said the grateful soldier ; and well 
did he fulfill his promise. Among the bravest of those 
two hundred heroes who crossed the swamp at Lee's Mills, 
was William Scott, of Company K, Third Vermont. But 
he was brought back a corpse. He had shown the Presi- 
dent that he was not afraid to die for his country. He 
was one of the foremost in the char^^e and one of the first 


to fall. His comrades made Lis grave under the shadow 
of the tall pines, and as they folded his blanket around 
him, and lowered him to his resting place, tears stood 
ujjon those brown cheeks ; but the tears of sorrow were 
mingled with tears of joy, when they thought of his 
glorious death, and his narrow escape from an ignominious 
fate, and again, in their hearts, they blessed the man who 
was always the soldier's friend. 

We resumed our place the next day after the battle, on 
the front line, and commenced digging. 

Fierce night sorties Avere again made by the enemy 
and bravely resisted by our boys, who continued the work 
regardless of these annoyances. Only one fight occurred 
on our part of the line after the 16th, in which we lost 
any number of men. On the 28th the First brigade had 
a skirmish in which we lost one killed and half a dozen 
wounded. Among the latter was Lieutenant, afterward 
Colonel Milliken, of the Forty-third New York. A recon- 
noissance on the left about the same time, resulted in find- 
ing the rebels in considerable force, and a loss of two 
good soldiers to the Seventy-seventh New York. In the 
meantime eai'thworks of great strength were being thrown 
up on the right of the line before Yorktown, and every- 
thing was being 2>ut in a complete state of preparation 
for the grand bombardment. Enormous siege guns of 
one hundred and even two hundred pound calibre, and 
immense mortars were brought up and mounted in the 
earthworks, and it was thought that with the powerful 
means we were using the fall of Yorktown was only a 
question of time. 

Our losses by the rebels before Yorktown were not great, 
but the ravages by disease were fearful. Many thousands 
of noble fellows who would gladly have braved the 
dano-ers of the battle-field, were carried to the rear with 
fevers engendered by the deadly malaria of the sAvamps, 


from which few ever recovered sufficiently to rejoin the 
ranks; and thousands of others were laid in humble graves 
along the marshy borders of the Warwick or about the 
hospitals at Young's Mills. For a month the men were 
almost continually under arms ; often called in the middle 
of the night to resist the attempts of the enemy to force 
our line under cover of the thick darkness, standing in 
line of battle day after day and digging at earthwoi'ks 
night after nicrht. 

During the thirty days of the siege we had twenty days 
of rain. Thunder storms followed each other in quick 
succession, with lightnings more vivid than we had ever 
seen at the north. Men lay down to rest at night with 
their equipments buckled about them and wet to their 
skins. Men unaccustomed to the hardships of campaign- 
ing could not endure such exposure. 

A few divisions of the army performed by fir the greater 
part of the labor, either because they had at first reached 
positions which imposed greater toil, or because greater 
confidence was reposed in them. Our own division w^as 
one of those upon which the duties imposed were too 
great for men to perform ; yet the men would have 
resented being sent to the rear, and it was said that 
General Smith remarked that " he had spoken for a front 
seat for his boys and he intended to keep it. 

Added to all the exposures and hardships of the siege, 
there was a deplorable want of proper commissary and 
medical supplies. While the men were supplied with fair 
rations of hard bread, vegetables were unknown among us, 
and the supply of fresh meat wholly inadequate. In the 
Medical Department the greatest difficulty was experienced 
in obtaining supplies, and indeed it was impossible to get 
them. Not that regimental surgeons did not use their 
utmost endeavor to procure them, but as brigade and regi- 
mental commissaries could not obtain supplies of food 


■which were not furnished to the army at all, so surgeons 
could not procure medicines and other necessaries which 
were locked in the storehouses in Washington. This sub- 
ject will he more fully alluded to in another place, and it 
is to be hoped that the responsibility of this criminal neg- 
ligence to supply the army with medical and hospital 
stores may fall where it belongs. 

Thus, with their minds wrought up to a continual state 
of excitement, Avith constant exposure to tempests and 
malaria, with excessive and exhausting labors, and with 
improper food and scarcity of medicine, sickness and death 
swept over us like a pestilence. 

At length, after a month of toil and exposure almost 
unprecedented, after losing nearly one-fifth of our mag- 
nificent army by disease and death, our batteries were 
finished, the enormous siege guns were mounted, and the 
thirteen inch mortars in position. The army looked 
anxiously for the grand finale of all these extensive pre- 
parations. Men had lost the enthusiasm which prevailed 
when we landed upon the Peninsula, and a smile was sel- 
dom seen ; but a fixed and determined purpose to succeed 
still appeared in their faces. Now at length we were 
ready; and the countenances of the soldiers began to 
lighten up a little. But as the sun rose on the morning 
of the 4th of May, behold, the rebels had vanished, and. 
with them our hopes of a brilliant victory ! Unfortun- 
ately for our hopes of a great success at Yorktown, the 
rebel generals had shown themselves unwilling to aflTord 
us such an opportunity by waiting for us longer; and 
during the night of the 3d and 4th they had evacuated 
the place. 

They had gained a month of time for strengthening the 
defenses about Richmond, and for concentrating their 
forces there. Now they were ready to fall back without 
testinir our mairnificent works and hue:e 2;uns, and lead us 


into the swamps of Chickahominy ; where they hoped tliat 
the fever would complete the ghastly work already com- 
menced at Yorktown. 

Dui'ing the night of the evacuation, the roar of artillery 
exceeded anything that had been heard before. From one 
end of the line to the other the shells and shot poured into 
our camps, and the arches of fire that mai'ked the courses 
of the shells, with flame spouting from the mouths of the 
guns, created a magnificent pyrotechnic display. But at 
daylight, orderlies flew from regiment to regiment with 
the startling intelligence that the beleagured works were 
deserted, and with orders to occupy them at once. Smith's 
division hastened to cross over the dam, and we found 
ourselves in the strongholds that we had so long invested. 
As the Seventy-seventh regiment passed along one of the 
roads leading among the intrenchments, a sharp report 
like that of a pistol was heard at the feet of those in the 
center of the column, and directly under the colors. The 
men scattered, and a piece of old cloth was seen lying on 
the ground at the point from which the report emanated. 
Colonel McKean, who was very near, lifted the cloth with 
the point of his sword, and discovered a torpedo carefully 
buried in the ground, except a nipple which had been 
filled with fulminating powder, which was covered by the 
old cloth. The fuse only had exploded. Had the machine 
itself exploded, it must have destroyed many of our men, 
our colonel among them. Other regiments were not so 
fortunate as we were. Very many men were killed in the 
streets and intrenchments by these torpedoes, which 
the enemy had planted in the street at either end of the 
bridges, about springs, and near the deserted guns. They 
were concealed beneath the ground with great care, the 
capped nipple only rising above the surfece, and this, 
covered by an old rag or piece of bark thrown over it, 
exploded at the slightest touch. These infernal machines 


"were only one feature of the general plan of our enemies 
to carry on a war by brutal, savage and cowardly means. 
The starving of prisoners at Andersonville and Salisbury, 
and the wholesale butchery at Fort Pillow, were other 
parts of the same savage plan AA'hich was crowned by the 
fearful tragedy at Ford''s Theatre. 

We made little delay among the rebel intrenchments; 
only long enough to glance over the formidable Avorks, 
"where the enemy had abandoned seventy-two pieces of 
artillery, mostly of heavy caliber, with immense numbers 
of shovels, picks, wheelbarrows and other paraphernalia of 
an army. 

The division was at nine o'clock sent forward on the 
road toward Williamsburgh ; encountering, before it had 
proceeded far, a portion of the rear-guard of the confed- 
erate army, which hastily fell back before our advance. 
General Smith informed the Commander-in-Chief of the 
encounter, who ordered Stoneman, with a regiment of 
cavalry, to give chase to the retiring body, and, if pos- 
sible, cut it oif ; but, unfortunately, either from want of 
proper information in regard to the roads, or from other 
hindrances, this was not eifected. The division pushed on 
over the road lately traversed by the rebels, the men 
overcoming all obstacles that had been thrown in their 
way, in their anxiety to overtake the foe. 

The scenery, as the troops passed, was indeed charming 
beyond description. Magnificent forests of oak and pine, 
interspersed with clearings, the residences of formers, 
with fine fields, covered with the green blades of the 
newly springing wheat, met the view along the road; 
w^hile the w^oods were adorned with innumerable flowers. 
The tall dogwood, with its clusters of large flowers like 
swarms of white butterflies, mingled with the Judas tree, 
whose leafless boughs were densely covered with racemes 
of purj)le blossoms. The azalia and the honeysuckle 


beneath formed a delightful contrast with the gorgeous 
floral display above. 

Thus the division was hurried on, until at evening it 
came upon the rebel works at Williamsburgh, As our 
forces approached Williamsburgh, the cavalry came iipon 
the enemy, and a sharp skirmish ensued, in which we lost 
about fifty in killed and wounded, and the rebels left as 
many on the field. The charge was made by the Sixth 
cavalry and Gibbon's battery, driving the rebels back. 
They, in their turn, being reinforced, forced our troops 
back; one of onr guns, from which all the horses were 
shot, being abandoned. Each party strove hard for the 
possession of the gun, but night closed upon the contest, 
leaving it in possession of neither. In the meantime, the 
men of our division too sick to march were being cared 
for by our medical officers. Hundreds of the men of our 
division lay sick with typhoid fever and other equally 
dangeroTis maladies. These were all taken to the hospital 
which had been commenced a day or two previous, about 
a mile and a half from our camp. The whole day was 
occupied in removing these men. Of those sent to this 
hospital, as of the many previously sent to the hospital at 
Young's Mills and Fortress Monroe, few ever returned. 



Battle of Williarosburgh— The army not organized— The medical department- 
Hooker's gallant fight— Hancock's charge— McClellan at Yorktown— Night on 
the battle-field. 

Early on the morning of the 5th skirmishing com- 
menced. The division of Hooker was posted on the left of 
the road from Lee's Mills to Williamsburgh, and our own 
division held the road, stretching mostly to the right of it. 
Fort Magruder was directly in front of us, commanding 
the road. All the parts of the army which had advanced 
on the right, that is, on the road from Torktown, were 
massed as fast as they arrived, awaiting orders. Great 
delay was experienced in getting the troops in position, 
as there seemed to be no harmony of action. Every 
general of a division seemed to do what pleased him, with- 
out orders from higher authority. 

General Sumner was in command of the troops on the 
field, but from some cause seemed not to be able to com- 
bine his forces in such a manner as to bear effectually 
upon the lines of the enemy. One of the serious diffi- 
culties was getting artillery to the front. The roads had 
become very muddy from the rain during the night, and 
were blocked up with the immense multitude of wagons, 
so that artillery could not pass. Here was sadly exempli- 
fied the grand defect of our army — the want of organ- 

Our army was an enormous heterogenous mass, without 
any pretense of a system to centralize and harmonize its 


movements. An army is not organized by throwing it 
into brigades and divisions; this is but the first and easiest 
step. The departments must be so organized that each 
performs well its part, without interference with another. 
In this case the quartermaster's department sadly inter- 
fered with the others. Every regimental quartermaster 
was for himself, and, as a natural result, the immense 
trains were thrown into great disorder, impeding the 
movements of all the other branches of the service. No 
one seemed at libei'ty to bi'ing ord(?i* out of this confusion ; 
and thus artillery and wagons remained stuck in the mud. 
This same confusion prevailed in all the dej)artments. 
We shall take the liberty here to quote at some length 
from the remarks of the Prince De Joinville, who was at 
that time a member of General McClellan's staff, an able 
soldier and an ardent friend of the Commander-in-Chief. 
Says the Prince : 

" The American system of ' every man for himself,' indi- 
vidually applied by oflScers and soldiers of each corps to 
one another, is also applied by the corps themselves 
to their reciprocal relations. There is no special branch 
of the service whose duty it is to regulate, centralize and 
direct the movements of the army. In such a case as this 
of which we are sj^eaking, we should have seen the general 
staff of a French army taking care that nothing should 
impede the advance of the troops ; stopping a file of 
wagons here and ordering it out of the road to clear 
the way; sending on a detail of men there to repair the road- 
way, or draw a cannon out of the mud in order to com- 
municate to every corps commander the orders of the 
general-in-chief. Here nothing of the sort is done. * * 

" The want of a general staff was not less severely felt 
in obtaining and transmitting the information necessary, 
at the moment of an impending action, No one knew the 
country ; the maps were so defective that they wei"e use- 


less. Little vas known about the fortified battle-field on 
which the army was about to be engaged. Yet this 
battle-field had been seen and reconnoitered by the troops 
which had taken part in Stoneman's skirmish. Enough 
was surely known of it for us to combine a plan of attack, 
and assign to every commander his own part of the work. 
No, tliis was not so. Every one kept his observations to 
himself; not from any ill-will, but because it was nobody's 
special duty to do this general work. It was a defect in 
the organization, and with the best elements in the world, 
an army that is not organized cannot expect great success. 
It is fortunate if it escapes disaster." 

We may be pardoned for continuing this digression 
from the narrative, to speak particularly of the disorder 
in the medical department. The surgeons of regiments 
were, as a general rule, men of ability, and who were 
earnestly devoted to the duties of their position. Of 
course, in so large an army, there were some who were 
not fitted for their position, either by ability or moral 
worth ; these were exceptions. Yet, while there was a 
general disposition prevailing in the department to make 
any sacrifice or submit to any amount of fatigue, in order 
to relieve the sufierings of those committed to their charge, 
they labored under the greatest disadvantage from want 
of proper combination and cooi>eration in the stafi: Every 
man was for himself. Each regimental surgeon Avas 
expected to look out for the wants of his own men ; to 
erect his hospital tents; to see that the wounded of his 
regiment were carried off the field; to administer food, 
dress wounds, and attend to the operative surgery. With 
all these divers cares, he could hardly be expected to per- 
form any duties well. When any combination of action 
was effected, the organization was voluntary and tem- 
porary, and, of course, wanting in order and efficiency. 
Added to these difficulties, the medical officer found 

hooker's gallant fight. 63 

himself destitute of supplies, and seemingly without any 
prospect of obtaining them. 

It is true that the officers of the medical staff were gen- 
erally inexperienced in the duties of military surgery, so 
different from the labors of the physician in civil life ; yet, 
the great trouble was without doubt at head-quarters. 
The department was directed by an officer who had done 
good service in the Mexican war, but who by long con- 
nection with the regular army, seemed to have become so 
wedded to the formal precision of military routine, that 
no contingency was sufficient to move him from his estab- 
lished habits. Here was occasion for dispensing with 
formalities. Responsibilities should have been assumed, 
and, if necessaiy, supplies should have been thrown into 
the army broadcast, without thought of requisition or 
receipts. Under the direction of the efficient and gentle- 
manly surgeon of volunteers. Dr. Letterman, order was at 
length brought out of the confusion which existed until 
the battle of Antietam; from which time the medical 
staff became the most efficient ever known in any array. 

To return to our narrative. By noon the battle raged 
furiously ; Hooker's division contesting the field nobly 
against superior numbers, while our own division held 
the position on his right, but without coming to any 
direct engagement aside from being subjected to the fire 
of artillery. Hooker brought his men gallantly up to the 
work and at first forced the enemy back, but in turn was 
driven from the ground he had taken, and only by the 
most valorous fighting, prevented a rout. 

The gallant general and bis noble men held the ground 
alone until the division was fearfully cut up. At length 
General Kearney, at the head of his division, approached 
on the Lee's Mills road. General Sumner rode up to him 
and said quietly, " General, do you know that Hooker is 
badly cut up?" "No." "He is, and is falling back. Hurry 

64 Hancock's charge. 

on your division as fast as possible." " How shall I reach 
him ?" said Kearney. " Through yonder strip of woods." 
Kearney now led his men forward at a rapid pace and 
very soon came to the relief of the exhausted division. 
The troojjs of Hooker were holding their ground against 
the enemy twenty thousand strong. They had fought for 
hours with only nine thousand men. 

General Hancock of our First brigade, at his own and 
General Smith's request, was, at three o'clock, allowed to 
take his own and a part of our Third brigade to the right 
of the line, where the position of the enemy was very 
strong by nature, and which was on that account secured 
with less care than the rest of the line. 

General Smith learned early on the morning of the 5th 
that a strong position, far to our right, where the rebels had 
constructed strong redoubts, was unoccupied by them. He 
at once requested permission to send troops to take posses- 
sion, and at length was allowed to send a small foi'ce. 
General Hancock, with his brigade and two regiments from 
Davidson's brigade, was detached for that purpose. About 
eleven o'clock the command moved about three miles to the 
right, crossing a creek where a steep wooded bluff rose to 
a great height in front. The creek had been dammed, rais- ' 
ing the waters considerably, and spanning the point was a 
bridge of logs. Across this bridge and up a road winding 
along the side of the bluff, the general led his troops, finding 
the plateau and the redoubts unoccupied by rebels. Quietly 
taking possession of the first redoubt, and leaving a part of 
the Thirty-third New York to guard it, General Hancock 
continued to move forward, and having advanced about half 
a mile, took possession of another fort. Here a line of bat- 
tle was formed, and Cowan's and Wheeler's batteries were 
pushed forward to play upon other forts which appeared be- 
tween this position and Fort Magruder. At two o'clock the 
firing ceased, and some hours of quiet succeeded. 

Hancock's charge. 55 

General Smith, meantime, fully appreciating' the impor- 
tance of the positicm thus secured upon the flank of the rebel 
army, repeatedly requested permission to reinforce Han- 
cock with the remainder of the division. The request 
was more than once granted, and as often, when the 
division was about to move, countermanded by General 
Sumner. General Hancock was even directed to fall back, 
but that officer delayed to obey the order. Night was ap- 
proaching, when, suddenly, large numbers of rebels were 
discovered advancing from the forts towards Fort Magruder. 
It at once became evident that the rebels expected to over- 
whelm the small Union force, either capturing it or driving 
it into the creek. But dispositions were quickly made to 
meet the attack. The artillery was run back and the line 
of battle withdrawn towards the creek. The rebels, under 
Early, came on, shouting " Bull Run ! Ball's Blufif !" while 
their artillery was brought to bear with some eiFect on our 
line. Shot and shell flew from line to line, while the mus- 
ketry fire was as freely exchanged. The rebel troops stead- 
ily advanced in perfect order until within thirty yards of our 
line, when a charge was ordered. The Union raen sprang 
forward with a shout to one of the most gallant bayonet 
charges of the war. The enemj', alarmed at this sudden 
turn of afi'uirs, broke in disorder, followed by our men, while 
a flanking force of rebels, seeing the discomfiture of the at- 
tacking column, also fled. 

While the fighting was going on, General Hancock had 
sent for the remainder of our Third brigade. The order 
" Forward ! double quick !" was received by the men with 
one ( f those wild, exulting shouts such as is only heard 
on the field of battle ; and they rushed forward through 
the liquid mud, each regiment striving which should first 
reach the field. But as we reached the scene of conflict, 
the rebels had fled, leaving the victory with the men in 

56 m'clellan at torktown. 

The regiments engaged in this brilliant affair were, the 
Forty-third New York, the Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, 
the Sixth Maine and Fifth Wisconsin, of the First brigade, 
and the Thirty-third New York and Seventh Maine of the 
Third brigade. 

The rebels, outflanked by the gallant movement of 
Smith's division, were glad to fall back from befoi'e Hooker 
and Kearney, and seek refuge behind their works. Mean- 
while the great body of the army had remained entirely 
passive; not even having been brought into line of battle. 
Why some of these troops were not called to the assist- 
ance of Hooker, or to render the victory of Hancock more 
complete, we do not knoAV. 

Thus closed the battle of Williamsburgh ; a battle 
fought by two divisions and a part of a third, while the 
mass of the army remained as idle spectators of the ter- 
rible scene. If less than twenty thousand men could 
drive the rebels from their strong works, what could not 
that grand army have done had it been brought into 
action ! 

General McClellan arrived on the field at five o'clock in 
the afternoon, and was received with shouts of applause ; 
but the fighting was then over. The general had 
remained at Yorktown since the morning of the 4th, to 
superintend personally the shipment of Franklin's division 
of twelve thousand men ; one-half of whom, in order that 
they might be in readiness at any moment to proceed up 
the river and head ofl' the enemy, had never been allowed 
to disembark from the transports which brought them to 
Yorktown. General McClellan's conduct in spending 
nearly two days in overseeing personally the embarkation 
of half or even the whole of a division of men, while one 
of the most important battles of the war was in progress, 
leaving it to others to take care of the " little affair at tie 
front," has, by some, been severely censured ; while others 


have as earnestly claimed that the Commander-in-Chief 
had his own views of the necessity of getting those troops 
off at once, and the necessity of seeing that supplies of 
rations, ammunition and war material, were forwarded, 
was imperative ; and that we are to remember that the 
advance was intrusted to General Sumner ; a man in 
whose ability both he and the army confided. The 
general telegraphed that night to the Secretary of "War : 
" After arranging for movements up the York river, I was 
sent for here. I find General Joe Johnston in front of me 
in strong force, probably greater a good deal than my 
own. * * * ]yjy entire force is xmdouhtedly consid- 
erably inferior to that of the rebels, who Avill fight well ; 
but I will do all I can with the force at my dis2:)0sal." 

It was not known that night that we had won such a vic- 
tory ; but when, in the morning, we found the rebels all 
gone, he telegraphed : " Every hour proves our victory 
more complete." 

In the light of this testimony of the Commander-in-Chief, 
what a noble record had those three divisions that day 
made for themselves ! They had, according to these dis- 
patches, fought with a force " greater a good deal " than 
our entire army, and had won a complete victory ! 

Night closed upon the battle-field. Our division 
bivouacked around one of the rebel redoubts. It was 
filled with rebel wounded, Avhose groans and cries made 
the night hideous. The ground was a bed of liquid mud, 
and the rain still poured. No fires were allowed, and the 
men stood shivering all night rather than lie down in the 

The sun rose clear and bright next morning, and the 
whole army filed into the works deserted by the enemy 
during the night, and occupied the town of Williamsburgh, 
a mile or more from the battle-field. Here the army re- 
mained three days, waiting for supplies. 



March up the Peninsula — Joy of the contrabands — Cumberland I,anding — Thf 
Sixth Corps organized — At White House — On the Chickahoniiny — Fight at 
Mechanics villa— Battle of Hanover Court House. 

0:n" the ninth of May, after a delay of thi-ee days, the 
Army of the Potomac resumed the pursuit of Johnston's 
army. The day was fair and bright, and the journey of 
fifteen miles, to troops as yet little inured to the fatigues 
of long marches, bore severely upon them. We rested 
till three o'clock next morning ; when orders came to fall 
into line, and at five we were again toiling over the road. 
After a hard day's march we halted near Xew Kent Court 
House; where General Stoneman, with his cavalry, had a 
day or two before overtaken the rear-guard of the enemy, 
who gave him battle. Evidences of the engagement were 
to be seen all about us, and many wounded cavalrymen 
were found in the neighboring farm houses. We remained 
here over the Sabbath and the next day; glad of rest, 
though anxious to be on the trail of the enemy. 

General Franklin's division had already landed, and 
beaten the rebels at West Point; and the flotilla laden 
with supplies had also ascended the river thus far. 

It was at New Kent Court House that the news of the 
destruction of the Merrimac, and the possession of Norfolk 
by General Wool's forces, first reached us, and our hearts 
swelled with joy at our successes. On the 13th we 
resumed the march; winding along the banks of the tor- 


tuous Pamunkey, enchanted by the lovely scenery which 
constantly met our gaze. The profusion of flowers in the 
forests, the bright green meadows, and the broad fields of 
newly sjoringing wheat, offered a perpetual charm ; and as 
"we passed along, the women and negroes watched us with 
conflicting sentiments of interest. All the white men 
cajiable of bearing arms, and every able-bodied negro, 
had been swept along by the rebel army in its retreat, and 
none but women and children and aged negroes Avere now 
left along the route. At every house the alarmed white 
people threw out the white flag in token of submission, as 
though their protection from injury depended upon this 
symbol of peace. 

Great numbers of negroes flocked to the roadside, to 
welcome the Union army. Their expressions of joy at 
seeing us were wild and amusing. All hojied we would 
shortly overtake and destroy the rebel army, their own 
masters included. Those who had hitherto regarded the 
relation of master and slave as one of mutual afiection, had 
only to witness these unique demonstrations of rejoicing 
at our approach, and the seemingly certain destruction of 
the slave owners, to be convinced that the happiness and 
contentment claimed for those in servitude was but a 
worthless fiction. The negroes, gathering in crowds along 
the wayside, would grasp the hands of the Union soldiers, 
calling down all manner of blessings upon them, and leap- 
ing and dancinsr in their frantic deliarht. 

One gray-haired old patriarch, surrounded by a numer- 
ous group of younger chattels, who were leaping and 
shouting, exclaimed, in a loud voice, " Bress de Lord ! 
I'se been praying for yous all to come all dis time ; and 
now I'se glad yous got so fur; and I pray de Lord dat 
yous may keep on, and conquer def and hell and de 
grabe ! " All the others, joining in the chorus, cried, 
" Bress de Lord ! " The master of the old man sat quietly 


watching the scene, offering no hindrance to these expres- 
sions of sympathy; but it is doubtful whether this conduct 
on the part of his servants was forgotten after the dej)art- 
ure of our army. Whatever information the slaves could 
give concerning the movements, numbers, or probable 
intentions of the enemy, was communicated gladly, and 
although this information was not always reliable for 
accuracy, it was always given in sincerity, and was very 
often of great service. 

Our march on the 13th, was an easy one of six 
miles. As we reached the brow of a hill overlooking the 
plain of Cumberland Landing, a scene of imposing beauty 
was spread out before us. Between us and the broad 
river, were thousands of troops, parks of artillery, squad- 
rons of cavalry, divisions of infantry ; some already in 
camp, others moving about in order, but seeming, from 
the distance, to be intermingled in most perfect confusion. 

A broad jjlain stretched far away to the left, beautifully- 
variegated with green pastures, rich groves and fields of 
grain. Beyond was the Pamunkey; here spreading out 
into a broad expanse of water, on which was riding the 
Union flotilla of gunboats and the transport fleet. 

Upon this broad plain the whole army assembled. At 
no other time in the history of the Army of the Potomac, 
were all its forces gathered within a compass that the eye 
could take in at a single glance. 

Early on the morning of the 14th, the cry, "Fall in !" 
resounded through the camps, and we proceeded up the 
river about four miles, and again encamped on its banks. 
A field of fresh clover served for our bivouac. In this 
pleasant spot we remained for several days; and while 
here, an event occurred of no less interest than the organ- 
ization OF THE Sixth corps. 

Just before the Ai-my of the Potomac embarked for the 
Peninsula, it was divided, by order of President Lincoln, 

^-Du . Ctex . H ^v. ST ,o cvyi . 


into five corps of three divisions each. These corps were 
placed under command, respectively, of Generals McDowell, 
Sumner, Heintzelman, Keyes and Banks. On leaving for the 
Peninsula, the First and Fifth corps had been left behind. 
Now two new corps were to be organized ; the Fifth provi- 
sional, consisting of the divisions of Porter and Sykes, and 
the reserve artillery, under command of General Porter ; 
and the Sixth provisional coi'ps, consisting of Franklin's 
division of the First and Smith's of the Fourth corps. 
General W. B. Franklin was assigned to the command of 
the corps. 

Franklin's division, now the First division, Sixth corps, 
under command of H. W. Slocum, had been ordered aAvay 
from the First corps, to join the army of the Potomac, 
while we were at Torktown ; and its recent exhibition of 
gallantry at West Point, had already established for it a 
reputation for valor. The regiments composing this divi- 
sion were, the First, Second, Third and Fourth Xew Jersey; 
regiments trained to the service by the knightly soldier 
and ardent patriot, Philip S. Kearney, now under command 
of Colonel Taylor, and afterwards so long and so ably led 
by General Torbert ; the Sixteenth and Twenty-seventh 
New York, Fifth Maine and Ninety-Sixth Pennsylvania; 
General Slocum's own brigade ; noAV commanded by 
Colonel Bartlett ; and Newton's brigade ; the Eighteenth, 
Thirty-first and Thirty-second New York, and Ninety- 
fifth Pennsylvania. 

The history of the Second division, General Smith's, we 
have already traced. The bravery and extraordinary 
endurance of each of its brigades had been exhibited too 
often to be questioned. 

With such splendid materials for a corps, a brilliant 
history of great achievements was to be anticipated, and 
nobly has it wrought out for itself such a history. 

No other body of troops has ever made for itself so 


proud a record. Xo corps, either in our own army or any 
other, ever met the enemy so frequently in general battle, 
and never were more glorious deeds accomplished by 
troops than were done by these. Never in the course of 
all their campaigns were either of these two division,? put 
to rout, and in almost all its encounters the corps held the 
field as victors. 

We were now encamped on the old Custis place ; at 
present owned by General Fitzhugh Lee, of the rebel 
cavalry service. On every side of us were immense fields 
of wheat, which, but for the presence of armies, promised 
an abundant harvest. Day after day passed, in quiet 
repose, and the Sabbath found us still waiting on the 
banks of the Pamunkey. It was marvelous that such 
silence could exist where a hundred thousand men were 
crowded together, yet almost absolute stillness reigned 
throughout the vast camp during the whole of this pleas- 
ant Sabbath, Save that here and there the notes of Old 
Hundred or some sacred air was heard from the band 
of some regiment whose chaplain had gathered his men 
for religious services, no sound disturbed the universal 

Xot far from us was the White House, at the head of 
navigation, on the Pamunkey. The house was a fine build- 
ing, once the property' of Washington, now in possession 
of the Lee family. Here the Richmond and York River 
railroad crossed the Pamunkey, and this was made the base 
of operations for the army. Here the transports poured 
out a vast amount of supplies, and under the protection 
of the flotilla of gunboats, the quartermasters and com- 
missaries commenced their active operations. 

Except that a few rails had been torn up, the railroad 
was in excellent order, and engines and cars were at once 
placed on the track ready to follow the army on its 
advance to Richmond. 


The Sixth corps jjroceedecl toward the Chickahominy, 
■which it reached at a point several miles above the rail- 
road crossing at Bottom's Bridge, occupying the extreme 
right of the Union line of battle as formed along that 
river. The position of the Union army was now as fol- 
lows : Keyes' corps had crossed the Chickahominy at 
Bottom's Bridge, and Heintzelman had followed, taking 
a position between Keyes and the bridge. Sumner was on 
the railroad, and Franklin on the right near New Bridge ; 
Stoneman's cavalry was on the right of the Sixth corps, 
and Porter's divisions were in the rear, within supporting 

On the 23d, General Stoneman with his cavalry 2:)ushed 
forward toward Mechanicsville, sujjported by Davidson's 
brigade. The brigade halted for the night near Beaver 
Dam creek, a marshy stream pouring into the Chicka- 
hominy. On the following morning the brigade again 
pushed forward, the men making their way with great 
difficulty through a swamp, then plunging through the 
stream, then forcing their way through brambles and 
briars, and again wading through the Avater ; until the men 
seemed to have become amphibious. They at length 
found the enemy near the little village of Mechanicsville. 

The brigade, with "Wheeler's battery, foimed in line of 
battle on some commanding grounds, and quietly rested 
for the night. On the morning of the 24th, the Seventy- 
seventh and part of the Thii-ty-third were ordered to 
advance toward the village and reconnoiter the position. 
Hardly had the advance commenced before the rebels 
opened upon the two commands a fierce cannonade, which 
forced our men to lie down, that the shells might pass over 
them. Wheeler's battery responded nobly to the rebel 
artillery, and presently General Davidson ordered Colonel 
McKean to charge the village with his regiment. The 
men rose to their feet and started forward with a yell. 


Down the hill they rushed impetuously, cheering and 
yelling ; but the two rebel regiments, the Seventh and 
Eighth Georgia, startled by the shouts, seized their 
muskets and ran ; firing but one parting salute. Their 
battery also limbered up and beat a hasty retreat ; and as 
our men reached the village they were seen lashing their 
horses into a run, and in a moment they disappeared 
altogether down the road. 

In their haste the rebels forgot to carry off their knap- 
sacks, canteens and haversacks ; and our boys gathered 
them lap to be kept till called for. They had also left a 
great many guns and cartridge boxes ; and a flag, which 
the Seventy-seventh bore away in triumph. 

On the 26th of May, the enemy was discovered in con- 
siderable force at Hanover Court House, to the right and 
rear of our army. A part of Porter's corps was sent to 
meet this rebel force, and if possible drive it from its 
position. After a fatiguing march through mud and rain, 
General Emory, with his own brigade, and other troops 
of the corps, came up with the enemy near Hanover Court 
House, and at once commenced advancing slowly against 
the line of the enemy, when, being reinforced by part of 
Martindale's brigade, a charge was ordered and the rebels 
were routed. They fled precipitately, leaving one of their 
guns in the hands of our troops. 

Being reinforced, the rebels turned upon our troops, but 
were gallantly held by Martindale's brigade until General 
Porter brought a large force to the field. The rebels were 
again attacked and completely routed. They left about 
two hundred of their dead on the field to be buried by 
our men. Seven hundred j^risoners were captured, beside 
two railroad trains, a twelve pound gun and many small 
arms. Our own loss amounted to about fifty killed and 
more than three hundred wounded and missing. 



Oaines' Farm — The line of battle — Battle of Seven Pines — Sedgwick and Kearney 
to the rescue— Hooker's charge — A lost opportunity — Golden's Farm- Ditch- 
ing — Malaria — Chickahominy fevers — A German regiment — Stuart's raid. 

Davidson's command was withdrawn from its position 
on Beaver Dam creek on the 26th of May. Moving down 
the river about five miles, it encamped with the rest of the 
Sixth corps on the farm of Dr. Gaines, a noted rebel, 
where it remained until June 5th. The camps were within 
easy range of the enemy's guns, which were planted on 
the opposite side of the river, and our pickets could 
observe those of the rebels as they walked their beats. 

Few more charming places than Gaines' Farm could be 
found on the Peninsula. The broad wheat fields, alter- 
nating with wooded hills, afiTorded a scene of enchantment 
to the weary soldiers. A single wheat field contained 
four hundred and fifty acres, and a delightful grove in 
rear of the superb old mansion, furnished a cool retreat 
during the intense heat of the day. The extensive gar- 
dens were filled with rare exotics and most beautiful 
native plants and trees, and birds of varied and brilliant 
plumage sported among the flowering shrubs and charmed 
the air with their lively notes. Near the river side stood 
a large barn well filled with tobacco, from which the boys 
of the corps did not hesitate to lay in a full supply. 

In the rear of the corps was Liberty Hall, the birthplace 
of Patrick Henry. Now it was used as a hospital, and 
hundreds of soldiers, worn out with fatigue or burning 


with fevers, occupied the house and hospital teuts sur- 
rounding it. 

Our men were employed in doing picket duty, and in 
building corduroy roads and bridges. The river, scarcely 
restrained by banks, was rising rapidly from the continued 
fall of rain, and at one time the pickets of our division, 
including the Thirty-third New York, were found in the 
morning surrounded by water ; the river having within 
three hours risen so rapidly that many were standing in 
water above their Avaists, while others were clinging 
to bushes for suj^port. Boats were procured, and the 
drenched pickets were removed from their disagreeable 

The army was divided into two wings, one on the south 
and one on the north side of the Chickahominy. The line 
of battle was in the form of a V : Keyes' and Heintzel- 
man's corps on a line from Bottom's Bridge to Seven 
Pines, forming the left arm of the Y, and Franklin's, 
Sumner's and Porter's on the north bank of the Chicka- 
hominy, from Bottom's Bridge to Gaines' Farm, the right 

Keyes' corps, now composed of Casey's and Couch's 
divisions, had crossed the river at Bottom's Bridge on the 
24th, and after considerable skirmishing with the enemy, 
had established itself on the road from Richmond to 
Williamsburgh, about six miles from Richmond, and as 
far from the Chickahominy, at a fork in the road called 
Seven Pines. Heintzelman's corps had followed, and 
occupied a position in the rear near the river. Casey's 
division occupied an advance position, and Couch the 
second line. One of the roads from this point, called 
the nine-mile road to Richmond, crossed the Richmond 
and York River railroad north of Seven Pines, at a place 
called Fair Oaks. The country was wooded and marshy, 
and General Casey was not able to throw his pickets out 


more than a thousand yards in advance of his line of 
battle. Both divisions at once intrenched themselves, and 
slashed the forests, that any approach of the enemy might 
be discovered, and to widen the sweep of their guns. 
Here the two divisions remained, having occasional skir- 
mishes with the enemy, until the morning of the 31st of 

During the night before, the rain had follen in torrents. 
Thunders rolled along the sky, and the heavens blazed 
with perpetual flashes of lightning. The morning found 
the earth drenched by the floods, and the men of Casey's 
division rose from their beds of mud to fight the battle of 
Seven Pines. 

It became evident to General Casey early in the day 
that the enemy designed to attack him in force. He 
accordingly ordered his division under arms, and made 
Buch dispositions of his forces as seemed best calculated 
to resist the onset. 

At half-past twelve the attack was commenced. Large 
bodies of rebels emerged from the cover of the woods, 
and at once commenced a brisk fire of musketry and 
artillery, driving in the picket line, and pressing forward 
against the Union line of intrenchments. The numbers 
of the enemy were now seen to be greatly disproportion- 
ate to those of the single division opposed to them, and 
General Casey called for help. Couch's division was 
under arms, acting as support, but not yet engaged. 
Some of the new troops, thus pressed by overwhelming 
numbers broke and retreated in disorder; but the division 
at large nobly withstood the mighty host which assailed 
it in front, flank and rear. The forces of the enemy 
constantly increased ; and the single division was now 
fairly invested by the exultant foe, who pressed forward, 
unmindful of the losses inflicted by Casey's troops. 
Again and again the enemy came on in masses, receiv- 


ing the shot and shells, which tore open their ranks, 
closing up the gaps, and pushing steadily on to the 
assault. Against these repeated attacks of superior num- 
bers of confident troops, who constantly arrived in fresh 
numbers, and, forming under cover of the woods, rushed 
against our lines, Casey's division held its ground three 
hours, until almost half its number were destroyed. The 
execution done on the rebels was great. All means of 
transportation at their command, were brought into requi- 
eition to carry ofi" the wounded to Richmond ; and their 
dead lay jjiled upon the bloody field. The white-haired 
veteran, General Casey, was present wherever the danger 
seemed greatest. Riding along his lines, encouraging his 
troops, and making his dispositions for repelling the over- 
whelming assaults, his heroism inspired bravery in the 
hearts of the men, and prevented defeat from becoming a 
rout. General Keyes was directing the movements of the 
second line, held by General Couch. Portions of the divi- 
sion were rallied, and with the aid of Couch's troops and 
a brigade of Kearney's division, which that never tiring 
general had just led on to the scene of conflict, the 
attemj^t was made to retake the line of works just lost, 
but without success. 

By this time General Heintzelman had arrived with his 
corps ; and orders were given to fall back to a third line. 
The enemy made one more desperate attempt to crush the 
retreating division, but they were repulsed with fearful 
loss, and here commenced the turning of the tide in the 

The line of battle as now formed was nearly two miles 
in the rear of the position of the morning, at Fair Oaks. 

Heintzelman's and Keyes' corps at once proceeded to 
strengthen this position, and before dark the brave fel- 
lows of Sedgwick's division, of Sumner's corps, were on 
the ground, ready to assist in repelling the progress of the 

hooker's charge. 69 

enemy. Richardsou's division, not far behind, arrived at 
sunset; and now the Union army was prepared for any 
attempt which the rebels might see fit to make. The eflforts 
which the enemy were now making to break through our 
flank on the left at White Oak Swamp, were, by this 
timely arrival of Sedgwick, thwarted. Had the confeder- 
ates succeeded in this, the retreat of Keyes' corps and that 
part of Heintzelman's on the ground must have been cut 
off, and our army destroyed. The rebels, not satisfied 
"with a partial victory, and determined to destroy the left 
wing of our army, thus thrust beyond the river, renewed, 
their assaults, and again and again pushed forward. 
Gathering in masses under cover of the forest, they would 
dash upon our lines with impetuous fury ; only to be sent 
reeling back by a hurricane of leaden and iron hail. 
Sedgwick and the intrepid Kearney fought their divisions 
with greatest skill ; and by their own example animated 
and encouraged their men. Night closed upon the scene ; 
and at eight o'clock the fighting had ceased. The rebels, 
60 exultant at their success in the early part of the day, 
were now hopeless of turning their victory to any good 
account ; for their last assaults had met with such terrible 
repulses, that to renew the attack in force in the morning, 
would be but a useless waste of life to them. Still, they 
held their ground, and on the morning of June 1st, made 
some demonstrations against parts of our line, which were 
gallantly met. 

Finally, General Hooker, who here sustained the enviable 
reputation he had so nobly earned at Williamsburgh, led 
his command across the open space in front of our line, a 
space not more than one-fourth of a mile wide, beyond 
which the ground was interrupted by forests, to attack 
the enemy. 

With quick and steady step, the well trained division 
advanced across the field, deploying to the right and left ; 


and before half crossing the open space their pace was 
quickened to a run ; constantly firing as they dashed for- 
ward on the enemy. 

Presently the edge of the forest was reached ; and here 
considerable opposition was met with; yet, after a mo- 
ment's halt, the division again pushed forward into the 
woods. The din of arms was heard for a few moments, 
then the firing ceased, and our troops were in possession 
of the ground. 

The rebels were, in their turn, now panic-stricken ; and 
hundreds of them rushed back to the confederate capital, 
Sf>reading the alarm, and declaring that the Yankees were 
about to walk into the city. 

It was doubtless a sad mistake that this victory was not 
followed up. The rebels, who had greatly outnumbered 
us in the fight of the day before, were now themselves 
outnumbered. They had suffered severe repulses on the 
evening before, and on this day their rear-guard had been 
whipped by General Hooker. 

A renewal of the attack in force on the part of the 
Union army would have probably resulted in the capture 
of the beleaguered city. As it was, the commander of 
the Union army was on the north side of the Chickahom- 
iny, many miles from the scene of action, and no order for 
a forward movement was given. 

Such was the battle of Seven Pines or Fair Oaks. 
Fought for the most part, by a single division of less than 
six thousand men, against the combined forces of Long- 
street, Hill, Smith and Huger ; all under the immediate 
command of the Commander-in-Chief of the rebel army. 
General Johnston. 

General Johnston had become satisfied, from the reports 
of his scouts, that only Keyes' corps, of two divisions, was 
across the Chickahominy. Believing that the bad state 
of the roads and the swollen condition of the Chicka- 

Johnston's plans. 71 

hominy, would effectually prevent reinforcements reaching 
this corps before he could fall uj^on it and crush it, he 
had determined to bring an overwhelming force against 
it. Accordingly, the divisions of Longstreet, Hill, Smith 
and Huger, were placed in position to make a sudden and 
destructive assault upon the front and flanks of Casey's 
exposed division, in the confident expectation of annihilat- 
ing it. But, instead of giving way before this avalanche, 
as Johnston had contemplated, the regiments of the divi- 
sion, with few exceptions, manfully held their ground for 
three hours. 

The Commander-in-Chief reported to the Secretary of 
War that Casey's division " gave way unaccountably and 
discreditably." Five days later he promised to modify 
his charge, if he found occasion ; but it was only in his final 
report, made many months after leaving the army, he was 
constrained to acknowledge the good conduct of the divi- 
sion — an act of tardy justice to deserving men. 

Notwithstanding the great disparity in the numbers of 
those engaged on the rebel and Union sides, the losses 
were nearly equal. The Union army lost four thousand 
five hundred and seventeen in killed and wounded, and 
one thousand two hundred and twenty-two missing. 
Nearly one-half of all these losses were from Casey's and 
Couch's divisions. General Johnston reported the rebel 
loss in Longstreet's and Hill's commands at four thousand 
two hundred and thirty-six. 

Among the trophies of the enemy, were ten pieces of 
artillery and four stands of colors. 

With these trophies, they were satisfied to boast their 
victory ; regardless of the fact that they had been the 
assailants in superior numbers, and had been repulsed with 
fearful slaughter, and that the only fruit of their boasted 
victory was a few guns and colors, as an offset for the loss 
of thousands of their soldiers. General Johnston himself 


was among the rebel wounded, and was forced to give 
over the command to another. 

On the other hand, the Union army might, had the 
corps on the north bank of the Cliickahominy promptly 
followed that of General Sumner across the river, have 
easily entered Richmond. But the hesitancy which char- 
acterized the movements of the army lost to us all the 
advantages of success. Early next day the treacherous 
river had risen to such an extent as to render crossing 
almost impossible ; so the army remained as the battle of 
Fair Oaks had left it ; three corps on the south, and two 
on the north side of the Chickahominy, separated by an 
almost un surmountable obstacle. 

From our camp at Gaines' Farm, the men of the Sixth 
corps could see the smoke of battle and hear the roar of 
artillery and musketry; but were not able to go to the 
assistance of their fellows. 

The distance from Gaines' Farm to Fair Oaks was, in a 
direct line, scarcely more than four miles, but as all com- 
munications with the opposite side of the river were by 
way of Bottom's Bridge, the distance was about fifteen 
miles. The Vermont brigade essayed a crossing in our 
own front on the afternoon of the second day of the fight, 
with the view of rendering assistance on the other side, 
but the attempt was abandoned. 

General McClellan, with General Hancock and other 
ofiicers, took a position in the line of our Third brigade, 
on Sunday, where they remained watching the progress 
of the battle from afar until darkness shut out the view. 

On the day after the battle, rain poured in a continuous 
storm ; deluging the roads and swelling what had been 
but riviilets the day bef9re, into rivers. In the midst of 
this tempest of rain, Casey's division, destitute of tents 
and blankets, weary from fighting and disheartened by 
injustice, marched six miles to the rear to find a new 

golden's farm. 73 

encampment. On the 5th of June, Smith's division, of 
the Sixth corps, was ordered to cross the Chickahominy, 
and encamp on " Golden's Farm," nearly opposite. The 
Third brigade took the advance, followed by the rest of 
the division. Owing to the swollen state of the river, 
and the impossibility of bridging it, the division was 
forced to march to Dispatch Station before effecting a 
crossing. The march was a long and weary one to gain a 
distance less than three miles. 

Some of our troops were found skirmishing with the 
enemy, and our batteries opened upon the gray coats, who 
quickly surrendered the ground and took to flight. Our 
Second division encamped in a pleasant locality, yet in 
close proximity to the swamp. 

The Chickahominy wound its doubtful course among 
multitudes of islands scarcely raised above the surface, 
yet covered with trees, shrubs and vines in profusion, 
within a few rods of our camp. Beyond us, in our front, 
were forests of luxuriant growths of trees and climbinsr 
shrubs, and the country all about us was interrupted with 
rank growth of timber. The division at once proceeded, 
as did all the other divisions in the array, to throw up 
earthworks ; making slow advances at certain points by 
pushing these works further toward the front. On the 
18th, we were joined by the other division, Slocum's. 
The Sixth corps now formed the right of the new line of 
battle on the south of the river. The line reached from 
Golden's Farm to Fair Oaks. Day and night the men 
worked at the breastworks and bridges. One-third of 
the army was employed constantly at these works, and the 
immense lines of intrenchments were marvels of achieve- 
ments in engineering. These were all constructed under 
the fire of the enemy ; no day passing without its skirmish. 
Soldiers were daily brought to the hospitals with wounds, 
even in the most quiet times. 


Everything combined to exhaust the energies of the 
men and produce fevers, diarrheas and scurvy. Day after 
day the men worked under a burning sun, throwing up 
the immense walls of earth, or toiled standing to their 
waists in water, building bridges. Night after night they 
wei'e called to arms, to resist some threatened attack of 
the enemy. Their clothing and tents were drenched with 
frequent rains, and they often slept in beds of mud. 
With the hot weather, the malaria became more and more 
deadly. The whole country was alternately overflowed 
and drained ; and the swamps were reeking with the 
poisoned air. The hospitals became daily more crowded. 
The strongest were constantly falling. Diarrhea, typhoid 
fever, and other miasmatic maladies, became almost uni- 
versal. Men who worked at the breastworks one day 
would be found in the hospitals on the next, burning with 
fever, tormented with insatiable thirst, racked with pains, 
or wild with delirium ; their parched lips, and teeth black- 
ened with sordes, the hot breath and sunken eyes, the 
sallow skin and trembling pulse, all telling of the violent 
workings of these diseases. 

Day after day, scores of brave men, who had left their 
northern homes to aid in the hour of their country's need, 
were borne to lowly graves along the banks of that fatal 
river ; and at times one might sit in the door of his tent 
and see as many as six or seven funeral parties bearing 
comrades to their humble resting places. 

Hospital steamers plied constantly from the White 
House to Washington, Alexandria and Philadelphia, bear- 
ing thousands of these victims of disease; and many, with 
stoic indifference, lay down in their shelter tents and 
gave themselves over to death, without even applying to 
comrades or snrgeons for assistance. 

Everywhere at the north, men were seen on cars and 
steamers, on the streets and in the houses, whose sallow 


countenances, emaciated appearance, and tottering steps, 
marked them as the victims of " Chickahominy fever." 
Express cars groaned with the weight of coffins contain- 
ing the remains of youths who but a few months before 
had gone to the war in the pride of their strength, and had 
now yielded, not to the bullets of the enemy, but to the 
grim spirit which hovered over that river of death. 

Our army seemed on the point of annihilation from 
disease ; and matters were constantly growing worse. At 
White House landing, great temporary hosj^itals were 
established, where hundreds languished, and waited their 
turn to be sent north. 

Thus, for nearly a month, the two armies looked each 
other in the face, each engaged in throwing up defenses 
against the approach of the other, but neither attempting 
to bring on any general engagement. The pickets of the 
two opposing forces were within speaking distance, but 
they contented themselves with watching each other, and, 
as a general rule, amicable relations existed between them. 
But occasionally, when a belligerent regiment would be 
on picket on one or the other side, some fellow, who 
imagined he had a capital chance to pick off an oj^posing 
picket, would blaze away ; when in a moment the whole 
line on either side would flash with the discharge of mus- 
ketry. Night demonstrations on the part of the enemy 
were so common, that it was a rare thing for our troops 
not to turn out at midnight, or at two or three o'clock in 
the morning, and stand under arms until after daylight. 

The men of our Third brigade were a part of the time 
eno^awed in building a stronoj fort, near the river bank, 
which, in honor of our dashing brigadier, was named Fort 

A new regiment was added to Davidson's brigade 
during the month of June, the Twentieth New York. 
The regiment was composed entirely of German Turners. 


Nearly every man had served his three years in the Prus- 
sian service. 

They had been stationed in the works at Newport 
News, and their drill excelled anything in the army, 
either in the regular or volunteer branch of service. 
Their full ranks, and their unsoiled xmiforms, were in 
striking contrast with the shattered and worn-out regi- 
ments forming the rest of the brigade. 

Among the causes of discouragement and anxiety for 
the safety of our army, was the notorious raid of General 
Stuart in our rear. This energetic officer, with a body of 
about two thousand rebel cavalry, had swept round our 
entire rear, causing something of a panic, not only at 
White House, where all the shipping dropped down the 
river, but in the ranks of the army, where it was feared 
that our communications were destroyed, and we were 
liable to be hemmed in and overthrown at any time. 



The army united— Plans and counter plans— Battle of Fair Oaks— Lee's plan— 
The situation — Stonewall Jackson on the flank — Battle of Mechanics^ille— Joy 
in camp — Porter's corps retreats- An astonished army — Battle of Gaines' Farm 
— Slocum's division at Gaines' Farm — Retreat to the river — Battle of Golden's 
Farm — A young hero — A Union victory — Our right exposed — The sick aban- 
doned—A night of sorrow — The grand retreat commenced — Sad scenes at 
Savage's Station— A meteor railroad train. 

At length, after great labor, the bridge across the river, 
near oiir own camps, was finished. It was an immense 
Btructure, spanning not only the river, but the swampy 
banks on either side to a great distance. Snmner's forces 
had also rebuilt and enlarged the bridge below, and now 
the two wings of the army, after Aveeks of separation, 
were united by means of these bridges. Communications 
were now rapid and easy, and there was no difficulty in 
reinforcing one wing with troops from the other. 

General McClellan now detennined to act ; and an 
advance of our picket line was ordered on the 25th of 
June, preparatory to a general forward movement. 

But General McClellan was not alone in deciding upon 
this particular time for commencing offensive operations. 

General Lee, who had succeeded to the command of 
the rebel army when Johnston was wounded, aware of 
McClellan's intentions of approaching the city by regular 
approaches, and aware that it was in no condition long to 
withstand a siege, determined to act on the offensive. 

The two armies were now about equal in numbers, each 
consistino; of a little more than one hundred thousand men 


for duty.* Our own army had recently been reinforced 
by McCall's division, and five or six thousand troops from 
Foi'tress Monroe ; and the rebel army had been strength- 
ened by the accession of Jackson's force, of nearly twenty 
thousand, from the valley. 

McClellan's first move was to advance the left wing, 
under Heintzelraan, who occupied the ground on which 
had been fought the battle of Fair Oaks. General Hooker 
■was ordered to advance his division about a mile across a 
clearing in his front. This the gallant general essayed to do. 

In front of his camp, before reaching the clearing, was 
a thick entanglement of low pines and bushes, filled with 
swamps and ponds. This chaparral was about five hund- 
red yards wide. Beyond was the clearing, in which were 
the rifle pits and strong redoubts of the enemy, and still 
farther on a forest. Hooker's brigades, commanded by 
Sickles, Grover and Robinson, protected on the left flank 
by Kearney's division, and on the right by a Massachu- 
setts regiment, moved into the tangled forest, about eight 
o'clock on the morning of the 25th. Grover's pickets 
soon fell in with those of the enemy, and sharp skirmish- 
ing commenced ; but the rebel picket line was steadily 
driven back into the clearing, where it was strengthened 
by their reserve. The fighting now became general. The 
woods rang with the sharp sounds of musketry and 
the deep tones of the artillery, and clouds of smoke 
obscured the scene from view. Ambulances were emerg- 
ing from the woods bearing the wounded ; and bloody 
forms on stretchers, and the less seriously wounded lean- 
ing on the shoulders of comrades, made up a melancholy 

The fire in the edge of the woods and in the open fields 
increased in intensity, until all of Hooker's and part of 

* Our army had 115,000 men for duty. 

lee's plan. 79 

Kearney's forces were brought into action. The rebels 
finally retreated across the field to the cover of their rifle 
pits. The retreat was slow and orderly, every foot of the 
way being disputed. 

Our men were exultingly pushing forward, determined 
to drive them from their pits also, when an order from 
General McClellan directed General Hooker to retii'e with 
his division to the original position. Here was evidently 
a sad misconception of the state of afilairs, for, when the 
Commander-in-Chief, an hour later, arrived on the field 
and consulted with General Hooker, the men were ordered 
forward once more to occupy the ground they had once 
taken and surrendered. 

This time there was less resistance. The rebels steadily 
gave way, giving up their rifle pits and yielding the whole 
of the open field. Under cover of the forest beyond the 
field they made another stand, and late in the afternoon a 
brigade charged upon our lines ; but they were bravely 
met by men of Grover's brigade, and driven back, leaving 
three hundred of their dead on the field. 

By the action of this day, our line was advanced on the 
left nearly a mile. The victory, such as it was, cost us six 
hundred and forty men in killed and wounded. The men 
remained under arms all night, in readiness to meet the 
frequent sorties of the enemy, who intended nothing more 
serious than preventing reinforcements from being sent to 
the right of our line. 

Little did General Lee heed these operations on our left. 
It was all the better for his plan that the attention of our 
army should be engaged in this direction. He was ready 
now to execute his plan of raising the siege of Richmond ; 
and a tremendous force had been massed against our right, 
ready to advance upon it and our rear, with the hope of 
cutting the Union army off from its supplies, and j^lacing 
it in the greatest jeopardy. 


Let lis, for a moment, recall the position of our army, 
which, since the first battle of Fair Oaks, has been some- 
what changed. Porter's corps, consisting of McCall's, 
Morrell's and Sykes' divisions, still held the right, on the 
north bank of the Chickahominy, at Gaines' Farm and 
Mechanicsville. The several bridges which had been 
constructed since the 1st of June, formed avenues of 
communication between the two portions, of the army 
separated by the river. I^ext, near the river, and opposite 
Porter's corps, was our own Sixth corps, Slocum's and 
Smith's divisions, Smith's nearest the stream. Then, on 
our left was Sumner's corps, Sedgwick's and Richardson's 
divisions ; and finally, on the left of all, was Heintzelman, 
with his divisions under Hooker and Kearney, and Couch's 
division, of Keyes' corps. Casey's shattered division was 
in the rear, guarding Bottom's Bridge and the road to the 
"White House. 

The line stretched from Mechanicsville across the river 
to Golden's Farm, and thence to Fair Oaks. 

The whole of this extensive line was protected by 
earthworks of marvelous magnitude, and whole forests of 
timber slashed in front of some parts of the line formed 
almost impenetrable abattis. 

On the other hand, Lee's army had been as actively 
engaged in ditching and throwing up redoubts, and Rich- 
mond was surrounded by a cordon of most powerful 
works. Stonewall Jackson had been recalled from the 
Shenandoah Valley ; and now, with an army of thirty 
thousand men, a very large proportion of them being men 
of his original army, he hung upon our right and rear, 
ready to come doAvn upon our communications and flank 
like an avalanche. 

Scarcely had General McClellan finished his dispatch to 
the Secretary of War, in which he announced the glad 
tidings that he had got his pickets in the right place, 


preparatory to a general advance, before he was aroused 
from bis illusion by the intelligence that the pickets on the 
right were being driven in. He had already, during 
the day, learned something of Jackson's position, and it 
was now easy to divine the intention of that energetic chief. 
During the night. Hill and Longstreet crossed the 
upper Chickahominy ; and, by rapid marches, confronted 
the pickets of McCall's division at Mechanicsville before 
daylight on the morning of the 2Gth, Jackson, delayed 
by our skirmishers, was still behind. Without waiting for 
Jackson, Hill ordered an attack by daylight. Our pickets 
were forced back upon the main line, and the battle of 
Mechanicsville commenced, McCall's division, consist- 
ing of Reynolds', Meade's and Seymour's brigades, was 
strongly posted behind Beaver Dam creek; a stream about 
twelve feet wide, wooded on either side, with water waist 
deep, and a steep bank on the side held by the Union 
forces. Along this bank, timber had been felled, rifle pits 
dug, and Qther careful preparations made for meeting an 
attack. The only accessible places for artillery were the 
two roads which crossed the stream, one at Ellison's Mills, 
and the other a mile above. Against these two points 
the rebels directed their principal efforts. Hill's division 
made the first assault. Clearing their rifle pits, his men 
rushed forward with a yell, gaining the creek, within a 
hundred yards of our line. Here the creek and the 
almost impenetrable abattis checked their progress, and a 
murderous fire of shot, shells, cannister and musketry was 
opened upon them, which threw them into confusion, and 
repulsed them with fearful loss. Again and again the 
charge was renewed ; each time with equal want of suc- 
cess. More and more grand and terrible the battle 
became, as the combatants struggled with each other at 
close range. Thus far there had been no such terrific 
artillery firing during the war. The uproar was incessant, 


and sublime beyond description. Finding the position 
too strong to be carried by direct assault, the confederates 
fell back to their rifle pits ; leaving their many dead and 
wounded on the ground. The men of McCalFs division, 
(Securely posted behind their breastworks, had suffered 
comparatively little ; our loss not exceeding three hundred 
in killed and wounded, oat of the six thousand belonging 
to the brigades engaged. 

On the other hand, the rebels had lost heavily. From 
their own official reports, it is known that of the twelve 
thousand engaged, the loss in killed and wounded was 
fifteen hundred; Ripley's single brigade losing five hund- 
red and seventy-four men. 

Both Davis and Lee were present on the field, directing 
in person the movements, and exposed to the fii"e where 
the battle was fiercest. General McClellan was at the 
head-quarters of General Porter, where he remained until 
the close of the battle, when he rode over the field. 

From the camp of the Sixth corps, the battle-field was 
not more than four or five miles distant in a direct line, 
though by way of the bridge it was much farther. 

We could watch the columns of smoke as they rolled 
up from the scene of carnage, and see the flashes of burst- 
ing shells, like sheets of lightning in dark thunder-clouds, 
and hear the tremendous roar of arms. In the afternoon, 
as the rebels charged upon a certain part of our lines, we 
could watch the moyenients of both armies. Our only 
part in the engagement was to stand to arms, ready to 
rush to the assistance of those on the other side of the 
river, at a moment's notice. In the evening, the news of 
our success spread through the army, creating the wildest 
joy. Men who had, by constant hardships, and by con- 
tinually looking on death, almost forgotten the feelings 
of joy, now broke out in loud shouts of gladness ; and for 
the first time in many weeks the bands played those hear^ 


stirring national airs, which in times past had been wont 
to fill the hearts of the soldiers with enthusiasm. 

The night passed in constant watchfulness, the men 
resting upon their arms; for a renewal of the attack 
might be expected at any moment. Still, the men of the 
whole of the left wing of the army were exulting in 
the glad hope that in the morning we were to march into 
Richmond, almost without opposition; and that their high 
hopes of success were to be speedily realized. The prize 
which they had so often been promised, seemed almost 
within their grasp. Men shook hands with each other, 
sung patriotic songs, and shouted in greatest glee. 

Bands continued to inng out their notes of gladness 
until long after nightfall ; general officers i*ode about 
announcing a grand victory ; all was the most intense 
excitement; and the men lay down upon their arms to 
dream of reveling in the streets of Richmond before 
another night. For weeks, even the drum calls and the 
bugle notes had not been heard in our camps. Now, as 
if suddenly waked from a long slumber, the strains of the 
bugle and the roll of the drum were added to the general 

It was known that the rebel troops engaged were not 
those of Jackson. He then must be Avorking around to our 
rear. He was known to have a very large force ; not less 
than thirty thousand. It was evident that our communica- 
tions Avere in great danger, and that unless the main force 
of our army, now on the right bank of the Chickahorainy, 
were hastily concentrated on the left bank, we could not 
expect to hold the line to the Pamunkey another day. If 
this were done, the rebels could easily prevent our retreat to 
the James river, and leave us on the banks of the Pamunkey. 
Accordingly, General McClellan gave up all hope of being 
able to maintain the position of that portion of the army 
on the north side of the Chickahominy, and at once issued 


orders with a view of preparing for a change of base. 
The quartermaster at White House was directed to " send 
cars to the last moment, and load them with provisions 
and ammunition." "Load every wagon you have," said 
the dispatch, " with subsistence, and send them to Savage's 
Station. If you are obliged to abandon White House, 
burn everything you cannot get off." 

The quartermaster was directed, also, to throw all his 
supplies, not burned or sent to the army, up the James 
river, and there establish depots of supplies. General 
Casey, who was now in command of the guard at White 
House, was instructed to see these orders carried out. He 
burned immense quantities of stores, consisting of cloth- 
ing, subsistence, and other war material, and then hastily 
marched his force to rejoin the army. 

The evening of the 26th was passed in gladness over 
our victory; but while the army was rejoicing at this 
temporary success, it was losing one of the grandest 
opportunities ever presented it for entering the rebel 
capital. The whole plan of Lee had been based upon a 
false calculation ; and had this mistake been improved by 
our commanders, the history of the war would have been 
entirely changed. Both Lee and Davis believed that 
the main body of our army was on the north side of the 
Chiclcahominy ; whereas, of the five corps constituting 
our army, only one, that of Porter, remained on that side. 
Under this erroneous impression, Lee had brought nearly 
the whole of his army across the river to assail the Union 
army on its right. This was known to our generals, for 
while positive information had been received that Jackson, 
with his large army, was making for our rear, the prisoners 
taken during the day were from Hill's command, and from 
them it was known that the troops of A, P, Hill, Long- 
street and D. H. Hill, were confronting \is on the right. 
Thus, between our main force, of over seventy-six thou- 


sand men, and Richmond, less than twenty-five thousand 
rebels guarded their extensive line of works. A concen- 
trated assault of the four corps on the south side of the 
river must have resulted in the utter rout of the force 
opposed to them, and the road to Richmond would have 
been opened. 

But the error of General Lee was never suspected, and 
this grand opportunity was lost. 

During the night of the 26th, the heavy artillery and 
baggage of Porter's corps was all sent across the river. 
McCall's whole division, except a line of pickets left as a 
blind, also fell back five miles below, to the vicinity of the 
bridge at Gaines' Farm, where the three divisions of 
the corps united. 

The astonishment of the men on the south side of the 
river on discovering, in the morning, that Porter's corps 
had fallen back, was only equaled by their mortification 
and disappointment, as they saw the long lines of rebels 
advancing in the gray of the morning against our retreat- 
ing column. 

They had believed, when night came on, that our arms 
had achieved the first of a series of victories which was 
to give us the rebel capital. ISTow they saw that our army 
was already in retreat, and they gazed at the long train 
of artillery and wagons, which had parked near us, with 
downcast fixces. From our camp. Porter's division could 
be distinctly seen, and we could watch the movements of 
the rebels as they arrived upon the highlands, formed 
their line on the range of hills opposite Porter, and 
planted their guns near the large barn on Dr. Gaines' farm. 

The position of Porter's corps was a strong one ; and 
he was ordered to hold it till night, and then to cross the 
bridge and burn it after him ; the upper bridge having 
been burned during the night. The country between the 
two lines was I'olling, somewhat wooded, but in parts 


cleared. Both parties went to work to cut down trees in 
their front. 

The rebel forces, who supposed on the 26th that they 
were fighting our main army, were surprised, on the morn- 
ing of the 27th, to find that only a picket line opposed 
them. They were early astir ; and advancing against the 
slender line, drove it back. The whole rebel force 
advanced cautiously; A. P. Hill and Longstreet bearing 
to the right, while D. H. Hill turned to the left, to unite 
with Jackson, who was supposed to be coming in from the 
rear. Owing to the uneven country over which they were 
advancing, their march was slow; for they might fall 
upon a Union line of battle behind any rounding swell of 

It was afternoon before the rebel army had fully formed 
its line on Gaines' Farm, The position of that army was 
nearly that of the same army when Grant attacked it at 
Coal Harbor two years later, only it was faced about. 
The battle opened about one o'clock, by skirmishing on 
both sides ; but it was not till an hour later that Hill's 
division dashed across the open space, rushing through 
the swamp, and under a seA'ere fire from our batteries and 
musketry, pushed up the slope on which was posted our 
line. The confederate troops advanced almost up to 
Sykes' line of battle on the right, and in other parts of 
the line actually forced back the Union troops ; but they 
were able to hold their position only a short time, when 
they were forced back with great loss. 

Longstreet now advanced against the left of our line, 
but he too met with a stern reception, and he withdrew to 
rearrange his plan of attack. 

By this time Jackson was approaching, and now the 
overwhelming forces of the enemy promised to crush 
the single corj)S ; but Slocum's division of our Sixth corps 
was ordered to the relief of the Fifth corps, and arrived 

slocum's divisiox at gaixes' farm. 87 

at four o'clock. The division was sent into the fight at 
once, each brigade being ordered separately to strengthen 
the weak points of the line. Thus, while the division 
fought bravely, and suffered equally in proportion with the 
Fifth corps, its incorporation with that corps for the time 
deprived it of the honors to which it was justly entitled. 

Bartlett, with his brigade, went to the aid of Sykes, who 
was doubtfully struggling to hold his line ; but who now, 
by the aid of the gallant brigade, was able to hurl the 
assailants back from his front. 

The rebel line being completed, Longstreet, A. P. Hill, 
and Jackson all up with tlieir troops, a genei'al advance 
was made. 

The charge was made with great spirit, the rebels 
rushing over the open ground and floundei'ing through 
the swamp under a most withering fire, but the position of 
our forces was still too strong for them. At all points 
they were repulsed with terrible slaughter. First on the 
right, whei'e Sykes' regulars, supported by Bartlett's brig- 
ade, withstood the onset of Hill, the disordered and 
disheartened confederates began to scatter in all direc- 

One of the confederate generals reported that had not 
his men fallen back themselves he would have ordered it. 
" Men were leaving the field," says another general, " in 
every direction ; two regiments * * * were actually 
marching back under fire. Men were skulking from the 
woods in a shameful manner. The woods on our left and 
rear were full of troops in safe cover, from which they 
never stirred." Such was the effect of the reception given 
by the regulars. On our left they met with no better 
success. These, too, fell back in disorder. Now a des- 
perate attempt was made against our center. The tactics 
with which we afterwards became so familiar on the part 
of the rebels were brousfht to bear. This was in massing 


troops against certain parts of our line and making 
desperate onslaughts with a view of breaking the line. 
The forces of Jackson, Hill and Longstreet threw them- 
selves fiercely against our works, but without being able to 
drive our men back. Here it was that the First and Third 
brigades of Slocum's division saved the wavering line, and 
all the fury of the rebels was spent in vain. General Porter 
directed Newton's brigade to its position in the center ; 
Newton leading the Thirty-first New York and Ninety- 
fifth Pennsylvania into the woods on one side, and the 
gallant Colonel Matheson with the Eighteenth and Thirty- 
second entering on the other, both in the face of a 
destructive fire. The rebels charged upon the brigade 
and gallantly the charge was met. Newton, seeing the 
rebel line waver before the fire of his men, shouted " For- 
ward !" and the impetuous regiments cleared the woods 
and drove the rebels more than seven hundred yards. 
But the confederates, reinforced, pressed hard upon them 
with overwhelming numbers, and Newton demanded aid. 
Regiments fi-om the Ncav Jersey brigade rushed to the 
assistance of their brothers of the Third brigade, cheering 
as they advanced, and the position was held until the left 
wing of Porter's corps gave way. For two hours the con- 
flict on this part of the line raged with terrible violence ; 
the columns surging backward and forward, neither party 
being able to gain any permanent advantage. Never had 
we heard such volleys of musketry as now rolled along the 
borders of the swampy Chickahominy. Artillery was less 
used ; a strip of pine w^oods intervening between the posi- 
tion occupied by some of our batteries and the rebel line 
preventing an accurate range. The attempt to break our 
center w^as abandoned, and now immense forces were 
brought against the left. The roar of battle became more 
loud than before. The thousand continuous volleys of mus- 
ketry mingled in one grand tumultuous concert of death ; 

CI-: x..i' )iix x',''.\\"r( )X 


while the hooming of artillery, Avhich was now brought 
more into action, shook the earth for miles around. Under 
the pressure of overwhelming numbers, one brigade gave 
way ; and another on the extreme left, finding itself out- 
flanked, fought its way back to the upper bridge, which 
had been partially destroyed during the night, and, cross- 
ing to the south side of the river, gathered its shattered 
regiments behind the breastworks of our Second division. 

For two hours and a half the battle had raged fiercely 
on this part of the line, and as these brigades on the 
right gave way, the confusion spread all along. The 
rebels, seeing the disorder, and encouraged by their suc- 
cess on the left, came on with redoubled fury ; and the 
whole line gave way, and fell back to some high grounds 
near the bridge. Here two brigades from the Third corps 
appeared as reinforcements, and the retreat was checked. 
The Fifth corps, with Slocum's division and the two 
brigades from the Third corps, were able to hold their 
position on the north side of the river till after dark. 

But we had been beaten, and our losses were very 
great. Twenty-two pieces of artillery fell into the hands 
of the enemy. We lost two thousand prisoners, among 
whom was General Reynolds, commanding one of McCall's 
brigades; and our killed and wounded numbered about 
four thousand. The rebels had suffered greater losses in 
men, nine thousand five hundred having been killed or 
wounded. The action, on the part of the rebels, had been 
directed by General Lee in person, who was on the field 
during the whole action, controlling the movements of his 
troops, and attending to the details of the fight. On our 
part, the battle had been fought entirely under the direc- 
tion of General Porter. General McClellan, believing he 
could best watch the movements at all j3arts of his line 
from a central position, had remained during the day at 
the Trent House, five miles from the scene of action, 


mthout deeming it necessary even to ride down to the 
river by the Woodbury bridge.* 

Meantime, while the battle raged with fury on the north 
side of the Chickahominy, there was active work in our 
own front. Our Second division, at Golden's Farm, was 
joined on the left by Sedgwick's division, of the Third 
corps. The two divisions held the key to Richmond ; for, 
had the brave men composing them, under the leadership 
of such men as Smith and Sedgwick, been ordered to 
break through the rebel line, there was no power in their 
front to restrain them. The rebels, aware of this, and 
designing to prevent reinforcements from going to Porter, 
made frequent feints all along our line. 'Now with pick- 
ets, and anon, gathering a considerable force, they would 
advance upon some part of our works. From the nature 
of the ground, they could appear in large force at one 
point, then withdrawing, pass under cover of the woods 
and reappear at another point ; thus keeping up the idea 
of a large force. 

These skirmishes and the artillery duels had been kept 
up all day, to the 'annoyance of all. 

Just at sunset, Davidson's brigade was ordered to cross 
the river, by the Woodbury bridge, to reinforce the Fifth 
corps. Preparations for moving were not complete, when 
the enemy opened a fierce fire of artillery and musketry. 
The idea of reinforcing the Fifth corps was at once aban- 
doned, and we hastily took refuge from the howling 
missiles behind our breastworks. The artillery firing 
increased, until the scene became in the highest degree 

Our guns were answering the rebels with great spirit, 
hurling shells fast and furiously, and clouds of smoke 
rolled up from both the opposing lines. At length the 

* McClellan's Report. 



rebel infixntry was brought forward to charge our line, 
Hancock's brigade of onr Second division, and Burns' of 
Sedgwick's division, were farthest in advance. Hancock 
had taken up a critical position in front of the line of 
works, where his brigade was supporting a strong battery. 
Against these two advance brigades the enemy pounced 
with the hope of routing them by this sudden onset. 
Against Hancock they made the most desperate attempt, 
but with no success fux'ther than driving in the picket line. 
In return, the rebels were hurried back to the cover of the 
woods from whence they came, leaving many dead and 
wounded on the field. While the First brigade was thus 
bravely withstanding the assault of the rebels, the Third 
brigade and the Second occupied a second line, acting as 
support, but neither were actively engaged ; yet several 
of the regiments in the second line lost men by the shells. 

During the night our Third brigade relieved Hancock's 
regiments and remained in possession of the advanced 
position until afternoon next day. We had moved from 
our old position while the fight was in progress, and had 
left everything except arms and ammunition. 

We could hear the sound of ambulances in the front 
where the rebels were gathering up their wounded, till 
after midnight; and toward morning they made a sally 
upon a part of the line, but were quickly repulsed. 

June 28th, the men of Davidson's brigade who had been 
ordered the day before to leave haversacks, canteens, 
blankets and tents, found in the morning that their camp 
was occupied by another division, tired and hungry, who 
had lost their blankets in the fights of the two days 
before, and who had now appropriated the haversacks 
and blankets of our boys to their own use. Some con- 
fusion occurred uj^on making this discovery, but our boys 
soon helped themselves to substitutes and bore their loss 
on the whole very patiently. 


Our picket line was relieved at 9 a. m., but before the 
whole line was changed the rebel batteries opened upon 
the moving companies a concentrated fire from twenty 
pieces of artillery, putting a stop to the process. Shot 
and shell came tearing through our camps in every direc- 
tion, crashing through trees, throwing up great clouds of 
dust, riddling tents and alarming the cooks and contra- 
band servants who remained in camp. 

This artillery practice continued for an hour without 
eliciting much reply from our side, as our guns had been 
nearly all withdrawn from the front to join the train 
preparatory to the retreat. 

The rebels ceased their fire and we inferred that they 
had withdrawn to some other point ; but at two o'clock 
the mistake was discovered. A brigade of rebels was 
seen to leap over their breastworks and rush toward our 
line with yells and shouts like so many madmen. Our 
picket line was forced back before this impetuous charge, 
the pickets retreating to the main line. 

The Thirty-third New York held the principal part of 
the picket line, but two companies from the Forty-ninth 
Pennsylvania of Hancock's brigade, and a detachment 
from the Seventy-seventh New York also guarded a part 
of the line in front of the Second division. 

A part of the detachment from the Seventy-seventh 
held a small advance redoubt or lunette which had been 
thrown up by Hancock's men. Over this work the rebels 
nished, unmindful of the bullets sent by the skirmishers, 
and the guard was compelled to retreat in haste. 

But all did not leave that picket line. 

One youth, as brave a boy as ever shouldered a musket, 
John Ham, of the Seventy-seventh regiment, had sworn 
never to retreat before the enemy. Faithful to his word, 
when the handful of pickets were compelled to retreat 
(and this was the first time that any part of his regiment 


had ever fallen back before the enemy), he stood his 
ground, loading and firing as rapidly as possible, alone 
defending the redoubt ! 

The rebels pressed upon him, and he fell riddled Avith 
bullets. When, later in the day, we had driven the eon- 
federates back to their works, we recovered his body, 
pierced by bullets and bayonets. 

As the rebels neared oi;r main line of battle, they were 
met by a withering fire from our men, and, after maintain- 
ing the contest for a few moments, they broke and fled in 
confusion, leaving the ground thickly strewed with dead 
and wounded. Not satisfied with this repulse, they 
reformed and came on again ; this time with less audacity 
than at first. Again a murderous fire compelled them to 
fall back, leaving more of their number on the field. 
Among their wounded was Colonel Lamar, who was in 
command of the charging regiments. 

He was brought into our lines by Sergeant Bemis and 
another soldier of the Seventy-seventh. He had been 
formerly a mischievous member of congress from Georgia. 

The final repulse of the rebels was made more complete 
and more fatal to them by the timely aid of a section of 
Mott's battery, which had come up and opened an enfilading 
fire upon them from the left. Joyous cheers went up from 
our men as they saw the rebels fleeing in all directions, 
and it was only by the peremptory orders of their com- 
manders that they were restrained from following the 
flying enemy. 

A company of about fifteen rebels threw out a white flag 
and voluntarily surrendered themselves. Fifty dead rebels 
and one hundred woimded remained in our front, whom 
their comrades were allowed to remove, under flag of truce. 

The Thirty-third New York had, during this engage- 
ment, sustained the principal shock of the enemy's charge; 
and with that gallantry for which they bore during their 


two years of service an enviable reputation, they met the 
charge and repulsed the enemy. 

By the retreat of the Fifth corps to the south side of 
the Chickahominy, which was accomplished during the 
night of the 2'7th and 28th, the rebel army was allowed 
to approach the river at Gaines' Farm. By this movement 
the camps of the second division, which were upon the 
extreme right of our line, near the river, and the two forts 
we had erected, were rendered untenable ; for the rebel 
guns shelled the whole position with ease. Our men 
went in squads and brought away the most valuable prop- 
erty, including regimental papers and the knapsacks and 
blankets. A few days before this, our whole corps, as 
well as the other corps of the army, had been supplied 
with an abundance of ncAV tents. Staff and company 
officers had their wall tents, and the private soldiers their 
shelters. All these were destroyed by cutting them with 
knives; as it was known that any attempt to remove 
them would be discovered by the rebels, who would at 
once open all their batteries upon us. 

Now, the feelings of the men underwent a terrible 
revolution. It was, for the first time, told them that the 
army must retreat in all haste to the James river ! Our 
brave fellows had looked with sad faces at Porter's 
retreating column ; but that was felicity compared with 
what they now experienced. Even when the right wing 
was forced across the river, they still had faith that their 
bravery was to be rewarded with victory. 

N'ow they felt that all was lost. General oflBcers rode 
through the camps, and announced to the commanding 
officers of the regiments the mysterious information, with 
directions to get off a few valuable articles and abandon all 

Already, by Porter's retreat, the brave fellows in Liberty 
Hall Hospital, mangled and sick, groaning with wounds, 


and delirious with fevers, were abandoned, deserted, to fall 
into the hands of an enemy known to be merciless. 

And now the siege of Richmond was to be abandoned, 
and the men who but two days before had exulted in the 
glad hope of a speedy entrance into the city, which even 
now lay just within our grasp, were to turn their backs as 
fugitives before their enemies ! It was a time of humilia- 
tion and sorrow. Every man was weighed down with a 
terrible anxiety. Officers hurried to and fro, silently and 
hastily forwarding the preparations for the retreat. The 
great caravan of army trains was on its way under the 
direction of scores of officers, and with it were escorts of 
cavalry and infantry. 

At three o'clock Sunday morning the 29th, the Sixth 
corps quietly evacuated its works and proceeded in the 
direction of Savage's Station. The men slung their knap- 
sacks and quietly moved off A scene of desolation met 
their view as they passed along. Tents cut to pieces, 
commissary stoi'es thrown upon the ground or burning in 
heaps, blankets and clothing piled promiscuously about, 
not considered worth carrying away; all indicating a 
retreat under most disastrous circumstances. 

We had been preceded by Keyes' corps, which had 
started at noon the day before, crossed White Oak creek 
and occupied the opposite side, acting as advance guard 
for our long trains which were now making all haste 
towai'd the James river. 

The endless streams of army wagons, artillery trains 
and ambulances were all pouring down the roads fi-om 
the various camps, and crowding into the narrow paths 
that led to the opposite side of the Peninsula. Porter's 
infantry mingled with the trains, and thousands of cattle 
driven along through the woods by the roadside made a 
strange scene. Franklin's, Sumner's and Heintzelman's 
corps were to guard the rear, and it was with secrecy 


that TV^e had left the rifle pits ; for the ewemy -was close 
upon us ready to take advantage of every movement, A 
picket guard was left to deceive the rebels, "vvhile regi- 
ment after regiment silently disappeared, leaving only the 
pickets to hold the long line of earthwoi-ks. These hrave 
men waited hour after hour for the signal to retire. The 
gray light of the morning broke upon them, yet there Avas 
no sign for them to join their commands. At length, 
when they had given up all hope of being relieved, they 
were signaled to leave the breastworks, and under coA'er 
of the morning mists, they quickly joined their comrades. 

The Second division moved in tlie direction of Savage's 
Station, while the First kept on to the crossing of Wliite 
Oak Swamp, acting as rear-guard to Porter's corps. We 
of the Second division kept along the high lands which 
skirt the Chickahominy, when, after marching about two 
miles, the division was brought to bay by the pursuing 
enemy. Facing about we waited in line of battle for our 
trains to get out of the way ; when we again resumed 
the retreat. While here, General McClellan, with his 
immense staff, rode by us on his way toward Harrison's 
Landing. He passed White Oak Swamp the same day, 
and waited the arrival of the army; which, hindered by 
battles and innumerable difficulties, did not come up with 
its commander again till the 1st of July. 

We arrived at Savage's Station at 4 p. jr. Here trains 
and ti'oops were crowded together in wonderful confusion. 
Immense heaps of commissary stores, arms and ammunition 
were waiting destruction lest they should fall into the 
hands of the enemy, and hundreds of sick and wounded 
men were taking sad leave of their friends ; for it had 
been determined that these brave unfortunate men must 
be left to the tender mercies of the rebels. Again the 
division was formed in line of battle to protect our 
pioneers and the regiments which were engaged in the 

SCENES AT savage's STATION. 97 

destruction of the stores. The long railroad Li-idge 
across the river at this point had been burned. The 
work of destruction went on at a marvelous rate. Boxes 
of hard bread, hundreds of barrels of flour, rice, sugar, 
coffee, salt and pork were thrown upon the burning piles 
and consigned to the flames. One heap of boxes of hard 
bread as large as a good sized dwelling made a part of 
the sacrifice. Boxes of clothing and shoes were opened 
and every man as he passed helped himself to whatever 
he thought worth carrying away. Notwithstanding thou- 
sands helped themselves, and huge boxes of clothing were 
cast into the flames, we found on our return to the Penin- 
sula two years afterwards, that the inhabitants for a long 
distance around were clothed and shod with articles left 
by us at Savage's Station on the grand retreat. The peo- 
ple had also made large gains by gathering up the coats, 
pants, shirts and shoes left on the ground and selling them 
in Richmond and elsewhere. 

It was easy thus to dispose of commissary and quarter- 
master's stores, but to destroy the immense magazines of 
cartridges, kegs of powder, and shells, required more care. 
These were loaded into cars ; a long train was filled with 
these materials, and then, after setting fire to each car, the 
train was set in motion down the steep grade. With 
wildest fury the blazing train rushed ; each revolution of 
the wheels adding new impetus to the flying monster, and 
new volumes to the flames. The distance to the bridge 
was two miles. On and on the burning train thundered 
like a frightful meteor. Now, the flames being communi- 
cated to the contents of the cars, terrific explosions of 
shells and kegs of powder lent new excitement to the 
scene. The air was full of shrieking, howling shells, 
the fragments of which tore through the trees and 
branches of the forest ; and huge fragments of cars were 
Been whirling high in the air. 


At length the train reached the river ; and such was its 
momentum, that, notwithstanding the bridge was burned, 
the engine and the first car leaped over the first pier 
in the stream, and the cars hung suspended. While this 
destruction was going on, Smith's division moved back 
beyond Savage's Station, toward White Oak Swamp, 
marching, with frequent halts, three or four miles, when 
we were ordered to retrace our steps with all speed, to 
reinforce Sumner's corps, which was engaging the enemy. 
The heat of the day was most oppressive. Many of our 
men fell with sunstroke. Among those who thus sufiered 
was General Davidson. 



Lee's aimy in pursuit — Sumner and Smith at Bay— Battlo cf Savage's Station — 
The Vermont Brigade — Sick and wounded abandoned — Retreat to White Oak 
Swamp — Battle of White Oak Swamp — An astonished division — A night march 
— A mystery — In sight of the James — Battle of Malvern Hill — Departure of the 
princes — Gloom and anxiety — Lee's attack — The rebels demoralized. 

Meaxwhile the rebel army, finding no force in front of 
them, were at first at a loss to determine what course we 
had taken ; but when it was discovered that we had with- 
drawn from before both wings of their army and that our 
base of supplies at "White House had been abandoned, it 
was quickly divined that the Union array was retreating 
to the James river. Stuart, with his cavalry, had dashed 
down to White House and found only heaps of smoulder- 
ing ruins ; and from the absence of all motion in front of 
the right of their line, it was clear that no attempt was to 
be made on Richmond. Finding himself thus unexpect- 
edly victorious, Lee at once ordered his forces, now on the 
north bank of the Chickahominy, to cross over and pursue 
the retreating army. 

During the night of the 28th, they had been actively 
engaged in rebuilding the bridge destroyed by General 
Porter, and early on the morning of the 29th, the main 
body of Lee's army was pouring across the river. Hill 
and Longsti'eet moved rapidly so as to interpose between 
our army and Richmond, and to be able to strike us on the 
flank; two other divisions followed on the Charles City 
road, and Jackson, with his corps, moved down the bank 
of the Chickahominy, threatening our rear. 


To resist any attack from these approaching columns, 
Sumner's and Heintzelman's corps, and our Second division 
of the Sixth corps, were formed in line of battle before 
Savage's Station. 

For hours our division, with Sumner's corps, stood in 
the open field watching the enemy. Heintzelman with- 
drew his corps and left Sumner and Smith to stem the 
tide that was destined to pour upon us. It seems to have 
been the impression of General Heintzelman, who had 
listened with credulity to the stories of the immense supe- 
riority of the enemy in numbers, that all hope of resisting 
the power of Lee's army was gone, and that there remained 
nothing for us but to make the best of our way to the 
James river without stopping to give the enemy battle. 

In the view that there was no safety but in retreat, he 
was guided by the opinion of the Commander-in-Chief, 
who had no thought of any further resistance than should 
suffice to bring the men and as much of the material of 
the army as could be brought by the teams across the 
Peninsula. Not so the old war horse Sumner. He would 
gladly have attempted, a few hours later, to have "pushed 
the rebels into the Chickahominy," had not his application 
for help been answered from beyond White Oak Swamp, 
" The rear-guard Avill follow the retreat of the main body of 
the army," If there was no hope for the army but rajDid 
retreat, then it was I'ight for Heintzelman to leave the 
road clear ; for as it was, with only Sumner's corps and 
our own division, the road was packed so full that the 
men could scarcely march. But if there was an opportu- 
nity of inflicting great injury upon the rebels, as Sumner 
believed there was, then we are not surprised at the amaze- 
ment of the veteran when he discovered, the battle having 
commenced, that one corps had left the line altogethei". 
We were now as near our new base of supplies as the rebels 
were to theirs, and here we had enough to last the army 


many days. We were, as they had been, on the defensive ; 
and we had the advantage in position. But there was 
nothing left for those now on the line hut to make the 
best resistance possible under tlie circumstances, and then 
fall back to the banks of the James. 

About five o'clock the huge cloud of dust in the direc- 
tion of the camps we had deserted, gave warning of the 
approach of that part of the rebel army which was march- 
ing by the Charles City road ; and at sunset the thunders 
of their artillery burst upon us. For an hour, only the 
heavy roar of artillery was heard from both sides. Shells 
sci'eamed from one side to the other, and the bright flashes 
and sharp reports, as they burst in the air, mingled with 
the noise and smoke of the battle, as battery responded 
to battery. Thus far no discharge of musketry was heard ; 
but suddenly Magruder's men, with yells and shouts, rushed 
to the charge. Streams of fire flashed along the two lines, 
and the rattle of innumerable muskets told of closer work 
than artillei-y duels. The brave fellows of Sumner, and 
of our Vermont brigade, met the assailants with defiant 
shouts that rang out above the roar of muskets and 

Leaving Sumner's heroes to contend the ground on their 
part of the line, let us glance more in detail at the part 
borne by our own division in this battle of Savage's 

The Vermont brigade having the advance of the division, 
General Brooks at once threw his regiments to the front. 
The Fifth and Sixth as skirmishers, supported by the 
Third and Second in line of battle, the Fourth being 
thrown upon the flank, the brigade advanced rapidly 
through a wide strip of woods. Suddenly, as the line of 
skirmishers emerged from the woods they received the fire 
of a battery and of a strong line of battle. The Fifth at 
once charged upon the force in front, which scattered in 


all directions. The rebels were beaten back both from 
our own and from Sumner's front ; but only to reform and 
press for\vai-d again from the cover of the woods to which 
they had retreated, to give battle with new vigor. Again 
the flash and roar of musketry mingled with the wild yells 
of the rebels and the manly shouts of the Unionists, and 
again nothing could be seen but the clouds of smoke, out 
of which sprang the vivid blaze of the cannon, and the 
quick flash of the rifles. Every now and then, fresh 
troops arriving upon the field would send up the shout 
above all the other noise of battle, and then nothing but 
the continuous din of arms could be heard. Three rebel 
regiments now advanced against the Fifth Vermont ; but 
the brave fellows secured a good position and held it, 
in spite of every efibrt of the rebels to dislodge them. 
The other regiments were not so hotly engaged as the 
Fifth. Two hundred of the men of that regiment were 
killed, wounded or missing. Fifty of their dead bodies 
were left on the field. Davidson's and Hancock's brig 
ades guarded important positions, but were not actively 

The conflict raged till eight o'clock, when the confed- 
erates, repulsed at every point, beaten and discouraged, 
left the field, and no more was seen of them. The whole 
loss to the confederates in this engagement was about four 

Before midnight, the rear-guard had turned toward 
White Oak Swamp, leaving many hundreds of our brave 
wounded and sick men lying upon the green sward, or 
collected under rude shelters. Here, large groups were 
gathered under the shade of some large tree ; and there, 
long lines of staggering invalids, leaning upon their guns 
or staffs for support, tottered after the i-eti-eating column, 
in the hope of being able to reach with it a place of 


Surgeons were left to care for these unfortunate ones 
who could not get off; and a small amount out of the 
abundance of provisions that was condemned to destruc- 
tion was saved for them. Of all the sad scenes which 
had made the Peninsula swarm with melancholy mem- 
ories, nothing we had seen could comjDare with this most 
sorrowful of all. Twenty-five hundred of our sick and 
wounded were left to fall into the hands of the enemy. 

At nine or ten in the evening, we withdrew from our 
position before Savage's Station, and marched rapidly 
toward White Oak Swamp. The road was completely 
filled with wagons, ambulances and artillery, mingled 
with horsemen and infantry, all crowding forward with 
utmost speed. Never had our men experienced so severe 
a march. They were obliged to pick their way among 
the teams, losing all organization, each man bent upon 
making his way forward regardless of others. 

At length, toward morning, we crossed White Oak 
creek, ascended a little elevation on the further side, and 
lay down upon the grass completely exhausted and worn 

The sun was shining brightly when we were roused 
from our heavy slumbers. The morning passed in perfect 
quiet except the rattle of the trains which had parked 
here over night, and now were hurrying along the narrow 
road, wagons and artillery rushing by with all speed to 
allow room for the immense collection to file out. This 
process continued till afternoon, and was the only source 
of excitement to us except the distant roar of battle on 
the left, where McCall and Hooker were hotly engaged. 
Thus matters continued until about two o'clock ; the men 
seeking shelter among the pines or resting quietly after 
their weary night's march. A picket line composed of 
men from the various resciments of our Third brigade. 
Second division, guarding our extreme right flank. All 


were listless and little dreaming of the tremendous storm 
of iron hail which was gathering to break upon us in a 

Suddenly, like a thunderbolt, seventy-five pieces of 
artillery belched forth their sheets of flame and howling 
shells ; and in an instant, our whole division was thrown 
into the most perfect confusion by the deadly missiles 
which flew among us in every direction. Such cannonad- 
ing had never before been heard by our army, and before 
our batteries could I'eply with any efliect, the horses were 
killed, the gunners dispersed and the pieces disabled. It 
was a most perfect surprise ; no one was prepared ; men 
ran hither and tliither seeking shelter behind any object 
which seemed even sufiicient to conceal them from the 
view of the enemy. 

It appeared that Jackson had efiected a crossing of the 
river, and with great secrecy made his way to the border 
of White Oak creek, where, concealed by trees and under- 
bi'ush, he had massed his batteries, and when all was in 
perfect readiness had opened upon us this storm of death. 
Unutterable confusion prevailed for a time ; riderless horses 
galloped madly to the rear ; men rushed here and there ; 
ofticers wandered about without commands, and men were 
left without directions how to act. Generals Smith and 
Davidson occupied an old fashioned wooden house which 
stood upon the broAv of the elevation above and facing 
the bridge. About it were many orderlies, holding their 
horses, or lounging carelessly, or chatting with each other. 
The very first volley I'iddled the house with shells ; order- 
lies rushed from the place in consternation and the inmates 
quickly appeared without, gazing in amazement toward 
the source of this unexpected cause of the tumult. The 
gray-haired owner of the house was cut in two as he stood 
in the door, and several other persons were more or less 
injured. General Smith, at the moment the cannonade 


opened, was engaged at his rude toilette; his departure 
from the house was so hasty that he left his watch, which 
he did not recover. He coolly walked off to a less exposed 
position and devoted himself to restoring order. One 
regiment, as soon as the shells began to fly, rushed pell-mell 
to the rear, none of the men standing upon the order of 
their going. 

Durinir all this time a few of the regiments held their 
ground without moving. By active exertions, on the part 
of officers, order was restored and the whole division fell 
back a short distance, taking up a position at the edge of 
a strip of woods, which commanded an open field. General 
Smith, with his accustomed fearlessness, was to be seen 
riding along his lines exhorting his men to coolness, and 
by his own composure restoring confidence to them. The 
design of Jackson, to ci'oss the stream, was frustrated. 
The firing soon ceased, and, as darkness came on, quiet 
again reigned, except now and then a little skirmishing. 

At nine o'clock in the evening, under cover of the dark- 
ness, we silently and hastily withdrew. All orders were 
given in whispers ; men refrained from conversation ; and 
everything indicated the most intense anxiety on the part 
of our generals for the safety of the army. Thus, in sil- 
ence, we hastened on our way; the weary and exhausted 
troops scarcely able to keep awake while they marched. 
No better illustration can be given of the intense state of 
anxiety, excitement and doubt which prevailed, than 
the following little incident, which occurred during this 
night mai-ch. Our Third brigade, leading the Second 
division, had halted where the narrow road passed 
through a piece of woods, waiting a moment for the road 
to clear, or for the guides to repoi't the direction for the 
march. Generals Franklin and Davidson, with officers of 
Davidson's brigade, were grouped together near the head 
of the column, sitting upon their horses. The weary men, 


almost overcome by sleep, were leaning upon tlaeir muskets 
or lying in the road half asleep. Officers nodded and 
swung this way and that in their saddles. The stillness of 
death jirevailed. In an instant, without any perceptible 
cause, as though a breath from some evil genius had swept 
the narrow track, every man was gone from the road. 
They stood in the woods looking with breatliless wonder 
into the road for the unseen danger. After the first 
moment of surprise, the word passed along, in low tones, 
" Attention ! " Not a living being could be seen in the 
road, and all was silence. Recovering from the first sur- 
prise. General Davidson looked for General Franklin, who, 
but a moment before, was dozing by his side. " General 
Franklin ! General Franklin !" called the general in a loud 
whisper, but nothing could be foiind of him, and we saw 
no more of him that night. What was the cause of this 
Budden alarm we never knew. Possibly, a riderless horse 
might have suddenly startled those in front, or, quite as 
likely, there Avas no cause whatever; but the incident 
illustrates the state of feeling in the army that night. 

At length, just as the gray light of the morning was 
streaking the skies, we came in sight of the majestic 
James river. Every man took a long breath, as though 
relieved of a heavy load of anxiety. Officers clasped 
their hands and exclaimed, " Thank God." The worn out 
men stepped lighter, for they had arrived at the haven 
of their hopes. Again they experienced a feeling of 
safety. We filed into a beautiful clover field, and there the 
exhausted columns sunk down for a brief rest. Brief it 
was to be, for scarcely had two hours passed when we 
Avere ordered into line of battle. We moved back 
through the woods, crossing a little stream, and formed in 
a wheat field, where the grain stood in shocks. Here we 
remained, watching the enemy, who stood in our front, 
contentinc: themselves with occasional sallies of their 


skirmishers, while the great battle of Malvern Hill was in 
progress on our left, where the booming of our field jjieces 
and the dull roar of the heavy guns from the gunboats 
was heard for many hours. At length, as night came on, 
the sound of battle died away, and all was again quiet. 
Now we heard cheers on the left, and, looking in that 
direction, we saw, approaching at great speed, the com- 
mander of the Union army. Cheers greeted him as he 
rode along the line, and hats were thrown high in the air 
in honor of the chief 

As the leading corps of the army had fallen back from 
White Oak Swamp, they had occupied a superb position 
on the James river, called Malvern Hill. The wagons 
and other impedimenta of the army had also arrived 
there, and were secured behind the southern slope of the 
hill. The place was admirably adapted for a defensive 
battle. It was a lofty plateau, rising not less than one 
hundred and fifty feet above the plain, sloping gently 
toward the north and east, down to the border of the 
forest. The approach to this sloping field was rendei-ed 
difficult by ravines, which ran along the front; and the 
enemy, if he approached, must do so by way of the roads 
which crossed them. 

Upon the crest was posted the battery of siege guns 
which had escaped the hands of the enemy ; and nearly 
three hundred field pieces were arranged along the heights, 
sn that the fire might pass over the heads of the infantry, 
who were arranged upon the glacis, up which the enemy 
must charge, hidden, for the most part, by the tall wheat 
and corn. Here the main body of the army was posted. 
First, nearest the James, was Porter's corps ; then Heintz- 
elman's, Keyes', Sumner's and our Sixth corps, occupying 
the right flank, two or thrckC miles from the position Avhere 
the rebels must advance with their main force. The fleet 
of gunboats floated upon the river, on our left flank, 


ready to send their screaming monster shells into the 
ranks of the advancing enemy. 

Against this position, naturally almost impregnable, Lee 
hurled his hosts, with the design of giving the final blow 
to the Union army, which should insure its destruction 
and capture. The rebel array confidently believed that 
the army of the north must now be compelled to sur- 
render or be driven into the James. 

If the rebels were confident and exultant, our own men 
were filled with the deepest despondency. 

Exhausted by a month of constant labor and watchful- 
ness, with fighting and marching and dicrcrins:, now, as 
they believed, fleeing from the face of an enemy immensely 
superior to them in numbers, it is not to be wondered at 
that they were apprehensive of the worst results. 

Paymasters sought refuge with their treasures in the 
gunboats on the river. The Prince De Joinville and his 
nephews, the Count De Paris and Count De Chartes, who 
had acted as aides de camp to General McClellan, who had 
been with us from the beginning, active, brave men, who 
were frequently where the danger was greatest, and 
who had entered our service with the determination of 
seeing it to the end, now departed ; they, too, finding a 
resjjite from their toils upon one of the gunboats. The 
young men were accompanied on board by the stafi" and by 
the Commander-in-Chief himself From the deck of the 
vessel he communicated his orders by the signal flags, to 
those left in command on shore. Here, with his young 
friends, and in consultation with the commander of the 
fleet, he remained until about five o'clock, when he rode 
down the lines to the rear of our corps, where he spent 
the time till darkness put an end to the fight. 

Such was the sad state of feeling in our army. Yet, 
exhausted and depressed as they were, our men were as 
brave and determined as ever. They had yet a country ; 


and they knew that the fate of that country depended 
upon the result of this encounter, and they resolved to 
acquit themselves with heroism and even desperation, 

Lee had marshaled his whole force in front of our 
strong position. He wrote to each of his division com- 
manders ordering an assault, and directing, when they 
heard the yell of Armistead's troops, to charge also with 

The yell was heard, and some of the divisions, but not 
all, pressed forward to a wild charge. 

The rebels came on heroically, but were sent reeling 
back down the slope in confusion and disorder. Again 
and again they renewed the charge from under cover of 
the woods which skirted the base of the slope. They 
would start across the open space, charging our batteries 
with wild yells, but the heavy fire of our guns and the 
steady volleys of our infantry sent them back as often to 
the shelter of the woods. At times our infantry would 
reserve their fire till the rebel columns had run the gaunt- 
let of shot and shell from our batteries, almost reaching 
our lines, when with exultant cheers they would bound 
forward to seize the prize now almost within their grasp, 
when our men would open upon them a single volley, and, 
leaping over the breastworks, pursue the panic-stricken 
assailants, capturing prisoners and colors, and driving the 
rebels in confusion down the slope. Thus the battle raged 
with terrible fury ; every attempt on the part of the enemy 
failing, until darkness set in, and the rebel chiefs were 
glad to let the battle subside ; though it was not till nine 
o'clock the ai'tillery firing ceased. 

The weight of the attacks had been upon our center. 
Here Couch, Sumner and Heintzelman withstood the shock 
of battle for hours, only a part of Porter's corps being 
engaged, and neither our Sixth corps nor Casey's division 
of Keyes' corps being actively in the fight. 


The rebel General Trimble thus describes the condition 
of their army on the morning after the battle : 

" The next morning by dawn I went off to ask for orders, 
when I found the whole army in the utmost disorder. 
Thousands of straggling men were asking every passer-by 
for their regiments ; ambulances, wagons and artillery 
obstructing every road ; and altogether in a drenching rain 
presenting a scene of the most woful and heart-i'ending 

Had but a show of an attack upon such an army been 
made, it must have resulted in defeat and utter rout to 
the rebels. 

Note. — At the battle of Malvern Hill, Couch's division held the centre of the point of 
attack of the enemy, and received the first and many of the most severe of the succeed- 
ing assaults. The bravery with whii^h the division received the assaults, and the bril- 
liant manner In which it repulsed them, breaking up the attacking force and driving it 
in disorder to its own ground, reflected the greatest credit upon tlie division. The 
counter charge and repulse of Anderson's rebel brigade by the Tenth Massachusetts and 
Thirty-sixth New York, with Kingsbury's battery, in which the Thirty-sixth captured 
the colors of the Fourteenth North Carolina in a hand-to-hiind conflict, wiis one of tlio 
most brilliant aflairs of that bsittle or of the campaign. This division, including tbe«e 
noble regiments, was, immediately after the battle of Antietam, joined to the Sixth 



March to Harrison's Bar— A scene of confusion — A beautiful landscape — Fourth 
cif July in camp— Gloom at the north — Cause of the disasters — Prevalence of 
disease — Review by the President— A night demonstration by the enemy — 
Reconnoissance to Malvern Hill — Departure of General Davidson — A retro- 

OuE corps remained in line of battle in the wheat field 
till early next morning ; changing position during the 
night just often enough to deprive us of rest. As we 
started out toward Harrison's Landing the rain was pour- 
ing in sheets ; and throughout the day it continued to 
deluge the country. The roads were rivers of almost 
fathomless mud ; and our tired men could scarcely drag 
themselves along. But at four in the afternoon we halted 
under cover of our gunboats, and bivouacked for the 
night. Such a deplorable scene as was here, was enough 
to melt the heart of the stoutest. As we debouched from 
a piece of woods skirting the plateau at Harrison's Land- 
ing, officers stood like hotel porters at a steamboat landing, 
calling out " This way for the Third corps ;" " This way 
for the Fifth corps ;" " This way for Slocura's division." 
All was confusion. The whole army seemed to be made 
of stragglers. Our little Brigadier Davidson rose in his 
saddle to an unusual height, as he looked back and saw 
with undisguised pride, his brigade marching in, almost 

The landscape before us was indescribably beaiatiful. 
There lay the James river, and spreading out between us 
and the river were the broad fields of wheat; the fine 

112 AT Harrison's landing. 

country houses ; the long avenues and roads lined with 
rows of cedar trees ; which last were almost in a moment 
stripped of their branches to make heds for the soldiers. 

There, crowded together, were the immense caravans 
of wagons, ambulances, guns and pontoons, hugging the 
river, and the multitude of men swarming over the plain. 
Long processions of sick and wounded men, leaning on 
canes and crutches, their heavy steps and sunken faces 
now for a moment lighted up at the thought that their 
melancholy pilgrimage was nearly ended, filed by us ; and 
battalions of cooks and special duty men were wandering 
about in search of their commands. 

The river was full of transports and gunboats, giving it 
the appearance of the harbor of some commercial metro- 
polis. Many of the hungry men, without waiting for 
their rations to be brought by the commissary, plunged 
into the stream, swam to the boats and there procured the 
coveted food. But the greater number of our men, their 
powers completely exhausted, without waiting for food, 
or to provide comfortable quarters, lay down in the bed 
of mud and. were soon in heavy slumbers. 

Again, after a poor night's rest, the corps was marched 
to a new position on the front line, where we remained to 
celebrate the anniversary of the nation's birthday. A 
gloomy "Fourth of July" was this to us, though every 
effort was made to keep up the spirits of the men. 
Early in the morning the enemy opened a fire upon 
parts of our line, to which our guns responded. A 
national salute had been ordered, and precisely at the 
hour appointed, while the fighting was in progress, 
the heavy guns were heard booming the salute. Our 
boys listened for a moment, and then, as if all inspired 
with new life, they made the welkin ring with their cheers. 
The bands, roused from their long inactivity, pealed forth 
stirrine national airs, and the Commander-in-Chief issued 

THE NEWS AT HO:irE. 113 

an address to his army, in which he praised its gallantry 
and firmness, declared that ho himself had established the 
new line, and that if the enemy would come upon us now 
we would couA^ert his repulse into a final defeat. 

At home, a heavy gloom hung over the nation. The 
news of our retreat and of tlie terrible battles, had been 
carried by the magic wires to the remotest parts of the 
north ; but few yet knew the fate of their friends who 
were in the great army. It was enough that the siege of 
Richmond, which had cost so much time and money, and, 
above all, so many thousands of brave men, was abandoned, 
and the grand army, on which the hoj^es of the nation 
hung, was now beleaguered, defending itself in an unhealthy 
position, which offered little advantage for anything but 
defense. Sympathizers with the rebellion secretly rejoiced 
and openly prophesied the speedy destruction of our army 
by the scorching sun and poisoned air, even if left to itself 
by the rebels. 

The cause of all these disastrous circumstances was by 
some attributed to unwise interference, on the part of the 
authorities in Washington, with the plans of the chief of 
oiir army. They claimed that the President, Secretary of 
"War and the Major-General commanding all the armies 
of the Union, had, in the words of General McClellan, "done 
what they could to defeat this army." They complained 
loudly that reinforcements had been withheld, and that 
McDowell, with a large force, had been kept unemployed 
in the vicinity of Fredericksburgh, when his corps would 
have thrown the balance of strength upon our side. Others 
claimed that the whole campaign had been sadly misman^ 
aged by a commander who had, as they insisted, never seen 
his army fight; who had invariably found employment 
elsewhere than on the field of battle when fighting was to 
to be done, and whose character as a soldier was made up 
of doubts and hesitancies. 


Six Aveeks of camp life, dreary, sickly and monotonous, 
succeeded our arrival at Harrison's Bar. 

Our corps proceeded to the work of throwing uj) strong 
intrenchments and mountinof a;uns. Our Third brig^ade. 
Second division, constructed an extensive fort, in which 
several very heavy guns Avere mounted ; each of the regi- 
ments taking their turn at the labor. In our front the 
forests were slashed for a great distance, and thoiisands of 
sturdy wood-cutters plied their heavy blows, sweltering 
under the burning rays of the sun. 

Sickness became almost universal. The men were worn 
out with the tremendous labors which they had performed 
since their arrival on the Peninsula ; they were burned by 
almost unendurable heat ; they were nearly devoured by 
the countless myriads of flies and other annoying insects ; 
and they were forced to drink impure and unwholesome 
water. It was not strange that hundreds died in camp, 
and that hundreds more, with the seeds of death implanted 
in their constitutions, went to their homes in the north to 
breathe out their lives in the midst of their friends, or 
languished in the large government hospitals at Wash- 
ington, and other cities. 

Leaves of absence were given freely, and thousands 
availed themselves of the opportunity of visiting their 
homes and recruiting their health. The men, with the 
patience which none but soldiers ever exhibit, went 
quietly to work to render their situation as tolerable as 
possible. Wells were dug in the camps, from which they 
procured better water than they were able to get at first, 
and small pines were brought and set among the tents, by 
which some degree of protection was afforded against the 
burning sun. On the morning of the 8th of July, the 
monotony was broken by the arrival of President Lincoln. 
The booming of artillery announced his coming, and the 
heartfelt cheers of the so"*liers assured him of a welcome. 


The President, after spending a few hours at the head- 
quarters of the army, proceeded to review the various 
corps. He was accompanied by General McClellan, and 
many officers of note. Everywhere he received an enthu- 
siastic welcome from the men, who regarded him as their 
warm friend. He manifested great emotion as he rode 
along the lines and saw that the regiments, which but a 
few weeks before had left Washington with full ranks, 
were now mere skeletons of regiments. Evening drew its 
mantle over the scene, and the review was closed by 

Little occurred to relieve the monotony of the six weeks 
of camp life at Harrison's Bar, except the events of which 
we have spoken ; a demonstration by the enemy during 
the night of the 81st, and an advance to Malvern Hill by 
General Hooker's division. On the former occasion, the 
troops were startled from their slumbers about midnight, 
by the sudden discharge of a battery of artillery from the 
south side of the James. The rebels had succeeded in 
getting a force in position there, and they now opened a. 
vigorous fire uj^on our shipping and our camps. Their 
shells flew among us in disagreeable proximity, and the 
long lines of fire traced upon the midnight sky lent a cer- 
tain charm to the dangerous business. Our gunboats 
answered the fire ; and after two hours of exciting work 
drove the rebels from their position. Some infantry was 
taken across the river, who hastened tlie retreat of the 
enemy, burned the buildings near the shore, and cut down 
the trees, that they might not in future afford concealment 
for the rebels. 

General Hooker's reconnoissance resulted in his occupy- 
ing Malvern Hill for a day or two, having a brisk skirmish 
with the enemy and returning to camp. 

Our active and gallant Brigadiei'-General Davidson 
was, early in August, relieved from the command of our 


Third brigade, and ordered to the department of Missouri. 
Notwithstanding the severity of liis discipline, and his occa- 
sional forgetfulness that men could not accomplish as much 
physical labor as horses — for the general had always been 
a cavalry officer — his never-tiring energy, his undoubted 
bravery, and his interest and pride in his brigade, had 
endeared him to the men. During the severe trials on the 
Chickahominy, and on the retreat, the general had taken 
an unusual interest in the brigade, and had made himself 
personally acquainted with nearly all the members of his 

The general took command of a cavalry division in 
Missouri ; where his name became a terror to all secession- 
ists in that part of the country. The command devolved 
upon Lieutenant-Colonel Corning of the Thirty-third New 
York, then senior officer of the brigade, who was soon 
succeeded by Colonel W. H. Irwin, of the Forty-ninth 
Pennsylvania Volunteers. 

Reinforcements began to arrive from Washington, and 
our army, in August, numbered one hundred and twenty 
thousand men. With these, and a few thousand more, 
General McClellan declared his belief that he could rej^el 
the enemy and advance into Richmond. 

Let us, for a moment, pass in review the eventful career 
of the Sixth corps during this remarkable campaign of the 
Peninsula — a campaign which, whatever the judgment of 
history shall be regarding the wisdom which directed its 
movements, demonstrated beyond all doubt the sterling pa- 
triotism, the extraordinary endurance, and the heroic braver^' 
of the men of the Army of the Potomac. We have seen this 
coi'ps always at the front, nearest the enemy, never behind 
when a blow was to be given or received, and always giv- 
ing a good account of itself when called upon to face the 
foe. At Yorktown, it is safe to say, no division of the army 
endured greater labors or suffered more constant exposures 


than Smith's. Its heroism at Wilh'amsburg-h was admired 
by the army and the nation. The gallantry of Slocum's di- 
vision won for its first appearance, at West Point, enduring 
honors ; and when the same division, with unsurpassed 
valor, went to the support of the Fifth corps, overwhelmed 
by the hosts of Jackson, Hill, and Longstreet, the loss of 
two thousand of its number attested its splendid conduct, 
and won for it an enviable reputation among- the divisions 
of the army. 

The hot reception given to the rebels by Smith's division 
at Golden's Farm, aided by the First division, which had 
but just returned from the slaughter beyond the river, was 
worthy of its well-earned reputation. And we have seeu 
how nobly the men of the Second division held the foe at 
bay at Savage's Station, when, with the stout chieftain, 
Sumner, we interposed an impassable barrier between the 
forces of Magruder and our long trains of artillery, wagons, 
and ambulances ; and how, at White Oak Swamp, the same 
division, despite the fearful storm of artillery from Jack- 
son's guns, held the crossing, while in the distance McCall, 
and Kearney, and Hooker, and Slocum, with our First di- 
vision, dealt the enemy heavy blows. 

The long, weary weeks of digging, under the scorching 
rays of a Southern sun, the constant exposure to danger, 
not only from the whistling bullet of the rebel sharpshooter, 
but from the silent influence of the deadly poison which 
lurked in every breath inhaled, the terrible disappointments 
and humiliation suffered by the men when they saw victory 
snatched from their grasp by foes whom they could not 
meet in battle — these had not worn out their patriotism nor 
crushed their valor, though physically they were overcome 
by them. 

Disease and exhaustion had made terrible inroads upon 
the Sixth corps, as well as upon all the corps of the army. 
Instead of full reariraents of almost a thousand men each 


with which we came to the Peninsula, inspections in the 
middle of June showed an average of only about two hun- 
dred and fifty men present for duty, while some regiments 
were reduced to mere companies. Although Smith's divi- 
sion had, from the very beginning, occupied an exposed po- 
sition in the very front line, and had already become famous, 
both in the Union and rebel armies, for being always in 
closest proximity to the enemy, yet it had, thus far, lost 
comparatively few men in battle. All the rest of those now 
absent had been stricken down by fevers, or worn out by 
the exhausting labors and exposures of the campaign. 

Slocum's division, though it had not been called upon to 
endure the hardships of the siege of Yorktown, had beeu 
more unfortunate in its losses by battle. The many braves 
who had fallen on the field of Gaines' Farm, and the hun- 
dreds who, refusing to yield their ground when others fell 
back, were surrounded and compelled to surrender, had 
greatly thinned the ranks. 

Many changes took place among the officers of the corps. 
Some for incompetency were advised to resign, while others 
were dismissed. Some, disgusted with the hardships and 
dangers of the service, sought the greater comfort and se- 
curity of civil life. 

Many of our best officers, whose labors had been inces- 
sant, worn down with constant labor and exposure, were 
forced to go to the rear with serious, some with fatal, dis- 

Among those attacked by typhoid fever was Colonel 
McKean. After suffering a few days, in the vain hope of 
soon being able to place himself again at the head of his 
regiment, he was removed from the poisonous atmosphere 
of the swamps to Washington, and thence to his home in 
Saratoga. The men looked upon his departure with sincere 
regret, for they not only respected him as an able com- 
mander, but loved him for his never-failing interest in their 


welfare. His leave of his regiment was destined to be 
final ; for, except as an occasional visitor, he did not return 
to it, and after many months of suffering, his constitution 
undermined, his health permanently destroyed, he was 
forced to relinquish the command. His departure from the 
service was a loss to the whole corps, for he was not only a 
brave officer but a gentleman of superior intellectual endow- 

Losses and changes similar to those of our own corps had 
occurred in every part of the army, and the magnificent body 
of men that came to the Peninsula in the pride of its 
strength — an army such as no general ever led to the field 
before — was now shut up, under cover of the hills and the 
river, in a little circuit with a radius of less than a mile 
and a half, hoping only to avoid destruction from its enemy. 
Such a combination of circumstances was sufficient to crush 
the spirits of any armj'^ ever known before. But these men, 
sustained by patriotism, although enfeebled, lost none of 
their native ambition or determination to succeed in their 



Premonitions of a change of base — The transfer commenced — Marching down the 
Peninsula — On board transports— A contrast — Arrival at Alexandria — ITnao- 
countable delays — General Pope's campaign — An obstinate general — Causes of 
Pope's failure. 

Early in August, rumoi'S were floating about the army, 
that Genei-al ]McClellan had received positive orders to 
transfer the Army of the Potomac to the front of Wash- 
ington, there to unite the forces of the two armies ; and 
that this plan was strongly opposed by General McClellan, 
"who insisted that he wanted only a few thousand more 
men to march into Richmond. 

The army had received large reinforcements since arriv- 
ing at Harrison's Landing, and now numbered more than 
one hundred thousand men ; not by any means an incon- 
siderable force, yet too small, in General McClellan's 
opinion, to warrant another advance. 

But, owing to the movements of the enemy in front of 
General Pope, the supposed impracticability of the route, 
and to some distrust as to the abilities of General McClellan 
by the authorities at Washington, peremjDtory orders had 
been sent to him to remove his army as quickly as possible 
from the Peninsula. 

What the merits of the dispute in high places miglit be, 
the army at large was not able to decide ; but the rumors 
gave rise to many spirited debates, in which the authorities 
at Washington and the authority at Harrison's Bar had 


each earnest advocates. At length it became known that 
the army was to leave the Peninsula, and preparations for 
this important movement commenced. The work of ship- 
ping the sick and wounded, numbering twelve thousand 
five hundred, began ; but it was not carried on with a 
degree of alacrity satisfactory to the War Department or 
the President. 

The wharves along the river side became the scene of 
immense activity. Ambulances crowded along the banks 
of the river, laden with sick and wounded, while those 
from the hospitals able to walk, tottered along with 
trembling steps, their wan faces and sunken eyes telling 
their story of suifering. Transports were in waiting for 
these, and were rapidly filled with their freight of suffer- 
ing humanity. Everything not movable was ordei'ed to 
be destroyed. Tents were struck and taken to the ^^ickets 
who had left them behind, and everything betokened an 
important movement. Three or four days were spent in 
momentary expectation of the order to " fall in," but still 
the situation remained unchanged. 

At length, on tlie 16th of August, all was ready and 
the men were ordered to pack their knapsacks ; but the 
men of the Sixth corps remained in camp until the sun's 
rays became scorching; then the column moved rapidly 
eastward. A hard day's march on the 16th and another 
on the 17th, brought the corps in sight of the Chicka- 
hominy. It crossed a pontoon bridge of enormous extent, 
in the construction of which ninety boats were used, 
and the length of which was over two thousand feet. 
Thoroughly exhausted the men bivouacked on the eastern 
bank of the Chickahominy. 

The rebels, now aware of the retreat, were following 

close at the heels of the Union army, but declined to 

make any offensive demonstrations, further than picking 

up stragglers and those that fell out by the way from 



"weakness and fatigue. The main portion of the rebel 
army was now occupied in important movements in 
another direction. 

Another rapid march, under a burning sun, brought our 
corps to the ancient capital of the Old Dominion — Wil- 
liamsburgh. Passing through its streets without halting, 
taking only time to glance at its now dilapidated build- 
ings, we reached the familiar scenes of the old battle-field, 
which, three months before, we little expected to recross 
before the downfall of the rebellion. Here was the plain 
where a portion of our Second division had, by its gal- 
lantry, decided the fiite of the battle ; the scene of oui 
bivouac in the rain and mud, and the redoubts where 
lay the wounded rebels, whose groans had rendered the 
night hideous. In the midst of these scenes we bivouacked 
again for the night. 

At dawn the column moved again, and after a fatiguing 
march reached Yorktown ; our Second division encamp- 
ing in the works erected by Porter's division during our 
famous thirty days' siege of that place. 

Many of the men had by this time become exhausted ; 
and a long train of ambulances was filled with these and 
sent ahead on the morning of the 20th. The well ones 
soon followed toward Fortress Monroe, halting on the 
field of Big Bethel. This was the first visit of our corps 
to this disastrous field, and the men rambled about mani- 
festing great interest in the spot rendered sacred by the 
blood of Winthrop and Greble. 

Plums, peaches and sweet potatoes constituted novel 
additions to the diet of the men, and although the two 
former were unripe, their good eifects were manifested in 
arresting multitudes of those troublesome cases of diarrhea 
which had resisted all treatment so long as the men were 
deprived of acid fruits. Another hard march on the 21st 
brought the corps again, after five months' absence, to the 


vicinity of the desolated village of Hampton, and the end 
of our march for the present. The whole army was 
crowded along the shores, waiting to embark for Aqnia. 
Transports of every size and description were riding upon 
the bay or lashed to the wharves, and infantry, cavalry 
and artillery were crowding toward the beach ready to 
take their turn to embark. The scene was one of unusual 
activity, resembling only the one we had witnessed on 
embarking for the Peninsula months ago. 

At length all were on board, and the transports swung 
out upon the bay and steamed up the Poto^nac. One of 
the transports on which a portion of the Second division 
was embarked, the " Vanderbilt," had been, in other days, 
an old friend, as she ploughed up and down the Hudson ; 
now her magnificent saloons, which had been of dazzling 
beauty, were dismantled and disfigured. No gorgeous 
drapery or gilded mirrors adorned them, but desolation 
and filth prevailed. 

The weather was charming, and, except for the crowded 
condition of the transports, the trip would have been a 
delightful one. What a contrast was there in the appear^ 
ance of those same men now, and when they came down the 
river in April ! Then our ranks were full ; the men were 
healthy and in fresh vigor; their uniforms were new and 
clean, and their muskets and equipments were polished 
and glistening. Now, we looked about with sadness when 
we remembered how many of our former companions were 
absent, and how few present. We could bring to mind 
many who went to the Peninsula, full of hope, who had sunk 
as victims of the malarial poisons, and now rested in hum- 
ble graves at Yorktown or along the Chickahominy ; and 
many others who had nobly fallen upon the field of strife ; 
and yet others who now were wearing out tedious days 
of sickness in hospitals or at home. 

The little band that remained could hardly be recog 


nized as the same men avIio left the defenses of Wasliiiig- 
ton but a few months since ; their faces were now bronzed 
from constant exposure to the scorching rays of the sun, 
and their clothing was worn and soiled. Hats and caps 
of every description : hats of straw and of palm leaf, of 
brown wool, black wool, and what had been white wool. 
Caps military and caps not military, all alike in only one 
respect, that all were much the worse for wear. It would 
have puzzled a stranger to have determined from this 
diversity of apparel, what was the regular uniform of our 

We came up the river with feelings far less exultant 
and confidant than those experienced in our downward 
trip. Indeed a gloom hung over the minds of all. The 
army was satisfied that General McClellan would be re- 
moved from command, and it was said that General Pope 
or General Burnside would be his successor. Though they 
remembered the brilliant successes of the one in the west 
and of the other in the south, many expressed fears that 
the command of a large army might be as fatal to either 
of these as it had been to General McClellan. 

At sunset of the 23d, the transports bearing the two 
divisions of the Sixth corps, were anchored just oif Alex- 
andria ; but none of the men were allowed to go ashore. 
Spending another night in the crowded vessels, where the 
foul air prevailing between decks rendered breathing any- 
thing but a luxury, the men hailed the appearance of 
daylight as the time for their liberation from this close 
and unpleasant confinement. 

The process of disembarking progressed rapidly, and 
the divisions were marched through the city to a field 
about a mile beyond its limits, where we encamped neai* 
Fort Ellsworth. 

Although this was on Sunday morning, and it was known 
that Pope's army was fighting the enemy even before we 


left the Peninsula, and was in need of reinforcements ; yet 
no signs of marching occurred until Thursday. 

Let us now turn back for a moment and hastily glance 
at the movements of General Pope and his army, which 
had now for several days been actively engaged. The 
battle of Cedar Mountain was fought on Saturday, August 
9th. General Banks, pushing his corps toward Cedar 
Mountain, and, finding the enemy in his front, had boldly 
attacked him. The confederate forces were led by General 
Jackson, and outnumbered the forces under General Banks. 
The field was hotly contested for an hour and a half, when 
our forces were obliged to fall back; but being reinforced 
by Rickett's division, they were able to prevent the enemy 
from occupying the field. During the night, Jackson with- 
drew his forces, leaving the ground in our hands, which 
was at once occupied by the Union forces. 

The whole of Sunday was occupied in burying the dead 
and bringing ofiT the wounded of both armies. Our men 
had behaved with great bravery, and the gallantry and 
zeal of General Banks was what might have been expected 
from that general. The field was yet in our hands ; yet 
the battle could hardly be called a decided victory for our 
arms. Jackson reti-eated rapidly across the Rapidan, in 
the direction of Gordonsville, leaving many dead and 
wounded along the road from Cedar Mountain to Orange 
Court Plouse. Except to follow up the enemy with cavalry 
as far as Orange Court House, no important move was 
made for several days by the forces under General Pope. 

Reinforcements were constantly arriving for Jackson, 
and it became evident, by the 18th, that nearly the whole 
of Lee's army was assembling in front of General Pope, 
along the south side of the Rapidan. Among papers 
captured from the enemy at this time, was an autograph 
letter from General Robert Lee to General Stuart, stating 
his determination to overwhelm General Pope's army 

126 GEXEKAL pope's CAMPAIGN-. 

before it could be reinforced by any portion of tbe 
army of the Potomac. 

The whole army was now ordered to fill back and 
occupy a stronger position behind the Rappaliannock. 
The movement was executed on the 18th and 19th of 
August, withoiit loss ; the new line extending from 
Kelley's Ford to a point three miles above Rap^^ahan- 
nock Station. The enemy appeared next day at the 
various fords, but, finding them strongly guarded, waited 
for all their forces to arrive from the Rapidan. 

The whole of the 21st and 22d were spent by the enemy 
in efforts to cross the river, and a fierce artillery duel pre- 
vailed along the line for more than seven miles in extent, 
but the rebels were repulsed at every point, and withdrew 
with the intention of moving up the river and turning the 
flank of the Union army. 

General Pope, appreciating the danger of this movement 
on the part of the rebels, telegraphed to Washington, and, 
in reply, was assured that, if he could hold out two days 
longer, he should be so strongly reinforced as to enable 
him, not only to hold his position, but to take the ofiensive. 

It is needless to say that, with the exception of one or 
two small divisions, no reinforcements reached him within 
that time ; and although General Porter reported to him 
by letter from Bealton on the 25th, it had been better for 
General Pope had he not come at all. On the night of 
the 26th, Jackson, coming through Thoroughfare Gap, got 
in the rear of Pope's army and cut the railroad at Kettle 
Run, near Warrenton Junction. Lee was still in front, in 
the vicinity of Sulphur Springs. General Pope, desiring 
at the same time to fill back toward Centreville and intei'- 
pose his army between Jackson's and Lee's forces, ordered 
a retrogade movement. His troops were by this time 
fairly exhausted. In his report to the Secretary of War, 
he says: "From the 18th of August, until the morning 


of the 27th, the troops under my command had been con- 
tinually marching and fighting night and day ; and during 
the whole of that time there was scarcely an interval of 
an hour without the roar of artillery. The men had had 
little sleep, and were greatly worn down with fatigue ; 
had had little time to get proper food or to eat it ; had 
been engaged in constant battles and skirmishes, and had 
performed services, laborious, dangerous and excessive, 
beyond any previous experience in this country." Jack- 
son had succeeded in burning fifty cars at Bristoe Station, 
and a hundred more at Manassas Junction, heavily laden 
"with ammunition and supplies. On the afternoon of 
the 27th, a severe engagement occurred between Hook- 
er's division of Heintzelman's corps, which had arrived 
the evening before, and Ewell's division of Longstreet's 
corps, near Bristoe Station. Ewell was driven back ; 
the loss on each side being about three hundred. Dur- 
ing the night, General McDowell with his corps, and 
Generals Reno and Kearney with their divisions, took such 
positions as effectually to interpose between Jackson's 
forces and Lee's, and no alternative was left Jackson but 
to turn upon Hooker and rout him, or to retreat by way 
of Centreville. Hooker's men had exhausted their ammu- 
nition, so that ther^ were but five rounds per man left. 
General Pope, fearing that Hooker would be attacked, dis- 
patched an aid to General Porter with orders to join 
Hooker at once. The aid was instructed to inform Gen- 
eral Porter of the immediate necessity of moving at once, 
and to remain and guide him to the place. But Porter 
utterly refused to obey the order. Most fortunately for 
our army, Jackson, ignorant of Hooker's weakness, deter- 
mined to retreat by way of Centreville ; a mistake which 
prevented most serious consequences to us. Jackson in 
his retreat was hotly pursued, and on the 2Sth a severe 
battle took place between McDowell's corps and the 


retreating column, in which our forces gained decided 
advantages. On the 29th, Jackson was again near the 
ohl Bull Run battle-ground, and a terrific battle ensued, 
which lasted with great fury from daylight until dark. 
The rebels- were di'iven from the field, which was occupied 
by our men. General Pope sent peremptory orders to 
Fitz John Porter to move at once upon Centreville ; which 
would have cut off Jackson's retreat ; but again this com- 
mander refused to obey orders, and Jackson was enabled 
to unite with Lee, who had by this time reached Thorough- 
fore Gap, and was pushing on toward him. Had the 
orders of General Pope been carried out, Jackson must 
without doubt have been crushed before Lee's forces could 
by any possibility have reached the field of action. 

On the following day the whole of both armies were 
brought face to face with each other. General Pope, by 
this time hopeless of any aid from the fresh troops he had 
expected long before this from Washington, and aware of 
the disaffection of the largest and freshest corps in his 
command, although nearly discouraged, determined to 
give battle and inflict as much damage as possible upon the 
enemy. His force now, including Porter's corps, was 
about forty thousand. The whole of Lee's and Jackson's 
forces now pressed upon our lines with terrible effect. 

The action raged with great fury for several hours ; the 
rebels constantly massing heavy columns against our lines, 
especially upon the left, where McDowell's and Sigel's 
corps resisted the onset with great bravery, but were at 
length forced to yield, when an utter rout took place ; the 
whole army falling back upon Centreville in great disor- 
der. On this day, for the first time in all these long series 
of battles, Porter's corps was brought into action. The 
conduct of the corps, in the early part of the day, showed 
a determination on the part of its leaders not to fight, and 
the men fell back in disorder; but being rallied later in 


the day, the pride of the men overcame the obstinacy of 
their commanders and the corps did good service. Hooker's 
and Kearney's divisions, and Reynolds' Pennsylvania 
reserves had rendered most gallant services from the time 
they reached Genei'al Pope's army. 

Returning now to our Sixth corps under General Frank- 
lin. The corps remained quietly at Alexandria, from the 
morning of the 24th until the afternoon of the 29th. 
Rations and ammunition Avere as well supplied when we 
reached Alexandria as when we left. The boominor of 
cannon was heard on the 26th and 2'7th, and contrabands 
and white refugees informed us that terrible fighting was 
in progress beyond Manassas. We wondered that we were 
not ordered to go to the relief of the little army which 
we knew was resisting the whole of Lee's and Jackson's 

On Thursday afternoon, August 28th, the corps received 
marching orders. Tents were struck, knapsacks packed, 
rations provided, and many regiments, shouldering their 
knapsacks, stood in line ready to move. But sunset came 
and no further orders. The men waited impatiently, only 
a few venturing to unpack their knapsacks or pitch their 
tents, until long after dark. 

Friday morning brought few indications of an advance. 
Head-quarter tents remained standing, artillery horses stood 
unharnessed, and everything showed an intentional delay. 
At length the corps moved. Marching quietly and easily, 
the old ground of Camp Misery was passed, and the corps 
reached Annandale, where it halted and encamped after an 
easy march of six miles. Saturday morning the corps 
again moved leisurely along, making very frequent halts. 
The firing in front indicated a hardly contested battle, 
and our men, knowing that Pope must be in need of 
reinforcements, were anxious to push forward rapidly. 
Every hour the corps halted for at least twenty minutes, 


and sometimes even longer. At this snail pace we passed 
Fairfax Court House, the roar of musketry and artillery 
becoming constantly louder in front, and arrived at 
Centreville. Orders immediately came for the corps to 
proceed to Cub Run, about two miles beyond Centreville. 
Here, wounded men by hundreds and stragglers in greater 
numbers passed across the little bridge over the run, a 
dismal crowd, hastening toward Centreville. 

As usual at such times, scores of cowardly villains were 
attempting to pass to the rear as wounded men. 

An amusing encounter occurred between one of this 
class, a coward in captain's uniform, and one of our own 
officers. Captain Deyoe, as brave a fellow as ever drew a 
sword. The demoralized captain, his sword thrown away 
and its sheath after it, came hurriedly upon the bridge, 
where Deyoe was sitting, coolly filling his pipe. The 
fugitive captain turned his face, pale with fright, to the 
imperturbable Deyoe, and, striking him on the shoulder, 
said with as much composure as he could muster, " Cap- 
tain, we have had hard times of it out there, but dorCt he 
afraid^ dovbt he afraid.'''' Deyoe, turning his face toward 
that of the straggler with a look of unruffled coolness and 
unmitigated contempt, replied, "Well, who the d — is 
afraid? Oh, yes, I see, you are. Well, you had better 
get away from here then ! " 

The corps remained at Cub Run until nightfall, when it 
was ordered to return to Centreville, where it encamped. 
Regiments from our Third brigade were sent to the rear 
of Centreville to arrest stragglers, who were hurrying 
toward Alexandria in great numbers. 

The regiments were drawn up in line across the turn- 
pike, where they remained all night, turning back hundreds 
of stragglers at the point of the bayonet. 

The scene at Centreville on the next day was one of 
the utmost confusion. Thousands of stragglers wandered 


about without knowing or caring what had become of 
their commands ; long columns of shattered regiments and 
batteries filed past to take up new positions, either within 
the intrenchments or on the flanks. The appearance of 
these skeletons of regiments and battei-ies gave evidence 
of the terrible experiences of this long series of engage- 
ments. Their ranks, thinned by the fortunes of battle, 
and still more by the disgraceful skulking which had 
become so universal, the worn and weary appearance of 
the men, their flags, each surrounded by only enough men 
to constitute a respectable color-guard, all showed that 
even the hard experiences of the Army of the Potomac 
had never had so demoralizing an efiect as this. 

The skulkers were loud-mouthed in their denunciations 
of General McDowell. Hundreds of them, who had in all 
probability not been near enough to the front during the 
whole retreat to know anything that was going on there, 
declared that they had seen him waving that mystic white 
hat as a signal to the rebels ; and all knew that it was 
through his treachery that the army had been destroyed. 
Others declared positively that they had seen, with their 
own eyes, General McClellan, with a small body of faith- 
ful followers, dash against the advancing foe, and arrest 
the pursuit ! Such wild and improbable stories filled the 
whole atmosphere, and, strangest of all, were believed by 
thousands, not only in the army, but throughout the whole 

Long trains of ambulances were bringing from the 
battle-field wounded men, who had been, since Saturday, 
exposed to the burning sun and the storm which had pre- 
vailed during Sunday night. 

Temporary hospitals were established, and surgeons 
were actively employed in ministering to the relief of the 
unfortunate. Monday evening the battle of Glendale or 
Chantilly Avas fought, in the midst of a terrific thunder 

132 EXD OF pope's campaign. 

storm. The enemy, in attempting to turn our right, had 
been met by Hooker, Reno, McDowell and Kearney, and 
repulsed with heavy loss, from our entire front. But the 
victory was a costly one for us. The brave, earnest and 
accomplished soldier, Major-General Kearney, and the 
gallant Stevens, were both killed while leading their com- 
mands against the enemy. 

The Sixth corps, on Monday evening, was marched back 
to Fairfax Court House ; but early next morning returned 
within a mile of Centreville, when it took possession of 
the heights, and lay in line of battle until three o'clock 
p. M., when orders were received to march back to our old 
camp at Alexandria, which we reached at ten o'clock the 
same night ; thus making in a single evening, a distance 
that had required two full days and a part of another, to 
march, in going out. 

Thus ended General Pope's campaign in Virginia. 
Never was a campaign so misrepresented or so little 
understood ; and never were the motives of men so falsely 
judged as were those of the generals connected with this 

General Pope had fallen a victim to the foulest treachery 
of ambitious rivals, rather than to the strength of his 
open foes. Any one who will in candor trace the move- 
ments and the handling of that little army, when beset 
by an enemy now known to have been double its own 
strength, must concede that his plans were well conceived, 
and his generalship in this campaign fully equaled that 
which had won him so great renown in the west. 

That the defeat of General Pope was brought about by 
the rivalry and jealousy of generals of the Union army 
cannot now be doubted. "We know why Porter withheld 
the largest and freshest corps in the command from the 
fights, while its eleven thousand men were within sight of 
the battles; but why was the Sixth corps delayed? Some 


one was equally culpable with Porter. Was it worse 
to keep a corps out of the fight, when on the field, than to 
keep another corps off from the field altogether without 
any good reason ? There can be but one question — who 
was responsible for the criminal neglect to send the Sixth 
corps to the assistance of Pope's army ? 



General McClellan restored to command — March through "Washington — Leisurely 
campaigning— Battle of Crampton Pass — Death of Mathison — Battle of South 
Mountain Pass — Death of Reno — Surrender of Harper's Ferry — March to 

General Pope, at his own request, was relieved from 
the command of the army, and General McClellan resumed 
the direction. Whatever might have been the real fitness 
of General Pope to command, his usefulness with the 
army just driven back upon the defenses of Washington, 
had departed. The return of General McClellan was 
hailed with joy by a large portion of the army. 

On the 5th of September, Lee crossed the Potomac into 
Maryland, and occupied Frederick City. General McClel- 
lan was ordered to push forward at once and meet him. 
It was on the evening of the 6th that orders were issued 
to move. It was but short work to pack up our limited 
supply of clothing, cooking utensils and the few other 
ai'ticles which constituted our stoi*e of worldly goods, and 
prepare to march. We left Alexandria, and proceeding 
toward Washington, passed Fort Albany and crossed the 
Long Bridge, the moon and stars shining with a brilliancy 
seldom equaled, rendering the night march a pleasant one. 
As the steady tramp of the soldiers upon the pavements 
was heard by the citizens of Washington, they crowded 
upon the walks, eager to get a glance, even by moonlight, 
of the veterans who had passed through such untold hard- 
ships. Many Avere the questions regarding our destination, 


but we could only answer, "We are going to meet the 
rebels." Passing through Georgetown, we reached the 
little village of Tanleytown, where, weary from the short 
but rapid march, we spent the remainder of the night in 
sleep. The morning passed without orders to move, and 
it was not until five o'clock in the afternoon that we again 
commenced the march, when, having proceeded six miles, 
we halted. At daybreak on the morning of the 8th, the 
corps was moving again, and passing through Rockville 
we halted, after an easy stage of six miles. 

On the 9th we marched three miles, making our camp at 
Johnstown. On the following morning, at 9 o'clock, we 
were again on the move, driving before us small bodies of 
rebel cavalry, and reaching Barnesville, a small village, 
ten miles from our encampment of the night before. Our 
Third brigade, of the Second division, was quartered on the 
plantation of a noted secessionist, who, on our approach, 
had suddenly decamped, leaving at our disposal a very 
large orchard, whose trees were loaded with delicious 
fruit, and his poultry yard well stocked with choice fowls. 
Our boys were not slow to appropriate to their own use 
these luxuries, which, they declared, were great imjsrove- 
ments on pork and hard tack. In the enjoyment of ease 
and abundance, we remained hei'e until the morning of the 
12th, when we resumed the march, proceeding ten miles 
farther, halting near Urbana, at Monocacy bridge, which 
had been destroyed by the rebels, but was now rebuilt. 
On the same day General Burnside, having the advance, 
entered Frederick, encountei'ing a few skirmishers of tlie 
enemy, which he drove. On the 13th, we arrived at 
the lovely village of Jefferson, having made ten miles 
more, and having driven a detachment of rebels through 
Jefferson Pass. 

The advance was sounded at ten o'clock on the morning 
of the 14tli, and at three we found ourselves near the foot 


of the South Mountain range, having marched about fifty 
miles in eight days. Upon the advance of Burnside into 
Frederick, the rebel force had fallen back, taking the two 
roads which led through Middletown and Burkettsville, 
and which crossed the South Mountains through deep 
gorges, tile northern called South Mountain or Turner's 
Pass, and the other, six miles south of it, Crampton Pass. 

These passes the rebels had strongly fortified, and had 
arranged their batteries on the crests of neighboring hills. 
The Sixth corps came to a halt when within about a mile 
and a half of Crampton Pass, and a reconnoissance was 

General Franklin was now directed to force the pass 
with the Sixth corps, while the remaining corps should 
push on to the South Mountain Pass and drive the enemy 
through it. We formed in line of battle and advanced. 
Before us lay the little village of Burkettsville, nestling 
under the shadow of those rugged mountains, its white 
houses gleaming out of the dark green foliage. Beyond 
were the South Mountains ; their summits crowned with bat- 
teries of artillery and gray lines of rebels, while the heavily 
wooded sides concealed great numbers of the enemy. 

A winding road, leading up the mountain side and 
through a narrow defile, known as Crampton's Gap, con- 
stituted one of the two passages to the other side of the 
range ; South Mountain Gap being the other. The enemy 
had planted batteries and posted troops behind barricades, 
and in such positions as most efiectually to dispute our 

At the foot of the mountain, was a stone wall, behind 
which was the first rebel line of battle, while their skir- 
mishers held the ground for some distance in front. The 
position was a strong one; admirably calculated for 
defense, and could be held by a small force against a much 
larscer one. 


The day was far advanced when the attack was ordered. 
No sooner had the lines of blue uniforms emerged from the 
cover of the woods, than the batteries on the hill tops opened 
upon them. The mountains, like huge volcanoes, belched 
forth fire and smoke. The earth trembled beneath us, and 
the air was tilled with the howling of shells which flew over 
our heads, and ploughed the earth at our feet. At the 
same time, the line of battle behind the stone wall opened 
upon us a fierce fire of musketry. In the face of this storm 
of shells and bullets, the corps pressed forward at double 
quick, over the ploughed grounds and through the corn 
fields, halting for a few moments at the village. The citi- 
zens, regardless of the shells which were crashing through 
their houses, welcomed us heartily, bringing water to fill 
the canteens, and supplying us liberally from the scanty 
store left them by the marauding rebels. 

Patriotic ladies cheered the Union boys and brought them 
food; and well might they rejoice at the approach of the 
Union army, after their recent experience with the rebels, 
who had robbed them of almost everything they possessed 
in the Avay of movable property. 

After a few minutes, in which our soldiers took breath, 
the advance was once more sounded, and again we pushed 
on in face of a murderous fire, at the same time pouring 
into the face of the foe a storm of leaden hail. Slocum's 
division, of the Sixth corps, advanced on the right of the 
turnpike, while Smith's division pushed directly forward 
on the road and on the left of it. After severe fighting 
by both divisions, having driven the enemy from point to 
point, Slocum's troops, about three o'clock, succeeded in 
seizing the pass, while our Second division pressed up 
the wooded sides of the mountain, charging a battery 
at the left of the pass and capturing two of its guns. 
The confederates fled precipitately down the west side 
of the mountain, and our flags were waved in triumph 


from the heights which had so lately thundered destruc- 
tion upon us. As we advanced, we wondered, not that 
the foe had offered such stubborn resistance, but that the 
position had been yielded at all. Their dead strewed our 
path, and great care was required, as we passed along the 
road, to avoid treading upon the lifeless remains which 
lay thickly upon the ground. On every side the evi- 
dences of the fearful conflict multiplied. Trees were 
literally cut to pieces by shells and bullets ; a continual 
procession of rebel wounded and prisoners lined the road- 
sides, while knapsacks, guns, canteens and haversacks 
were scattered in great confusion. The rebel force made 
its way into Pleasant Valley, leaving in our hands their 
dead and wounded, three stand of colors, two pieces of 
artillery and many prisoners. Our troops scoured the 
woods until midnight, bringing in large numbers of 

In the gallant charge of Slocum's division, Bartlett's bri- 
gade took the lead, followed by Newton's brigade, and this 
was followed by the New Jersey brigade ; while Wilcott's 
Maryland battery, stationed in the rear of the village and of 
the division, maintained a steady fire upon the position of 
the enemy. Bartlett became first engaged ; but presently 
two regiments of Newton's brigade came into the fight 
on the right, and tlien the remaining regiments of that 
brigade and Colonel Torbert, with his brave New Jersey 
boys, took their places on the left, and the whole division, 
with a cheer, swept forward over the stone wall, dislodging 
the enemy and pursuing the flying hosts up the side of the 

We had lost quite heavily ;- some of our best men had 
fallen. Colonel Mathison, who had commanded one wing 
of Newton's brigade of Slocum's division, whose heroism at 
Gaines' Farm, and bravery in all our campaigns on the Penin- 
sula, had endeared him to his division, was among the killed. 


The corps moved down the road to the western side of 
the mountains, our men resting on their arms for the night, 
expecting that the battle would be renewed at dawn. But 
the morning revealed no enemy in our front ; we were in 
quiet possession of the valley. 

Meanwhile on the right, at South Mountain Pass, a still 
more sanguinary battle had been in progsi'ess. 

On the morning of the 14th, the Ninth corps, Burnside's 
veterans, the heroes of Roanoke and Newbern, under the 
command of the gallant Reno, advanced from Middletown ; 
and coming near the base of the mountains, found the 
enemy strongly posted on the crests of the hills, thronging 
the thickly wooded sides, and crowding in the gap. 'No 
matter what position the brave boys occupied, they were 
submitted to a murderous fire from the crests and sides 
of the mountains. Unaer this galling fire, the First division 
of the corps formed in line of battle, and advanced toward 
the frowning heights. It was an undertaking requiring 
more than ordinary valor, to attempt to Avrest from an 
enemy strong in numbers, a position so formidable for 
defense ; but the men approaching those rugged mountain 
sides had become accustomed to overcome obstacles, and 
to regard all things as possible which they were com- 
manded to do. Under cover of a storm of shells, thrown 
upAvard to the heights, the line of battle advanced, with 
courage and firmness, in face of terrible resistance, gaining 
much ground and driving the rebels from their first line 
of defenses. Now, the corps of Hooker rushed to the 
assistance of the Ninth. As the gallant general and his 
staif rode along the lines, enthusiastic cheers for " Fighting 
Joe Hooker," greeted him everywhere. Forming his 
divisions hastily, he pushed them on the enemy's lines at 

Thus fir, the battle had been principally maintained by 
artillery ; the rattle of musketry coming occasionally from 
one or another part of Reno's line. But. now, the whole 


line was pushing against the rebel line, and the continued 
roll of musketry told of close work for the infantry. 
Reno's troops on the left and Hooker's on the right, were 
doing noble fighting. The advancing line never wavered ; 
but pressing steadily forward, pouring volley after volley 
into the enemy's ranks, it at last forced the rebels to 
break and fly precipitately to the crests, and, leaving their 
splendid position on the summit, to retreat in great haste 
down the other slope of the mountain. The engagement 
had been of three hours dui'ation ; and the bravery of 
the Union troops was rewarded by the possession of the 
mountain tops. Darkness put an end to the pursuit. 
Thus the two chief passes through the mountains were in 
the possession of the Union army. 

While his corps was striving to dislodge the enemy from 
the stronghold, the gallant Reno was struck by a minie 
ball, and expired. The loss of this hero threw a gloom not 
only over his own corps, but throughout the army. 

In the many battles in Avhich he had taken a brilliant 
part, he had won an enviable fame, and his private virtues 
and kindly qualities of heart added lustre to the brilliancy 
of his military record. 

While the fight was in progress in Crampton Pass, the 
booming of guns at Harper's Ferry, only seven miles 
distant, told us of an attempt, on the part of the rebels, 
to capture that important point ; and while we lay upon 
our arms on the morning of the loth, two miles nearer 
than we were on the day before, the firing was heard to 
be still more fierce. Our Sixth corps w^as ordered to press 
forward to the relief of the beleaguered place ; but before 
we had started the firing suddenly died away. General 
Franklin concluded that the place had been surrendered ; 
and his conclusion was verified by reconnoissances. So 
the corps remained in Pleasant Valley, at rest, all of tbe 
15th and 16th. 


The surrender of Harper's Ferry was a terrible blow to 
our cause. Had it continued in our possession it must 
have insured, with any respectable energy on the part of 
our commanders, the destruction of the rebel army in its re- 
treat. As it was, our Idss was over eleven thousand men, 
and a vast amount of war material. 

Of course, the surrender of Harper's Ferry, at this criti- 
cal period, was owing directly to the imbecility and cow- 
ardice, not to say treachery, of the officers in command at 
Harper's Ferry and on Maryland Heights. But, while we 
condemn the weakness and cowardice of these commanders, 
can we relieve from a share in the responsibility the gen- 
eral who marched his army in pursuit of the enemy at a 
snail's pace, travelling but six miles a day upon an average, 
when, by a few brisk marches, this important point might 
have been reinforced ? 

Early on the morning of the 17th, the Sixth corps was on 
its way, hastening to the scene of conflict which had com- 
menced on the banks of Antietam creek. 

The Third brigade. Second division, was the first to arrive 
on the field of battle, and without halting to form a line, the 
regiments charged over the ground already thrice won and 
lost by Sumner's troops. 




TheValleyof the Antietam — Gathering of the hosts — The battle-field— The battle 
commenced — Splendid fighting of Hooker's forces — Successes and reverses of 
Sumner's troops — Timely arrival of the Sixth corps- A gallant charge — Losses 
of the corps — Burnside's attack — Hours of suspense — The enemj' defeated at all 
points — Retreat of the rebels — Scenes on the battle-field — At the hospitals — At 
Sharpsburgh — A division of militia — Couch's division joins the Sixth corps- 
Visit of the President— Kecruits — Energy at the north- At rest — Want of 
clothing— Stuart's raid — Delays — Clear Spring — General Brooks. 

Among the delightful and fertile valleys which beautify 
the State of Maryland, none is more charming than the 
one through which the Antietam winds its tortuous course. 
Looking from some elevation down upon its green fields, 
where herds of sleek cattle graze, its yellow harvests 
glowing and ripening in the September sun; its undulat- 
ing meadows and richly laden orchards; its comfortable 
farm houses, some standing out boldly upon eminences, 
which rise here and there, others half hidden by vines or 
fruit trees; the ranges of hills, rising on either side of the 
stream, diversified by charming vales or deep gullies ; 
the turnpikes winding along the sides of the hills and 
through the valleys ; the lovely stream itself, now flowing 
smoothly over its dark bed and anon tumbling noisily in 
rapids over a stony bottom, winding here far up to one 
range of hills and then turning back to kiss the base of the 
other; the whole scene is one of surpassing beauty, upon 
which the eye rests with untiring delight. "Who would 
have selected this lovely valley as the scene of one of the 
most bloody struggles ever recorded ? Who, looking 
down from some height of land on the morninsr of the 13th 


of September, would have dreamed that those stacks of 
grain, which dotted the fiekls here and there, would soon 
become the only protection from the heat of the smi and 
the storm of battle, to thousands of wounded, bleeding 
men ? or, that from those lovely groves of oak and maple, 
now reposing like spots of beauty upon the landscape, 
were to belch forth fire and smoke, carrying destruction to 
thousands? Yet, here on these smiling fields, and among 
these delightful groves, one of the grand battles which 
should decide the march of events in the history, not only 
of our OAvn country but of the world, was to be fought. 
These green pastures were to be stained with blood, and 
these peaceful groves mai'red and torn by shot and shell. 

Driven from the towns along the Potomac, from 
Frederick, from Hagerstown, and from Boonsboro' ; and 
forced from the strong passes in the South Mountains, the 
detached portions of the rebel army were concentrated 
along the banks of the Antietam creek, in the vicinity of 
the little town of Sharpsburgh. Hither Jackson and Long- 
street, Hill and Stuart, with their hosts, had gathered to 
ofier combined I'esistance to the Union army ; boastfully 
proclaiming that now, upon northern soil, they would 
hurl our army to final destruction. One hundred thousand 
men, flushed with recent victories, and eager for one grand 
crowning success, proudly defied the Union army. 

Their position was well chosen, A line of steep hills, 
forming a half circle, Avith the convexity in front, rising at 
some distance back from the creek, and nearly parallel with 
it, afforded admirable advantages for posting batteries, in 
such a manner as to sweep the pLain below, from right to 
left. Upon their left, wooded fields afforded protection 
to their infantry; while upon their right, the undulating 
nature of the grounds near the base of the hills, covered 
them from the fire of our guns. In tlieir rear was Sharps- 
burgh ; and tAvo fine roads leading to the Potomac, afforded 


safe lines of retreat in case of disaster. From the crest 
of the hills, on which Lee had thus posted his army, the 
ground sloped gently back ; concealing the movements of 
his forces from the view of the army in their front, allowing 
them to maneuver unobserved by their opponents. Owing 
also to the form of their line of battle, it was an easy matter 
to throw troops from one part to another. Thus, strongly 
posted and confidently anticipating victory, they waited 
the approach of the Union army. 

Our own forces were also gathering toward this point. 
Kichardson's division of theJSecond corps, pressing closely 
upon the heels of the retreating rebels, had passed 
through Boonsboro' and Keedeysville, and had overtaken 
them here. 

Porter, with his regulars, was close at hand, and took 
position. Then came Burnside, with his favorite Ninth 
corps ; and the white-haired veteran, Sumner, with troops 
worthy of their leader ; fighting Joe Hooker and his 
gallant men ; and Mansfield, with Banks' corps. The 
afternoon and most of the night was spent in getting into 
position. Brisk skirmishes were occurring with sufiicient 
frequency to excite the men on both sides ; but no gen- 
eral engagement took place. The morning of the 16th 
found our army ready to give battle. On our right was 
Hooker; then Sumner with his own and the Twelfth, 
Mansfield's corps; and far to the left was Burnside. 
Porter's corps, secure behind an elevation in the reai', was 
held in reserve. 

The night had passed with but now and then a little 
picket firing ; but all felt that, before many hours, must 
commence a battle, which must determine the fate at least 
of that campaign. 

Crossing the Antietam, in front of the line of our army, 
■were three bridges. The first, on the Hagerstown road ; 
the next on the road to Sharpsburgh ; and the third on 


the left, three miles below, on the road from Harper's 
Ferry to Sharpsburgh. 

This last bridge, crossed the stream at a point where 
steep and high hills crowded closely on every side ; the 
summits of those on the western side of the stream, 
crowned with rebel batteries, and their steeply falling 
sides covered with infantry. Over the first of these 
. bridges, on the right, Hooker was to cross his forces ; 
while on the. left, Burnside was to attempt to dislodge the 
enemy from his commanding position. Far in the rear, a 
prominent hill rose above the surrounding country ; here 
was a signal station, and here the commander of the army 
established his quarters. Hour after hour of the 16th 
passed away, the two armies facing each other, watching 
and waiting ; troops moving this way and that, maneuver- 
ing like two giant wrestlers, each willing to try the move- 
ments and feel the gripe of the other before coming to the 
sharp grapple. At four o'clock. Hooker crossed his corps 
and occupied a position on the west side of the creek, and 
Mansfield soon followed ; a little fighting, but not severe, 
and then darkness closed over the scene again. The skir- 
mishes and artillery practice here, developed, to the quick 
eye of General Hooker, the position of the enemy in his 
front, and their plan of defense. Satisfied with this know- 
ledge, he was willing to allow his corps to rest until 
morning. Our lines were now very near those of the 
rebels ; so near that the pickets of the opposing forces 
could hear conversation from one line to the other. 

At an early hour on the morning of the 17th, the great 
battle commenced in earnest. Plooker formed his line 
with Doubleday on the right, Meade in the center, and 
Ricketts on the left. Opposed to him was Stonewall 
Jackson's corps. First, Meade's Pennsylvania reserves, 
of Hooker's corps, opened upon the enemy, and in a 
few moments the firing became rapid and general along 

118 hooker's divisions at work. 

the line of both Meade's and Rickett's divisions. Tlie 
rebel line of battle was just beyond the woods, in a corn- 
field. The hostile lines poured into each other more 
and more deadly volleys; batteries were brought up on 
each side which did terrible execution. Each line stood 
firm and immovable. Although great gaps were made in 
them, they were closed up, and the opposing forces con- 
tinued to pour fearful destruction into each other's ranks. 
General Hooker, riding everywhere along the front line, 
knew exactly the position and the work of every regiment 
in his command. Cheer after cheer greeted him as he 
passed along the line, inspiring the men by his presence. 
Thus for half an hour the two lines stood face to face in 
deadly conflict ; at length the general directed a battery 
to be placed in a commanding position, and the shells and 
shrapnell were seen to work fearful havoc in the rebel ranks. 
The gray line wavered ; then back through the cornfield 
and over the fences the confederates rushed, seeking shelter 
from the terrible storm, under cover of the woods, on 
the other side of the field. "Forward!" shouted General 
Hooker, and his divisions pressed rapidly through the 
cornfield, up to the very edge of the wood, while the 
welkin rang with their cheers. Here, the fleeing foe, 
reinforced by fresh troops, made a determined stand. 
Terrific volleys poured from the woods, thinning out the 
Union ranks at a fearful rate. Unable to sustain the 
deadly fire, they fell back — this time the rebels follow- 
ing with yells and shouts ; but before the cornfield was 
crossed, our troops made another stand, and the sAvarthy 
foe Avas brought to bay; yet the thinned line seemed 
hardly able to sustain the fearful shock much longer. 
Hooker, fearing that his center was doomed to destruc- 
tion, sent to his right for a brigade, although his right 
was hard pressed and in danger of being flanked. 

The fresh brigade pressed steadily to the front, and the 


rebel line again fell back to tlie woods. Mansfield's corps 
now came to the support of the right wing, and well did 
those troo^DS, so lately demoralized at Bull Run, stand their 
ground. General Mansfield received hei-e his mortal wound. 

It was at this time, when Hooker saw his forces gaining 
a decided advantage and felt that their part of the work 
was well done, that a rifle ball passed through his foot 
inflicting a painful wound. Lamenting that he could not 
remain to see the end of what he hoj^ed would prove a 
great victory, he left the field. The battle lulled at this 
point; but in the center it raged with terrible energy. 
There, Sumner the white-haired veteran, led his corps into 
the very jaws of death. If he seemed i-eckless of the 
lives of his men, he had no more care of his own. Across 
the ploughed ground, over ditches and fences, with unsur- 
passed ardor, sweeping over all obstacles, the corps pushed 
forward, driving the enemy before it ; but the right be- 
came hard pressed, and a terrible fire on that pai't of the 
line and on the center, forced the corps back. Again 
the ground was taken ; and again the enemy, with wild 
yells of triumph, drove our men back. Still determined 
to win, the veteran hero ordered a third charge ; and the 
third time the field was ours, but only to be lost again. 
The brave General Sedgwick, who then led one division 
of Sumner's corps, whom we were afterward proud to call 
the commander of the Sixth corps, thrice wounded, was 
at length obliged to leave the field. Richardson and 
Crawford were carried wounded to the hospitals. 

It was at this critical moment, when Sumner's troops, 
weary and almost out of ammunition, were for the third 
time repulsed; the remnants of the shattered regiments no 
longer able to resist the overwhelming forces opposed to 
them; the artillery alone, unsupported, holding the enemy 
for a moment in check ; that the Sixth corps, our second 
division in advance, arrived upon the field. 


The scene before us -was awful. On the left, as far as 
the eye could reach, the lines of the contending forces, 
stretching over hills and through valleys, stood lace to face; 
in places, not more than thirty yards apart. The roar of 
musketry rolled along the whole extent of the battle-field. 
The field upon which we had now entered, thrice hotly 
contested, was strewed with the bodies of friend and foe. 

"Without waiting to take breath, each regiment as soon 
as it arrives on the field, is ordered to charge independ- 
ently of the others. The third brigade is first; and first 
of its regiments, the Twentieth New York, with their sabre 
baj^onets, are ready ; and the shout, " Forward, doiible 
quick !" rings along the line. The Germans waver for a 
moment ; but presently with a yell they rush down the 
hill, suddenly receiving a volley from a rebel line concealed 
behind a fence; but the Germans, regardless of the storm 
of bullets, rush forward ; the rebels breaking and flying to 
the rear in confusion, while the Germans hotly pursue them. 
Next, on the left of the Twentieth, the gallant Seventh 
Maine charges; rushing forward into the midst of the 
cornfield, they, too, are met by concealed foes. Although 
they are concealed from our view, the crashing of mus- 
ketry tells us of the struggle which they maintain. 

The gallant regiment makes its way down the slope, 
almost to the earthworks of the enemy, when the men 
throw themselves upon the ground behind a rail fence. 
Here, subjected to the shells from the Union and rebel 
batteries, the regiment can neither advance or retreat ; 
but our batteries, finding that their shots are as fatal to 
our men as to the rebels, allow the remaining fragments 
of the regiment to retire from the perilous position. 

On the right of the Seventh Maine comes the glorious 
Forty-ninth and our own Seventy-seventh, Captain Bab- 
cock in command. On the right of all is the old Thirty- 
third, within supporting distance. The men of the 


Seventy-seventh rush forward over their f:\llen comrades, 
making toward a small school house which stands upon 
the Sharpsburgh and Hagerstown turnpike, behind which 
is a grove swarming wnth rebel troops. Our boys are 
almost on the road, when, at a distance of less than 
thirty yards, they find themselves confronted by over- 
whelming numbers, who pour a Avithering fire into theit 
ranks. The Seventy-seventh receives the fire nobly, and, 
although far ahead of all the other regiments, stands its 
ground and returns the fire with spirit, although it is 
but death to remain thus in the advance. The brave 
color-bearer, Joseph Murer, falls, shot through the head; 
but the colors scarcely touch the ground when they 
are seized and again flaunted in the face of the enemy. 
Volley after volley crashes through our ranks ; our com- 
rades fill! on every side ; yet the little band stands firm 
as a rock, refusing to yield an inch. At this junctiire, 
General Smith, riding along the line and discovering 
the advanced and unprotected position of the regiment, 
exclaims, "There's a regiment gone," and sends an aid 
to order it to retire. The order was timely, for the 
rebels were planting a battery within twenty yards of 
the left of the regiment, which would, in a moment 
longer, have swept it to destruction. 

The regiment reformed behind the crest, in line with 
the other regiments of the brigade, all of which had been 
forced to fall back ; but the line held was far in advance 
of that held by Sumner's troops when the division 
arrived. Thirty-three of the little band had fallen ; they 
were less than two hundred men when they came upon 
the field. In the Seventh Maine the loss Avas still greater; 
of the one hundred and seventy men who went into the 
fight, one-half were killed or wounded ; more than eighty 
of those noble forms were prostrated like the slashings iti 
their own forests. The Thirty-third lost fifty in killed 


and wounded. The total loss to our Third brigade was 
three hundred and forty-three; of the Second division, three 
hundred and seventy-three ; of the corps, four hundred and 

Our men lay down behind the ridge to protect them- 
selves from the rebel batteries ; yet even here the shells 
came, carrying death to many of our number. The Ver- 
mont brigade was sent to the assistance of French's 
division, Avho, having expended their ammunition, were 
making feeble resistance to the enemy. The Vermonters 
behaved with their usual gallantry, resisting the advance of 
the enemy; and although frequently subjected to the fire 
of artillery, they held their ground bravely. The brigade 
was composed of men who could always be dej^ended on 
to do what they were ordered to do. 

The advent of the Sixth corps upon the field had decided 
the contest upon the right of the line, and after the first 
charge by the Third brigade the battle lulled. Of all the 
brilliant charges made in the army on that memorable day, 
none was more gallant or more important in its results 
than this noble charge of the Third brigade of Smith's 
division. Although the infantry on both sides became 
comparatively quiet, artillery thundered from every emi- 
nence in possession of our own or the enemy's batteries. 
Shells and cannister tore through the Union ranks, making 
in parts of the line fearful havoc. Thus, for nine long 
hours, our Sixth corps endured this fiery ordeal, when 
darkness closed over the field of strife. 

Meanwhile, on the left, Burnside became hotly engaged. 
At nine o'clock in the morning, his troops moved down 
towai'd the stone bridge, over which they hoped to cross. 
The hills on either side slope down almost to the water's 
edofe : the road leading to the bridge winding throuQfh a 
ravine, and then on the other side ascending through 
another ravine to the highlands. No sooner had the head 

buknside's attack. 151 

of the column descended into this amphitheater of hills, 
than the rebels opened a destructive fire from behind 
defenses which they had thrown up along the hillsides. 
Kifle pits, and breastworks of rails and stones, concealed 
thousands of infantry, who, from their secure position, 
poured volley after volley into the advancing column ; 
while batteries, placed upon the heights, brought an enfi- 
lading fire upon the bridge and its approaches. In the face 
of this reception, the Ninth corps formed in line of battle. 
One brigade with fixed bayonets charged upon the bridge; 
but the concentrated fire of the enemy forced it back. 
Charge after charge was ordered and executed by different 
portions of the command with like success. At length a 
battery was brought to bear directly iipon the enemy's 
position at the farthest end of the bridge, and, aided by 
these guns, fresh troops charged with great enthusiasm, 
carrying the bridge and planting their colors on the oppo- 
site side of the stream. Sturgis' division immediately 
advanced up the slope, driving the enemy before it. 
Meanwhile Rodman's division had succeeded, after a desper- 
ate fight, in crossing the stream below, and had also gained 
a position along the crest of the hills. The enemy having 
the range perfectly, made the position along the crest of 
the hills untenable, and the men were forced to fall back 
a little ; lying close upon the ground to avoid the shells 
that burst about them. 

At length, at three o'clock. General Burnside ordered a 
general advance. The divisions moved in fine order, but 
were soon met by the enemy in overpowering numbers. 
The whole line became hotly engaged. All the reserves 
were brought into action, and still the rebels poured upon 
the Union men in increasing numbers ; pressing their flank 
and turning the attack into a doubtful defense. It seemed 
impossible for the corps to hold its position against the 
overwhelming force opposed to it. At this juncture Gen- 


eral Burnside sent to General McClellan for aid. Porter's 
troops Tvere still in reserve ; but McClellan refused to 
relieA'e the hardly pressed corps. Again Burnside sends 
word, "I cannot hold my position half an hour longer, 
unless I am reinforced ;" and again the appeal is met with 
refusal. Contrary to his own expectations, Burnside's 
forces held their ground until darkness put an end to the 

Thus our own Sixth corps, and Burnside's corps, held 
the ground they had each by most desperate fighting 
Avrested from the hands of the enemy; and in spite of the 
peril which had threatened the right, when Hooker's braves 
were forced back, the center, where Sumner's brave men 
fell back for the third time with empty cartridge boxes, 
and the left, where Burnside was so hardly pressed, the 
advantage remained with our army ; and the weary sol- 
diers lay down in the expectation of renewing the battle 
in the morning. 

Their valor had saved them from defeat ; they hoped to 
make the battle that should come, a complete victory. 

But the battle was ended. Toward morning, it was 
known to officers of our corps that the rebels were moving 
back, and the fact was reported ; but no attention was paid 
to it. A truce, under pretense of burying the dead, gave 
the rebels a quiet day, in which to prepare for their escape, 
by sending their trains and much of their artillery to the 
rear; and on the night of the 18th, the whole rebel army 
disappeared. So this memorable and sanguinary battle 
ended. A defeat for the rebels, but not the decided vic- 
tory to our arms that could have been hoped for. 

The Second division of the Sixth corps was relieved soon 
after noon of the 18th by Couch's division, which was soon 
afterward joined to the Sixth corps. Until now our corps 
had consisted of but two divisions, the First and Second. 
Our men were glad to fall back enough to allow them to 


cook tlieir coffee once more, and they proceeded to the 
work of preparing a good meal with great spirit. 

The scene on the battle-field was past description. The 
mangled forms of our own comrades lay stretched upon 
the ground, side by side with those of the rebels. On 
almost every rod of ground over one hundred acres, the 
dead and wounded, some clad in the Union blue and some 
in confederate gray, were lying. A ghastly sight, present- 
ing all the horrible features of death which are to be seen 
on such a field. At one point in our own front, for more 
than half a mile, the rebels lay so thickly as almost to 
touch each other. On the field where Hooker's men had 
won and lost the field, the dead and dying were scattered 
thickly among the broken cornstalks, their eyes protrud- 
ing and their faces blackened by the sun. Wherever the 
lines of battle had siirged too and fro, these vestiges of 
the terrible work were left. In the edge of the wood, 
where the rebels had made a stand against Hooker's 
advancing divisions, the bodies lay in perfect line, as 
though they had fallen while on dress parade. Further to 
the left there was a narrow road, not more than fifteen 
feet wide, with high fences on either side. Here a regi- 
ment of rebels was j)Osted ; when our batteries getting an 
enfilading fire upon them, and the infantry at the same 
time opening a murderous fire, the regiment was literally 
destroyed ; not more than twenty of their number escap- 
ing. Their bodies filled the narrow road. Some wei*e 
shot while attempting to get over the fence ; and their 
remains hung upon the boards. A more fearful picture 
than Ave saw here, could not be conceived. 

Broken caissons, wheels, dismounted guns, thousands of 
muskets, blankets, haversacks and canteens, were scattered 
thickly over the field ; and hundreds of slain horses, bloated 
and with feet turned toward the sky, added to the horror 
of the scene. 



"While the excitement of battle lasts, and we hear the 
roar of artillery, and the shock of contending armies, 
the terrible reality of the occasion hardly presents itself 
to our minds, and it is only when we survey the bloody 
field, strewed with the mangled, lifeless remains of friend 
and foe, or walk through the hospitals, where the unfortu- 
nate victims of battle writhe in the agony of their wounds, 
that we realize the terrible nature of a great battle. 

Sickening as is the sight of the battle-field, the scenes 
about the hospitals are worse, except to those who are 
actually engaged in ministering to the relief of the 
wounded. To these the excitement and labor incident to 
their duties, crowd out the thoughts of the ghastly sur- 
roundings. They see only so many demands upon them 
for assistance, and have no time to indulge in sentimental 

Here in the rear of the army for miles, was a succession 
of hospitals. Every house, and bai*n, and haystack, formed 
the nucleus of a hospital, where men, shot through the 
head, through the limbs, through the body ; with every 
conceivable variety of wounds, lay groaning in anguish. 
Surgeons toiled day and night with never lagging zeal to 
relieve these sufferings, but all their labor could only 
afford slight relief The labors of medical ofiicers after a 
great battle are immense, and there is no respite from 
their toils so long as a wounded man remains uncared 
for. While others find repose from the fatigues of 
battle in sleep, the surgeons are still at work ; there is no 
sleep for them so long as w^ork remains to be done. 

The rebel army had fallen back ; yet a skirmish line had 
been left to cover the movement. At length even this 
suddenly disappeared, and, firing a few solid shots, as a 
parting salute, the enemy took a final leave of the field. 
Our forces were ordered on. We passed over the scene of 
carnage, where hundreds of dead lay still unburied ; and 


pioneers were on every part of the field throwing the 
mangled, disfigured forms into shallow graves. Along 
the roadsides, under the fences, and where the confederate 
hospitals had been, still these gory objects met our view. 
We reached Sharpsburgh, and here the evidences of the 
terrible conflict were to be seen CA^erywhere. Houses rid- 
dled by shells and bullets ; some of them destroyed by fire, 
and some battered into shapeless masses ; the streets filled 
■with disabled wagons; horses galloping about without 
riders ; knapsacks, guns and equipments cast away in the 
hasty flight ; churches filled Avith rebel wounded ; all 
helped to make up a scene of destruction such as has 
been rarely witnessed. The people of the village wel- 
comed us as their deliverers, and brought water, and such 
other refreshments as they had been able to conceal from 
the rebels. We passed the village and bivouacked for the 

On the 20th, we, of the Sixth corps, retraced our steps, 
passing again over the battle-field, where the stench was 
now unendurable. We reached Williamsport at daylight, 
where Couch's division was face to face with the enemy, 
who were said to be recrossing the river, and who had 
last night forced back part of the division. 

The rebel force had, however, consisted of about four 
thousand cavalry, who, finding the Unionists in force, 
quickly returned to the south side of the Potomac. Here 
we found an immense division of Pennsylvania militia 
drawn up in line of battle. Its regiments were larger 
than our brigades. They were armed with every variety 
of fii-e-arms, from light sporting shot-guns to Sharpe's 
rifles. Their uniforms had quite as little uniformity as 
their arms. Some were dressed in gray pants and jackets, 
others in light blue ; and still others in the various fash- 
ions which constituted the wearing apparel at home. 
Grave gentleman in spectacles, studious young men ia 

156 THE president's visit. 

green glasses, j)ale youug men wlio were evidently more 
at home behind the counter than in line of battle, roughs 
who had not been tamed by the discipline of military 
life, and boys who, for the first time, had left the jDaternal 
mansion, made up the heterogeneous division. 

Remaining at Williamsport until the morning of the 
23d, we marched on the Hagerstown turnpike to Bakers- 
ville, where we remained about three weeks. Here it was 
that Couch's division was joined to the Sixth corjjs.* On 
the 3d of October the corps Avas ordered out for review 
by President Lincoln. The line was formed on a fine 
plain, and the booming of cannon announced the approach 
of the Commander-in-Chief of the armies of the United 
States. The illustrious visitor was accompanied by Gen- 
erals McClellan, Franklin, Smith and other notable men, 
with an immense retinue. Conscious of the fatigues 
already endured by these veterans, the President simply- 
passed along the line of the divisions, acknowledging 
the salutations which greeted him, without requiring the 
columns to march in review. The soldiers manifested 
their appreciation of the interest taken by the Chief 
Magistrate in their welfare, by loud and repeated cheers. 
Sumner's, Burnside's and Porter's corps had already been 
reviewed by the President. 

While at this camp, large accessions were made to our 
thinned ranks. Before the army left Harrison's Landing, 
efforts had been set on foot for filling up the skeleton regi- 
ments of our army. Recruiting officers had been detailed 
from every regiment, to go to the localities from which 
their respective regiments had been raised, and bring in 
recruits, to fill the places made vacant by death and 
disease. The critical condition of affairs when the army 

* The regiments of this division were, the 36th, 5Sth, 62d, 65th, erth and 122d New 
Tork: the 23d, 82d, 93d, 98th and 102d Pennsylvania; the 7th, 10th and 37th Massa- 
chusetts, and the 2d Ehode Island. 


was withdrawn from the Peninsula, and, afterward, when 
Pope was so disastrously forced back upon the defenses 
of Washington, had roused to most earnest action, many- 
patriots, who hoped to avert further disaster by forward- 
ing men to the field. Under these influences, and as the 
result of these patriotic efforts, many recruits offered 
themselves ; but after the battle of Antietam, new life was 
added to the recruiting service. Many who then supposed 
that the war was neai-ly ended, gladly accepted the large 
bounties, and in the hope of soon being "in at the death" 
of the rebellion, enrolled themselves among the soldiers of 
the Union. War meetings were held in every town, and 
the utmost entliusiasm was created. In Saratoga, a large 
concourse of people, among whom were many of the visit- 
ors at the Springs, gathered for a war meeting. Stirring 
speeches were made. Ladies offered their diamond rings, 
their watch chains, their watches and other valuables to 
those who should come foi'ward and enter the service. 
Under the influence of such enthusiasm, many came for- 
wai'd and enrolled their names, and received the jewels 
from the fair hands of the patriotic donors. By such 
efforts as these, all over the country, from two to three 
hundred recruits were raised for each regiment in our 
corps, and large accessions were made to the ranks of the 
whole army. 

The advent of the new comers was hailed with joy by 
the veterans, who had become sadly discouraged by their 
small and constantly decreasing numbers. 

Our men were enjoying the welcome rest and the abund- 
ant supply of food obtained in this delightful country, 
and many varieties of diet, well remembered as familiar in 
former years, but unknown to them since their campaigns 
commenced, adorned their humble mess tables. Among 
other luxuries, " hasty pudding " and johnny cake became 
common articles of diet. The process of producing these 


articles, was after the rude manner of men wlio must invent 
the working materials as they are needed. One-half of 
an unserviceable canteen, or a tin plate perforated by 
means of a nail or the sharp point of a bayonet, served 
the purpose of a grater or mill for grinding the corn. The 
neighboring cornfields, although guarded, yielded abund- 
ance of rich yellow ears ; which, withoiit passing through 
the process of " shelling," were rubbed across the grater, 
yielding a finer meal than is usually ground at the grist 
mills. The meal being obtained, it was mixed with a 
large or small quantity of water, as mush or cake was 
desired, and cooked. 

The men complained of want of proper and sufiicient 
clothing, and many of them were absolutely barefooted. 
On whom the blame for the long delay in furnishing these 
necessary articles should rest, we can only refer to the con- 
troversy between the Major-General commanding the 
armies of the United States and the Major-General com- 
manding the Army of the Potomac. 

Soon after midnight, October 11 th, the corps was 
ordered to move to Hagerstown. In the midst of a 
heavy shower the march was made, and Hagerstown 
was reached soon after daylight. Here a new cause of 
excitement occurred. Stuart, with his cavalry, was in 
our rear; Chambersburgh was burned, and other towns 
sacked. The Vermont brigade was hastily loaded into 
cars and sent to Chambersburgh in pursuit of the cavalry, 
which was already far on its way to the Potomac. Of 
course they could only return, having had an excursion 
through the country at government expense. The Third 
brigade of Smith's division marched hastily to the Mary- 
land and Pennsylvania line, to where a stone bridge 
crossed the Antictara ; a battery of artillery was also 
here, and the brigades and battery prepared to defend the 
crossing. But no enemy appeared, and the two brigades 


returned to Hagerstown ; the Vermonters to occupy the 
town as provost guard, the other to encamp in a delight- 
ful grove a mile beyond. 

Thus ended the famous campaign of Antietara ; which 
had humbled the pride of the boastful confederates, and 
had turned back their hordes to their mountain fastnesses 
in Virginia for safety. A camj)aign which, while con- 
ducted with great hesitancy and a total want of that 
celerity of movement usually considered absolutely neces- 
sary to brilliant success in military operations, yet had 
preserved the north from imminent and immediate danger 
which threatened it. Our losses in killed, wounded and 
missing, in this campaign, amounted to fifteen thousand 
two hundi'ed and twenty. 

The army was posted, two corjDS, the Second and 
Twelfth, at Harper's Ferry ; the remaining corps along 
the Potomac, above and below that point, for twenty 
miles. Here, six weeks were sj^ent in getting ready for 
another campaign ; the President, meanwhile, constantly 
ordering an advance across the river ; General McClellan, 
constantly oiFering excuses for delay. It is not our pur- 
pose to discuss the merits of these excuses, but it may not 
be out of place to mention, that although the Sixth corps 
was represented as being in worse condition, in regard to 
clothing and shoes, than any other corps, that corps finally 
crossed the river before it received its clothing, showing 
that even the corps least supplied with these important 
articles could undertake the campaign even after another 
month's wear of the old clothes and the advent of the 
cold weather. On the 18th of October, that portion of 
the Third brigade able to perform duty, was marched to 
Clear Spring to perform picket duty, leaving in camp the 
recruits, who were unarmed, and the invalids. Thus 
the brigade occupied two distinct camps several miles 
apart. The duty on picket was by no means severe, and 


the country was delightful. The boys found little diffi- 
culty in procuring abundant supplies of luxuries, such as 
soft bread, hoe cakes and other articles, from the farmers ; 
and as the enemy was at Winchester, they were not in 
great alarm from rebel raids. 

The Plagerstown camp was indeed a pleasant one. The 
people were generally loyal, and seemed glad to furnish the 
soldiers with all the comforts possible. There was little 
duty, and the invalids had time for recovering their 
exhausted strength, while the recruits were afforded an 
opportunity for drill. 

General Slocum, who had commanded the First division 
of our corps since the corps was organized, was assigned 
to the command of the Twelfth corps, in place of General 
Mansfield, who lost his life at Antietam. 

In the Vermont brigade an important change occurred, 
General Brooks, the old and tried commander of the 
brigade, was assigned to the command of the first divi- 
sion of the corps, succeeding General Slocum, who took 
command of the Twelfth corps. General Brooks was 
one of tbe most energetic and brave brigade commanders 
in our army, and notwithstanding his abrupt and some- 
times very stern manners, had endeared himself by his 
excellent discipline and fighting qualities, not only to 
his brigade, but to the whole division. 

An amusing incident, well calculated to illustrate the 
mingled sentiments of love and fear entertained for the 
general by even those in his own command, occurred 
at a meeting of the officers of the brigade, immediately 
after the order for the transfer. The object of the meet- 
ing, was to make arrangements for presenting the general 
with a suitable testimonial of their regard. Some dis- 
cussion occurred in regard to the character of the gift. 
Some proposed a silver service, some a sword. At length 
it was proposed, that a fine horse and equipments be pur- 


chased. An oiEcer rose and said that it was all very well 
to talk about buying a horse for General Brooks, but he 
would like to know who would be so bold as to undertake 
to present it to him ! Another officer suggested that the 
horse might be saddled and bridled and hitched in front 
of the general's quarters during the night, with a note 
tied to the bridle stating for whom it was designed, and 
by whom presented. 

A magnificent silver service was finally presented to the 
general, who, forgetting his rough manners, received 
the beautiful gift of his loved brigade with tears standing 
on his brown cheeks. 




Marching in Maryland— Arrival at S'ew Baltimore— General McClellan super- 
seded by General Burnside — Thanksgiving in camp— The grand divisions organ- 
ized—The march resumed — Fatal delays — In order of battle — The crossing — 
Fredericksburgh bombarded— Situation of Fredericksburgh — Scenes of activity 
— The Bernard house — Scenes at the hospital — The battle on the right— Charges 
of the Pennsylvania reserves —The river recrossed— Eeflectlons. 

Thus, for nearly six •sveeks, the army remained at Hagers- 
town, and on the line of the Potomac, resting and waiting 
for clothing. On the 28th of October, orders came to clear 
all the camps of sick ; and all from our Sixth corps were 
sent to hospitals in Hagerstown. At dark, we set out, and 
making a night march of a few miles, reached Williams- 
port, where we bivouacked and remained two days, and 
thence went to Boonsboro'. 

The march from Williamsport to Boonsboro' led us 
through a magnificent country. On either side of the 
road, the long lines of corn shocks and the vine-clad houses, 
formed a picture of wealth and comfort. We halted at 
Boonsboro' in sight of the field of Antietam, and passed 
our bi-monthly muster. At daybreak in the morning Ave 
were again on the road. The first part of our way led 
through a beautiful open country, but we were soon wind- 
ing among the hills that form the slopes of " Pleasant 

The forests on the hillsides, glowing with the brilliant 
colors of autumn, the fine old residences, appearing here 
and there among the trees, and the plethoric stacks of hay 


and grain, combined, indeed, to make it a " j^leasant val- 
ley," and, as the lines of troops filed along the roads, the 
spectacle was beautifully picturesque. We passed South 
Mountain, where the rebels had met with such a bloody 
reception from our forces, and not long after we were on 
the ground of the battle of Burkettsville, where our Sixth 
corps had charged up the hill and had driven the enemy 
in confusion. Every tree bore lasting marks of a terrible 
fight. For more than a mile, the forest was completely 
scarred by bullets and shells ; not a tree had escaped, and 
many of them were pierced like the cover of a pepper-box. 
We halted near Berlin, in a charming valley, where we 
staid over Sunday. Monday morning, we crossed the 
Potomac to Virginia, on pontoon bridges, passed through 
the little towns of Lovettsville and Purcellville, Union 
Town and Upperville, then crossing the valley almost 
from west to east, from the Blue Ridge to the Kittoctan 
mountains, at length, on Thursday, reached White Plains, 
a station on the Front Royal and Manassas railroad, not 
far from Thoroughfare Gap. Plere we were overtaken by 
a cold storm of rain, sleet and snow, gloomy enough, but 
not so gloomy as was the news that here reached us of 
the elections in New York. Whatever the attitude of the 
political parties may have been before or since that time 
in reference to the war, in our army the result of the New 
York elections was regarded, at that time, as a repudiation 
of the war. 

We reached New Baltimore on the 9th, and the next 
morning we were notified that, by order of the President, 
General McClellan was relieved from the command of the 
army of the Potomac, to be superseded by Major-General 

No sooner had the farewell order of General McClellan 
been read to the troops, than the whole army was ordered 
into line for review by corps. The retiring and the incom- 


ing generals, each with his long train of followers, galloped 
along the whole of the line of the army, while batteries 
fired salutes and bands played "The Star Spangled Ban- 
ner" and "Hail to the Chief" Many of the regiments 
cheered the departing general with gi'eat enthusiasm, 
Avhile others observed a studied silence. 

A week was spent at New Baltimore, and then another 
week on the banks of Aquia creek, not far from Staiford 
Court House. 

The 27th of November was Thanksgiving day, in nearly 
all the loyal States, and doubtless our friends at home, as 
they gathered in many a family circle that day, to partake 
of bounteous Thanksgiving dinners, spoke of those who 
were away at the war, and thought, that with them. Thanks- 
giving could only be a hard day's march in the rain or 
mud, with rations of hard bread and pork ; and so, many 
kind hearts pitied the soldiers as they thought that we 
were deprived of the luxuries which they were enjoying. 

But we, too, enjoyed a pleasant Thanksgiving. In the 
morning, throughout the corps, there was brigade inspec- 
tion; we put on our good clothes and presented ourselves 
to our generals, looking our best ; then as we marched 
back into the vai'ious camps, we found dinner smoking in 
many a cook-tent, and the odor of roast meats rising 
throughout the whole corps like an odor of sweet incense. 
Fresh sheep pelts hanging here and there in considerable 
profusion, told of good cheer among all the men. 

As evening approached, the voice of singing was heard 
from all the camps, and groups were gathered under the 
shadow of the chestnut trees, where many pairs of gov- 
ernment shoes were shuffling to the music of violins. 
Throughout the limits of the corps, good humor and 
mirth prevailed; the sick forgot their pains, and the home- 
sick ones, for the time, looked bright, as they yielded to 
the general feeling of happiness. 


General Burnside, immediately upon taking command, 
consolidated the army into three grand divisions, of two 
corps each. The Right, to consist of the Second corps, 
General Couch, and the Ninth, General Wilcox ; General 
Sumner to command the grand division. General Hooker 
was placed in command of the Center division, which con- 
sisted of the Third corps, General Stoneman, and the Fifth, 
General Butterfield. The Left grand division consisted of 
the Sixth corps, under General Smith, and the First corps, 
under General Reynolds ; General Franklin was assigned 
to the command. 

The command of the Second division. Sixth corjss, was 
given to Brigadier-General A. P. Howe. 

At length, we resumed our march, reaching Brooks' 
Station the first night ; then, after a day's delay, we 
started again. The weather was intensely cold, and the 
mud almost unfathomable. The troops, with much diffi- 
culty, moved about six miles, reaching the rear of Fal- 
mouth Station, opposite Fredericksburgh ; but the trains, 
at midnight, had only proceeded two miles. In the ambu- 
lances, the sick suffered beyond description. Six soldiers 
from the Thu-d brigade. Second division, died in the ambu- 
lances that night. Even the well men in camp could 
hardly manage to keep warm. Few persons in that vast 
army slept, and the ring of hundreds of axes and the fall- 
ing of trees, which were to be piled on the fires, were 
heard all night. 

The Right and Center grand divisions, had arrived in the 
vicinity of Falmouth several days before ; and it had been 
the design of General Burnside to cross his army over the 
Rappahannock, seize the heights of Fredericksburgh, and 
push on toward Richmond, before the enemy could throw 
a sufficiently strong force in his front, to offer serious 
resistance. In this, doubtless, he would have been 
successful, but " some one had blundered," and the Com- 


mander-in-Chief suft'ered the mortification of seeing his 
plans foiled, and his series of foi'ced marches a failure, 
because the pontoons which were to meet him on his 
arrival before Fredericksburgh were still at Washington ; 
and this through the criminal neglect of some one. This 
campaign, which promised more than any previous cam- 
paign of the Army of the Potomac, was now destined to 
prove a failure. 

From the time that the first troops appeared in front of 
Fredericksburgh, nearly three weeks were spent in wait- 
ing for pontoons; while General Lee had abundant time to 
bring together all his forces and post them in such positions 
as to dispute our passage at any point, for twenty miles up 
and down the river. In guarding this extensive front, 
General Lee had stretched out his army to such an extent, 
that Burnside hoped, by throwing his whole army across 
at one point, to pierce the weak line before his enemy 
could concentrate his forces. 

On the morning of the 11th of December, we marched 
to a point about two miles below Fredericksburgh. The 
whole army was in motion. The ground had become 
hardened by frost, and a light coating of snow lay upon 
it. The wheels no longer sunk in the mire, but artillery 
rolled easily over the frozen ground. 

The Right grand division, Sumner's, had already taken 
its position immediately in front and above the city of 
Fredericksburgh ; the Center, Hooker's, and the Left divi- 
sion, Franklin's, now took position below the town. 

As we descended from the heights of Stafibrd, into the 
valley of the Rappahannock, dense clouds of fog obscured 
the view of the opposite bank, and it was only at noon 
that we could distinguish objects on the farther side of the 
river. Engineers were hard at work laying pontoon 
bridges, being submitted to a brisk musketry fire from the 
rebel skirmishers, who at times charged upon them, killing 


and Avounding several of the workmen, and greatly hin- 
dering the work. A few volleys from our batteries, which 
"were bi'ought forward presently, put these troublesome 
parties to flight, and the work went on. Still, during all 
the day, the enemy strove with artillery and infantry to 
prevent the laying of the bridge, but to no avail. 

On the right, where the veteran Sumner commanded, 
the task of throwing the bridges across, was far more diffi- 
cult than at the lower crossing. In the storehouses and 
dwellinors alons: the banks of the river, swarms of rebel 
soldiers were concealed ; and these, by pouring murderous 
volleys into the midst of the pontoniers, compelled them to 
desist from the attempt to finish their bridge. Determined 
no longer to be thwarted by these concealed foes. General 
Burnside, having previously notified the civil authorities 
of the town, that if the houses were used as covers for men 
who were shooting our soldiers, the town must suffer the 
consequences, ordered our batteries to concentrate their 
fire upon it and batter down the walls. Soon after noon, 
the bombardment commenced. One hundred and seventy 
cannon belched forth the huge iron missiles upon the 
devoted city. The roar of the artillery was terrific, and as 
the winds rolled away the huge columns of smoke, we saw 
that the city was on fire, the flames leaping to the skies. 
The spectacle was one of awful grandeur. The bursting 
bombs, shooting forth their flashing coruscations from the 
columns of smoke, the great tongues of flame from the 
burning buildings, leaping to the heavens, the clamor of 
the bursting shells and the shock of the artillery which 
shook the earth, made up one of the most terribly magni- 
ficent of scenes. 

In the midst of all this direful tumult, and while the 
conflagration of the city drove the confederates out of 
their places of concealment, Sumner's forces succeeded in 
laying their bridge and crossing troops; not, however, 


until two brave regiments had crossed in boats and cap- 
tured or dispersed the rebel sharpshooters, who had given 
80 much trouble. Hooker also efiected a crossing at the 
same time. "We had now bridges across at three points; 
*' Franklin's Crossing" being nearly two miles below the 

The city of Fredericksburgh is upon the south bank of 
the Rappahannock river. Fronting the city, on the north 
side of the stream, rises a steep bluff — Stafford Heights — 
which approaches near the river above and opposite the 
town, and gradually recedes from it below. This was the 
side held by our army. Behind the town, on the south, 
the ground rises in several successive terraces until it 
reaches an elevation called "the mountain." Each ter- 
race commands all below it, and the whole forms a position 
of unsurpassed advantages for defense. Here, between 
these high grounds, and stretching on either side of the 
river, is the valley of the Rappahannock — almost a level 
plain of six miles in length, and averaging two and a half 
miles in breadth, narrowing in front of the town to less 
than a mile, and spreading out, at the point where our 
lower bridges were thrown across, to at least three miles. 
On the crest of the heights, north of the river, were posted 
our batteries in great numbers. On the plain and on each 
of the terraces south of the river, the enemy was intrenched 
in most formidable positions. 

The advance of the enemy fell back, as our forces crossed 
the river, leaving us in possession of the plain on both 
sides, and of the town. Night came on, and the spectacle 
was unutterably grand, as the sheets of fire burst from the 
mouths of the opposing batteries; but at length the roar 
of battle subsided, and except the firing of pickets, all 
was quiet. Franklin threw but a small foi'ce across the 
river ; a strong picket line, well supported, holding a 
semi-circular tract of the plain. The Eighteenth and 


Thirty-first New York were the first of the Sixth corps to 
cross the bridge. 

The Sixth corps returned to the heights and bivouacked 
for the night, leaving a few regiments to hold the plain in 
front of the bridge. It was the intention of the command- 
ing general to press the enemy closely in front with the 
Right and Center grand divisions, while the Left division 
was to make a flank movement on the right of the enemy's 
line, seizing the road to Bowling Green, and rendering the 
rebel position untenable. 

Before dawn on the following morning, we made our way 
again to the river. Thousands crowded upon the banks, 
or hurriedly dashed across the bridge. The rumble of 
wheels upon the frozen ground, the tramp of thousands 
of men, the neighing of innumerable horses, mingled with 
the roar of musketry. The sun rose in splendor, and the 
■spires of the city, two miles to our right, shone brightly, 
for only the lower part of the town had been destroyed 
by the conflagration of the day before, and tens of thou- 
sands of muskets gleamed in the morning light. The 
"broad plain, on the south bank, swarmed with the hosts 
of Franklin and Hooker. Musketry fire became more and 
more brisk, as our forces moved into position, but no gen- 
eral engagement came on. Shells from the rebel batteries 
came bursting in our midst, and in reply, our own guns 
on Stafford Heights sent their shells screaming over our 
heads, to burst in the midst of the rebel artillerists. 

A fine stone mansion of large dimensions, situated on 
the south bank of the river, and a little below the bridge, 
was taken by the surgeons of our Second division, for a 
hospital. The position was exposed to the rebel fire, but 
it was the best that could be found. Just in front of it 
the gallant General Bayard, of the cavalry, was struck by 
a shell, and killed almost instantly. Others, some of whom 
had been previously wounded, received fatal shots at the 


very doors of the house. The owner of this magnificent 
mansion still remained in it. He was an old secesh 
bachelor, very aristocratic in his notions, and highly 
incensed at the use his house was put to by the " hireling 
Yankees." But he was taken care of by a guard. His 
servants cooked for the wounded and our surgeons ; his 
fine larder furnished us delicacies and his cellar rich old 

Doubtless his feelings on delivering to us the keys of 
his wine cellar were not unlike those of Sir Hugh Berkley 
in " The "Wagoner ; " who 

" — only knew they drank his wine; 
Would they might hang, a scarecrow line, 
On the next lightning blasted tree." 

Saturday, the sun appeared, bright and warm as on a 
spring morning. The battle now commenced in terrible 
earnest. First, on the left, the booming of heavy guns and 
the rattle of musketry told of hot work in our own front. 
Then gradually the battle rolled on to the right; and 
while it thundered there, our forces on the left remained 
comparatively quiet. Then, back again came the roar of 
cannon, the shrieking and cracking of shells and the din 
of musketry. 

The hills in our front were thickly wooded, and in these 
woods " Stonewall " Jackson had concealed his forces. 
General Meade, with his division of Pennsylvania reserves, 
and Gibbon, with his division, both of Reynolds' First 
corps, were sent to take and hold the Bowling Green road, 
which lay in the edge of the wood. Gallantly and in 
splendid order, the two divisions moved up toward the 
edge of the wood. Gibbon's division halted at the railroad, 
near the wood, Meade's pressed forward, and presently 
disappeared among the trees. Although considerable resist- 
ance was met with, the gallant division continued to press 

Meade's gallant assaults. 171 

forward, the rebels steadily giving way. Suddenly, the 
roar of cannon became awful, and the fire of musketry 
almost deafening. The rebels had. opened, an enfilading fire 
upon the division, which made fearful havoc. The men who 
had so gallantly marched into the woods, came hurrying 
back in disorder ; not, however, until they had succeeded 
in capturing several hundred prisoners from the enemy. A 
flag, one or two mounted officers, and a squad of a dozen 
or twenty men were all that could be recognized as a regi- 
mental organization ; all others had fallen before the deadly 
fire that met them, or had lost their commands. The men 
quickly rallied about their flags and again charged into the 
"woods, and again they were sent back in disorder. They 
were now withdrawn, and the rebels charged upon the line 
of the Sixth corps. The troops of our Second division 
were lying down behind a slight elevation of ground, 
and, as the rebels charged down furiously upon us, our 
men suddenly rose and poured a deadly volley into them. 
At the same time the troops of the First division met 
their attack with spirit, and sent them reeling back 
to their cover in the forest. 

The wounded poured into our hospitals, and well did 
those surgeons, who had seized the stone mansion, earn 
that day, lasting gratitude from their division. 

Never had wounded men been so quickly or so well 
cared for. It was the beginning of an era of organized 
labor in that department. Among the earliest of the 
wounded was General Vinton, commanding the Third 
brigade. Second division. A ball had passed into the 
abdomen, and was cut out from his back. The unfortu- 
nate men were stowed in every part of the great house, 
and in the smaller buildings surrounding it, and tents 
furnished shelter for those unable to find room in the 
buildings. After General Vinton was wounded, Brigadier- 
General Thomas H. Neill was ordered to assume tho 


command of our brigade, which he did on the battle* 

Meanwhile, on the right, Sumner's and Hooker's forces 
were striving, with herculean efforts, to dislodge the 
enemy from his strongholds, but to no avail. His posi- 
tion was imj)i*egnable, and the Union forces only advanced 
against the works to meet with deadly repulse from the 
savage fire of the concealed foe, and to fall back Avith 
fearful losses. Thus the struggle lasted until evening, 
when the roar of battle was hushed, and our tired troops 
slumbered upon their arms. 

On Sunday morning the rattle of musketry and the 
thunder of artillery commenced again, but, as little reply 
was made by the enemy, the demonstration on our pai*t 
soon ceased, and the day was spent in comparative quiet. 
It was said that General Burnside, unwilling to give up 
the struggle, had ordered an advance of the Ninth corps, 
which he was personally to lead, against one of the rebel 
strongholds, but that he had yielded to the advice of the 
grand division commanders to refrain from the attempt. 

Monday still found us on the battle-field. The thumping 
of artillery was renewed, but not fiercely. Our wounded 
were removed to the other side of the river. A kind 
providence had favored them, for the weather had been 
delightful. Had such weather prevailed as we experienced 
a few days before, many of the wounded, faint and 
exhausted from the loss of blood, must have perished with 
the cold. During the night the whole army was with- 
drawn, with as much secrecy as possible, across the pon- 
toon bridges. No sooner had the troops crossed to the 
north side of the river than the bridges were taken up, and 
the two armies were again separated by the Rappahannock, 
As the bridges were being taken up, the rebels rushed to 
the bank and fired into the pontoniers, but were repelled 
by the men of the Seventy-seventh New York. That regi- 


ment formed a picket line along the bank of the river, but 
were ordered not to fire unless the enemy did. " A pretty 
order," said Terry Gray, of Company B, " to wait till a man 
is killed before he can fire his gun !" The army went into 
camp on a line from Falmouth to Belle Plain; the Sixth 
corps occupying nearly the center of the line, at a place 
called White Oak Church, from a little whitewashed meet- 
ing house, without bell or steeple, in the midst of a clump 
of white oak trees. 

The attempt to capture the heights of Fredericksburgh 
by a direct assault was indeed a daring undertaking, and 
one involving a fearful risk. The only hope of success lay 
in the active and hearty cooperation of all the commands 
of the army. Such cooperation was not to be had. To 
the Left grand division was assigned an important work 
which it failed to accomplish ; not because it was defeated 
in the attempt, but because the attempt was not made in 
earnest. The troops were brave and eager to meet the 
enemy. Xone were ever more brave or more desirous to 
test their valor. The heroic deeds of those who did 
advance against the enemy will ever redound to the glory 
of our arms ; and had all the forces of the Left grand divi- 
sion been brought fairly into action, the result might have 
been different. Surely such troops as composed the grand 
old Sixth corps were fitted for a nobler work than standing 
upon an open plain, exposed to fierce artillery fire, without 
ever being allowed to turn upon the enemy. Our defeat 
had cost us more than twelve thousand men, in killed, 
wounded and missing. 

The Sixth Corps covered the bridges during the battle 
of Fredericksburg, and could not possibly leave its posi- 
tion unless first relieved by other troops. General Burn- 
side failed to keep a promise made to me the day before, 
which would have relieved the Sixth Corps from covering 
the bridges and put those gallant men at the head of the 
assaulting column the next morning at daybreak. 

Wm. F. Smith, 

halt Maj.-Oen. of Volunteers and in Command of Sixth Army Corft, 



Camp at White Oak Church— "The mud march " — Return to camp — General 
Neill — General Hooker supersedes General Burnside— Burnside's magnanimity 

— General Hooker as a soldier — Beconstruction— The cavalry organized — Busi- 
ness deiiartments renovated— The medical department- Ambulance system — 
Quartermasters' and commissary departments — Life in camp — Snowball bat- 
tles—In the Seventy-seventh — The Light division — Beview by General Hooker 

— General John Sedgwick — Scene at head-quarters — Eeview of the army by the 
President — Preparing for the campaign. 

The men built huts, 
and made themselves 
as comfortable as they 
could, in their camp at 
White Oak Church, but 
: disease spread rapidly, 
especially among the re- 
cruits. The regiments 
were crowded closely 
together on ground too low and wet for 
-^ good camping ground, and the men, 
j^^ having never before erected winter quar- 
ts ters fi'om shelter tents, were not so 
expert as they became in the succeeding 
winters ; so they suffered from incon- 
"^ venient quarters, as well as from the low 
WhTteoak Church, va. gi'ouud and crowdcd camps. 

Our army was now composed in large part, of the recruits 
sent from the north during the preceding summer and 
autumn, and thousands of these had never had any idea 
of fighting or of suffering the privations of army life. 


Tbey had enlisted for the hirge bounties which were paid 
at that time, with the determination to leave the service as 
soon as their bounties were paid, and a favorable oppor- 
tunity offered itself for escape. Desertions became alarm- 
ingly frequent ; indeed, when a few weeks later General 
Hooker assumed command, there were more than eighty- 
four thousand absentees, with and without authority. The 
great number of desertions, we think, should be attributed 
to the fact that so large a proportion of the new recruits 
had enlisted for money, rather than to the demoralization 
of the army. 

Notwithstanding the inconveniences to which the men 
were subjected, and the advance to midwinter, the weather 
was in our favor. The sun shone brightly, the days were 
warm and the roads dry. It became evident that General 
Burnside was determined not to allow the delightful 
weather and the excellent roads to pass unimproved. 
Indications of a general movement crowded upon us, and 
on the 20th of January came the order to march. 

The whole army broke camp and moved toward Banks' 
Ford, two miles up the river from "White Oak Church. 
On the march, an order from the commanding general 
was read to the troops, announcing to them that the aus- 
picious moment had at length arrived when we were to 
reap the glorious fruits of our long toils. At five o'clock 
we halted in the thick woods at Banks' Ford, the point 
selected for crossing the river, and in a few minutes w^ere 
quietly and comfortably bivouacked out of sight of rebels 
on the opposite side. Scarcely had w^e settled ourselves 
for a comfortable night's rest, when the clouds, which 
had been gathering since morning, broke in rain, and the 
delightful Indian summer gave way to the rainy winter 
of the south. All night long the rain poured, and all the 
next day. It was evident we had waited too long. But 
the commander was determined not to abandon his effort 

176 rS^ THE MUD. 

to outflank the enemy. By morning, the roads were so 
softened by the rain, that horses could not haul artillery 
or pontoons into position. Men took the place of horses. 
The whole Vermont brigade was detailed to drag the pon- 
toons and guns to the river. All day long, working and 
tugging with the mud above their knees; here a hundred 
men pulling at a pontoon boat, there a party prying a 
cannon out of the mire with long levers, and still other 
parties laying strips of corduroy road. The Vermonters 
passed a disagreeable day. 

General Burnside was not idle all this while. Riding 
from one point to another, now personally superintending 
the placing of a battery in position on the bank of the 
river, now encouraging the men who lugged at the boats 
and guns, and now selecting places to cut new roads, he 
passed the night and the day in fatiguing and anxious 
labor. As he rode through the camp of our division in 
the afternoon, with only two staff ofiicers, himself and his 
horse completely covered with mud, the rim of his hat 
turned down to shed the rain, his face careworn with this 
unexpected disarrangement of his plans, we could but 
think that the soldier on foot, one oppressed with the 
weight of knapsack, haversack and gun, bore an easy load 
compared with that of the commander of the army, who 
now saw departing his hopes of redeeming the prestige he 
had lost at Fredericksburg. 

Men were detailed from each of the regiments of the 
corps to return to Falmouth, a distance of five miles, to 
bring on their backs two days' rations ; those brought by 
the men being nearly exhausted. But during the night it 
was determined to abandon the attempt to cross the river. 
The enemy, by this time fully aware of our intention, 
was prepared for us, and a crossing could only be made at 
gre'at sacrifice, perhaps with defeat. So at sunrise in the 
morning we were on the road back to our old camp ; this 


time for permanent winter quarters. All along the road 
lay a multitude of dead horses and mules, which had fallen 
in the tremendous hut unavailing efforts of the day before. 
Artillery and wagons still stuck fast in the mud, and 
cannoniers and teamsters lifted and tugged with rails 
and with poles to raise the piece or the wagon from the 

The mud was deep, the day was gloomy and the men 
were discouraged. They straggled badly. Regiments 
were not to be distinguished. The whole column became 
an unorganized crowd, pressing towai'd the old camps. 
Tired and discouraged as were the men, they kept up their 
lively sallies and jokes, as though all was smooth work. 
Toward evening the troops of our corps arrived on their 
old ground, now to be our home until the opening of 
spring, and at once fell to work to restore to some degree 
of comfort that most desolute of scenes, an abandoned 
camp. Unfortunately, on leaving the place, little think- 
ing that they were so soon to return, they had bui'ned 
everything combustible, and thus a strip of board or a 
piece of timber could hardly be found within the limits of 
the corps, ^Nevertheless, comfortable quarters were soon 
erected, and the routine of drills and picket was resumed. 

Brigadier-General Xeill, Avho was assigned to the com- 
mand of the Third brigade, was active in encouraging his 
men to provide good quarters, and in furnishing every 
facility in his power to make them comfortable. The 
general was a portly gentleman, Avith light red hair and 
whiskers, and a small blue eye, ceremonious in his style, 
and a perfect pattern of courtliness. He had, at West 
Point, won the appellation of " Beau Neill," a title which 
never left him. He was a good commander in camp. He 
orginated the brigade dress parade that winter, often calling 
out the brigade on fine evenings, and substituting the 
brigade for the regimental parade. The custom was at 


length adopted in naany brigades in the army of the Poto- 
mac ; but few gave credit for the improved parade to the 
originator of it. 

The second failure of General Burnside rendered his 
removal from the command of the army a thing to be 
expected ; and no one was surprised when the order came 
relieving him, and assigning General Hooker to the com- 
mand. It must be confessed that our failure at Bank's 
Ford had done much to demoralize the army and destroy 
the confidence in the commanding general so absolutely, 
necessary to success. On our way back from Bank's Ford, 
as we 2:)assed Fredericksburgh, we saw huge placards posted 
up by the rebels with taunting inscriptions, such as " Burn- 
side stuck in the mud," printed in conspicuous letters. 
The men caught up the words, and " Burnside stuck in the 
mud " passed from one end of the disordered column to 
the other. When we had failed at Fredericksburgh, the 
men were as willing as ever to try again under the same 
commander. They believed him to be at least earnest and 
brave. They knew that he was noble and self-sacrificing. 
In the noble letter to General Halleck, in which he assumed 
all the responsibility for the failure at Fredericksburgh, 
they found renewed assurance that he had all the qualities 
of a true soldier — bravery, integrity and true manhood; 
but an army must have success, or it cannot long repose 
confidence in the general. So, while the Army of the 
Potomac regarded General Burnside with great respect, it 
gladly welcomed the advent of " Fighting Joe Hooker " 
to the command. 

General Hooker had fairly won the title of " Fighting 
Joe" at the slaughter of "Williamsburgh, where, almost 
single-handed with his division, he had stemmed the tide 
of battle for hours, until reinforced by Kearney, and then, 
with the help of that hero, had held the whole rebel army 
until it was outflanked by our Second division. 


In all the battles of the Peninsula he had been conspic- 
uous, and at South Mountain and Antietam liis fighting 
propensities were exhibited in more than their wonted 
Bplendor. In person he was of large stature, with fine 
features, brilliant eye, his side whiskers and ruddy counte- 
nance giving a more youthful appearance than his light 
gray hair would indicate. Ilis gleaming eye told of the 
spirit which animated the man, and his determined air 
betokened the persistent and fearless soldier. In battle 
or on review he rode a magnificent milk Avhite steed, a 
powerful animal and of extraordinary fleetness. Mounted 
on this superb war horse, he was the most conspicuous, as 
he was always one of the handsomest men in the army. 

The energy of the new commander soon began to be 
manifested in the reconstruction and reorganization of 
the whole army. The first step in the progress of recon- 
struction, was the revocation of the order making three 
grand divisions of the army. By the abolition of the grand, 
divisions. Generals Sumner and Franklin were relieved, 
from their commands; and the corps commanders, no 
longer subject to intermediate commanders, were again 
directly responsible to the general-in-chief of the army. 
Doubtless General Hooker had seen that the creation of 
these grand divisions had much to do with the failures 
of General Burnside. 

The cavalry next engaged the attention of the general. 
The whole force was thoroughly reorganized and put in 
an efficient condition, under command of Major-General 
Stoneman. Hereafter, men were not to ask, " Who ever 
saw a dead cavalryman ?" To General Hooker, the cav- 
alry of the Array of the Potomac owes its efficiency and. 
the glorious record it from that time made for itself. 

The sui^eriority of the rebel cavalry, in the early part 
of the war, Avas generally attributed to the supposed fact 
that the young men of the south were so much better 


horsemen than those of the north. In reality, this had 
little, if anything, to do with it. It is even very doubtful 
if there was any difference in favor of the superior horse- 
manship of the southei'n cavalry. Their strength lay in 
their union. The rebel cavalry was organized from the 
beginning ; ours was an incoherent mass of men, having 
no proper relations or dependencies within itself. From 
the day that it became organized, the superiority of the 
rebel cavalry passed away forever. We had always better 
horses, and our men were certainly never inferior to the 
rebels. All that was needed was the proper combination 
of action ; and, as soon as this was secured, our cavalry 
became the finest in the world. 

The business departments Avere also thoroughly renova- 
ted. The changes in the metlical, quartermasters' and 
commissary departments were such as to bring each to a 
standard of perfection, which had never before been 
reached by those departments of any army in the field. 
No army had ever been provisioned as was ours that 
winter. Soft bread, potatoes, beets, carrots, onions, fresh 
beef, flour, svagar and cofiee, constituted the regular rations 
of the men, and facilities were afforded for procuring 
luxuries not in the regular supply. 

The medical department became so thoroughly system- 
atized, that wounded and sick men were cared for better 
than they had ever been in an army before. This radical 
change had commenced under General Burnside ; but was 
perfected under General Hooker, by the efficient and 
earnest medical director of the army, Dr. Letterman ; to 
whom belongs the honor of bringing about this most 
desirable change. 

By the new system, the surgeons were enabled to accom- 
plish a far greater amount of work, and in much better 
order than under the old; and the wounded were bet- 
ter and more quickly cared for. By this system the 


hospital of the division was the unit. From the division, 
a medical officer of good executive ability was selected, to 
whom was assigned the general oversight of the hospital. 
One or more surgeons of well known skill and experience 
were detailed from the medical force of the division, who 
were known as " operating surgeons ; " to each of whom 
was assigned three assistants, also known to be skillful 
men, who were either surgeons or assistant surgeons. To 
the operating surgeons all cases requiring surgical opera- 
tions were brought, and thus the wounded men had the 
benefit of the very best talent and experience in the divi- 
sion, in the decision of the question whether he should be 
submitted to the use of the knife, and in the performance of 
the operation in case one was required. It was a mistaken 
impression among those at home, that each medical officer 
was the operating surgeon for his own men. Only about 
one in fifteen of the medical officers was intrusted with 

From each brigade an assistant surgeon was detailed to 
provide food and shelter for the wounded. His duty was 
to superintend the erection of hospital tents as soon as 
there was a prospect of an engagement, and to have hot 
coffee and rations of food ready for the wounded as soon as 
they came to the hospital ; he was to attend to their cloth- 
ing, bedding and rations as long as they remained in the 

Another assistant surgeon from each brigade was selected 
to keep the records ; to take the name and character of 
wound of every one who was brought to the hospital, with 
the operation, if any ; and the list of deaths, the place of 
burial, and all other matters necessary to record. An 
assistant surgeon was to remain with each regiment, 
and attend to getting the wounded from the field into 
the ambulances, and to arrest hemorrhage in case of 


Thus, all labor was systematized. Every officer and 
nurse knew exactly what to do : each had his own part of 
the work assigned to him, and there was no conflicting 
of orders or clashing of opinions. 

Our ambulance system was also very perfect — so com- 
plete, indeed, that, after a year of trial in the Army of the 
Potomac, congress adopted it as the ambulance system of 
the United States. To Doctor Letterman, also, belongs 
the honor of originating this system. 

The ambulances of each corps were under command of a 
captain, who acted under directions from the medical 
director of the corps. A lieutenant commanded the ambu- 
lances of a division, and a second lieutenant those of a 
brigade. To each ambulance was assigned a driver, and 
two stretcher-bearers ; and to three ambulances a sergeant, 
mounted. The ambulances of a division always went 
together, behind the division, and on the march were 
attended by a surgeon, an assistant surgeon, a hospital 
steward, a cook, and three or more nurses, who were to 
attend to the wants of the sick in the ambulances, and at 
night, if any were unable to return to their regiments, to 
erect tents for them, and supply them with food and bed- 
ding. In an engagement, the stretcher-bearers of each 
regiment, with the sergeant, reported to the assistant sur- 
geon in attendance with the regiment. As soon as a man 
was wounded, he was brought to the medical officer, put 
into an ambulance, and taken to the division hospital. By 
this means, ordinarily, every man was carried to the hos- 
pital of his own division. 

The improvements in the quartermasters' department 
were nearly as great ; and we have already alluded to the 
abundant supplies furnished by the commissary depart- 

Great difficulty was experienced by the troops of our 
corps in getting wood. The men of our Second division 


lugged wood on their backs a mile and a half, with which 
to do their cooking and warm their tents. But notwith- 
standing the hardships they endured, the inclemency of 
the winter, and their severe picket duty, the men were 
gay. In many of the regiments, the sounds of the guitar 
and accordion could be heard every evening ; and on 
pleasant afternoons and evenings, parties assembled in the 
company streets and danced cotillions, and polkas, and jigs, 
to the music of violins. When snow covered the ground, 
mimic battles with snowballs were a frequent amusement. 
At times, one regiment would challenge another, and a 
general melee would follow. Snowballing was, particU" 
larly, a favorite amusement with our friends of the Twenty- 
first New Jersey, who never let an opportunity pass for 
indulging in their fovorite sport. Each party carried its 
flags and Avas led by officers chosen for the occasion. The 
capture of a flag, or of a number of prisoners, from an 
opposite party, caused gi-eat glee among the victors. A 
good deal of interest was excited throughout the Second 
division by a snowball battle between one of the Vermont 
regiments and the Twenty-sixth New Jersey. Both regi- 
ments formed in line of battle, each officered by its line 
and field officers, the latter mounted. At the signal, the 
battle commenced; charges and counter-charges were 
made, prisoners were taken on either side, the air was 
filled with the white missiles, and stentorian cheers went 
up as one or other party gained an advantage. At length 
victory rested with the Vermonters, and the Jersey boys 
surrendered the field, defeated. 

Another fxvorite amusement in the coi'ps was the game 
of base ball. There were many excellent j^layers in the 
different regiments, and it was common for the ball- 
players of one regiment or brigade to challenge another 
regiment or brigade. These matches were watched by 
great crowds of soldiers with intense intei'est. 


Thus matters went on in the different rej^iments of the 
corps. Each regiment had its share of disease and deser- 
tions ; each had its ball-players and its singers, its story- 
tellers and its merry fellows. It was customary for oflScers 
and men of the different regiments to visit from one camp 
to another, and often, while the sound of the violin or the 
guitar could be heard in the company streets, the head- 
quarter tents of regiments were the scenes of as lively pleas- 
ures. Here officers of the field and staff of neighboring 
regiments spent their evenings in lively converse and in 
singing, and an old copy of the " Carmiua Sacra," or a glee- 
book, was regarded as a treasure. Each group had its 
story-teller, and one or more who were never at loss for a 
song, and all strove to make these social gatherings a pleas- 
ant relief to the dull monotony of camp duties. 

Rambles among the surrounding forests, fields, and small 
farm-houses, in search of adventure, furnished some with 
pastime; while others spent their hours, when not on duty, 
in perusing volumes which had been brought from houses 
passed on the marches, or which were sent by thoughtful 
friends at home. Many of the camps were beautified by 
planting evergreen trees among the streets, and by the 
erection of arches composed of the boughs of cedar and 
hemlock. Some of these arches exhibited great ingenuity 
and taste on the part of the men, and were greatly ad- 
mired by all. As the spring approached, and the evenings 
were warm, the camps were enlivened by the stirring 
music of the brigade bands, which, during the cold weather 
of winter, had been comparatively quiet. 

The Ninth corps was sent to the South, and we were 
joined by the Twelfth corps, 

A new command was formed in the Sixth corps. 

The First brigade, Second division, which for some time 
past had been under the command of General Calvin A. 
Pratt, was broken up, and a new brigade, called the " Light 



division," was formed from the regiments of the Fii-st 
brigade, and one regiment from each the First and Third 
divisions. The regiments were, the Fifth Wisconsin, the 
Sixth Maine, the Thirtj'-first and Forty-third New York, 
and the Sixty-first Pennsylvania. Colonel Burnham, of 
the Sixth Maine, was placed in command. 

Among other reviews in the Sixth corps during the 
winter, was one by General Hooker, of our Second divi- 
sion and the Light division. The troops were formed in 
line, and the general and staff were escorted to the ground 
by the Twentieth New York, of Neill's brigade, in splendid 
style. The regiment was composed entirely of Gei'man 
Turners. Their drill surj^assed that of any regiment of 
regulars, and the exquisite neatness they displayed in their 
dress and in the care of their equipments, together with 
the perfection of their movements, made them the finest 
appearing regiment in the service, when on parade. It is 
to be regretted that the prestige of the regiment was not 
always sustained on the battle-field. As the regiment and 
cavalcade appeared on the field, it was a brilliant pageant ; 
first came our brigade band, one of the finest in the army, 
then the pioneers of the Twentieth, their axes, shovels 
and picks polished so that they glistened in the sunlight 
like burnished silver; then the Twentieth regiment, in 
column by company, marching with step as perfect as 
though all were directed by a single will; following the 
regiment, rode General Hooker on his superb white horse, 
a head and shoulders above all his cavalcade. The 
immense suite, consisting of General Hooker's own staff, 
and a large number of major-generals and their staffs, 
completed the brilliamt column. The division was drawn 
up in a line, stretching a half a mile across the field, 
straight as the flight of an arrow, with artillery on either 
flank. The general and his brilliant retinue, rode to the 
right of the line, and advanced slowly along the front of 


the whole division, inspecting closely each regiment as he 
passed, the bands playing " Hail to the Chief," the colors 
dipping, and the bugles pealing notes of welcome. 
Having passed the entire front of the line, the chief now 
rode at a rapid j)ace along its rear to the point of begin- 
ning. He then, with his attendants, took a position on a 
slight elevation of ground at a distance from the line, 
vrhen the whole division, in column, marching to the 
place, passed in review before him, and the pageant was 

An important change in the command of our corps 
occurred about this time. General Smith, who liad so long 
commanded our division, and for some time past our Sixth 
corps, was relieved of his command, and ordered to the 
department of Xorth Carolina. His successor was General 
John Sedgwick, then well known as one of our best divi- 
sion commanders, and one of the sternest soldiers in the 
Army of the Potomac. Bred as a soldier, he had served 
with great distinction in Mexico, and at the breaking out 
of the rebellion he had joined the Union army, and was 
soon placed in command of a division in Sumner's corps, 
which, under his command, became the best division of 
the corps, as the Sixth corps became the best in the army. 
Modest and retiring in his ordinary intercourse with his 
fellows, he exhibited the most brilliant qualities in time of 
battle. The dignity of his bearing fitted him to command, 
and he needed not the insignia of rank to command the 
deference of those about him. 

None who witnessed the farewell reception of General 
Smith, will forget the scene at corps head-quarters. The 
two generals, the old and loved leader of the Second divi- 
sion and of the corps, and the new commander, stood side 
by side. General Smith, tall, well dressed, his regulation 
coat buttoned closely about him, his easy and graceful 
manner and conversation ; General Sedgwick, of stouter 


build, "wearing a loose blouse and coarse blue pants, such 
as are furnished the private soldier, strong and manly in 
his appearance, and somewhat abrupt in his manner. 
Officers returned to their camps satisfied that although 
the corps had lost a favorite commander, it had also 
gained a brave leader. 

One of the grand events of the winter was the review 
of the whole array by President Lincoln. The review con- 
tinued two days. The first was occupied in reviewing 
the Second, Fifth, Sixth and Third corps ; the second of the 
remaining corps. It was a most imposing spectacle, never 
to be forgotten by those who were actors or spectators. 
The President, in his civilian's dress and tall hat, accom- 
panied by General Hooker, and followed by an immense 
suite, was welcomed by the thundering of artillery as it 
fired the national salute. The difierent corps were drawn 
up in line, each occupying a plain within sight of the 
others. Riding in front of the corps, the President and 
the immense cavalcade passed along the whole line, 
inspecting carefully each regiment, then returned in the 
rear. This inspection over, the President and staif sta- 
tioned themselves in some favorable position, and the 
whole corps passed in review before him. The same pro- 
cess was repeated with each corps. 

How one unaccustomed to such physical fatigues could 
endure such labor, commencing early in the morning and 
only resting at dark, was a wonder. It seemed as if the 
President's physical, like his mental constitution, could 
bear up under the most trying and continued labors. As 
the warm weather of spring appeared, the men adorned 
their camps with evergreen trees and beautiful arches, so 
that the camps presented a pleasant appearance ; but we 
had little time to enjoy these, for as soon as the roads 
began to be passable, preparations were pushed forward 
for the spring campaign. 



Orders to move — The river crossed— Sedgwick's command — The First corps with- 
drawn—Gallant conduct of the Light division — Advancing to the heights — The 
line of battle — The columns of attack — Attack of Howe's columns — Of New- 
ton's column — Of Burnham's — Misfortune following victory — Fight of Bartlett's 
brigade — The First division at work — A critical position — The Sixth corps 
surrounded — Savage fight of Neill's brigade — The corps withdraws to Banks' 
Ford — Recrosses the river — Hooker's operations on the right — Position of the 
corps — Rout of the Eleventh corps — The rebels repulsed — Jackson renews 
the attack — The rebels again repulsed — Hooker recrosses the river. 

On Tuesday, the 28tli of April, the Sixth corps received 
orders to break up its camp and be ready to march at a 
moment's notice. Eight days' rations had been issued to the 
men, who were in the highest spirits, having forgotten all 
their foi-mer discouragements, and were now only anxious 
for an encounter with the enemy. A storm of rain of some 
violence set in on the morning of the 28th, which rendered 
marching difficult. At twelve o'clock we received the order 
to " fall in," and in five minutes we were on our way to 
take our place in the line of battle. A march of six miles 
through thickets and bogs, brought us to the rear of Fal- 
mouth Station, at a short distance from the river. Here we 
bivouacked for the night, and were awakened before day- 
light in the morning by the sound of artillery and 
musketry at the river, where Russell's brigade, of the First 
division, was forcing a passage across the stream. The 
Second division only had been allowed to rest quietly 
during the night. The men of the Light brigade had 
toiled from dark until nearly dawn, carrying the pontoon 
boats on their shoulders to the river side, and launching 
them in the stream. So noiselessly had they conducted 


their operations, that the pickets of the enemy took no 
alarm until they suddenly saw the braves of Russell's 
brigade approaching in the boats, just as dawn was break- 
ing. The astonished confederates fired a few volleys of 
musketry, and our guns threw among them a few charges 
of cannister, and the rebels fled precipitately. A number of 
prisoners were captixred, among them the ofiicer of the 
picket-guard. Colonel Irwin, of the Forty-ninth Pennsyl- 
vania, who had, at Antietam, commanded the Third 
brigade of the Second division, was among the wounded 
on our side. 

At sunrise the Second division filed down to the river side, 
and took position in line of battle. Our horses cropped 
the green blades which had sprung from the grain scat- 
tered for their food nearly five months before. The division 
was lapon the very spot where it lay before, at the first 
battle of Fredericksburgh. The bridsre also was in the 
same place that Franklin's bridge had been. The point 
was known as Franklin's Crossing. 

The First division of our corps (Brook's) was on the 
other side of the river, holding the plain for some distance. 
The pickets of that division formed the half of a circle of 
about three-fourths of a mile in diameter, the center being 
at the pontoon bridge, Avhere some earthworks were thrown 
up. At our left, about a mile down the river, the First 
corps had also effected a crossing. The rebels had offered 
strong resistance, but the crossing was gallantly accom- 
plished by Wadsworth's division in boats. Like the First 
division of our own corps, Wadsworth's division was 
holding a semi-circular portion of the plateau ; but being 
able to maintain the position by some fighting. 

Sickles' Third corps was upon the high ground in the rear, 
ready to come to the assistance of the corps at the river. 
The three corps, First, Third and Sixth, were under com- 
mand of General Sedo-wick. 


The rebels spent the dny in throwing iip intrenchments 
and shelling Reynolds' position. Toward niglit the artil- 
lery practice ceased, and the First and Sixth corps 
bivouacked Avhere they had stood during the day, but 
Sickles and his corps were ordered to the assistance of 
Hooker, on the right. 

The morning of the 30th was lowery, but the clouds 
dispersed as the day advanced. About noon the troops 
were massed by brigades, and a congratulatory order from 
General Hooker was read to them, amid great cheering. 
"The enemy," said the order, "must now come out and 
fight us on our ground, or retreat ingloriously." Nothing 
more of interest occurred that day ; but, in the afternoon 
of the following day, the First corps became engaged in a 
fierce artillery duel with the enemy, in which the corps 
lost a large number of its men in killed and wounded. At 
sunset an order came from General Hooker, at Chancellors- 
ville, for General Sedgwick to assume a threatening atti- 
tude — to make a severe demonstration — but to make no 
attack. There was much marching and getting into 
position, and regiments and divisions were marched and 
countermarched in such a manner as to convey to the 
rebels the impression that a grand attack was to be made 
at that point. The enemy was evidently deceived by these 
maneuvers, and heavy columns of rebel infontry com- 
menced to form upon the old battle-field. While we stood 
in line of battle, one of our bands near the skirmish line 
struck up the air, " Dixie." The rebels, hearing the strains, 
set up defiant cheers, which were answered by our army in 
the most tremendous shouts imaginable. The contest 
seemed for the time to depend on strength of lung, and 
our boys certainly beat them at shouting. 

As the sun disappeared behind the hills, when Hooker's 
guns were thundering, we retired to our tents. All day 
long the earth had been shaken by ti'emendous firing 


of artillery on the right ; and now, as darkness gathered 
over the scenes of conflict, the thnndering of the guns 
and the trembling of the earth seemed like a succession of 
earthquakes. The spirit of our boys rose, as the battle on 
the right pi'ogressed, and there seemed to be indications 
of work for them. Groups might be seen at any time, 
when we were not standing in line of battle, telling yarns, 
singing songs, playing ball and pitching quoits, while they 
momentarily looked for the order to advance u^Jon the 
heights, into the very jaws of death, 

Saturday morning, May 2d, the First corps was with- 
drawn from its position ; its bridges were taken up, and 
the corps moved past us up the river to join the main body 
of the army under Hooker, on the right. The Seventy- 
seventh was sent to do picket duty on the ground occupied 
by the First corps the night before. Our reserve was 
posted a little way from the river, in a pleasant field, where 
the fresh clover furnished a soft bed for the men, and a 
dainty bite for our horses. Just in front of us was a lovely 
spot — -the residence of Doctor Morson, for fifteen years a 
surgeon in the United States navy. The place was in 
remarkable order; the gardens in full bloom, the mocking 
birds building their nests, and the greenlets warbling 
sweetly among the flowering shrubs. 

We strolled along the banks of the beautiful river, 
gathering flowers and glancing at our " secesh " neigh- 
bors on the o^Dposite bank, only a few yards distant ; 
or we lounged in the shade of our tents, enjoying the 
charms of a lovely May day, while the terrible din of 
battle on the right, where Hooker's forces were contend- 
ing, shook the gi-ound beneath us, and we knew that ere 
the sun set, thousands of our brave comrades must be 

As the evening drew near, we who were on the north 
side of the river saw our skirmishers, of the " Lis^ht divi- 


sion," drive back the skirmish line of the enemy. It was 
a gaHant feat, and finely executed. Our hearts leaped 
for joy as we watched our brave fellows, their line as per- 
fect as though on drill, advance, firing rapidly, and pressing 
the enemy at " double-quick." They made no halt until 
they had crossed the whole breadth of the plain and 
reached the base of the hills. 

Few who were then in the Sixth corps will ever forget 
that scene. The sun, just sinking behind the hills where 
Hooker was at work, threw a beautiful golden light over 
the plain, and crowned the heights with brilliant hues. It 
was one of those evenings of surpassing loveliness, such as 
gladdened our hearts only at long intervals. Prominent in 
the foreground of the beautiful scene was a noble white 
steed, with its gallant rider, dashing from one end of the 
skirmish line to the other. None who witnessed the spec- 
tacle will forget the white horse and the fearless rider ; and 
few of the Second or Light divisions need be reminded that 
the horseman was Colonel Baker, of the Forty-third New 
York, who was then in charge of the skirmish line. 

The " Light division " was, as we have before stated, 
the First brigade of our Second division, with regiments 
from the First and Third divisions which had been, a short 
time before leaving camp, detached to form an independent 
organization. The arrangement was broken up immedi- 
ately after this battle, and the regiments put in the First 
and Second divisions again. 

Immediately after the brilliant advance of the " Light 
division," the pickets on the north side of the river were 
withdrawn from the line. The Second division crossed 
the river and took position — the Third brigade in front, 
the Vermont brigade in rear. The Thirty-third and 
Forty-ninth New York, of the Third brigade, went for- 
ward as pickets in front of the hills, relieving pickets 
of the " Light division," which moved to the right. 


We remained in line all night, sometimes throwing our- 
selves upon the ground to catch a moment's sleep, then 
roused in expectancy of an advance. 

At four o'clock in the morning we did advance. Straight 
across the plain we went, until we came nearly to the base 
of the heights, where the hosts of the enemy awaited us, 
then taking the Bowling Green road, filed to the right and 
proceeded to the rear of Fredericksburgh ; the Seventy- 
seventh in front, the Twentj'-first New Jersey, the Forty- 
ninth New York, Twentieth New York, Seventh Maine 
and Thirty-third New York, constituting the Third bri- 
gade, under command of General Neill, following in 
the order mentioned. Then came the Vermont brigade, 
Colonel L. A. Grant commanding ; these two brigades 
forming the whole of Howe's (Second) division of the 
Sixth corps since the First brigade was detached. 

As we gained the rear of the eastern part of the town, 
the batteries of the enemy opened upon us, and swarms 
of infantry rose up in our front and poured volleys of 
bullets into our ranks. The " Light division " and New- 
ton's Third division of our corps had passed through the 
streets of the town, and were now on our right. The 
skirmishers from Wheaton's and Shaler's brigades had 
struck those of the enemy near a large mansion, where, 
each party dodging behind the garden feiice, the cherry 
trees and the outhouses, they kept up a lively engage- 
ment for several minutes, but Newton's advance was 
forced to yield the ground. 

In the meantime, the long line of rifled cannon which 
surmounted Staiford Heights, on the north side of the 
river, as at the first battle of Fredericksburgh, were throw- 
ing huge shells across the wide valley and stream into the 
works of the enemy. One or two field batteries near the 
head of our own column, and some attached to the other 
divisions, got into position and opened a fierce cannonade. 


General Howe quickly formed Ins troops in line, as did 
the other division commanders.* 

The line of battle of the corps extended from the pon- 
toon bridge at Franklin's Crossing to the right of the 
town of Fredericksburgh. First, on the left, Brooks' 
division held the plain in front of the crossing. Next, on 
the right, in front of Marye's Heights, was Howe's Second 
division ; then the " Light division," Colonel Burnham ; 
and on the extreme right was Newton's Third division. 
Gibbon's division of the Second corps, which, because its 
encampment was in plain view of the enemy, had been 
left behind, also crossed into the town by a bridge which 
it threw over, and took position on the right of the corps. 

General Sedgwick, finding that the heights could only 
be carried by direct assault, directed storming columns to 
be formed in the Second and Third divisions and the Light 
division, which order was at once carried into execution. 

In the Second division, General Howe directed General 
Neill to lead the advance. The plan of attack of the 
division was in two lines of battle of three regiments each. 

The first line consisted of the Thirty-thiixl Xew York, 
Colonel Taylor, the Seventh Maine, Colonel Connor, and 
the Twenty-first New Jersey, Colonel Van Houten, pre- 
ceded by the Seventy-seventh New York, Colonel French, 
as skirmishers. The line was commanded by General 
Neill.f The second line consisted of the Sixth Vermont, 
Colonel Barney, the Twenty-sixth New Jersey, Colonel 
Morrison, and the Second Vermont, Colonel Walbridge, 
and was under command of Colonel L. A. Grant. Both 
lines were arranged from right to left, in the order above 

• The reader is referred to the Appendix on page 441, for a corrected accouat of 
this ba'itlo. 

f " I W98 ordered to form three regiments as the advance of a colvmn of assault 
against the heights of Marye's Hill, back of Fredericksburgh. I led the Thirty - 
third New York, Tweuty-flrst New Jersey , and Seventh Maine Volunteers, preceded 
by the Seventy-seventh New York, who were acting as skirmishers, under a heavy 
flre of shot and shell." —NeiWs Report. 


The Forty-ninth and Twentieth Xew York formed tlie 
right reserve, and the Third, Fourth and Fifth Vermont, 
under Colonel Seavor, the left reserve. 

The next column was composed of the Seventh Massa- 
chusetts, Colonel Jones, and the Thii-ty-sixth New York, 
Colonel Walsh ; both under the command of Colonel 
Jones — the Fifth Wisconsin, Colonel Allen, acting as 
skirmishers. Supporting the column, in line of battle, 
were the Sixth Maine, Colonel Harris, Thirty-first New 
York, Colonel Jones, and the Twenty-third Pennsylvania, 
Colonel Ely. 

The right column of all consisted of the Forty-third New 
York, Colonel Baker, and the Sixty-first Pennsylvania, 
Colonel Spear — the two regiments under command of 
the latter ofticer, who fell, mortally wounded, while lend- 
ing the charge. The Sixty-seventh New York, Colonel 
Cross, and the Eighty-second Pennsylvania, Mnjor Bassett, 
under command of Colonel Shaler, supported this right 

At half-past ten, the arrangements for storming the 
heights were completed, and Newton's batteries opened 
upon the enemy. At the sound of Newton's first gun, 
General Howe ordered his batteries to direct their fire 
upon the heights, and then ordered the storming column 

The division advanced toward the bold bluffs, which, 
bare of trees as well as the plain below, allowed the 
enemy an excellent view of all our movements. A rail- 
road traversed the plain near the bluifs, and in a deep cut 
through which the road passed, were rebels. They rose 
up as we advanced, and poured showers of leaden hail into 
our line; but one of our batteries, getting an enfilading 
fire on the road, sent the gray-coated occupants hurriedly 
to the rear. For a moment we halted, the batteries on 
either side playing into each other with spirit. 


It was a moment of contending emotions of pride, hope 
and sadness, as our gallant boys stood face to face with 
those heights, ready to charge upon them. At double-quick, 
and in splendid style, they crossed the plain. Our line was 
perfect. The men could not have made a more orderly 
appearance had they been on drill. Proud of their com- 
mands. Generals Howe and Neill, and Colonel Grant, 
cheered the men onward, while Lieutenant-Colonel French, 
in charge of the skirmish line, inspired, by his own intrepid 
behavior, the utmost confidence and bravery in his men. 
They took the matter as coolly as though on parade. 

Just in rear of the division, three batteries of Parrott guns 
were j^laying into the works of the enemy, while from the 
heights above, all the opposing batteries poured a terrible 
and destructive fire upon the advancing lines. Having 
gained the rifle pits at the base of the hills, they pushed 
forward to capture the heights. 

A more grand spectacle cannot be imagined. There 
were the hills, enough to fatigue any man to climb them 
without a load and with no one to oppose. At the foot 
of the hills Avere thousands of the enemy, pouring into them 
volleys of musketry, and on the heights were their lines 
of earthworks, with their artillery, from which poured 
grape and cannister in a frightful storm. But the boys 
pushed nobly, steadily on, the rebels steadily retreating, 
the division coming itp in splendid style. Generals Howe 
and Neill and Colonel Grant directing the movements and 
cheering on the men, as they pressed undauntedly against 
the murderous storm of iron and lead that met them from 
above. Our men were falling in every direction, but the 
lines were immediately closed, and on they passed. With 
shouts and cheers that drowned the roar of artillery, the 
noble division, with bayonets fixed, mounted the heights, 
the rebels retreating in confusion. Of that noble column 
the skirmishers of the Seventy-seventh first reached the 


heights of Marye's Hill, the Thirty-third New York, in line 
of battle, followed, and then the Sixth Vermont,* the 
other regiments of the two brigades being but a moment 
behind. But the work was not all done yet. On our left 
was an earthwork of strong profile, from which now the 
rebels turned their guns upon us. Against this the column 
turned, and soon gained possession of it also. A third 
stronghold then fell into our hands, and we were in undis- 
puted possession of the heights. While the troops under 
Neill and Grant had thus nobly stormed the works in 
front. Colonel Seaver, with his three regiments, had scaled 
the heights further to the left. 

With one or two exceptions, every regiment in the divi- 
sion had behaved with great gallantry. 

The Seventy-seventh New York captured a stand of 
colors belonging to the Eighteenth Mississippi regiment, 
two heavy guns, a large number of prisoners, among 
whom was Colonel Luce of the Eighteenth Mississippi, 
and great numbers of small arms. 

As the regiment reached the heights, and took posses- 
sion of the guns, General Howe rode up, and, taking off 
his hat, exclaimed : " Noble Seventy-seventh ! you have 
covered yourselves with glory !" The general's words 
were greeted with tumultuous cheers. 

In the second work, the Thirty-third New York cap- 
tured a piece of heavy ordnance and a number of prisoners. 
The regiment had exhibited great spirit and bravery. Six 
color-bearers had been shot down successively. 

It was at the signal of the first gun in Newton's front that 
General Howe had ordered the charere of the Second divi- 

* General L. A. Grant, in his report, does unintentional injustice to a brave regi- 
ment. He says : " The Sixth Vermont followed the Thirty-third New York, and 
was the second to gain the heights of Fredericksburgh." The Thirty-third was not 
the first to gain the heights on that part of the line. The testimony of General Neill, 
as well as of the membersof the regiment, and the many trophies it captured, fully 
establish the claim of the Seventy-seventh to the honor. 


sion. Tlie Third division and the Light division had not 
been idle while the events we have described were going 
on. It Avill be remembered that the column on the right 
consisted of the Forty-third New York and the Sixty-first 
Pennsylvania, supported by a line of battle; and that the 
other column consisted of the Seventh Massachusetts and 
Thirty-sixth New York, also supported by other regiments. 

The ascent in front of the Third and Light divisions, 
though steep, was less precipitous than in front of Howe's 
column, and a good road led to the heights. But a stone 
wall skirted the base of the hills, behind which the rebels 
swarmed in great numbers. 

Under the fire of the rebel batteries, Newton's and Burn 
ham's regiments lay, some in the outskirts of the town, 
some in the cemetery, until General Sedgwick gave the 
order for the advance. Then, almost at the same time, 
both commands moved up the glacis towards the heights. 
Colonel Jones, with his two regiments, the Seventh Massa- 
chusetts and Thirty-sixth New York, pushed forward up 
the telegraph road, against the stone wall, bearing to the 
right of the road ; their knapsacks and haversacks were 
left behind that they might be unincumbered with need- 
less burdens. As they approached within three hundred 
yards of the wall, a murderous volley checked the advance, 
and threw the head of the column into disorder. In two 
minutes the men were rallied, and again they approached 
the wall, this time nearer than before; but again they were 
broken. A third time they were rallied; this time they 
pushed straight forward to the works. 

The column under Colonel Spear started briskly forward, 
divested, like the others, of knapsacks and haversacks. 
Sallying from the town at double quick, in column of four 
ranks, they crossed the bridge just outside the city, when 
the gallant Colonel Spear received his mortal wound, and 
fell at the head of his men. The Sixty-first, which led the 


column, shocked at the death of their beloved leader, broke, 
and in confusion turned toward the town. This unfortu- 
nate confusion spread to the men of the Forty-third, who, 
checked by the disordered mass in front, and submitted to 
a galling fire, also commenced falling back. Finding any 
attempt to get the men through the disordered mass in 
front, the gallant Baker drew his colors to the right and 
rallied his regiment around them. Then, bounding for- 
ward, the regiment reached the heights scarcely behind 
any of the regiments on the left, capturing a gun and 
many prisoners. 

The line of battle under Colonel Burnham advanced on 
the left of the road ; the Fifth Wisconsin on the skirmish 
line, the Sixth Maine, the Thirty-first New York, and the 
Twenty-third Pennsylvania in line. Four more gallant 
regiments could not be found in the service. Leaving 
everything but guns and ammunition, they started forward, 
encountering a shower of bullets, gi'ape and canister, 
as soon as they rose above the slight knoll which had 
concealed them. "We of the Second division looked with 
admiration upon the advancing line ; our flag — it was the 
flag of the Sixth Maine — in advance of the others, its 
brave color-guard bounding forward, then halting a moment 
while the men came up, then dashing forward again, and 
finally gaining the heights before us all ! It was a noble 
spectacle, and filled our hearts with pride for our brave 
comrades of the Light division. The Light division secured 
as trophies about seven hundred prisoners and five cannon. 

Thus the heights were won. It was a glorious day for 
the Sixth corps. Never was a charge more gallantly 
made. But it was a sad day, for many scores of our 
brave comrades lay stretched in death, along the glacis, 
and on the steep ascent, in the ravines and along the road. 

The Seventh Massachusetts, the Sixth Maine, the Fifth 
Wisconsin, the Second Vermont, and the Seventy-seventh, 


Tliirty-tliird and Forty-third ISTew York, were among the 
greatest losers. The Sixth Maine reached the rebel works 
with the loss of six captains and the major, and a propor- 
tional number of enlisted men. Two color-bearers and 
Lieutenant-Colonel Newman were shot in the Thirty-first, 
and Colonel Jones, of the Seventh Massachusetts, was 
seriously wounded, while one hundred and twelve of his 
brave men were either killed or wounded. 

The Abounded had been taken to the city, where they 
were kindly cared for by the surgeons of the corps, who 
had seized the town for hospital purposes. Churches and 
private dwellings swarmed with the unfortunate men, 
whose mangled forms told of the fearful work of the day. 
Surgeons were hard at work ministering relief to the suffer- 
ing, binding up the Avounds or removing the mangled 
limbs Avhich offered no hope of recovery ; while nurses 
administered food and coffee, and prepared beds, such as 
could be extemporized from blankets spread upon the floors. 
More than three thousand Avounded Avere brought into the 
city before nightfill. 

Upon the very heels of the brilliant success of the corps 
commenced disaster. An order from General Hooker had 
directed General Sedgwick to advance toAvard Chancel- 
lorsville, and form a junction with the main army. So 
the corps which had so nobly won the heights pressed on 
for further achievements. The heights were left behind. 
Brooks' division, Avhich now took the lead, had advanced 
as far as Salem Church, on the ChancellorsA'ille pike, when, 
instead of meeting any portion of Hooker's army, a few 
shells from rebel guns warned the division of the presence 
of the enemy. 

A dense thicket Avas in front, and Bartlett's brigade, 
which had the advance, was deploj^ed to skirmish and 
ascertain the position of the concealed foe. Presently, 
having fallen upon a strong line of skirmishers, the bri- 


gade was formed in line of battle; the Twenty-seventh 
New York on the right, then the Fifth Maine, then the 
One Hundred and Twenty-first New York, and on the 
left the Ninety-sixth Pennsylvania; the Sixteenth New 
York holding the skirmish line in front. General Bartlett 
advanced his line to the thicket, the Sixteenth driving the 
rebel skirmishers, the brigade following closely. At 
the edge of the thicket General Bartlett halted the line, 
but being ordered by General Brooks to advance rapidly, 
he pushed on again. 

Advancing through the thicket about thirty rods, the 
brigade suddenly found itself face to face with a rebel 
line. The confederates were lying down in a road which 
traversed the thicket ; and, when the Union line was within 
twenty yards, they suddenly discharged a volley, which, 
had it been well aimed, must have almost annihilated the 
brigade ; but the fire was returned with efiect, and pres- 
ently, the confederates were glad to leave the road, which 
was almost filled with their dead and wounded, and seek 
shelter behind rifle pits. The rifle pits were but a few 
yards in rear of the road, and here a very strong force 
was posted. The Union forces occupied the road, and 
directed their fire against the works ; but the rebel fire 
cut down their unprotected ranks like grass before the 
scythe. For fifteen minutes the gallant regiments endured 
this murderous fire, and then fell back in good order, hav- 
ing lost, within twenty minutes, nearly seven hundred 
men ; of whom two hundred and seventy-three were from 
the One Hundred and Twenty-first New York. 

The New Jersey brigade, and the whole division, had 
by this time been brought into action, and great slaughter 
was made in almost every regiment. Newton's division 
was also fiercely engaged on the right, Wheaton's brigade 
holding its position only by the most stubborn fighting. 
The enemy having forced the First division to retire^ 


advanced against onr line ; but the batteries under Willis- 
ton, Rigby and Parsons, by splendid practice, repulsed the 
onset. The Second division, forming the rear of the col- 
umn, had not been brought into the engagement. 

Darkness came to the relief of the corps, and the men 
slept soundly on their arms after the ai'duous duties of the 
day ; but there were many misgivings among officers in 
regard to what to-morrow might bring forth. 

While we rested, the enemy was bringing uj) reinforce- 
ments from the direction of Richmond. Very early in the 
morning the siege guns on Staftbrd Heights, opposite the 
town, sent some shells screaming across the valley to 
the heights of Marye's Hill, giving the alarm to those in the 
town and to those who had so recently left it. Lines of 
rebels were seen all along the outskirts of the town and on 
the crests above. Fifteen thousand confederate troops 
were between the Sixth corps and Fredericksburgh Heights. 
The surgeons immediately prepared to send the wounded 
across the river, but, supjjosing that to accomplish the 
whole before the rebels should take possession of the town 
would be impossible, made every preparation for being 
themselves taken prisoners. A small detachment of Gib- 
bon's division still guarded the town, but nearly all his 
troops had recrossed the river and were on Stafford Heights. 
But the small force in the toAvn seemed sufficient to convey 
to the rebels the impression that it was well guarded, for 
they made no attempt to seize the immense amount of 
hospital stores which was at their mercy, or to molest the 
wounded or the surgeons. 

The Sixth corps was now in a critical position ; its com- 
munications entirely cut off, and surrounded by hosts of 
the enemy. The corps was sandwiched between the rebels 
on the heights and Lee's whole army ; while on its left was 
a strong force, and on its right an impassable river. Dis- 
positions were at once made to meet the emergency. 


Brooks' division was drawn back, and Howe's, still in the 
rear, changed front and quickly extended the line of battle 
to the river, so as to include Banks' Ford, six miles above 
the city, over which communications were at once estab- 

The whole of Early's rebel division occupied the crest 
of Marye's and Cemetery Hills ; the divisions of Anderson 
and McLaws were on our flank ; and the brigades of Hays, 
Hoke and Lawton, supported by Lee's whole army, were 
in our rear. We were in the vicinity of Salem Church, 
and our only line of retreat was upon the road leading to 
Banks' Ford, 

The first demonstration of the rebels, on the morning of 
the 4th, was against the position held by Neill's brigade. 
A company from the Seventh Maine, and two companies 
from the Forty-ninth N"ew York, in conjunction with a 
part of Martin's battery, and supported by the remaining 
companies of the Forty-ninth, gallantly repulsed and 
routed a whole brigade of rebels, capturing two hundred 
prisoners, and the colors of the Fifty-eighth Virginia 
regiment ; which last trophy was borne off by the men of 
the Forty-ninth, and was the second stand of colors taken 
by that gallant brigade in this engagement, the Seventy- 
seventh having captured the other. 

The day wore away with little fighting till five o'clock. 
General Howe had so disposed his troops as to occupy two 

In front was the Third brigade, holding a crest which 
overlooked a ravine through which the rebels must pass. 
Behind the brigade was another ravine, in which was a 
thin skirt of woods. In rear of this second ravine, and 
behind a swell of ground, the Vermont brigade was 
strongly posted, forming the second line of battle. There 
were in each of these two brigades about three thousand 


Now came the most fearful struggle of the campaign. 
At five o'clock the rebel hordes came, with deafening yells, 
upon the division. The divisions of Early, Anderson and 
McLaws rushed upon the single brigade of less than three 
thousand men, massing their troops in the ravine, and 
charging with impetuous fury. But the noble regiments 
heroically withstood the shock, the Germans of the Twen- 
tieth only going to the rear in confusion. The stubborn 
resistance of the brigade prevented the rebels from piercing 
our lines, and cutting off our retreat, and thus, by its gal- 
lantry, enabled the corps to cross at Banks' Ford. But 
one thousand men — more than one-third of the brigade — 
fell on that crest. Colonci Van Houghton, of the Twenty- 
first New Jersey, was mortally wounded, and many other 
choice spirits were among the fallen. General Neill was 
injured by the fall of his horse, which was shot. General 
Howe now ordered the brigade to fall back, and the deci- 
mated regiments left the front line, and fell behind the 
strong position held by the Vermonters.* The rebels, 
thinking this a retreat, followed with yells of exultation, 
but were met by the second line of battle, which, from its 
position behind the swell of ground, was concealed, with 
a murderous fire, which sent them reeling back to the 
cover of the first ravine. Their charge had inflicted little 
damage upon the Union line. It was now nearly dark, and 
the reception which the rebels had received had so com- 
pletely routed and broken them, that they made no further 
attempt upon our lines. 

About nine o'clock, the division was ordered to fall back 
to Banks' Ford, now two miles distant from us. We fell 
back quietly, and found that the other divisions had pre- 
ceded us, and were snugly behind rifle pits. They had 
fallen back as soon as it was dark, leaving the Second 
division to cover the retreat. 

Meantime, comparatively little fighting had been done 

• General Wheaton's brigade, of Newton's division, was sent to Howe's assistance, 
and other reinforcements. 


"by the other divisions, though a constant skirmish was 
kept up, and in the evening the confederates managed to 
get in the rear of a j^art of the picket of the Liglit divi- 
sion, capturing a large number of prisoners fi-ora the 
Forty-third and Thirty-first New York, and Sixty-first 

The position at Banks' Ford, taken up at first with the 
intention of remaining, was ascertained upon trial to be 
untenable. Soon after the Sixth Corps was posted, the 
enemy opened fire from their batteries at the Decker 
house, so placed, on account of the sinistrous course of the 
river, as to fire into the rear of our troops and upon the 
hedges. This demonstration of the enemy was valuable 
to us, for it proved the utter madness of attempting to 
hold the position until the morning light should more 
clearly demonstrate its defects to the enemy. 

Toward morning the corps recrossed the Rappahannock 
on pontoon bridges ; not without the utmost difficulty ; 
one bridge being destroyed by rebel artillery, and the 
other barely saved from destruction long enough to allow 
the troops hurriedly to pass over. 

The corps had passed through a fearful ordeal, and had 
shown itself to be made of heroic material. No two more 
brilliant feats had been performed during the war, than 
the storming of the heights of Fredericksburgh, and the 
splendid resistance when surroimded and attacked by 
overwhelming forces. The men came out of the fight, not 
demoralized, but as ready to scale those terrible heights 
again, if called upon, as they had been on the 3d of May. 

General Sedgwick had manifested during the fights, 
those masterly qualities which made him one of the 
greatest soldiers of the age. His conduct on the retreat 
was cool and unimpassioned. Personally examining every 
part of the ground in front and rear, riding from one end 
of the line to the other, now ordering a battery placed at 
some commanding point, and now looking out a new 
position to which his troops might fall back in case of 


necessity, he was everywhere present, full of energy, as 
determined to save as he had been to win. 

Throughout the land the glorious deeds of the Sixth 
corps became household woi-ds ; but its glory had been 
dearly purchased. Five thousand of the heroes who 
crossed the Rappahannock on the 2d of May, were either 
dead or wounded. Colonel Van Houghton, one of New 
Jersey's bravest sons, had received a mortal wound, from 
which he died in the hands of the enemy. Captain Luther 
M. Wheeler, of the Seventy-seventh, was shot while we 
halted at the foot of Marye's Hill. It was a sad loss to his 
regiment, and the corps. Few more gifted young men 
could be found in the army. He Avas one of our bravest 
and most efficient officers. Gentle in his relations with his 
fellows, cool and daring in battle; his youthful face 
beaming with fortitude, was a continual joy to his men in 
time of danger. He died as he had lived, a hero. 

The Forty-third had lost Captain Knickerbocker and 
Lieutenant Koonz. Two young men of brilliant promise, 
greatly loved and respected in their regiment and in their 
native city, Albany. 

The wounded men in the hospitals exhibited the same 
heroic fortitude in their sufferings that they had mani- 
fested in the charge and in the retreat. A few instances 
are given as ilhistrations of many: Erskine Branch of 
Company D, Seventy-seventh 'New York, when his leg was 
torn to shreds by a shell, hobbled off on the sound one and 
his gun, singing " The Star Spangled Banner." Corporal 
Henry West was shot through the thigh, and he was 
brought to the rear. "I guess," said he "that old Joe 
West's son has lost a leg." The corporal died soon after. 
While in the hospital, suffering from extreme angiiish, a 
wounded man at his side lamented that he had come to the 
war. " I am not sorry that I came," instantlj^ responded 
the brave corporal. 

hooker's operations on the right. 207 

Let us now turn back and glance hastily at the maneu- 
vers of the main army at Chancellorsville. We, of the 
Sixth corps, could only see by the balloon which, like 
some huge bird, hovered over the army, where it held its 
position, and the unceasing roar of artillery told us of a 
severe struggle with its foe ; while rumor brought, now 
reports of brilliant success, and anon tales of sad ddfeat. 
We knew little of the true state of affairs at the right, 
and it was only when we mingled with our comrades of 
the other corps that we learned the details of the battle of 
Chancellorsville. We now repeat it as it was given to us. 

On the 27th of April, General Hooker led the Fifth, Elev- 
enth, and Twelfth corps up the river until he reached Kelly's 
Ford, twenty-seven miles above Fredericksbui'gh. By the 
morning of the 29th this force had successfully crossed the 
Eappahannock on a pontoon bridge, and, proceeding down 
the river, the Eleventh and Twelfth corps effected a cross- 
ing of the Rapidan at Germania Ford, while the Fifth 
crossed at Ely's Ford. By these movements the United 
States Ford was uncovered, and the force of the enemy 
guarding it was driven away. Bridges were at once 
thrown, and, by three p. m., the Second corps, except Gib- 
bon's division, was crossing. The four corps assembled 
that night near Chancellorsville, General Hooker being per- 
sonally in command. 

The movements on the right at Fredericksburgh had, 
during this time, engaged the attention of the enemy, allow- 
ing General Hooker, almost without opposition, to secure 
his position ; and now General Sickles, with the Third 
corps, was ordered to join him. 

From Chancellorsville, two roads lead towards Fredericks- 
burgh, and intersect about midway between these two places. 
In the direction of this intersection the body of Lee's army 
was posted. On the morning of May Ist the four corpa 
advanced on these two roads, the Fifth and Second taking 


that nearest the river, the Eleventh and Twelfth following' 
the plank-road further south. 

The troops had not proceeded far when the head of the 
columns emerged from the thick forest through wl>ich they 
had been marching, and the enemy, in line of batSe, was 
encountered. General Hooker, fearing that it would be 
impossible to throw his troops along the narrow road 
thi-ough the tangled forest to reinforce those in front, chose 
to withdraw, and formed his line of battle for defence in the 
vicinity of Chancellorsville — the Second and Fifth corps 
holding the left, the Eleventh and Twelfth the right, while 
most of Sickles' Third corps was held in reserve, one divi- 
sion being thrown to the front in the centre. 

The country was densely wooded. Except an open 
space about the house, it was a tangled wilderness. The 
ground was low and marshy, and nearly level. Earth- 
works were thrown up in front of all the corps, and every 
thing seemed in readiness for the enemy, for whom General 
Hooker now waited, hoping that, by fruitless assaults upon 
what seemed an impregnable position, the enemy would be 
BO exhausted that he might turn upon him with fresh divi- 
sions, and rout the retreating forces. His programme was 
to secure a position in the rear of the rebel positions at the 
fords, while that portion of the army left at Fredericks- 
burgh was to divert attention from the principal movement. 
Stoneman, with the cavalry, was to make a grand raid on 
the communications of the rebel army, burning the bridges 
and tearing up railroads. The main body of the army hav- 
ing secured its position and accomplished its work, the 
Sixth corp was to press forward and harass them in their 
retreat toward Richmond. 

Saturday afternoon, almost at dark, the First corps, 
Reynolds', which had that morning parted company with 
the Sixth corps, crossed the river and took position near 
the ford, four miles in rear of Howard. 


The rebel army had been on the southeast of ours. 
Sickles, on the afternoon of Saturday, discovered a train of 
wagons and ambulances moving across the pike far in his 
front. He sent a force to cut it in two, and was success- 
ful in taking a large number of prisoners and in creating 
a panic in the train. He advanced, and was met by a 
strong fierce of the enemy. He now sent to Generals How- 
ard and Slocum for reinforcements, and received from each 
a brigade. Some of the rear-guard of the rebel column, 
which proved to be a heavy force under " Stonewall" Jack- 
son, were captured, but the main body had already passed 
to the right. 

Jackson's immense force having passed round our army 
to the extreme right, came like an avalanche upon the right 
division of the Eleventh corps, General Devins'. The men 
were cooking their coffee, when suddenly the whizzing of 
innumerable bullets aroused them from their culinary en- 
gagements. The hosts of Jackson, with yells and shouts, 
fell like a thunderbolt upon the astonished division, and it 
melted away like a snow-flake in summer. The next divi- 
sion, Shurz's, tried to maintain the ground, and did what 
men could do, but could not withstand the shock. General 
Hooker, fearing that the flying Germans would stampede 
the whole army, directed the cavalry which was with him 
to charge upon the fugitives and arrest their flight ; but 
nothing could halt them. The commanding general threw 
his old division, now under General Berry, into the breach, 
while Sickles, with two divisions, and Pleasanton with his 
cavalry, attacked the enemy on the right flank. General 
Howard rallied what men he could behind a stone wall, 
where he established his line. Forty pieces of artillery and 
brigades from other corps were also, by General Hooker's 
order, concentrated to oppose the Confederates, who were 
at length repulsed, and the conflict ceased for the night. 

Hooker drew in his lines, making them more compact, 

210 Jackson's attack. 

cliang-ed the disposition of some of the corps, throwing the 
Eleventh from the right to the left of the line, and bringing 
Meade, with the Fifth corps, to the right. The corps were 
in line near the Chancellor house, where earthworks were 
thrown up during the night. Sickles, with his two divi- 
sions, was still in advance of the main line, and during the 
night attacked Jackson with Birney's division, regaining 
the ground we had lost and recapturing some guns. Be- 
fore daybreaji, however. Sickles withdrew to the new line. 
Artillery was massed to command the approaches to the 
turnpike, and earthworks had gone up in the night as if by 
magic. At daylight Sunday morning the rebel forces ad- 
vanced against the Chancellor place, not in thin line of 
battle but in heavy masses. Men in gray poured from the 
woods like a torrent, their shouts and j^ells making a pan- 
demonium of the wilderness. Suddenly, from the mouths of 
forty cannon, was hurled against them a cruel storm of 
grape and canister, which ploughed through the advanc- 
ing columns, carrying death and destruction in its course, 
while the infantr}- poured into the faces of the desperate foe 
a terrible hail-storm of bullets, which almost decimated the 
columns. Still, although repulsed in parts of the line, the 
pressure was so strong that our troops again fell back, 
shortening and strengthening the line. During this action 
General Hooker received a serious injury, which, for a time, 
unfitted him for command. 

By this time the attention of Lee's army was drawn to 
the important movements on the left, where our Sixth corps 
was engaged, and no furtlier important attack was made 
on Hooker's front. On Monday Lee turned his attention to 
the Sixth coi'ps, and on Tuesday morning had only Hooker 
to attend to, as our corps had recrossed the river. 

On Wednesday Lee found no army in his front. General 
Hooker had, in the midst of many doubts, called a council 
of corps commanders, who agreed, not unanimously, that it 



was advisable to recross the river. So tlie army was with- 
drawn when victory seemed ready to rest on our banners.* 
Witliout doubt, had the general known of the panic created 
by the cavalry in the rear, or had he been sure that his 
communications would remain intact, the result would have 
been far different. 

Tlie loss to the whole arm}'' in this campaign was over 
seventeen thousand in killed and wounded.f Very many 
of these were left in the hands of the enemy. 

• Tlie author makes no attempt to discuss the merits of the controversy which grew 
out of this buttle between two of the best soldiers of our army. The readier will find, 
In the Report on the Conduct of the War, 1865, all the facts and arguments on both 
Bides, by those uiost competent to give them— Genei'als Hooker and Seilgwick. 

t The following statement exhibits the loss to the various corps in killed, wounded, 
and missing: 

Ist 292 

2d 2,025 

3d 4,039 

5th 699 

6th 4,925 

llth 2..in8 

12th 2,883 

Cavalry 145 



The army in Its old position — Atrip to Dixie — The wounded at the hospitals- 
Introduction of army badges — Adornments of the camps — The "Third cross- 
ing"— Tlie Barnard mansion — Exchanging papers — A broken lieutenant — The 
Pennsylvania campaign commenced— Kestriction of baggage — A severe march — 
An army bathing — At Centre ville — Bristow Station — March to Maryland — Gen- 
eral Hooker succeeded by General Meade— Position of the army. 

The army now turned back to its old position, encamp- 
ing in line nearly as before, only all the troops which had 
encamped on our left, between the Sixth corps and Belle 
Plain, were placed far to the right, leaving the Sixth corps 
on the left of the army, instead of being nearly in its 
center. The corps occupied a line nearly a mile in rear of 
the old camp, where the ground had been unoccupied, and 
where a growth of young pines, and, in places, consider- 
able groves of oak timber, afforded far more attractive 
surroundings than the old quarters. 

The wounded were taken to an immense field hospital at 
Potomac creek, where hospital tents sufficient to accommo- 
date eight thousand wounded men were erected in a locality 
where cool breezes could play freely among the encamp- 
ments, and where pure water could be obtained. On the 
9th, many of our wounded were brought to the side 
of the river at Fredericksburgh and sent over to us by 
the enemy, in pontoon boats, under flags of truce. On the 
morning of the 10th, the surgeon of the Seventy-seventh 
was ordered to proceed at once to Banks' Ford to i*eceive 
wounded officers who were to be removed from the enemy's 


lines. The doctor was soon at the ford, where he found 
a boat and a flag of truce at his disposal. He crossed the 
river and met the officer in command, who received him 
courteously, but declared that he knew nothing of any 
officers to come there. The surgeon addressed a note to 
General Wilcox, commanding the brigade at Banks' Ford, 
but he knew as little about it as the officer at the river. 
" There are plenty of federal officers here," said he, " and 
we shall be glad to send them across to your lines at any 
time when General Hooker shall apply to General Lee for 
them ; but I know of no arrangement of the kind now." 
Believing that some arrangements had been made for the 
transfer of the wounded officers, but that the order had 
not yet reached General Wilcox, the surgeon spent the day 
among the rebels, conversing with their officers, while his 
boatmen, having with them a canteen of brandy, soon 
made themselves very pojmlar with the crowd of rebel 
soldiers who gathered about, dressed in motley colors, buff, 
blue, gray, butternut, and colors indescribable. They were 
all in good humor and lively, and the hours passed pleas- 
antly, as the men from the two opposing armies chatted in 
the shade of some oak trees. Finding little prospect of 
executing his peaceful mission, the surgeon obtained per- 
mission from General Wilcox to get the remains of Colonel 
Van Houghten, of the Twenty-first New Jersey regiment, 
who was shot at Salem Church, and died from his wound 
next day. Doctor McISTiel, of the Twenty-first, with a 
party of men, proceeded to the place where the colonel 
was buried, a mile and a half from the ford, and brought 
the remains to the river and across to our own lines. On 
reporting at General Hooker's head-quarters, the surgeon 
found that no agreement had been concluded until late in 
the day for the delivery of the wounded officers; so he had 
spent the day in rebeldom to little effect, except the resto- 
ration of the body of the colonel to his friends, and leaving 


a company of nurses to assist our surgeons who were 
already in attendance upon our prisoners. 

Nearly all our wounded were at length returned to us, 
and were sent to Potomac Creek, or to Washington. At 
Potomac Creek, the cooperation of the Sanitary Commis- 
sion was of great assistance to the surgeons ; and many 
comforts and luxuries, the gifts of our friends at home, 
cheered the hearts of the wounded and suffering heroes. 
Sheets, pillow cases, handkerchiefs, with jellies and canned 
fruits, were distributed in profusion. Here was the place 
for manifesting the overflowing interest and noble gen- 
erosity of the people of the north, and thousands blessed 
them for their munificence. 

A mistaken idea prevailed among friends at home, that 
the agents of the Sanitary Commission resorted to the 
battle-field, ministering to the wants of the wounded, 
dressing the wounds, bringing the crippled from the field, 
and feeding the hungry. Our illustrated papers were 
filled with fine engravings, representing these acts of 
mercy on the battle-field. These were pictures of the 
imagination. Xothing of the sort was done. No Sani- 
tary or Christian Commission agents frequented the battle- 
field. All wounded were brought from the field by 
soldiers, placed in ambulances of the government and 
taken to the field hospitals, where all the wounds were 
dressed by surgeons or their nurses, and where all were 
fed by officers selected for this special duty. The Sanitary 
and Christian Commissions had a great mission. They 
were the representatives of the lively interest felt by the 
people of the north, for the army it had sent forth to 
maintain the institutions of their country. They found 
abundant opportunity for accomplishing their mission at 
the lai'ge hospitals after the roar of battles had passed 
away ; but they had nothing to do with the care of the 
wounded on the battle-field. 


Just before leaving camp for the campaign just closed, 
General Hooker had issued an oi'der assigning to each 
corps and division its badge, which was to be worn by 
every officer and soldier connected with either of the corps. 
The men of the Sixth corps now regarded their cross with 
greater pride than had ever ancient knight looked upon 
the heraldry which emblazoned his arms. It had been 
baptized in blood, and amid wonderful achievements of 
heroism. Every member of the noble corjjs felt an exult- 
ing pride in his relation to it, and regarded his badge 
as a mark of great honor. 

The introduction of these badges became of great ser- 
vice to the army. Every man could easily recognize the 
corps and division of any other one in the army; and 
each corps learned to feel a pride in its own badge. 

We had seven corps in the army ; First, Second, Third, 
Fifth, Sixth, Eleventh and Twelfth. The badge of the 
First corps was a lozenge, that of the Second a shamrock, 
of the Third a diamond, of the Fifth a Maltese cross, of 
the Sixth a Greek cross, the Eleventh a cresent and of the 
Twelfth a star. The badge of the First division of each 
corps was red, that of the Second white, and of the Third 
blue. All wagons and ambulances were marked with their 
appropriate badge, and the sick soldier who fell to the rear 
with a pass to the ambulances, had no difficulty in finding 
his own train ; and quartermasters and others connected 
with the trains were greatly assisted in their duties by this 
ingenious device. 

The camps of all the regiments of our divisions were 
pleasantly located, and great pains were taken in laying 
them out and in decorating them. When regiments were 
not sheltered in groves, pines were transplanted in the 
company streets in great profusion ; and arches and bowers 
of the most elaborate and elegant designs, formed of the 
boughs of the red cedar and pine, exquisitely entwined 


with the bright green holly, formed a most attractive and 
beautiful feature of our second camp at White Oak Church. 
At division head-quarters, General Howe had caused to be 
erected a most elegant hall of these rural materials, which 
was a Avonder of architectual beauty as well as exquisite 
taste and ingenuity. Its alcoves, its vestibules and its 
arches, were marvels of elegance. Here came officers, 
high in command, and brilliant dames, and passed a night 
in the service of Terpsichore, while bands discoursed stir- 
ring music. 

In the camp of the Seventy-seventh, the adornments 
were profuse and beautiful. At head-quarters, a palace of 
green arose among the trees near our tents. For days, 
mule teams hauled huge loads of cedar boughs, which 
were woven into massive pillars or elegantly turned 
arclies, and the structure rose like one of those fiiir bowers 
we read of in fairy tales. Our surgeon and quartermaster 
were preparing the elegant structure for the reception of 
their wives. It was almost complete, needing only a few 
finishing touches, and the anxiously awaited guests were 
expected on the following day ; when, alas for the expec- 
tations of men, an oi'der came to be ready to march at 
daylight next morning ! The ladies, although too late to 
enjoy this rustic palace, arrived in time to find the corps 
in line of battle, and witness fierce artillery duels between 
the opposing armies. In their eagerness to watch the flight 
of the shells, they sometimes manifested greater bravery 
than their companions, whose experience had taught them 
to regard with suspicion the shrieking missiles. 

We had passed a pleasant month at this camp, and the 
men were eager, notwithstanding their comfortable quar- 
ters, for active campaigning. The health and spirits of 
the soldiers of the corps had never been better, and in spite 
of the fiiilure at Chanccllorsville, they felt a great deal of 
confidence. So the order to move was received with 

THE "third crossing." 21 7 

pleasure, and we turned away from our pleasant camps 

We left camp on the morning of June 5th, one of the 
loveliest of days, and, taking the road we had already trod 
on two occasions, halted in the valley of the Rappahan- 
nock, on the very spot where we had rested at the first 
and second battles of Fredericksburgh, and prepared, for 
a third time within six months, to cross the river. A 
correspondent of one of the daily journals, writing from 
head-quarters of the army, says : " Howe's splendid division 
of the fighting Sixth corps was selected for the work of 
crossing, and the point for laying the bridges was just 
below the mouth of Deep Run, at the identical spot where 
we had crossed twice before." 

Pontoons and batteries of artillery formed long lines 
behind the little ridge which runs parallel with the river, 
and the infantry marched and countermarched to get in 
right positions. Here, behind the little ridge, we rested, 
until about five o'clock in the afternoon, our men mount- 
ing the ridge, and gazing across the river, where the enemy 
had turned the rifle pits thrown up by our First division, 
to their own use; and, in return, the rebels raised their 
heads above the breastworks, or ventured to the river side, 
wondering what could be the intention of the army, so 
recently driven from these grounds, in making such prep- 
arations for another crossing. There seemed but a small 
force opposed to us ; a strong picket on the bank, and the 
reserve posted behind the breastworks, were all that could 
be seen, though we well knew that the heights beyond 
swarmed with opposing hosts, as they had twice before. 
At length the engineers drew the pontoons to the edge of 
the river, the Seventy-seventh being detailed to assist in 
unloading. The rebels betook themselves to the rifle pits, 
and opened a brisk fire ; but presently they were glad to 
draw their heads behind the earthworks, for five of our 


batteries, Williston's, McCartney's, Cow en's, Haines' and 
McCarthey's, were run out upon the plain, and opened a 
fierce fire, whole batteries firing by volleys, until the whole 
plain, on the further side, was a sheet of flame from the 
bursting shells, and huge clouds of dust, plowed up by 
the shrieking missiles, rose so as to obscure the heights. 
The rebels could only load, and thrust their guns above 
the earthw^orks, firing at random, for no man could raise 
his head without coming in the way of the fiery mes- 
sengers of death, which filled the aii". Still their fire, 
although at random, was annoying, and it was evident 
that the safest method was to cross men in boats, enough 
to drive the rebels from their pits, or capture them, and 
then build the bridge without opposition. 

The Twenty-sixth New Jersey and Fifth Vermont regi- 
ments leaped into the boats, quickly crossed, and, rushing 
from the bank, charged upon the pits. The rebels were 
now, for the first time ofiered an oppoi'tunity for flight ; 
for while the artillery was filling the whole plain with 
bursting shells, there remained no alternative but to hug 
the earth behind the rifle pits ; now that the artillery 
ceased, they scattered across the plain in hot haste, befoi'e 
the rapid charge of our boys. The two regiments pur- 
sued the fugitives, and many of them threw down their 
arms ; we captured about seventy-five prisoners ; of these, 
thirty-six were captured by Captain Davenport, who, with 
eighteen of his men, was marching up the ravine through 
which passes the Deep Run, when they came upon the 
rebels, whom they obliged to surrender, their captain 
delivering his sword to Captain Davenport. Five or six 
men of the engineers were killed, and some wounded. 
The Vermonters and New Jerseymen, also, had a few men 

The Seventy-seventh had one man killed. The rebel 
prisoners reported at corps headquarters that the changes 


in their camps which had been for some time observed, and 
which had been in part the cause of the present movement, 
proceeded only from the reorganization of their army and 
assignment to new camps. 

The engineers proceeded at once to lay the bridges, and 
on the following morning the whole division crossed. Our 
picket reserve made their rendezvous at the ruins of the fine 
mansion which we had used for our Second division hospital 
at the first battle. Now nothing but the bare walls and 
heaps of rubbish marked the place where the beautiful 
residence had stood. A regiment of Mississippians had 
occupied the place, and had ruthlessly and willfully burned 
it. Yet the fine chestnuts and broad-spreading oaks 
afibrded as luxurious a shade as in the palmy days when 
the old bachelor proprietor lounged beneath their shadow. 

The picket line extended nearly to the railroad, and, as 
before, formed a semi-circle, radiating from the pontoon 
bridge. The enemy had also formed a strong picket to 
oppose us, and the two lines of skirmishers were within a 
few yards of each other. 

It was a beautiful Sabbath, and all day long the troops 
lay upon the plain, wondering what was to be done. 
There were the frowning batteries of the enemy on the 
hills in front, apparently able to blow the whole division 
into the air, and we could, with our glasses, discover 
great numbers of infantry at the base of the hills, half 
hidden by the low growth of pines. The main body of 
our army still remained in camp ; only our Sixth corps had 
moved. Evidently the enemy concluded that the advance 
was rather one of observation than attack, and quietly 
awaited our movements. Some firing was for a time kept 
up on the skirmish line, and now and then a shell would 
come crashing through some of the houses at the right, 
where our pickets were concealed ; but at length, by 
mutual consent, the pickets of each army watched the 


movements of their opjjouents without molesting them. 
During this quasi-truce, a spirit of sociability manifested 
itself, and our boys soon struck up an acquaintance with 
their dangerous neighbors. At length an exchange of 
papers was proposed, and upon mutual agreement of tem- 
porary amity, a Yankee and a Johnnie would step into 
the ojjen space between the two lines, shake hands, inquire 
each other's regiment, trade papers and retire. 

There came at this time, to each company of one regi- 
ment, a copy of the New York Observer, Independent, 
Christian Examiner, Evangelist and other papers, and Mr. 
Alvord, the agent of the Tract Society, had just been 
among the men, distributing copies of the American Mes- 
senger. These were soon collected and carried over to be 
exchanged for copies of the Richmond Enquirer, Sentinel, 
and Examiner. The trade was not kept wholly within the 
limits of literary exchange, but sugar and coffee passed 
into the rebels' hands in return for plugs of tobacco. At 
length an order came from division head-quarters, stopping 
this illicit practice. Our boys declared that they were 
acting the part of colporteurs to the bai-barian rebels, and, 
if they had been allowed to continue the distribution of 
religious papers among them, they would soon be con- 
vinced of the error of their ways, and desist from further 

During the night of the Tth the Second division was with- 
drawn to the north side of the river, being relieved by the 
First division, and this in turn was relieved by the Third 
division during the night of the 10th. We retired to Staf- 
ford Heights and bivouacked. Our bivouac became our en- 
campment for a week. There we lay, wondering what was 
next to be done, while the artillery on either side exchanged 
shots — the 32-pounders on our hills sending their huge 
shot across to the opposite heights, and the rebel guns 
throwing Whitworth shells in return. 


An incident of much interest to Neill's brigade occurred 
while we were here. A lieutentant, belonging to the 
Twenty-first New Jersey regiment, had been tried by a 
court-martial, and convicted of cowardice at the battle on 
May 3d, The whole brigade was brought out at the hour 
for evening parade, and formed in a hollow square. To 
the center of the inclosure the culprit was brought. His 
sentence was then read to him, which was that he be dis- 
missed the service in disgrace. The adjutant-general of 
the brigade then proceeded to execute the details of the 
sentence. The sword of the cowardly officer was taken 
from him and broken over his head; his shoulder-straps 
and buttons were then cut oif, and his pistol broken and 
thrown away. The sentence, and the manner of its execu- 
tion, were ordered to be published in the newspapers of the 
county where the regiment was raised. A similar sentence 
was executed in the Seventy-seventh regiment on the same 
evening. Lewis Burke, of Company F, was convicted of 
cowardice at the same battle. He was brought before the 
regiment, which stood in line ; his sentence read, his but- 
tons and the blue cord on his coat cut off, and a placard 
marked " Coward" hung to his back. A guard, with fixed 
bayonets pointing at his back, then marched him off, the 
band playing " The Rogues' March." Burke went to 
serve out his time at the Dry Tortugas at hard labor, 
without pay or allowance. 

As we looked upon the execution of these humiliating 
sentences, we could not help feeling how much better it 
would have been to have fallen nobly on that field of 
battle, honored and lamented, than to live to be thus 
degraded and despised. It had never been so forcibly 
impressed upon our minds, how much better it was to die 
nobly than to live in disgrace. When we thought of the 
noble Wheeler and his brave companions, who had given 
their lives for their country on yonder heights, and then 


turned to the sickening scene before us, we could but 
exclaim, " How are the dead to be envied !" 

At length, on Saturday night, June 13th, we withdrew 
from Fredericksburgh, and commenced the memorable 
Pennsylvania campaign. There had been, for several 
days, indications that General Lee was throwing his army 
to our right, and was crossing the Rappahannock in the 
vicinity of Culpepper. At length this had become a cer- 
tainty ; and the whole army was quickly moved to come 
up with him. All day long the hurrying of trains, the 
moA^ements of troops, the intense activity at the railroad 
station, where everything was being hastily thrown into 
cars, had indicated a sudden leave-taking. 

At length the trains were off, and the whole army in 
motion. Our own corps being rear-guard, started at ten 
o'clock at night. The darkness was intense, and a thunder 
shower prevailed. Our route for a long time lay through a 
thick woods, where the branches of the trees, meeting over 
our heads, shut out the little light that might have pene- 
trated the thunder clouds, and the column was shut in 
perfect darkness. The road was terribly muddy, and the 
batteries which were trying to pass over the same route, 
were frequently stuck in the mire. Our men stumbled 
over stones and fallen trees, often falling beneath the feet 
of the horses. Men fell over logs and stones, breaking 
their legs and arms. Thus we continued the hasty 
and difficult march, while the rain poured in torrents 
upon us. Later in the night the road became more open, 
and the rain ceased. The darkness was not so black, still 
it was difficult to see the road. "We were passing over 
corduroy; some of the logs were a foot, and others a 
foot and a half through. They were slippery from the 
rain, and the men, heavily laden with knapsacks, guns and 
cai'tridges, tumbled headlong, many of them going off 
at the side, and rolling far down the steep embankments. 


A laugh from the comrades of the luckless ones, while 
some one would call out, " Have you a pass to go down 
there ?" was the only notice taken of such accidents ; and 
the dark column hurried on, until at three o'clock in the 
ni( rning, we halted at Potomac creek, where we slept 
soundly upon the ground until morning. 

The following day was Sunday. Our corps did not 
march until evening ; we lay resting from the fatigues of 
the night before, and watching the immense array trains 
hurrying by, the horses and mules lashed to their full 
speed, or viewing the destruction of the great hospitals 
which had been established here. 

There were here immense quantities of stores ; bedding, 
glass and earthenware, instruments and medicines, with 
cooking and other utensils which could not, in the haste 
of breaking up, be transported ; so they were thrown in 
great heaps and burned. 

All day long the trains crowded by, four and five wagons 
abreast ; the drivers shouting and lashing their beasts to 
their greatest speed. No one who has not seen the train 
of an army in motion, can form any just concejDtion of its 
magnitude, and of the difficulties attending its movements. 
It was said that the train of the Army of the Potomac, 
including artillery, at the time of which we speak, if 
placed in a single line, the teams at the distance necessary 
for the march, would extend over seventy miles. 

At Fairfax Court House, soon after this, the trains were 
greatly reduced, and again at Fairfax Station ; and after 
General Meade took command of the army they were still 
further reduced. Yet, notwithstanding all these curtail- 
ments, our trains were said to be between thirty and forty 
miles long. 

How little did the impatient people, who clamored at 
all times, in winter as well as summer, for an immediate 
" advance " of the army, consider that this immense body 


must always advance witli the army ; that it must always 
be protected ; that the army on every march and at every 
halt must be so disposed as to prevent the enemy from 
reaching- it from front, flank or rear ; and that when an 
advance was commenced, if the trains were to become 
blocked up, or stuck fast in mud, the whole army must 
wait for them, no matter whether it had reached a favora- 
ble position for a halt or not. It was no small undertaking 
to move an army with such a train ; yet there were many 
at home who thought the army could move from one place 
to another with the greatest ease. 

It is true that the enemy got along Avith smaller trains 
than ours, and it is true that the rebel army on that 
account was more easily moved than our own. It was 
one of the disadvantages of too liberal a government that 
our movements for two years were weighed down with 
these cumbersome trains ; and even after so long an experi- 
ence of their evil it was with strong feelings of opposition 
that the reduction was acquiesced in. 

A captain or lieutenant of the line was allowed a small 
valise, in which to carry his company books and his cloth- 
ing ; and a staiF oflicer was but little better off. Must this 
little be reduced ? Surely the ammunition and the com- 
missary trains could suffer no diminution. The amount 
of hospital supplies carried in the wagons was already 
limited ; could it be reduced ? The people were clamoring 
to have wagons of the Sanitary and Christian Commissions 
admitted to the hospital trains, to carry articles which, 
although they were gratefully received by the sol- 
diers, yet were not absolutely necessary. The ambulance 
train was surely not too large, and we could spare no 

Yet the train was reduced. Small as was the valise of 
the line oflicers, it must be still smaller; little as was the 
baggage of the staff officer, it must be less ; and inconven- 



iently contracted as was the size of the mess chests^ they 
must be still further reduced. 

Thus, through the day, we watched the hurrying trains 
as they swept by with immense clatter and tumult ; and 
the files of troops, guards to the trains, pressing forward, 
amid the clouds of dust and the rattle and noise of the 
wagons. As the sun sunk in the west, we gathered about 
a green knoll, in the shade of a pine grove, and sung old 
familiar hymns; then the chaplain made a prayer; thus 
was ofiered the evening sacrifice for the Sabbath. Few 
who gathered — 

" Where through the long drawn aisle or fretted vault, 
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise, 

offered more heartfelt thanksgiving, or more earnest sup- 
plications for future protection, than the band of veterans 
seated on that mossy bank, while about them was the con- 
fusion of a great army, pressing to meet its foe. 

At length, at nine o'clock at night, we took the road, 
and, joining the mighty column, marched rapidly forward. 
The night was dark, and the roads uneven, yet the men 
pressed forward with wonderful spirit. They had heard 
during the day that Lee with his army, avoiding us on the 
right, and moving with secrecy, had already eluded us, 
and was rapidly making his way into Maryland, taking 
his route through the Shenandoah Valley. This was 
enough to stimulate men whose greatest desire was to 
meet their opponents in open fight, even on rebel ground. 
But now the rebels were invading northern soil ; Mary- 
land, Pennsylvania, and even New York, were threatened, 
and the men knew no limit to their enthusiasm. " We 
can whip them on bur own soil," said they. " There is no 
man who cannot fight the better when it is for his own 
home." Such expressions passed from lip to lip as the 
dark column pushed on during the whole night. At times 


there would be a halt ; not for rest, for the men, expect- 
ing momentarily to move on, would stand in the ranks ; 
then, on again. Here and there were the camps of troops 
who had occupied the extreme right of the army. Fine 
arbors and avenues had been erected from the cedar 
boughs ; these were set on fire, and the whole heavens 
were aglow with the flames. Morning dawned, the 
march was becoming tedious. The men were faint, and 
wanted rest and coffee ; but there was no halt. 

Faint and weary, yet with determination, the masses of 
men toiled along. At length, as the morning advanced, 
the heat of the sun was almost intolerable, and the dust 
suffocating, l^ot a leaf stirred on the trees. Vegetation 
drooped under the scorching rays, and the clouds of dust 
was so dense, that one could not see half the length of 
a regiment. 

The men at length began to fall from exhaustion. One 
after another, with faces burning with a glow of crimson, 
and panting for breath, would turn to the surgeons of 
their regiments, and receive passes to the ambulances and 
a draught from the surgeon's flask ; but at length no more 
passes could be given ; the ambulances were crowded, 
and so many were falling on every side, that it became 
useless to require or attempt to give passes, or even for 
the surgeons to attempt to relieve the sufferers. 

In every corner of the rail fences, and under every tree 
and bush, groups of men, with faces glowing with red- 
ness, some with streams of perspiration rolling down their 
cheeks, and others with their red faces dry and feverish, 
strewed the wayside and lined the hedges. Here the 
color-bearer of a regiment, his color lying beside him, lay 
gasping for breath ; there a colonel, his' horse tied to the 
fence, strove to fan the air into a little life with his broad- 
brimmed hat. Under one little clump of cedars might 
be seen an exhausted group of line ofiicers, captains and 


lieutenants, and under the next, a number of enlisted men 
who could no longer keep the road. The spectacle along 
the roadside became appalling. Regiments became like 
companies, and companies lost their identity; men were 
dying with sunstroke ; and still the march was continued. 
This could not last much longer, for the brave raea 
who still held out were fast losing strength, and soon 
there would be no troops able to move. At length, at 
nearly three o'clock, we came in sight of the little, old, 
depopulated town of Dumfries. Here, to the joy of all, 
we saw men filing into the fields for a halt. There was 
no cheer, no expression of gladness ; for the tired men, 
with feet blistered and raw, worn out by seventeen hours' 
constant march, almost melted and smothered, cared 
little for demonstrations. Throwing themselves upon the 
ground, they rested for half an hour, and then, rousing 
long enough to cook their coffee, they refreshed themselves 
with their hard tack, pork and coffee, and were ready to 
sleep. Here the Vermont brigade was drawn up in line, 
and some twenty six men, skulkers, principally from the 
Twenty-sixth New Jersey, were drummed out of camp, 
the bands of the brigade playing " The Rogues' March." 
All who were participants of that day's work, remember it 
as the most trying march of the Army of the Potomac. 
Very grateful to the weary army was sleep that night, 
but, at two o'clock in the morning, the shout passed along 
the line, "fall in! fall in!" And so, without coffee, wo 
rolled our blankets and fell into line. But, as often hap- 
pens, when the whole army is to move, some parts must 
wait long before the others are out of the way. So we of 
the Sixth corps waited until four o'clock, and got our 
coffee finally before the rest of the column had made wa-y 
for us. It was another hot, dusty day, but not so intoler- 
able as the day before, and about two or three o'clock we 
arrived at Occoquan creek, crossing at Wolf Run Shoals 


Here we had two or three hours' rest. The men had no 
sooner halted than they plunged into the stream, and the 
wide creek was soon alive with swarms of men splashing 
and diving in the cooling element. 

It was a novel sight. An army bathing. A brigade of 
nine months Vermont troops, had been stationed here dur- 
ing the winter. They were full regiments, never thinned 
by exhausting labors, hard campaigns or the trying ordeal 
of battle. They now bade farewell to their comfortable 
quarters and picket duty, and joined the Grand Army on 
a real campaign. Although we had already made a long 
march, at four o'clock we were again on the road, and 
before dark we reached Fairfax Station, six miles from 
Wolf Run Shoals. This was a more cheerful march than 
the others. The men, refreshed by their bath, and strength- 
ened by a good dinner and two hours' rest, now went 
shouting, singing and laughing, as though marching was 
but play. 

This day we heard that some part of Lee's army was in 
Pennsylvania! The men Avere as anxious to go forward as 
were their commanders. The corps bivouacked in groves 
on the turnpike, which led from Fairfax to Manassas, rest- 
ing for the night and the following day. Here our train 
underwent a process of purging. Needless articles, and 
many useful ones, which could be disposed of, were sent to 
the rear. The trains were to go with smaller loads, and 
many teams were to be taken from them. 

We had marched, since setting out from before Freder- 
icksburgh, through a country, well enough by nature, but 
neglected, barren and depopulated. How large a portion 
of this great State was in this sad condition ? Its natur- 
ally rich fields were grown up to scrub pines, mugworts 
and wormwood. Its fair valleys desolate of inhabitants, 
or inhabited by low white trash, as idle as ignorant. The 
groves and fields where we now rested were pleasant for a 


bivouac, but the fields were waste land, and the oak timber 
was all that seemed of any value, as far as we could see. 
Yet we were now within a few miles of Washington, where 
articles of food brought fabulous prices, and wood could 
scarcely be procured. Why were these fine lands desolate? 
Was it because agriculture was unprofitable ? Surely, with 
Washington and Alexandria so near, and Baltimore at a 
short distance farther, there should be a good market for 
produce. Was it because the war had put a stop to agri- 
cultural pursuits ? The sci*ub pines and dwarf oaks 
growing upon deserted tobacco fields, where the ridges 
were still plainly visible, showed that before the war 
indolence prevailed. 

At five o'clock on the morning of June 18th, we were 
again on the march, reaching Fairfax Court House before 
noon. Again our train was overhauled, baggage reduced, 
and teams sent to the rear. By this time the train began to 
assume more reasonable dimensions. General officers were 
strictly forbidden the use of ambulances, henceforth all 
ambulances were to be used for their legitimate purposes, 
and general officers and their staffs were to get along with 
a more reasonable amount of baggage, while regimental 
officers were to be allowed only the most limited amount of 
transportation. A single small valise only was the extent 
of baggage for each regimental officer, and a mess chest of 
the size of a cracker box, was to be the allowance for all 
officers of a single company. 

About Fairfax Court House was stationed a division of 
cavalry and some infantry, under the command of General 
Stahl. These troops, like the brigade of Vermont troops, 
had been employed in guarding the country against the 
inroads of guerilla bands. These were now also to join 
the Army of the Potomac, and their gallant conduct at 
Falling Waters, a few days after, showed them to be 
composed of the best material. 


General Hooker, unwilling to favor General Lee, by- 
uncovering the capital, and wisely judging of his wary- 
enemy's motives, instead of pushing rapidly forward to 
Maryland, as Lee desired, threw the different corps into 
positions, which should at once be favorable for Avatching 
his movements, and resisting any attack. Accordingly, 
Howe's division, turning partly back from our line of 
march, on the 21st, marched towards Bristoe Station. 

We passed through Centreville, its powerful forts and 
redoubts garrisoned by large regiments of men, who wore 
bright new uniforms, and whose officers had red tufts 
tipon their caps. These new uniforms were soon to be as 
grimy and dusty as those of the veterans, at whom they 
now gazed with so much interest, and the full regiments 
were soon to find their ranks thinned by the same terrible 
process which had made those passing by them only 
fragments of regiments. 

The works about Centreville were of most powerful 
character, having been made even stronger than at the 
last battle of Bull Run. Li the forts and redoubts upon 
the commanding positions, was mounted heavy artillery, 
and the long lines of trenches and breastworks, stretching 
far to the flanks, and commanding declivities where 
musketry and artillery could sweep an advancing force 
with terrible effect, rendered the position impregnable 
from any direct assault. The few dilapidated houses 
still remaining to mark the site of the village, presented a 
forlorn and pitiful appearance. Deserted by their owners, 
occupied as stables and storehouses, some of them fall- 
ino- in ruins, and all dirty and dilapidated, they were 
a mournful commentary on the ruthless destruction which 
follows in the footsteps of war. Still further on, our 
route led us along the Manassas Gap railroad. Here were 
more sad pictures of the havoc of war. The track was 
torn up, the ties burnt. Every now and then, numbers of 


car wheels and axles, irou bands and braces, couplings 
and reaches, showed where whole trains had been burned. 

Here and there, the incombustible materials among the 
debris showed the lading of particular cars. The remains 
of fruit cans, tin plates, blacking boxes and glassware, 
told of sutlers who had disposed of their wares at less than 
the usual exorbitant prices. Heaps of spikes and handle- 
less hammers, and iron bars, reminded us of disconcerted 
plans in railroad extension, while numberless solid shot, 
bullets and fragments of shells, showed where car loads 
of ammunition had been consumed in harmless explosions. 

At length, after a hard day's march, we arrived at Bris- 
tow Station, where the division turned into the fields and 

The tower and wind-mill which had been used for rais- 
ing water to the tank, remained alone to show where the 
station had been ; all the other buildings being destroyed, 
except Avhere still remained the dismantled ruins of what 
had once been a hotel. 

Here, as for miles back on the road, Avere the remains 
of ruined cars and their contents. 

The surrounding country was delightful. A mile or 
two south of us was a little church in the midst of an oak 
grove. It is an agreeable peculiarity with the southern 
people, that they are accustomed to locate their country 
churches in the midst of pleasant groves, sometimes at a 
distance from any residence. In this respect, they cer- 
tainly exhibit better taste than the people of most of our 
northern States, who have such a propensity for setting 
the church on the summit of some high hill where not a 
tree or shrub adorns the grounds, and the aspiring steeple 
seems, like Babel, to be striving vainly to reach the 

On the morning after our arrival here, we heard the 
sounds of cannonadinsc not far off, and learned that the cav- 


airy under General Pleasanton were hotly engaged at 
Aldee and Uppei-ville, with Stuart's rebel cavalry, and 
that our forces were getting the best of the desperate 
encounter, winning laurels for themselves and gaining 
another of that series of victories which was destined to 
remove the derision in which that arm of the service had 
been held, not from any previous want of good fighting 
qualities on the part of our cavalry. General Pleasanton 
had attacked Stuart's forces near Middleburo;h, driving 
the rebels in confusion through Upperville to Ashby's 
Gap, taking some pieces of artillery and a large number 
of prisoners. General Kiljjatrick, in this engagement, had 
exhibited fighting qualities of the first order, riding in 
front of the men and leading the way when they hesitated. 
His gallant conduct inspired for him the confidence and 
admiration of his men. It was the commencement of a 
brilliant career which made him one of the first cavalry 
commanders in the army. His dashing ride from the Pen- 
insula to Fredericksburgh, Avith but a handful of men, 
eluding the watchfulness of the wily Stuart, had already 
established his talent for bold adventure, and his conduct 
on this occasion proved his personal bravery. These are 
the two great qualities needed for a cavalry officer, and 
Kilpatrick's name at once became a tower of strength 
among his men. 

In this pleasant locality the division remained, an out- 
post for the army, guarding the passes from the Shenan- 
doah, for five days. The weather was delightful, and the 
men enjoyed to the utmost the needed rest. They lounged 
in the shade of their tents or in the neighboring groves, or 
strolled along the railroad track, examining curiously the 
ruined remains of the trains. In a delightful spot at a 
distance from the camps, almost surrounded by a grove of 
oak trees, .the hospital tents of our Second division wei-e 
erected. To this quiet and lovely spot, where cool breezes 


always played, were brought the sick and weary, and care- 
full3'' nursed. 

While the Second division was thus doing outpost duty 
at Bristow, the First and Third divisions had remained be- 
hind. The two divisions, pleasantly encamped within a 
short ride from Fairfax Court-House, occupying pleasant 
groves and fields, had time to secure the much-needed re- 
pose, until the 24:th, when the Third division was moved to 
Centreville. The scattered family of the corps was re- 
united when we all started on the march for Maryland. 

But General Lee despaired of inducing General Hooker 
to uncover the capital, so, leaving Virginia with his whole 
army, he pushed towards Pennsylvania, determined at least 
to draw our army as far away from Washington as possible, 
and to reap rich harvests of spoils among the overflowing 
granaries of the Keystone State. No sooner had the 
movement of the main body of Lee's army into Maryland 
commenced, than General Hooker, with his forces com- 
menced the pursuit. 




The rebels in Pennsylvania — Panic at Harrisburgh — Alarm at Baltimore and 
Washington — Sixth corps leaves Bristow Station — A surprise — General Meade 
takes command — Position of the army — Marching through Pennsylvania — An 
unprecedented march — Exciting news — Battle of Gettysburgh — Death of Key- 
nolds — First and Eleventh corps fall back — Second day's battle — The battle- 
field — Fighting at Round Top — On the right- The grand onset — The battle 
decided — Rebel and Union wounded. 

Meanwhile, great excitement prevailed at the north, 
especially in Maryland and Pennsylvania, on account of 
the invasion of the rebel army. As early as the 15th 
of the month, more than a thousand rebel cavalry had 
reached Chambersburgh, which they had sacked. Two 
days before, the battle of Winchester was closed. Ewell, 
with overwhelming numbers had fallen upon General Mil- 
roy's force, which had unwisely been, by order of some- 
body, thrust far away from its base, and out of the reach 
of reinforcements, routing the division, and in its flight 
capturing its artillery and a large jiortion of the infantry. 

Nothing now opposed the march of the invaders through 
the Shenandoah Valley. In Harrisburgh, the excitement 
rose almost to a panic. All the paintings, books, papers, 
and other valuable articles, were removed from the capi- 
tol, packed in boxes and loaded into cars, ready to be sent 
off at the first sign of immediate danger. The citizens 
formed themselves into military companies, and worked 
day and night throwing up redoubts and rifle pits about 
the city. Men unaccustomed to manual labor vigorously 
plied the pick and the spade, and kept up their unwonted 
toil with an earnestness worthy of veteran soldiers. To 


add to this confusion and alarm, the trains of Milroy's 
division that had escaped capture were rattling through 
the streets in search of a resting place. Throughout the 
State of Pennsylvania business was suspended. The gov- 
ernor was calling loudly for men to rush to arms in defense 
of their homes; and General Couch Avas striving to organ- 
ize the militia which presented itself. 

Baltimore and Washington were like besieged cities. 
Stuart was threatening the Baltimore and Ohio road, and 
bodies of rebel cavalry had penetrated within half a dozen 
miles of Washington. Bells rung out the alarm, and the 
affrighted citizens rushed to arms. Loyal leagues were 
now of service, forming the nucleus of many an impro- 
vised company of defenders. All these facts we learned 
from the newspapers, a few stray copies of which fell 
"wifhin the path of the army, and from the highly 
colored accounts of citizens, who, with expressions of the 
utmost alarm and anxiety, related what they had heard 
or seen. 

On the night of the 26th of June, the Sixth corps left 
Bristoe Station. The darkness was intense, and a drizzling 
rain rendered marching disagreeable. The march Avas 
rapid, and some of the men fell behind, and were next day 
collected and marched off to Richmond, by the guerilla 
parties that constantly hung upon our flanks and rear. 
Before daylight we halted at Centreville. The men threw 
themselves upon the wet ground, and slept for two hours, 
while the rain beat upon them. Then, at six o'clock, they 
were again roused, by the order to be ready to move at 
once. While taking our coffee, and waiting for the final 
order to march, some villain, belonging to the troops 
stationed at Centreville, set fire to the little Episcopal 
chajDel that stood not far from us, and was the only build- 
ing remaining in the little village which pretended to any 
appearance of modern architecture. Those vandals who 

236 A suxdat's march. 

follow an array, bent on nothing but destruction, are 
among the unavoidable evils of war, and even the most 
severe discipline is insufficient to effectually arrest all mis- 
chief of the kind. 

Our march was a severe one for men who had been 
on the road all night, and the men were glad when we 
bivouacked a little before dark, in a beautiful oak grove 
near Drainsville. Very early next morning, descending 
into the lovely valley of the Potomac, we reached Edwards' 
Ferry, where troops were crossing ; after a delay of one 
or two hours, waiting for troops of another corps to cross 
the pontoon bridge, we followed, and were in Maryland 
again. All day long troops were passing over the bridges 
and taking their positions upon the neighboring hills, 
ready for starting anew in the morning ; for nearly the 
whole army was crossing at this point, and as the process 
was necessarily slow, those who went over first waited for 
those behind. 

On Sunday, we left Edwards' Ferry ; marched through 
Poolesville and Barnstown to Hyattstown. A halt was 
made at Barnstown for dinner, and the Sixth corps left 
the road and occupied a pleasant valley, where the chest- 
nut trees afforded a grateful shade for the men. They had 
just unslung knapsacks, when Ave were all startled by 
the sound of a church bell, which seemed in our midst. 
The boys gazed for a moment in mute astonishment in the 
direction from which the sound came, when they dis- 
covered at a short distance from them, a little church half 
hidden among the trees, and the parishioners gathering 
for service. When the first surprise was over, the word 
passed from one to another, " It is Sunday ! " " It is Sun- 
day ! " and they set up a shout that demonstrated that 
they had not forgotten to love the institutions of civili- 
zation, even after so long an absence from a civilized 
country. Few who were present at this time, will ever 


forget the thrill of pleasurable surprise which we all 
experienced at hearing once more the sounds which so 
forcibly reminded us of home. 

Some of the men attended the service. It was a Catho- 
lic church, a small edifice which had once been white, 
but, by the action of the weather for many years, it had 
now become brown. The seats and altar had never 
been painted, and the plaster of the inner wall had, in 
places, fallen from the lath. The parishioners seemed 
quite devout people, and the pastor a sincere man. In 
his prayers he remembered the President and the govern- 
ment, and he supplicated for peace. The reverend father 
said that, owing to the confusion in town, there would be 
no sermon, but he wished the good people to pray for 
sister A., who was at the point of death, and for the 
repose of the soul of brother B., who was already dead. 
Some of our officers engaged in a pleasant conversation 
"with the pastor after service. He was an agreeable, shrewd 
man, and professed to be a good Unionist. 

It was at Hyattstown that we first learned that General 
Hooker had been superseded, in the command of the 
army, by General George G. Meade. The announcement 
of this unexpected change at such a time, was received 
with astonishment, and by many with indignation. To 
deprive the leader of a great army of his command just 
upon the eve of a great battle, when, by the most brilliant 
marches and masterly strategy, he had thrown this ai-my 
face to face with his enemy, thwarting his designs of 
moving upon the capital, without some offense of a grave 
character, was an act unheard of before in the history of 
warfare. It seemed, from later information regarding this 
extraordinary measure, that a difference had arisen between 
General Hooker and his superior at Washington in regard 
to the disposition of troops at Harper's Ferry, and that, 
each refusing to surrender his opinion, General Hooker 


was relieved. His successor demanded the same disposi- 
tion on the very next day, and it was granted ! 

The army was not dissatisfied with the apiDointment of 
General Meade ; the soldiers would as readily fight under 
Meade as under Hooker. They were anxious to retrieve 
what had been lost at Chancellorsville, and would have 
been glad could General Hooker have shared in the victory 
which they believed they were about to achieve ; but the 
men of the Union army fought for their country and not 
for their leaders. So they at once transferred their hopes 
and their obedience to the new commander. General 
Meade was well known to the army as a good soldier, the 
brave general who had, with his single division, dashed 
upon the rebels at the first Fredericksburgh, and as the 
leader of a corps which behaved gallantly at Chancellors- 
ville. All were willing to try him, and hoped for the best. 

The movement from Fredericksburgh had been conducted 
with consummate skill and energy, and now the army was 
moving in several columns by roads nearly parallel, with 
the twofold object of greater rapidity of movement, and 
of sweeping a greater extent of country. 

The Sixth corps was now upon the extreme right, march- 
ing toward Manchester ; next, on our left, was the Twelfth 
corps, at Taneytown, a little hamlet named in honor of the 
chief justice of the United States, whose residence was 
there. At a point a dozen miles north and west of us, 
was the head-quarters of the army, and the Second and 
Third Corps. Further to the left, at Emmitsburgh, were 
the First, Fifth and Eleventh corps. Upon either flank 
of this line, extending twenty miles, was cavalry. Thus 
the army was guarding a great extent of countrj^, at the 
same time that the different corps were within supporting 
distance of each other. 

The rebel army under General Lee, one hundred thou- 
sand strong, occupied an equally extended line to the north 


and west of us, stretching from Harrisburgh througli 
Chambersburgh and Cashtown. 

At five o'clock, Monday morning, 28th, the corps 
marched again, passing through Monroville, New Market, 
Ridgeville and Mount Airy Station, halting for the night 
at Sam's creek. As the corps passed' through Westminster 
on the following day, the people welcomed us with demon- 
strations of joy, which were all the more earnest, as the 
rebel cavalry had, but two hours before, taken a hasty 
leave of them. At night we were at Manchester, at least 
twenty miles from the left of the army, and between the 
line of march of the enemy and Baltimore. We rested 
here until evening of the next day. The plot was thick- 
ening, and the hostile forces were moving cautiously, each 
watching the movements of the other, and each ready to 
seize any opportunity for rushing upon its enemy to destroy 
it. Thus far our marches had been of most fatiguing 
character. We had, in the last four days, passed over one 
hundred miles of road. It is to be remembered that these 
marches were made under burning suns, and that each 
soldier carried with him his gun, knapsack, haversack, 
containing five days' provisions, and forty rounds of cart- 
ridges. The men had kept up wonderfully during this 
trying campaign, but the great march of all, in which this 
magnificent corps was to outdo all that was ever recorded 
of wonderful marches, was yet in store for it. 

We waited at Manchester until evening. The inhabi- 
tants were well supplied with rye whisky, and it must be 
confessed that soldiers have a way of finding out the 
existence of that luxury, and of supplying themselves 
with it ; and as the men of the old Sixth corps were in no 
respect behind their comrades of the other corps, many 
of our brave fellows became, long before dark, consider- 
ably inebriated. 

At nine o'clock in the evening of the 1st of July, we 


were on the road, l)ut it was eleven before we were fairly 
under headway. Those who during the day had indulged 
so freely in the rye whisky of the farmers, as to disable 
them from marching or even standing in line, were quietly 
thrown into the clumps of bushes by the roadside, and left 
to be gathered up by cavalry squads that were scouring 
the country for stragglers. Those that were left by our 
own provost-guards were picked up by rebel scouts. 

The column now pushed rapidly on; all night the 
weary march was kept up. A halt of ten minutes for 
breakfast, and then on again. Now we heard that a part 
of the army, the First corps, had already engaged the 
enemy at Gettysburgh, with doubtful issue, and that its 
commander. General Reynolds, was killed. 

New ai'dor was now kindled in the breasts of the men 
of the Sixth corps at these tidings, and they pressed 
forward at a pace unusual, even for them. The day waa 
bright, the sun pouring scalding rays from a cloudless sky. 
The men strove hai'd to keep in the ranks, for few in 
that corps were willing to be left behind, in a fight. 

Yet some gave out from exhaustion, but even these, at a 
slower pace, followed the rapidly moving column. 

At the houses on the roadsides, the citizens, their wives 
and daughters, were bringing water, from which the 
soldiers filled their canteens as they passed. At Little- 
town we saw citizens bringing the wounded from the 
field in their carriages, and many wounded soldiers who 
could walk were making their way to the village. The 
marching was more rapid. Our friends were waiting for 
us. Soon we saw above the valley that lay before us, 
clouds of smoke and the white puffs of bursting shells. 
As yet we could distinguish little of the sound of battle, 
but those small fleecy clouds which appeared so suddenly, 
flashing forked lightning, told us of work ahead. It 
was five o'clock when the Sixth corps arrived on the 


"battle-field, having made an unprecedented march of 
thirty-five miles ! We halted in reserve, not to rest, but 
to wait a few moments until our place should be assigned 
us in front. We had more marching to do ! Four miles 
more of marching and countermarching that night, made 
thirty-nine miles in a single day. Such marching as had 
been done by the Sixth corps since leaving Bristow 
Station, is unparalleled in the history of armies. 

The roar of battle was terrific. On our left, where 
rose a hill covered with timber on the top and side, 
a fearful struggle seemed in progress, and the roll of 
musketry and the rapid discharge of artillery was almost 

Let us now turn back and review the oj)erations of the 
First and the Eleventh corps since yesterday morning. 
We give it as it was related to us by members of the First 
and Eleventh corps. General Buford, commanding the 
cavalry on the left flank of the army, had advanced north 
of the town of Gettysburgh, and had fallen in with large 
bodies of cavalry, supported by infantry. He became 
hotly engaged with this force, and at once reported the 
information to General Meade that he had found the enemy 
in large force. General Reynolds, who, with the First 
corps had by this time reached Marsh creek, within easy 
striking distance of Gettysburgh, was directed to urge his 
troops forward to Gettysburgh as rapidly as possible. 
The corps pushed on, and reaching Gettysburgh, filed 
through the town, leaving it to the rear. General Buford 
was found fiercely sti-uggling to maintain his position 
against the infontry of the enemy. At once. General 
Reynolds proceeded to select a position for his line of 
battle. Without a moment's hesitation, the corps was 
deployed ; the division of Wadsworth, leading the van, 
Was m position ; a battery which had been brought to the 
front was slowly forced back, but the gallant Wadsworth, 


"bringing more inflmtry into line, arrested the retreat, and 
in turn forced back the hostile forces, who were now found 
to be in large numbers. It was at this time that General 
Reynolds, riding forward with a few members of his staff, 
to inspect the field with the view of bringing the rest of 
his troops into favorable position, was shot through the 
neck, the enemy having, at the moment, opened a full 
volley of musketiy. The noble commander, feeling the 
wound, turned to his soldiers and shouted, " Forward 
men ! for God's sake, forward !" and fell, dying, into the 
arms of one of his companions. 

This sad loss only fired the hearts of the soldiers to 
more desperate determination, and they rushed into line 
upon the run, burning to avenge their beloved leader. 
General Doubleday, of the Second division of the corps, 
■was next in rank, and took command. The encounter was 
sharp, and the rebels were giving way. Three hundred 
prisoners were brought in, and the corps was put into 
position to hold its ground. The force of the enemy now 
engaged, proved to be the corps of General A. P. Hill, 
and the prisoners declared that the rest of the confederate 
army was close at hand. A column of the enemy now 
moved toward the left of our line, debouching from a 
piece of woods, and occupying a close proximity to our 
forces. Volley after volley was poured into the advancing 
column, without avail, except to stretch many of its men 
upon the ground, wounded and dying. 

At length the brigades of Doubleday's own division 
were ordered to charge upon the obstinate line. They 
obeyed with alacrity, their cheers and shouts ringing 
above the roar of musketry. The rebels gave way before 
this impetuous charge, and several hundred more prisoners 
were brought in. 

Thus far the First corps was victorious, but its ranks 
were becoming terribly thinned. 


In the meantime, General Howard, with the Eleventh 
corps, was hastening to the assistance of the First. Just 
before receiving his fatal wound, General Reynolds had 
sent a messenger to Howard, who, with his corps, was ten 
miles behind, to hasten forward as rapidly as possible. 

The men of that corps were burning to wipe out the 
unfortunate record of Chancellorsville, and the roar of 
artillery before them, inspired vigor in their movements 
and urged them forwai'd; but the noise of the battle was 
heard by others. 

Ewell, with his confederates, was but three miles off; and 
while the Unionists looked for the coming of help, a fresh 
corps reinforced the rebels. But the opposing forces were, 
for the time, willing to allow a lull in the battle. So, from 
ten o'clock until half-past two the First corps held the 
enemy at bay. By this time a division of the Eleventh 
corps was on the ground and another on the other side of 
Gettysburgh. General Howai'd took command. The 
Union reinforcements were just arriving; those of the 
rebels had already taken their position, and were ready for 
a desperate charge. 

Suddenly, rushing from the cover of the woods in which 
they had debouched from the York road, the old corps of 
Stonewall Jackson, now under Ewell, charged, with yells, 
down upon the Eleventh. The Germans, this time stood 
their ground, returning with spirit, the volleys of their old 

On the left. Hill was also charging fiercely upon the First 
corpse and the sturdy divisions of Wadsworth and Cutler 
were almost destroyed. 

The rebel line now overlapped that of the Union forces 
on either flank, and the two corps under Howard were in 
danger of being surrounded by the greater numbers of 
their adversaries. The lines began to waver under the 
fearful storm of lead and iron, and the order was o-iven to 


fall back. The lines retired in good order until they 
reached the town. There, in jjassing through the streets, 
the Germans became confused and alarmed, and the retreat 
of the corps became a rout. Twelve hundred were taken 
prisoners in the streets. The First corps maintained its 
line of battle and held its foe at a distance in spite of the 
deadly fire which was decimating its ranks. The heroic 
Wadsworth cheered and encouraged his men by his own 
noble example, while the messengers of death shrieked 
thickly about him. On the right of the corps, Hill had 
already forced back the line, and now the Eleventh corps 
having left him, both flanks of his division were exposed. 
It was useless to protract the hopeless struggle, and tliese 
sturdy troops also fell back, retiring slowly and firmly, 
•while the rebels, flushed with victory, were pouring into 
front and flank the most deadly fire. It was a moment of 
vital importance to our army and our cause. A rout 
of these two corjjs, while the remaining two-thirds of the 
army was separated in columns far distant from each other, 
must insure the destruction of each column in detail, and 
give to the rebels undisputed sway throughout the north. 
But the christian hero, whose empty sleeve , testified 
of hard fought fields before, was still sufficient for the 
crisis. Halting the retreating divisions as they reached 
the line of hills upon the south side of the town, and 
selecting a ridge called Cemetery Hill for his second line 
of battle, he reformed his disordered ranks, and planting 
batteries so as to sweep the declivity in front and on right 
and left, awaited the onset of the victorious hosti?. On 
they came, until half through the town, when, from the 
whole line of guns on the crest, burst a murderous fire, 
from which the assailants staggered in consternation. 

The tide was turned ; for now a part of Hancock's Second 
corps was coming up, and in half an hour the rebels retired, 
and the one-armed general was master of the situation. 


But the day had been a fearful one for the two corps. 

The First corps had lost its general, loved and admired 
for his bravery. Hundreds from the ranks of the corps, 
lay beyond the village stretched in death. Of those who 
went into the fight in the morning, but one-half remained. 

The havoc was almost as fearful in the Eleventh corps. 
Hundreds had been killed and a greater number captured. 
Yet there was no faltering among those veterans, and when, 
toward evening, the Third and Twelfth corps arrived upon 
the field, their confidence and hope rose, and all now 
believed that our army was yet destined to achieve a 
grand victory. 

No further demonstrations were made on either side 
that night. Each pai-ty was gathering its strength for 
the grand conflict. Late in the evening General Meade 
arrived on the field, and with General Howard proceeded 
to inspect the ground, and make arrangements for posting 
the troops of the army. 

The Eleventh corps was still to occupy Cemetery Hill, 
just opposite the toAvn. Upon a knoll to the right of 
the Eleventh corps was the First corps, and still farther, 
and forming the extreme right of the army, was the 
Twelfth corps, General Slocum. On the left of Cemetery 
Hill, occupying the extension of the ridge and a promi- 
nent hill. Round Top, the Third corps, General Sickles, 
was posted, and the Second corps. General Hancock. 
The Fifth corps was to be held in reserve until the arrival 
of the Sixth corps. Thus through the night, the two 
armies lay upon their arras, each watching the other, to 
wake to a contest more fearful than the last. 

At daylight Thursday morning, July 2d, the rebel skir- 
mishers opened fire ujjon parts of our lines of pickets, 
but there was little betokening any general engagement. 
Occasionally a few of the skirmishers of the enemy, would 
make a charge upon parts of our line forcing back the 


pickets, but a gun from some one of our battei-ies would 
hastily send them to the rear again. Doubtless it was for 
the purpose of disclosing the positions of our batteries, 
that their dashes were made. Thus the day wore on until 
four o'clock. 

General Sickles, with the Third corps, had moved out 
beyond the general line of battle nearly a mile, and had 
come upon the advance of the enemy, where Longstreet, 
with one-third of the rebel army, was concentrating his 
forces against the left flank, with the hope of turning it 
and seizing the ridge. 

The battle opened at once. Seven batteries of artillery 
opened upon front and flank of the exposed corps, and 
large bodies of infantry in column by division. The corps 
withstood the shock heroically, and was soon strengthened 
by troops from the Second corps. Our artillery now 
opened upon the rebels from the ridge, and hurled destruc- 
tion upon them. The valley was filled with bursting 
missiles, and the smoke rolled up in huge columns. It 
was at this stage of the great battle that the Sixth corps 
arrived on the ground, after its unparalleled march, and 
the Fifth corps was at once ordered into the fight. For an 
hour the Sixth corps was the reserve of the army, but even 
this I'eserve was soon called into action. 

The writer, while our corps waited for orders, rode along 
the front, from where the Second and Third corps were 
engaged in their deadly struggle with the enemy, across 
Cemetery Ridge and to the hill where, on the right of the 
line, Slocum had established his head-quarters, and he will 
attempt to describe the field as he saw it. 

To form a correct idea of the position of the armies, one 
should imagine two ranges of hills, between which was the 
valley and the village of Gettysburgh. 

These ridges are nearly parallel, and are from a mile to 
a mile and a half asunder. Their course is not a direct 


line but curving. The ridge on which our forces are 
2D0sted, bend outward and backward, so that the line is iu 
the form of a half circle, fronting from the center, while 
the rebels were forced to occupy an exterior line facing 
towards the center. 

At Gettysburg!! several roads converge, first, on the 
right is the Baltimore turnpike, next is tlie road to Taney- 
town, and further to the left is the Emmitsburgh road. 
These all meet at Cemetery Hill, which is the key to the 
whole situation. 

Cemetery Hill is iu the center of a range of hills run- 
ning south and west from Gettysburgh, and considerably 
in front of the others. Standing upon its summit, the spec- 
tator looks down upon the village, a little to his right and 
upon the long declivity stretching between the crest 
and the town. 

The crest of this ridge is bristling with batteries, which 
are so arranged as to sweep the declivity, the valley below, 
and the opposite range of hills. Here, by the side of the 
Baltimore pike, General Howard has his head-quarters, 
and just in front lie long lines of infantry, who wear the 
crescent badge, which distinguishes the Eleventh corps. 

Stretching to the left and rear. Cemetery Ridge gradu- 
ally diminishes in elevation, until it reaches an abrupt 
peak which rises considerably above the other hills of the 
range. This is Round Top. It is covered with timber at 
its summit, its sides are rugged, and, toward the enemy, 
quite steep. On the north slope of Round Top, the 
Second and Third corps are maintaining the unequal 
struggle with one-third of the rebel army. The roar of 
musketry is awful beyond description, and the whole val- 
ley trembles with the thunder of the artillery. On the 
right of Cemetery Ridge is another elevation, Slocum's 
Hill, where the commander of the Twelfth corps sits 
among the huge fragments of rock, watching his own and 


the enemy's line in liis front, and where is another battery, 
which from time to time is sending its screaming messen- 
gers to the hills beyond or across a little stream which 
winds along the right of his position. 

In rear of Slocnm's Hill is a little whitewashed cottage, 
surrounded by a picket fence. There are two or three 
wall tents in the yard, and many horses are tied to the 
fence. This is the head-quarters of the army. From this 
point General Meade is directing all the movements of the 
Union forces. 

It will be seen that our troops could be sent from one 
I^oint to another of the line, easily and quickly, while the 
rebels, who occupied tlie exterior of the circle, must make 
long circuits in order to reinforce one part of the field with 
troops from another. For the first time since Malvern 
Hill, our forces had the advantage of position. 

The rebel lines which had so fiercely attacked the Third 
corps, steadily advanced, pouring destruction before them, 
while the two corps, unable to resist the weight of the 
advancing columns, steadily fell back. At the moment 
that the Sixth corps reached the field, the Fifth Avere rush- 
ing to the assistance of the waA'ering lines on Round Top. 
It was a glorious sj^ectacle, as the veteran wearers of the 
St. Andrew's cross rushed along the rear of the peak and 
among the rocks, at double-quick, and then suddenly mov- 
ing by the flank, formed in line of battle. Through the 
woods and down the slope they rush, fall upon the advanc- 
ing columns, and check their progress. The Union line 
now advance upon the rebels, who fall back more. Shot 
and shells pour in a fearful storm from the rebel batteries, 
sweeping the slope of Round Top and the crest of Ceme- 
tery Hill. Here, near Howard's quarters, a train of 
ambulances and army wagons attract the fii"e of the 
enemy, and the bursting shells soon send them hurrj-ing 
through the narrow defile in the rocks through which the 


road passes, panic stricken. For more than two hours 
the desperate battle rages on the left, while the right, 
except that on either side artillery belches forth its tliun- 
ders, is quiet. The Sixth corps, the only I'eserve of the 
army, is also put into the line on the left ; only one brigade, 
Neill's, is sent to the right to reinforce Slocum, who has 
also sent a great portion of his corps to the left, and 
against whom the rebels are now charging. The doubtful 
contest ceases as darkness gather over the battle-field, 
leaving the rebels still in possession of some of the ground 
occupied by Sickles' corps at four o'clock. 

Both armies again lay upon their arms, waiting for day- 
light, by which to renew the contest. The losses in the 
Second and Third corps had been fearful, and scarcely 
less were those of the Fifth. From our own Sixth corps, 
there were many killed and wounded, but compared with 
these others, the loss was slight. General Sickles had 
been wounded early in the fight, and suiFered amputation 
of a leg. The morning of July 3d dawned brightly, and 
at once the rattle of musketry told of the renewal of 
strife. On the right, where Slocum with a single division 
of his own troops and our Third brigade of Howe's divi- 
sion. Sixth corps, held the long line, an attempt was made 
to retake the rifle pits which the rebels had captured yes- 
terday. The rebels in turn charged fui-iously. They had 
possession of some of our pits, and now they hoped to turn 
our flank and rout the army ; but the small force replied 
to the desperate charge of the whole of Ewell's corps with 
the most stubborn resistance. Charge after charge was 
made, but to no avail. At length Shaler's brigade passed 
far to the right of the rebel line, and poured an enfilading 
volley into the gray-coats. They, supposing that a heavy 
force had got on their flank withdrew, when our forces 
charging in turn, drove them with great loss from the rifle 
pits, which were held during the remainder of the engage- 


ment in spite of repeated efforts to dislodge our forces. 
By noon quiet prevailed along the -whole line, except that 
now and then a shot from some of our batteries screamed 
across the valley, but eliciting no reply. The rebel lines 
could be seen moving here and there as if preparing for a 
desperate struggle. The men at our batteries declared 
that so completely had they got the range of the other 
crests that the rebels dare not open a piece. Little did 
they imagine that more than a hundred guns were concen- 
trating just behind the little strip of woods below them. 
This unwonted silence continued until about one o'clock, 
.when suddenly, as though pandemonium had broken loose, 
the air was filled Avith the shrieks, screams, howls and 
clangor of bursting shells. The sky was filled with smoke, 
amid which flames darted in every direction, and the val- 
ley and hills quaked with the thunders of artillery. Never 
on this continent had been heard such cannonading as this. 
For two hours this storm of shell and shot raged in all its 
fury. At the first opening of the storm, parts of our line 
were forced back, but they quickly advanced again. Horses 
and men fell together, mangled and torn by the screaming 
missiles. In some of our batteries every horse was des- 
troyed, and the men drew back the pieces by hand to save 
them from capture. One hundred and twenty-five guns 
were concentrated against our left center, which continued 
for two hours to belch forth death and destruction. At 
length, when it was supposed that our guns were silenced, 
and our infantry confused by the fearful cannonade, came 
the expected charge of infantry. Longstreet's corps, 
massed, with Picket's division in front, rushed forward with 
the well known yells, which rang above the clangor of mus- 
ketry and artillery, and threw themselves with utmost fury 
upon the Union lines. Our men had waited the onset with 
unflinching courage, and now poured into the assailants a 
most murderous fire, which hurled them back and strewed 


the ground with their dead and dying. Again, with the 
fierceness of des^ieration, they rush forward, and again are 
met with the same deadly reception. Hundreds from the 
attacking cohimns, in order to escape the certain doom, 
threw down their arms and came in as prisoners. Tlie 
tide of battle lulled for a time. 

Again artillery did its work alone, until about four 
o'clock, when the last desperate charge was made, the 
grand effort which was to sweep the Union lines in con- 
fusion, or result in the total defeat of the rebel army. 

The heavy masses swept up as before, with the despera- 
tion of madness. They advanced until they were fairly 
on our lines, and, at some points, actually pushed them 
back. Then they were met with enfilading fires, from 
which the carnage exceeded all that had been before. 
Nearly the whole of Picket's division, finding itself unable 
to retreat through the fiery storm, was captured, and the 
remaining divisions reeled back in confusion, leaving 
the ground literally covered with dead. 

This decided the fate of the battle. The enemy had 
staked all upon this last desperate charge, and had been 
hurled back in confusion and with enormous losses. 

No pursuit was attempted, but, although the rebels 
were not at once driven from their position, they had 
suffered a terrible defeat, and they must retreat with all 
speed to their defenses in Virginia, or submit to the 
destruction of their army. Our wounded were collected 
in great numbers in and about the field hospitals, which 
were composed chiefly of hospital tents, some farm house 
with its large barns, serving as a nucleus for each. To 
these, thousands of our brave comrades were brought 
with mangled limbs, torn bodies or bleeding heads, yet, 
notwithstanding their terrible wounds, exhibiting their 
accustomed heroism. Long trains of ambulances were 
bringing in crowds of poor fellows with arms or legs torn 

252 UNid:N" and rebel "svouxded. 

to slireds, yet who never uttered a word of complaint, and 
who, indeed, appeared cheerful, and some even gay. 

In this respect there was the greatest contrast between 
the wounded of the Union and the rebel armies. A Union 
soldier, if so severely wounded that he could by no possi- 
bility assume a cheerful countenance, would shut his teetl^ 
close together and say nothing. While a rebel, if he 
could boast of only a flesh wound, would whine and cry 
like a sick child. One unaccustomed to such scenes as 
can only be witnessed about a field hospital in time of 
battle, Avould be filled with astonishment at the stoical 
bravery manifested by the northern troops. If one had 
passed along where our men were lying in rows, he would 
only now and then have heard a groan escape from some 
poor fellow who had received a bullet through the abdomen 
or some such fatal and painful wound. But let a group of 
wounded rebels be placed in some part of the hospital, and 
their groans were heartrending. This contrast is not over" 
drawn. Every surgeon who has had oppoi'tunities to 
observe the difference in the bearing of wounded men of 
the two armies, can testify to the greater heroism of the 
northern soldier at such times 

We cannot close the story of this great battle without 
referring more particularly to the important part performed 
by the Sixth corps. 

After an unprecedented march of some thirty-five miles, it 
reached the scene of action just in time to prevent a seri- 
ous disaster to the army. On receiving orders assigning 
our position, and the information that our presence was ac- 
tually needed, the three divisions were moved simultane- 
ously at double-quick, in parallel lines, and arrived on the 
line of battle at the critical moment, just as the rebels, 
flushed with victory, were penetrating our lines to the right 
of Round Top. Owing to the direction in which we ap- 
proached, little more was necessary than to halt the lines 


and face to the right, to bring- three lines of battle facing 
the enemy's advance, and to close the gap made by the 
rebel onslaught. "The volley from our front line," says 
one of our division commanders, General Wright, " was, 
perhaps, the heaviest I have ever heard ; and it had the 
effect not only of checking the enemy's triumphant ad- 
vance, but of throwing his ranks into the utmost confusion." 
Doubtless the appearance of a fresh corps on the field at 
that opportune moment had much to do with the hasty re- 
treat of the rebel columns. And it may be mentioned as 
illustrating the great necessity of the presence of our corps, 
that Shaler's brigade, which so gallantly forced the rebels 
from their pits on the extreme right, was shifted from one 
command to another, time after time, after arriving on the 
field. Eustiss' brigade of Massachusetts and Rhode Island 
troops gallantly supported the Third corps, suffering a loss 
of many men. 

The influence of the Sixth corps upon the fortunes of the 
day have been too little appreciated. It is certain that, but 
for our presence, the Union line must have been irretrieva- 
bly broken and our army probably routed. Indeed, had we 
been half an hour later even, we would have been too late 
to do more than to cover the retreat of the Army of the 
Potomac. It is true we did not do much fighting, for dai'k- 
ness was nearly upon us, but we did all that was neces- 
sary or possible to do ; and the Union army and the Union 
cause was saved because the good old corps marched to the 
support of the rest of the army as men had never marched 
before, and, arriving at the critical moment, turned the for- 
tunes of the day. The achievements of the Sixth corps on 
the 2d of July, cheaply as they were bought in the loss of 
men, are among the proudest of those for which it wears its 
well-earned laurels. General Newton, commander of our Third 
division, was transferred to the command of the First corps, 
and General Terry took the command of our Third division. 



Scenes of the field of Gettysburgh — The rebel hospitals— The sightless rebel soldier 
boy — The Sixth corps at Fairfield — " Hurrah for the Union"— Kilpatrick's 
handiwork— At Waynesboro' — On picket— A division of militia — The Ver- 
mont ers at Funkstown— The army at Funkstown — Meade's failure to attack — 
New York riots — Eeturn to Virginia. 

The battle was over and the invading army which had 
suffered such a crushing defeat, had only to gather up 
its shattered remnants and hastily retrace its steps south- 
ward. We were in no condition to renew immediate 
hostilities. Every man and every gun had been brought 
into service. Never before had all of our army been 
fought at once. At Gettysburgh, every man of the infantry 
reserve, and every gun of the reserve artillery had been 
brought into action. The men were exhausted by their 
tedious marches and hard fighting, while our ammunition 
was well nigh spent. 

During the night of the 4th of July, Lee's array 
retreated, and on the morning of the 5th, our Sixth coi-ps, 
Sedgwick's cavalry as the corps was called, was sent in 
pursuit on the Fairfield road. The battle-field was hor- 
rible. Dead men were thickly strewed over the fields 
with their faces blackened, and eyes starting from their 
sockets; and upturned, swollen horses lay, sometimes in 
groups of six or eight, showing where some battery had 
suffered fearfully. As we passed the scene of the conflict 
on the left, at the foot of Round Top, was a scene more than 
usually hideous. Blackened ruins marked the spot where, 
on the morning of the third, stood a large barn. It had 
been used as a hospital. It had taken fire from the shells 


of the hostile batteries, and had quickly burned to the 
ground. Those of the wounded not able to help them- 
selves were destroyed by the flames, wliich in a moment 
spread through the straw and dry material of the building. 
The crisped and blackened limbs, heads and other portions 
of bodies lying half consumed among the heaps of ruins 
and ashes, made up one of the most ghastly pictures ever 
witnessed, even on the field of battle. But we passed these 
direful scenes to meet with others of less shocking but 
still sad character. Every house and barn from Gettys- 
burgh to Fairfield was a hospital ; and about most of the 
large barns, numbers of dilapidated hospital tents served 
to increase the accommodations for the wounded. 

All of the worst cases were left in these hospitals, the 
number being estimated, by the rebel surgeons in charge, 
at no less than fifteen thousand. Never had we witnessed 
such sad scenes as we were passing through to-day. The 
confederate surgeons were doing what they could for their 
wounded, but they were destitute of medicines and surgi- 
cal appliances, and even food sufficient to supply those in 
their charge. At one of these barns some of our officers 
stopped, and as they passed among the gray-clad sufferers 
who were lying in rows upon the barn floors, one, a boy 
apparently not more than sixteen years of age, attracted 
the notice of one of the companj% a surgeon. The lad 
looked more like a delicate girl than a soldier ; his hair 
fell from his fair forehead in long flaxen curls upon his 
pillow of straw, some of them matted with blood ; his cheek 
was rosy, and his soft white hand told of a youth spent 
amid more tender scenes than those of the camp. A piece 
of linen laid across his face covered a ghastly wound 
where a ball had passed through his face, and had torn 
both his eyes from their sockets. 

The surgeon spoke a kind word to the youth, who 
stretched out his hand, saying, " Come near me, I want 


to touch you." The doctor stooped over him, and the boy, 
pressing his hand in his own, said, " You are a friend, are 
you not ? " " Yes, I am a friend to all tlie unfortunate." 
"But are you not a confederate?" " Xo." The boy 
clung to the hand of the surgeon in silence for a moment, 
and then said slowly, " I did not think a federal would 
speak so kindly to me ; your voice sounds like that of a 
friend, and your hand feels like one ; will you not stay 
with me ?" "When the other told him that he must follow 
his command, he replied : " Oh ! I shall never hear any one 
speak so kindly to me again ; my mother lives in Xorth 
Carolina, but she will not see me. Can you not stay?" 
The doctor was far from being a rebel sympathizer, yet he 
turned away from the poor boy, with a sad face and a 
deep drawn sigh, to join the moving column. 

Early next morning we passed through the somewhat 
dilapidated village of Fairfield. Our advance threw a few 
shells down the street, scattering a body of cavalry, which 
had been left in town, and killing some of the horses 
attached to their battery. A mile beyond the town the 
South Mountain range rose in our front, the road running 
through a narrow pass. Here the rear guard of the rebel 
army was strongly posted. Xeill's and the Jersey brigade 
advanced against the rebel skirmishers, but after losing 
some six or eight men they were ordered to halt. General 
Sedgwick deeming the position too strong to assault with 
his corps from the front, reported to General Meade that the 
pass was very strong, and one in which a small force of 
the enemy could hold in check for a considerable time, a 
force much larger than its own. The main body of the 
army, therefore, was moved around their flank by way of 
Frederick ; while Xeill's brigade, with Colonel M<;Intosli's 
brigade of cavalry and two light batteries, all under com- 
mand of General Neill, were made to form a flying division 
to hai'ass the enemy in the rear. 


Our march over the mountain that day was by a Avild, 
romantic route, than which none more charming could be 
asked by tourist in search of nature's wildest moods. 
Before each little log house by the roadside would stand a 
wondering group, astonished at seeing such multitudes of 
men in those secluded regions, where scarcely a dozen trav- 
elers usually passed in a week. At one place, as the column 
was passing a cottage half hidden by sunflowers and flow- 
ering beans, those at the head of the column were heard 
cheering heartily ; and, as we advanced, other voices took 
up the cheer, exciting the curiosity of those behind. In ■ 
the midst of the noise, sounded a shrill voice ; and as we 
approached, we saw, sitting upon the fence in front of the 
cottage, a little boy, about four years old, his face flushed 
with excitement, his flaxen hair flying in the wind, as he 
was waving his little hat, and with childlike indistinctness 
shouting in his shrill tones, "Hurrah for 'e Union 1 Hurrah 
for 'e Union !" 

Soon those in the rear of the line heard those ahead 
shouting again, and another shrill voice was heard between 
the cheers of the men. There by the roadside stood an old 
man, over whom more than eighty years had passed, with 
voice indistinct with the tremor of age, all excited as the 
little boy had been, his hair tossed about by the breeze, as 
with hat swinging he too was shouting, " Hurrah for the 
Union ! Hurrah for the Union !" And the cheers of 
the multitude again rang in response to the old man's shout. 
We could but note the similarity and the disparity. One 
vaguely dreamed of those blessings which the other had 
fully realized, and for Avhich he had struggled ; and the 
same shout was lifted up by those two children — the one 
of four, and the other of fourscore — the one with the flaxen 
curls of childhood, and the other with the white locks of 
age — the one voice with the shrill treble of infancy, and 
the other with the high-keyed tones of decrepitude. Those 


people, who had seen the rebel army pass a few hours 
before, now felt the value of the Union. 

On the summit of the mountain we passed Monterey 
Springs, a charming summer retreat, where the Pennsyl- 
vaniaus resort to indulge in the sports of trout-fishing and 
deer-hunting. Passing down the western slope of the 
mountain, the handiwork of Kilpatrick was strewed along 
the roadside for miles. As the battle of Gettysburgh drew 
to a close, and General Meade knew that Lee must retreat 
toward Virginia, he had sent the dashing Kilpatrick with 
his brigade of cavalry to harass the rebels in their flight. 
Reaching these mountains, the cavalry had come upon a 
long rebel train of wagons and ambulances, hasteuing with 
all speed, with their lading of stolen goods and provisions 
and their wounded men, towards the Potomac. With shouts 
and cheers the horsemen dashed from the cover of the woods, 
upon the flying train, shot the leading horses and mules, 
captured the drivers and remaining animals, apj^ropriated 
the stolen goods to their own use, and burned the wagons. 
Now, as we marched down the forest road, the wildness 
of the scene was heightened by the remains of the ruined 
wagons which lined the wayside, some burned, some with 
the wheels disabled by cutting the spokes, others tumbled 
ofi" the steep embankment. For more than three miles, 
these remnants of the rebel trains met our view. 

It was near the middle of the afternoon when the 
column, the army under General Neill, descended into 
the beautiful Cumberland valley, and arrived at the vil- 
lage of Waynesboro. The people gave our little army a 
joyous reception, and we encamped at a little distance 
from the village. One regiment, the Seventy-seventh, was 
sent on picket on the banks of the Antietam ci-eck, and so 
pleasant was the duty that the regiment petitioned to be 
allowed to remain until the army moved, to which request 
General Neill very graciously assented. Our j^icketing on 


the Antietam became one of the bright sports in the 
history of our campaigning. We were a mile in advance 
of the other troops, and the picket line was two miles long, 
so that we were not at all crowded. The weather was fine, 
the country delightful, and the people kind and hospitable. 
The most friendly relations sprang up at once between 
the people and the soldiers, the inhabitants supplying the 
boys with luxuries, and taking them into their houses as 
welcome guests, the soldiers on their part guarding the 
people against the depredations of stragglers and militia. 

The grain was ripe for the harvest, and the farmers 
were short of help ; but the boys laid aside their guns, 
and swung the cradle and the scythe with a zest that 
showed that they worked with a good will. Day after 
day the boys of the Seventy-seventh reaped and bound in 
the fields, while the good ladies worked day and night to 
make bread and cakes for the veterans, who had so long 
been accustomed to diet on pork and hard tack. Soft 
bread, milk, poultry and the staple luxury of Pennsyl- 
vania, apple butter, was a glorious improvement on the 
usual bill of camp fare, and kind sympathizing Union 
people were much better calculated to render our stay 
among them agreeable, than the bitter rebels among whom 
we had so long been. 

The left wing of our extended picket line was under 
command of Major Babcock, who, with the line officers 
of his part of the picket, established head-quarters at the 
house of a miller, whose comfortable rooms and well filled 
larder aflforded substantial inducements to our friends; 
but the great attractions at the miller's house were doubt- 
less the three charming daughters, whose merry faces and 
bewitching eyes rejoiced the hearts of our gay major 
and his associates. Word came to the right of the line 
that our friends on the left were in the enjoyment of far 
more than the usual alloAvance of pleasure for men on 


picket, and thither started the colonel and the doctor, and 
our friend, Colonel Connor, of the Seventh Maine, to 
investigate the matter. Riding through a lovely region, 
now rising to the summit of some gentle eminence, from 
whence they could look away upon the surrounding 
country, its rich fields of grain ready for the harvest, its 
charming groves of oak, and its neat farm houses, making 
up a most delightful landscape, now descending into 
some green valley where babbling brooks danced over 
pebbly beds, and now reining up to listen to the complaint 
of some cottagers, who said that " the militia were I'obbing 
them of their pigs and their poultry, and but for the 
old soldiers, who were perfect gentlemen, they would be 
stripped of everything they had ;" now fording the bright 
waters of the Antietam, and anon halting to converse 
with some group of men who were reclining beneath the 
shadow of some clump of chestnuts or oaks, doing picket 
duty as amateurs, the party at length arrived at the 
miller's house, nestled in a pleasant grove by the side 
of the beautiful river. Here was the major, and here were 
the happy line officers, and here was the main reserve 
of the left wing of the picket, all exhibiting the most 
abundant good humor. Here, also, they foimd our chap- 
lain, and Chaplain Osborn, of the Forty-third Xew York. 
It was evident, at a glance, that the reports of gay soldier- 
ing which had reached the right of the line were in no 
way exaggerated. The miller took the horses, and the 
party was ushered into the house, where the good lady and 
her merry daughters welcomed them heartily. The miller 
brought out his best wines and his biggest apples. The 
ladies were smiling, the wines were good, and the apples 
delicious, and the hearts of the soldiers were gladdened. 
The ladies retired, leaving the gentlemen in possession of 
the airy sitting-room. They sung Old Hundred, and Cor- 
onation, and Lenox, and Cambridge. Xow our friend, 


Colonel Connor, would lead off in a rollicking soldiers' 
song; then our chaplain would follow with "Benny 
Havens, Oh!" and all would join in the chorus. Chap- 
lain Osborn, of the Forty-third, could tell a good story, 
and relish a glass of wine ; and so they jDassed a happy 
hour, singing and chatting, till called to dinner, where 
the long table was loaded from the abundance of the 
miller's stores. Dinner over, the company strolled among 
the fruit trees and along the banks of the river; but 
at length, as an end must come to all pleasures, our 
party, who had left the right of the line in the morning, 
galloped back to their quarters, satisfied that jjicket duty 
was not necessarily the most vexatious in the service. 

The Forty-ninth was provost guard for the town, and a 
merry time the men had of it. Here in the principal 
hotel, General Neill established his head-quarters, and in 
regal style amid flowers and fruits he received the homage 
of the citizens and soldiers. The remaining regiments of 
the brigade were stationed in a lovely grove half way 
between the town and the picket line. They lounged in 
the shade of their beautiful camp, or strolled to the village 
or to the picket line on the Antietam. They purchased 
from the people fruit and bread, apple butter and other 
luxuries, enjoying a pleasant respite from labors, while the 
Forty-ninth guai'ded the town and the Seventy-seventh 
the river. But notwithstanding all the pleasures of this 
bright episode in our campaign, the boys were not without 
a source of annoyance. 

Soon after our arrival at Waynesboro,' we were joined by 
a large division of Xew York and Pennsylvania militia, 
under our old commander General W. F. Smith, who still 
held a prominent place in the affections of the boys. The 
militia was composed mostly of young gentlemen who had 
left their places behind the counter or at the desk, for the 
double purpose of lending their aid to their country 


in its hour of need, and of enjoying a month of what 
they hoped would be amateur soldiering. 

On the evening of their arrival, they were all complain- 
ing bitterly of the terrible marches they had endured, and 
swore they would shoot the general if they ever got into 
a fight. They had marched all the way from Harrisburgh, 
to which point they had been brought in cars, at the rate 
of from eight to fifteen miles a day ! In addition to the 
severe marches, they had been subjected to great priva- 
tions ; many of them had not tasted any htctter for more 
than a week, and nearly all declared that they had abso- 
lutely nothing to eat for several days. The writer, who 
listened to these grevious complaints fi-om some who had 
been his friends in civil life, pointed to their trains of 
wagons loaded with boxes of hard bread. " What," 
replied the militia-men, " You don't expect us to eat that 
hard tack do you ?" 

These regiments of militia were undisciplined and unac- 
customed to the hard fare of the soldier's life, and the 
majority of the men took to plundering the inhabitants 
of the neighboring country, and perpetrating other depre- 
dations equally dishonorable in the eyes of the old soldiers. 
As the veterans constituted the picket and the guard of 
the town, and were inti'usted to guard many of the houses 
of the citizens outside of the village, they found great 
annoyance in attempting to resist the incursions of the 
militia, and rather frequent collisions resulted, in which 
the old soldiers usually got the best of the encountei*. 

The citizens very soon learned to look upon the veterans 
as their friends and their protectors, while they regarded 
with dread any squad of soldiers that might approach, if 
they were clad in new uniforms. 

But, on the 11th of July, we drew in our picket line, 
the brigade assembled, and at dark the troops, veterans 
and militia, were fording the Antietam, the water nearly 


to their waists. We miirclied rapidly all night, halting at 
a place called Leytirsburgh. At daylight next morning, 
"we were again marching. The day was extremely hot, 
and large numbers of the men fell by the Avayside from 
sun-stroke. At Smithville we fell in with the First corps, 
which was moving towards Hagerstown, and the hearts of 
the men were gladdened by the sight of the old familiar 
flags of the Army of the Potomac. We had been absent 
from the main body of the army for a week, and it seefmed 
now as though we had fallen in with old friends from whom 
we had been long sej^arated. Falling in the rear of the 
First corps, we marched towai-d Hagerstown. At 2 o'clock 
a most terrific thunder-storm arose, such as had never over- 
taken our army, even in Virginia. Huge black clouds rose 
from the north and from the west and south, and meeting 
overhead poured down great volumes of water, until the 
road through which we were marching, and which was 
bordered by high banks on either side, was filled with a 
mad torrent which reached to the knees, and in places to 
the waists of the men. At sunset we reached Funkstown, 
where the main body of our corps was in line of battle, 
having yesterday met the rebels and driven them more 
than a mile. Our friends of the Vermont brigade had, 
as usual, given a good account of themselves ; and the 
head-boards of pine, here and there among the trees, 
showed that the victory had not been gained without a 

In marching from Boonsboro' towards Funkstown, the 
Vermont brigade in advance of the corps, the little stream, 
Beaver Creek, was passed, and General Howe found 
Buford's cavalry in his advance holding a strong position 
against the skirmishers of the rebel infantry. At General 
Buford's request. General Howe sought and obtained per- 
mission to send the Vermont brigade to relieve the cavalry. 
Colonel Lewis with his Fifth Vermont and part of the 


Second, and Colonel Barney with the Sixth regiment, at 
once deployed as skirmishers, forming their line two miles 
long. The Third and Fourth regiments were supporting 
a battery, and the balance of the Second was held in 
reserve. They saw the rebel infantry approach a strip of 
woods in front, and at once advanced and occupied it 
themselves. Against this long thin line of skirmishers, 
the rebels opened a severe fire of artillery and musketry, 
and advanced to drive the skirmishers from their position ; 
but the brave mountaineers never dx*eaming that a Sixth 
corps skirmish line could not hold a rebel line of battle, reso- 
lutely refused to leave and sent the presumptions rebel line 
of battle to the rear in confusion ; not, however, until Colonel 
Stoughton with the Fourth and Colonel Seaver with the 
Third, came forward to the support of the Fifth and Sixth. 
Again, the rebels, disgusted at being repulsed by a skir- 
mish line, came up in several lines of battle and charged 
upon the Vermonters and they again went to the rear in 
confusion. A third charge was made against the obstinate 
skii-mish line, and a third time the attack was broken. 
Meanwhile a strong force attempting to cross the Antietam 
and come in on the flank, was repelled by the Second 

The gallant brigade had repelled Anderson's brigade, of 
seven large r'egiments, from its front, and another from its 

An instance of a skirmish line, a mile and a half from 
any support, resisting repeated attacks of troops in line 
of battle, is rarely found in the history of armies. 

The men i;sed from sixty to eighty rounds of cartridge, 
and when the first supply was exhausted, a fresh one was 
brought to the front on stretchers. 

The victory cost the brigade a loss of nine men killed 
and fifty-nine wounded, while the enemy lost more than 
two hundred men. 


The men of XeilPs brigade were rejoiced to find them- 
selves once more with the glorious old corps, and when their 
brigade flag, bearing the insignia of the Greek cross, was 
onoe more thrown to the breeze, it was greeted with vocifer- 
ous cheers. Brisk skirmisliing was going on along the line, 
and frequent charges were made by our Union pickets 
upon the rebel line, which usually resulted in the capture 
of a greater or less number of the enemy's pickets. All 
things indicated a great battle on the morrow. The two 
armies were facing each other in line in front of Hagers- 
town, near a hamlet called Funkstown, the line of battle 
extending sevei'al miles. The rebels had occupied the 
higher grounds, and had thrown up strong earthworks to 
dispute our progress. Night came on with rain, and all 
expected to be roused early by the sound of battle. But 
morning came and passed, and the day wore on with little 
activity on our part. Here and there skirmishers kept up 
a rattle of musketry, but no general engagement came on. 
Much as the veterans, who knew too well the risks of 
battle, usually dreaded a general engagement, this time 
there seemed a universal desire, on the part of the men, 
now to strike a blow which should destroy their adversaries 
before they should be able to cross the river again. 

Deserters and prisoners from the rebel army represented 
it in a deplorable condition ; and the men of the ranks in 
our army believed that this was the grand opportunity for 
striking a final blow. And notwithstanding the assertion 
of general officers that the Potomac was so swollen as to 
prevent the crossing of the rebel army, there were few 
privates in our ranks who were not ready to declare that, 
unless we gave battle at once, the prey would surely escape. 
Thus, as the day wore on, great dissatisfaction was expressed 
all along the ranks -^ men openly and freely cursing the 
hesitancy which held them back, as they believed, from a 
certain victory. So, when they arose on the morning of 


the 14tli, to find that there was no enemy in our front, 
they were more incensed than surprised. There was cer- 
tainly a very general ill-feeling pervading our army at this 
easy escape of the rebel army, which even the glorious 
news of Vicksburg and Port Hudson failed to pacify. 

Brisk firing in the vicinity of the Potomac, however, 
warned us that there were still rebels enough left on the 
north side of the river to ofier some resistance. We learned, 
late in the day, that the firing was caused by a brilliant 
charge of Kilpatrick's cavalry upon the rear guard of the 
rebels at Falling "Waters, where they captured several 
hundreds of prisoners ; thus adding one more bi'illiant 
success to their many daring achievements during this 
campaign. Marching until nightfall, we reached Williams- 
port, and encamped very near the spot that had been our 
resting-place on a former occasion, nearly a year before. 

Why General Lee and his army were allowed to cross 
the Potomac unmolested, we do not attempt to explain; 
nor do we condemn the determination of General Meade 
not to give battle. When men of such well-known mili- 
tary ability and bravery as General Sedgwick advise against 
a movement, it may be well to hesitate ; yet it will doubt- 
less be the verdict of history, that the hesitancy of General 
Meade at this time was his great mistake. 

A hard march on the 15th brought the Sixth corps to 
Boonsboro', where our Second division encamped on pre- 
cisely the same ground that we had occupied on the 31st 
of October last. Xeill's brigade made the march at a 
breakneck pace, leaving the Vermonters far to the rear, 
who declared that the recent associations of the former with 
the cavalry had transformed them into a flying brigade. 
While resting here, a large body of rebel prisoners was 
marched past. They were mostly those who had been 
captured by Kilpatrick's men at Falling Waters. The 
rebels were hungry and destitute of rations. Our men at 


once divided their rations of hard bread and coffee with 
them, who, officers and all, declared that it was the best 
meal they had enjoyed for several days, and expressed 
themselves greatly pleased with the generosity of their 

Notwithstanding our glorious success at Gettysburgh, 
and the good news from the west, we were now hearing 
news that made our hearts sick, and caused the cheeks of 
the New York soldiers to burn for the disgrace of their 
native State. It was a source of the deepest mortification 
to the brave New Yorkers, to feel that their own State 
and the great metropolis had been outraged by the most 
disgraceful riot that had ever stained the annals of any 
State or city in the Union, all for the purpose of over- 
awing the government in its efforts to subdue the rebellion. 
Our companions from other States, with the generosity 
that characterizes soldiers, never derided us with this dis- 
grace, but alluded to the riot as an uprising of foreigners, 
who had for the moment overpowered the native element. 
Even the fact that the governor of that great State had, 
in the midst of these terrible scenes, addressed the mis- 
creants as his "friends," was alluded to with a delicacy 
that won our hearts. 

It was one of the pleasant indications of a union of 
hearts as well as of States, that the soldiers of our sister 
States looked upon these riots in the light of a general 
calamity, rather than a disgrace to a particular State. 

Crossing the South Mountain range, from Boonsboro' to 
Middletown, the Sixth corps reached Petersville, three or 
four miles north of Berlin, where the army was to cross 
the Potomac. Here, nearly the whole army was crowded 
into a space of not more than three miles, all waiting for 
the orders to cross. The men were universally eager to 
push forward, and the necessary delay caused by crossing 
the men and material of so large an army seemed to them 


a wearisome expenditure of time. While waiting here, 
the Second division was honored by the presence of sev- 
eral ladies, wives of officers of different regiments, who 
had been waiting in Washington an opportunity of 
visiting their husbands, and had met them here. As a 
memento of this brief visit, the Seventy-seventh Xew York 
received from the wife of the surgeon the gift of a pair 
of beautiful guidons, which the regiment boasted were 
unequaled in the army. The design was a white cross, 
the badge of our division, upon a ground of deep blue 
silk. In the center of the cross were wrought the figures 
" 77." These beautiful guidons were carried by the regi- 
ment until its final discharge from the service, when, with 
the old banner, the tattered national flag, and the magni- 
ficent new flag which was presented afterward by the 
ladies of Saratoga, they were presented to the State of 
New York, on the Fourth of July, 1865, in the presence 
of General Grant and a great concoui'se of illustrious 

On Sunday, the 19th, the Sixth corps crossed the pon- 
toon bridge to Virginia, the bands playing " O carry me 
back." As usual, while the corps was crossing a bridge 
or passing a difficult place. General Sedgwick stood at the 
farther end of the bridge preventing confusion and liurry- 
ing up teams which might obstruct the way. We climbed 
the rocky defile, and, at four o'clock, found ourselves well 
on the Virginia side of the Potomac. On our marcli we 
passed through the little village of Lovettsville, and, much 
to the surprise of all, the doors and windows of tlie dwell- 
ings were filled with ladies, whose hair and dresses were 
decked with ribbons of red, white and blue, and scores of 
Union flags waved a welcome to our soldiers. Such a 
sight had not greeted us before in Dixie, and it was most 
refreshing to witness such a demonstration of loyalty in 


The corps encamped about ten miles from the river, near 
a beautiful clear stream of water, which was very soon 
filled with bathers. Here orders came for each regiment 
in tlie army to send, to the State in which the regi- 
ment was raised, a certain number of commissioned 
officers and enlisted men for recruiting duty. 

The march on the 20th was slow and through groves 
and pleasant meadows. Twelve miles were made, and 
we halted for the night and the next day. "Wednesday we 
passed through Union town and Snickersville, reaching the 
base of Cobbler's mountain, a high spur from the Blue 
■Ridge, not far from Ashby's Gap. Thursday the Sixth 
corps proceeded to Ashby's Gap, and, halting there for 
a few hours in a most delightful valley, again started 
southward. Vines of the trailing blackberry covered the 
ground, and the delicious fruit grew in such profusion that 
the men enjoyed a continual feast. Never had we, in our 
wanderings in the south, found such an abundance of fruit, 
and the effect upon the health of the men Avas marvelous. 
By the time that we reached Warrenton the occupation 
of the surgeons was almost gone. At no time, perhaps, 
in the history of the Army of the Potomac, did the medical 
reports exhibit a more general state of health than during 
our stay in the vicinity of Warrenton. 

Thus, marching along at the foot of Blue Ridge, now 
turning aside to enter some mountain pass, and again pro- 
ceeding on the general course, the army, on the 2oth of 
July, reached the vicinity of Warrenton, our Sixth corps 
occupying a line from Warrenton to Waterloo, the scene 
of some of the early engagements of General Pope's army 
at the first rebel invasion. The First division was stationed 
in and about Warrenton ; the Jersey brigade being pro- 
vost guard of the town, where the gentlemanly conduct of 
the men, and the strict order preserved in the town, won 
for them the good opinions of the town's people, as well 


as of army officers. The Third division was in the rear 
of the other two divisions, and guarding the flank. The 
Second division encamped about an old Baptist church, 
which, inclosed by a thick growth of trees, large and small, 
had been, before the war, the only house of worship for 
miles around. No paint had ever stained its seats or 
casings, and no steeple from its roof had ever pointed 
toward heaven. The pulpit, the white folks' seats and the 
black folks' seats, were all in ruins now. The Rappahan- 
nock river was but a half a mile distant, and the Seventy- 
seventh and Fifth Vermont were sent to perform picket 
duty along its banks. On the following day the camps of 
the two regiments Avere moved to the vicinity of the river, 
in front of the remainder of the division, and we were 
ordered to perform picket duty while the division remained 
in its present camp. The camp of the Fifth Vermont was 
established a fourth of a mile from that of the Seventy 
seventh, its lines joining ours on the left. On the bank of 
the river just below our camp, was the residence of Mr. 
Hart and a grist-mill ; hence the place was called " Hart's 



Camp at Hart's Mills — A ride to the Sulphur Springs — Contrabands going north — 
The Vermonters go to New York- Jersey Brigade at Warrenton- The Sixth 
corps at Cedar Mountain — Retreat to Centreville — Battle of Bristoe Station — 
Advance to Warrenton — Battle of Rappahannock Station — Flight of Lee's army. 

The camp at Hart's Mills was truly a pleasant one. It 
was situated in the midst of a most delightful oak grove, 
on a projecting hill, around whose base the Rappahannock 
coursed in a beautiful curve. Along its banks was our 
picket line. Westward the view extended over a charm- 
ing valley to the Blue Ridge, some ten miles away ; and 
at evening, when the sun sank behind those fine hills, 
tinging them and the clouds wnth gorgeous colors, the 
prospect was truly delightful. The village of Warrenton 
was some four miles distant, and the celebrated Warrenton 
Sulphur Springs about three miles down the river. 

Under the direction of Chaplain Fox, a place in the 
grove was selected, a speaker's stand was erected, sur- 
rounded by rows of log seats, and here services were held 
on the Sabbath ; and on other days of the week there were 
other regimental gatherings, which the men greatly enjoyed. 
At evening, the place would be lighted by Chinese lanterns 
of various colors, hung among the boughs of the oak trees, 
giving to the grove a most romantic appearance. 

On one evening the regiment, with many invited guests 
from the division, assembled in this lovely spot and listened 
to speeches from several gentlemen of eloquence, the brig- 


ade band lendms: the aid of fine music to tlie evening^'^s 

Thus pleasantly passed the time of the two regiments — 
the Seventy-seventh and Fifth Vermont — in doing picket 
duty for the Second division, along the banks of the Rap- 
pahannock, Our friends of the Fifth Vermont were, in 
addition to the pleasant location of their camp and their 
easy picket duty, favored with the presence of the wives 
of some of their officers. A ride to the Sulphur Springs 
was always a pleasant pastime ; and we recall with pleas- 
ure one of these excursions. A small j)arty, including one 
of these ladies, enjoying a morning's drive, turned their 
horses' heads towards the Springs. A merry gallop across 
three miles of delightful country, through pleasant groves 
and over rolling meadows, fording clear sparkling streams 
and leaping fences, brought the party to the former Sara- 
toga of the south. 

The morning had been cool and cloudy, but as our 
friends reached the little settlement the clouds were break- 
ing away, and the sun began to pour blazing rays upon 
them. They secured their horses and walked into the 
grounds, in the midst of which General Birney, command- 
ing a division of the Third corps, had established his 
head-quarters ; and as it was then the dinner hour, the 
general and his staff" were gathered around the board 
under the shade of the chestnut trees, while a band dis- 
coursed sweet music for the benefit of those at table. 

Oak, chestnut and ailanthus trees form a rich and grateful 
shade for the groiinds, which dip so as to form a kind of 
basin, in the center of which rises the cupola which covers 
the spring. As we step down into the inclosure of the 
cupola, indeed as we approach it at a distance, a strong 
sulphurous odor is perceived ; but there is a delightful 
coolness as we sit down upon the benches which are placed 
around the area of the cupola. Several Vermont officers 


greeted our friends as they approached, offering the odorous 
drink to the hidy. There are two springs or vats within 
the cupola, each inclosed by marble sides ; and the water 
stands so high that we may dip it ourselves, thus dispens- 
ing with the necessity of the " dippers," such as take our 
dimes at Saratoga. 

A glass of the sparkling fluid "was presented to our lady 
friend, who raised it to her lips, and then turning her face 
away, with an expression of infinite disgust, and saying, 
with a good deal of energy, " I don't want any," handed 
back the glass. The gentlemen endeavored to convince . 
her that the water was good ; but even after adding a little 
fine brandy, she could not be induced to quaff the liquid, 
which she declared carried with it such powerful sugges- 
tions of unserviceable eggs. 

Our friends lingered about the grounds for some hours, 
enjoying the cool shade and examining the old buildings, 
the principal one of which was originally a fine structure, 
but it had been burned the year before by our soldiers. 
The massive columns and high walls were still suggestive 
of the hilarious old times when the chivalry used to congre- 
gate here in all its glory. Encircling the grounds was a 
row of long one and two story buildings, most of them 
painted yellow. These were divided into small apart- 
ments which had been used as lodging rooms. There were 
a dozen or more of these buildings, all dilapidated by age 
rather than suffering from the ruthless usage of Avar. 
They inclosed the grove which occupied ten or twelve 
acres of land. 

Except the circle of buildings immediately surrounding 
the grove and springs, there were but very few dwellings 
in the neighborhood, those evidently intended for the 
purpose of receiving summer boarders. It was said that 
about five hundred boarders used to spend the summer 
here every year, and double that number of visitors took 


rooms at Warrenton, a mile and a half distant, from wliich 
place they rode to the springs morning and evening to 
quaff the odorous fluid, or to stroll about the groves. The 
new "White Sulphur Springs in the Shenandoah Yalley 
had, for some years past, diverted the patronage from the 
"Warrenton springs, and thither, at the foot of the Blue 
Ridofe mountains, great numbers of fashionable southerners 
had resorted. 

It was evidently a blessing that this resort had been 
despoiled by war. It sadly needed renovating and modern- 
izing, and so long as the old buildings stood, no southerner 
had the enterprise to pull them down and replace them 
with better ones. A few thousands of dollars in the hands 
of an enterprising Yankee would soon make this one of 
the most delightful resorts in the southern states. 

One of the characteristic features of our picket duty on 
the Rappahannock, was the great number of contrabands 
who came through our lines. 

Squads of gray-headed old negroes, young negro women 
and children, carrying in bundles all their worldly store, 
constantly applied for permission to enter the lines on 
their way to the north. The cavalry who scouted in front 
on the south side of the river, returned with wagons 
loaded with little darkies, whose mothers and elder sisters 
and grandsires trudged along on foot. All wagons going 
to Warrenton without other lading were filled with these 
refugees from slavery, old and young, some black, some 
olive and some white; some with black curly wool, 
some with wavy black hair, and some with brown ringlets. 

Our northern soldiers had, by this time, begun to look 
upon slavery in its true light. They had also learned that 
the negroes were their friends. It required a long school- 
ing to teach them this lesson, but it was thoroughly 
learned at last. We heard now no jeering and hooting 
when a negi-o or wagon load of negroes went by. The 


Boldiers treated them with the greatest kindness, and aided 
them in every way to get off to the north. 

While our boys did not hesitate long to take from the 
white inhabitants any articles that they thought they were 
in need of, it was considered an act of outrageous meanness 
to take a chicken or any other property from the negro 

While passing through Orleans, on our way to the pre- 
sent camp, a great many slave children were standing 
along the streets watching us. Many of these children 
were nearly white. The attention of one our captains, 
who was one of the last relics among us of that class 
of men who were loyal to their country but despised 
the negro, was fixed ujDon a beautiful child of olive com- 
plexion and wavy hair, who stood gazing in innocent 
wonder at the passing column. The child Avas indeed a 
picture of unadorned beauty, in her long coarse garment 
of " negro cloth." The captain turned to a staff officer 
and as a tear stole down his rough cheek at the thought 
of th@ degradation of the beautiful child, he exclaimed, 
" Is'nt it horrible." 

It is hardly necessary to say that the captain's senti- 
ments from that moment underwent a radical change, and 
ever after there were none more ready to afford assistance 
to the needy refugees, than our generous but hitherto pre- 
judiced captain. 

Many of these colored refugees had the greatest faith in 
what they deemed the promises of the Bible. There was 
an almost universal faith in the ultimate overthrow of 
the south by the north, and this belief was founded in 
most cases upon their supposed Bible promises. 

One of these people, a gray-haired negro, bent with age 
and leaning heavily upon his staff, who hoped to spend 
the evening of his life in freedom, said to the writer: 
" Our massas tell us dat dey goin to whip de Yankees and 


dat Jeff. Davis will rule de norf. But we knowd it warnt 
so cause de Bible don't say so, De Bible says that de 
souf shall prevail for a time and den de norf shall rise 
up and obertrow dem." 

Where the old man found this strange prophecy he did 
not say, but many of the slaves declared this to be Bible 
truth and all asserted it in the same way.* 

Among those who were thus fleeing from bondage, were 
two fine boys, each about twelve years of age and from 
the same plantation. Each gave his name as John, and 
as they were both remarkably bright little fellows, they 
were at once adopted into our head-quarters family. 
Their sprightly manners, their ready wit and their 
kindly good nature soon brought them into general favor. 
We were very early one morning startled by an extra- 
ordinary commotion in front of head-quarters, where 
the two Johns stood swinging their hats, leaping and 
dancing in most fantastic manner, and screaming at the 
top of their voices the wildest exclamations of delight. 
Looking in the direction to which their attention was 
turned, we saw a group of eight or ten negro women and 
small children accompanied by an aged colored patriarch. 
One of the Johns suddenly forgetting his ecstacy of delight, 
rolling up the whites of his eyes and holding his hands 
above his head, exclaimed with impressive gravity, " Oh 
my Lor a massa ! What'l ole missas do now ?" 

The party consisted of the mothers and younger brothers 
and sisters of the two boys with their grandfather. For- 
getting for a moment their joy at the escape of their 
friends from slavery, the boys were overpowered with the 
vision of " ole missus " left desolate, without a slave to 
minister to her many wants. 

* Since the above paragraph was in print, a friend has called my attention to the 
passage in Daniel, chap, xi, verses 13-15, as the probable origin of this belief among 
the negroes. He further assures me that he is informed that the negroes in Nortli 
Carolina entertained the same beliefi 


On the morning of the 6th of August, we were aston- 
ished to find the camp of our neighbors of the Fifth 
Vermont deserted, and their picket line occupied by a 
regiment from the Third division. The surprise was still 
greater when we learned that the whole of the Second 
brigade had been ordered to New York city to guard 
against any resistance which might be offered to the 
enforcement of the' draft. The order had reached the 
brigade after midnight, and at three o'clock it was on its 
way to the north. Thus the Third brigade was now all 
that was left of the Second division of the Sixth corps. 
Up to this time General Howe had kept the division, 
except the two regiments on picket, hard at work at divi- 
sion drills. It is safe to say that no division in the army 
performed more labor in drills than Howe's during the time 
that it was under command of that officer. The whole 
division was encamped in one of those charming localities 
which make this part of Virginia more beautiful than 
almost any other, and aside from the continual round of 
drills, the time passed most agreeably. The Jersey boys 
here spent the time in pleasant alternation of guard duties 
and social enjoyments ; a part of the time being devoted to 
military affairs, and a much greater part spent in agreeable 
attentions to the winning young ladies of Warrenton. 

But, like every other brief respite for the army of the 
Potomac, this was destined to come to an end. On the 
15th of September the army moved toward Culpepper, 
which was reached on the 16th; the Sixth corps taking 
position at a place called Stonehouse Mountain, three miles 
west of Culpepper. 

Here we remained three weeks ; the camps were by no 
means so delightful as those about Warrenton and Water- 
loo, and the weather was becoming quite cold, so that our 
three weeks stay at Stonehouse Mountain had little aboiat 
it to make us desire to make it longer. Some pleasing 


incidents, however, relieved the monotony of our stay at 
this place. The Vermont brigade, the Thirty-seventh Mas- 
sachusetts, and the Fifth Wisconsin, had spent nearly a 
month in a jolly campaign in New York City, with head- 
quarters at Union Square, whither they had been sent to 
prevent an uprising of foreigners and disloyalists in that 
great citj-. There, with bright new uniforms and several 
months back pay, the gay soldiers astonished the citizens 
of the metropolis with their dress parades and their rollick- 
ing expeditions about the town. The return of these vet- 
erans of metropolitan warfare was welcomed by the re- 
maining brigade of Howe's division, the Third, with much 
ceremony. It must be acknowledged that both brigades 
would have been better pleased wdth the unrestrained 
welcome which would have been expressed in cheers than 
by the formal military salute. 

On Monday, October 5th, the Sixth corps marched to 
Cedar Mountain on the Rapidan, the scene of General 
Banks' conflict with Jackson. The First corps was already 
stationed in the vicinity of Raccoon Ford, and the two 
corps now occupied a line of five or six miles along the 
bend of the river, holding the roads to Culpepper and 
Stevensburgh. The two corps were thus thrown out ten 
miles in front of the main army, having little communica- 
tion with the rear. Few wagons were allowed to follow 
us, and those were ordered to the rear under a strong 
escort. On Friday, the llth, the signal officers stationed 
on the summit of Cedar Mountain, while watching the 
rebel signals, read the message sent by their flags : " I am 
at James City. J. E. B. S." Thus it was known that 
Stuart was making for our rear, and as long trains of 
wagons had also been discovered moving in the direction 
of James City, it became evident that Lee was endeavor- 
ing to throw^ his whole army in the rear of our own 
General Meade determined to draw the rebel army back 


if possible ; accordingly the Sixth and First corps were 
ordered to build extensive fires and be in readiness to 
march at a moment's notice. On the following morning, 
Buford, with a division of cavalry, appeared at Germania 
Ford, some twelve miles below us, while our infantry 
advanced as though about to cross at Raccoon Ford and 
the fords in front of the Sixth corps. The ruse of threat- 
ening to cross the river by the two corps, succeeded in 
calling the rebel infantry back to check our advance ; and 
at night, after building large fires, the two corps hastily 
withdrew toward Culpepper, which we reached at day- 
light, after a severe mai'ch. After a brief halt for break- 
fast, the corps, with the whole of the infimtry, was on its 
way toward Brandy Station, leaving the cavalry force 
under Pleasanton to cover the retreat. A rapid march, 
in which the army moved in several parallel columns, 
brought the infantry all safe across the Rappahannock 
at Rappahannock Station. But the cavalry were not 
allowed to retreat without some hard fighting. Their 
guns could be heard by us during the afternoon, and 
toward evening the firing became more rapid and nearer. 
Indeed, the rebels advanced almost to the banks of the river. 

Gregg, with a brigade of cavalry, was overtaken by a 
considerable force of the enemy, near Jefierson, early in 
the day, and after a severe engagement of two hours, fell 
back, crossing the river at Sulphur Springs. 

Kilpatrick with his brigade, following the trail of the 
infantry, and designing to form a union with Gregg, 
found, on passing Brandy Station, that his way was 
blocked by a whole division of rebel cavalry, which had 
slipped in between him and the rear of the infantry. 
Halting for a moment to take a single glance at the 
situation of aifairs, the dashing general shouted to his 
men, "Boys, there are the cusses!" Then, springing 
to the head of the column, he led his men to such a 


charge as has rarely been witnessed even in our cavalry 

The road was strongly guarded by three regiments of 
cavalry in solid column, flanked on either side by a regi- 
ment in line. Directly upon this strongly posted force, 
the gallant genei-al and his brave fellows rushed with 
shouts and oaths, and sabre thrusts, trampling down 
everything in their way. Unable to withstand this impet- 
uous and unexpected onset, the rebels gave way, allowing 
the Union brigade to pass between their broken ranks. 
Dead men and horses lay thickly scattered upon the ground 
when the victorious brigade left the field to join the 
infantry at the river. 

Thus, hotly pursued, General Meade determined to offer 
battle to the pursuing army, making the Rappahannock his 
immediate base of operations. Accordingly, early the fol- 
lowing morning, a large portion of the infantry and artillery 
was countermarched across the river, where, within a mile 
of the stream, the line of battle was formed, and we waited 
the onset of the enemy until past noon. Then, Buford's 
cavalry having engaged the enemy in front, three corps, 
the Second, Fifth and Sixth, commenced to advance in 
line of battle. It was a grand spectacle. During two 
years of service we had not seen its like. Our line of 
battle stretched across the vast plain, nearly three miles 
in length, straight as the flight of an arrow. At each 
flank were several battalions in echelon. In the rear of 
the center of each wing of the line, was a heavy reserve 
in solid square, and, following in the rear of each square, 
a large column, stretching back to the river and across the 
pontoon bridges to the farther side of the stream. 

Thus the line of battle moved forward across the plain, 
never for a moment losing its perfect form. Brisk can- 
nonading and musketry were kept up by the cavalry in 
front, and the army earnestly hoped that General Lee 


might accept our clialleuge to an open field fight, bnt the 
rebel general was too wary to accept battle on such equal 
terms, and pushed on toward Sulphur Springs, hoping to 
reach Centreville before us. 

Our line of battle halted at dark, at Brandy Station, 
But there was no time to be lost; resting there until 
eleven o'clock, we were ordered to retrace our steps to 
the river; this time not in line 'of battle, but in all haste. 
The night was dark, and the troops had already made long 
marches ; so when they reached and crossed the river at 
daylight, they were fairly worn out. An hour for sleep 
and breakfast was allowed, the railroad bridge was blown 
up, and again we were on a grand race northward. 

It was a great medley; baggage wagons, pontoons, 
ambulances, artillery and troops, all thrown together in 
splendid confusion. Drivers cursing, cannon rattling, sol- 
diers sino-inc: and shouting, horses racing, and all that 
sublime confusion which can never be seen except in a 
-hasty but well directed retreat of a vast army. 

We passed Warrenton Junction and Bealton Station, 
and at eight o'clock halted near Kettle Run, having 
marched more than thirty miles within twenty-four hours. 

We had not long to rest, for at daylight, October 14th, 
we were again on the road, making quick time. We 
passed our old camp at Bristoe, and the familiar scenes at 
Manassas Junction, and crossed Bull Run at Blackman's 
Ford. We i*eached Centreville at three p. m. The boom- 
ing of cannon in the rear, the huge clouds of smoke, and 
the heavy rattle of musketry, told us there was hot work 
on the ground Ave had lately passed over; and as we 
formed in line of battle in front of Centreville, the soldiers 
said, " Here is the third Bull Run, but this time the run 
will be on the other side." 

To the Second corps had been assigned the duty of 
guarding the rear of the army. About twelve o'clock, as 


the rear of that corps was crossing Broad Run, a wide 
and muddy stream at Bristoe Station, the rebel corps of 
A. P. Hill suddenly appeared from the cover of the woods 
in the vicinity, and, running out a battery, opened a severe 
fire of artillery and musketry upon the column, which was 
in a degree of confusion, owing to the difficult crossing of 
the stream. 

In a moment order was restored, and the troops so 
placed as to defy the advance of the enemy. 

The rebels, finding that their attack upon the advance 
was fruitless, now turned their attention to the rear divi- 
sion, which was advancing toward the run. Opening 
upon the column a fierce cannonade and a storm of 
bullets, they hoped to throw the division into confusion, 
but again they were disappointed. After a severe fight, 
the rebels were forced to flee across the run in great dis- 
order, leaving in the hands of the Second corps five pieces 
of artillery, two stands of colors, and four hundred and 
fifty prisoners. Such was the battle of Bristoe Station. 

At dark that evening the Sixth corps moved to Chantilly, 
•where we rested for the night. Next morning we took a 
new and stronger position, where we waited, listening to 
the roar of cannon where the cavalry was contending 
with the advance of the enemy, and wondering how soon 
our own turn would come. Suddenly, at three o'clock, the 
doubts seemed to be removed. An officer came dashing 
along the line, with the order to " Strip for the fray ! the 
enemy are coming down upon us !" The men stood to 
arms, and again we waited for the attack, but none was 
made : our cavalry had arrested the advance of the enemy. 
At night the firing died away, and we pitched our tents 
and slept undisturbed. 

In the afternoon of the 16th, the Seventy-seventh being 
on picket, a horseman suddenly rushed in front of the 
head-quarter tents, saying that the left of our picket line 


was attacked. It proved that a body of rebel cavalry- 
had discovered some wagons outside the picket line, and had 
made a dash upon them. Our boys drove them back in 
haste, but the line was strengthened in the expectation of 
a more important demonstration. This, however, was the 
last we saw of the rebels on our part of the line. 

Lee, finding himself too late to occupy the works around 
Centre ville before us, and hopeless of the success of any 
flank movement, turned his army again towards the Rappa- 

On the following morning, October 1 7th, our army started 
in pursuit, the rain falling upon its in torrents, rendering 
the mud deep and the marching hard. We halted that 
night at Gainesville, marched the next day through New 
Baltimore, and I'eached Warrenton at night. On our 
inarch we had passed the bodies of many of our cavalry- 
men, who had been killed in the constant skirmishes which 
had been going on since our advance. Near New Balti- 
more, where Kilpatrick's brigade had been forced back, the 
bodies of his men lay scattered along the roadside, nearly 
all of them stripped of their clothing by the rebels. 

The army encamped in the vicinity of Warrenton ; the 
Sixth corps occupying a pleasant ridge just in front of 
the town. Here we remained a fortnight. 

Our first week at Warrenton was anything but agree- 
able. The cold northwest winds swept through our camps, 
carrying chilly discomfort everywhere. The men shivered 
over their log fires; but while the fitful wind drove the 
smoke and fire into their faces, it froze their backs. At 
our head-quarters, as we drew closely about our fire, dread- 
ing equally the chilly winds and the provoking clouds of 
smoke, one of the party, perhaps reading for the amusement 
of the others from a volume of Saxe's poems, a stranger, 
had one chanced to drop in among us, would have imagined 
that Saxe must have written most grievous tales of woe, 


and that our hearts and eyes were all melted by the sad 
stories. At length, having suffered these disagreeable 
exposures for a week, the men of the corps fell to work 
to erect comfortable quarters, and thinking that the pres- 
ent camp might possibly become winter quarters, they 
made for themselves much more comfortable huts than 
had served them in their winter's camp at White Oak 
Church. Generals Xeill and Grant reviewed their bri- 
gades, and then Generals Howe and Wright reviewed 
their divisions, and last of all. General Sedgwick had a 
grand review of the whole corps, which was a very splen- 
did affair. 

The weather became again mild and agreeable. Pon- 
toons were arriving and there were many indications that 
we must soon leave our comfortable quarters. At length, 
at ten o'clock at night, November 6 th, came the order, 
" Reveille at half-past four ; move at daylight." So good- 
bye, fine quarters and comfortable fire-places, we must 
be off. 

We were in line and commenced moving from camp at 
daylight, November Vth. We marched rapidly, taking 
the road to Rappahannock Station. The Sixth and Fifth 
corps only had taken this road, the remaining corps were, 
however, either on the move or under orders to move, the 
Third corps having taken the road to Ely's Ford, and 
the others following. General Sedgwick was placed in 
command of the Fifth and Sixth corps, while General 
Meade accompanied the left wing. 

At noon we halted within a mile of the Station, and the 
corps was immediately thrown into line of battle. The 
men were allowed to rest on their arms for an hour or 
two, wondering what was to come. 

In front of us was a line of low hills, stretching parallel 
with our line of battle, and on the slope toward us, and 
within pistol shot of us, were rebel cavalry pickets, sitting 


upon their horses and facing us Avith the coolest impu- 
dence ; but not a shot was fired at them. We had not 
rested here lous; before we heard the boomins^ of cannon 
on our left, where, three miles down the river, the Third 
corps had already engaged the enemy. At length the 
order came to move forward. The Second division, under 
General HoAve, held the right, the Third brigade constitut- 
ing its front line, the Vex'mont brigade its second, the 
Forty-third New York as skirmishers. On the left, was 
the First division, the Sixth Maine on the skirmish line, 
the Second and Third brigades in the advance, the New 
Jersey brigade in the reserve ; and in the center the Third 
division, under General Terry. 

In this order the corps pushed forward up the hills, the 
rebel horsemen whirling and flying before our advance. 
As our skirmishers gained the summit of the hills, the 
rebel infantry deliA^ered their fire upon them, but the brave 
boys of the Forty-third and of the Sixth Maine pushed 
on, never halting or wavering for a moment, driving the 
enemy before them until they had pushed the rebel skirm- 
ishers close upon their line of battle. 

The First division at once became hotly engaged, the 
rebels disputing the advance with unavailing obstinacy. 
That noble division bore the brunt of the battle. Vv^hile 
the Second and Third divisions behaved with great gal- 
lantry, doing all that was required of them, and doing it 
with that fighting joy so characteristic of the whole corps, 
the First division, from its position, was called upon to 
perform unusual feats of valor. As General Sedgwick wss 
that day in command of the right wing of the army, Gen- 
eral Wright, of the First division, commanded the corps, and 
General Russell, the brave, unassuming and beloved com- 
mander of the Third brigade, commanded the division. 

The skirmishers of our Second division, the Forty-third 
New York, pushed gallantly forward, their brave Colonel 


Baker riding rapidly from one end of the line to the other, 
his white horse making a prominent mark for the rebels. 
The line of battle of the whole corps followed closely 
upon the skirmishers. As we reached the summit of the 
hills, a grand j^anorama of the battle opened before us. 
The whole battle-field could be seen at a single glance; a 
rare occurrence. On one side were the eminences occu- 
pied by our own line of battle, and on the other, a line of 
hills of equal elevation, covered with swarms of rebels. 
Between the two ranges of hills, stretched a plain one- 
fourth of a mile wide and from one to two miles long, 
which was occupied by the skii-mishers of the opposing 

The rebels were posted in strong positions behind exten- 
sive earthworks, forts, redoubts and rifle pits ; and their 
artillery was posted so as to sweep the plain and the 
sloping grounds confronting them. Their gray lines of 
infantry were pouring out from behind the earthworks to 
meet us at the edge of the plain. 

As our line of battle appeared on the crest of the hills, 
the rebel batteries opened a terrific fire upon us. The air 
was filled with the shi-iekings of these fearful projectiles, 
which exploded with startling frequency above our heads 
and just behind us ; but, fortunately, the rebels aimed 
high, and many of the shells ploughed the ground in our 
rear or burst about our hospitals. The First division was 
pi'essing toward the rebel works at double quick, under a 
terrible fire of musketry and artillery, the boys with the 
red crosses pushing everything before them. They neared 
the rebel works, and the skirmishers along the whole line 
threw themselves upon the ground waiting for the line of 
battle to come up. The rebel skirmishers did the same. 
Each moment the scene became more exciting. Rebel 
infantry crowded the opposite side of the plain, the slopes 
of the hills and the rifle pits. The whole line was ablaze 


with the fire of musketry, and the roar of battle constantly 

At length, toward evening, the rebels having been 
driven back to the cover of their rifle pits, the Third 
brigade of the First division, consisting of the Sixth 
Maine, the Fifth Wisconsin, the Forty-ninth and One 
Hundred and Nineteenth Pennsylvania, regiments whose 
fame already stood high in the army, was ordered forward. 

First the Maine and "Wisconsin regiments rushed for- 
ward, the intrepid Russell riding at the very front. At his 
order to "charge," the two regiments quickened their pace 
to a run, and, with bayonets fixed, without ever stopping to 
fire a gun, the gallant fellows ran forward. They seized 
the fort, but the rebels rallied and drove them out. Again 
they charged; a hand to hand encounter followed. The 
boys leaped over into the fort, using their muskets for 
clubs, and, when the work was too close for that, dropping 
their guns and pommeling their adversaries with their 
fists. The general had sent back for the remaining regi- 
ments of the brigade, but, in the ten minutes that elapsed 
before the Pennsylvanians could come up on a run, half 
the men of the Sixth Maine, and nearly as many of the 
Wisconsin regiment, had fallen. The whole brigade leaped 
over the embankments, capturing hundreds of the rebels. 

Not less gallant was the charge of the Second brigade, 
led by the young, ambitious Colonel Upton. His regi- 
ments were the One Hundred and Twenty-first New York, 
his own, the Fifth Maine, and the Ninety-fifth and Ninety- 
sixth Pennsylvania. The brigade occupied the left of the 
Sixth corps, joining the Fifth corps. Under cover of 
the growing darkness, the courageous Upton led the One 
Hundred and Twenty-first New York and Fifth Maine 
within a few yards of the rebel rifle pits, when the order 
to charge was given. Instantly the rifle pits were ablaze, 
and a destructive volley was poured into the two regiments. 


Another moment and the Union boys were leaping into the 
rifle pits, sweeping everything before them. All this while 
not a shot had been fired by Upton's men, but, charging 
with the bayonet, they carried all before them. 

The confederates took to their heels, and attempted to 
flee to the other side of the river, but their pontoon bridge 
was in possession of our troops, and hundreds of panic- 
stricken rebels leaped into the rapid stream and attempted 
to swim across. Some succeeded, but many were drowned 
in the attempt. Sixteen hundred prisoners , eight pieces of 
artillery, four battle-flags, and more than two thousand 
stand of small arms, were the trophies of this splendid 

The credit of this brilliant success belongs mainly to 
the First division ; yet the Second and Third divisions, 
while less actively engaged, performed their part with 
alacrity and bravery, and the many dead and wounded 
from these two divisions attested the severity of the fight 
along their portions of the line. The loss to the corps, in 
killed and wounded, was about three hundred, among 
whom were many choice spirits. The commander of the 
Fifth "Wisconsin, Captain Walker, was killed. Captain 
Ordway succeeded to the command. He leaped upon the 
parapet, and fell dead inside the rebel fort. 

All this time the Third corps was actively engaged 
at Kelly's Ford, three miles to our left. It had found 
the rebels strongly posted on the opposite side of the 
river, well protected by forts and rifle pits. The artillery 
of the corps was taken to the river side and brought to 
bear upon the rebel works. At length a storming party 
was selected and massed on the banks. At the word, the 
brave fellows plunged into the stream, and rushing across, 
charged the strong works of the rebels with great fury. 
The occupants were obliged to flee, but five hundred of 
them were left as prisoners. 

lee's army on the eun. 289 

Owing to the depth and force of the stream between 
the works the Sixth corps had taken, and those still occu- 
pied by the rebels on the other side, it was impossible to 
push our victory further that night. The confederates, 
finding our troops in possession of their pontoon bridge, 
had set it on fire at the end still held by them ; thus all 
pursuit was for the time cut off. But on the following 
morning the rebels had retreated, leaving us to rebuild the 
bridge and cross at our leisure. 

Without further delay we pushed on toward Brandy 
Station, which we reached toward evening, the cavalry 
having preceded us. 

The whole of Lee's army, except the forces stationed 
at Rappahannock Station and Kelly's Ford, had been 
encamped in the vicinity of Brandy Station, and their 
recently deserted camps, where they had erected comfort- 
able huts and made many other preparations for a winter's 
stay, showed that their hasty leave was entirely unexpected 
to them. In many instances officers had forgotten to take 
their valises and trunks with them, and Union soldiers 
strutted about in the garb of rebel brigadiers and colonels. 

It was said, by the rebel prisoners taken by the cavalry, 
that while the fights were in progress on the Rappahan- 
nock, General Lee was holding a grand review of his 
army, when suddenly the information reached him that the 
Yankees were coming. The review was broken off, and 
there was hurrying of regiments to their respective camps. 

NoTB. — The following comments on the battle of Rappahannock Station have been 
fnrnished Die by Major-General Wright, who commanded the corps In that engage- 

"The works in our front, strong as they were, would have been a small matter for s 
corps to carry, though, if well defended, only at a serious cost of life; but, on the other 
Bide of the Rappahannock — a difficult but narrow stream — there were other and stronger 
works, well supplied with artillery, and flanked by long ranges of intrenchments for 
infantry, all of which held within deadly range of artillery and musketry their works 
on our Bide and tlie approaches thereto. On reaching the ridge and opening fire with 



each regiment, independently of its division or brigade, 
making hot haste for its own quarters. Baggage was 
quickly thrown into wagons, and a general stampede to- 
wards the Rapidan commenced at once. 

the artillery, General Tlowe, who was on the right, swung his division aronnrl so that 
the right rested on the river, thus forcing the enemy to employ a portion of his force, 
by a change of front, to face him in the threatening.' attitude ho had assumed, and there- 
by diminishing materially the force hn'.dina the redoubts and rifle-pits in our front" 

General Howe, from this position, was desirous of assaulting the enemy's works, on 
the assumption that he should be attacking in flank, and he would no doubt have been 
successful; but Genera! Wright did not think "the play worth the candle." He be- 
lieved that the object could be accomplished with less cost of life by a direct attack, 
under all the circumstances of heavy artillery fire and a weakened line on the part of 
the enemy. 

In this view General Wright organized the attack from his own division (for the day 
under command of General Eussel), and, " holding It back till nearly dark, so that by 
the time the tri>ops reached the works they could not be discovered by the enemy on 
the opposite side ; thus neutralizing a fire which, in daylight, would have been disas- 
trous, but which, in twilisht, would have alike operated on friend and foe. Our batter- 
ies were to fire with the greatest rapidity, and two batteries from the Fifth corps, on 
jur left, were to do the same, till our troops, which moved np in the angle between 
these artillery fires, should reach the work. The plan worked to a charm. Scarcely 
any fire was encountered while the batteries were in action, and the troops reached 
nearly to the works without serious loss. It was only on the cessation of our artillery 
fire that the resistincc began, but it was then too late ; our brave troops were upon 
thera, and they were soon driven from their works and captured." 



Encampment at Brandy Station— The Mine Run campaign— Crossing the Rapidan 
— Battle of Locust Grove — The army on Mine Run — The order of battle — The 
army withdraws — Back at Brandy Station — Reconnoissance to Madison Court 
House — Ladies in camp — Chapel tents. 

The Sixth corps went into camp on the right of the 
army, two miles from Brandy Station. We occupied land 
belonging to John Minor Botts, Mr. Botts boasted that 
he owned six hundred miles of fence when we came upon 
his possessions. He could not say that when we had been 
there a week ! His fences were burned, and his forests 
cut down ; and it was generally known that our chief 
quarter-master was paying him immense sums of money 
for the wood used by our army. 

At the end of a week it became pretty evident that our 
stay at Brandy Station might be of considerable duration, 
possibly for the winter. Accordingly, the men proceeded 
once more to build houses for the winter; and never, since 
we had been in service, had they constructed so comfort- 
able quarters as they now built. All about us were the 
rebel camps, in which they had vainly hoped to spend 
the winter; and these furnished timbers already hewn, 
fine stones ready for use in making chimneys, and hewn 
saplings ready prepared for bunks. The Sixth corps was 
encamped in a fine forest, which should have furnished not 
only great abundance of timber for use about the quarters, 
but for fuel for the Avinter ; but owing to the wasteful man- 
ner in which the wood was at first used in building log fires 
in the open air, the forest melted away before the men had 


fairly concluded that there was any necessity for using it 

Preparations were hurried forward for another advance. 
The railroad, which had been destroyed by the rebels at 
the time of the raid to Centreville, from the Rappahannock 
to Bristoe Station, was to be rebuilt, and the bridge across 
the Rappahannock, which we had ourselves destroyed, 
was to be replaced, before the army could safely under- 
take another advance. It is one of the mysteries which 
people who have never been connected with a great army 
have greatest difficulty in compi'ehending, that an army 
advancing into such a country as we were now threaten- 
ing, must have ample and easy commtmications with its 
base of supplies. Could such people for a moment realize 
the vast amount of material consumed by such an army as 
ours, the mystery might be solved. To attempt to advance 
into a desert country without first either providing a sup- 
ply for many days, or opening ready communications with 
our base of supplies, would have been suicidal. General 
Sherman might lead his army through a fertile country, 
where the ravages of war had not appeared, and, by 
sweeping across a territory forty miles wide, collect 
abundant supplies for his men ; but our army was now to 
march into a wilderness where even a regiment could not 
find subsistence. The newspapers at the north that con- 
demned the delay at Brandy Station, and sneered at the 
idea that the army needed a base of supplies, simply 
exhibited their profound ignorance of the first i^rinciples 
of campaigning. 

By the 25th the road was completed as far as Brandy 
Station, the bridge rebuilt, and a large amount of supplies 
brought up; and the army was ordered to move at an 
early hour on the 26th. 

The hour for moving was assigned each corps, and the 
order in which it was to march, that no delay or confusion 


might occur. The Third corj^s was to start as soon as 
daylight, and the Sixth was to foHow it. 

Our Sixth corps was moving at sunrise, the hour desig- 
nated, toward Brandy Station. Presently the head of the 
column halted in the midst of the camps of the Third 
corps, which were yet undisturbed. According to the 
order for marching, the Third corps was to precede 
the Sixth, and should have been out of camp before we 
arrived, but as yet not a tent was struck nor a wagon 
loaded, and most of the men were asleep in their quarters. 
The Sixth corps was obliged to halt and stand in the mud 
for hours, waiting for the delinquent corps to get out of 
the way. Here was the.first blunder of the new campaign. 

At length at eleven o'clock we moved again, taking the 
road to the Rapidan. Our march was slow and tedious, 
and instead of reaching the river at noon as was expected, 
and as General Meade's orders contemplated, the head ot 
the Third corps only reached the river at Jacobs' Ford 
long after dark, and here again a delay was occasioned by 
a mistake of the engineers, who had not brought a suf- 
ficient number of boats to this point to complete the pon- 
toon bridge ; a part of the bridge had therefore to be 
extemporized out of poles. 

The road for several miles was merely a narrow passage 
cut through the forest ; a dense growth of stunted pines 
and tangled bushes, filling up the space between the trees 
of larger growth. Our corps moved along veiy slowly, 
halting for a moment, then advancing one or two rods, 
then standing still again for perhaps several minutes, and 
again moving forward for a few steps. This became very 
tedious. The men were faint and weary, and withal dis- 
couraged. They were neither advancing nor resting. 

From one end of the column of the Sixth corps to the 
other, through the miles of forest the shout, coffee ! coffee ! 
passed from one regiment to another, until there could be 


heard nothing but the vociferous demand for coffee. At 
eleven o'clock at night the order " ten minutes rest for 
coffee," passed down the line and was received with shouts 
of approval. Instantly the roadside was illuminated with 
thousands of little fires, over which the soldiers were cook- 
ing their favorite beverao;e. 

We crossed the Raj^idan at Jacobs' Ford at midnight, 
leaving Upton's brigade on the north side as rear-guard, 
and in another hour the men had thrown themselves upon 
the ground without waiting to erect shelter tents, and 
were sleeping soundly notwithstanding the severity of the 
cold. The Fifth and First corps had crossed at Culpepper 
Ford and the Second corps at Germania Ford about noon, 
and were in the positions assigned them. 

The position assigned to the Third and Sixth corps was 
not reached. These corps were ordered to proceed to 
Robertson's Tavern, a point some seven miles bej'ond the 
ford, but the night was far advanced, the men exhausted 
and the country little known, so these two corps did not 
seize this very important point as directed. Of course 
the responsibility for this delay was not with the Sixth 
corps or its commander, who was directed to follow the 

Next morning the Third corps commenced the advance, 
and we of the Sixth were drawn out in line of march to 
follow ; but it became evident that the advance was not 
unobstructed. Sharp picket firing and the occasional 
booming of cannon revealed to us the fact that that corps 
had fallen in with the enemy. Thus the day passed ; the 
Sixth corps resting quietly, while the Third W'as skirmish- 
ing with the enemy in front, until about three o'clock, 
when the firing increased and there was evidently a severe 
engagement in- front. 

The First and Second divisions of the Sixth corps were 
now hurried along the narrow and winding path to the 


support of the Third corps — our Third division being left 
near the river to cover the bridges and trains. That corps 
was now fiercely engaged. The sulphurous smoke filled 
the woods, and the roar of musketry became so general, 
and the forest echoed and reechoed the sound, so that it 
lost the rattling usually heard, and became a smooth, uni- 
form roll. Our corps at once took its position in line of 
battle, so as to suppoi-t the Third corps and protect the 
interval between the Third and Second corps, with Ellma- 
ker's brigade on the right, and Weill's and Upton's on the 
left, while the Vermonters and Torbert's Jersey brigade 
were held in reserve ; but the corps was not called into 
action. The dense growth of young timber completely 
obscured all view of the operations at a little distance, 
and, indeed, rebel scouting parties were able to hang close 
upon our flanks, and even penetrate our lines, protected 
from view and from pursuit by the tangled forest. 

On our right, the Second corps also encountered a force 
of the enemy, and became engaged in the vicinity of Rob- 
ertson's Tavern. They succeeded in driving the rebel force, 
which was small, back to the cover of the wilderness. 
Gregg, also, with his cavalry, became engaged, but drove 
the rebels back. 

It now appeared that the fight of the Third coips Avas 
brought on by a blunder. General French, in attempting 
to lead his corps to Robertson's Tavern, had mistaken the 
road, and, by bearing too far to the west, had encountered 
Ewell's corps, which was hastening to intercept our pro- 
gress. The rebels made repeated charges upon the corps, 
but were each time repulsed, and under cover of the night 
they fell back, leaving their dead on the ground. The loss 
to the Third corps was between three and four hundred ; 
that of the rebels, judging from the dead left upon the 
ground, must have been greater. 

While the fight was in progress, General Sedgwick and 


his staff dismounted and Tvere reclining about a large tree, 
when the attention of all was directed to two soldiers who 
were approaching, bearing between them a stretcher on 
which lay a wounded man. As the men approached within 
a few rods of the place where the general and his staff 
were, a solid cannon shot came shrieking along, striking 
both of the stretcher bearers. Both fell to the ground — 
the one behind fatally wounded, the other dead. But the 
man upon the stretcher leaped up and ran away as fast as 
his legs could carry him, never stopping to look behind at 
his unfoi'tunate companions. Shocking as was the occur- 
rence, neither the general nor the members of his staff 
could suppress a laugh at the speedy restoration of the man 
who was being boi'ne disabled from the field. 

The two corps moved during the night to Robertson's 
Tavern, the destination which they should have reached 
twenty-four hours before. 

The unexpected encounter with the rebels in the Wild- 
erness had hindered the two corps thus long, and as might 
have been exjjected the time was not left unimproved by 
General Lee. On moving in the morning on the road to 
Orange Court House, Lee's whole ai*my was found strongly 
posted along the banks of a muddy stream called Mine 
Run. Our army was brought into position on the north 
side of the stream, and arrangements commenced for a 
general assault. Sharp picket firing and the occasional 
roar of artillery, warned us that we were on the eve of a 
great battle. A cold storm of rain rendered the situation 
cheerless and uncomfortable, but the excitement of getting 
into position, regiments and brigades marching from one 
part of the line to another, now approaching where the 
bullets of the rebel skirmishers whistled about them, and 
then withdrawing a little to the rear, kept up the spirits 
of the men notAvithstanding the tedious storm. 

The greater part of the lines of both armies were in the 


midst of forests. Between the two lines and in the midst 
of a deep valley, was the little stream Mine Run, bordered 
on each side by marshes in which were luxuriant growths 
of reed grasses. The marshes and slopes on either side 
were thickly set with low pines and scrub oaks, offering 
concealment to both parties. 

Darkness closed over the two armies, neither of which 
was yet prepared for battle. The night was spent by both 
parties in throwing up earthworks, and the morning 
revealed several strong lines of rifle pits on the rebel side 
of the stream, one commanding another so that in case 
they should be driven from one the next would afford an 
equally strong or even stronger position. 

Thus the two armies remained during Sunday. General 
Meade still waiting to perfect his arrangements. 

During the day the disposition of the line was com- 
pleted. General Warren with his Second corps occupied, 
the extreme left of the line. His position fronted a very 
strong position of the enemy, where the hills rose abruptly 
to the rear. This being considered by far the strongest 
portion of the enemy's line. Warren was supported by 
two divisions of the Third corps and the Third division of 
the Sixth, under General Terry. In the center was the 
First, with what was left of the Third corps, and forming 
the right were the two remaining divisions of the Sixth 
corps and the Fifth, General Sedgwick commanding the 
left wing. Our Second division constituted the extreme 
right of the line, the Third brigade the right of the di- 

At two A. M., the Sixth corps and the division of the 
Third, covered by the woods, moved about two miles to a 
position on the left flank of the enemy. The dense thicket 
and a gentle eminence concealed the corps from the view 
of the rebels, who were but a few yards distant ; and in 
■order to secure secrecy, orders were issued that the men 


should avoid all noise, as far as possible, and refrain from 
lighting fires. 

It was arranged that the grand attack should be made 
on Monday ; and early in the evening the commanders of 
corps were summoned to General Meade's head-quarters, 
where the plan of the battle was laid before them. 

At a given signal, very early in the morning, General 
Warren with his strong force was to press forward on the 
right of the rebel line. At the same time forces in the 
center were to open a fiei'ce fire upon the enemy, while 
the Sixth corps, at the same moment, was to rush from 
its concealed position and turn the left flank of Lee's army. 

The commanders of the divisions of the Sixth corps 
summoned the commanders of brigades and regiments, 
and communicated to them also the plan of the battle, and 
assigned to each his part. 

The night was bitter cold, and the men of our corps 
were without fires. It was vain to attempt to sleep, and 
the men spent the night in leaping and running in efiEbrts 
to keep warm. 

No one doubted that the morning was to bring on one of 
the most terrific struggles in the history of warfore. No 
man kneAV what was to be his own fate, but each seemed 
braced for the conflict. It was a glorious moonlight, and 
the stars looked down in beauty from the cold skies upon 
the strange scene. Thus all waited for the day. 

The morning dawned ; and soon after daylight the signal 
gun for the grand attack was heard near the center of the 
line, and an active cannonade commenced there. 

In a short time the order came for the commencement 
of the movement on the right. The men were ordered to 
fall in ; they were faced to the right, to move a little far- 
ther' in that direction before making the direct assault ; 
they stood, with their muskets on their slioulders, their 
hearts beating violently in anticipation of the onset to be 


made in anotlier moment, when an aid rode hastily to 
General Howe with directions to suspend the movement ! 

Warren, on advancing his line of skirmishers, and view- 
ing the strong works thrown up by the enemy during the 
night, had sent word that he could not carry the position 
before him. And General Meade had ordered the whole 
movement to be discontinued for the time. 

Never before, in the history of our army, had such 
elaborate preparations been made for an attack. Every 
commander and every man knew exactly the part he was 
exjjected to take in the great encounter, and each had pre- 
pared himself for it. At the hospitals everything was in 
a state of perfect readiness. Hospital tents were all up, 
beds for the wounded prepared, operating tables were in 
readiness, basins and pails stood filled with water, lint 
and dressings were laid out upon the tables, and surgical 
instruments spread out ready for the grasp of the surgeon. 

All day the men remained suifering with cold, their 
hunger but partially satisfied with hard bread without 
coflTee. It was a day of discomfort and suifering long to 
be remembered. It chanced that the hard bread issued 
to our division was old and very wormy. It was, in some 
cases, difficult for a man to know whether his diet was to 
be considered princijjally animal or vegetable. Our Gen- 
eral, Neill, sat with his staflT munching some of these 
crackers of doubtful character, when he was handed one 
unusually animated. The general broke the cracker, 
examined it for a moment, and, handing it back to the 
servant, said, " Jim, give us one that hasn't so many worms 
in it." Many of the men who were on the picket line that 
day and the night before, were found, when the relief came 
arounds, dead at their posts, frozen. 

During the night of December 1st and 2d, the army 
withdrew from Mine Run. The pickets were directed to 
build fires and keep up a show of force. Our Seventy- 


seventh being that night on the picket line, formed the 
real' of the rear-guard of the army on its retreat. It was 
three o'clock in the morning of December 2d when the 
picket line was silently withdrawn. After a rapid march, 
it crossed the pontoon bridge at Germania Ford at ten 
o'clock. Scarcely had the troops crossed the bridge, when 
the cavalry of the enemy made its appearance on the 
south side of the river. The Seventy-seventh 'New York, 
the Third Vermont and a battery of artillery were directed 
to remain and guard the ford, while the remainder of the 
army continued the march to the old camps. Next morn- 
ing the two regiments and the battery started for Brandy 
Station, and that night slept in their old quarters. 

It was now evident that we were in permanent winter 
quarters. It is not our purpose to discuss the merits of 
this fruitless campaign, but it may not be out of place to 
recall some of the facts relating to it. The orders for 
marching on the 26th, were issued to all the corps com- 
manders on the evening previous, indicating the time for 
leaving camp. The Sixth corps was to follow the Third, 
yet when the Sixth corps reached the camp of that corps, 
there were no sis^ns of movinof. Several hours were thus 
lost on the start. General French declared that the order 
to move did not reach him on the previous evening, yet 
he knew that the movement was expected that day. As 
the result of this and other delays, two corps did not 
reach the position assigned them on the 26th. 

When, on the morning of the 2 7th, General French moved 
his corps again, he took the wrong road, and thus brought 
on a premature engagement, which caused another delay of 
twenty-four hours. By this time Lee had ample opportimity 
to concentrate his whole army in a strong position on Mine 
Run. Had General Meade's orders been promptly obeyed, 
Lee could have oifered no opposition to us at that point, 
and must have accepted battle much nearer Richmond. 


Our campaigns for 1863 were now finished ; the last two 
of these had certainly been remarkable episodes in the for- 
tunes of our stout-hearted army. In October, the rebel 
army had followed us from the Rapidan to the defenses of 
Washington, and in turn we had pursued the confederates 
back to the Rapidan, all without a battle of any magni- 
tude. Now, in November, our whole army had crossed 
the river and confronted the rebel army face to face for 
days, and again we were back in our old camps without 
an engagement, except the fight of the Third corps, and 
some skirmishing on the jiart of others. 

During the month of December, general orders were 
issued from the war department offering to soldiers of the 
army, who had already served two years, and who had 
still a year or less to serve, large bounties, a release from 
the term of their former enlistment and thirty-five days' 
furlough, as inducements for them to reenlist for three 
years from that time. Much excitement was created by 
the order throughout the army, and thousands accejjted it, 
nearly all claiming that they cared little for the large 
bounties, but that the thirty-five days' furlough was the 
great inducement. 

The only military movement of the winter was Kilpat- 
rick's great raid upon Richmond, in which the lamented 
Dahlgren lost his life. 

Simultaneous with this great raid. General Custer, with 
a division of cavalry, made a movement on Charlottesville, 
and the Sixth corps was ordered to move in that direction 
as support to the cavalry. On Saturday, February 27th, 
the corps, leaving its camp and sick in charge of a small 
guard, marched through Culpepper and proceeded to 
James City, a Virginia city of two or three houses, where 
the bivouac for the night was made. Next morning the 
corps marched slowly to Robertson's River, within three 
miles of Madison Court House, the New Jersey brigade 


alone crossing the river and proceeding as far as the latter 
village. Here the corps lay all the following day, and as 
the weather was pleasant, the men passed t>ie time in 
sports and games, but at evening a cold storm of rain set 
in, continuing all night and the next day, to the great dis- 
comfort of all. Custer's cavalry returned at evening of 
the 1st of March, looking in a sorry plight from their long 
ride in the mud. Reveille sounded at five o'clock on the 
morning of March 2d, and at seven the corps turned 
toward the old camp, at which it arrived, after a severe 
march through the mud, at sunset the same day. 

There were, connected with our camp near Brandy Sta- 
tion, many pleasant remembrances ; and notwithstanding 
a few severe experiences, this was the most cheerful winter 
w^e had passed in camp. One agreeable feature of this 
encampment was the great number of ladies, wives of 
officers, who spent the winter Avith their husbands. On 
every fine day great numbers of ladies might be seen riding 
about the camps and over the desolate fields, and their pres- 
ence added greatly to the brilliancy of the frequent reviews. 

Great taste was displayed by many officers in fitting up 
their tents and quarters for the reception of their wives. 
The tents were usually inclosed by high walls of ever- 
greens, woven M'ith much skill, and fine arches and 
exquisite designs beautified the entrances to these happy 
retreats. The Christian Commission, among other good 
things which it did for the soldiers, and, indeed, this was 
among the best, made arrangements by which it loaned to 
nearly every brigade in the army, a large canvas, to be used 
as a roof for a brigade chapel. These chapels were built of 
logs and covered with the canvas, and were in many cases 
large enough to hold three hundred people. Here religious 
services were held, not only on Sunday, but also on week 
day evenings. A deep religious interest prevailed in many 
of the brigades, and great numbers of soldiers professed to 




have met with a change of heart. Ou New Year's day 
Wheatun's brigade, of" tiie Tliird division, had been sent to 
Harper's Ferry, to meet an anticipated advance of the ene- 
my through the valley ; and about the same time Shaler's 
brigade, of the same division, was sent to Sandusk}', Oljio, 
to guard prisoners of war. The enemy made no raid to the 
Ferry and the prisoners maintained the most perfect order. 
So Wheaton and his Pennsylvanians, and Shaler, with his 
New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians, spent a merry winter, in 
comfortable quarters, with little picketing, leaving Eustis, 
with his Massachusetts men and his single Rhode Island 
regiment, sole representatives of the division. But, as the 
time for opening the new campaign approached, the two 
brigades were recalled, except the two Pennsylvania regi- 
ments of Shaler's brigade, and once more the corps waa 
united. Tlie returning brigades, though somewhat inclined 
to prefer campaigning in the North to fighting in the South, 

304 A EEVIEW. 

were, nevertheless, ready to follow with spirit and zeal such 
soldiers as Wheaton and Shaler. 

Our corps was reviewed by General Grant ; by the 
Russian admiral and suite, who, for the amusement of the 
soldiers, performed some most ludicrous feats in hoi'semau- 
ship ; and by a body of English officers. Never had such 
general good health prevailed among our camps, and never 
were the men so well contented or in such good spirits. 



Preparing to leave camp — General Grant in command — The last advance across 
the Rapidan — The battle-ground — Battle of the Wilderness — Noble fight of 
Getty's division — Hancock's fight on the left — Rickett's division driven back — 
The ground retaken — The wounded — Duties of the surgeons — The noble dead. 

Many pleasant recollections cluster around the old camp 
at Brandy Station, which will never be effaced from the 
memory of the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac. 

But at length pi-eparations were commenced for opening 
the spring campaign, and one of the first orders, looking 
toward the breaking up of our camps, was one 'directing 
that our lady friends should take their departure, then 
another to send all superfluous camp equipage to the rear. 

Our army had been reorganized, its five corps being 
consolidated into three. The three divisions of the First 
corps were transferred to the Fifth, retaining their corps 
badges. Two divisions of the Third were assigned to the 
Second, preserving their badges, while the Third division, 
Third corps, was transfei-red permanently to the Sixth 
corps, and became the Third division of that corps. Our 
old Third division was broken up, the brigades of Wheaton 
and Eustis being transferred to the Second division, and 
Shaler's brigade to the First. Our corps, as reorganized, 
consisted of three divisions, comprising eleven brigades.* 

* The corps, as reorganized, was commanded as follows : 

Major-General John Sedgwick commanding the corps. 

First division, Brigadior-General H. G. Wright, commanding. First brigade, 
Colonel W.H.Penrose; Second brigade, Colonel E.Upton; Third brigade, Brigadier- 
General D. A. Ru-ssell ; Fourth brigade, Brigadier-General A. Shaler. 

Second divLsion, Brigadier-general George W. Gettj', commanding. First brigade, 
Brigadier-General Frank Wheaton ; Second brigade, Colonel L.. A. Grant ; Third 



During the winter, congress, recognizing the great 
ability of General Grant, had confei'red upon that officer 
the rank of Lieutenant-General, giving him, under the 
President, command of all the armies of the United 
States. General Grant at once j^roceeded to adopt a plan 
for harmonious movements of all the armies. General 
Sherman, in the west, was directed to push vigorously 
southward, penetrating the enemy's country as far as pos- 
sible, and prevent reinforcements being sent to Lee's army 
in the east. General Butler, on the Peninsula, was to 
advance on Richmond, taking Petersburgh, and, if pos- 
sible, Richmond itself, Avhile the Army of the Potomac 
was to attack Lee's army in the front, and force it back 
upon Richmond or destroy it. 

These cooj^erative movements having been all arranged, 
each commander of an army or department informed not 
only of the part which he was expected to perform him- 
self, but what all were expected to do, the Army of the 
Potomac was ready to move. Genei*al Grant had estab- 
lished his head-quarters with that army. 

At lengrth the order for movinor came. On the morninjj 

o o o 

of the 4th of May, reveille was sounded at half-past two 
o'clock, and at half-past four the Sixth corps moved, taking 
the road to Germania Ford. 

It Avas a lovely day, and all nature seemed rejoicing 
at the advent of spring. Flowers strewed the wayside, 
and the warble of the blue bird, and tlie lively song of the 
sparrow, were heard in the groves and hedges. 

The distance from our camps to Germania Ford Avas 
sixteen miles. This distance we marched rapidly, and 
long before sunset we had crossed the ford on pontoon 

brigade, Brigadier-General Thomas H. Neill; Fourth brigade. Brigadier-General 
L. A. Eustis. 

Third division, Brigadier-General James B. Ricketts. commanding. First bri- 
gade, Brigadier-General W. H. Morris ; Second brigade, Brigadier-General Truman 


bridges and marched to a point three miles south of the 
river, where we bivouacked for tlie night. 

The Second corps, at an earlier hour, had crossed at 
Ely's Ford, and had reached a position near the old Chan- 
cellorsville battle-field, and the Fifth corps had led the way 
across Germania Ford. 

The infantry had been preceded by the cavalry divisions 
of Gregg and Wilson, under Sheridan. They had fallen 
in with a small picket force which, after exchanging a few 
shots, had beat a hasty retreat. 

Before night the army and the greater part of our trains 
had effected a crossing without opposition ; and, doubt- 
less, much to the surprise and cliagrin of General Lee, we 
were holding strong positions, from which it would hardly 
be possible to force us. 

Except slight skirmishes in front of Hancock's Second 
corps, there Avas no fighting on the fourth of May. At 
seven o'clock on the morning of the fifth, the Sixth corps 
moved southward about two miles on the Wilderness plank 
road. Here the corps rested until eleven o'clock, while 
artillery and cavalry passed along the road in a continuous 
column. At eleven o'clock the corps faced to the front, 
and advanced into the woods which skirted the road. 

The Sixth corps now occupied the extreme right of the 
line. General Warren's Fifth corps the center, and Han- 
cock's Second corps was on the left, near Chancellorsville. 
Between Warren and Hancock was an unoccupied space — 
a point of vital importance to our line. Thither General 
Getty, with the First, Second and Fourth brigades of our 
Second division, was sent to hold the ground till Hancock, 
who Avas ordered to come up, should arrive. Our Third 
brigade being all that was left of the Second division, it 
was assigned to the First division. General Meade's head- 
quarters Avere just in rear of the Fifth corps. The wood 
through which our line was now moving was a thick growth 


of oak and walnut, densely filled with a smaller growth of 
pines and other brushwood ; and in many places so thickly 
was this under(jrowth interwoven amongr the larare trees, 
that one could not see five yards in front of the line. Yet, 
as we pushed on, with as good a line as possible, the thick 
tangle in a measure disappeared, and the woods were more 
open. Still, in the most favorable places, the thicket was 
BO close as to make it impossible to manage artillery or 
cavalry, and, indeed, infantry found great difficulty in 
advancing, and at length we were again in the midst of 
the thick undergrowth. 

Warren's corps, on our left, was already fighting, and 
forcing the enemy to retii-e from his front, when our own 
corps struck the rebel skirmishers, who steadily fell back, 
disputing the ground. As our line advanced, it would 
suddenly come upon a line of gray-coated rebels, lying 
upon the ground, covered with dried leaves, and concealed 
by the chapparal, when the rebels would rise, deliver a 
murderous fire, and retire. 

VTe thus advanced through this interminable forest more 
than a mile and a half, driving the rebel skirmishers before 
us, Avhen we came upon their line of battle, which refused 
to retire. 

Our First division held the left, connecting with the 
Fifth corps, arranged from left to right, as follows : New 
Jersey, Upton's and Russell's brigades, and then Neill's bri- 
gade, temporarily attached to the First division. Shaler's 
brigade was with the trains. On the left of Neill was Sey- 
mour's brigade, of the Third division, the other brigade hav- 
ing been sent to our left to the support of the Fifth corps. 

The enemy now charged upon our lines, making a desper- 
ate efibrt to turn our right flank, but without avail. Again 
and again the rebels in columns rushed with the greatest 
fury upon the brigades in front, without being able to 
move them from their position. At; half-past three o'clock 


our sufferings had been so great that General Sedgwick 
sent a messenger to General Bnrnside, who had now 
crossed his corps at Germania Ford, with a request that 
he would send a division to our assistance. 

The assistance was promised, but an order from General 
Grant made other disposition of the division, and what 
remained of the noble old Sixth corps was left to hold its 
position alone. At four, or a little later, the rebels retired, 
leaving many of their dead upon the ground, whom they 
were unable to remove. In these encounters the Seventh 
Maine and Sixty-first Pennsylvania regiments of Xeill's 
brigade, who were on the right flank, received the heaviest 
onsets, and suffered most severely. At one time the 
Maine regiment found itself flanked by a brigade of rebels. 
Chanojinor front tlie sfallant resjiment charo;ed to the rear 
and scattered its opponents in confusion. The oj^posing 
lines were upon the two slopes of a ravine, through which 
ran a strip of level marshy ground, densely w^ooded like the 
rest of the wilderness. The confederates now commenced 
to strengthen the position on their side of the ravine, fell- 
ing timber and covering it w^ith earth. The woods 
resounded with the strokes of their axes, as the busy 
workmen plied their labor within three hundred yards, 
and in some places less than one hundred yards of our 
line, yet so dense was the thicket that they were entirely 
concealed from our view. 

Meanwhile the battle had raged furiously along the 
w^hole line. The rattle of musketry would swell into a 
full continuous roar as the simultaneous discharge of ten 
thousand guns mingled in one grand concert, and then 
after a few minutes, become more interrupted, resem- 
bling the crash of some huge king of the forest when felled 
by the stroke of the woodman's axe. Then would be 
heard the wild yells which always told of a rebel charge, 
and again the volleys would become more terrible and the 


broken, crashing' tones would swell into one continuous 
roll of sound, which presently would be interrupted by the 
vigorous manly cheers of the northern soldiers, so different 
from the shrill yell of the rebels, and which indicated a 
repulse of their enemies. Now and then the monotony of 
the muskets Avas broken by a few discharges of artillery, 
wliich seemed to come in as a double bass in this concert 
of death, but so impenetrable was the forest that little 
use was made of artillery, and the work of destruction 
was carried on with the rifles. 

Warren's corps, first engaged, had nobly withstood the 
fierce assaults upon the center of the line, and had even 
advanced considerably. Hancock's command was also 
hotly engaged. In the commencement of the battle, three 
brigades of the Second division, the First, Second and 
Fourth, with our commander, General Getty, were taken 
from the Sixth corps and sent to the right of Warren's 
corps, to seize and hold the intersection of the Brock road 
and the Orange county turnpike, a point of vital import- 
ance, and which, as Hancock's corps was still far to the left 
near Chancellorsville, was entirely exposed. Toward this 
point Hill was hastening his rebel corps down the turnpike, 
with the design of interposing between Hancock and the 
main army. No sooner had the division reached the cross- 
ing of the two roads than the First brigade, General 
Wheaton's, became hotly engaged with Hill's corps, wdiich 
was coming down the road driving some of our cavalry 
before it. The Vermont brigade quickly formed on the 
left of the plank road, and the Massachusetts brigade on 
the right of the First. The engagement became general at 
once, and each brigade was suffering heavy losses. The men 
hugged the ground closely, firing as rapidly as possible. 

Hancock's corps was advancing from the left, but thus 
far the division was holding the ground alone. An attack 
by the three brigades was ordered, and the line was con- 


siderably advanced. Again the men hugged the ground, 
the rebels doing the same. 

Thus, holding the ground against vastly superior num- 
bers, the division sustained the weight of the rebel attacks 
until long after noon, when some of Hancock's regiments 
came to its support. With the heroic valor for which the 
division was so well known throughout the army, it with- 
stood the force of the rebels until its lines were terribly 
thinned. The First brigade had held the ground with 
desperate valor, and our friends, the Yermonters, fought 
with that gallantry which always characterized the sons 
of the Green Mountain State. Their noblest men were 
falling thickly, yet they held the road. 

As Hancock joined his corps on the left of Getty's divi- 
sion, he ordered a charge along the whole line, and again 
the carna2:e became fearful. For two hours the struo-ofle 
continued, and when the sounds of battle became less, and 
as darkness finally came over the wilderness, it brought a 
season of respite to the hard fought divisions. 

A thousand brave men of the Vermont brigade, and 
nearly as luauy of Wheatou's brigade, with hundreds from 
the Majsachusetts brigade had fallen upon that bloody field. 

In the evening the contest was renewed, especially 
along the line of the Sixth corps, and the dark woods 
were lighted with the flame from the mouths of tens of 
thousands of muskets. 

Charges and counter-charges followed each other in 
quick succession, and the rebel yell and northern cheer 
were heard alternately, but no decided advantage was 
gained by either party. At two o'clock at night the battle 
died away, but there was no rest for the weary soldiers 
after the fatiguing duties of the day. Each man sat with 
musket in hand during the wearisome hours of the night, 
prepared foo* an onset of the enemy. Skirmishing was 
kept up during the entire night, and at times the musketry 


would break out in full volleys, which rolled along the 
opposing lines until they seemed vast sheets of flame. 

The position of the two armies on the morning of the 
6th was substantially that of the day before ; the Sixth 
corps on the right, its rear on Wilderness Run near the 
old Wilderness Tavern, the Fifth corps next on its left, 
and the Second corps with three brigades of the Second 
division Sixth corps, on the left ; the line extending about 
five miles. Besides these corps. General Burnside was 
bringing his troops into the line. 

Between the two armies lay hundreds of dead and dying 
men whom neither army could remove, and over whose 
bodies the fight must be renewed. 

Tlie battle was opened at daylight by a fierce charge 
of the enemy on the Sixth corps, and soon it raged along 
the whole line. The volleys of musketry echoed and 
reechoed through the forests like peals of thunder, and the 
battle surged to and fro, now one party charging, and 
now the other, the interval between the two armies being 
fought over in many places as many as five times, leaving 
the ground covered with dead and wounded. Those of the 
wounded able to crawl, reached one or the other line, but the 
groans of others, who could not move, lent an additional 
horror to the terrible scene whenever there was a lull in 
the battle. At ten o'clock the roar of battle ceased, and 
from that time until five p. m., it was comparatively quiet 
in front of the Sixth corps, but from the left where Han- 
cock's corps and Getty's braves were nobly battling, the 
war of musketry was incessant. There, Hancock had 
formed his troops in several lines of battle, and advanced 
them upon the plank road. Getty's troops, their ranks 
having been so terribly shattered the day before, were 
allowed to form in the rear. The attack was commenced, 
but presently the enemy came down in terrible fury upon 
Hancock's lines. One after another was swept away, 


leaving no Union troops in front of Getty. Now tlie 
exulting i*ebels came with stunning force against the Sixth 
corps men. They had prepared breastworks of logs and 
decayed wood, and against these light defenses the rebels 
charged, but only to meet with a deadly repulse. Again and 
again the charge was renewed, and as often the brave men 
who had seen nearly three thousand of their comrades fall 
on the day before, sent the confederates back from the 
road. At length, the divisions on the right and left of 
Getty having fallen back to the Brock road, the division 
was forced to fall back to the road also, but only after 
exhibiting a steadiness and valor rarely equaled by any 

The road was held, in spite of every effort of the enemy 
to take it ; but the noble soldier and patriotic gentleman. 
General Wadsworth, lost his life while striving to rally 
his division to hold the ground ao-ainst the confederates. 

Although the storm of battle had abated in our front, the 
rebels had stationed sharpshooters in the trees and other 
advantageous j^ositions, who kept up an incessant and 
annoying fire, and now and then a shell from a rebel bat- 
tery would drop into our ranks. By these, the corps lost 
many men. 

On the morning of the 6th, General Shaler, with three 
small regiments, had been ordered from the rear to the 
right of the Third division. Except this change the bri- 
gades remained in the positions we have already given. 
Each brigade was in two lines, the first along the base of 
the slope of a ravine, the second on the summit of the slope. 
In rear of NeilPs brigade the Third New York artillery 
formed a third line. The rear regiments were engaged dur- 
ing the day in throwing up breastworks, to which the ad- 
vance line retired at five p. m. 

For thirty-six hours the Sixth corps, stripped of three 
brigades of its veteran troops, weary fi'om fighting and 


fasting-, its right unprotected, had been patiently waiting 
for the relief promised it long ago, and steadily holding its 
ground until the corps was almost destroyed. 

Thirty-four hours before General Sedgwick had sent word 
that the rebels were trying to turn our exposed flank, and 
begged that support might be sent ; but no support had 
come. Breastworks had been thrown up to afford the ex- 
hausted corps a little protection. 

As the men in front fell back to the breastworks, the 
rebels, discovering the movement, thought it was a retreat. 
Cheer after cheer arose from the rebel ranks, and soon their 
yells were mingled with terrific volleys of musketry, as 
they poured in overwhelming numbers on our flank. The 
troops on the extreme right gave way, but the old soldiers in 
the center and on the left refused to yield until orders were re- 
ceived from army headquarters to retire to a stronger position. 

If we recall the position of the corps we shall the better 
understand the movement which lost to the Sixth corps the 
position it had held for a day and a half 

On the extreme right General Shaler, with about seven 
hundred men, held the flank, then General Seymour's brigade, 
of the Third division — troops but a few days before joined 
to the corps, mostly new troops who had not before faced 
an enemy. On the left of Seymour was Neill, then the 
three brigades of Wright's division. 

The assault fell upon the exposed flank of Shaler's bri- 
gade, who, for a time, resisted the advance of the enemy ; 
but, finding the rebels were in force in their rear, were 
obliged to give way, the confusion being increased by the 
density of the forest. The disorder spread to the brigade 
of the Third division, and it too fell back in a panic ; but 
the remainder of the line repelled every attack, a few of the 
troops next to Seymour being forced from their breastworks. 
The hasty flight of the brigades on the right had opened 
the flank and rear of Neill's command to the charge of the 


rebels, who now rushed on with redoubled fury, and with 
demoniac yells, carrj^ing everything before them. The 
right of the brigade was forced to leave the I'ifie-pits, leav- 
ing only a part of the Forty-third and the Seventy-seventh 
New York in the works, which all the while poured their 
fire into the enemy's ranks until ordered to withdraw and 
take up a new line. The First division also held its 
ground; and although there was some ccnifusion along the 
line, the division nobly resisted the fierce attack in its front, 
and with Neill's brigade retired under orders. 

Unfortunately, the attack had fallen upon the very small 
brigade of Shaler and the new troops of the Third division, 
who, becoming confused, fled with little resistance. Gen- 
eral Seymour, whose gallant conduct had won for him the 
admiration of all, made desperate attempts to rally his 
panic-stricken brigade ; and while thus striving vainly to 
restore order to his shattered command, rushing to the front 
and attempting by bis own manner to inspire courage in 
his men, he was surrounded by the enemy and captured. 
He had just returned from the rebel prisons, where he had 
been since the unfoi'tunate battle of Olustee. General 
Shaler, too, when the new line was formed, in riding into 
the woods a little distance from his command, to examine 
the ground, was surrounded and compelled to surrender. 

The right wing, if not the whole army, was now in dan- 
ger. It was at such times that the great spirit of the 
noble Sedgwick rose to the control of events. It seemed 
to require adversity to bring out all the grand qualities 
of his nature. We had witnessed his imperturbable 
bravery and determination on the retreat to Banks' Ford, 
his unsurpassed heroism at Antietam, when he kept the 
field after he was thrice wounded, was * familiar to the 
nation, and now we were to see another manifestation of 
his indomitable courage. 

Rushing here and there, regardless of personal safety, 


lie faced tlie disordered mass of fugitives of the Third 
division, and with threats and entreaties prevailed upon 
them to halt ; then turning to the veterans of the First 
division, he shouted to them to remember the honor of the 
old Sixth corps. That was an irresistible appeal, and 
the ranks of the First division and of our Third brigade 
were formed along the turnpike, which was at right angles 
to our former position. The corps now charged upon 
the exultant foe, and forced them back until our breast- 
works were recaptured ; but our flank was too much 
exposed, and again the enemy charged upon our front and 
flank, forcing the corps to wheel back to the turnpike, 
where it had first rallied. 

General Sedgwick now ordered another charge, and 
bravely the men rushed forward, ready to obey any order 
from the revered lips of " Uncle John.'''' The enemy was 
again forced back, and again the corps occupied the 
breastworks. It was now dark, but the roar of mus- 
ketry mingled with the deep toned artillery shook the 
ground, and the dense forest was lighted by the scores of 
thousands of flashing rifles which sent death to unseen 

The corps had not recovered its line of works without 
sacrifice, for the ground in our rear was covered with our 
fallen comrades, while many more had been captured by 
the enemy. But we were now able to hold the ground. 
The temporary disorder had arisen, and had been mostly 
confined to the new troops, and even these, when rallied 
from their momentary confusion, had fought with heroic 
valor. Although, for a time, forced back by the surprise 
of the rebel onset, the old troops of the corjDS had shown 
no want of courage. The Sixth corps proper had not lost 
its pristine glory. Something of a panic had been created 
among the teamsters in the rear, and before dark the trains 
were hurrying toward Chancellorsville. 


Leaving the excitement of the battle, let us now turn 
where the results of this carnage are seen in their sober 
reality". While we stand in line of battle we see little of 
the frightful havoc of war. The wounded drop about 
us, but, except those left on disputed ground and unable 
to crawl away, they are carried instantly to the rear. The 
groans and cries of the wounded and dying, of which we 
so often read as filling up the grand discord of sounds on 
the battle-field, are things scarcely known in actual war. 
Rarely, as in the present battles, wounded men, unable to 
get away, are left between the lines in such numbers that, 
when the musketry dies away, their groans become heart- 
rending. But this is not usual. 

But at the field hospitals, the work of destruction 
is seen in all its hon-ors. There, wounded men by thou- 
sands are brought together, filling the tents and stretched 
upon every available spot of ground for many rods around. 
Surgeons, with never tiring energy, are ministering to their 
wants, giving them food, dressing their wounds or standing 
at the operating table removing the shattered fragments 
of limbs. Men wounded in every conceivable way, men 
with mutilated bodies, with shattered limbs and broken 
heads, men enduring their injuries with heroic patience, 
and men giving way to violent grief, men stoically indif- 
ferent, and men bravely rejoicing that it is only a leg. To 
all these the surgeons are to give such relief as lies in their 
power, a task the very thoughts of which would overcome 
physicians at home, but upon which the army surgeon 
enters Avith as much coolness and confidence as though he 
could do it all at once. He has learned to do what he can. 
Contenting himself with working day and night without 
respite, and often without food, until, by unremitting but 
quiet toil, the wants of all are relieved. No class of men 
in the army perform so great labors with so little credit as 
the surgeons. 


Lest the author should be accused of undue partiality 
for his own staff, he will quote the words of an unpreju- 
diced witness, who, in speaking of the labor, the anxiety 
and the responsibility imposed upon the surgeons after a 
great battle, says : 

"The devotion, the solicitude, the unceasing efforts to 
remedy the defects of the situation, the untiring attentions 
to the wounded, upon their part, Avere so marked as to 
be apparent to all who visited the hospitals. It must be 
remembered that these same officers had endured the pri- 
vations and fatigues of the long forced marches with the 
rest of the army ; they had shai'ed its dangers, for one 
medical officer from each regiment follows it into battle, 
and is liable to the accidents of war, as has been repeat- 
edly and flxtally the case ; that its field hospitals are often, 
from the changes of the line of battle, broi;glit under fire 
of the enemy, and that while in this situation these sur- 
geons are called upon to exercise the calmest judgment, 
to perform the most critical and serious operations, and 
this quickly and continuously. The battle ceasing, their 
labors continue. While other officers are sleeping, renew- 
ing their strength for further efforts, the medical are still 
toiling. They have to improvise hospitals from the rudest 
materials, are obliged to " make bricks without straw," to 
surmount seeming impossibilities. The work is unending 
both by day and night, the anxiety is constant, and the 
strain upon both the physical and mental faculties unceas- 
ing. Thus, after this battle, operators had to be held up 
while performing the operations, and fxinted from exhaus- 
tion the operation finished. One completed his labors to 
be seized with partial paralysis, the penalty of his OA^er 

" While his duties are as arduous, his exposure as great, 
and the mortality from disease and injury as large as 
among other staff officers of similar rank, the surgeon has 


no prospect of promotion, of a brevet or an honorable 
mention, to stimulate him. His duties are performed 
quietly, unostentatiously. He does his duty for his coun- 
try's sake, for the sake of humanity." * 

The labors of the medical officers had never been so 
great as at these battles. Thousands of wounded men 
were stretched in and about the several field hospitals, 
and long trains of ambulances, loaded with more bleeding 
victims, were constantly bringing in new subjects of care. 

The hospitals of the Sixth corps were located, that of 
the First division about a large house near the turnpike, 
in rear of the position of the division ; that of the Third 
division was near by, and the hospital of our Second divi- 
sion was placed on the banks of Wilderness Run, near the 
old gold mine, and within a few rods of General Meade's 
head-quarters. The hospitals of the Fifth corps were also 
within a short distance, on the left. 

At the hospital of our Second division, the scene was 
one of activity and sadness. Never had so many of our 
choice spirits been brought to the rear, and never had 
the division been bereft of so many of its brightest orna- 
ments by death. 

All the hospital tents belonging to the division were 
filled to overflowing with the unfortunate victims of the 
battle. Then, all the space between the different rows of 
tents, and for many yards in front and rear, was covered 
with others, for whom there was no room under the canvas, 
and, finally, long rows of them were laid upon the ground 
at a little distance from the hospitals as close as they could 
lie, covering many rods of ground. 

In the operating tents, the surgeons assigned to the duty 
of performing operations plied their work without rest 
from the time the battle commenced until its close, day 

* J. H. Douglass, Assistant Secretary Sanitary Commission. 


and night, while dressers, and those whose duty it was 
to supply the wounded with food, were untiring in their 

At midnight of the 6th, the operators were directed to 
cease their work. Ambulances and army wagons in great 
numbers were loaded with the wounded, and the whole 
train, accomj^anied by the surgeons, moved toward Chan- 
cellorsville, taking the turnpike along the I'ear of the army. 
But, with all the ambulances and army wagons at command, 
hundreds of these unfortunate heroes were left behind ; and 
as it was known that our line of battle was to f dl back 
within a few hours, preparations were made for their care 
when they should fjill into the hands of the enemy. Four 
assistant surgeons from each division, a number of hospital 
tents, a supply of hard bread and beef, with dressings and 
instruments, were left behind ; and with sad hearts, their 
companions bade them farewell. Like preparations were 
made by the other corps, for those of the wounded who 
must be left to their fate. The long train bearing the 
wounded reached the left of the old battle-field of Chan- 
cellorsville toward morning, and at once the labor of 
reestablishing the hospitals commenced. Tents were 
erected, the ambulances unloaded, and the surgeons, 
already worn out by forty hours of incessant toil, resumed 
their work. 

When the Sixth corps reoccupied the breastworks at 
dark on the 6th, it was desirable that the right flank 
should be protected by old and reliable troops. Neill's 
Third brigade was assigned to that position, the Seventy- 
seventh being upon the extreme right, the Sixty-first Penn- 
sylvania thrown out at right angles to protect the rear. 
On the left of the Seventy-seventh was the Forty-ninth 
New Yoi-k, the Seventh Maine was next, then the One 
Hundred and Twenty-second, and the Forty-third New 
York was on the left of the brigade. 


All was now quiet. No sound was heard except now 
and then the suppressed tones of officers in command. 
The stars shone through the openings among the trees 
upon a long line of dusky forms lying close behind the 
sheltering breastworks, as silent as death but ready at an 
instant to pour out a storm of destruction. A row of 
bayonets projected over the breastworks ; an abattis 
of steel awaiting the momentarily expected onset of the 

At ten o'clock the low tones of command of the rebel 
officers were heard as they urged their men against our 
rear and flank. Colonel Smith of the Sixty-first Pennsyl- 
vania, ordered his men to lie down, for they had no 
breastworks, and to reserve their fire. Nearer and nearer 
came the dark line, until within twenty feet of the recum- 
bent Pennsylvanians, but not a sound from them. Still 
nearer the rebel line approached, to within a distance of 
ten feet, when the sharp command rang out, " Fire y " and 
rising the Pennsylvanians delivered a withering fire into 
the rebel ranks that sent them reeling back into the dark- 
ness from whence they came ; but a line of prostrate forms 
where the fire from our line had met the advancing col- 
umn, told of its terrible execution. Twenty minutes after 
this repulse they advanced silently but in stronger force, 
directly in front of our breastworks. They advanced 
sloAvly and in silence until within a few feet of the Union 
line, when with wild yells they leaped forward, some even 
mounting the breastworks. But a sheet of flame instantly 
flashed along the whole line of our works ; the astonished 
rebels wavered for a moment and then beat a hasty retreat, 
relinquishing with this last desperate efibrt the attempt to 
drive back the old Sixth corps. 

Scarcely a man of the Union force was injured by 
this charge, but the dead and wounded from the rebel 
ranks literally covered the ground. There was no help for 


them. Our men were unable even to take care of their 
own wounded which lay scattered through the woods in 
the rear. So the rebel wounded lay between the two 
armies, making the night hideous with their groans. 

The battle of the 6tli was now at an end, neither party 
having gained any decided advantage. 

At midnight the Sixth corps fell back upon the plank 
road to the vicinity of the old gold mine mill, where our 
hospitals had been. Intrenchments were thrown up and the 
position was held without much annoyance from the rebels 
all the next day. The whole line of the army remained 
quiet on the 7th, only a few skirmishes along diffei-ent parts 
of the line, relieving the monotony of the day. 

The two days of fighting had told fearfully upon our 
ranks. Our regiments which a few hours before were 
well filled, were now but fragments of regiments ; and our 
hearts Avere weighed down with heavy grief when we 
thought of the many grand spirits who had left us forever 
since we crossed the Rapidan. 

We thought of the young colonel of the Forty-third, 
Wilson, beloved and admired throughout the corps. His 
death was a heavy blow to us all. We should miss his 
soldierly presence on the parade; his winning pleasantry in 
our social circles ; we were no longer to enjoy his beautiful 
example of unswerving christian morality. His manly 
form was no longer to be our pride, and his heroic valor 
would never again be manifest on the field of battle. 

Major Fryer had received his moi'tal hurt. Fryer was 
young and gallant ; his handsome form and brilliant eye 
were in fine harmony with those of his friend and superior. 
" In their lives they were beautiful, and in their death they 
were not divided." 

Captain Hickmot, too, of the Forty-ninth was among 
the slain. Surely death loves a shining mark, and with 
what terrible precision had he chosen his victims. Hick- 


mot's briglit eye was glazed ia death. His gajety was 
hushed forever. We remembered now his hearty laugh, 
his friendly words and his purity of character, and knew 
that they were ours only in memory. 

"Wallace of the Forty-third and Terry of the Forty- 
ninth, too, were gone. Colonel Ryerson, the gallant com- 
mander of the Tenth New Jersey, was mortally wounded. 

In the Seventy-seventh we had lost Craig ; a youth of 
rare qualities and of stern patriotism. 

The Vermont brigade had lost many of its brightest 
ornaments. Colonel Barney of the Sixth was one of Ver- 
mont's best men. A kind yet faithful commander in camp,, 
gallant and fearless on the field. He was the highest type 
of a man ; a christian gentleman. Colonel Stone had been 
killed instantly on the 5th. His urbane manners were 
remembered by all who frequented our division head-quar- 
ters, and his bravery had endeai*ed him to his men. 
Colonel Tyler, too, of the Second was among the mor- 
tally wounded, and all felt his loss deeply. 

Captains Bixby, of the Second, Bartlett and Buck, of 
the Third, Carpenter and Farr, of the Fourth, Ormsbee 
and Hurlburt, of the Fifth, and Bird and Randall, of the 
Sixth — all men of bravery and patriotism, all beloved as 
companions and valued as officers — were among the dead 
or dying. But among Vermont's fallen sons was no more 
ardent patriot or gallant soldier than Captain George D. 
Davenport, of the Fifth. His manly bearing, his brilliant 
intellect, his ready wit, his social virtues and his well 
known bravery, combined to render him a favorite officer 
in his brigade, while to those who were bound to him by 
the ties of fellowship, his disinterested love and noble 
generosity rendered his friendship of inestimable value. 

In Seymour's brigade Major McElwayne, of the One 
Hundred and Tenth Ohio, who had won the commendations 
of all who knew him, for his skill, judgment, and gallantry, 


was among the slain. Captain Smith and Lieutenant 
McKnight, of the same regiment, were mortally wounded. 
Captain Martin, of the Sixth Maryland, died of his wounds, 
and Lieutenant Myers, of the same regiment, was killed. 

These were a few among the many uoble names of fallen 
heroes. Never were grander men sacrificed for a noble 
cause than they. 

General Getty and General Morris and Colonel Keiffer 
were among the wounded, and we had lost General Shaler 
and General Seymour, captured by the enemy. 

General Neill succeeded to the command of the Second 
division, and Colonel Bidwell assumed the command 
vacated by General Neill. 



Moving by the flank —The wounded abandoned— The Fifth Corps at Spottsylvania 
— Arrival of the Sixth Corps — Getting into line — Death of Sedgwick — General 
Wright in command— Battle of the 10th of May — Upton's splendid charge — 
Battle at " the angle " — Another flank movement. 

By this time General Grant, finding the rebel position 
too strong to force in front, and finding, by reconnoissance, 
that the enemy had fallen back to strong works where he 
awaited attack, determined to throw the army between 
Lee's army and Richmond, and accordingly ordered the 
first of that wonderful series of flank movements that have 
become the admiration of the world. The Fifth and Sixth 
corps withdrew with secrecy from the line held by them, 
and falling into the rear of the rest of the army, marched 
rapidly from the right to the left flank toward Spottsyl- 
vania. The Sixth corps, taking the Chancellorsville road, 
reached the old battle-field at daylight, and halted for 
breakfast near the ruins of the historic Chancellor House. 
The Fifth corps taking a more direct road to Spottsylvania, 
and being unincumbered with the train, marched rapidly 
and reached Piney Branch Church, a little hamlet in the 
midst of the woods, about five miles north of Spottsyl- 
vania Court House, at nine o'clock in the morning. These 
two corps were quickly followed by the Ninth and Second 
corps, leaving the old wilderness field entirely in the hands 
of the enemy. 

Another of those distressful necessities of war occurred 
on withdravidng from the Wilderness. Wounded men of 
the Fifth and Sixth corps had already been left on the site 


of tlie hospitals near the old gold mine mills, and now hun- 
dreds more from every corps were abandoned for want of 
sufficient transportation. Let it not be thought that the 
Army of the Potomac was deficient in ambulances. Our 
hospital train was immense, yet insufficient for such an 
emergency as the present. To have provided a train suffi- 
cient for such a time, would have been to incumber the 
army with an enormous establishment, which would so 
interfere with its movements as to defeat the very object 
in view. The present was one of those terrible but 
unavoidable contingencies which must sometimes occur 
in war. 

Trains had returned and brought away some of the 
wounded left at the old gold mine, but many were still 
there ; and now, again, as we loaded ambulances and army 
wagons to their utmost capacity, making a train of many 
miles in extent, some two hundred of the wounded of our 
Sixth corps were left upon the ground. It was, indeed, a 
sickening thought that these noble fellows, who had nobly 
fallen in their country's cause, must be abandoned to the 
enemj^, many of them, perhaps the majority of them, to 
die in their hands. All communication with their friends 
at home hopelessly cut off, and Avith no expectation of any 
but the roughest treatment from their enemies, it was a sad 
prospect for the unfortunate ones. Medical officers from 
each corps were directed to remain and care for those thus 
left behind, and a limited supply of rations and medicines 
were also left. Surgeon Phillips, of the Sixth Vermont, 
and Assistant Surgeon Thompson, of the Seventy-seventh 
New York, were the detail to remain behind from the 
Second division. They stayed with our wounded among 
the rebels for several weeks, faithfully ministering to their 
wants, until nearly all had been removed to Richmond, 
when, one day, learning that those remaining were to be 
sent south on the following day, they made their escape by 


night. By traveling tliroughout the night and hiding in 
the woods by day, they made their way across the Rapidan, 
and finally reached Washington in safety. 

The Fifth corps, having taken the most direct road to 
Spottsylvania, arrived at Piney Branch Church at nine 
o'clock on the morning of the 8th, where the infantry skir- 
mishers of the enemy were encountered. Gregg's division 
of cavalry had been for some time engaged with the rebel 
cavalry ; but the cavalry had not discovered the infantry 
of the enemy before the approach of the Fifth corps. Two 
divisions of the Fifth corps were at once formed in line of 
battle, Bartlett's brigade of GriflSn's division being sent 
ahead as skirmishers. As the corps advanced, the skir- 
mishers of the enemy steadily Avithdrew, until they reached 
a large clearing, called Alsop's Farm, along the rear of 
which ran a small stream, the river Ny, about three miles 
north of Spottsylvania. Here the enemy was formed in 
force, with a line of strong earthworks. An attack was 
ordered, and bravely Warren's men advanced against 
the breastworks of the enemy ; but their efforts to drive the 
rebels were unavailing. The field was composed of a suc- 
cession of ridges, dotted here and there with clumps of 
pines and oaks, while the country in rear, through Avhich 
the corps had already pressed the opposing skirmishers, 
was a wildei-ness of trees. The rebels had their artillery 
well posted, and they hurled a fierce storm of shells among 
the advancing lines, arresting their advance. The enemy 
in turn charged upon the Fifth corps, but the Union boys 
fought with desperation, repelling every charge and hold- 
ing their ground. Our troops behaved magnificently, yet 
they were unable to push their advance further. 

It was now evident that Lee, anticipating Grant's 
strategy, had set about thwarting it. As soon as our 
troops were withdrawn from Wilderness Run, Lee had 
hastened Ewell's corps and a part of Longstreet's on an 


inner road to Spottsylvania, and these troops now con- 
fronted us and disputed our advance. 

Such was the situation when the Sixth corps arrived on 
the field at two o'clock in the afternoon. The day had 
been the most sultry of the season, and many of the men, 
overcome by the intensity of the heat, and exhausted by 
the constant fighting and marching since the morning 
of the 4th, had fallen by the wayside. The corps halted 
for about two hours, and was then ordered to the front to 
the assistance of Warren's corps, Avhich was again hotly 
engaged with the enemy. We pressed forward along a 
narrow road leading through a thick growth of timber, 
until we came where the Fifth corps was contending the 
ground. The corps was drawn up in line of battle, but 
did not at once commence an attack. 

Before us the ground was rolling and partially wooded, 
admirably adapted for defensive warfare. A wooded 
ravine, at a little distance from our front, concealed a 
rebel line of battle, and in our rear, were dense woods 
extending to the road along which our line was formed. 
These woods were on fire, and the hot blasts of air which 
swept over us, together with the burning heat of the sun, 
rendered our position a very uncomfortable one. Before 
long, however, the corps Avas ordered to the left, and took 
its position in the woods on the left of Warren's corps. 
Our Second division was formed in three lines with the 
view of attacking the enemy. 

Soon after dark all things being ready, the division 
moved forward to the attack, but after some desperate 
fighting on the part of both the Fifth corps and our own 
division, finding the enemy too strongly posted, the attack 
was relinquished. 

Toward midnight some changes of position were ordered, 
but, in the darkness, regiments lost their brigades, and wan- 


dered about in the woods until daylight, some narrowly 
escaping capture within the lines of the enemy. 

There was little hard fighting on Monday the 9th, 
though skirmishing was briskly kej3t up along the whole 
line throughout the day. Our line of battle was now 
extended from northwest to southeast with Hancock's 
Second corps on the right, Warren's Fifth corps on the 
right center, Sedgwick's Sixth corps on the left center, and 
Burnside's Ninth corps on the extreme left. Our Second 
division was formed in a clearing on the side of a hill 
which sloped gradually until it reached a swamp, which, 
however, turned and passed through our line at our left. 
About three hundred yards in front of us was a strip of 
woods one-fourth of a mile wide, and beyond the woods 
an open field where the rebel forces were posted behind 
formidable earthworks. Just in our rear and on the crest 
of the hill, our batteries were posted so as to fire over our 
heads. On our right was a dense forest where the Fifth 
corps were posted, and on our left Burnside's troops occu- 
pied a more open country. 

The whole line of the army was strengthened with 
breastworks of rails and logs, which the men procured in 
many cases from almost under the rebel guns, while the 
heavy mist of the morning concealed them from the view 
of their enemies. Over the logs and rails earth was thrown 
in quantity sufficient to protect the men from the shot and 
shell of the enemy. 

Although there was little fighting on the 9th, it was a 
sad day for the Sixth corps and for the army ; for on that 
day our corps lost its beloved commander, and the army a 
a most distinguished soldier. 

General Sedgwick, while standing behind an outer line 

of works, personally superintending and directing, as was 

his custom, the posting of a battery of artillery at an 

angle which he regarded as of great importance, was shot 



through the head by a rebel sharpshooter, and died 
instantly. The ball had entered his head just below the 
left eye, and passed out at the back of the head. 

Never had such a gloom rested upon the whole army on 
account of the death of one man as came over it when the 
heavy tidings passed along the lines that General Sedg- 
wick was killed. 

Major-General John Sedgwick, who had so long been 
identified with the Sixth corps, was a native of Connecti- 
cut. He graduated at West Point on the 30th of June, 
1837, and was at once assigned to the Second artillery, 
as second-lieutenant. In 1839, he was promoted to first- 
lieutenant. He served in Mexico, and was brevetted cap- 
tain for gallant and meritorious conduct, in the battles 
of Contreras and Chepultepec. He was soon afterward 
brevetted major for gallant conduct, and greatly distin- 
guished himself in the attack on Cosme gate, Mexico city. 
In 1855 he was made major of the First United States 
Cavalry, and served in Kansas until the breaking out of the 
rebellion. In March, 1861, he was commissioned lieuten- 
ant-colonel, Second United States Cavalry ; and in April 
promoted to the colonelcy of the Fourth Cavalry. He 
was made a brigadier-general of volunteers in August, 
1801, and assigned to the command of a brigade in the 
Army of the Potomac. 

He was afterward assigned to the command of the Tliird 
division, Second corps, then under General Sumner. He 
participated in the siege of Yorktown, and greatly dis- 
tinguished himself in many battles on the Peninsula. He 
was particularly noted at the battle of Fair Oaks, Savage's 
Station, and Glendale. His division was one of the few 
divisions of the Army of the Potomac that rendered any 
assistance to General Pope in his unfortunate campaign. 

At Antietam he led his men repeatedly against the 
rebels, and was as often forced back, until the ground over 


which his division had fought was covered with dead. He 
was thrice wounded, but refused to be carried from the 
field until faintness from loss of blood obliged him to 
relinquish his command. 

In December, 1862, he was nominated by the President 
a major-general of volunteers, and was confirmed in March, 
1863, with rank from the 31st of May, 1862. 

In January following his promotion, he was assigned to 
the command of the Ninth corps, and, on the 5th of Feb- 
ruary, was transferred to the command of the Sixth corps, 
relieving General Smith, who was assigned to the Ninth 

Soon after taking command of our corps, the famous 
charge iipon Fredericksburgh Heights was made, in which 
both the corps and its commander acquired lasting renown. 
General Sedgwick was especially commended by General 
Meade for the manner in Avhich he handled his corps at 
Rappahannock Station, and, in General Meade's absence, 
he was several times in command of the army. He was, 
on several occasions, offered the supreme command of the 
army, but his excessive modesty forbade him to accept so 
important a command. 

No soldier was more beloved by the army or honored 
by the country than this noble general. His corps 
regarded him as a father, and his great military abilities 
made his judgment, in all critical emergencies, sought 
after by his superior as well as his fellows. The com- 
mand of the Sixth corps now devolved upon General 
Wright, who had long been well known in the corps as 
the commander of our First division, and who held the 
command of the corps from this time until it was dis- 
banded in the autumn of 1865. 

Monday night passed quietly. An occasional volley on 
the picket line would rouse us to arms, but there was no 
general assault, and the tired soldiers would throw them- 


selves again upon the ground to catch a few moments 
more of rest. 

Our position on Tuesday morning, May 10th, was the 
game as it had been the day previous. During the lull of 
battle on the 9th, both armies had gathered their strength 
and perfected their plans for a renewal of the contest, on 
a scale of magnificence seldom if ever witnessed by any 
army before. This was destined to be a day of most fear- 
ful carnage, and desperate attempts on the part of each 
antagonist to crush the other by the weight of its terrible 

Active skirmishing commenced along different portions of 
the line early in the morning, and continued to grow more 
and more general until the rattle of the skirmishers' rifles 
grew into the reverberating roll of battle. From one end 
of the long line to the other the tide of battle surged, the 
musketry continiially increasing in volume, until it seemed 
one continuous peal of thunder. During all the battles in 
the Wilderness, artillery had been useless, except when 
here and there a section could be brought in to command 
the roadway ; but now all the artillery on both sides was 
brought into the work. It was the terrible cannonading 
of Malvern Hill with the fierce musketry of Gaines' Mills 
combined, that seemed fairly to shake the earth and skies. 
Never during the war had the two armies made such 
gigantic struggles for the destruction of each other. 

At first the heavy assaults were made against the right 
wing — Hancock's and Warren's corps sustaining the prin- 
cipal shock of the enemy's repeated charges. Massing 
their forces against particular points of the line held by 
these two corps, the rebel generals would hurl their gray 
legions like an avalanche against our breastworks, hoping 
by the very momentum of the charge to break through our 
lines ; but a most withering storm of leaden and iron hail 
would set the mass wavering, and finally send it back to 


the covei' of the woocls and earthworks in confusion, leav- 
ing the ground covered at each time with an additional 
layer of their dead. In turn, the men of the Fifth and 
Second coi-ps would charge upon their adversaries, and in 
turn they too would be forced to seek shelter behind their 
rifle pits. Thus the tide of battle along the right of the 
line rolled to and fro, while the horrid din of musketry 
and artillery rose and swelled as the storm grew fiercer. 

Meanwhile the Sixth and Ninth corps were quietly 
awaiting events, and it was not until six o'clock in the 
afternoon that the Sixth corps was called into action. 
Then it was to make one of the most notable charges on 

At five o'clock the men of the corps were ordered to 
nnsling knapsacks and divest themselves of every incum 
brance preparatory to a charge. Colonel Upton command 
ing the Second brigade of the First division, was directed 
to take twelve picked regiments from the corps and lead 
them in a charge against the right center of the rebel line- 
The regiments which shared the dearly purchased honor 
of this magnificent charge were, in the first line, the One 
Hundred and Twenty-first "New York, th'e Fiftli Maine, the 
Ninety-sixth and One Hundred and Nineteenth Pennsyl- 
vania ; in the second line the Seventy-seventh and Forty- 
third New York, the Fifth Wisconsin, Sixth Maine and 
Forty-ninth Pennsylvania ; and in the third line, the Sec- 
ond, Fifth and Sixth Vermont. It was indeed an honor to 
be selected for this duty, but it was an honor to be paid 
for at the cost of fearful peril. 

The twelve regiments assembled on the open space in 
front of our works, then silently entered the strip of 
woods which was between our line and that of the rebels. 
Passing through to the further edge of the woods, the 
twelve regiments were formed in columns of three lines, 
each line consisting of four regiments. 


The regiments of the Second division, not included in 
the charging column, formed in the rear, to act as support, 
but did not advance to the charge. 

As the regiments took their places, they threw them- 
selves uj)on the ground, and all orders were given in 
suppressed tones, for the rebels were but a hundred yards 
distant, in the open field, and the minies of their skir- 
mishers were whistling among the trees and brushwood. 

The other coi'ps of the army were prepared, in case this 
charging party succeeded in breaking the enemy's line, to 
rush in and turn the success into a rout of the rebels. 
Generals Meade, Hancock, Warren and Burnside stationed 
themselves on eminences, from which they could watch 
the success of the perilous enterprise. 

At six o'clock all things were ready, and the artillery 
from the eminences in our rear opened a terrific fire, send- 
ing the shells howling and shrieking over the heads of 
the charging column, and plunging into the works of the 
enemy. This was the signal for the attack, and Colonel 
Upton's clear voice rang out, " Attention, battalions ! 
Forward, double-quick! Charge!" and in an instant 
every man was on his feet, and, with tremendous cheers, 
which were answered by the wild yells of the rebels, the 
column rushed from the cover of the woods. Quick as 
lightning, a sheet of flame burst from the rebel line, and 
the leaden hail swept the ground over which the column 
was advancing, while the canister from the artillery came 
crashing through our ranks at every step, and scores and 
hundreds of our brave fellows fell, literally covering the 
ground. But, nothing daunted, the noble fellows rushed 
upon the defenses, leaping over the ditch in front, and 
mounting the breastworks. The rebels made a determined 
resistance, and a hand to hand fight ensued, until, with 
their bayonets, our men had filled the rifle pits with bleed- 
inor rebels. About two thousand of the survivors of the 


struggle surrendered, and were immediately marclied to 
the rear, under guard. 

Without halting for breath, the impetuous column rushed 
toward the second line of works, which was equally as 
strong as the first. The resistance here was less stubborn 
than at the first line, yet the gray occupants of the rifle pits 
refused to fly, until forced back at the point of the bayonet. 

Our ranks were now fearfully thinned, yet the brave 
fellows passed on to the third line of defenses which was 
also captured. 

It was but a shattered remnant of that noble column 
that rushed from the woods against the hostile works, that 
reached this advanced point, and now, finding that reen- 
forcements were reaching the enemy, while our column 
was every moment melting away, a retreat was ordered. 

There was not even time to bring away the six pieces 
of artillery which we had captured ; they were filled with 
sods and abandoned. 

What remained of the twelve regiments retreated to 
the cover of our rifle pits, leaving the dead and most 
of the wounded in the enemy's hands. 

The corps lost, in this charge, some of its ablest men. 
In the First brigade of the Second division Lieutenant- 
Colonel Hamilton, of the Sixty-second New York, was 
killed. Captain Carpenter, of the Seventy-seventh, one of 
its first and best officers, and Lieutenant Lyon, a young 
officer of great bravery, were killed in the interior line of 
works, and many other noble fellows of that regiment 
were left on that fatal field. The regiment crossed the 
Rapidan six days before with over five hundred men, and 
now, after this charge, less than ninety men were left, 
and this is but an example of the losses to most of the 
regiments in that division. 

The noise of the battle gradually died away as night 
threw her mantle over the fearful scene of carnage, and 


both armies -svere glad of a respite from their severe 

The 11th of May passed in making new arrangements 
and in sending the thousands of wounded to Fredricks- 
buro-h. Immense trains of ambulances and army wagons 
freighted with the mangled forms of Avounded men were 
running day and night to Fredricksburgh, and returning 
with supplies. 

Skirmishing was kept up along the line, but no general 
eno-agement was brought on. During the night the Second 
corps, General Hancock, silently withdrew from the posi- 
tion it had occupied on the right of the line, and marching 
along in the rear of the army occupied a position between 
the Sixth and Xinth corj^s, which was not before occujiied. 
With great caution and silence preparations were made 
for a desperate attack upon that part of the enemy's line 
fronting this position. This line made here a sharp angle 
and by seizing this angle, it was hoped to turn the -right 
flank of Lee's army. Between the position of the Second 
corps and the rebel works, the ground was covered with 
pines and underbrush, and as it neared the defenses 
ascended abruptly to a considerable height. 

As soon as the gray light of the morning began to 
streak through the mists, all was in readiness for the 
charge, and with strictest orders of silence the corps in 
mass advanced rapidly across the field, the thick fog con- 
cealing the movement. As the column neared the rifle 
pits a storm of bullets met it; but charging impetuously up 
the hill and over the works, the rebels, surprised and over- 
powered, gave way; those who could escaping to the 
second line in the rear, though thousands Avere obliged to 
surrender on the spot, so complete had been the surprise. 
The victorious column now pushed on toward the second 
line of works, but here, the enemy by this time fully pre- 
pared for the attack, the resistance became more stubborn. 


The "battle now raged with greatest fury. The Sixth 
corps was withdrawn from its position, leaving a strong 
picket line to guard its front, and marching along the 
rear of its works joined in the attack with the Second 
corps. Tlie works taken by Hancock's corps, were occu- 
pied by the men of the Sixth corps, and the enemy 
commenced the most desperate efforts to retake them. 
Forming their troops in heavy columns they hurled 
them against our line with tremendous force. Russell's 
division held the center of tlie line of the corps at a jDoint 
known as " the angle." This was the key to the whole 
position. Our forces held the rebel works from the left as 
far as this " angle," and the rebels still held the rest of 
the line. Whoever could hold " the angle " would be the 
victors; for with the angle, either party could possess 
themselves of the whole line of works. Hence the 
desperate efforts to drive us from this position. The 
First division being unable to maintain the position alone, 
the Second division was sent to its aid. And now, as the 
boys of the Second division took their places in the front, 
the battle became a hand to hand combat. A breastwork 
of logs separated the combatants. Our men would reach 
over this partition and discharge their muskets in the face 
of the enemy, and in return would receive the fire of the 
rebels at the same close range. Finally, the men began 
to use their muskets as clubs and then rails were used. 
The men were willing thus to fight from behind the 
breastworks, but to rise up and attempt a charge in 
the face of an enemy so near at hand and so strong in num- 
bers required unusual bravery. Yet they did charge and 
they drove the rebels back and held the angle themselves. 
It was in one of these charges that the gallant Major Ellis 
of the Forty-ninth New York, was shot with a ramrod 
through the arm and in the side, from the effects of which ' 
he afterwards died. The trees in front of the position 


held by the Sixth corps during this reiaarkable straggle, 
were literally cut to pieces by bullets. Even trees more 
than a foot in diameter, were cut off by the constant action 
of bullets. A section of one of these was, and doubtless 
still is, in Washington, with a card attached stating that 
the tree was cut down in front of the position of the 
Second corps. Our gallant brothers of that corps won 
undying honors on that glorious day, but it was the long- 
continued, fearful musketry battle between the Sixth corps 
and the enemy which cut down those trees. We have no 
desire to detract from the well-deserved honors of the 
brave men of the Second corps, but tliis is a simple matter 
of justice. The conflict became more and more bloody, 
and soon the Fifth corps was also engaged, and at ten 
o'clock the battle rolled along the whole line. The ter- 
rible fighting continued till eleven o'clock, when there 
Avas a lull in the musketry, but the artillery continued 
its work of destruction. Thus the second line of works 
was taken, but not without fearful loss to both armies. 
Our corps had fought at close range for eight hours. 
Behind the works the rebel dead were lying literally piled 
one upon another, and wounded men were groaning under 
the weight of bodies of their dead companions. The loss 
to the rebels in prisoners and guns was also great. 

Major-General Edward Johnson with his whole division. 
General Stewart, a brigade from Early's division and a 
whole regiment, including in all between three and four 
thousand prisoners and between thirty and forty guns, 
were the trophies of this glorious but bloody morning's 
■work. These captures were nearly all made by the Second 
corps in the first assault in the morning. 

The losses to the Sixth corps were great, but far less than 
on the 12th. The Seventy-seventh lost one of its finest 
officers. Captain 0. P. Rugg was shot in the breast and 
died while being carried to the hospital. The captain was 


a young man of great promise, of genial and lively temper- 
ament and greatly beloved by his regiment. He had been 
married but a few months before his death, and had 
parted from his bride at Elmira just before the spring cam- 
paign opened. 

The corps remained near the scene of action during 
the next day. Reconnoissances were made, and another 
attempt was made on the 14th to turn the right flank 
of the enemy. The Sixth corps, at three o'clock on 
the morning of that day, moved off to the left of our 
line about two miles and encamped about the Anderson 
House, but our pickets soon found the enemy in force in 
our front, and no attempt was made to bring on an 
engagement. The time passed quietly along the line, only 
occasionally the roar of artillery kept up something of 
excitement of battle. On the night of the l7th, the Sixth 
corps moved back to the scene of the battle of the 12th'. 
At daylight three corps moved forward to attack the 
enemy's line. The Second corps forming the center of 
the line, the Sixth corps the right, and the Ninth corps the 
left. The first line of rifle pits were those which had 
been abandoned by us on the 12th. These were filled with 
rebel skirmishers, who readily gave way, leaving the works 
in our hands. 

Our line of battle advanced till it confronted the second 
line of the rebel works. This was a strong line behind a 
thick impenetrable abattis and held by a powerful force. 
The three corps pressed this formidable line, and a sharp 
engagement ensued, but without advantage to our forces, 
and it was concluded that an attempt to dislodge the 
enemy could only result in a fearful waste of life. Accord- 
ingly the troops were quietly withdrawn, though submitted 
to a galling fire, having lost in the morning's work about 
eight hundred men. 

In the afternoon the enemy attacked the Fifth corps on 


the left, but was driven back. The same afternoon the 
Sixth corps returned to the vicinity of- the Anderson 
House, ft'om which it had started on the evening previous ; 
and orders were issued to be ready to march toward the 
North Anna. 

General Grant, deeming it impracticable to make any 
further attempt to carry the rebel position at Spottsylvania 
by direct assault, had determined upon another flank move- 
ment ; and his preparations were made for moving around 
the left flank of the enemy during the night of the 19th, 
and seizing a position on the North Anna. But late in the 
afternoon of the 19th, E well's rebel corps made a fierce 
assault upon the right of our line. Our forces gave the 
rebels a warm reception, and forced them back to the cover 
of their earthworks. 

On the 20th, Aaron B. Quincy, a young soldier, beloved 
by all who knew him, was shot through the breast, and 
died in a few minutes. His faithful christian character, 
his undoubted bravery, and his ardent patriotism, had 
endeared him to all. 

On the night of the 21st, the flank movement was com- 
menced. Withdrawing in silence, and first throwing the 
right corps in rear of the rest of the army and to its left, 
as at the Wilderness, the troops marched rapidly all night, 
halting for a few moments for breath once or twice, and 
then pressing forward again. During the next forenoon a 
halt of some hours occurred at Quincy Station, near the 
house where Stonewall Jackson died the year before. Then 
the march was renewed and continued till dark. 

The Fifth and Sixth corps reached the banks of the 
North Anna on the evening of the 23d, and was soon fol- 
lowed by the Second and Ninth corps. Again the enemy, 
aware of our intentions, and having the shortest line, 
confronted us, and disputed the crossing ; but, after consid- 
erable artillery practice, the Fifth corps succeeded in 


throwing their pontoon bridges and obtaining a position 
on the south bank. The enemy now attacked the corps 
with great vigor, but were repulsed with equal slaughter. 
The Sixth corps followed at four o'clock in the morning, 
and a little later the Second and Ninth corps also joined 
us. Strong breastworks were thrown up, and parties were 
sent to the front to reconnoiter the position, 

A further advance of a few miles was made on the 25th, 
but finding the enemy in a stronger position than he had 
occupied either in the Wilderness or at Spottsylvania, 
General Grant determined again to withdraw and try his 
favorite flank movement. Accordingly, on the night of 
the 26th, the army was withdrawn to the north bank of the 
river. The night was very dark, and the mud deep. Sev- 
eral days' rain had rendered the roads, proverbial for their 
mud, almost impassable; but heeding no difficulties, the 
army followed without hesitation wherever our great 
leader directed. The Sixth corps, with two divisions of 
cavalry imder Sheridan, who had now rejoined the army 
from his great raid on Avhich he had started from Spottsyl- 
vania, took the advance. On Saturday, the 28th, the corps 
and the cavalry divisions, after a good deal of hard fight- 
ing, crossed the Pamunkey river, at Hanovertown. The 
cavalry, at once advancing several miles beyond the river, 
encountered a large force of rebel cavalry, which was 
driven back. The army encamped at Hanovertown, stretch- 
ing from the river several miles southward. 



Tte journey from the battle-field— Sufferings of the wounded— A surgeon's let- 
ters—Rebel hatred— Assistance from the north— A father in search of his boy— 
The wounded sent to Washington. 

Let us turn now from the field of battle to Fredericks- 
iburgh, that great depot for wounded men. 

It will be recollected thdt, from Piney Branch church, 
the trains, with the wounded from the Wilderness, were 
gent to Fredericksburgli. Over a rough road, nearly fifteen 
iniles, these unfortunate men, with shattered or amputated 
limbs, with shots through the lungs or head or abdo- 
men, suffering the most excruciating pain from every jar 
or jolt of the ambulance or wagon, crowded as closely 
as they could be packed, were to be transported. Already 
they had been carted about over many miles of hard road, 
most of them having been carried from the old gold min« 
to Chancellorsville, and now again loaded and brought to 
Spottsylvania. They were worn out with fatigue and suf- 
iferiug, and yet there was much misery in store for them. 
Slowly the immense ti*ain labored over the rough road, 
now corduroy, now the remains of a worn out plank road, 
and anon a series of ruts and mud holes, until, at three 
o'clock on the morning of the 9th of May, the head of the 
train arrived in Fredericksburgh. 

The train had been preceded by some three hundred 
men who were wounded but able to walk. Mayor Slaugh- 
ter and other rebel citizens surrounded these unarmed men, 
made them prisoners and delivered them to some rebel 
cavalry, who took them to Richmond. 


The process of unloading the wounded at once com- 
menced ; all the churches and other public buildings were 
first seized and filled, Negroes who could be found in 
town were j^ressed into the work, yet, with all the help 
that could be obtained, it was a slow pi'ocess. All night 
and all the next day the work went on. The churches 
were filled first, then warehouses and stores, and then 
private houses, until the town was literally one immense 

The surgeons were too much engaged in transferring 
the men from the wagons to the houses to find time that 
day to dress many wounds, and many an unfortunate 
soldier whose stump of an arm or leg had not been dressed 
since the first day of the fighting, became the victim of 
gangrene, which set in as the result of this unavoidable want 
of care. No sooner were the men removed from the ambu- 
lances than surgeons and nurses addressed themselves with 
all the strength that remained to them to relieve the 
immediate wants of the sufferers. Never before had such 
herculean labors been thrown upon so small a body of 
men, yet nobly did they accomplish the task. All the 
buildings in town were full of wounded men, the walks 
were covered with them, and long trains of ambulances were 
filling the streets with more. Yet to relieve the wants 
of all these thousands of suffering men not more than 
forty surgeons had been sent from the field. 

It was one grand funeral ; men were dropping away on 
every side. Large numbers of nurses were detailed as 
burial parties, and these plied their work day after day 
with hardly time for their needed rest. 

Surgeons were completely worn out, and many of them 
had to be sent to Washington, fairly broken down with 
their labors. 

The following extract from a letter of a surgeon at 
Fredricksburgh to his wife, written on the 11th, may con- 

344 A surgeon's letters. 

vey something of an idea of the experience of the medical 
officers during those terrible days. He says : " We are 
almost worked to death; my feet are terribly swollen; 
yet Av^e cannot rest for there are so many poor fellows who 
are suffering. All day yesterday I worked at the operat- 
ing table. That was the fourth day that I had worked at 
those terrible operations since the battle commenced, and 
I have also worked at the tables two whole nights and part 
of another. Oh ! it is awful. It does not seem as though 
I could take a knife in my hand to-day, yet there are a 
hundred cases of amputations waiting for me. Poor fel- 
lows come and beg almost on their knees for the first 
chance to have an arm taken off. It is a scene of horror 
such as I never saw. God forbid that I should ever see 

Again, the same officer writing a day or two later, says, 
"It is fearful. I see so many grand men dropping one 
by one. They are my acquaintances and my friends. 
They look to me for help, and I have to turn away heart- 
sick at my want of ability to relieve their sufferings. Cap- 
tain Walker of the Seventh Maine is dying to-night. He 
is a noble good man, and he looks in my fece and pleads 
for help. Adjutant Hessy and Lieutenant Hooper of the 
same regiment died last night. All svere my friends, and 
all thought that I could save them. General Sedgwick is 
dead, and General Getty and General Torbert are ray 
patients. * * * Mrs. Lewis has just come ; what a 
blessing her presence will be to the colonel, who bears 
the loss of his arm so bravely. Colonel Barney of the 
Sixth Vermont died yesterday, and Major Fryer of the 
Forty-third is dying. The major says, " Doctor, can noth- 
ing be done? " Major Dudley lies in the room where I am 
writing, seriov;sly wounded. * * * j ]iav' to-day sent 
sixty officers of the Sixth corps to Washington. * * * 
Oh ! can I ever write anything beside these mournful 


details? Hundreds of ambulances are coming into town 
now, and it is almost midnight. So they come every 

For a time it was almost impossible to obtain sufficient 
supplies either of food or dressings. Everything that 
could be spai-ed from the field had been sent, but in the 
field they were still fighting terrible battles, and there was 
little to spare. Food was obtained in very limited quan- 
tities in town, and men went to the houses of citizens and 
demanded sheets, which were torn into bandages. 

But large supplies were sent from Washington by the 
government in a few days, so that all necessary articles 
were furnished in abundance, with a profusion of lemons, 
oranges and canned fruit. The Sanitary Commission was 
also on hand with large supplies of delicacies, which were 
joyfully received by the wounded heroes, who not only 
relished the luxuries, but remembered that they were the 
gifts of friends at home, who had not forgotten the soldiers. 

Many of the people of Fredericksburgh exhibited the 
most malignant spite against the "Yankee wounded ;" but 
others, while they claimed no sympathy with our cause, 
showed themselves friends of humanity, and rendered us all 
the assistance in their power. No men, except negroes and 
white men unfit for military duty, were left in town, but 
the women were bitter rebels. Some of them made fierce 
opposition to the use of their houses as hospitals, but they 
were occupied notwithstanding their remonstrances. 

At one fine mansion a surgeon rang the door bell, and 
in a moment saw the door open just enough to show the 
nose and a pair of small twinkling eyes of what was evi- 
dently a portly women. " What do you want ? " snarled 
out the female defender of the premises. " We want to 
come and see if we can place a few wounded officers in 
this house." " You can't come in here ! " shouted the 
woman slamming the door together. A few knocks 


induced her again to open the door two or three inches. 
" Madam, we must come in here ; we shall do you no 
harm." " You can't come here ; I am a lone widow." 
" But I assure you no harm is intended you." Agaiu the 
door was closed, and again at the summons was opened. 
" 3Iadam, it will be much better for you to allow us to 
enter than for me to direct these men to force the door ; 
but we must enter." The woman now threw the door wide 
open and rushing into the yard with as much alacrity as 
her enormous proportions would admit, threw her arms 
out and whirled about like a reversed spinning top shout- 
ing for help. She was again assured that no harm was 
intended her, but that unless she chose to show us the 
house we should be obliged to go alone. Concluding that 
wisdom was the better part of valor, she proceeded to 
show us the rooms. 

At another mansion, one of the finest in Fredexicks- 
burgh, a red-haired woman thrust her head out of the side 
window, in answer to the ring of the door bell : 

" What do you want here ? " 

" We wish to place some wounded officers in this house." 

" You can't bring any officers nor anybody else to this 
house. I'm all alone. I hope you have more honor than 
to come and disturb defenseless, unprotected women." 

" Have you no husband ?" 

"Yes, thank God, he's a colonel in the confederate 

" Well, if your husband was at home, where he ought 
to be, you would not be a defenseless woman." 

The woman refused to unbolt the door, in spite of all 
persuasion, but while she railed at the " detestable Yan- 
kees," a soldier climbed in at a window in the rear, and 
unbolted the door. Her splendid rooms and fine mat- 
tresses furnished lodgings for twenty wounded officers. 
Day after day, the gloom of death hung over the town. 


Hundreds of our brave fellows were dying. Some of 
the finest officers of our army were daily yielding to the 

Among the severe losses to the Sixth corps wer^, 
Colonel Barney, of the Sixth Vermont, Avho had been 
shot through the head. He died on the 10th. He was 
one of the noblest of the sons of Vermont, a pattern of a 
brave soldier and christian gentleman, respected for his 
ability as a commander, and loved for his social virtues ; 
he was lamented by the whole corps. Major Fryer, of 
the Forty-third New York, one of the most promising 
young officers in the corps, died on the 12th, from wounds 
through the left arm and lungs. Captain Walker and 
Adjutant Hesse, of the Seventh Maine, and Lieutenants 
Hooper and Vining, of the same regiment, all died within 
a few hours of each other. Lieutenants Follensbee and 
Cook, of the Thirty-seventh Massachusetts, and Captain 
Kirkbride, of the One Hundred and Second Pennsylva- 
nia, were also among those who died. Major Dudley, 
of the Fifth Vermont, after suffei'ing untold agony for 
many days, finally yielded, and died in the embraces of his 
youthful wife, who had arrived in Fredericksburgh just in 
time to be present during his last hours. The major had 
gone into the fight sick with a fever, but his determined 
bravery forbade him to remain quiet. Receiving a severe 
wound while thus depressed by disease, he gradually 
sunk, "until his brave spirit took its departure. 

These were a few of the sad, sad scenes, which brought 
sorrow to our hearts day after day, of the hospitals at 

Physicians and nurses from civil life came to our assist- 
ance in large numbers. Some were earnest men, wholly 
devoted to the object of relieving the distress which 
they saw on every side. Othei-s had come for selfish 


Physicians wlio had never performed an important sur- 
gical operation came armed with amputating cases, and 
seemed to think that there was but one thing to be done, 
tQ operate as they said. 

Distressed fathers and brothers wandered about the 
town, in search of information regarding some son or 
friend who had been wounded, or perhaps, as they feared, 

The following is but an example of many sad incidents 
of this kind : H. A. Bowers, of the Seventy-seventh New 
York, a young man much beloved and respected in his 
regiment, was wounded through the chest on the 5th of 
May, and with the other wounded brought to Fredericks- 
burgh. His father, who resided in Albany, received the 
intelligence that his son was dangerously wounded, and 
hastened to Fredericksburgh in search of him. He arrived 
at that immense hospital, and at once commenced his 
inquiries after his soldier boy. Failing to learn anything 
of him, except the assm-ance that he had been placed in 
the ambulances, he sought out the quartermaster of the 
Seventy-seventh, who was with the army train just out 
of town. The quartermaster readily lent his aid in the 
search, and both at once sought the surgeon of that 
regiment for information, but he, having the care of a 
multitude, could tell them nothing of the object of their 
search. Thousands of wounded men were here, filling 
the city, but, thus far, the important duties of relieving 
their immediate necessities had occupied the attention of 
surgeons and attendants to the exclusion of everything 
else ; and no record or register had been made by which 
a particular wounded man might be found. Unless some 
friend or acquaintance could direct to his place, the search 
was often long. The nurses were instructed to alford the 
anxious father every assistance in finding his son. Two 
more long weary days were spent in the fruitless search, 

MAJ . GEN. H . G- .AVRIGH T . 


wten word was sent to the father that his boy might be 
found in a certain church. Overjoyed at the thought 
that at last his search was to be crowned with success, 
he hastened to the place. Who shall attempt to tell the 
anguish of that father, when, on reaching the hospital, he 
found that his son had exj^ired half an hour before ! 

At length, by the 26th of May, all the wounded men 
were sent by transports to "Washington, and the hospitals 
broken up. The surgeons, escorted by a squadron of cav- 
alry, crossed the, country by way of Bowling Green, and, 
after a three days' journey, rejoined the army at Hanover. 



At Hanover Court House — The Eighteenth corps joins the Army of the Potomac — 
The armies meet at Coal Harbor —Battle of June 1st — Battle of June 3(1 — Ter- 
rible exposure — The army strikes for Petersburgh — Charles City Court House — 
A centenarian — Review of the overland campaign. 

Early on the morning of the 30th, the army was again 
moving, advancing with heavy skirmishing toward Han- 
over Court House. Remaining here some houi's the cohiinn 
retraced its steps a short distance, the rebels meanwhile 
opening a severe artillery fire upon our hospital trains. 

Toward evening the enemy attacked our left vigorously 
but were repulsed, and an attack was in turn made by our 
own troops which resulted in forcing the rebels from a 
part of their intrenchments. Except some changes of 
position and ascertaining that of the enemy, our army 
lay quietly confronting the rebels during the 31st, but on 
the 1st of June we were again on the road marching 
toward Coal Harbor. The march was a hard one. The 
day was sultry, and the dust, ankle deep, raised in clouds 
by the column, was almost suftbcating. It filled the air 
and hung upon the leaves of the trees like snow. Seldom 
had our men experienced so severe a march. As we 
neared Coal Harbor our Sixth corps in advance, we fell in 
with the column of General Smith's command, the Eigh- 
teenth and Tenth corps. It was a relief to the old soldiers 
of the Army of the Potomac to see these full regiments, 
and they felt that with such large reinforcements our 
success must now be insured. It was also a source of 
much gratification to the old Second division to meet 

smith's command. 351 

again our friends Generals Smith and Brooks, whose 
names were so intimately connected with the division, and 
who still held a large place in the affections of the men. 

These two corps were a part of General Butler's com- 
mand, which had advanced up the Peninsula as far as 
Bermuda Hundreds, but were unable to make further pro- 
gress. General Grant had, therefore, directed General 
Butler to send them forward by way of transports to 
White House Landing, to join the Army of the Potomac. 
They reached us tired and almost discouraged by their 
unusual march of nearly sixteen miles, their trains and 
baggage being left behind. 

In the afternoon we had fallen in with ambulances 
returning with wounded cavalrymen, and learned from 
them that Sheridan had engaged the rebel cavalry at Coal 
Harbor early in the morning, and that he was now fighting 
both infantry and cavalry. Toward that point the troops 
pushed on rapidly, reaching the cavalry line at about four 
o'clock. The men halted a few moments, and then were 
ordered to fall in and advance against the enemy. Skir- 
mishers, as usual, had advanced and prepared the way for 
the lines of infantry and the artillery. The shots of the 
skirmishers had become more and more frequent, till 
the sharp rattle of musketry told of the actual presence 
of the enemy. The artillery of the Sixth corps was at once 
run out, and a brisk fire opened upon the rebels, who replied 
with their guns, but Avith less vigor than that exhibited by 
our own. The commands of Wright and Smith were at 
once formed in line of battle, our Sixth corps on the left in 
line, Rickett's Third division holding the right of the line, 
Russell's the center, and Neill's Second division the extreme 
left of the Avhole line. On our right was Smith's command 
in single line. 

In front of our line was an open space two-thirds of a 
mile in width, beyond which was a strip of pine woods. 


In these woods the enemy had intrenched, and was hold- 
ing tlie position in strong force. Lee, again anticipating 
the design of Grant, had sent Lougstreet's corjjs and other 
troops to occupy Coal Hai'bor, and now, with their rear 
resting upon the Chickahominy, at this point a shallow 
and easily forded stream, the rebels occupied . a strong 
position between our advance and Richmond. 

The order for the charge was given, and these two com- 
mands, weary and exhausted, the veterans of the Sixth 
corps from many days and nights of most severe labor, 
and both corps by the tedious march of the day, dashed 
impetuously across the ploughed field with shouts and 
cheers, making for the rebel works. 

The storm of battle seemed suddenly to have broken 
without the usual warning. It was less than an hour 
since the Union troops had arrived on the field, and 
already a most bloody struggle was in progress. Volleys 
rang out upon the evening air, crashing louder and still 
louder. The First and Third divisions of the Sixth corps, 
in heavy columns, rushed across the field, cleared the abat- 
tis, and seized the rebel works, while the Second division, 
on the left, discovering a strong force of the enemy plant- 
ing a battery on our llank, engaged them and forced them 
back. Smith's command, also, by a desperate charge, 
seized nearly the whole line in the fi'ont, that on the 
extreme right, in front of Brooks' command, alone remain- 
ing in the hands of the rebels. The whole line thundered 
with the incessant volleys of musketry, and the shot and 
shell of the artillery shrieked and howled like spirits of 
evil. The sun was sinking, red, in the west, and the 
clouds of dust and smoke almost obscured the terrible 
scene. Hundreds of our brave fellows were falling on 
every side, and stretcher bearers were actively engaged in 
removing the wounded from the field. The First division, 
after a stubborn resistance of a few minutes, was forced 


to give up the line of works it had captured and fall back ; 
only the Third division held its ground. The others had 
advanced as far, but the ground was unfavorable, and in 
spite of most determined elForts to hold the line, they were 
forced to swing back. 

This was the first experience of Smith's command in a 
great battle, and well did his men earn the confidence of 
the veterans who fought by their side. Their courage 
and impetuosity were the subjects of admiration of the 
boys of the old Sixth corps, who declared that Baldy Smith 
could make any troops fight like veterans. 

The gallantry shown by our Third division in taking 
and holding the enemy's works, was acknowledged with 
true soldierly generosity by the other divisions of our 
corps, who thus far had not regarded the new division as 
their peer. 

As darkness came on, the conflict still raged, and sheets 
of flame rolled from one end of the line to the other as 
the discomfited rebels strove desperately to regain their 
lost ground. But as the sound of battle died away at 
nine o'clock, the advantages gained by us were still held, 
and our men set to work to strengthen the works they 
had captured from the enemy and to throw up new ones. 
Again and again the rebels rushed against the Union line 
hoping to regain their lost ground, but without success. 
The battle, although of brief duration, had been a most 
sanguinary one. The loss to' the Sixth corps was about 
two hundred killed -and nine hundred and sixty wounded, 
while the Eighteenth corps lost one hundred and twenty- 
five killed and six hundred and fifty wounded. 

Meanwhile the Second, Fifth and Ninth corps were hold- 
ing the position occupied by them the day before, and 
against these corps most desperate assaults were repeatedly 
made by the enemy, but they were as often repulsed with 
great slaughter. 



The movement at Coal Harbor, while it had not suc- 
ceeded iu forcing the enemy across the Chickahominy, 
had secured our communications with White House Land- 
ing, which now became, after two years, for the second 
time, the base of supplies for the Army of the Potomac. 
General Grant now determined to renew the attempt to 
dislodge the rebels on the following day. 

Accordingly, after the fashion of all the movements of 
the army, the Second corps, which now occupied the 
extreme right of the line, withdrew during the night, and 
falling behind the other corps, marched rapidly to the left 
and took position in that flank on the road leading from 
Dispatch Station to Coal Harbor. The corps did not 
secure this position without considerable fighting, and it 
was not in condition to take part in the expected advance 
until the afternoon. Then a most violent thunder shower 
set in, putting a stop to all movements for the remainder 
der of the day. 

The men of the Sixth and Eighteenth corps, tired and 
worn out from marching, fighting, and the hard night's 
work in throwing up intrenchments, had spent the early 
part of the day in quietly watching the enemy, or lounging 
behind the breastworks, glad of an opportunity for rest. 

Orders were now given for a simultaneous attack along 
the whole line, to take place at half-past four on the morn- 
ing of the 3d. Our line of battle extended from Coal 
Harbor to Tolopotamy creek, in the following order, fi-om 
left to right : Second, Sixth, Eighteenth, Fifth, and Xinth. 
This line was nearly parallel with the Chickahominy, and 
from a mile and a half to two miles north of it. 

The rebels had not left the day unimproved, in concen- 
trating their troops and strengthening their Avorks. They 
now held three lines of breastworks, all of great strength; 
the first occupied by their skirmish lines, the others by 
strong: lines of battle. Between the two armies the 


grouncl was low and swampy, while the positions occupied 
by both were sandy plains. 

At half-past six on the morning of the 3d, our army was 
astir ; and the skirmishers, leaving the cover of the rifle 
pits, were advancing. Presently they fell in with the 
skirmishers of the enemy, and the sharp cracking of rifles 
betokened the storm of battle. 

As soon as the skirmishers were engaged, our artillery 
opened upon the rebel works, and the conflict now 
commenced in earnest. Amid the deafening volleys of 
musketry, the thunders of the artillery, and the wild yells 
of battle, our brave fellows pressed rapidly across the 
space between the hostile lines of works, and the whole 
Union force was thrown against the rebel breastworks 
almost simultaneously. But the works were too strong, 
the abattis too troublesome, and the rebel forces too 
numerous. Their line could not be taken. 

The vigorous and gallant assault made by the Sixth 
corps, resulted in carrying the first line, where the rebel 
skirmishers had been posted, and our troops got within 
two hundred and fifty yards of the main works, but Mar- 
tindale's division of Smith's corps, which advanced with 
the Sixth corps, and on our right, found the task before it 
too great ; the troops of that division became disarranged 
and were repulsed. Although General Smith, who was 
always up to the front, made several attempts to relieve 
Martindale's division, it failed to take the rifle pits. 

The right flank of the Sixth corps, thus exposed, the 
whole corps Avas forced to fiill back. 

Thus this grand assault, in which G-^neral Grant hoped 
to force his enemy across the Chickahorainy, failed with 
immense loss to'us and comparatively little to the confed- 
erate army, which as usual was defended by earthworks, 
while our men advancing to the charge were unprotected. 
But our brave fellows were to have their revenge. 


The battle was over, and again the occupants of the 
opposing lines of defenses watched each other, the quiet 
being only disturbed by the occasional shots of sharp- 
shooters. Darkness closed over the plains of Coal Harbor, 
and even the sharpshooters desisted from their work. 
The stars shed a mild light upon the two armies which 
had so lately been engaged in fierce conflict, each now 
securely resting behind its line of earthworks, and the 
plain which lay between them, which the hurricane of 
battle had so lately swept, was as still as though the noise 
of war had never been heard there. 

Suddenly, at eight o'clock, the rebels in front of our 
Sixth corps and of the Second corps, leaped over their 
works and rushed with a yell toward our lines. At the 
same time their artillery opened upon ns. The course of 
their shells was marked by long curves of fire upon the 
dark sky, while the flashes of the guns and bursting mis- 
siles made a sublime display of pyrotechnics. 

On came the charging column, against the left of the 
Sixth and the right of the Second corps; but nothing 
pleased our brave boys more than to see their enemies 
come out from the cover of their works to fight. 

It had, during all these long days of battles, been ours 
to charge well defended earthworks almost invariably; 
and whenever the rebels chose to assume the oftensive, 
our men were glad to show them the difierence between 
being the assailants and the assailed. 

Now the rebels came on with determination, but their 
attack was met by volley after volley of musketry aimed 
for effect ; and our well directed fire of artillery made 
great gaps in the advancing lin«s. The attack was nobly 
repulsed, and many grey-coated soldiers who advanced to 
the charge, were left by their retreating comrades, dead 
between the two lines, while others were ordered in as 
prisoners. The rebels returned to their place, and again 



all was still. From this time we had no more battles al 
Coal Harbor, yet we daily lost many men by the shots of 
the sharpshooters who were perclied in trees, and who 
kept up a fire at every moving thing which showed itself 
within our lines. 

Never before had our army been in a position where 
there was such constant danger as at Coal Harbor. Men 
in the front line dared not leave the cover of the breast- 
works except in the darkness of night, and even then the 
movement of a company to the rear might bring on a 
storm of shells. High breastworks were thrown up at all 
angles with the main line, and deep trenches were dug, in 
which the men might pass to and from the front without 
being observed. Even with all these extraordinary pre- 
cautions, no man was safe in venturing to go to the rear 
by daylight. If a soldier collected the canteens of his 
companions and started to the rear for water, he was 
obliged to crawl along the trenches with the utmost 
secrecy, and even then he was liable to be shot. Not a 
day passed, even when there was no battle, in which 
scores of men were not killed or brought to the hos^jitals 
with severe wounds. 

The whole plain occupied by our army was dug over. 
Far to the rear the men had intrenched themselves. Gen- 
eral officers had tlieir tents erected in deep excavations 
surrounded by embankments of earth, and special duty 
men had each prepared for themselves burrows in the 
ground, many of which were creditable specimens of 
engineering. One was reminded, in riding over the j^lain, 
of the colonies of prairie dogs with their burrows and 
mounds. Although we had but two days' actual fighting 
at Coal Harbor, our losses were more than thirteen thousand 
men, while the rebels suffered comparatively small losses. 

Thus the army lay upon the burning sands of that 
arid plain, the greater part of the line without the 


friendly shelter of a tree, weary, yet not discouraged; 
grirnmy and dirty, and choked with dust, yet uttering no 
words of complaint, for twelve days. 

Troops commenced moving toward the rear on the 
morning of the 11th of June, and it became known that 
we were to make no more attempts to force the formidable 
position. General Grant had ordei'ed another flank move- 
ment. This time to the James river. Preparations for 
withdrawing went on actively on the 10th and 11th; all 
the wounded were sent to the White House, and the long 
trains of forage, ammunition and commissary supplies 
which had been allowed to come far toward the front, 
began to pass to the rear. On the 12th, Smith's corps 
was ordered to the White House, thence to embark to City 
• Point, while the remainder of the army was to cross the 
Chickahominy far to the right of the rebel position, and 
march to the James river. 

At three o'clock in the afternoon, the long hospital train 
of the Sixth corps moved out toward the left a few miles 
and halted for the corps, which withdrew from the works 
after dark, and marched with great rapidity toward the 
left. The other corps also withdrew from their positions, 
and the whole army moved off" down the Chickahominy, 
the Second corps in advance. The march was kept up all 
night, a short halt only being allowed in the morning near 
Dispatch Station. Then the column pressed on again, the 
men almost sufibcated with the dust, which hung over 
the column like a huge cloud ; no halt was made at noon, 
and the men, deprived of their cofiee, choked with dust, 
and burned with heat, marched wearily toward night. 
The sun was sinking in the west, tinging the clouds with 
purple, and crowning the distant hills with gold, when we 
crossed the historic Chickahominy. Two years before 
we had crossed the same stream not far from this very 
spot. Through how many vicissitudes of army life had 


we passed since that time. The stream was not wide, and 
its banks were well defined where we crossed. Indeed, at 
this point, there was nothing in the appearance of the 
stream that would convey any idea of the difficulties 
which it had once presented to the Union army. The 
corps bivouacked on high grounds a mile from the river, 
glad to rest from the toiling march. 

We were early astir on the morning of the 14th ; taking 
our line of march through a delightful section of country 
where the comfortable farm houses and fine residences 
presented a striking contrast with the desolations to which 
we had become accustomed. As we began to descend 
from the high lands toward the plain, on which stands the 
little cluster of houses called, in southern fashion, Charles 
City, we beheld, in the distance, the James river, lying in 
all its loveliness, spreading widely between its banks. A 
magnificent prospect opened before us. The river in the 
distance bordered by green fields, one undulating slope 
four or five miles wide, and twice as long, presenting a 
scene of surpassing beauty. There were large fields of 
grain already yellow and nearly ripe for the harvest, green 
meadows lay in the beautiful valleys, the gentle breeze 
dallied with the tassels of the long rows of corn, which 
gave rich promise of an abundant harvest ; fine groves 
upon the hillside, in the valleys and on the plain, gave a. 
charming diversity to the scene, and the old mansions, 
embosomed in vines and trees, and surrounded by colonies 
of outhouses, reminded us of the ease and comfort which 
had reigned here before the ravagces of war had desolated 
Virginia. To the right was Charles City, almost hidden 
by trees, a little town, in prosperous days, the home of a 
few hundred people, now almost deserted. 

In the vicinity of Charles City we halted a little before 
noon. The Second corps, which was in the advance, had 
already reached the James at Wilcox's Landing, and was 


preparing to cross. The men of our corps were delighted 
with the opportunity of once more spreading their tents 
over clean grassy turf, and each quickly pitched his shelter 
tent preparatory to a refreshing rest. 

Within two miles of our camp was the residence of the 
late ex-president, John Tyler, which was visited by many 
of our officers. It was a charming spot, with everything 
about it to please the eye of a lover of the beautiful. But 
except the grounds immediately surrounding the house, 
everything Avas in the wildness of nature. 

The house was stripped of almost everything. The cabi- 
net was carried off. The large library had lost many of its 
choicest volumes, while the remainder, with heaps of let- 
ters, lay thrown in wild confusion about the floor. The 
pile of sheet music which had been left on the piano by 
the family, had been culled over and nearly all taken away. 
In fact such a sad scene of destruction was rare, even in 
the track of a great army. 

On the morning of the loth, the corps moved to the 
river side, where it remained while other troops were 
crossing by ferry and on an immensely long pontoon 
bridge. The river was full of shipping, the forests of 
masts making strange contrasts with the native forests on 
the river banks. 

Near the crossing was a superb old mansion, the resi- 
dence of a rebel general, surrounded by its little village 
of negi'O cabins. Here many officers of the corps resorted, 
to spend the time in walking among the grand old trees, 
or to stroll through the garden, admiring the elegant and 
rare exotics which adorned the grounds. Here was the 
magnolia grandiflora in full bloom, its immense cup-like 
flowers filling the whole place with delightful fragrance, 
and the American agave, also loaded with a profusion of 
elegant flowers; roses of the most rare and superb varie- 
ties, jasmines, honeysuckles, clematis, spice woods, and a 


great variety of other choice phmts, were also in lavish 
abundance. There were locust trees of enormous size, and 
everything that was inanimate filled us with surprise and 
delight. But, within the mansion, we were met with the 
accustomed bitterness and want of civility. Among 
the slaA es on the premises was a white-haired negro, who 
was one hundred and eight years old. His wife, who lived 
upon a neighboring plantation, was one hundred and four 
years of age. When asked his age by the boys, he was 
accustomed to answer, " Well, massa, I'se going on two 
hundred now." The old fellow manifested no sympathy 
for the cause of his master, and even he sighed for freedom. 
When asked of what value freedom could be to him now, 
he answered, impatiently, " Well, massa, isn't a hundred 
and eight years long enough to be a slave ?" 

The army, which had thus fought its way at fearful cost 
from the Rapidan to the James, was now to change 
its base, and threaten the rebel capital from the south. 
Petersburgh was now the objective point, and this was 
regarded as the door to Richmond. 

Our army had, during the period of a little more than 
a month, fought the most extraordinary series of battles, 
and executed some of the most remarkable movements on 
record. Never was heroic valor exhibited on a grander 
scale than had been manifested by the Army of the Poto- 
mac throughout this long struggle, in which every man's 
life seemed doomed. The stubborn perseverance of the 
general was equaled by the persistent determination of 
his soldiers. Day after day they had been called upon to 
assault earthworks of formidable character, defended by 
veteran troops ; and it was usually the case that they had 
seen, as the only fruits of their daring, almost reckless, 
charges, the ground in front of the hostile intrenchments 
strewed with the lifeless bodies of their comrades, while 
the enemy still held the coveted line of works. 


The battle of the Wilderness was a strange, deadly- 
struggle, which no man could see. A battle in which 
both armies were hidden in thickets and forests, impene- 
trable to vision, each making gigantic efforts for the 
overthrow and destruction of the other. It had resulted 
in no decisive advantage to either party. Lee was as 
ready to meet us at Spottsylvania as he had been in the 
Wilderness, and Grant was determined in his attack along 
the Ny, as though he had met with no repulse on Wilder- 
ness Run. The soldiers, too, of each army were as ready 
at Spottsylvania to test theii" relative valor as they had 
been in the Wilderness. 

At Spottsylvania we had lost thousands of our best men, 
and hundreds of our ablest officers in futile attempts to 
drive our enemy from impregnable positions ; yet, not- 
withstanding all our losses, and our hitherto unsuccessful 
assaults, our men rushed against the strong defenses at 
Coal Harbor with as much resolution and fortitude as 
though they had met with no reverses. 

From the Rapidan to the Chickahominy the advance 
had been almost a continuous battle, in which our army 
fought at a disadvantage. The men had for more than a 
month engaged the enemy in mortal combat by day and 
made fatiguing marches by night only to find themselves 
again face to face with the enemy in the morning. Sixty 
thousand of our comrades were either killed, wounded or 
missing. Of these more than thirteen thousand had been 
lost at Coal Harbor, about thirty-two thousand in the 
Wilderness, and nearly fifteen thousand at Spottsylvania 
and on the Xorth Anna. 

It is true that our enemy had suffered great losses, yet 
not half as many rebels as Union men had fallen. At 
Coal Harbor the disproportion was much greater than 
elsewhere. There the rebel loss had not been one- 
tenth as great as our own. Notwithstanding our frequent 


repulses, and despite the fact that our road was continu- 
ally blocked by an army behind powerful defenses, our 
march had been straight on toward the goal of our ambi- 
tion, the rebel capital. 

From the crossing of the Rapidan to the halt at Coal 
Harbor, in all our battles and all our flank movements, we 
had not swerved from the direct line to Richmond ; and 
now, with unimpaired vigor and still relentless determina- 
tion, the Army of the Potomac, and the imperturbable 
leader of the Union armies, were ready to undertake the 
capture of Richmond, by way of Petersburg!!, fully 
assured that their illustrious valor and never failing cour- 
age must sooner or later meet with their award. 



The march to Petersburgh — Smith's successes — The battle of June 18th — The 
Sixth and Second corps sent to the left — Rebels penetrate the line — Progress of 
the siege — Sixth corps proceeds to Reams' Station — Eautz's and Wilson's raids. 

At sunset on the 16th, the Sixth corps gathered upon 
the banks of the James river, and while the First and 
Third divisions embarked on steamers for City Point, the 
Second division crossed on the pontoon bridge. The 
division marched all night toward Petersburgh, from 
which direction we had heard cannonading all day. The 
column moved rapidly, leaving scores of stragglers, who 
quietly rolled themselves in their blankets and lay down 
behind the hedges to sleep till morning. The following 
day was sultry, and the dust was very annoying. The 
men were weary from want of sleep, and the march was 
a severe one ; but at sunset the division arrived at our 
lines before Petersburgh. Smith's corps had preceded us, 
and by assaulting the rebel position on the evening of the 
16th, had carried the lines northeast of the town for a 
distance of over two and a half miles, capturing fifteen 
pieces of artillery and three hundred prisoners. General 
Smith was then reinforced by Hancock's corps, which had 
just arrived by land, but no further advance was made 
that night. This neglect to take advantage of the absence 
of any large force of rebels in the works about Peters- 
burgh was severely censured by General Grant, who could 
not understand why General Smith, now reinforced by a 
large corps, had not at once taken possession of the town. 
The day that the Second division. Sixth corps, arrived in 


front of Petersburgh, the two divisions of that corps 
which had taken transports up the river, were ordered to 
reinforce General Butler at Bermuda Hundreds, where his 
command had gained some advantages, which were, how- 
ever, lost before night. All the corps having got up, 
attacks upon the rebel positions were renewed on the 17th 
and 18th. The attack on the 17th was made by Smith's 
command, and resulted in the loss of a few men, when the 
lines were withdrawn. 

Our Second division now relieved Brooks' division of 
the Eighteenth corps on the front line, the Seventy-seventh 
taking possession of a powerful redoubt, the other regi- 
ments taking their places in close proximity. The Ver- 
mont brigade was placed in rifle pits, as was also the First 
brigade. In order to secure unity of action, General Neill, 
commanding the division, was directed to receive orders 
from General Martindale of the Eighteenth corps. 

Standing in the redoubt occupied by the Seventy- 
seventh, which was upon a high blufi", and commanded a 
fine prospect of the surrounding country, we could trace 
the line of defenses which had already been captured, and 
those yet in the hands of the enemy. The defenses of 
Petersburgh consisted of a line of strong earthworks, in 
the form of a semicircle. Immense redoubts, like the one 
•we now occupied, were placed at frequent intervals, upon 
commanding positions, and these were connected by a line 
of rifle pits and high breastworks. At all advantageous 
points, also, were well constructed rifle pits, in front (now 
in rear) of the main works. Smith's corps had captured 
eleven of these forts and redoubts in the first assault, and 
they were now occupied by our forces, and the strong 
works which were intended for the defense of the town 
now bristled with cannon pointing toward it. 

The line of powerful forts and breastworks commenced 
about two and a half miles below Petersburgh, on the 


Appomattox, and, circling the city, terminated two or 
three miles above. 

Before us stretched the valley of the Appomattox in all 
its beauty, the level plain between us and the river clothed 
in the verdure of summer, the green fields of corn yet 
untrodden by the troops of either side. Below the 
heights, stretching far to the right and left, was the line 
of rifle pits now occupied by our men, and beyond these 
could be traced the outlines of the new works which 
the rebels were throwing up. Still beyond all these, the 
spires of Petersburgh towered grandly, and by the help 
of a glass the streets and houses were distinctly visible. 

On the 18th, another advance was made by the divisions 
of Smith's corps, a part of the Second corps, and our 
own Second division. Smith's troops advanced spiritedly 
across the plain, facing a withering lire of grape and can- 
ister, but were unable to come up to the rebel works. 

They were ordered to lie down, and at once every man 
commenced to throw up a little mound of earth in front 
of him, using his cup or plate, or even his hands or jack- 
knife, in place of a spade. 

Under this destructive fire the troops Avere forced to 
remain for some time, but they at length retired, having 
lost several hundred of their number. Neill's division 
was on the left of Smith's troops, and did not advance as 
far. Our losses were therefore slight. 

Owing to some unfortunate misunderstanding, the sur- 
geons of the Eighteenth corps were ordei-ed to the right 
of the line to establish field hospitals ; consequently, when 
the wounded of that corps began to come in, there were 
none of their surgeons at hand. The surgeons of our own 
division, however, quickly proceeded to establish a hospital 
f V them, in which they were all received and cared for, 
their wounds dressed, the shattered limbs removed, and all 
their wants attended to. The medical oflleers of the Eisrht- 


eenth corps expressed their warmest gratitude for this act 
of kindness on the part of the Sixth corps surgeons, tliis 
being the second time that we had found an opportunity 
of assisting them in an emergency. 

Our lines were daily drawn more closely around Peters- 
burgh, but no other general action was brought on for 
some time. There was constant firing of artillery from 
both sides, and now and then the rattle of musketry would 
pass along the lines. 

On the 22d, Colonel Bidwell's brigade occupied the front 
line of rifle pits. The sun was shining brightly, and our 
men, unprotected by shelter, were striving to pass the time 
with as little discomfort as possible. A group of men of 
the Seventy-seventh were behind the breastwork, stretched 
out upon the sand, resting upon their elbows and amusing 
each other with jokes, when a shell came shrieking into 
their midst. Its explosion threw them in every direction. 
One went high in the air and fell twenty feet from the spot 
where he was Ipng when the shell exploded. Strange to 
tell, not a man was killed, yet three had each a leg crushed 
to jelly, and two others were seriously wounded. The 
three whose legs were crushed were Sergeant James Barnes, 
James Lawrence, and James Allen, all of comj^any A. 
The poor fellows were taken to the field hospital completely 
prostrated from the shock, cold sweat stood upon their 
pallid brows, and life seemed but to flicker before going 
out. The surgeons were making haste to load the wounded 
and sick into ambulances to send to City Point, for we were 
ordered to march at a moment's notice. "You can do 
nothing for those men," said the wide awake, enterprising 
Doctor Hall, who was superintending the loading of the 
ambulances, as he saw the surgeon who had charge of 
the operations prej^are to remove the mangled members. 
"Better put them into ambulances and let them have a 
chance for their lives ! There is no time now to wait for 


operations." " How long will it take you to load your 
ambulances, doctor?" "Twenty minutes, at least." "Then 
I will have the men ready for you." The surgeon gave to 
each of the unfortunate ones a glass of brandy, tlien admin- 
istered his chloroform, and in less than thirty minutes had 
amputated the limbs, dressed the stumps, and placed the 
men in ambulances. They were taken at once to City 
Point, where they were placed together. Their cases 
excited great interest among the attendants in the hospital 
and the visitors, for each had lost a leg just above the knee, 
the name of each was James, they were all from one com 
pany, all wounded by a single shell, and all as cheerful as 
■were ever wounded men. They were afterward removed 
to Washington and again placed side by side, and here, 
also, they were subjects of great interest to visitors. The 
writer has frequently heard the case of the three Jameses 
related by persons in different States, who never mistrusted 
that they were men of his own regiment. The boys are 
each well now, each walks with his artificial limb, and each 
is a worthy member of society. 

General Grant, finding that his expectation of taking 
Petersburgh by surprise had failed, prepared for a system- 
atic investment of the town. Accordingly, the Sixth and 
Second corps were directed to procee.d to the left of the 
present line, so as to envelop the town, and also with 
the view of striking the Weldon railroad, and thus cutting 
oflT an important source of supplies for the rebel army. 

On the 21st of May, the two corps marching in the rear 
of the rest of the army went into position on the left flank, 
the Second corps on the west of the Jerusalem plank road, 
and the Sixth to the left and rear of that corps, its line 
nearly at right angles with that of the Second corps. 
The cavalry divisions of Wilson and Kautz were, at the 
same time, ordered to proceed still farther to the left, and, 
cutting the Weldon road, continue the march across the 


country, until they should strike the Southside railroad, 
which they were directed to destroy. 

On the morning of the 22d, General Birney, who, during 
the temporary absence of General Hancock, was in com- 
mand of the Second corps, was directed to move his corps 
forward, so as to press upon the left flank of the enemy. 

General Wright was also directed to move independently 
of the rest of the army, secure, if possible, a strong position 
on the enemy's right, and attack if he thought proper. The 
result of these movements was to leave a wide gap between 
these two corps. Our corps met the enemy, after advanc- 
ing a mile, in front of the Third division. A sharp skirmish 
occurred, in which that division lost some prisoners. The 
Second corps being forced back, we were also ordered to 
retire ; but the principal loss fell upon the Second corps, 
for that corps, having thrown its left far in advance, was 
greatly exposed. The principal attack fell on Barlow's di- 
vision, which occupied the left. That division was driven 
in confusion upon the other divisions of the corps. The 
whole corps was forced back, but after some spirited fight- 
ing the rebels were forced back, carrying with them a bat- 
tery belonging to the Second corps, and more than two 
thousand prisoners. From our own corps they had cap- 
tured about six hundred men and a stand of colors. 

The responsibility for this unfortunate surprise rests 
with the commander of the Second corps ; for General 
Wright, being entirely independent of any advance of 
that corps, had, of course, made no disposition to keep 
the line intact. The men of the Third division did all 
that men could do under the circumstances, and are en- 
titled to much credit for the repulse which they gave the 
en my. 

From that day, except that at times the roar of artillery 
shook the earth for miles about, wq remained quiet until 
the 29th of June. The light sandy soil soon became 


reduced to powder, and the continual passing of mules and 
army wagons raised hvige clouds of dust, which completely 
enveloped the army. At sunset this cloud would settle 
down and become so dense that one could not see objects 
twenty yards from him. The heat was almost intolerable, 
yet the health of the men was better than usual for the 
summer months. 

The surgeons had their hospitals neatly fitted up, and 
nurses and attendants took great pride in adorning the 
hospital tents with the boughs of the magnolia and other 
beautiful shrubs and flowers. The government and the 
agents of the Sanitary Commission supplied us liberally 
with lemons and vegetables, so, notwithstanding the 
intense heat, and the constant watchfulness of the men 
behind the earthworks, there was comparatively little 

In the afternoon of the 29th of June orders came for 
the Sixth corps to march at once to Reams' Station, far to 
the left, where the cavalry of Kautz and Wilson, which 
had been on an extensive raid, was expected to arrive. 
At four o'clock we left camp, marched all the remainder 
of the day and all night. We found ourselves in the 
morning at Reams' Station, on the Weldon Railroad. The 
men at once commenced tearing up the ti*ack and burning 
the ties. Thus they toiled all the morning, but no cavalry 
made its appearance. Late in the day the corps retraced 
their steps, and arrived that night within two and a half 
miles of the position we had left the day before. We 
made our bivouac on the Jerusalem plank road, and. in the 
morning rejoined the main army before Petersburgh and 
resumed our old position. 

The story of the great raid of Kautz and Wilson, which 
we now learned in detail, was one of thrilling interest, full 
of wild adventure, untold hardship and great peril. The 
two divisions had penetrated far to the rear of Lee's army, 


had destroyed miles of the Weldon railroad, and then, 
reaching the Southside road, the great artery for the sup- 
ply of the rebel army, had torn up the track and burned 
the ties for dozens of miles. In their return they had 
fallen in with the cavalry of the enemy, and, when near 
Reams' Station, had come upon a strong force of cavalry 
and infantry. An engagement ensued, which resulted in 
the Union cavalry being driven, and hundreds from the 
immense throng of colored refugees, which was following 
the cavalry towards the Union lines, were ridden down 
by the rebel cavalry and killed. The cavalry at length 
succeeded in reaching our lines by making a circuit farther 
south, and many of the negroes also succeeded in escaping 
from rebeldom. 



The Shenandoah Valley— Hunter's advance to Lynchburgh — The retreat — Bebela 
advance Into Maryland — Battle of Monocacy — Sixth corps goes to Washington- 
Battle of Fort Stevens. 

The Shenandoah Yalley, which had been the scene of 
6uch varied fortunes to our army during the war, again 
became a field of great interest. 

Simultaneous with the opening of the spring campaign 
by the army of the Potomac, General Sigel, who then com- 
manded in the valley, commenced to move his army. On 
th« 15th of May he met the enemy at New Market, and 
was defeated. He withdrew his army to Harper's Ferry, 
where, by order of General Grant, who was dissatisfied with 
his management, he was relieved of his command by Gen- 
eral Hunter. 

General Hunter at once resumed ofiensive operations, 
moved up the valley and encountered the enemy at Pied- 
mont and routed him, capturing fifteen hundred prisoners, 
three pieces of artillery and three thousand stand of small 
arms. He then pursued the routed army to Lynchburgh, 
which place he invested. To meet this movement of 
Huntei*, Lee had sent General Early with his corps to the 
assistance of the rebel garrison. This force arrived just 
before the Union army came up. General Hunter, finding 
that he was confronted by a large force, his ammunition 
being nearly exhausted, the diificulties of transporting 
over so long a march sufficient ordnance stores being very 
great, he determined to withdraw without risking a bat- 


tie. His want of ammunition forced him to make his 
retreat by that route which would afford most natural 
obstacles to pursuit and attack of the enemy. Accord- 
ingly, instead of retiiing directly down the Shenandoah, he 
drew his forces off" through the Kanawha Valley, leaving 
the Shenandoah open to the rebel army. The march of 
Hunter's men through the Kanawha, harassed by the 
enemy and destitute of food, was one of great severity. 
The rebels finding the Shenandoah open to them, at once 
pushed northward with a view of ravaging Maryland and 
Pennsylvania, and, if possible, entering "Washington. 

Owing to the great difficulties encountered by General 
Hunter's army, in reaching Harper's Ferry in time to 
oppose Early, it became necessai'y to send other troops to 
meet the invading force. Accordingly, about the 1st of 
July, the Third division of our Sixth corps, under com- 
mand of General Ricketts, was sent to Baltimore, and 
from thence marched toward Frederick, Maryland, where, 
on the banks of the Monocacy near the railroad bridge, 
the enemy was encountered. The Union forces consisted 
of the division from the Sixth corps, and a few thousand 
green troops collected about Baltimore, all under command 
of General Wallace. The force of Early greatly out- 
numbered those of the Union general, and after a hard 
fought battle our men were driven back. Although Gene- 
ral "Wallace had met with defeat, he had succeeded in 
arresting the progress of the invasion for a time, and 
enabled the remainder of our corps and a division of the 
Nineteenth corps to reach "Washington in advance of 
the rebels. 

Such was the state of affairs in Maryland, when, on the 
evening of the 9th July, the First and Second divisions of 
the Sixth corps were ordered to march to City Point at 
once. The order came at nine o'clock, and without delay 
the troops were in motion. "We had beqome too much 


accustomed to sudden movements, to require long prepara- 
tions for breaking up camp. The march of fourteen miles 
to City Point made during the night, was far more toler- 
able than it could have been by day. For although the 
roads were composed of dry beds of dust, in which 
the men sank almost ankle deep at every step, and the 
cloud which rose as the column moved along filled their 
throats and eyes and nostrils, yet they were not forced to 
endure the misery of a long march under a burning sun, 
such as for many days past had scorched these sandy 

It was daylight when the Sixth corps reached the James 
river at City Point, and the process of embarking com- 
menced at once. Before noon the two divisions, with the 
horses and baggage, were on board transports, which were 
in readiness when we arrived. The staff of Bidwell's 
brigade, with the Seventy-seventh and part of the Forty- 
ninth New York, with the brigade band, where on board 
the steamer Escort. We had also on board a hundred 

Great satisfaction was felt by all at the prospect of 
leaving the region whose natural desolation was height- 
ened by the devastation of war, and going to a country 
of plenty, with which so many pleasant remembrances 
were associated. Each man breathed more freely as the 
steamer swung out upon the river, and our brigade band 
sounded a good-bye to the scenes of our recent labors and 

Our fleet was soon steaming down the river, passing 
scenes of interest, many of which were intimately con- 
nected with the memories of other campaigns. Thei-e was 
Harrison's Landing, the camping ground of two years 
ago, the last one on the Peninsula, where our Union army 
crowded together on the banks of the James, sweltering 
beneath the oppressive heat of a southern sun; Fort Pow- 


hattan, where we had crossed the river on pontoons a 
month ago ; the iron-clad Atlanta, once a rebel ram, now 
doing service in the Union cause ; the ancient settlement 
of Jamestown ; the three-turreted monitor Roanoke ; Sew- 
ell's Point ; Hampton, the scene of our earliest Peninsula 
experience; the bay at Newport Xews, made famous by 
the conflict of the Monitor and Merrimac, the masts of the 
Cumberland still towering above the waters of the bay as 
monuments of the wonderful contest ; the old haunts of 
the Teaser, which had so unceremoniously introduced her- 
self to our division ; and, as evening came on, we passed 
Fortress Monroe, where the many lights of the fleet gave 
the harbor the appearance of a city in the waves. 

The wind was blowing freshly when we rounded Old 
Point Comfort, and our little steamer ploughed the white 
caps bravely. We made good time, and found ourselves 
the next morning steaming up the Potomac. Aquia creek 
was passed, recalling to mind the encampment at White 
Oak Church ; Mount Vernon claimed its tribute of thought, 
and at two o'clock we touched the wharf at the foot of 
Sixth street, Washington. The rest of the two divisions 
had already reached the wharves, and there, too, were 
some immense sea steamers, crowded with troops of the 
Nineteenth corps, fortunately just arrived from New 

The process of disembarking occupied but little time. 
President Lincoln stood upon the wharf chatting familiarly 
with the veterans, and now and then, as if in compliment 
to them, biting at a piece of hard tack which he held in 
his hand. 

The column was formed and we marched up Seventh 
street, past the Smithsonian Institute, the Patent Oflice 
and the Post Office, meeting on our way many old friends, 
and hearing the people who crowded upon the sidewalks 
exclaiming, "It is the old Sixth corps ! " "Those are the 


men who took Maiye's Heights ! " " The danger is over 
now ! " We had never before realized the hold which the 
corps had upon the affection of the people. Washington, 
an hour before was in a panic ; now as the people saw the 
veterans wearing the badge of the Greek cross marching 
through their streets, the excitement subsided and con- 
fidence prevailed. 

Thus Ave made our way to the north of the city, the 
sound of cannonading in our front stimulating and hasten- 
ing the steps of the men. Families, with a few of their 
choicest articles of household furniture loaded into wagons, 
were hastening to the city, reporting that their houses 
were burned, or that they had made their escape leaving 
the greater part of their goods to the mercy of the rebels. 

We reached a fine grove in rear of Fort De Russey and 
made our bivouac for the night. 

NoAV we learned the true position of afiairs. Early, 
having defeated the small force under General Wallace, 
pushed on toward Washington, carrying destruction in 
the path of his army. His cavalry reached Rockville, a 
little town twelve miles north of Washington, on the 
10th, detachments having destroyed portions of the Balti- 
more and Ohio railroad, seized trains of cars, in one of 
which was General Franklin, formerly commander of the 
Sixth corps, who was made a prisoner, but who managed 
to escape, and now, as we reached Washington, his advance 
was knocking at the defenses of that city. The forts were 
manned by a small force of heavy artillery, hundred days' 
men, and detachments of the Invalid corps; and, as we 
reached the rear of the defenses, regiments composed of 
clerks and employes of the quai'termaster's department, 
with convalescents from the hospitals, marched past us to 
take their places on the front. These hasty levies were 
placed in the forts for the night, to be replaced by veteran 
troops in the morning. 


July 12th came "bright and glorious. The First brigade 
of our Second division, and our sharpshooters, were on 
picket in front of Fort Stevens ; the Second and Third 
brigades still enjoying the delightful shade of the groves 
in rear of Fort De Russey. From the parapets of Fort 
Stevens could be seen the lines of rebel skirmishers, from 
whose rifles the white puffs of smoke rose as they dis- 
charged their pieces at our pickets. The valley beyond 
the fort presented a scene of surpassing loveliness, with its 
rich green meadows, its fields of waving corn, its orchards 
and its groves. To the right was Fort Slocum, and on 
the left Fort De Russey. 

The residence of Hon. Montgomery Blair was Avithin 
the line occupied by the confederates, and we heard that the 
fine mansion had been the scene of plunder and destruc- 
tion, in revenge, as the rebels declared, for havoc wrought 
by our troops in Virginia. 

The principal force of the enemy seemed to be in front 
of Fort Stevens, and here it was determined to give them 
battle. The barracks just in rear of the fort were con- 
verted into a hospital for our Second division, and all 
preparations were made for receiving our wounded men. 

Four o'clock came, but, except that the rebel skirmish- 
ers were sending their bullets whizzing over the fort, all 
was quiet. President Lincoln and his wife drove up to 
the barracks, unattended, except by their coachman, the 
superbly mounted squadron of cavalry, whose duty it was 
to attend upon his excellency, being left far behind. The 
carnage stopped at the door of the hospital, and the Presi- 
dent and his afiable lady entered into familiar conversa- 
tion with the surgeon in charge, praising the deeds of the 
old Sixth corps, complimenting the appearance of its vet- 
erans, and declaring that they, as well as the people of the 
country, appreciated the achievements of the wearers of 
the Greek cross. 



Thus, for nearly an hour, they chatted of A-arious things, 
when General Wright and his staff arrived on the ground, 
accompanied by several ladies and gentlemen from the city. 

All now repaired to the fort, and presently the portly 
form of Colonel Bidwell, followed by his Third brigade, 
was seen approaching. The brave colonel and his brave 
brigade marched i)ast the fort into the valley beyond, the 
President, the members of his cabinet and the ladies prais- 
ing the hardy, soldierly bearing of the men as they passed. 
They formed in two lines of battle, in rear of the skirmish 
line of the first brigade, the Seventy-seventh on the right 
of the line, then the Seventh Maine, and then the Forty- 
ninth. The Forty-third New York, Sixty-first Pennsyl- 
vania, and One Hundi-ed and Twenty-second New York 
forming the second line. The advance line was in charge 
.of Colonel French. 

According to preconcerted arrangements. Colonel Bid- 
well was to signify to General Wright, who remained in 
the fort, his readiness for the attack by a signal from the 
new flag of the Seventy-seventh, which had not yet been 
baptized in battle ; then the great guns in the fort were to 
open a storm of shells upon the rebel position, especially 
upon a house behind which and in which numbers of 
rebels had all day found refuge; then General Wright 
was to signal from the fort the command to advance and 
the brigade was to rush to the charge. 

Thus, with a pei'fect understanding on the part of all 
concerned, the brigade took its place. 

The flag of the Seventy-seventh waved the signal of 
readiness, the heavy ordnance in the fort sent volley after 
volley of thirty-two pound shells holding over the heads 
of our men into the midst of the rebels, and through the 
house where so many of them had found shelter, and then 
at the command of Sedgwick's " man of iron," the brave 
fellows started eagerly forward. They reached and passed 


the skirmisliers, and the white puffs of smoke and the 
sharp crack from their rifles became more and more 
frequent, first the rattle of an active skirmish, and then 
the continuous roar of a musketry battle. 

In magnificent order and with light steps they ran 
forward, up the ascent, through the orchard, through the 
little grove on the right, over the rail fence, up to the road, 
making straight for the first objective point, the frame 
house in front. The rebels at first stood their ground, 
then gave way before the impetuous charge. 

The President, the members of his cabinet and the 
ladies, as well as the military officers in the fort, and 
the crowd of soldiers and citizens, who had gathered 
about it to witness the fight, watched with breath- 
less interest the gallant advance as our boys pushed 
forward, keeping their line of battle perfect, except 
when now and then some regiment having the advant- 
age of ground, in its eagerness got a little in advance 
of others, until they saw the rebels take to flight. 
Then the crowd at the fort rent the air with exultant 
cheers, and as the boys reached the house, the people 
were wild with excitement, shouting and clapping their 
hands, leaping and dancing with joy. 

But the rebels did not yield without resistance. They 
met our men bravely, and though forced to seek safety in 
flight, turned and poured their volleys into the ranks of 
the pursuers. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, commanding the Forty- 
ninth, a brave man, who bad never shrunk from danger, 
and who had shared all the varied fortunes of the brigade 
since its organization, fell mortally wounded. Colonel 
Visscher, of the Forty-third, who had but lately succeeded 
the beloved Wilson, was killed. Major Jones, command- 
ing the Seventh Maine, was also among the slain ; and 
Major Crosby, commanding the Sixty-first Pennsylvania, 


who had but just recovered fi*oni the bad -wouud he 
received in tlie "Wilderness, was taken to the hospital, 
where the surgeon removed his left arm from the shoulder. 
Colonel French, of the Seventy-seventh, was injured, but 
not seriousl}'. The commanding officer of every regiment 
in the brigade was either killed or wounded. 

The fight had lasted but a few minutes, when the stream 
of bleeding, mangled ones, began to come to the reai'. 
Men, leaning upon the shoulders of comrades, or borne 
painfully on stretchers, the pallor of their countenances 
rendered more ghastly by the thick dust which had settled 
upon them, were brought into the hosj^itals by scores, 
where the medical officers, ever active in administering 
relief to their companions, were hard at work binding up 
ghastly wounds, administering stimulants, coffee and food, 
or resorting to the hard necessity of amputation. 

At the summit of the ascent, the confederates were 
strengthened by their second line of battle, and here they 
made a stout resistance ; but even this position they were 
forced to abandon in haste, and as darkness closed in upon 
the scene, our men were left as victors in possession of the 
ground lately occupied by the rebels, having driven their 
adversaries more than a mile. 

The Vermont brigade now came to the relief of the boys 
who had so gallantly won the field, and the Third brigade 
returned at midnight to the bivouac it had left in the 
morning. But not all returned. Many of those brave 
fellows who M^ent with such alacrity into the battle, had 
fallen to lise no more. In the orchard, in the road, about 
the frame house and upon the summit, where the rebels tad 
made so determined a resistance, their forms were stretched 
upon the green sward and in the dusty road, stifiE" and cold. 
Many more had come to the hospital severely injured, 
maimed for life or mortally wounded. 

The little brigade, numbering only a thousand men 


when it went into action, had lost two hundred and fifty 
of its number. 

During the night the raiders made their escape toward 
Rockville. The prisoners left in our hands told us that 
they had anticipated an easy victory in front of Washing- 
ton, believing that the forts were defended only by con- 
valescents and quartermaster's men, and, when they saw 
the white crosses of the old Sixth corps, they were seized 
with consternation. They now understood that the city 
was guarded by vetei'ans who had acquired, in the rebel 
army, a disagreeable reputation. 

While the battle was in progress. President Lincoln 
stood upon the parapet of the fort watching, with eager 
interest, the scene before him. Bullets came whistling 
around, and one severely wounded a surgeon who stood 
within three feet of the President. Mrs. Lincoln entreated 
him to leave the fort, but he refused ; he, however, accepted 
the advice of General Wright to descend from the parapet 
and watch the battle from a less exposed position. 

Cavalry was sent in the morning to ascertain the direc- 
tion of the flight of the enemy, but the infantry remained 
quietly awaiting events. 

We gathered our dead comrades from the field where 
they had fallen, and gave them the rude burial of soldiers 
on the common near Fort Stevens. None of those high 
in authority, who had come out to see them give up their 
lives for their country, were present to pay the last honors 
to the dead heroes. No officer of state, no lady of wealth, 
no citizen of Washington was there; but we laid them in 
their graves within sight of the capital, withovit coffins, 
with only their gory garments and their blankets around 
them. With the rude tenderness of soldiers, we covered 
them in the earth ; we marked their names with our pencils 
on the little head-boards of pine, and turned sadly away to 
other scenes. 

382 patriots' graves. 

But though no concourse of citizens followed the patriots 
to their humble resting-place, though no bands wailed the 
solemn dirge, and no casket but the earth inclosed their 
remains, their deeds were not forgotten. Their memory 
was enshrined in the hearts of the people ; and after a few 
weeks their remains M'ere exhumed from their scattered 
graves, they were placed together in a little inclosure on 
the sunny slope in front of the fort, and a beautiful monu- 
ment tells the story of their noble sacrifice. 

Note. — In the absence of General Getty, at the battle of Fort Stevens, the command 
of the Second division fell to General Frank Wheaton, of the First brigade, who exe- 
cuted the orders of General Wright, and had the immediate direction of the troops on 
the field. 

Since the above account of the battle of Fort Stevens has been in print, I have re- 
ceived the following very interesting account of President Lincoln's presence at the 
battle. Tiie writer of this work was in conversation with the President when General 
Wright rode up to the fort, and accompanied the party to the parapet, but left the fort 
when the wounded began to be brought to the rear. General Wright says : 

"The President evinced remarkable coolness and disregard of danger. Meeting him 
as I came out from my quarters, I thoughtlessly invited him to see the fight in which 
•we were about to engage, without for a moment supposing he would accept. A mo- 
ment after I would have given much to have recalled my words, as his life was too im- 
portant to the nation to be put In jeopardy by a chance shot, or the bullet of a sharp- 
Bhooter. He took his position at my side on the parapet, and all my entreaties failed to 
move him, though in addition to the stray shots which were constantly passing over, 
the spot was a favorite mark for the sharpshooters. When the surgeon to whom you 
allude was shot, and after I had cleared the parapet of every one else, he still main- 
tained his ground, till I told him I should have to remove him forcibly. The absurdity 
of the idea of sending off the President under guard seemed to amuse him ; but, in 
consideration of my earnestness in the matter, he agreed to compromise by sitting be- 
hind the parapet instead of standing upon it He could not be made to understand 
■why, If I continued exposed, he shuuld not ; and my representations that an accident 
to me was of little importance, while to him it could not be measured, and that it was, 
moreover, my duty, failed to make any impression on him. I could not help thinking 
that in leaving the parapet he did so rather in deference to my earnestly expressed 
■wishes than from any considerations of personal safety, though the danger had been so 
unmistakably proved by the wounding of the oflScer alluded to. After he left the par- 
apet hp would persist in standing up from time to time, thus exposing nearly one-half 
his tall form to the bullets." 



The Sixth and Nineteenth corps follow the enemy— Crossing the Potomac— 
Averill's fight at Snicker's Gap — Return of the Sixth corps to Washing- 
ton—March bacli to Harper's Ferry— Beturn to Maryland— Death of Major 
Ellis — General Sheridan assigned to command — BaclJ in the Valley — Charles- 
town— John Mosher— March to Fisher Hill — Return to Charlestown — Fight at 

At one o'clock the column of the Sixth corps moved, 
away from Fort Stevens, marching through the little vil- 
lage of Tanleytown, following in pursuit of the rebels. 
We moved rapidly till ten o'clock, then halted, much 
fatigued, at Potomac Cross Roads. At five o'clock, next 
morning, we were once more on our way, and after a march 
of twelve hours through a pleasant country, we made our 
bivouac at Poolsville, having marched thirty-six miles 
since leaving Fort Stevens. Our Sixth corps, with the 
two divisions of the Nineteenth corps, now constituted a 
new army, under command of General Wright, General 
Getty having command of the Sixth corps. At Poolsville 
we lay all day, waiting for our small cavalry force to find 
out the course which Early's army had taken, but on Sat- 
urday morning, the 16th, we were moving at daylight. 
We marched toward the Potomac, which we forded near 
the scene of Ball's BluiF slaughter. The spectacle at the 
ford was novel and exciting. The stream was wide, but 
not more than two or three feet deep. The bottom was 
rough and stony, and the current was strong. For nearly 
a mile up and down the river the brigades were crossing ; 
the stream filled with infantry wading with difficult steps 


over the uneven bottom, mounted officers carefully guid- 
ing their horses lest they should stumble, trains of artillery 
and wagons slowly toiling through, and groups of pack 
animals scarcely able to keep their footing under their 
huge burdens. The laugh of hundreds sounded up and 
down the river, as some unfortunate footman, slipping 
from a smooth stone, would, for a moment, disappear 
beneath the sui'face of the river, or as some overloaded 
mule or pack horse, losing his footing, would precipitate 
his load, and peradventure the small negro boy, who, in 
order to secure a dry passage across the ford, had perched 
himself on the top of the bags and bundles, into the rush- 
ing waters. 

The troops gathered upon the southern bank of the 
river, and the infantry proceeded to empty the water from 
their boots and shoes, and to wring it from their stockings. 
This short task over, the march was resumed. 

Passing through a section where some very interesting 
conglomerate rocks attracted the attention of those scien- 
tifically inclined, we left the little town of Leesburgh 
behind, and at eight o'clock in the morning encamped in a 
ploughed field, tired and hungry, and, it must be confessed, 
a little dissatisfied at the idea of sleeping on ploughed 
ground while fresh meadows were on every side of us. 
In this bivouac we spent the Sabbath, and services were 
held by the chaplains in the various brigades. 

Early Monday morning the march Avas resumed, our 
little army passing through the delightful hill scenery 
of Loudon county, and through the diminutive villages of 
Hamilton and Purcellville. As the afternoon advanced, 
we found ourselves toiling up the ascent of the Blue 
Ridge, pleasant farm houses and fine orchards greeting 
our sight on either side of the road. Darkness was upon 
us before we passed through Snicker's Gap, a deep gorge 
in the mountains, through which winds a rough, unkept 

AT snicker's gap, 385 

road; and by the moonlight we spread our blankets for 
another night's rest. 

The morning revealed the lovely Shenandoah Valley 
spread out before us, its river lying at our feet. 

The troops of the " Army of Virginia," under Averill, 
had engaged the enemy with doubtful success before our 
arrival. Indeed, the troops on both sides seemed to have 
become demoralized. The rebels were retreating, and 
Averill's men had made their way back to the east side of 
the river in such hot haste as to leave some of their flags 
floatmg in the stream. 

We remained during the 19th in apparent uncertainty as 
to what course to pursue, whether to give chase to the 
enemy, who it was now supposed had made good his retreat 
up the valley, or to return to Washington. But an order 
from General Grant, directing General Wright to get back 
to Washington at once with the Sixth corps, that the 
troops might be at once returned to the Army of the Poto- 
mac before Early could reinforce Lee, determined our 
course, and at night we were again passing through 
Snicker's Qap, the infantry and teams crowded together in 
the narrow defile to the great inconvenience of the foot- 
men and annoyance of the artillerymen and teamsters. 
Marching rapidly all night and the next day, halting 
only a short time for coffee in the morning and at noon, 
we retraced our steps to Leesburgh, then following the 
turnpike we reached and passed Drainsville, and halted 
near Difficult creek. July 23d, the corps marched through 
Lewinsville and Langley, passed Camp Griffin, the memory 
of which was indissolubly connected with our first winter 
in the service, crossed Chain bridge and went in camp near 
Tanleytown, five miles out from Washington. 

Transports were waiting on the Potomac to convey us 
to City Point, but as matters in the valley still seemed 
unsettled, the corps remained at Tanleytown, and on the 


25th, it became certain that Early witli his army was again 
moving down the valley, threatening Maryland and Penn- 
sylvania. The Sixth corps received orders to move at 
once toward Harper's Ferry, but by some delay it was 
noon of the 26th when it turned back from Tanleytown 
toward the scene of our futui-e brilliant operations. 

The day on which the corps moved had been hot, and 
many of the men, weary with long marches, had been 
forced to fall out, but, most of all, bad whisky from 
Washington bad demoralized great numbers, and these, 
with the sick and weary, made up a great crowd of 
stragglers. The task, which was assigned to the rear- 
guard, the Seventy-seventh New York, of urging these 
inebriated and discouraged ones toward their commands, 
was not an easy or agreeable one. The corps made all 
baste in the direction of Frederick, which city it reached 
on the 28th, crossing the field of General Wallace's battle 
with Early. 

Without halting at Frederick, except to get our cofiee 
near Monocacy creek, we pushed on to Jefierson, getting 
into camp at midnight. The next day we marched through 
Knoxville, Newton and Sandy Hook, through that wonder- 
ful gorge in the mountains at Harper's Ferry, and arrived 
at evening footsore and weary at Halltown, four miles 
south of Harper's Ferry. Then, next day we were ordered 
back again. The whole command poured into the deep 
valley at Harper's Ferry, the day was sultry even for that 
locality, not a breath of air seemed to be stirring, and the 
hio-h mountains on every side reflected the heat and kept 
off the breeze. Into this hot, dusty inclosure among the 
hills, the whole army poured, and as there was only a 
single pontoon bridge to serve as an outlet, there was of 
course great delay. Horses stood harnessed to the cannon 
or under the saddle, the sweat literally pouring off their 
sides like rain, while men panted for breath and seemed 

"played out." • 387 

almost on the point of suffocation. It was late in the 
night when our corps was all over the bridge, and the march 
was continued without rest during the whole night and all 
next day till we arrived again near Frederick City, where 
we had a night and a day of rest. We now learned that 
the cause of our sudden countermarch was the raid of 
Early's cavalry, Avho had burned the city of Chambers- 
burgh, and caused much destruction of property elsewhere. 

By this time the Sixth corps was, in army parlance, 
"about played out." Even our famous mai'ches on the 
Getty sburgh campaign Avere eclipsed by this perpetual 
series of forced marches for nearly a month. The men 
were very much worn from their campaigns before leaving 
Petersburgh, but now we had had a month of traveling, 
night and day. 

Hardly were the troops settled in camp for a night of 
rest, before the bugle called them to go again. Now 
when we marched, horses would drop down by dozens 
along the road, unable to rise again. Their riders would 
Btrip them of their saddles, and leave the w.orn out steeds 
to their fate. If, by chance, one of these deserted horses, 
after a few hours of rest, could muster strength to rise to 
his feet, he was doomed to be seized by some drummer 
boy, or other wight of the "bummer" tribe, mounted and 
rode till his strength again failed. Then the dismounted 
bummer would coolly remove his hempen bridle, shoulder 
his drum, and seek for another steed. For two or three 
days past the weather had been excessively hot, and men 
could be seen lying all along the roadside, as we marched, 
Buffering from sunstroke. 

Wednesday, August 3d, the Sixth corps marched to 
Buckeystown, a little village on the Monocacy, about five 
miles south of Frederick. 

The different brigades of the corps were scattered about 
on the hillsides which bounded the pleasant valley of the 


Monocacy, where pure fresh air was in ahundance, and 
the men gladly availed themselves of the privilege of 
bathing in the delightfully clear waters of the river. For 
a distance of nearly two miles the river was filled with 
bathers at all hours, except in the hottest part of the day 
and in the night, and even then some might be seen enjoy- 
ing the luxury of the bath. 

At Buckeystown we remained two days, in the enjoy- 
ment of a pleasant bivouac ; yet, as though no place was 
free from evil, an event occurred here afflictive to our 
brigade and to the corps. 

Among the most energetic and brave officers of our 
Third brigade, was Major Ellis, of the Forty-ninth New 
York. He had been wounded at Spottsylvania while lead- 
ing a charge against the enemy at the terrible " angle." 
A ramrod had passed through his left arm, and bruised the 
chest near the heart. He was taken to Fredericksburgh, 
from whence he went to Washington, and thence home. 
Returning to his command before he had fully recovered, 
he was advise^ by medical officers not to attempt any severe 
duty. But being detailed to the staff of General Russell, 
commanding the First division, he at once resumed active 
military duties. On these recent marches, the major, weary 
of inaction, had taken command of a body of men who 
acted as additional provost-guard to the division. 

In this position he had exhibited his usual energy, 
though it was thought by some he executed his duties 
wdth too great severity. Ever since receiving his wound, 
he had complained of severe neuralgic pains in the region 
of the heart. Except that this pain was slightly more 
acute than usual, the major retired to his tent on the night 
of the 3d, in his accustomed health. 

In the morning he sent his servant from the tent for a 
moment, and when the man returned the major Avas dead. 
An autopsy was made by the writer of these pages, in the 


presence of about twenty of his professional brethren, A 
sharp splinter of bone from one of the ribs was found with 
its acute point piercing vital organs. 

The funeral display was the most imposing ever wit- 
nessed in any corps of the Army of the Potomac. "We 
had seen military pageants on a large scale, but nothing 
to compare with this in its solemn sublimity. 

The remains were laid in state in a large tent near 
General Russell's head-quarters, wrapped in a silken flag, 
and the tent itself was draped with the Stars and Stripes. 
Presently the majoi''s regiment, the Forty-ninth New 
York, came as mourners, unarmed, and formed in two 
ranks facing each other near the tent. Then the chaplain 
of the Forty-ninth, led in a short religious service, very 
appropriate and very impressive, while the whole of the 
First division Avas being formed in two parallel lines 
facing each other, and about eighty paces apart. The 
service over, a regiment of heavy artillery came to act as 
escort. The remains, inclosed in a rude coffin, wrapped 
in the flag under which he had so often fought, were 
placed in an ambulance, and the funeral cortege began its 
slow march through the long lines of sunbrowned veterans 
who stood on either side. First in the procession was the 
escort, the muskets of the men reversed, preceded by a 
band playing a solemn dirge. Then the ambulance with 
the remains, the major's hat, coat and sword lying upon the 
coffin ; then his riderless horse, saddled and bridled, and 
led by a servant ; then the regiment as mourners ; 
and finally General Russell and the staff" of the First 
division with the division flag, and the stafis of the three 
brigades of the division, and our Third brigade. Second divi- 
sion, each with its flag, with a large concourse of officers, 
personal friends of him whose remains were thus honored. 

As the cortege proceeded with slow steps between the 
lines of soldiers, they stood with arms presented, and 


the colors of the regiments drooped as the procession 
passed. Thus attended the remains were conveyed to the 
railroad station, three miles distant, where they were 
placed on boai'd a train for Washington. 

Lieutenant-General Grant visited our army on the 5 th 
of August, and, in consultation with General Hunter, 
determined upon a course for our future operations. So 
quietly was this visit of the Commander-in-Chief of the 
armies made, that very few in our little army knew of 
the presence of General Grant. 

Among other things determined upon at this time was 
a change of commanders. General Hunter, who had 
commanded the " Army of the Shenandoah," with credit 
to himself and honor to our arms, was to be relieved, and 
General Philip S. Sheridan, who had, since the commence- 
ment of the spring campaign, commanded the cavalry 
corps of the Army of the Potomac, was to take command 
of all the forces operating against Early. The depart- 
ment of West Virginia, Washington, Susquehanna and 
the Middle Department, were to constitute the " Middle 
Military Division," to be under the command of General 
Sheridan. To this middle military division the Sixth 
corps was temporarily assigned. This was a new era in 
the history of that corps. Hitherto it had been, from the 
beginning, connected with the noble Army of the Potomac. 
Its history and its fame were inseparably connected with 
the history of that army, and when the corps had come to the 
rescue of the capital, it came as a detachment of the Army 
of the Potomac. Now, for the first time, the corps was to 
be identified with another army. But great as was the 
fame and honor which the corps had, by noble deeds, won 
for itself, it was now, by heroic achievements in the new 
field, to crown itself with glories even more dazzling than 
those in its proudest days in the old array. 

We were ordered, on the evening of the- 5th, to march 


immediately. The troops of the Sixth corps proceeded at 
once to Moiiocacy Junction, where they took cars for 
Harper's Ferry. The quartermasters, and hospital trains 
followed rapidly by the wagon roads. 

Troops and trains reached the heights beyond Harper's 
Ferry at night, and on the following morning the line of 
battle was established at Halltown. 

General Sheridan now assumed command. "We knew 
little of him except that he had very successfully com- 
manded the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac for the 
last three months, but we were satisfied that General Grant 
trusted to his generalship, and we had already learned 
enough of General Grant's knowledge of human nature to 
place confidence in the general of his choice. 

One thing pleased us at the start. Our new general 
was visible to the soldiers of his command; wherever we 
went he was with the column, inhaling the dust, leaving 
the road for the teams, never a day or two days behind the 
rest of the array, but always riding by the side of the men. 
His watchful care of the details of the march, his interest 
in the progress of the trains, and the ready faculty with 
which he brought order out of confusion Avhen the roads 
became blockaded, reminded us of our lamented Sedgwick. 
Another feature of the new administration pleased us. 
When the head-quarter tents of the commander of the 
Middle Military Division were pitched, there was one 
wall tent, one wedge tent and two flies. This modest 
airray of shelter for the general and his stafi" was in happy 
contrast with the good old times in the Army of the 
Potomac, when more than eighty six-mule teams were 
required to haul the baggage for head-quarters of the army. 

At Halltown we remained for a few days, gaining what 
we so much needed, rest. The air was delightfully cool 
and refreshing, and it seemed as though each particular 
breath was laden Avith health and strength. 

392 sheeidan's aemy. 

We were rejoiced to see some of our Army of the 
Potomac cavalry joining us, and our army began to assume 
dimensions which filled us with confidence. We had now 
the Sixth corps, General Wright, two divisions of the 
Nineteenth corps under General Emory, and Hunter's 
"Army of Virginia," usually called the Eighth corps, 
under command of General Crook. Our cavalry con- 
sisted of Averill's force which had been in the valley, 
and we were now receiving two divisions from the Army 
of the Potomac, one in command of General Torbert, the 
other of General Wilson. The cavalry force was soon 
afterward organized, with General Torbert in command 
of the whole force, and Generals Custer, Averill and Mer- 
ritt, each in command of a division. 

On the tenth of the month we commenced our march up 
the Shenandoah Valley. No sooner had the siin made its 
appearance above the Blue Ridge than we found the day 
to be most intensely hot. Soldiers were falling along the 
roadside in great numbers overcome with the heat, and 
what added to the hardships of the day's journey was the 
want of water. The turnpike along which we marched 
was parallel with a fine stream of water on either side, 
but the water was so far distant as to be useless to the 
soldiers. Yet there were a few springs and wells at some 
distance from the road which supplied those who could 
leave the column. 

We passed through Charlestown, the scene of the trial 
and execution of John Brown. There was the court 
house to which he was brought on his couch to receive his 
trial for treason, and there the jail in which he spent 
his last days, and from which he was led to execution. 
How had all things changed ! The people who stood 
about the gallows of John Brown, and gnashed their 
teeth in their bitter hatred, were now themselves guilty 
of treason. The court house was in ruins, and the jail 


"was but a shell of tottering walls. The town also had 
suffered fearful ravages from war, and now a Union army 
was marching through its streets, every band and every 
drum corps playing the stirring but to southern ears hate- 
ful air, " John Brown's body lies mouldering in the grave," 
and we may anticipate our narrative to say that whenever 
our army or any part of it had occasion to pass through 
this town, the bands always struck up this air, as if to 
taunt the inhabitants with the memory of their victim, 
and played it from one limit of the town to the other. 
So John Brown was revenged ! 

The Shenandoah Valley has been often called the 
" Garden of Virginia," and truly it is a lovely valley, yet 
as we marched along we could see but little cultivation. 
The groves of oak were delightful. Teams with wagons 
might be driven anywhere among them. But the fields 
were mostly desolate. Here and there a field of corn pro- 
mised a medium crop if left to ripen untrodden by our 
army, but there was no luxuriance of vegetation. The 
mountains, the Blue Ridge on one side and the North 
mountains on the other, rose abruptly from the valley in 
parallel lines, and looked as though a race of Titans had 
been at war, and had thrown up these long ridges as 
breastworks for opposing forces. 

A little beyond Charlestown was a lovely meadow, 
lying between two groves of oak. At the further end of 
the meadow was a neat white cottage, where there seemed 
more comfort than we had seen elsewhere in the valley. 
The place was away from the direct line of march, and 
partly concealed by the groves. 

Those who left the column were furnished by the family 
with pure sweet water from a well, which the family 
asserted was sunk by order of General Braddock. Such 
places were so rare that our men and animals suffered 
from thirst. Few who were on that march will forget a 


spring wMcli we passed near the close of that day's march. 
A large white frame house stood upon an elevation, sur- 
rounded by trees, and at foot of the elevation, a large 
spring, under the shade of a huge willow, and surrounded 
by other trees. The water gushed out from a fissure in the 
rock, clear as crystal, and in such volume that a large 
brook was formed at once. Over the spring was the usual 
" spring house." Soldiers filled this building, covered the 
great rocks, crowded the grove, and for many yards around 
a dense mass of men pressed to get near the tempting 
fountain, all eager to fill their cups and canteens, and has- 
ten on with the column. No one can know with what 
delight the soldiers quafied the sparkling fluid from their 
sooty cofiee pots, who has not suffered the torture of 
extreme thirst. 

^We halted near Clifton, and resumed our march on the 
following morning, to suffer, if possible, more from heat 
and thirst than ever. At night we bivouacked near 
Opequan creek. "We threw ourselves upon the grassy 
sward, with the beautiful canopy of heaven with its mot- 
tled clouds and twinkling stars and flying meteors, for our 
tent. For many of us, this was the only tent we had slept 
under since leaving Petersburgh, and we Avere satisfied 
with it. The air was purer and the breeze fresher than 
when we were inclosed by canvas. 

Again, on the morning of the 12th, we were marching. 
We passed through the villages of Newtown and Middle- 
town, and halted at night on the banks of Cedar creek. 

"We were startled in the morning by the announcement 
of the death of a good soldier. John Mosher had 
marched with the column the day before, but owing 
to the overpowering heat was obliged to fall a lit- 
tle behind. Toward evening, finding himself too much 
exhausted to walk further, he applied for and obtained 
permission to ride in an ambulance of the First division. 


During the night he was found to he dying. The kind 
hearted surgeon in charge of the hospital of the First 
division, Dr. Crehore, and one of his assistants, spent some 
hours with him, using every means to restore him, but 
without avail. He died before morning. A letter in his 
pocket told his name and regiment. We made a grave 
near Cedar creek, and a few of his comrades stood around 
it while he was lowered to his bed of earth, wrapped in 
his blanket. The chaplain offered a brief prayer ; his fel- 
lows in arms fired a parting salute, and we left him to 
sleep in the valley where, a few weeks later, some of his 
companions were to rest by his side. 

On the 13th all the troops were across on the south side 
of Cedar creek. The pickets of our Second division occu- 
pied one end of the village of Strasburgh, while those of 
the enemy held the other. We were sure that we must 
fight here, and we were not unAvilling. Our cavalry was 
scouting on the flanks, skirmishing with rebel cavalry and 
searching for a way to outflank Early's ai"my. The rebels 
held a position of great strength, and to make a direct 
assault would be to run a great risk of a repulse. The 
walls of the valley^ the Blue Ridge and the North Moun- 
tains, came cloee together here, and, to render the position 
sti'onger, Fisher Hill, a commanding eminence, a promi- 
nent object in the landscape, to be seen from one end of 
the valley to the other, rose directly in our front and 
obstructed our passage. Upon the declivities of this hill 
the enemy had planted batteries so as to command our 
approach from any direction. 

We remained gazing at this strong j^osition till night- 
fall, and then recrossed the river, and made our position 
strong for defense. General Sheridan had been instructed 
by General Grant not to bring on a general engagement 
unless it was forced upon him. General Grant regarded 
our army rather as one of defense than for offensive opera- 


tions. Should we suiFer defeat, tlie capital and the rich 
fields of Penusylvania and Maryland would again be open 
to the rebels. So we were to watch their movements and 
hold them in check, but we were not to risk a battle with 

Meanwhile, the ubiquitous Mosby was at work in our 
rear, at Berryville, with a band of guerrillas. He had 
made a bold dash upon a long train, belonging principally 
to the cavalry, and guarded by almost a brigade of hund- 
red days' men ; had dispersed the inexperienced guard, 
which was scattered along the road for miles ; had cap- 
tured the mules, and burned the wagons and supplies. 
Seventy-five wagons had fallen a prey to the adventurous 
bandit, while the hundred days' men had made good their 
escape. Old men, women and children, joined in the work 
of destruction, setting fire to the wagons, and carrying off 
whatever articles they could easily remove from them. 
Prisoners whom they captured were murdered, either by 
Mosby's band, or by the more merciless citizens, and left 

This raid upon our communications led General Sheridan 
to fear a more general advance of the rebels beyond the 
mountains, with a view of coming with force wpon our rear. 

So, on the evening of Tuesday, the 16th, the army 
marched northward down the valley again. All night 
and all the next day the weary march was kept ujx We 
went through Winchester, where the rebel women came 
out by hundreds to rejoice at our retreat, and halted on 
the banks of the Opequan for the night. Then, when the 
morning came, we were off again, and, after a severe 
march, formed in line of battle a mile south of Charles- 

The Jersey brigade, under Colonel Penrose, was left as 
rear-guard and support to the cavalry on the retreat. 
At Winchester the brigade, flanked by cavalry, made a 


stana. The enemy came down upon the brigacle In large 
force, handled it roughly, and sent the Jersey boys 
through the town in confusion. Their resistance had been 
all that could have been asked ; but the brigade, staunch as 
it was, was not enough for the force that came against it. 

Our Sixth corps guarded the turnpike leading from 
Harper's Ferry to Winchester. On the left of the pike, 
facing southward, was our Second division, and on the 
right our First division. 

The Eighth corps held the center of the line, and the 
Nineteenth corps the left, its flank resting on Berryville. 

On Sunday morning, the 21st of August, our cavalry 
"was driven back upon the infantry, and we suddenly dis- 
covered the enemy coming down upon the Sixth corps in 
three heavy columns. With scarcely any warning we 
found shells pitching into our camp among the standing 
tents, and bullets whistling among the trees that afforded 
"as shelter from the sun. 

The corps was quickly in line, the tents struck and every- 
thing in fighting trim. Our boys received the onset of the 
rebels with cool bravery, giving them back volley for 
volley. The fight was kept up for several hours, the 
Eighth corps being but slightly engaged, and the Nine- 
teenth corps not at all. Our Second division. Sixth corps, 
receiving the weight of the attack. Our men threw up 
"breastworks along the front, and at length the Vermont 
brigade was ordered to charge upon the enemy. The 
charge was executed with the usual brilliancy and fighting 
joy of that brigade and the confederates were glad to 
leave us in undisputed possession of the ground. 



Encampment at Berryville — Leaving camp — The advance — Taking position-* 
Advance and retreat— Deatli of Russell — "I know they'll run " — Reminis- 
cences — At the hospitals — A regiment going home — " Why don't he come." 

The rebels were repulsed ; but as our position at Charles- 
town was one that might easily be flanked, our army fell 
back during the night to the strong position at Halltown, 
where defensive works were thrown up, and again we 
awaited the advance of the enemy; but except some 
skirmishing on the left of the line, no attack was ventured 
by Early; and after two or three days he withdrew to 
the vicinity of Winchester, and established his line along 
the west bank of Opequan creek, so as to cover the three 
roads leading from Martinsburgh, from Hai'per's Ferry 
and from Berryville to Winchester. We followed and 
established our line on the east side of the creek, and some 
miles from it, at Berryville. 

Our encampment at Berryville was one of the most 
delightful of our resting places, even in the Shenandoah 
"Valley. We passed the days pleasantly, strolling or riding 
among the groves of black walnut, visiting among the vari- 
ous regiments, amusing ourselves with chess and books. 
Nothing occurred to interrupt these pleasant pastimes and 
the monotony of picket duty until the 13th of September, 
when the Second division was directed to make a recon- 
noissance to the Opequan. We marched to the creek very 
early in the morning, found the enemy in force, lost a few 
men by the shells from the rebel batteries, and returned to 


On the IStli our army was visited by Lieutenant-General 
Grant. The story of his visit we give in his own words : 

"I left City Point on the 15th to visit him (General 
Sheridan), at his head-quarters, to decide, after conference 
with him, what should he done. I met him at Charles- 
town, and he pointed out so distinctly how each army lay ; 
what he could do the moment he was authorized, and 
expressed such confidence of success, that I saw there 
were but two words of instruction necessary — Go in ! 
* * * I may here add that the result was such that I 
have never since deemed it necessary to visit General 
Sheridan before orivino- him orders." 

Thus the two armies lay face to face, with the stream 
and a narrow strip of country between them, either able 
to bring on an engagement at any time. The quiet was 
broken on the morning of the 19th, wlien we advanced to 
win the first of that series of brilliant victories which 
startled Europe and America; wliich gave to our little 
army an enviable renown among the armies of the Union, 
and established the reputation of our chief as one of the 
foremost generals of the age. 

Early had taken the initiative. On Sunday the 18th, he 
had sent General Gordon's division toward Martinsburgh, 
with orders to drive out the Union forces, and destroy 
the government proj^erty. Gordon was met by Averill's 
cavalry and driven back to Drakesville. Sheridan, dis- 
covering the mistake made by Early in separating his 
forces, was qiaick to avail himself of the advantage of 
his enemy's blunder. Orders were issued to move at once, 
but, for some reason, several hours elapsed before the army 
was ready. 

"We left our pleasant camps at Berryville, at two o'clock 
Monday moi*ning, the Sixth corps in advance, raoAdng in 
two columns, one on either side of the road, the ammuni- 
tion wagons, artillery and ambulances taking the pike. 


The Third brigade, Second division, led the infantry. The 
Nineteenth corps followed the Sixth, mai'chiug in similar 
order, its infantry in the fields and its artillery and wagons 
on the pike, while Crook's Kanawha corps moved further 
to the south, with orders to connect with the Sixth corps 
at Opequan creek. Two divisions of cavalry, under Merritt 
and Averill, were directed to» amuse the enemy near 
Bunker's Hill, and draw the attention of the rebel gene- 
rals in that direction as much as possible. It was the 
design of General Sheridan thus to amuse the enemy on 
the left while he should march his army up the Berryville 
and Winchester pike, strike the right flank of Early's 
army, and by a sudden and unexpected attack, to get in 
the rear and cut off the reti'eat of the rebel forces. By 
one of those inexplicable mistakes, Avhich sometimes upset 
the plans of our generals, this design was not fully real- 
ized, and had General Sheridan been less determined and 
less dashing, he might have abandoned the idea of attack- 
ing Early at all. 

At five o'clock Wilson's cavalry had crossed the creek 
befoi-e us, having dispersed the pickets of the enemy, 
driving them back to their line of field works, and then, 
by a dashing charge, had leaped their horses over the 
breastworks of the first line of defenses, and routed 
the rebels, capturing about fifty of their number. 

Immediately after this gallant exploit of the cavalry, the 
Sixth corps crossed the creek and advanced on the turnpike 
about a mile, where the enemy was found in force. As we 
moved along, through the deep ravine, following the pike, 
we were warned of the active work we might expect in 
front, as we saw cavalrymen coming to the rear, some 
leading their wounded horses, others with their heads 
bound in bloody handkerchiefs, some with arms hanging 
in slings, others borne on litters. Here by the roadside 
might be seen the prostrate, lifeless form of some soldier 


of the Union; there, where a silvery brook babbled along 
across the pike, on its grassy banks, and beneath the 
shadow of a large tree, was gathered a little group of 
boys in blue, performing the last acts of kindness to a 
comrade in whom the vital spark was almost extinguished, 
and a surgeon bending over the dying soldier striving to 
render less painful the few lingering moments of life. 

We moved up a steep ascent and formed in line of battle 
in a cornfield ; the Third brigade on the left, the First in 
the centei", and the Vermonters on the right; then on the 
left of the Second division the Third division got into posi- 
tion, and the Fii'st division came up in the rear as reserve. 
Our artillery was brought into position and a vigorous 
shelling commenced on both sides. 

The Sixth corps was now ready for a charge upon the 
enemy, but it was discovered that, by some misconception 
of orders, the Nineteenth corps, which should have been on 
the ground, was left far behind. Orders were dispatched 
to hasten it to the field of action, but two hours, precious 
hours to that army, elapsed before it was in position. 

Those two hours of delay enabled Early to strengthen 
his right ; to throw up strong earthworks, and bring Gor- 
don's division on the run, to his assistance. We had been 
fortunate only in seizing the position on the west side of 
the stream, or the battle would, from this delay, have been 
worse for us. 

Merritt and Averill, by skillfully maneuvering their 
troops in front of Bunker's Hill, had enabled us to seize 
this advantage. 

The Nineteenth corps was formed on the right of the 
Sixth, in four lines of battle ; Wilson's cavalry was on our 
left. It was eleven o'clock when the advance was sounded. 
In oiir front were undiilating fields, traversed by deep 
ravines, alpiost stripped of timber, except whei'e the rebels 
had formed their line of battle in a belt of woods that 


skirted the turnpike. It was an imposing spectacle to 
watch that line of battle, stretching three miles across the 
fields, as it moved toward the rebel lines, the men as com- 
posed as though on parade, the line straight and compact, 
the various division, brigade and regimental flags floating 
gaily in the sunlight. Away in our front we could see 
Winchester; its gleaming spires and shining roofs, bright 
with the warm glow of mid-day, and we j^roudly felt that 
before night it would be ours. Onward, through the corn- 
fields and over the grassy knolls, now descending into a 
ravine and now rising upon the open j^lain, where the 
rebel artillery swept with terrible effect, the long line 
pressed forward, regardless of the destructive fire that 
constantly tliinned our ranks. At every step forward, 
men were dropping, dropping ; some dead, some mortally 
hurt, and some with slight wounds. N"ow on this side, 
now on that they fell ; still the line swept forward, leaving 
the ground behind it covered with the victims. 

Thus we pushed onward, the rebels falling back, desper- 
ately disputing every step, when a murderous fire, from 
batteries which the enemy had skillfully placed, suddenly 
swept our right with fearful slaughter. 

Thus far all had gone well. Now our hearts were sick 
as we looked far to the right and saw the Nineteenth 
corps and our Third division falling back, back, back, the 
grape and canister of the hostile cannon crashing through 
the now disordered ranks, and the exulting rebels follow- 
ing with wild yells of victory. 

The retreat of the troops on the right of the Second 
division left its flank, held by the Vermonters, exposed, 
and they, too, were forced to fall behind the Third brigade, 
which still held its ground, the fire in its front being at 
the moment less severe. Our batteries were rushed for- 
ward, and the gallant First division, the noble Russell at 
its head, came bravely up to the rescue. 


As the noble soldier broxiglit liis division into position a 
cannon ball swept him from his horse — dead. A great 
spirit had fallen, and in a moment we were made an army 
of mourners. " I have lost my captain," said Sheridan, as 
the work of the day closed. 

We all remembered the modest, almost bashful, demeanor 
of the fallen general among his friends, and his glorious 
heroism in the presence of his enemies, and many tears 
moistened the brown cheeks of rough soldiers as they 
thought of the loss of one of our best beloved leaders. 

Under command of General Wheaton the brave division 
pushed straight on. Nothing could withstand them ; and 
now, joined bj' the other troops of thf) corps, the boys with 
the red crosses press on, and as the peals of musketry and 
artillery roll through those valleys, it tells of victory for the 
Union. The lost ground is regained, and now the fire in 
front of the Sixth corps slackens. 

"We rested, throwing ourselves on the ground, waiting 
for orders. Some of the men, fatigued from the early 
march and severe morning's work, slept ; while others 
regaled themselves from their well filled haversacks; and 
many gathered in groups to talk over the doings of the 
morning, and to speak of those who had been stretched 
upon the sod, who had fallen with their faces to the foe. 

We were waiting for Crook's corps. It had halted on 
the eastern bank of the river as reserve for the army. 
Now it Avas brought forward at quick pace and placed, a 
part on the right of the Nineteenth corps, where the rebels 
could be seen massing troops on their left, with a view of 
turning our right flank, the other part in rear of the Nine- 
teenth corps. Averill and Merritt, too, were with the 
army, and our whole force was together. It was nearly 
three o'clock when Crook's forces were brought into posi- 
tion. ITis right was in a thick forest, and against him 
were heavy columns of rebels. 

404 "i KNOW they'll RU"N-." 

At length we, of the Sixth coi'ps, heard rapid firing away 
on the right of the forest. All was attention. Every man 
stood to his arms ready to advance. Sheridan came to our 
part of the line. His face all aglow with excitement, the 
perspiration rolling down his forehead, his famous black 
steed spotted with white foam, a single orderly at his back. 
He rode straight to General Getty, exclaiming, " General, 
I have put Torbert on the right, and told him to give 'em 
h — 1,^ and he is doing it. Crook, too, is on the right and 
giving it to them. Press them, General, they'll run ! " 
and then, using one of those phrases sometimes employed in 
the army to give additional force to language, he shouted 
again, " Press thetn, General, I know thei/ll run ! " And 
then the shout that went u]) from the men drowned all the 
other noise of the battle. 

We did press them, and they did run. Over the long 
stretch of open plain, down into the deep hollow, up again 
and over the rolling ground, past the white farm house, 
on we went. The rebels would run, then reaching a com- 
manding position, they would turn their artillery upon us 
and sweep our line with iron hail. On our left was Wil- 
son, with the cavalry charging through the growing corn, 
the sabres gleaming in the sunlight, the iron scabbards 
clanging against iron spurs, the horses dashing madly 
forward in 'seeming disorder, but all rushing, like an ava- 
lanche, against the right wing of the enemy. Now the 
retreat became a rout. The cheers of the Union boys rose 
strong and clear above the roar of artillery and the harsh 
rattle of musketry, and Early's scattered and demoralized 
divisions were rushing through Winchester in consterna- 
tion and unutterable confusion. Frightened teamsters were 
lashing their animals through the streets in greatest alarm ; 
riderless horses were galloping here and there, and pack 
mules were on a general stampede. Some streets became 
entirely blocked up by the disordered mass, and even foot- 


men could not press tlirougli ; a squad of cavalry coming 
to one of these obstructions leaped from their horses and 
made their escape on foot. Our cavalry, taking advantage 
of the confusion, rushed among the panic stricken fugitives 
and gathered hundreds of them ; captured fifteen battle- 
flags and five guns. 

The remnants of the rebel army collected some miles 
beyond the town, and reformed; but after a short rest 
made haste to get farther up the valley. As we advanced 
we found the mountains full of fugitives, and in the town 
were thousands of their woimded. 

The infantry halted upon the high grounds at the 
borders of the town, leaving the cavalry to follow up 
the pursuit of the flying foe ; and as Generals Sheridan, 
Wright, Emory and Crook rode along our front, we made 
the welkin ring with lusty cheers. Glorious leaders of a 
victorious army ! 

At our feet was Winchester, the scene of Washington's 
early military experience. Here he was stationed during 
the French war, and shared in the perilous scntinelship 
of the frontier. For then the valley was ravaged by 
French and Indians, and fearful massacres were of fre- 
quent occurrence ; and when Washington demanded of 
Governor Dinwiddle reinforcements, and was refused, he 
ofiered to resign ; and when the governor could not allow 
him to resign he sent him men. 

Here, on the ground occupied by the Seventy-scA^enth 
New York regiment, near the ruins of an old church, was 
the grave of General Daniel Morgan, the hero of Quebec 
and Saratoga, the friend of Washington, A plain marble 
tablet, broken across, now covered the grave, with a simple 
inscription, his name and the date of his death, 1802. 

In the cemetery, still north, we saw, as we passed, the 
resting place of Thomas, Earl of Fairfax ; a great tory in 
his day, and the owuer of immense tracts of land in this 


part of Virginia, and from -whom Fairfax county toot its 

The sun had sunk to his golden rest behind the wall 
of hills on our left when we an-ived at the outskirts ol 
Winchester; and, as darkness set in, the infantry of oui 
victorious army stretched themselves upon the ground to 
sleep. It had been a hard day's work, and the men were 
faint. It required no unusual inducements to woo the angel 
of sleep. 

If the day had been an active one on the field, it had been 
no less so in the hospitals. First, early in the morning, came 
ambulance loads of men with white crosses ; they were from 
the Third brigade, Second'division, all from the Seventy- 
seventh Xew York. Then came others from the Forty-ninth 
New York, from the Seventh Maine, and from the One 
Hundred and TAventy-second and Forty-third New York, 
Then came men from the Vermont brigade, and from our 
First brigade, and soon the hospitals of the Third division 
began to be filled. Then, last of all, came the men of the 
red crosses, bleeding and mangled. Surgeons worked all 
day and all night. There was no rest as long as a wounded 
man was uncared for. Yet, when morning came, and the 
medical officers were ordered forward with the army, there 
was much to do, and faithful men were left to finish the 
needful task. Next morning Winchester was full of rebel 
wounded and rebel prisoners. Five thousand men in gray 
were under guard in the court house yard and other public 
places, and Colonel Edwards' brigade of the First division 
was left to take care of the prisoners and the town. Many 
brave men had fallen. Russell was gone ; the gallant Upton 
was wounded ; Colonel Elright, of the Third division, was 
dead, and many, many brave boys were lying with their 
blackened faces to the sun, a slip of paper or a letter 
envelope pinned to the breast of each to tell the buriers 
his name and regiment. 



The term of service of one of our regiments, the Fourth 
Vermont, had expired, and on the day after the battle the 
small remnant of the regiment, a company of about forty 
men, under command of Colonel Pingree, started for Har- 
per's Ferry, on their return home. They had suffered 
heavily, and they left many of their brave comrades dead 
upon the battle-field, or suffering in the hospitals. How 
had those noble boys, whose lives had, at the very exjnra- 
tion of their three years of toil, danger and privations, been 
given for their country, rejoiced at the prosj^ect of a speedy 
reunion with the loved ones at home. How had they 
written, even the day before the battle, " we are going 
home ! " and then how had the loving ones, away among 
the beautiful green hills of Vermont, exulted at the thought 
that now, after three long years of suspense and anxiety, 
the danger and toil were over. And we can picture to 
our thoughts the mother who watches with eager interest 
the smoking train as it dashes alous: at the base of the old 

"wuY don't he come?" 

'408 "why don't he come?" 

hills, wondering if her patriot son will not come to-day ; 
but instead, a letter comes with the heavy news, a great 
hattle has been fought and her son lies in the Valley ; or, 
on the banks of the sunny Champlain, some young sister 
or lover gazes from the window of the cottage among the 
trees, at the steamer as it glides over the surface of the beau- 
tiful lake and touches at the wharf near by. But her soldier 
boy is not on board, and she watches in vain to see his 
familiar form coming toward the cottage. She sadly leans 
her head upon her hand and sighs, " Why don't he come?" 



March up the valley— Strasburgh— The army confronting Fisher Hill— The 
flank movement — Flight of Early — The pursuit— Guerrilla warfare— Southern 
refugees— Starting for Washington— Keturn to Cedar creek. 

We started very early in the morning in pursuit of 
Early's defeated army, which it was supposed would halt 
at the strong position at Strasburgh. On the battle-field 
which we left, the lifeless bodies of many of our men 
were awaiting the office of the burial parties. They lay, 
not in thick clusters, but here and there over a great 
extent of ground, showing that they had fallen while the 
lines were in motion ; but in places, six or eight mangled 
bodies would lie in close proximity, showing the fatal 
effects of some well directed shell. 

In Winchester were nearly five thousand prisoners, and 
more were constantly coming in, and hundreds of rebel 
wounded were being cared for by sympathizing friends 
and confederate surgeons. 

We reached the vicinity of Strasburgh, the Sixth 
corps in advance, at three o'clock on the 20th, and, as we 
expected, found the rebels awaiting us in a position, which 
the citizens of the valley assured us could be held by 
Early's army against one hundred thousand men. The 
position was indeed a formidable one, but nothing daunted 
our spirited leader set about devising a way of taking it. 

At Strasburgh the two chains of mountains, the Blue 
Ridge and the Alleghanies, approach each other, making 
the valley quite narrow. As if to interpose an impassable 


barrier to the advance of an army, a mountain, Fisher 
Hill, stretches across from the Blue Ridge to the branch 
of the Alleghanies called the Xorth Mountains, At the 
foot of this mountain, on the north, is the village of 
Strasburgh, and still north of Strasburgh Cedar creek 
runs almost directly across the valley. We took posses- 
sion of the northern part of the village of Strasburgh, 
the Union jjickets occupying one part of the town, and the 
rebels the other. The night passed with little of interest. 

On the morning of the 21st squads of rebel prisoners 
were coming in to army head-quarters, and as brigade 
after brigade of cavalry passed, each carrying a large 
number of confederate flags at the head of the column, it 
looked as though our cavalry had adopted the confederate 
banner and had paraded in gala day splendor. 

The mists and fogs melted away, and we discovered 
that our enemy, lately routed and disorganized, now with 
confidence confronted us and awaited our advance. Dur- 
ing the night the mountain had been the scene of busy 
labors, and now, breastworks of earth and stones, and 
lines of troublesome abattis, rendered the position, so 
strong by nature, apparently too formidable for any army 
to attempt to force. But, notwithstanding the brilliant 
success at Winchester, neither the rebel army nor our own 
fully appreciated the fertile resources of our gallant leader. 
Starting with his staS" early in the day, he rode from one 
end of the picket line to the other, carefully noting the 
character of the ground. 

To attempt to storm those heights, now strengthened 
with eai-thworks and bristling with cannon, would be pre- 
sumptuous ; but away on the right seemed the vulnerable 
point of the enemy's line. Returning to his quarters, 
Sheridan determined at once upon his plan of attack. The 
Nineteenth corps was thrown farther to the left, and our 
Sixth corps occupied the position in the center, facing now 


to the south. Crook's corps was thrown well to tlie n'g-ht, 
where the North Mountain formed a precipitous wall for 
the valley. All day the sharp crack of the skirmishers' 
rifles, and the ring of the pioneers' axes were heard as the 
two lines faced each other, each watching the movements 
' of the other, and each actively engag-ed in felling trees 
from which breastworks were made. 

Sheridan's reconnoissance had satisfied him and General 
Wright that there was an important point on the right held 
b}' the enemy which it was very desirable for us to possess. 
General Wright accordingly sent three regiments, two from 
the Third and one from the Second division, to take it, but 
without success. The whole of Warner's First brigade, to 
which one of these three regiments belonged, was now or- 
dered to carry it. With great gallantry the Pennsylvanians 
attacked and drove the enemy from the position, which 
proved of the greatest importance to the operations of the 
next day, giving us a view of the enemy's line, and affording 
an excellent position for artillery, of which we did not 
fail to avail ourselves on the 22d. It was this movement 
that allowed Crook's corps to take the position on the 

This commanding point secured, the corps was at once 
moved forward and to the right to occupy it. Owing to 
the darkness, the difficult ground, cut up by ravines, broken 
by ledges of rock, and much of it covered by dense forest, 
the movement was only accomplished by a hard night's 

The Sixth corps having been thus moved to the right, a 
corresponding movement of the Nineteenth corps was ac- 
complished early in the morning of the 22d. The troops 
proceeded to intrench themselves, the position was made 
secure, and the artillery was brought forward. 

The plan of attack was, that while Crook's corps, as a 
movable force, was to advance far to our right and turn the 


left of the enemy, the two other corps should engag-e him 
in front ; and in order to accomplish this, the skirmish line of 
the enemy, which almost turned our right, was to be di'iven 
back. This was accomplished, and Ricketts, with his divi^ 
sion, accompanied by cavalry, advanced to a position desig- 
nated, and by his movements allowed Crook's corps to pass" 
much farther to the right unperceived. 

During the night Crook's corps was toiling along the 
side of the mountain unseen and unexpected by the rebels. 
All night and the followijig morning the command labored 
to drag artillery along the precipitous mountain-side, exe- 
cuting every movement in silence and with utmost secrecy. 
The Nineteenth corps and the First and Second divisions 
of the Sixth were all the time keeping up a show of deter- 
mination to attack in front. 

At length, just as the sun was sinking behind the 
mountain barrier, a wild shout was heard fi-om the hill- 
Bide where Crook's corps and our Third division were 
rushing down from the cover of the forest, upon the 
flank and rear of the astonished confederates. The shout 
was taken up by the troops in front, and at the same 
time the two remaining divisions of the Sixth corps and 
the Nineteenth corps advanced against the rebel front. 
Completely surprised by the movement on the flank, the 
rear of the rebel army was quickly thrown into a panic. 
Still resistance was kept up along the front. Steadily the 
troops of Wright and Emory pressed forward, the rebel 
gunners firing their shells over the heads of our men, our 
line advancing over ditches and fences, over fallen trees 
and stone walls, each man "his own commander and each 
pressing eagerly forward. In the foremost line rode Phil. 
Sheridan, the men cheering him lustily as they pressed 
hastily forward. " Let us take the guns," shouted the 
men ; and forward at double-quick they rushed. The 


panic in the rear had by this time reached the front, and 
the whole rebel army was rushing in unutterable confusion 
and rout, up the valley. They left with us sixteen guns, 
of which Bidwell's brigade captured six. We gathered 
up the prisoners, and they numbered eleven hundred.* 
The hill was strewed with small arms, and cannon and 
caissons met our view wherever we passed. 

We had lost, as the cost of this brilliant victory, less 
than forty men in the army ; and the confederate loss in 
killed and wounded was scarcely greater. 

We followed the routed army through Mount Jackson, 
where were large hospitals, occupied by wounded confed- 
erates, and attended by confederate surgeons ; then pressed 
on to New Market, keeping up a running fight with the 
rear-guard of the rebel army. 

On the 25th we reached Harrisonburgh, a village more 
than sixty miles above Winchester. 

Our march had been a grand triumphal pursuit of a 
routed enemy. Xever had we marched with such light 
hearts; and, though each day had found us pursuing 
rapidly from dawn till dark, the men seemed to endure 
the fatigue with wonderful patience. Our column, as it 
swept up the valley, was a spectacle of rare beauty. 
Never had we, in all our campaigns, seen anything to 
compare with the appearance of this victorious little army. 
The smooth, wide turnpike was occupied by the artillery, 
ambulances and baggage wagons moving in double file. 
The infantry marched in several parallel columns on either 
side of the pike, and a line of cavalry, followed by a skir- 
mish line of infantry, led the way. Cavalry, too, hung on 

* The prisoners taken thus far, at Winchester and Fisher Hill, incluriing the 
wounded, numbered more than seven thousand. The absurdity and falsity of 
Early's statement, that his effective force at Winchester amounted to only eight 
thousand five hundred men, is readily seen. The rebel surgeons at Mount Jackson, 
and the citizens, while claiming that we outnumbered Early's forces, acknowledged 
that he retreated from Winchester with more than twenty thousand men. 


either flank, and scouted the country. It was intensely 
exciting to watch the steady progress of the advancing 
skirmishers. 'Now, as they reached the base of some slop- 
ing eminence, the rebel skirmishers would confront them ; 
then, as they advanced, never halting nor slackening their 
pace, the confederates would surrender the ground, to 
appear in our front on the next commanding ground. So 
we marched iip the valley — a grand excursion — skirmish- 
ing only enough to maintain a constant state of pleasant 

At Harrisonhurgh we remained until the 29th, then 
marched farther up the valley to Mount Crawford, while 
the cavalry penetrated as far as Staunton. The rebel 
army was broken up and demoralized, yet considerable 
force was in the vicinity of Lynchburgh, and Early 
devoted himself to reorganizing it. 

Guerrilla warfare was a f^ivorite resort of the rebels in 
the Shenandoah Valley, and many of our men were mur- 
dered in cold blood by the cowardly villains who lurked 
about our camps by day as harmless farmers, and mur- 
dered our men at night dressed in confederate uniform. 
Among those who lost their lives by this cowardly species 
of warfare, were Surgeon Ochenslager, Medical Inspector of 
our army; Colonel ToUes, Chief Quartermastei', and Cap- 
tain Meigs, son of the Quartermaster-General, U. S. A. 

We fell back from Mount Crawford to Harrisonburgh, 
burning barns, mills and granaries, driving before us cat- 
tle and sheep, and bringing white and black refugees 
without number. From Harrisonburojh we ag-ain fell 
back, retracing our steps through New Market, Mount 
Jackson and Woodstock, and encamped on the evening of 
the 8th of October on the north bank of Cedar creek. 
Each day as we marclied, dark columns of smoke rose 
from numberless conflagrations in our rear and on either 
flank, where the cavalry was at work carrying out the 


edict of destruction of the valley. A certain number 
of mills with the grain contained, a specified number of 
wheat-stacks and granaries, and cattle and sheep suificient 
for the wants of the people of the valley were saved ; all 
other mills, barns, stacks and granaries were burned, 
and all other cattle and sheep driven away. Seventy 
mills, with the flour and grain, and over two thousand 
barns filled with wheat, hay and farming implements 
were thus committed to the flames, and seven thousand 
cattle and sheep were either driven ofi" or killed and issued 
to the men. This destruction, cruel as it seemed, was 
fully justified as a matter of military necessity. For so 
long as a rebel army could subsist in the valley, so long 
a large force must remain to guard the fz'ontier of 

Hundreds of refugees accompanied us from Staunton, 
Mount Crawford and Harrisonburgh : Unionists who had 
endured persecution until it Avas no longer endurable, and 
who now left houses and farms to find relief in the north 
from their sufferings for loyalty ; and negroes who sought 
freedom from their ancient bondage. 

Among the latter class was a group which had followed 
the cavalry from Staunton, and which now took a place in 
our Sixth corps hospital train, which attracted universal 
attention. The party rode in one of the huge Virginia 
wagons, so familiar to those who have spent much time 
in those parts, and consisted of an aged colored woman, 
probably more than ninety years old, one or two younger 
women, a black man of fifty, who was a cripple, a boy of 
twelve or fifteen years, and a very large number of small 
children, varying in hue from jet black to dark bi'unette. 
The load was drawn by four broken down, spavined 
animals, the crippled man riding one of the horses of the 
rear span, the boy one of the leailers. The soldiers mani- 
fested great interest in this curious load of refugees, and 


freely divided with tliem their hard tack and coffee. The 
writer of these pages, reining his horse to the side of the 
vehicle, addressed the aged negress, " Well, aunty, are all 
those your children ? " " Loi", no massa, dey's only eigh- 
teen ob 'em." Doubtless she designed to say that there 
were only eighteen of the children, not that " only 
eighteen" were her own. 

As our army neared Fisher Hill the cavalry of the 
enemy became annoying to our rear-guard. General Shei*- 
idan said to General Torbert, that the annoyance must be 
stopped at once. Accordingly Custer and his horsemen 
lay in wait for the rebel cavalry, attacked them, drove 
them away beyond Mount Jackson, and took eleven pieces 
of artillery and three hundred prisoners from them. They 
gave us no more trouble at that time. 

Monday, October 10th, the Sixth corps, leaving the 
Eighth and Nineteenth guarding the line of Cedar creek, 
turned toward the left and proceeded to Front Royal. 
The Seventy-seventh was made provost guard of the town, 
aryi the brigades were stationed along the mountain passes. 
Here, in the enjoyment of lovely weather, pleasant asso- 
ciations, a bountiful supply of lamb and honey, and untold 
quantities of grapes of delicious flavor, the corps remained 
several days, and the men even flattered themselves that in 
the enjoyment of these luxuries they were to pass the winter. 
But, as usual with bright anticipations, these were sud- 
denly dispelled by the order to march, on the morning of 
the 13th, toward Ashby's Gap. 

From the direction of oi:r march it was evident that 
we were on the road to Washington, and rumor had it 
that we were to be shipped at once for Petersburgh. We 
reached the bank of the Shenandoah, where we expected 
to cross to the gap ; the corps was massed by the river 
side, and the men looked dismally into the cold, dark 
waters, and shivered at the thought of wading through 


the stream whose waters would reach nearly to their 
necks. But while we waited to get ready for crossing, a 
courier came to General "Wright with a message from 
Sheridan to return to his army in haste. We heard that 
Longstreet's corps had reinforced Early, and that an 
attack had been made, but with no important result. We 
turned about, encamped for the night among the hills, 
started again at three o'clock in the morning, and joined 
the army again on Cedar creek, in the afternoon of the 
14th, where we remained in the enjovment of undisturbed 
quiet for several days. 




Position of the Union forces on Cedar creek — Demonstrations by Early — The 
morning of October 19th — Eighth corps straggling — Nineteenth corps routed — 
The Sixth corps to the rescue — Death of General Bidwell— The Sixth corps holds 
the enemy — General Wright prepares for another attack — Arrival of Sheridan — 
The charge — The rout — Guns, wagons and prisoners — The victors in camp. 

Ouu army was thus resting in apparent security along 
the banks of Cedar creek. The men were amusing them- 
eelves in visiting the numerous caverns in the vicinity, 
strolling among the pleasant groves or wandering by the 
shady borders of the stream. Sheridan had left the army 
and returned to Washington for a day or two, to make 
arrangements for his future movements, and General 
Wright had temporary command of the army. 

Our infantry force was arranged from left to right- along 
the creek, first, on the left of the turnpike. General Crook's 
"Army of Virginia," or as it was more generally known, the 
Eighth corps, holding the left flank, facing eastward and 
southward ; then, the Nineteenth corps, holding the pike 
and facing toward the south, its line occupying high bluffs 
which overhung the creek. On the right of the Nine- 
teenth corps, and almost at right angles with it, was 
the Sixth corps, its line extending far toward the north. 
The corps faced the stream, looking directly west. The 
divisions of the corps were posted, on the right the Second, 
in the center the First, and on the left the Third division. 

On the flanks of the infantry, cavalry was posted; 
Custer on the right of the Sixth corps, and Averill's divi- 
sion, now under Colonel Powell, on the left of the infantry 


line, near Front Royal. Our line thus extended from 
North Mountain, on the right, almost to Front Royal, on 
the left, following nearly the course of Cedar creek, and 
that part of the north branch of the Shenandoah which 
crosses the valley at right angles. 

The enemy had been trying our line at various points, 
during the last two or three days, and in one instance had 
captured or dispersed a small squad of cavalry on the 
right, and captured some signaling instruments. These 
demonstrations were little heeded; our line had been 
posted by General Sheridan, and these slight attacks 
seemed of little account. In Early's army, however, they 
were considered of more weighty import. That army had 
recently been reinforced by Longstreet's corps of sixteen 
thousand men, and the immediate defeat, and, if possible, 
destruction, of Sheridan's army was regarded, by both 
General Lee and the authorities at Richmond, as absolutely 
necessary to the safety of Lee's army. Hence every prep- 
aration had been made for a most determined attack, and 
these lighter demonstrations had been made to ascertain 
the exact position of our troops. 

When, at two o'clock, on the morning of the nineteenth 
of October, we heard rapid firing where Custer, with his 
horsemen, held the right, and on the left, where Averill's 
cavalry was posted, we turned over in our blankets and 
said, " The cavalry is having a brush," and went to sleep 
again. And then, at a later hour, at four o'clock in the 
morning, when we of the Sixth corps heard brisk picket 
firing in front of the Eighth and Nineteenth corps, we 
were scarcely aroused from our slumbers, for we thought 
it to be a mere picket skirmish, in which none but those 
directly engaged had any particular interest. But when 
the firing became general along the whole line of these 
two corps, and we saw hundreds of men going with 
hasty steps and lengthy strides to the rear, w^e were at 


length aroused to the truth that a battle was really in 

From a Sixth corps point of view, the scene was at first 
extremely ludicrous, we did not know and could not have 
believed at that time that the flank of our army was 
turned, and that the enemy was actually in pos- 
session of the camps of one whole corps; and when 
we saw stragglers filling the fields, taking rapid strides 
toward the rear, scarce any two of them going 
together, some without hats, others destitute of coats or 
boots, a few with guns, many wearing the shoulder straps 
of officers, all bent on getting a good way to the rear, 
never stopping to answer a question or explain what was 
going on at the front, the spectacle was to us of the Sixth 
corps one of infinite amusement. None of these hundreds 
and thousands of stragglers were so undignified as to run, 
but such walking was never seen before. None of them 
deigned to look to the right or left, they were bent only 
upon getting as far on the road to Winchester as possible. 

At length the truth flashed upon us. More than half of 
our army was already beaten and routed, while the 
remainder had been in ignorance of the fact that anything 
serious was transpiring. Now the rebels were pouring 
down toward the Winchester and Strasburgh turnpike, 
sending a perfect shower of bullets whistling about the 
vicinity of the head-quarters of the army, into the Sixth 
corps hospital camp and into the trains, which were by this 
time joining in the stampede. 

Stafi" officers now came riding furiously through the 
camps of the Sixth corps, with orders to fill in at once, 
and proceed at double-quick to the left. 

We may now turn back and trace the cause of this 
unexpected state of afiairs. Early had, without doubt, 
assured himself of the exact position of our army through 
information conveyed by spies, who were able to compre* 


hend the whole situation. He then prepared for a bold 
and sudden movement, which should take by surprise one 
flank of our army. Kershaw's rebel division advanced 
along the sides of the mountains, and, at midnight, crossed 
the north branch of the Shenandoah, still observing the 
most complete silence. Even the canteens of the soldiers 
had been left behind lest the sound of them should betray 
the movement. 

The whole division over, it was massed on the left of 
General Crook's command. A dense fog enveloped the 
whole surrounding country, and so thick was it that no 
man could see an object a few feet from him. Under the 
cover of this fog, the rebels succeeded in quietly capturing 
a large part of the picket force and nothing now inter- 
posed between the rebels and General Crook's camps. 
Toward these they hastened, and so complete was the 
surprise, that the men of the Eighth corps were, for 
the most part, quietly sleeping in their tents. The few 
who had got into the breastworks were subjected to a 
fierce fire in the flank, and were soon forced to abandon 
the line. The rebels seized the Union batteries along that 
part of the line, and turned them upon the camps of the 
Nineteenth corps, and at the same time a rebel line of 
battle advanced against that corps from the front. The 
confusion became every moment greater. Daylight was 
just merging from night, the thick mists hung like an 
impenetrable veil over the field, and the men of the Nine- 
teenth corps were unable to tell whence came all this 
storm of missiles ; but, trailing their guns in the direction 
from which the shells seemed to come, the gunners worked 
their pieces at random. A general stampede was com- 
menced. The men of the Eighth corps were mostly 
fugitives ; and those who strove to keep in line were forced 
back. Both the fugitives and the disordered line of 
battle, were rushing through the camps of the Nineteenth 


corps. The officers of that corps were, with shouts and 
wild gesticulations, striving to collect their disordered 
commands, but with little success. Riderless horses were 
galloping here and there, cows, with which the army was 
well supplied, were bellowing, mules were braying, bullets 
whistling and shells howling. The Eighth corps having 
left the way clear, the I'ebels came down upon the Nine- 
teenth, which gave way and was doubled upon the Sixth 
corps, but although thrown into confusion it was not in 
the panic with which the Eighth corps yielded the ground. 

It was at this critical moment that the warning was 
given to the Sixth corps. General Wright being in com- 
mand of the army, the corps was in charge of General 
Ricketts. He at once faced the cox'jds to the rear, and 
moved it over the plain in face of the advancing hosts of 
the. enemy. General Ricketts was wounded vei'y early 
in the engagement of the corps, and the command fell 
upon General Getty. 

The Second division held the left of the new line, the 
First the center, and the Third the right. Bidwell's 
brigade was the left brigade of the Second division, the 
Vermonters held the center, and Warner's First brigade 
the right. The Second division was posted in the edge 
of an open oak grove. General Grant, of the Vermont 
brigade, was in charge. 

We now awaited the onset of the victorious columns, 
which were driving the shattered and disorganized frag- 
ments of the Eighth and Nineteenth corps, beaten and 
discouraged, wildly through our well formed ranks to the 

The hope of the nation now rested with those heroes of 
many bloody fields. Now that peerless band of veterans, 
the wearers of the Greek cross, whose fame was already 
among the choicest treasures of American history, was to 
show to the country and the world, an exhibition of valor 


which should tower above all the grand achievements of 
the war. 

The corps, numbering less than twelve thousand men, 
now confronted Early's whole army of more than thirty 
thousand men, who, flushed with victory, already bringing 
to bear against us the twenty-one guins which they had 
just captured from the two broken corps, rushed upon our 
lines with those wild, exultant yells, the terror of which 
can never be conceived by those who have not heard them 
on the field. 

With fearless impetuosity the rebel army moved up the 
gentle rise of ground in front of the Sixth corps, and 
the attack, from one end of the line to the other, was 
simultaneous. It was like the clash of steel to steel. 
The astonished columns were checked. They had found 
an immovable obstacle to their march of victory. 

The Second division, on the left, nearest the pike, had 
received the most severe shock of the attack, while Bid- 
well's brigade, which held the extreme left, and the key to 
the pike, had sustained the attack of the whole of Ker- 
shaw's rebel division, which came up in compact order to 
within very close range. The gallant brigade received 
the onset with full volleys, which caused the right of the 
rebel line to stagger back, and the whole line was, almost 
at the same moment, repulsed by the corps. The cavalry 
on our flank — and never braver men than the cavalry of 
our little army mounted saddles — were doing their 
best to protect the pike leading to Winchester, and it was 
the great aim of both the cavalry and the single orgaii- 
ized corps of infantry to hold this pike; for on this 
depended the safety of the whole army, and more, of our 

The rebels checked. General Bidwell ordered his brigade 
to charge. Rising from their places in the little grave- 
yard and the . grove, the brigade rushed forward, the 


rebels breaking and running in confusion down the 
declivity wbich they had but just ascended with such 
confidence, and across the little stream. But the rebel 
artillery sent our men back to their places, to the shelter 
of the roll of ground. The charge cost us dearly. Major 
Brower, of the One hundred and twenty-second New York, 
lost his life. Captain Lennon, of the Seventy-seventh, 
was mortally wounded, Lieutenant Tabor was killed. 
Captain Taylor, commanding the Sixty-first Pennsylvania, 
was also killed, and many other valuable lives were lost, 
but the most severe blow to the brigade and the corps, 
was the loss of our gallant General Bidwell. He fell, 
while bravely directing the charge, with a frightful shell 
wound. He was at once borne to an ambulance. The 
general sent one of his stafi" for the wi'iter of these pages. 
When he reached the general's ambulance, the wounded 
man said : " Doctor, I suppose there is no hope of recov- 
ery." When told that thei'e was none he exclaimed, " Oh, 
my poor wife ! " Then after a moment he said, " Doctor, 
see that my record is right at home. Tell them I died at 
my post doing my duty." A few hours of intense sufier- 
ing and the brave man was relieved by death. 

The fall of General Bidwell left Colonel French, of the 
Seventy-seventh, in command of the brigade. The line 
was quickly reformed in the position from which the 
charge was made, and again the rebels came on with 
cheers and yells. They were as bravely met as before, 
and a second counter-charge sent them again in disorder 
across the creek, leaving the ground covered with their 
dead and wounded. The greatest shock of the second 
charge of the rebels had fallen upon our Third brigade, 
and nobly had it been met. A third time Early's forces 
came on ; this time with less spirit. His men now knew 
the ti'oops they had to contend with. They had been 
informed that the Sixth corps had been sent to Washing- 


ton, on its way to Petersburgh. 'Now they discovered 
the mistake, and all of Early's authority was insufficient 
to bring them up to a spirited charge. We had repulsed 
them three times with terrible damage to their ranks, as 
well as sad loss to our own. But now we looked toward 
the right, and we saw rebels passing around our flank, 
and the Third and FLrst divisions falling back. "We were 
but twelve thousand. They were thirty thousand, and 
their line far overlapped ours. "When Early could not 
drive us he went round us. And now it was necessary 
to take another position, which should protect the road to 
"Winchester, and General Wright directed General Getty 
to fall back, with his corps, to a more commanding posi- 
tion, unless he saw good reason for desiring to hold his 
pi-esent position. So the order was given to take the new 

The Sixth corps teas not driven hack. It had thrice 
repulsed the most desperate charges of the whole rebel 
army, and now that the rebels were turning our flank, it 
was necessary to interpose an organized force, and 
there were no organized troops except the cavalry. 

Certain erudite historians, who have sent broadcast over 
our land, compilations of newspaper paragraphs under the 
sounding titles of histories of the rebellion, peaceful gen- 
tlemen, who, from their comfortable quarters in northern 
homes, watched our battles from afar, quiet citizens whose 
sensibilities were never shocked. by the sight of a battle- 
field, and whose nerves can hardly withstand the shock of 
fire crackers on the morning of a Fourth of July, have 
gravely informed their readers that our whole army, 
including the Sixth coi*ps, was driven pellmell six miles to 
the rear ; and one of these grave historians very quietly 
assures those who have leisure to peruse his queer accumu- 
lations of absurdities, that we were driven all the way to 
Winchester, a distance of more than twenty miles. For the 


comfort and encouragement of these historians, so prolific 
of martial literature, and so barren of any ideas of military 
movements, it is conceded that their accounts of this bat- 
tle are quite as correct as any which they are accustomed 
to give to the public. 

"We took position just north of Middletown, which was 
about two . miles in the rear of the position held by the 
Second division of our corps early in the morning. "VVo 
went back quietly and in good order, a single regiment, 
the Second Vermont, holding without difficulty the position 
we abandoned. We carried with us all our wounded, all 
our shelter tents and all our personal property of every 
description, and the rebels did not dare to attack us. 
When we had taken our new position in the same order 
that we had formed in the morning, the Second division 
on the left, the First in the center, and the Third on the 
right, other troops also took position in the Ijne. The cav- 
alry, which had never for a moment faltered, took position, 
Custer on the right, Merritt on the left and the Nineteenth 
corps, which had now succeeded in restoring order to its 
broken ranks, was massed on the right and rear of the 

With this new line of battle in the strong position we 
now held. General Wright determined that not only 
should the retreat stop here, but that the rebels should be 
driven back across Cedar creek. Their career of victory 
was ended. The grand old Sixth corps, directed by our 
own loved General Getty, had turned the fortunes of the 
day. It was now ten o'clock ; far away in the rear was 
heard cheer after cheer. What was the cause? Were 
reinforcements coming ? Yes, Phil. Sheridan was coming, 
and he was a host. He had ridden from Winchester at 
amazing speed, and now, as he passed the long trains of 
ambulances in which were the hundreds of bleeding vic- 
tims of the morning's work, the wounded men whose 

"we'll whip TIlEil YET." 427 

shattered limbs or mangled bodies attested that they had 
not run away, raised themselves and cheered with wild 
enthusiasm the hero of the valley. On he rode ; most of 
his staff" left far to the rear, his fxmous war-horse covered 
with foam and dirt, cheered at every step by hundreds of 
men in whom new courage was now kindled. Dashing 
along the pike, he came upon the line of battle, " What 
troops are those ? " shouted Sheridan. " The Sixth corps," 
was the response from a hundred voices. " We are all 
right," said Sheridan, as he swung his old hat and dashed 
along the line toward the right. " Xever mind, boys, 
we'll Avhip them yet ; we'll whip them yet ! We shall 
sleep in our old quarters to-night!" were the encouraging 
words of the chief as he rode along, while the men threw 
their hats high in air, leaped and danced and cheered in 
wildest joy. 

Sheridan at once completed the arrangements already 
commenced and nearly finished by General Wright. The 
men of the Sixth corps meanwhile busied themselves in 
cooking their morning meal. 

None but soldiers can realize the contending emotions 
we experienced as we waited for the development of the 
new arrangements. We had, with the pride which none 
but soldiers can feel, regained for nortliern troops the 
prestige for brilliant achievements and open field fighting 
in this valley, so often, in times past, the scene of humilia- 
tion to our arms. Were we now, notwithstanding all our 
brilliant successes and our proud consciousness of superi- 
ority, to see our prestige fade in an hour ? Sheridan said, 
"No;" and we trusted him. Had Sheridan never reached 
the field. General Wright would have led us against the 
foe, whose ardor was already lost after the repeated 
repulses from the single corps. But there was a cliarm 
about the real commander of the army, and his opportune 
arrival inspired fresh hope and zeal in the breasts of alL 


Even a considerable portion of the Eighth corps was col- 
lected and placed on the left of the Sixth, and then, with 
cavalry on either flank, Custer on the right and Merritt on 
the left, we were ready to assume the offensive. 

Thus, all things being arranged, we were prepared to 
test the question whether our army was to fall back 
to Winchester beaten and humiliated or return to our 
old camps. 

j^t one o'clock, the rebels advanced against the right of 
our line, but were repulsed. A brisk fire of artillery was 
for a time kept up, but even this died away and nothing 
but the scattering fire of skirmishers was heard. 

Early had, without doubt, now relinquished the idea of 
any further offensive operations, and he as little thought 
that any were designed on our part. The rebels quietly 
proceed to bring their baggage wagons and ambulances 
across the river, and they set themselves about fitting up 
our camps for their own use. 

At three o'clock, Sheridan gave the order to move; 
wheeling from right to left, as a gate swings upon its 
hinges. The Third division on the right of our corps 
became for a moment embarrassed in passing through a 
strip of woods, the First division moved slowly but firmly, 
gaining a strong position. The Second division also 
advanced, but it was ordered to go very slowly, and this 
was far more difficult than to rush quickly over the 
ground. Yet the division obeyed the order and forced 
the rebels to Ml back. In front of the First and Second 
brigades was a stone wall. This they seized and were at 
once partially sheltered ; but there was no such protection 
for the Third brigade. In its front was a meadow and a 
gradually inclined plane, and behind a wall which skirted 
the crest, was the rebel line. Between that line and ours, 
in a hollow, stood a brick mill, from the windows of which 
the enemy's sharpshooters picked off our men. The gall- 

early's army routed. 429 

ing fire from the line of battle, and the fatal shots of the 
sharpshooters in the mill, made it impossible to advance 
slowly, and the line fell back. Our best men were falling 
fast. The color-sergeant of the Seventy-seventh fell dead ; 
another sergeant seized the flag and fell. Adjutant Gil- 
bert Thomas, a youth of rare beauty and surpassing 
bravery, seized the fallen flag ; he cried, " forward, men !" 
and fell dead with the stafi" grasped in his hand. 

" I cannot take my brigade over that field, slowly," said 
Colonel French ; " then go quickly," responded General 
Getty. The word was given, and with a bound and a 
shout the noble brigade went across the field, quickly 
driving the confederates from their strong position. 

By this time the right of the army had started the 
rebels, and their whole line was giving way. The three 
divisions of the Sixth corps bounded forward, and com- 
menced the wildest race that had ever been witnessed 
even in that valley so famous for the flight of beaten 
armies. The rebel lines were completely broken, and now 
in utmost confusion, every man was going in greatest 
haste toward Cedar creek. Our men, with wild enthu- 
siasm, with shouts and cheers, regardless of order or 
formation, joined in the hot pursuit. There was our mor- 
tal enemy, who had but a few hours since driven us 
unceremoniously from our camps, now beaten, routed, 
broken, bent on nothing but the most rapid flight. We 
had not forgotten our humiliation of the morning, and 
the thought of it gave fleetness to the feet of our pur- 

From the point where we broke the rebel ranks to the 
crossing of Cedar creek, was three miles, an open j^lain. 
Over this plain and down the pike the panic-stricken 
army was flying, while our soldiers, without ever stopping 
to load their pieces, were charging tardy batteries with 
empty muskets, seizing prisoners by scores and hundreds, 


every Union soldier his own commander, bent on nothing 
but the destruction of the flying foe. As we reached 
Cedar creek, the pursuit was given over to the cavalry. 
The gallant Custer, now in his ^vild joy, could be heard 
shouting to his impetuous men, " Charge them ! . Charge 
them !" and then we covild hear words, hard to print, but 
which added startling emphasis to the commands. 

Crossing the river, he came upon the pike, crowded 
with men and cannon, caissons and ambulances, wagons 
and pack animals. With one mighty sweep, forty-five 
pieces of artillery, many wagons and ambulances, and 
hundreds of prisoners, were taken. Merritt, too, captured 
seven guns, many battle-flags, and prisoners without num- 
ber. Indeed, the prisoners could not be numbered, for 
there were not enough of the cavalry to guard them, and 
as soon as they had thrown down their arms they were 
passed to the rear, and in the darkness hundreds of them 
escaped to the mountains. Through the darkness the 
cavalry kept up the pursuit until Mount Jackson was 

The infantry returned to the camps, and as we took our 
old places, cheers made the welkin ring; and then as we 
heard constantly of new trophies, the wild huzzahs rang 
from one end of our army to the other. Such wild joy 
has rarely been felt by an army. What cared the men of 
the Nineteenth corps that they wore forced to lie upon the 
ground without tents or blankets? Our army was victo- 
rious and our honor saved. 

The moon shining brightly over the battle-field revealed 
the camps of the living side by side with the resting places 
of the dead. All the way from Middletown to Cedar 
creek the debris of battle was scattered over the fields. 
Here and there were seen the remains of our comrades of 
the morning, their lifeless bodies stripped by vandal rebels 
of almost every garment. They lay like sjjccters in the 


pale moonlight; here, still in death, under a cluster of 
bushes, was stretched a group ; there, by the side of a 
wall, a row of inanimate bodies marked a spot where 
brave men had fallen at their posts; in the ravine where the 
little creek wound its way, and beneath the boughs of 
the chestnut trees of the grove, many slept their last 
sleep. Among our camps, the spades of the pioneers 
were heard as they hollowed out the shallow graves; 
and as we threw ourselves upon the ground to rest, we 
mourned for our comrades, and we rejoiced for our 

Sad, sad it was to think of the noble ones who had left 
us. Xever again were we to see the form of the great- 
hearted Bid well at the head of his brigade. We 
remembered liis heroic bravery in all the terrible fights of 
those bloody days, from the Rapidan to Petersburgh ; Ave 
thought of him when, at Winchester and Fisher Hill, he 
directed the movements of his brigade with such consum- 
mate coolness and skill ; we remembered his cordial smile 
and friendly Avords, and then we thought of his heroism in 
the morning, and our hearts were heavy to think that he 
was gone. 

Adjutant Thomas, too, had left us ; our noble, beautiful 
boy. Could he have died a grander death had he been 
spared longer? Could his last words have been better 
chosen had he expired in the embrace of loved ones at 
home ? " Forward, men ; forward ! " Were they not 
grand dying words? Rest, brother; thy death was as 
grand as thy life was lovely. 

Lennon's bright eye must soon close forever. We 
should neA^er again hear his hearty laugh or listen to his 
si^arkling wit. He had fallen as a hero falls, and his life 
had been the life of a hero and patriot. Belding and 
Tabor, too, brave captains of braA^e men, each had fallen 
in advance of his friends. 


Major Brower of the One Hundred and Twenty-second, 
Captain Taylor, commanding the Sixty-first Pensylvania, 
Lieutenant-Colonel Kohler of the Xinety-eighth Pennsyl- 
vania and Major Borman of the Fifteenth New Jersey, all 
brave and competent officers, were lost to our corps ; while 
among the wounded were General Ricketts, Colonel Pen- 
rose, commander of the New Jersey brigade, Colonel 
Dwight of the One Hundred and Twenty-second, Captain 
Orr of Bidwell's staif, and Lieutenant Mitchell of the 
Seventh Maine. 

Our array remained along Cedar creek for several days, 
the -cavalry only scouting up the valley in search of rem- 
nants of Eai'ly's shattered army. Then, we fell back to 
the vicinity of Winchester, where our men built comforta- 
ble quarters, and here we remained until General Grant 
called us back to Petersburgh. Many of the regiments in 
the meantime were mustered out of the service as regi- 
ments, the recruits and reenlisted men remaining as 
battalions with the name of the original regiments, except 
the substitution of the battalion for the rescinient. Amongr 
other regiments whose time expired was the one whose 
early career formed the subject of the first chapters of this 
narrative, and whose honorable and indeed brilliant course 
we have never lost sight of The returning veterans left 
camp on the 19th of November, leaving two hundred and 
fifty men still to represent the organization. We will not 
pause to speak of the parting of those so long companions 
in arms, of the trip homeward or of the brilliant reception 
and magnificent entertainment extended by the patriotic 
citizens of Saratoga to the veterans of a hundred battles. 
These were fitting testimonials of appreciation of the ser- 
vice of patriot soldiers. 



Sixth corps returns to Petersburgh— Condition of the corps— Sheridan Joins the 
grand army— Capture of Fort Steadman — The last grand charge — The pursuit 
of Lee's army— Tributes to the Sixth corps— Disbanding. 

On tlie 9th of December, the Sixth corps was recalled 
to Petersburgh. We need not describe the journey to 
Washington, nor the steamboat ride to City Point ; the 
scenes along this route have already been described. 

We took our position on the Weldon railroad, erected 
more comfortable huts than we had ever built before, our 
sick were placed in hospitals fitted up with great taste, 
and everything which the government or our friends at 
home, through the agencies of Sanitary and Christian 
Commissions, could do for their comfort was gladly done. 

During our absence in the Shenandoah Valley, the army 
under General Grant had been making steady progress 
in the siege of Petersburgh, and our war-worn brothers 
of the other corps showed upon their faces the marks of 
overwork. We were in fresh vigor. We had marched 
through a blooming valley literally abounding in milk and 
honey. The fruits of the vine, the orchard and the fold 
had been ours, and our camps had been in green fields 
and pleasant groves, we had marched over wide roads, and 
through rolling meadows, and we had fought in the 
open field. We returned to our old comrades, proud of 
our own achievements, and of the praise we had won from 
the nation. We could point to the valley, and to the 
memory of Early's army, now no more ; and we proudly 


claimed that it had been ours to rid the country of one of 
the most troublesome of the rebel columns. 

Now that we were again in the trenches, we felt a con- 
fidence in our own valor which made our corps eminently 
fitted for the last grand duty, the crowning act in the 
glorious history of this superb corps, the breaking asunder 
of Lee's lines at Petersburgh, and as the result, the over- 
throw of the rebellion. 

Grant's army had, during our absence, extended the line 
much farther to the west and south. When we left for 
Washington, our line extended only a little beyond the 
Jerusalem plank road. Now, it crossed the Weldon rail- 
road, and reached Hatcher's Run, nearly eight miles from 
the position occupied by us when we left the lines. The 
military railroad, too, had been constructed, and now all 
supplies were brought from City Point to the rear of our 
camps by rail cars. 

The famous mine had exploded, and with it the project 
of taking Petersburgh by surprise. Events of importance 
had transpired on the north of the James, and the Dutch 
Gap canal was in progress. Yet, Lee's army held us at 
arm's length, and Petersburgh was still to be taken. 

In the latter part of February, our friend, Slieridan, was 
ordered to leave the valley with his superb body of horse- 
men, and cross the country through Lynchburgh, destroy 
Lee's communications with the west, pass through Dan- 
ville and join Sherman in his grand march to the sea. 
But the James river, swollen by heavy rains, forbade a 
crossing, and Sheridan, nowise disconcerted, turned the 
heads of his horses toward the White House, and after 
many adventures, having wrought much mischief in the 
rear of the rebel army, he joined Grant's army before 
Petersburgh, on the 26 th of March. The result was bet- 
ter than though he had been able to accomplish the 
orisinal design. 


Now, the Army of the Potomac was one again. The 
Sixth corps, and Sheridan with his cavalry, were important 
elements in that grand army ; and now, as the glorious 
spring-time was drying the depths of the mud, and opening 
the way for a fresh campaign, we were in most superb 
condition to administer the last blows to the already tot- 
tering fabric of the rebellion. 

We need not dwell long upon the particulars of this 
final campaign. 

Lee took the initiative. Knowing that it would be 
impossible to hold his present line much longer, he 
determined to retreat to Danville ; but wishing to cover 
his retreat by a bold movement in front, he sent a 
strong column to attack Fort Steadman, a point toward 
the right of the line where the two opposing lines were 
very close. The fort was guarded by troops of the 
Ninth corps. The attack was made very early on 
the morning of the 25th of March, and resulted in the 
complete surprise and capture of the fort and of many of 
the men of the Ninth corps. It was a short-lived tri- 
umph; the work taken was commanded by the guns of 
other forts on either flank, and the enfilading guns with 
strong bodies of infantry soon compelled a retreat of the 

Meanwhile the opportunity had not been lost by Gen- 
eral Meade for advancing his line on the left. The Sixth 
corps was to do the work. The three brigades, Second 
division were sent forward to take and hold the rebel 
picket line near the Squirrel Level road, for the double 
purpose of withdrawing the attention of the enemy, and 
of advancing our line for future operations. The brigades 
gallantly executed the order, and, notwithstanding the 
rebels brought nine pieces of artillery to bear upon it, and 
sent reinforcements to the point, the ground was held. 
Colonel Dwight of the One Hundred and Twenty-second 


was killed; Captain Oakley and Lieutenant Pierce lost 
their lives, and many others of the brigade were killed or 

The 29th of March was the day fixed for the opening 
of the grand final campaign. The Twenty-fourth corps 
relieved the Second and Fifth corps from the intrenchments 
in front of Petersburgh, and these two corps were loose 
to join Sheridan in an expedition on our left with the view 
of turning the enemy's right flank. 

Leaving camp early on the morning of the 29th, the 
two corps and the cavalry proceeded to the southwest, 
crossed Hatcher's Run, and marched toward Dinwiddle 
Court House, the infantry reaching the Quaker road, 
the cavalry continuing the march to Dinwiddle. We had 
now an unbroken line from the Appomattox to Dinwiddle 
Court House. The corps were posted from right to 
left, as follows: Ninth, Sixth, Twenty-fourth, Second, 
Fifth, and on the left of all, Sheridan with the cavalry. 

On the morning of the 30th, the infantry and cavalry 
on the left were ready for the grand blow upon the flank 
and rear of the enemy, but a heavy rain storm set in, 
rendering the roads impracticable, and except some man- 
neuvering to get nearer the enemy's position, no 
movements were made. On the following day, the 
rebels made a fierce onset upon the corps of Warren, but 
failed to dislodge him. April 1st, Sheridan, with infantry 
and cavalry, engaged the rebels at a place called Five 
Forks, a position of vital importance to the enemy. 

While Sheridan was thus dealing heavy blows upon 
the flank, we in front were prepai-ing for a general 

The position occupied by the Sixth corps formed a sali- 
ent, the angle approaching very near the rebel line. 
Here, in front of Fort Welch and Fort Fisher, the corps 
was massed in columns of brigades in echelon^ forming a 




49 N, v. ?TN.Y. 
5 VT. ^^ r— ^ i:!9Pa. 

!■ I 1" ME. 

36tll 122; N Y. 43PK X 99th I 

""^ ' ' ^" 93rd 



AprU 2, 1665. 


mighty wedge, which should rive the frame-work of the 

The corps was formed in the rear of the picket line ; 
the Third brigade, Second division, being the point of the 
wedge. On the right of that brigade was the First brigade 
of the same division, and on the left, the Vermont brigade. 
The first division of three brigades was in echelon by 
brigades on the right of the Second, and the Third of 
two large brigades also in echelon. Each brigade was 
in column of battalions. Axemen were ready to be sent 
forward to remove abattis, and Captain Adams had 
twenty cannoneers ready to man captured guns. Every 
commanding officer of battalions was informed what he 
was expected to do, and thus all was in readiness. 

The ground chosen for the assault had been selected 
after the most careful examinations by General Wright 
and many other officers, all of whom concurred in the 
opinion that here was the point at which the fatal blow 
to the Confederacy should be aimed. In our front, the 
ground was cleared from trees, and offered few natural 
obstructions, except the marshes, with which the front of 
the enemy was intersected. Yet the works of the enemy 
were known to be a remarkably strong line of rifle- 
pits, intrenchments and forts, well supplied with artillery. 
In front of these strong works, almost impenetrable lines 
of abattis obstructed the advance. Well might the 
enemy have regarded these lines as impregnable, and 
nothing but the most resolute bravery could have over- 
come them ; and here, it may be remarked, that but for 
the success of a part of the corps on the 25th of March, 
when, at great cost in men, we captured and held the 
intrenched picket line of the enemy, this assault upon 
the main lines could not have been successfully made. 

Silently, the troops of the corps were brought Into 
position, just in rear of the picket line, the thick darkness 


hiding the movement from the enemy. Orders for strictest 
silence had been given, and were carefully obeyed by the 
men in the columns ; but suddenly, by some accident, our 
pickets commenced firing, bringing upon themselves and 
upon the masses of troops in their rear, a return fire, 
which for a moment threatened to seriously interfere with, 
if not break up the plan of attack. By active exertions 
of officers, the firing from our side was soon quieted, and 
the rebel pickets also ceased their fire. The men in the 
columns, meantime, had maintained the required silence, 
not a shot being fired by them, nor a word uttered. 

At length, all being ready, and the intense darkness 
being partly dispelled by the dawn, at half-past four in the 
morning of April 2d, the signal gun from Fort Fisher, 
sounded the advance. Without wavering, through the 
darkness, the wedge which was to split the Confederacy 
was driven home. 

Rushing forward, breaking the enemy's picket line, the 
masses poured upon the main line of defenses, while a 
heavy fire of artillery, and a more deadly but less noisy 
fire of musketry disputed the advance. The abattis was 
passed, the breastworks were mounted, and after a brief, 
but sharp conflict, the works along the whole front of 
attack were our own. 

Without waiting for orders, men from each division 
pressed on, reaching the Boydtown plank road, and then 
the southside railroad, tearing up the latter, and cutting 
the telegraph wires of the enemy. Thousands of prison- 
ers, many stands of colors, and many guns were our 
trophies, while many of our friends, dead or wounded, 
made the price of our glory. The rebel line was broken, 
and now the troops of Ord, and those of the Ninth corps 
pressed though the opening thus made, while we of the 
Sixth corps, leaving the Second brigade of Wheaton's 
division to guard the point we had gained, turned to tho 


left, and driving the enemy before us, reached Hatcher's 
run. Here we learned that the Second and Fifth corps 
were sweeping down toward lis, and a ftirther advance in 
that direction was unnecessary. 

The Confederate army gathered close around Peters- 
burgh, but we followed and invested the town. As we 
retraced our steps from Hatcher's Run, we met the troops 
of the Twenty-fourth corps advancing through the open- 
ing we had made, and joining that corps in the march, Ave 
pressed toward the town. It is needless to attempt to 
relate all the splendid achievements of that glorious day. 

That night our corps rested on the Appomattox, just 
above Petersburgh, and officers of the Sixth corps slept in 
the house which Lee had occupied all winter as his head- 
quarters, and had left only a few hours before. 

The troops were too much exhausted to assault the 
works that night. They had been eighteen hours under 
arms ; had assaulted the strong works of the enemy and 
had carried them, and then had swept down the rebel lines 
several miles, and returning, had marched to Petersburgh. 
So the attack was deferred till the morning ; but when 
morning came we found that Lee had escaped with his 
army during the night. He had already during the day 
of the assault, sent word to Richmond that he was to 
retreat, and the fatal message reached Davis while he was 
in church. 

Thus the grand old Sixth corps, the pride of the army 
and the delight of the nation had crowned all its former 
record of glory by breaking the famous " backbone " of 
the rebellion. 

General Grant did ns the credit to say : " General 
Wright penetrated the lines with his whole corps, sweep- 
ing everything before him, and to his left, toward Hatch- 
er's Run, capturing many guns and several thousand 


General Meade, too, says : " Major-General Wright 
attacked at four a. m., carrying everything before him, 
taking possession of the enemy's strong line of works, 
and capturing many guns and prisoners. After cariying 
the enemy's lines in his front and reaching the Boydtown 
plank road, Major-General Wright turned to his left and 
swept down the enemy's line of intrenchments till near 
Hatcher's Run, where meeting the head of the Twenty- 
fourth corps, General Wright retraced his steps and 
advanced on the Boydtown plank road toward Peters- 
hurgh, encountering the enemy in an inner line of works 
immediately around the city." 

On the morning of the 3d we found no enemy in our 
front. Petersburgh was surrendered to us but we did not 
remain to celebrate our victory. At nine o'clock in the 
morning the men of the Sixth corps in high spirits and 
with light steps, notwithstanding the fatigues of the 
previous day, commenced the pursuit of the enemy. 

A division of the Second corps was with us, and two 
divisions of that corps with their trains were in advance 
of us ; so our march was slow, and when night came we 
had only advanced ten miles. Our progress next day 
was more rapid ; we crossed Winticomack Creek, a branch 
of the Appomattox, and encamped ten miles beyond. On 
the 5th, at three o'clock in the morning we renewed the 
pursuit, and marching rapidly all day we went into posi- 
tion just before dark near Jettersville, joining on the 
right of the Fifth corps and the ai*my. Here it was said 
that Lee had made a stand, having concentrated all his 
forces at Amelia Court House, and that he was now ready 
to defy our army. 

Our troops, elated at the prospect of meeting the rebel 
army in the field, were moving at six o'clock in the morn- 
ing of the 6th toward Amelia Court House. Without 
respect to I'oadSj through fields and woods, the men of the 


Sixth corps jDressed eagerly forward hoping to attack; 
but they were to meet with disappointment. With great 
secrecy and address Lee had withdrawn his army during 
the night, and we were ordered from the right to the left 
of the army in the direction of Burkville Junction. 
About three p. m. we reached the road, jjassing the little 
Hamlet called Deatonsville. Near this the Second corps 
"was already skirmishing with the enemy. Finding that 
the corps could not with advantage be brought into posi- 
tion at this point we turned to the right where w^e could 
hear Sheridan's Cavalry heavily engaged. We proceeded 
across the country toward a road on which the enemy 
"was moving troops and trains, and where the cavalry was 
engaging the enemy. 

Keifer's Brigade of the Third division had the advance 
of the corps. Quickly deploying a line of skirmishers 
the gallant general pushed his brigade forward. With 
scarcely a halt for formation the whole Third division was 
thrown upon the enemy. A brisk skirmish ensued, the 
road was carried and a considerable number of prisoners 
and wagons was captured. Wheaton's division which 
had now come up, joined Seymour's on the left and 
the whole line advanced down the road, still driving the 
enemy. Unmindful of the fatigues caused by a march of 
moi'e than eighteen miles which they had already per- 
formed that day, the troops pressed eagerly forward, 
fighting the rear guard of the enemy until Sailor's Creek 
was reached. 

Behind this difficult and marshy stream the rebels had 
thrown up breastworks, and now awaited our onset. 

It was not long delayed. Readjusting the lines, the 
Third division on the right, the First on the left, and 
posting our batteries so as to sweep the enemy's center, 
under the cover of a heavy artillery fire, the two divisions 
crossed the swamp and the stream, and charged upon the 


steep hills where the enemy was posted. And now a hand 
to hand conflict ensued. Bayonets were freely used, and the 
men of the two armies mingled in deadly strife. In 
the center, a heavy column of the enemy assayed to break 
through our line, and their impetuous charge resulted in a 
momentary success. But our troops on the right and left 
continued, the advance, and the column of the enemy was 
enveloped, cut to pieces, and compelled to surrender. 
While the engagement was in progress the Second division 
had been hurried to the scene of action at double-quick, 
but the other divisions were masters of the situation, and 
the Second was not actively engaged. 

The counter-charge of the rebels was an act of desperate 
madness. The column was composed almost exclusively 
of the Marine brigade and other troops which had held 
the lines of Richmond previous to the evacuation, 
" Never," says General "Wright, " was I more astonished. 
These troops were surrounded ; the First and Third divi- 
sions of this corps Avere on either flank, my artillery and a 
fresh division in their front, and some three divisions of 
Major-General Sheridan's cavalry in their rear. Looking 
upon them as already our prisoners, I had ordered the 
artillery to cease firing, as a dictate of humanity. My 
surprise, therefore, was extreme, when this force chai'ged 
upon our front ; but the fire of our infantry, which had 
already gained their flanks, the capture of their superior 
officers, already in our hands, the concentrated and mui'- 
derous fire of six battei'ies of our artillerj'-, within efiective 
range, brought them promptly to a surrender." 

The fruits of this last victory of the war, were thousands 
of prisoners, many battle-flags, and many general officers, 
among whom were General Ewell and General Custis 

The Second corps, and a part of Sheridan's cavalry, 
had been engaged while the battle was going on, and 


•when the rebel line was shattered, and its troops routed 
by the Sixth corps, hundreds of prisoners were gathered 
up by the cavalry, but the battle of Sailor's Creek belonged 
to the old Sixth corps. 

Thus the right of the rebel army was annihilated, and 
there was no longer any hope of escape. In the language 
of General Wright, " To the Sixth corps had fallen the 
opportunity of sti-iking the decisive blows, not only at 
Petersburgh on the 2d of April, but at Sailor's Creek on 
the 6th ; and most gallantly did it vindicate the confidence 
reposed in it by its own officers and by the commander 
of the army of the Potomac. The corps had already 
fought well, but never better than in the assault at Peters- 
burgh, and at Sailor's Creek four days after." 

Moving from the scene of battle after dark, we marched 
nearly three miles and encamped. 

Next morning at seven we again joined the hunt for the 
flying enemy, reaching the Appomattox, near Farmville, 
and finding the bridges destroyed, a foot bridge was con- 
structed for our infantry, and a pontoon bridge was laid 
for the artillery. At ten o'clock at night we were across 
the river and ready for our bivouac. 

On the morning of the 8th, instead of taking the direct 
route to Appomattox Court House, in company with the 
rest of the army, we, of the Sixth, bore far to the right, and 
encamped after a march of seventeen miles. We rose 
early, and started at five for Appomattox Court House, 
where we halted, to await the result of the conference 
between Generals Grant and Lee. 

We need not attempt to describe the manifestations of 
joy when the official intelligence of the surrender was 
announced, the wild cheering and shouting, the enthusias- 
tic greeting and congratulations among the soldiers who 
now saw the end of the great struggle in which they had 
been for four years engaged. 


Our work is nearly done. We need not stop to relate 
the circumstances of our march to Burkville Junction, 
nor the particulars of our stay there until the 23d of April. 

On that day we commenced a forced march toward 
Danville, under orders to " push through as rapidly as 
possible for the purpose of assisting in the capture of 
General J. E. Johnston's army." We arrived at Danville 
on the 27th and learned that Johnston had surrendered 
to Sherman the day before. At Danville we remained 
until the sixteenth of May. 

From Danville we went to Richmond by railroad, and 
from Richmond we marched over grounds made familiar 
by many battles, through Hanover Court House and 
Fredericksburgh to Ball's Cross Roads, four miles from 

The separate review of the corps in the streets of 
Washington under the scorching rays of one of the hot- 
test days ever known even at the capital, when hundreds 
of our men fell down from sunstroke and exhaustion, 
fainting and reeling before thp stand of the reviewers, 
the return to camp after a day's work more severe and 
trying than the ordeal of battle, the disbanding of the 
regiments and their return to their respective States, 
finish the story of the grandest corps that ever faced a 



The annexed rough sketch shows the field of battle at 
Fredericksburg, May 3d, 1863. 

Gibbon's Division, in the extreme right, unable to cross 
over the canal and participate in the charge. 

Eustis' Brigade of Newton's Division, supporting Gibbon, 
but did not participate in the charge, owing to the canaL 
The right column, consisting of Sixty-first Pennsylvania, 
Colonel Spear, who was killed in the charge, and Forty- 
third New York, supported by Sixty-seventh New York, and 
Eighty-second Pennsylvania, under General Shaler. Owing 
to the narrowness of the bridge over the canal this force 
marched by the flank four abreast. This column had to 
descend the hiU on which that portion of Fredericksburg 
stands, to the level of the canal, and then ascend the Marye 

The next column, Seventh Massachusetts, Colonel Johns, 
and Thirty-sixth New York — Colonel Johns commanding 
the column — advanced down a parallel street, hkewise in 
column of fours, crossed the canal bridge, and advanced 
towards the stone-wall rifle-pit, which they stormed at the 
point marked A. 

The Hue of battle in front of the stone-wall rifle-pit, con- 
sisting of the Fifth Wisconsin, Sixth Maine, Thirty-first New 
York, and Twenty-third Pennsylvania, the whole under the 


command of Colonel Burnliam, of the Fifth Maine, stormed 
the rifle-pit in front. General Wheaton's brigade was to 
support this attack, and was not actively engaged during 
the charge. 

General Howe's attack was directed against the enemy 
fully three-fourths of a mile distant from the Marye heights, 
and was primarily intended for a diversion to prevent the 
enemy from concentrating against our main attack at the 
Marye heights. In fine, General Howe neither conducted the 
main attack, nor did he or any of his troops ever advance 
against the Marye heights. 

The Light Division had been placed under General New- 
ton's command the night before the battle, and continued 
under him until the end of the Chancellorsville campaign. 

At the storming of the Marye heights the regiments of 
the Third Division and of the Light Division were taken in- 
discriminately, and there was a mingling of the two divisions. 
It was not expected that the two columns crossing the canal 
bridge would be successful, owing to the defect of their for- 
mation — only four abreast — and the impossibility of deploy- 
ing. They were used to prevent the enemy concentrating 
their fire against the line of battle directed against the 
stone- wall, and fulfilled their object. 

Colonel Johns' column, however, actually did storm the 
rifle-pit, at the point A, at or close upon the time that Colonel 
Bnrnham's command reached the same pit. 

After the Marye heights had been stormed General New- 
ton's command, the Third and the Light Division, formed 
line of battle upon the heights, and had actually advanced 
quite half a mile before General Howe succeeded in dislodg- 
ing the enemy from the works in front of him. 

General Sedgwick was standing beside General Newton 
when General Howe made his final attack, and expressed 
himself highly displeased at the attempt, as the enemy was 
already virtually dislodged, and a short time would have 


brought General Newton upon the enemy's rear and flank. 
He stigmatized the attack as useless, and as an unnecessary 
effusion of blood. The enemy must have fled in a few 
moments in any event. 

General Gibbon was sent to the right to make a demon- 
stration, and cross the canal if he could ; the latter was im- 
possible ; but the demonstration was good, and tended to 
prevent a concentration of the enemy against General New- 
ton, General Gibbon and General Howe were sent primarily 
for the same object, namely, a demonstration. 

At the battle of Salem Heights, the same afternoon, it was 
General Newton's command that received the repulsed First 
Division, and repeUed the enemy. 





would respectfully solicit orders from Public and Private Libraries 
for the purchase of any Books, Apparatus, or Philosophical Instru- 
ments, in this country or Europe. From his long experience in the 
Book Business, he is confident of giving satisfaction in any commission 
that may be entrusted to him. 

Books imported from London and Paris by every steamer, and at 
the lowest possible rates, and, for Public Institutions, free of duty. 

Ov/ing to the high rate of Exchange, and the increased tariff, the 
prices of foreign books have been advanced ; but only sufficient to 
cover the extra cost of importation. 


French, English, and American 




Catalogues sent free by mail, on application. 


UTHORizED U. S. Infantry Tactics. 

For the Instruction, Exercise, and Manoeuvres of the Soldier, a Com- 
pany, Line of Skirmishers, Battalion, Brigade, or Corps d'Armee. 
By Brig.-Gen. Silas Casey, U. S. A. 3 vols., z^-mo. Cloth, 
lirhographed plates. 'S2.50. 

Vol. I. — School of the Soldier ; School of the Company ; Instruc- 
tion for Skirmishers. 

V<iL. II. — School of the Battalion. 

Vol. III. — Evolutions of a Brigade; Evolutions of a Corps d'Armee. 

War Departmknt, WAsniNGTON, August 11, 1SC2. 

The System of Infantry Tactics prepared h~ Brig.-Gen. Silas C;isey, IT. S. A., having 
been apjiroveil by the President, is adopted for the instruction of the Infantry of tlic Xr- 
mies of the United States, whether Kegular, Yolunieer, or Militia, with the following modi 
fleations, viz. : 

FirKt, That portion which requires that two companies shall be permanenily detached 
fiom the battalion as skirmishers, will be suspended. 

Second, In Title First, Article First, the following will be substituted for Paragraph 6, 
viz . : 

" A regiment is composed of ten companies, which will be habitually posted from right 
to left in the following order; first, sixth, fourth, ninth, third, oi^'hth, fifth, tenth, seventh, 
second, according to the rank of Captain." EDWIX M. STANTOX, 

Seeretui-i/ oj' Wor. 

orris's Infantry Tactics. 

Comprising the School of the Soldier, School of the Company, In- 
struction for Skirmishers, School of the Battalion, Evolutions of 
the Brigade, and Directions for Manoeuvring the Division and 
the Corps d'Armee. By Brig.-Gen. William H. Morris, 
U. 8. Vols., and late U. S. Second Infantry, 2 vols. 24mo, 
cloth. $2.00. 

• * * " General Morris's work on ' Infimtry Tactics,' is one of the most valuable of 
the numerous compilations of the kind which have appeared since the commencement of 
the war. * * * Xho manner in which instructions are conveyed, is entitled to the 
highest praise. It is divested of all superfluities of language, and is terse, clear, and easily 
comprehensible."— jV. F. Herald. 

* * * "He [Gen. MorrisJ has preserved the grain and blown away the immense 
unount of chair in the form of mtricate and spectacular evolutions." — y. Y. Timex. 

* * * Gener.1l Morris, after consultation with distinguished tacticians, has discarded 
m-'ny of the details heretofore employe*l in infantry operations; every thing is made as plain 
and comprehensive as the nature of the subject admits : and although the evolutions and 
manoeuvres which he sets forth are especially ada[ited to districts where tie roads are 
narrow and where woods, swamps, and other obstacles to rapi<i movements abound, the 
system is equally applicable to an open country, and, indeed, is to be recomniended for 
general use on account of its superior simplicity and the celerity of movement which it 
Uivolves."— JV: F. Tribune. 



coTT's Military Dictionary. 

Comprising Technical Definitions ; Information on Raising and 
Keeping Troops ; Actual service, including makeshitcs and im- 
proved materiel, and Law, Government, Regulation, and Admin- 
istration relating to Land Forces. By Colonel H. L. Scott, 
Inspector-General U. S. A. l vol., large octavo, fully illustra- 
ted, half morocco, %6; Half russia, §8 ; Full morocco, $io. 

" It is a complete Encyclopfedia of Military Science, and fully explains every thing dis- 
covered in the art of war up to the present time." — Plnladelpli.iii Evening Bulletin. 

"It should be made a text-book for the study of every volunteer." — Harper's Marj' 

"It is a book to be referred to on the spur of the moment, to be consulted at leisure, and 
to be read with deliberation. It reflects honor on the military service of the United States, 
and sives new glory to one of the noblest of the names connected with th."t service." — 
Buxton Traveller. 

'■This book Is really an Encyclopaedia, both elementary and technical, and as such occu- 
pies a gap in military literature which has long been most inconveniently vacant. This 
book meets a present popular want, and will be secured not only by those embarking in 
the profession but by a great number of civilians, who are determined to follow the de- 
scriptions and to understand the philosophy of the various movements of the camiiai::n. 
Indeed, no tolerably good library would be complete without the work." — Jfew Yorh 

"Works like the present are invaluable. The officers of our Volunteer service would 
all do well to possess themselves of the volume." — N'. Y. Herald. 


OLAN'S System for Training Cavalry 

By Kenner Garrard, Captain Fifth Cavalry, U. S. A. i vol., izmo, 
cloth. 24 Lithographed plates. $2.00. 

* * * "We are glad when competent men bring forward works that, are intended to 
facilitate the formation of an effective cavalry force. Of this class is Nolan's SijHtern for 
Training Cavalry Horses, prepared for use in this country, by Captain Kenner Garrard, 
U. S. A. Captain Nolan was distinguished in the British service for his knowledge of the 
cavalry arm, and for his general talents. As the work had become out of print. Captain 
Garrard has done well in reproducing it: he has added to it a chapter on IJaiey's Method 
of Training Horses, and another on Horse Shoeing. The volume is well illustrated. H 
tannot be too warmly commended to general use." — Boston Daily Evening Traveller, 




avalry; its history, management, and 
Uses in War. 

By J. Roemer, LL. D., late an Officer of Cavalry in the Service of the 
Netherlands. Elegantly illustrated, with one hundred and twenty- 
seven fine Wood Engravings. In one large octavo volume, 
beautifully printed on tinted paper. Cloth, #6; hf. cf, $7. 50. 

SuM\?ARy OF Contents. — Cavalry in European Armies; Proportion 
of Cavalry to Infantry ; What kind of Cavalry desirable ; Cavalry 
Indispensable in War ; Strategy and Tactics ; Organization of 
anArmy ; Route Marches ; Rifled Fire- Arms ; The Charge; 
The Attack; Cavalry versus Cavalry; Cavalry versus Infantry; 
Cavalry versus Artillery; Field Service; Different Objects of 
Cavalry ; Historical Sketches of Cavalry among the early 
Greeks, the Romans, the Middle Ages ; Different kinds of Modern 
Cavalry ; Soldiers and Officers ; Various systems of Training of 
Cavalry Horses; Remounting; Shoeing; Veterinary Surgeons, 
Saddlery, etc., etc. 


" I am escoodingly pleased with it, and regard it as a very Taliiable addition to our 
military literature. It will certainly be regarded as a standard work, and I know of none 
BO valuable to our cavalry officers. Its usefulness, however, is not conliiied to officers of 
cavahy alone, but it contiins a great deal of general information valuable to officers of the 
other arms of service, especially those of the Statf. 

HE Political and Military History 
OF THE Campaign of Waterloo. 

Translated from the French of General Baron de Jomint. By 
Capt. S. V. Benet, U. S. Ordnance. l vol., l2mo, cloth. 
Third edition. 81.25. 

npHE Battle-Fields of Virginia 

Chanceliorsville, embracing the Operations of the Army of Northern 
Virginia. From the First Battle of Fredericksburg to the Death 
of Lt.-Gen. S. J. Jackson. By Jed. Hotchkiss a»d William 
Allan. 1 vol., 8vo. Illustrated with Maps and Portrait. 

Cloth, $5.00. 

D. VAN nostrand's publications. 


enet's Military Law. 

A Treatise on Military Law and the Practice of Courts-Martial, by 
Capt. S. V. Beniiit, Ordnance Department, U. S. A., late As- 
sistant Professor of Ethics, Law,.&:c., Military Academy, West 
Point. 1 vol., 8vo, new edition, law sheep. I4.50. 

"Captain Benet presents the army with a complete compilation of the precedents and 
decisions of rare value which have accumulated since the creation of the office of Judge- 
Advocate, thoroughly digested and judiciously arranged, with an index of the most minute 
accuracy. Military Law and Courts-Martial are treated from the composition of the latter 
to the I inding and Sentence, with the Eevision and Execution of the same, all set forth ia 
a clear, exhaustive style that is a cardinal excellence in every work of legal reference. That 
portion of the work devoted to Evidence is especially good. In fact, the whole performance 
entitles the author to the thanks of the entire army, not a leading officer of which should 
fail to supply himself at once with so serviceable a guide to the intricacies of legal military 
government." — y. Y. Times. 

Jttdge-Advocate'8 Office, 1 
October 13, 1862. f 

• * * Bo far as I have been enabled to examine this volume, it seems to me carefully 
»nd accurately prepared, and I am satisfied that you have rendered an acceptable service to 
the army and the country by its publication at this moment. In consequence of the 
gigantic proportions so suddenly assumed by the military operations of the Government, 
there have been necessarily called into the field, from civil life, a vast number of officers, 
unacquainted from their iirevious studies and pursuits, both with the principles of mili- 
tary law and with the course of judicial proceedings under it. To all such, this treatise 
will prove an easily accessible storehouse of knowledge, which it is equally the duty of the 
soldier in command to acquire, as it is to learn to draw his swo'-d against the common 
enemy. The military spirit of our people now being thoroughly aroused, added to a 
growing conviction that in future we may have to depend quite as much upon the bayonet 
as upon the ballot-box for the preservation of our institutions, cannot fail to secure to 
this work an extended and earnest appreciation. In bringing the results of legislation and 
of decisions upon the que«tions down to so recent a period, the author has added greatly 
to the Interest and usefulness of the volume. Very respectfully. 

Your obedient servant, J. HOLT, 

ALLECK's International Law. 

Or, Rules Regulating the Intercourse of States in Peace and War. 
By Maj.-Gen. H. W. Halleck, Commanding the Army, i 
vol., 8vo, law sheep. $6.00. 

" In preparing this work on the laws of war, Gen. Halleck appears to have made a very 
extended research among the authorities. His citations range through most of the writers 
and decisions touching ujion such subjects, including the leading European publicists, for 
centuries back. His use of authorities is valuable, also, as being not only legal, but histor- 
ical. Upon points of military usage he cites examples from history freely and with eflFect 
referring not only to the modern military historians, but even going back to the military 
days of Kome and Greece." — Bonton Journal. . 



iCKETT's Men. 

A Fragment of War History. By Col. Walter Harrison, with 
a Portrait of General Pickett. 12 mo, cloth. $2. 


By Edward de la Barre Duparcq, Chef de Bataillon of Engineers in 
the Army of France ; and Professor of the Military Art in the 
Imperial School of St. Cyr. Translated by Brig-Gen. Geo. W. 
CuLLUM, U. S. A., Chief of the Staff of Major-Gen. H. W. Hal- 
LECK, General-in-Chief U. S. Army. 1 vol., octavo, cloth. 85. 

"I roail the original a few years fince. and considered it the very best work I 1 jd seen 
Bpon the subject. Gen. Cullum"s ability and I'amiliarity with the technical laLguage of 
French military writers, are a sufUcient guarantee of the correctness of his translation." 

n. W. HALLECK, Major-Gen. U. S. A. 

" I have read the book with great interest, and trust that it will have a larsre circulation. 
It ciinnot fail to do good by spreading that very knowledge, the want of which among < ur 
new, inexperienced, and untaught soldiers, has cost us so many lives, and so much coil 
and tixasure." 

M. C. MEIGS, Quartermaster-General, U. S. A. 

" Carre Duparcq is one of the most favorably known among recent military writers ia 
France. If not the very h^st, this is certainly among the best of the numerous volumes 
devoted to this topic Could this book be put Into the hands and heads of our numerous 
intelligent, but untrained otiicers, It would work a transformation supreuiely needed. 
We can say, that no oflTicer can read this work ■srithout positive advantage, and real pro- 
gress as a soldier. Gen. Cullum is well known as one of the most proficient students of 
military science and art in our service, and is amjily qualified to prepare an original ttxt- 
book on this subject." — Atlantic MoiitJily. 

"The work cont.ains a History of the Art of Var. as it has grown up from the earliest 
•ges; describes the various formations which have from time to time been adopted; and 
treats in detaH of the several arms of the service, and the most effective manner of em- 
ploying tjiem for offensive and defensive purposes. It is fully illustrated with diagrams 
■iisplsylng -^ the eye the formations and evolutions which find place in aneient and inodiiru 
»rmies. Though the book is especially designed for the instruction of officers an.i sol- 
diers, the non-professionat reader cannot fail to perceive the clearness of its statcnentt 
the precision of its deflnitiouE." — Harper's Monthly. 



ilitary and pol!tical life of the 
Emperor Napoleon. 

By Baron Jomini, General-in-Chief and Aide-de-Camp to the Em- 
peror of Russia. Translated from the French with notes, by 
H. W. Halleck, LL. D., Major-General U. S. Army. 4 vols.. 
Royal octavo. With an Atlas of 60 Maps and Plans. Cloth, 
$25.00. — Half calf or morocco, S35.00. Half Russia, -tjj 50. 

"The Atlas attached to this version of Jomini's Xapoleon adds very materir.Uy to its 
value. It contains siviy Maps, illustrative of Napoleon's extraordinary military career, 
beginniny with the immortal Italian Campaiirns of 1700, and clot-ing with the decisive 
Campaiprn of Flanders, in 1S15, the last Map showing the battle of Wavre. These Maps 
take the reader to Ital}', Kgypt, Palestine, Germany, Mc.-ravia, liussia, Spain, Portugal, and 
Flanders ; and their number and variety, and the vast and various theatres of action which 
they indicate, testify to the immense extent of Kapoleon's operations, and to the gigantic 
character of his power. They are admirably prepared, being as remarkable for the beauty 
of their execution as for their strict fidelity as illustrations of some of the greatest deeds 
in the annals of human warfare. They are worthy of tlie work to which the)' belong, 
■which has been most excellently presented tyi)Ographicany, and deserving of the place 
■which it has taken in Mu. Van Nostkand's noble and extensive library of military pub- 
lications." — BoHton Daily Evening Traveller. 

" It is needless to say any thing in praise of Jomini as a writer on the science of war. 

" General IIai.leck has laid the professional soldier and the student of military history 
under equal obligations by the service he has done to the cause of military literature in 
the preparation of this work for the press. His rare qualifications, for the task thus un- 
dertaken ■will be acknowledged by all. 

"The notes with which the text is illustrated by General Halleck are not among the 
least of the merits of the publication, which, in this respect, has a value not possessed by 
the original work. 

" It is an imaginary autobiography of the EMPEUOE, as conceived and written by 
JOMINI in the name of the EMPJ-ROR ; and whether regarded as a military study or as 
a study In historj', it is equally interesting to professional and unprofessional readers." — ■ 
National Intelligencer. 

" In conclusion, ■we commend this work to our readers, as not only possessing great 
merit in itself, but, in the present c<iiidition of our country, involved in one of the greatest 
■wars ever known, as a military history of extraordinary interest and value. The narra- 
tive is so brief and clear, and the style so simple and perspicuous, that it will be found 
as interesting to unprofessional readers as it is valuable to military oflicers and students." 
— New York Times. 

*if* This is the only English translation, of this important strategical life of Uie great 





liluscrated by a Critical and Military History of the Wars of Frederick 
the Great. With a summary of the most important principles 
of the Art of War. By Baron de Jomini. Illustrated by Maps 
and Plans. Translated from the French, by Col. S. B. Hola- 
BiRD, A. D. €., U. S. Army. In two vols. 8vo. and Atlas, clo. 
§15. Half calf or Half mo. $21. Half Russia 822.50. 

"It is universally agreed that no art or science is more difficult than that of war; yet 
by an unaccountable contradiction of the human mind, those who embrace this profession 
take little or no pains to study it. They seem to think that the knowledge of a few insig- 
nificant and useless trifles, constitute a great otficer. This art, like all others, is founded 
•B certain and fixed principles, which are by their nature invariable; the application 
of them only can be varied." 

In this work these principles will be found very fully developed and illustrated by 
Immediate application to the most interesting campaigns of a great master. The theo- 
retical and mechanical part of war may be acquired by every one who has the application 
to study, powers of reflection, and a sound, clear common sense. 

Frederick the Great has the credit of having done much for tactics. He introduced the 
close column by division and deployments therefrom. He brought his army to a higher 
degree of skill than any other in manoeuvring before the enemy to menace his wings or 
threaten his flanks. 

isTORY OF West Point. 

And its Military Importance during the American Revolution ; and the 
Origin and Progress of the United States Military Academy. By 
Captain Edward C. Boyimton, A. M., Adjutant of the Military 
Academy. With numerous Maps and Engravings. 1 vol., octavo. 
Blue cloth, §6.00 J haii'mor., $7-:)0; tail mor., 810. 

"Aside from its value as an historical record, the volume under notice is an entertaining 
guide-book to the Military Academy and its surroundings. We have full details of Cadet 
life from the day of entrance to that of graduation, together with descriptions of the build- 
ines, grounds, and monuments. To the multitude of those who have enjoyed at West 
Point the combined attractions, this book will give, in its descriptive and illustrated por- 
tion, especial pleasure." — New York Eeening Post. 

" The second part of the book gives the history of the Military Academy from its founda- 
tion in 1S02, a description of the academic buildings, and the appear-ance to-day of this 
•Iways beautiful spot, with the manner of appointment of the cadets, course of study, pay, 
time of service, and much other information yearly becoming of greater value, for Wast 
Pi>int has not yet reached its palmiest davs." — Diily Advertiser. 




EST Point Life. 

A poem read before the Dialectic Society of the United States 
Military Academy. Illustrated with twenty-two full-page 
Pen and Ink Sketches. By a Cadet. To which is added, 
the song, "Benny Havens, Oh!' Oblong 8vo, cloth, 
bevelled boards. $2 . 50. 

/^uiDE TO West Point and the U. S. 
^^ Military Academy. 

With Maps and Engravings. i8mo, cloth. $1. 

ystems of Military Bridges, 

In Use by the United States Army; those adopted by the Great Eu- 
ropean Powers; and such as are employed in British India. With 
Directions for the Preservation, Destruction, and Re-establish-, 
ment of Bridges. By Brig.-General George W. Cullum, Lieut.- 
Col. Corps of Engineers, United States Army. l vol., octavo. 
With numerous Illustrations, cloth. $3.50. 

ilitary Bridges, 

For tiie Passage of Infantry, Artillery, and Baggage-Trains ; with sug- 
gestions of many new expedients and constructions for crossing 
streams and chasms ; designed to utilize the resources ordinarily 
at command and reduce the amount and cost of army transporta- 
tion. Including also designs for Trestle and Truss Bridges tor 
Military Railroads, adapted especially to the wants of the Ser- 
vice of the United States. By Herman Haupt, Brig.-Gen. in 
charge of the construction and operation of the U. S. Military 
Railways, Author of " General Theory of Bridge Construction, 
&c." Illustrated by Sixty-nine Lithographic Engravings. Oc- 
tavo, cloth, $6.50. 
" This elaborate and carefully prepared, thoush thoroushly practical and simple work, is 

peculiarly adapted to the military service of the United States. Mr. Haupt has added 

rery much to the ordinary facilities for crossing streams and chasms, by the instructiona 

Sfforded in this work." — Boston Courier. 




ENTON's Ordnance and Gunnery. 

A Course of Instruction in Ordnance and Gunnery ; compiled for 
the use of the Cadets of the United States MiUtary Academy, 
by Capt. J. G. Benton, Ordnance Deptartment, late Instructor 
of Ordnance and Gunnery, Military Academy, West Point. 
Principal Assistant to Chief of Ordnance, U. S. A. Second 
Edition, revised and enlarged, l vol., 8vo, clo, cuts. $5.00. 

* vv. . cannot commend this work too high'.y, both for the substance it contains, and the 
hiffhly finished manner in which it has been issued by the publisher. There is no one 
book within the range of our miUtary reading and study, that contains more to recommend 
it upon the subject of which it treats. It is as full and complete as the narrow compass 
of a single volume would admit, and the reputation of the author as a scientific and prac- 
tical artillerist is a sufficient guarantee for the correctness of his statements and deduc- 
tions, and the thoroughness of his labors." — K. Y. Observer. 

"A Great Military "Work. — "We have before us a bound volume of nearly sis hundred 
pages, whil^h is a complete and exhaustive ' Course of Instruction in Ordnance and Gun- 
nery.' as its title states, and goes into every department of the science, including gunpow- 
der, projectiles, cannon, carriages, machines, and implements, small arms, pyrotechny, 
science of gunnery, loading, pointing, ami discharging fire-arms, different kinds of fires, ef- 
fects of projectiles and employment of artillery. These sevorallv form chapter heads and 
give thorough information on the subjects on which they treat. The most valuable and 
interesling information on all the above topics, including the history, manufacture, and 
use of small arms is here concentrated in compact and convenient form, making a work of 
Tare merit and standard excellence. The work is abundantly and clearly illustrated." — 
Boston Traveller. 


Prepared by a Board of Artillery Officers. 

To which is added the Evolutions of Batteries, translated from 
the French, by Brig.-General R. Anderson, U. S. A. i vol. 1 2mo, 
122 Plates. Cloth, S3. 00. 

" TVak Depart.ment, I 

, , ""WAsniSGTo.v, D. C, March 1. IS&J. J 

" This system of Instruction for Field Artillery, prepared under direction of the War 
Department, having been approved by the President, is adopti/d for the instruction of 
troops when acting as field artillery. 

" Accordingly', instruction in the same will be given after the method pointed out there- 
in; and all additions to or departures from the exercise and mauosuvres laid down iu the 
system, are positively forbidden. 


"Secretary of War." 


^ § ^HE Artillerist's Manual : 

Compiled from various Sources, and adapted to the Service of the 
United States. Profusely illustrated with woodcuts and engrav- 
ings on stone. Second edition, revised and corrected, with 
valuable additions. By Gen. John Gibbon, U. S. Army, i 
vol., 8vo, half roan. §6. 

Tbio book is now oonsiJered the stan'lard authority for that particular branch of the 
Service in the United States Army. The War Department, at Washington, has exhibited 
Its thorough apjireciation of the merits of this volume, the want of which has been uicher- 
to much f("lt in the service, by subscribing for 700 copies. *' 

" It is with great pleasure that we welcome the appearance of a new work on this sub- 
ject, entitled • The Artillerist's Manual,' by Capt. John Gibbon, a highly scientific and mer- 
itorious oScer of artillery in our regular service. The work, an octavo volume of 500 
pages, in large, clear typo, appears to be well adapted to supply just what has been hereto- 
fore needed to fill the gap between the simple Manual and the more abstruse demonstra- 
tions of the science of g;innery. The whole work is profusely illustrated with woodcuts 
and engravings on stone, tending to give a more complete and exact idea of the various 
matters described in the text. The book may well be considered as a valuable and impor- 
tant addition to the military science of the country." — yew York Herald. 

IJand-Book of Artillery, 

For the Service of the United States Army and Militia. Eighth 
edition, revised and greatly enlarged. By Col. Joseph Roberts, 
U. S. A. 1 vol., i8mo, cloth. %\ 25. 

The following is an extract from a Iteport made by the committee appointed at a meet- 
ing of the staff of the Artillery School at Fort Monroe, Va., to whom the commanding 
oflBcer of the School had referred this work ; 

* * * '-In the opinion of your Committee, the arrangement of the subjects and tho 
selection of the several questions and answers have been judicious. The work is one 
Which may be advantageously used for reference by the officers, and is admirably adapted 
to the instruction of non-commissioned officers and privates of Artillery. 

'• Tour Committee do, therefore, recommend that it be substituted as a text-book in 
plaee *t ' Burns' Questions and Answers on Artillery.' " 

(Signed.) I. VOGDES. Capt. Ut AriiUery. 

(Signed.) E. O. C. ORD, Capt. M Artillery. 

(Signed^) J. A. HASKIN, Bvt. Maj. and Capt. Ut Artillery, 


ustrian Infantry Tactics. 

Evolutions of the Line as practised by the Auftrian Infantry, and 
adopted in 1853. Translated by Capt. C. M. Wilcox, Seventh 
Regiment, U. S. Infantry. l vol., izmo. Three large plates, 
cloth. 8 1 . 


D. VAN nostrand's publications. 

^ I ^KE Principles of Strategy and Grand 

Translated from the French of General G. H. Dufour. By William 
P. Cr-Aighill, Capt. of Engineers U. S. Army, and Assistant 
Professor of Engineering, U. S. Military Academy, West Point. 
From the last French Edition. Illustrated. In one volume, 
i2mo. cloth. §3. 

"General Dufour is a distinsruishod civil and military en£:ineer and a practical soldier, and 
in Europe one of the recognized authorities on military matters. He holds the otiice of 
Chief of the General Staflfof the Army of Switzerland." — Ereiiinr; Pout. 

"This work upon the principles of strategy, the application of which we have sorely 
etood in need of in all our campaigns, comes from an acknowledged authority. It was 
General Dufour who successfully arrayed the Federal Army of Switzerland against seces- 
sion, and " subdued" the rebellious Cantons." — Boston Journal. 

EAVY Artillery Tactics. — 1863. 

Instruction for Heavy Artillery ; prepared by a Board of Officers, for 
the use of the Army of the United States. With service of a 
gun mounted on an iron carriage. In one volume, 1 2mo, with 
numerous illustrations, cloth. 82.50. 

" War Department, I 

"Washington, D. C, Oct. 20, 1S02. j 
" This system of Heavy Artillery Tactics, prepared under direction of the War Depart- 
ment, having been approved by the President, is adopted for the instruction of troops 
when acting as heavy ai-tillery." 


Secrctar)- of War. 


S. Tactics for Colored Troops. 

U. S. Infantry Tactics, for the Instruction, Exercise, and Manoeuvres 
of the Soldier, a Company, Line of Skirmishers, and Battalion, 
for the use of the Colored Troops of the United States Infantry. 
Prepared under the direction of the War Department, i volume, 
24mo. plates, cloth. $1.50. 

" War Department, Washington, March 9, 1?63. 
" '^ system of United States Infantry Tactics, prepared under the direction of the War 
Department, for the use of the Colored Troops of the United States Infantry, having been 
approved by the President, is adopted for the instruction of .such troops." 

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War- 




RMY Officers' Pocket Companion. 

Principally designed for Staff Officers in the Field. Partly translated 
from the French of M. de Rouvre, Lieutenant-Colonel of the 
French Staff Corps, with Additions from standard American, 
French, and English Authorities. By VVm. P. Craighill, First 
Lieutenant U. S. Corps of Engineers, Assist. Prof, of Engineer- 
ing at the U. S. Military Academy, West Point. l vol., i8mo, 
full roan. 82 00. 
"I have carefully examined Capt. Craighill's Pocket Companion. I find it one of the 

very best -works of the kind I have ever seen. Any Aimy or Volunteer officer who will 

raake himself acquainted with the contents of this little book, will seldom be ignorant of 

his duties in camp or field.'' 

H. W. Hallbck, Major-General U. 8. A. 

" I have carefully examined the ' Manual for Staff Officers in the Field.' It Is a most in- 
valuable work, admirable in arrangement, perspicuously written, abounding in most useful 
ma ters, and such a book as should be the constant pocket companion of every army officer 
Eeifular and Volunteer." 

G. W. CuLHTM, Brigadier-General U. S. A. 
Oilef of General Ualleck's Staff, Chief Engineer Department Mississippi 

V/Tanual FOR Engineer Troops. 

Consisting of 

Part I. Ponton Drill. 

II. Practical Operations of a Siege. 

III. School of the Sap. 

IV. Military Mining. 

V. Construction of Batteries. 
By Major J. C. Duane, Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army. 1 vol., 
i2mo, half morocco, with plates. ^2 50. 

" I have carefully examined Capt. J. C. Duane's ' Manual for Engineer Troops,' and do not 
hesitate to pronounce it the very best work on the subject of which it treats." 

H. W. Halleck, Maj0r-Gener.1l, U. S. A. 
"A work of this kind has been much needed in our military literature. For the army's 
sake, I hope the book will have a wide circulation among its officers." 

G. B. McClellan, Major-General, TJ. S. A. 


iele's Hand-book. 

Hand-Book for Active Service, containing Practical Instructions [» 
Campaign Duties. For the use of Volunteers. By Brig. -Gen. 
Egbert L. Viele, U. S. A. i2mo, cloth. Ii. 




Translated from the French, and arranged for the Army and Militia 
of the United States. By Gen. Robert Anderson, U. S. A. 
Published by order of the War Department, l vol., cloth, 32 
plates. $ 1 . 

PANY, Detail and Squad. 

Pocket-book form, 1 1.2 5. 


tanding Orders of the Seventh Regi- 
ment, National Guard. 

For the Regulation and Government of the Regiment in the Field 
or in Quarters. By A. Duryee, Colonel. New Edition, flex- 
ible cloth. 50 cents. 


iGHT Infantry Company and Skirmish 

The Company Drill of the Infantry of the Line, together with the 
Skirmish Drill of the Company and Battalion, after the method 
of General Le Louterel. Bayonet Fencing ; with a Supple- 
ment on the Handling and Service of Light Infantry. By J. 
Monroe, Colonel 22d Regiment, N. G., N- Y. S. M., former- 
ly Captain U. S. Infantry. 1 vol., 32mo. 75 cents. 

XT^iELD Tactics for Infantry, 

Comprising the Battalion movements, and Brigade evolutions, useful 
in the Field, on the March, and in the presence of the Enemy. 
The tabular form is used to distinguish the commands of the 
General, and the comm.ands of the Colonel. By Brig.-Gen. 
Wm. H. Morris, U. S. Vols., late 2d U. S. Infantry. i8mo. 
Illustrated. 75 cents. 


1^ A5-:i**;v'VS'