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Paterson, N. J. 





A. .ou, Lr:.ia': and 

B \^:n L 

Copyright, 1906 

All rights resernjed. 







In sending forth this Uttle volume, the author does so with the 
full knowledge that many histories of the Civil War have been 
written, but he does not desire that this book should be looked upon 
simply as history, but to be read and judged as the experience of 
one who, when on that memorable day in April, 1861, the news 
was flashed over the wires that the Stars and Stripes had been fired 
upon at Fort Sumter, had all the blood in his veins swollen with 
patriotism and love of country. Although but a mere lad, yet 
when the call came for volunteers, he was one of the first to heed his 
country's call. The scenes and incidents here mentioned was what 
he witnessed himself. Had the author mentioned all the incidents 
of which he was an eye witness, he could have filled a bookof greater 
size and magnitude: but such has not been his desire. So many of 
his friends have asked him to relate his experience while in the 
army (a service that lasted almost four years), that he came at last 
to the conclusion to put his experience in book form, and thus give 
it to the world. It has not been the intention of the author to 
criticise the acts of any of his comrades, or his superior officers, for 
where all done so well, it would not be doing them justice to do so 
at this late day, but of one he wishes to speak, and after the lapse 
of forty years, he is still under the same impression as regards his 
merits as he was when serving under him. That officer was General 


George B. McClellan, the Organizer and First Commander of that 
grand bod}' of men — the Army of the Potomac. That, as its Com- 
mander, he was the greatest General of the times, and had he received 
the support of the authorities at Washington when he entered upon 
the Peninsular Campaign, the same as was afterwards given to 
General Grant when he became Commander, the war would have 
ended long before it did. In the following pages the author has 
only briefly mentioned the names of Generals Richardson, Sumner 
and Hancock, three of the bravest Generals in the Army of the 
Potomac. He would have wished to add more to what he has written 
in reference to those brave and gallant officers under w^hom he served, 
but space forbids. And now after the lapse of years, he cannot 
forget two of his officers — the brave Colonel Chapman, or that grand 
fatherly officer, Colonel, afterguards General, Zook. Both of these 
officers treated the author like a son, and when death claimed them 
none mourned or revered their memory more than your humble ser- 
vant. To the Sons of Veterans it is hoped that this book may 
awaken and rekindle their patriotism and love of country, and that 
should the occasion arise that they, like their fathers, will be willing 
to rise in defense of the Stars and Stripes, the colors that never yet 
turned its back to the foe, or ever was trailed in the dust by its 
enemieSo So with the prayer that this book may accomplish all 
that the writer intended, and with this view in mind, this book is 
sent forth with the best wishes of 




Opening of the War.— First Enlistment.— Death of Colonel Els- 
worth. — Discharge from the Service. — Re-enlistment.— On to 
Washington.— Foraging and Scouting.— Life in Camp.— Presi- 
dent Orders Army Di\dded into Corps. — McClellan's Address 
to the Army. — On to Richmond. — Arrive on the Peninsular. — 
The Beginning of the Peninsular Campaign 1-22 


The Army on the Move. — From Shippen Point to Grapevine 
Bridge. — Scenes along the Route. — Anecdotes and Incidents. 
— Playing Baseball. — The Sounds of Cannonading(. — Ordeirs 
to Fall In. — March to Grapevine Bridge 23-31 


The Crossing of the River. — March to Fair Oaks. — First and 
Second Days' Battles. — Sleeping Between Two Dead Men. — 
A Night Alarm.— The Enemy Defeated 32-44 


From Pair Oaks to Malvern Hill. — The Seven Days' Fight. — 
Jackson's Sudden Move from ^:he Shenandoah Valley to the 
Peninsular.— McDowell's Army Bottled Up.— Scenes and 
Incidents of McClellan's Famous Retreat 45-58 



Battle of Malvern Hill. — Victory of Union Army. — Retreat to 
Harrison's I^anding. — Visit of President Lincoln to the Army. 
— General McClellan's Address to the Army. — Movement of 
Troops toward Malvern Hill. — Lee's Advance toward Wash- 
ington. — Orders to the Army to go to Washington 59-70 


From the Peninsular to Antietam.— McClellan Left Without a 
Command. — Buying Watermelons without Money. — Pope 
takes Command of the Army. — March to the Second Battle 
of Bull Run. — Defeat of Pope.— McClellan Again Called to 
the Command of the Army to Save Washington. — Battle of 
South Mountain 71-82 


From South Mountain to Warrenton. — Battle of Antietam. — 
Death of Generals Mansfield and Richardson. — After a 
Victory, What? — Change of Commanders. — ^General McClel- 
lan Relieved and General Burnside Assumes Command. — 
McClellan's Farewell to the Army. — Anecdotes and Incidents. 83-102 


From W^arrenton to Fredericksburg. — Incidents of the March. — 
The Battle of Fredericksburg with Incidents of the Same. — 
Lincoln's Address to the Army. — Anecdotes of the Twenty- 
fifth New Jersey. — The Mud March. — The Army Again 
Changes Commanders. — Hooker in Command 103-125 


Private Letter from A. Lincoln to Major-General Hooker. — 
Incidents of Camp Life at Falmouth.— March to Ohancellors- 
ville and General Hooker's Address.— Battle of Chancellors- 
ville. — Death of the Rebel General Stonewall Jackson. — The 
Retreat of Chancellorsville.— JBack to the Old Camp at 
Falmouth 126-151 



Before Fredericksburg. — Situation of the Several Corps.— The 
Army Breaks Camp.— The Race Between Lee and Hooker.— 
The March to Geittyisburg and the iFirat Day's Battle. — The 
Death of General Reynolds.— Anecdotes of the March 152--158 


From Monocacy Bridge to Taneytown. — Hooker Relieved of the 
Command. — Meade Appointed to Command Army of the 
Potomac. — General Orders to Corps Commanders, Incidents, 
etc 159--171 


From Taneytown to Gettysburg and the First Day's Fight. With 

Incidents, etc 172-192 


The Second Day's Battle.— Premonition of Death.— General Zook 
is Killed. — Wounded and Taken Prisoner. — The Third Day's 
Battle.— Pickett's Charge.— Retreat of the Rebel Army.— 
Again Among Friends. — Sent to the Hospital. — ^Life in the 
Hospital. — Rejoined My Regiment. — ^Death of Colonel Chap- 
man. — New Faces and New Commanders 193--211 


Battle of the Wilderness. — Return of the Regiment to Freder- 
icksburg. — Burying the Dead. — Return to the Army. — The 
Siegie of Petersburg. — Marching and Fighting. — Ordered 
Mustered Out. — Return Home 212-225 


Scenes and Incidents. — Anecdotes of Officers and Men of the 

Fifty-seventh New York 226-236 


The Close of the War. — The Grand Review, with a Sketch of the 
Corps and their Commanders. — The End of the Army of the 
Potomae 237-247 

The Assassination of President Lincoln 248-253 



Author's Portrait Frontispiece 

Ir Alexandria 3 

Leaving Camp Lafayette for Washington 6 

Portraits of William H. Cole and Jacob H. Cole 10 

Crossing the Grapevine Bridge BD 

Abraham Lincoln Calling his Cabinet after the Defeat at Second 

Bull Run 49 

Hancock at Antietam, taking Command of Richardson's Division.... 89 

General McClellan's Farewell to the Army 99 

Passing the 25th New Jersey in Fredericksburg 109 

Portrait of Colonel D -rrom 116 

Review by President Lincoln — Falmouth, Opposite Fredericksburg. . 129 

The March to Chancellorsville 135 

The Rout of the Eleventh Corps, Chancellorsville 139 

Retreat Across the Rappaihannock.— United States Ford 148 

In the Wheatfield at Gettysburg 198 

Photo of Wheatfield where Jacob H. Cole was Wounded 202 

The Final Charge at Gettysburg 205 

Hospital Department 207 

Crossing the Rapidan 213 

Eating Supper in Peace 217 

Sleeping on the Battle Field— Marching Through Swamp 222 

Portrait of Colonel Zook Facing 236 



Opening of the War. — First Enlistment. — Death of Colonel Elsworth. — 
Discharge from the Service. — Re-enlistment. — On to Washington. — 
Foraging and Scouting. — Life in Camp. — President Orders Army 
Divided into Corps. — McClellan's Address to the Army. — On to 
Richmond. — Arrive on the Peninsular. — The Beginning of the Penin- 
sular Campaign. 

The general election for President and Vice President of the 
United States that was held in November, i860, was of the ut- 
most moment to the country at large, as the South declared that 
the election of Abraham Lincoln would be considered a menace 
to the South and her institution of slavery, so that the result of 
the election was looked upon with anxious fears on the one hand 
and with hope on the other. When the election of Abraham 
Lincoln, as President, w^as assured, the South at once com- 
menced to talk secession and claimed the right of any State to 
secede from the Union at any time, while on the other hand the 
North, East and West denied such right to any State at this 
time. I was but a boy, not quite fourteen years of age, having 
been bom in the city 6i P^atersoH; Neiw Jersey, February 2 2d, 


1S47. and how well do I reiiieiiiber the wave of patrio:isiii that 
swept over the city when tlie news caine that Lincoln had 
escaped his enemies in Baltimore and had arrivevl in Washing- 
ton in safety. Then, in a few days after his inauguration, came 
the news that the rebels had tired upon Fort Sumpter, in Charles- 
ton Harbor. Then came the call of tlie President for volunteers 
to serve for three months. I at once i^boy as I was'i hastened 
to obey the call, and enlisted in Company A. First Xew York 
Fire Zouaves, under the command of Colonel Ellsworth, and 
was swoni into the U^iited States Service on April J4th. 1S61. 
and in a few days the regiment marchevi down Broadway in 
New York, and left for Wasliington. D. C. Wlien we arrived 
in Baltimore we marched through the city in a hollow square, as 
all the regiment was not anned. The officers were placed 
in the centre of the square and unannevi men were place^l in the 
inside rank. We marched tlirough Baltimore on May Jp.d, 
1861. just eleven da>-s after the memorable attack on the Sixth 
Massachusetts Regriment. We arrived in Washington May 
2nd. I So I. and went into camp in the Capitol. In a few days 
we changed camp to the White House grounds, where we re- 
mained until the 24th day of ^lay. On that moniing we 
were early assembled and marchevi to the Potomac River, 
and taking boats^ we floated dowti the river until we were 
opposite Alexandria, Va., where we made a landing. Shortly 
after landing, and while marching through the streets of the 
city. Colonel Ellsworth saw a large Confe^lerate flag fl>*ing from 
tlie roof of the Marshall House. The colonel, accompanievl by 
some of his regiment, ascended to the roof and haulevl down 
the flag, \\lien coming down the stairs, folding the t^ag. he was 
met by Jackson, who, without warning, deliberately shot and 
killeii Colonel Ellsworth. Hardly had he committed the cow- 
ardlv act when he was shot and killevl ^v Serpen !it "Rrownell. 


The regimeiVu reniaintrl in camp on the outskirts of Alexandria 
until July 17th, 1861, when the regiment broke camp and 
marched to Centreville, and from there to Chubbs Run, and then 
to Manassas, where, on the 21st of July, we fought the battle 
of Bull Run, or Manassas. The army, meeting with defeat, re- 
treated to Washington, where we found that the city was filled 
with stragglers on the retreat. The roads were filled with 
carriages and baggage wagons. Under ihe excitement men cut 
horses and mules loose from the wagons, jumped on their backs, 



and smarted belter skelter for Washington. The roads were so 
crowded that it was more like a mob than an army. When we 
reached the Long Bridge to cross over into Washington there 
was such a crush that it was impossible to keep any formation, 
so it became a case of ever>^ one for themselves. When we ar- 
rived in the city we found it filled with stragglers, and all was ex- 
citement. After the regiment got into Washington and the ex- 
citement began to cool, the officers found that there was about 
two hundred men missing. When we reached New York we 
ascertained the whereabouts of the missing men. Some had 


been killed, others were prisoners, and still others had never 
stopped retreating until they reached home. The regiment left 
Washington for New York on August 4th, and was mustered 
out of the service as a regiment August 8th, 1861. On the 
nth day of August, 1861, I enlisted at New York City in 
Company A, Fifty-seventh New York Volunteer Infantry, 
Colonel Samuel K. Zooks commanding ; my captain being Al- 
bert Chapman. I was sent to join my company, then in camp 
at Scarsdale, N. Y. After a few days' stay in that camp, which 
was known as Camp Scarsdale, we were ordered to move to 
New Dorp, Staten Island, going by boat from the Battery. 
Crossing New York Bay,, we arrived at Camp Lafayette, and 
found that for our accommodation that rudely constructed bar- 
racks had been built, and in these buildings the regiment was 
housed and fed. A frightful change from the comforts of home. 
These barracks, rude as they were, afforded us comfort and pro- 
tection far beyond what was soon to come in tlie open fieUI. 
But the novelty of the situation was interesting, and it took 
more and longer than this experience to wear away the nev/ 
born enthusiasm that had been beating in every patriotic breast. 
A soldier's life had thus far been all romance. A gala day wnth 
flags flying, crowds cheering, and women smiling, save, perhaps, 
the heartache in moments of separation, all had been bustle and 
excitement. New comrades were comparing notes, showing 
pictures of mothers, wives or sweethearts, telling of home, busi- 
ness and friends left behind ; others talking of positions promised 
them in their companies — lieutenancies, sergeantcies, and what 
not — all of which turned out later to be like the morning devv 
that soon vanishes away. People were constantly coming down 
from the city to visit the camp, watching the drilling, talking 
with friends and giving little presents of useful things for the 
use of the soldiers — mementoes, or things to eat that were not 


on the bill of fare at the barracks. When off duty the boys 
would stroll around, get passes to the city, singing "Jo^^^ 
Brown's Body," and other songs of the day that were on every 
tongue. However, our duties became more frequent and labor- 
ious, drilling seemed to take all our time, discipline began to be 
exercised and order to work itself out of confusion. The 
boys had so many different kinds and colors of uniforms that, 
when in line together, they looked like a crazy quilt. The 
awkward squads were numerous. 

''Shoulder arms," said the drill master. 

"I will," said the recruit, as he laboriously raised his musket 
to the top of his right shoulder. 

''Stand erect !" is the next command, whereupon every man 
swells out his abdomen to its fullest tension. 

"Mark time, march!" 

Hip, hip, long legs, short legs, little feet, big feet; will they 
ever step together. The hardest man in the regiment to be 
taught was a short young Irishman, who knew it all, and whose 
movements were like those of a jack in a box. He had evidently 
often gone through the manual of arms with a broom stick before 
an admiring audience in his back alley. 

We had been in Camp Lafayette two months or more, when 
orders came to pack knapsacks and be ready to move at a 
moment's notice. It was on Tuesday af-ernoon, November i2tli, 
1 86 1, that we made our first march as a regiment, a distance of 
about three miles from camp to the landing, where we embarked 
on the steamer "Kill von Kull." 

A multitude of friends had come down from the city to see the 
regiment, and there were many sad and tearful good-byes, not- 
withstanding the heroic attempts at laughter and g-ood cheer. 
As the steamer left the wharf, about ten o'clock at night, the 


white handkerchiefs began to flutter, and not until we were be- 
yond individual recognition did they cease. The clear moonlight 
made the night almost as bright as day. Now for the first time 
the face of the Fifty-seventh was set away from home and 
towards the seat of war. Just a little it began to seem that 
we were soldiers. 


Having steamed southerly around Staten Island to the Nevr 
Jersey shore, we disembarked at Amboy, where we boarded a 
train of the Camden and Amboy Railway, and at about midnight 
began to move toward Philadelphia, which place we reached at 
day dawn. 


This first night out had been one of great beauty. The air was 
full of balm and the moon kept bright until the greater brilliancy 
of the rising sun put out its light. Everyone was full of good 
spirits, very few of the men wanted to sleep, and those who did 
could not for the fun that was going on. The ladies of Philadel- 
phia were up early, and had breakfast ready by the time we had 
crossed the river from Camden to Philadelphia. Of course all 
were hungry and ate voraciously, while the mirth and laughter 
were equal to a first-class picnic. From the dining hall we 
marched to the railroad depot, and by four in the afternoon were 
in Baltimore, where supper was served. 

Before daylight the next morning — Thursday, November 14th, 
1861 — the train pulled into Washington, D. C. At seven o'clock 
the regiment fell into line and marched about a mile and a half 
in a northeasterly direction from the Capitol, on the Bladensburg 
road, and went into camp near the toll gate. This was Camp 
Wilder. The ground was wet and in places muddy from pre- 
vious rains. A not very inviting bed for the first night out. To 
make matters worse, there were but three tents to a company, 
and as darkness came on it began to rain and grow cold. This 
night was like the last in one respect — it was sleepless, but the 
cause was misery rather than fun. Now began that development 
of the law of self preservation, which so distinguished the veteran 
soldier and made him so superior to the untried recruit. The 
boys began to shift for themselves. One of them found a large 
box partially filled with knapsacks, and taking off the cover he 
crawled inside, replaced the cover and burrowed out a comfort- 
able place and slept for two nights as snug as a bug in a rug. 
Then a movement to higher ground deprived him of his accom- 
modation at ''Hotel de Box," as it was called. But a better 
supply of tents furnished comfortable quarters for all. 


While at Camp Wilder the boys were granted occasional 
leave of absence to visit the city of Washington, and it was im- 
proved in seeing the sights about the Capitol and public build- 
ings. The dome of the Capitol building was yet unfinished, and 
the mammoth sections of the Goddess of Liberty were lying 
around, head in one place, shoulders in another, and feet in still 
another, as though entirely unrelated. Pennsylvania avenue, 
unpaved and dusty as a country road, was lined with stores and 
dwellings, many of which could be called shanties. Washington 
was essentially a southern city, without enterprise and improve- 
ments, a by-word and a reproach among nations. 

On Thursday, November 28th, 1861, we broke camp and 
started for Virginia, crossing the Potomac by the Long Bridge, 
the boys singing, ''I Wish I Was in Dixie" as we crossed into 
Virginia. I could not help thinking of the other time I entered 
Virginia, and of the death of Colonel Ellsworth. Upon arriving 
on the Virginia side, we marched slowly westward five or six 
miles on the Columbia turnpike to Arlington Mills, a station on 
^the Washington and Ohio Railway. Here, near a brick yard, 
we bivouacked at midnight, having lost our way and also our 
rations. We had nothing to eat but some sweet corn we pulled 
off the stalks and roasted in the fire. It had rained all day, our 
clothes were wet and muddy, the ground was soft and uncertain. 
Yet we had managed to get some sleep. When the reveille 
sounded at daybreak in the morning we received our rations, an<i 
after breakfast the march was resumed southward five or six 
miles to v\^hat was afterwards known as Camp California. 

When it became e\-ident that this spot vras to be our home for 
the winter, streets were laid out in military fashion, each com- 
pany being assigned to its place. Then began the pitching of 
tents, the pairing of comrades, the building of bunks, putting up 
of clothes racks, making tables, and getting to rights for general 


Photo taken in 1861. 


housekeeping. The company cook furnished coffee, bean soup, 
boiled pork and salt beef. The sutler sold us pies, dried fruits 
and other delicacies. Some of the boys had sheet iron stoves 
that served for warming purposes, and, having movable ovens, 
these stoves gave them an opportunity for fancy cooking, on 
which some of the men prided themselves. The routine of a 
soldier' slife that w^as commenced at Camp Wilder was continued 
at Camp California throughout the winter. 

In addition to the routine of Camp Wilder, there was many 
additions added to our other duties, such as regimental and 
brigade drills and picket duty. General French (or rather 
''Blinkey" as we used to call him, not with any disrespect, but 
because he always blinked his eyes when giving his commands), 
seemed to have a passion for brigade drills, and would march 
the boys all over creation until they were completely exhausted, 
and then, by way of resting them, would order an extra move- 
ment or two. 

Edsall Hill on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, five miles 
from camp, was our place for outpost duty. Standing guard at 
Edsall Hill furnished illustration of the vividness of the human 
imagination. A post on the brow of the hill looked down on 
the clump of trees left bare of leaves by the winter's frost. The 
sparrows making their nests in these trees are often restless at 
night, and gave occasion for all kinds of suppositions on the part 
of the sentinel. More than once the gun was cocked and the 
trigger about to be pulled because of the supposed approach of 
the enemy. In the dead stillness of the night, when one is alone 
on the outer line, the least noise travels far and sounds near. The 
very atmosphere seems to rustle, the trees and shrubs turn into 
advancing skirmishers, creeping" cautiously upon the unwary 
sentinel. There is no limit to the power of the imagination un- 
der conditions like these. 


Men in their quarrels would sometimes threaten to shoot each 
other, but when their passions cooled they seldom thought of 
carrying out their threats. Sometimes men would declare their 
intentions of shooting an officer in the next battle, but when the 
battle came they would have all they could do to take care of 
themselves. It is quite improbable that such a thing was ever 
accomplished in any regiment, but in the Fifty-seventh it cer- 
tainly never was. 

On Monday, March loth, 1862, at two o'clock in the morning, 
the call was sounded, and the army of the Potomac roused from 
sleep with orders to march at daylight. Three days' rations and 
sixty rounds of cartridges were issued to each man. Blankets 
and shelter tents were rolled together, lengthwise thrown over 
the right shoulder and the ends joined under the left arm. The 
haversacks were filled with rations and such articles for the 
toilet as we had room for. At the appointed time all was ready 
and the moments of waiting for the word to move were spent in 
taking a last look at the old camp. It was not unnatural that we 
were loth to leave a place which had become so much a part of 
ourselves, a spot where we had become so nearly a part of the 

Soon the expected orders came to fall in, and our regiment 
filed out and took its place in the column. As we started the 
clouds also started. It not only began to rain, but it continued 
to rain. The tramping of many feet soon kneaded the soil into 
dough, and then into slush, and the troops waded sometime^^ 
knee deep through mud and mire all day long with laborious 
steps. The march continued until at sunset, near Fairfax Cou^'t 
House, all lay down upon the soaked earth, weary and wet, for 
refreshing sleep. At daylight a hurried breakfast was followed 
by an inspection of arms, and the column pushed on through 
Fairfax station to Sangster station, where the night of the 


eleventh was spent. On the following day Union Mills was 
reached, and the third night was spent on the Bull Run Hills. 
March 12th, the next day, we pushed on to Manassas, entering 
that stronghold of the enemy on March 13th, with flags unfurled 
and bands playing ''Yankee Doodle," "Star Spangled Banner," 
and other patriotic airs. It was hoped and expected that there 
would now be a little rest, but it was not to be with our regiment 
at least, for it was immediately detailed to support the brigade of 
Stoneman's Cavalry in a reconnoisance to Cedar Run. 

Early on the morning of March 14th we commenced to move. 
Our line of march was along the Orange and Alexandria Rail- 
road, but as the bridges over Broad and Kettle Runs had been 
burned away, detours had to be made down the high embank- 
ments, through the streams and into the soft soil of ploughed 
ground, where with each step we sank to the knees in the mud. 
Five miles beyond the fires of the retreating pickets were passed, 
until the enemy was found in force behind Cedar Run. The regi- 
ment was divided into four parts, each part taking a separate 
position, so as to give the appearance of a brigade, and fires were 
built along the line — a difficult task when every stick of wood 
was soaked with water — yet accomplished by carrying coals from 
one fire to another. 

Captain Chapman was ordered to take his company and drive 
off a cavalry picket stationed beyond a hill, which he succeeded 
in doing. Following them to the run where they crossed, shots 
were fired by both sides, but perhaps without hurt to any one. 
During the skirmish firing quite an excited argument arose be- 
tween William Conklin and George Williams about firing. They 
both had an idea that in a line of battle they should fire the same 
as when drilling. After considerable talk between them, Conklin 
said to Williams, ''Why in thunder don't you shoot, so that I can 
shoot," but Williams was so excited that he could not fire. Dtir- 


ing the time they were arguing about firing, Daniel Haggerty 
said to them, ''Say, you fellows, why don't you shut up and both 
of you fire." During the time they were having their argument 
I was loading and firing as fast as I could. Of course, to a cer- 
tain extent they wxre excusable as it was the first time they had 
been under fire. 

Early the next morning, Captain Chapman had the men 
drawn up in line and he made a short speech to them, among 
other things he said : "Boys, last night during the time we were 
engaged in driving back the enemy's pickets, some of you men 
were arguing about firing. I did not at the time desire to inter- 
fere, but I have called you together this morning to say to you, 
one and all, that I believe you will get over this trouble when 
you get into a battle. You will then understand that each man 
must depend upon himself and in loading and firing he will do so 
without thinking or waiting for the next man to fire first." 

On the fifteenth the enemy's cavalry made an advance. The 
Fifty-seventh was formed in line of battle on the brow of the 
hill with Stoneman's Cavalry in the rear. They did not attack 
this line, and soon retreated across the stream. It was here that 
the regiment fired their first shots at the rebels. 

The object of the reconnoisance having been accomplished, 
the march back to Manassas was begun. Then it began to rain 
again. Down, down, it came. Sometimes a fine drizzily fall, 
and then again it would seem as though it was falling in buckets- 
ful. But we were getting used to it, and was learning to pro- 
tect ourselves from its worst effects. The walking between the 
rails was not bad, but when we had to turn out for the broken 
bridges, it did seem as though we would be buried alive in the 
mud. The third bridge we had to cross on our return hung by 
a single rail over a chasm fifty feet in depth, and the water 
below was waist deep and in places up to our arm pits. The boys 


looked long at the broken bridge and then at the stream below, 
trying to decide which route to take. Nearly all waded the 
stream, but some ventured on the single rail. One man crossing 
thus missed his footing and scarcely saved himself from death 
by catching hold of a swinging tie. 

On reaching Manassas, we got into the vacant huts, built large 
fires, ;i tripped and dried our soaked clothes and lay down to a 
night of solid rest. On the i6th the Third brigade fell back 
to Bull Run, only to return again to Manassas on the 17th of 
March. On the i8th of March we again fell back to Bull Run, 
where the following address was read to us : 

Fairfax Court House, Va. 

March 10, 1861. 
Soldiers of the Army of the Potomac: 

For a long time I have kept you inactive, but not without a purpose. 
You were to be disciplined, armed and instructed. The formidable artil- 
lery you now have had to be created. Other armies were to move and 
accomplish certain results. I have held you back that you might give 
the death blow to the rebellion that has distracted our once happy 
country. The patience you have shown and your confidence in your 
general are worthy of a dozen victories. The preliminary results are 
now accomplished. I feel that the patient labors of many months have 
produced their fruit — the army of the Potomac is now a real army, mag- 
nificent in material, admirable in discipline and instruction, and excel- 
lently equipped and armed. Your commanders are all that I could wish. 
The moment for action has arrived and I know that I can trust in you 
to save the country. As I ride through your ranks I see in your faces the 
sure prestige of victory. I feel that you will do whatever I ask of you. 
The period of inaction has passed. I will bring you now face to face with 
the rebels, and only pray that God may defend the right in whatever 
direction you may move. However strange my actions may appear to 
you, ever bear in mind that my fate is linked with yours and that all 1 
do is to bring you where I know you wish to be — on the decisive battle- 
field. It is my business to place you there. I am to watch over you as 
a parent over his children, and you know that your general loves you 


from the depths of his heart. It shall be my care — it has ever been— to 
gain success with the least possible loss, but I know that if it is neces- 
sary you will follow me to your graves for our righteous cause. God 
smiles upon us; victory attends us. Yet I would not have you think that 
our aim is to be obtained without a manly struggle. I will not disguise 
it from you that you have brave foes to encounter; foemen well worthy 
of the steel that you will use so well. I shall demand of you great, great 
heroic exertions, rapid and long marches, desperate combats and priva- 
tions. Perhaps we will share all these together, and when this sad war 
is over we will all return to our homes and feel that we can ask no 
higher honor than the proud consciousuess that we belonged to the army 
of the Potomac. 


Major-General Commanding. 

When we first arrived at Manassas we found the ruins of a 
burnt hospital, and on searching the ruins we found the body of 
a man which had been burned so that is was not recognizable, 
and in a creek fifty feet away there were five bodies with their 
hands tied behind them. As they were entirely nude, it was 
impossible to say to which side they belonged and from their 
appearance it was evident that their death was due to violence. 

While in camp at Manassas we used the water from a well 
that was near at hand. After we had been using the water for 
about three days the bucket got fast, and after considerable 
trouble we managed to pull it up, when we found fastened to it 
the body of a dead rebel soldier. 

While we lay at Manassas, a number of the boys went to a 
brook to have a wash. When we were washing we were ap- 
proached by a man that had every appearance of being an old 
teamster or a wagon driver. We did not recognize him and 
he did not tell who he was. He asked one of the boys to lend 
him his soap so that he could have a wash, when the one he had 
approached turned to him and said, ''You go to h — and get your 
own soap, you old baggagemaster." Then he came to me and 



asked me to lend him a piece of soap that he might wash his 
hands. I gave it to him. When he had finished he handed it 
to me, at the same time thanking me for its use. After we were 
through washing we made a fire, and while standing around it 
the old farmer, as we supposed, sat down, and began to tell us 
stories of his experience in the Mexican war. Some of the 
boys asked him what he was doing down in the army. He 
said he was working for the government, and that we would all 
know him better after a while. We will have learned more about 
war and what it is to share what we have with our comrades, 
and before we get home again we will all be more willing to assist 
one another, and if our comrade desires to borrow anything from 
us we will be only too glad to let them have it. 

Shortly after this some colored people, whom we called con- 
trabands, came into our lines, and my brother, William H. Cole, 
Dad Haggerty and myself were detailed to escort them to Gen- 
eral French's headquarters. When we presented them to Gen- 
eral French, he ordered us to take them to General Richardson's 
headquarters. When we arrived at General Richardson's head- 
quarters we saw a lot of well dressed officers. As none of the 
three had ever seen General Richardson, we were at loss to know 
which one was the general, so we inquired for General Richard- 
son. One of the officers told us to go to another tent, which he 
pointed out to us, and as we approached the tent we saw the old 
teamster, as we thought, sitting alone. So I said to him, ''Could 
you tell me where I can find General Richardson?" and he said, 
''Well, I guess I can tell you where he is. Sometimes they call 
me General Richardson and at other times they call me 'Greasy 
Dick.'" I said, "I hope you will not try to fool me; you're the 
man I lent the soap to the other day." He replied, "I am not try- 
ing to fool you, my boy, but let it rest. You can bring the contra- 
bands here and I will attend to them." So we brought the con- 


trabands up to the tent, and after he had looked them over he 
gave me an order to lake them to General Summer's head- 

We went with them to General Summer's headquarters, and 
after saluting the general, I said : ''General, I received orders to 
take these people to General , French, and he ordered me to take 
them to General Richardson's headquarters. We did so, and 
there saw a man we did not know, who gave us an order to bring 
these contrabands to your headquarters. Here is the order, but 
whether it was given to me by General Richardson I do not 
know. All I know is that whoever the man was he signed his 
name as General Richardson." So General Sumner took the 
order, and as soon as he had read it, he said to me, "Yes, that is 
General Richardson; you v/ill know more of him and will learn 
to like him the more you see of him." So we left the con- 
trabands with the general and returned to our quarters, and 1 
said to the boys, ''Well, I know who General Richardson is now, 
for I have seen him." And indeed, before we had been with him 
long the words of General Sumner came true. We did indeed 
love him because of his kindness to every one, as the following- 
incident will show. 

While we were on the march during the Peninsular Campaign, 
General Richardson was riding along our line when he came to a 
soldier that was tied to a tree by his thumbs. So he said to the 
man, "Well, well, who tied you there?" The man replied, "There 
was some general passing along here and he asked me what 
command I belonged to, and he winked and blinked with both 
eyes and drew his mouth in such a shape that I could not help 
but laugh at him. He asked me two or three times the same 
question, but as he asked the question he blinked so with his eyes 
that I could do nothing but laugh, so he ordered me to be tied 
up by the thumbs." So General Richardson got ofT his horse 


and cut the man loose, and said to him, "You can return to your 
command as I think I know who the general was, but the ne::r 
time you see a man commence to wink and blink be sure you get 
out of his way for he is getting ready to shoot." 

Another instance of his thoughts for his men was when we had 
to wade across the Chicahominey river. He got off his horse 
and waded the stream with his men. At another time when 
going into the battle at Antietam he said, "Men, follow me and 
where I will not go I will not ask you to go." At another time 
at the battle of Fair Oaks, the rebels brought out a gun mounted 
on a railroad car that was known as the land Merrimac. One of 
our batteries was firing on it but without doing any damage. 
General Richardson noticing this, got off his horse, and after 
the gun was loaded, sighted the piece and fired it himself, with 
the result that the car was knocked ofi: the track and the Merri- 
mac was put out of business for the time being. 

At the battle of Antietam, General Richardson was killed, and 
there was not one of the men in our division but regretted his 
loss, for we had indeed came to love him as a father. There was 
no fuss or feathers about him. plain in dress, unassuming in 
manners, so much so that unless you knew him you would never 
know that he was a general. Had he lived he w^otild have made 
his mark before the war closed. 

While we were laying at Manassas. Andy Wilson, Bill Hardy 
and myself decided one day to go out on a foraging expedition. 
To make up our minds was to act; so we started. After travel- 
ing a considerable distance w^e came to a farm house where we 
saw some chickens. It did not take us long to catch the chickens. 
Just as we got them ready we saw^ some rebels coming, and. 
taking the chickens we started back for camp, as the rebels were 
gaining upon us. For safety w^e took refuge in a swamp, where 
we were obliged to remain all night. In the morning we man- 


aged to elude the rebels and got back to camp with our chickens. 
Shortly after we returned to the camp, General Richardson sent 
for the three to come to his tent. When we arrived at the tent, 
General Richardson asked Hardy where he had obtained the 
chickens, and Hardy said, "I got them from Jake." Then I was 
called up with Wilson and asked where I had got the chickens 
I gave to Hardy, and I told the general that I had bought thetii 
from a farmer. The general saw the joke and laughingly said. 
"li you boys will fight as you forage I am not afraid of your 
going to Richmond." 

On the 25th of March we advanced to Warrington Junction, 
which was reached on the 27th, and remained one day, when we 
fell back to Manassas and Bull Run. The main army about ten 
days before had begun its return to Alexandria and were embark- 
ing for the peninsular, so that on our return we, too, were or- 
dered back, taking the cars at Fairfax station and stopping over 
night at old Camp California. 

The following morning, April 3rd, President Lincoln's order 
of March 13th, forming the army of the Potomac into army 
corps, was read to our brigade. Under the above orders the 
army was divided into army corps and the following generals 
were designated to command the several corps : 

General McDowell was selected to command the first corps. 
This general was still laboring under the disgrace of his defeat at 
Bull Run in 1861. 

The commander of the second corps was General Edwin V. 
Sumner, a veteran officer of the regular army. General Sumner 
was a veteran of the Mexican and of the Black Hawk wars. 
Of General Sumner much may be said on either side of 
the question. His record as a soldier and his services as an 
officer was of the best. As colonel of the First United States 
Cavalry he led the famous charge at the battle of Cervo Gordo, 


in Mexico, under General Scott. On the other hand, it is a 
question whether with his mental habits and at his advanced age 
he should have been designated for the command of twenty 
thousand new troops in the field against a resolute enemy. He 
was more of a cavalry officer than an infantry officer. 

The commanders of the third and fourth corps respectively, 
General Heintzelman of the third and Keyes of the fourth, it is 
not necessary to speak, as they were shelved after a short trial. 

In appointing the corps commanders, General McClellan should 
have been consulted, in fact, it would have been far different had 
he appointed them himself. General McClellan should have been 
allowed his own choice in the matter. Nothing but disaster could 
rationally have been expected in thus overriding the judgment 
and will of the commander of the army. If General ^McClellan 
was not capable of appointing the heads of his army corps, he 
could not have been capable of commanding them when ap- 
pointed, and in the light of future events, I have often thought 
that had General McClellan made the appointment himself in- 
stead of the President, that the results of the Peninsular Cam- 
paign would have been far different. I do not think that General 
McClellan would have been obliged to fall back to the James 
river and eventually to Washington. They were most unhappily 
chosen, and it has often been remarked that politics in one or two 
instances was at the bottom of them. 

Had General McClellan proceeded to divide his army into 
army corps during the winter of 1861-62, he could have done so 
without interference by the President or any one else, but the 
long winter of inaction had so far alienated the President, and 
Congress had created so many jealousies among the expectant 
officers of high rank and had kept General McClellan so long 
upon the defensive in explaining and justifying his position, that 
when the organization of the army corps became a reality in 


March, 1862, President Lincoln was able to impose his will upon 
the commander of the Army of the Potomac in the matter of 
the officers to be or that had been selected for those important 
and responsible positions. General McClellan should have been 
allowed his own untrammeled choice, and when the army began 
its movements against Richmond by way of the Peninsular, he 
should have received an ardent support. As it was he w^as only 
supported in a half hearted manner. 

After one night at Camp California the regiment marched to 
Alexandria, and the following morning, April 4th, it embarked 
on the steamer Ariel for Fortress Monroe. 

The daylight ride down the Potomac another excursion 
full of pleasure, passing Mount Vernon and other points of his- 
toric interest. The scenery was charming with no signs of war 
to mar its general peace. At night, however, a different state of 
mind ensued. To find a plank that had a soft side was an unsuc- 
cessful search. The usual depressions found in the ground and 
utilized so readily for the hips and shoulders could not here be 
made, so there was nothing to do but lie first on one side and 
then on the other until both sides became sore, and then sit up. 
No one could walk around without tramping on something sensi- 
tive. The second night out the steamer lay off Fortress Monroe, 
but the next morning moved to Shippen Point. 



The Army on the Move. — From Shippen Point to Grapevine Bridge. — 
Scenes along th© Route. — Anecdotes and Incidents. — Playing Base- 
ball. — The Sounds of Cannonading. — Orders to Fall In. — March to 
Grapevine Bridge. 

When we first landed at Shippen Point, there was no rations 
for us. I bought some crackers and cheese from a sutler's 
wagon, which I divided with my comrades. While we were eat- 
ing a soldier stepped up and said, "I am mighty hungry, too, can 
you share with me ?" and when I looked up I saw it was Thomas 
Messenger, a cousin of mine and a member of the Seventy-firot 
New York Volunteers, who also came from Paterson. When 
we arrived at Shippen Point we waded ashore from the ship. In 
the vicinity of Shippen Point the regiment spent ten days or 
more building corduroy roads and repairing bridges and docks 

From Shippen Point we went to Cheesman's Landing April 
1 6th, 1862. After we arrived at Cheesman's Landing we found 
a barrel of whiskey among some sutler's goods, but as whiskey 
was contraband of war, the head of the barrel was knocked in 
and those who wished got into line and dipped their ctips into 
the barrel and taking away what they would hold. Several 
drunks and some disorderly conduct followed this method of 
upholding the regulations against the importation of spirituous 

In our company was a private by the name of Joseph Aertz 
who would never keep himself clean. So one morning Captaiti 


Chapman sent for me to come to his quarters, and when I re- 
ported to the captain he ordered me to report to Colonel Zooks 
at his headquarters, as he had a duty for me to perform, and 
that I must not refuse to perform it. 

When I reported to Colonel Zook, he informed me that I was 
detailed with Andrew Wilson and William Hardy to take Joseph 
Aertz down to the river and to strip and scrub him, as he refused 
to do it himself. 1 told the colonel that I did not like to do that 
duty as the man was from New Jersey, but the colonel replied : 
''That is the reason why I detailed you and Hardy." So there 
was nothing to do but to obey orders, which we did, and w^ien 
we got through Joseph was the cleanest man in the company. 

B'ut with all our efforts to make a man of Joe he never amount- 
ed to anything. Every battle we went into Joe would always 
manage to get taken as a prisoner until the rebels knew him so 
well that they let him go as soon as he was caught. Upon our 
return to Alexandria and at the second battle of Bull Run, he 
was taken prisoner and did not join us again until just before the 
battle of Chancellorville, and at that battle he was again taken 
prisoner, and that was the last of Joe. 

A large part of the time was spent in getting wagons out of 
holes. A road would be almost impassable after a single train 
had passed over it and whatever followed it had to dig its way 
through. The nearer they got to the Chickahominy the worse it 
became, and on the swamp lands corduroy roads had to be made 
every step of the way. A wagon would get stalled and then 
came the usual attempt to get the mules to pull together, the 
snapping of the whip, the yelling of the drivers, the prying of 
the wheels out of the hole with rails, the hitching on of an extra 
team, etc., etc., meant that the wagon must move as it stopped the 
whole train behind it. Sometimes it would take an hour to start 
that wagon, and sometimes it would not start at all; then a road 


must be cut around it through the woods, so that teams could go 
around. Advice is always cheap and abundant on such occasions, 
especially if troops are passing and if stragglers are crawling by. 
The latter would usually sit down (being as usual very tired) 
and give advice, but they seldom took hold and lifted. During one 
of the battles Colonel Zooks saw a lot of stragglers coming to 
the rear and said to them, ''Where are you men going?" One of 
them answered, 'We are all cut to pieces." The colonel re- 
sponded, "There is a big lot of you left for having: been all cut to 
pieces." These men along the road were "powerful weak" as the 
colored people used to say, but they were never too tired to give 

On the march from Shippen Point to Cheesman's Landing, 
we remained two days at a place we called Camp Scott. During 
the time we were in this camp a foraging party was sent out by 
Colonel Zooks, under the command of Sergeant Jeremiah Wil- 
liams. The detail was composed of Sergeant Williams, Dad 
Haggerty, John O'Brien, William Hardy, Andrew Miller, 
George Goodwick, Andrew Wilson and myself. Our orders were 
to get supplies of any kind that we could, and if the people we 
saw were willing to give us what we needed, then we were to pay 
for everything we got, but if on the other hand they refused to 
supply our wants, we were then at liberty to take by force and 
no pay to be given. So we left camp with great expectations of 
coming back with a load of good things. 

After we had marched some distance we came to a farm house, 
and on knocking at the door, the farmer and his son came to the 
door. Sergeant Williams stated who he was and asked him to 
sell us something to eat, telling him plainly that we were ready 
and willing to pay him for everything he gave us. The farmer 
said he did not have anything to eat, as he had been stripped of 
everything by the rebel soldiers. We did not believe him and told 


him so. Then Sergeant WilHams ordered us to search the house. 

O'Brien and myself went into the cellar, and after we got there 
I noticed the floor looked as though it had been recently dis- 
turbed, so I remarked to O'Brien that I believed there was some- 
thing under the floor and that I was going to see what there was. 
So we got a shovel and commenced to dig. We soon uncovered 
a lot of smoked hams. We each took two of them and (like 
every one else we seized the largest ones) went upstairs and told 
the rest what we had found. Then they went down in the 
cellar and got some more so that each one had a ham to carry 

During the time we were in the house we had taken no notice 
of the absence of the son, much to our regret later. When we 
had each got a ham, the sergeant said to the farmer, ''If you 
had not lied to us about these hams we would have paid you for 
them, but as it is we will not give you anything." 

We also noticed a tree full of fine large peaches, and we said 
to him as we are not going to pay for the hams, we will buy 
the peaches from you. The farmer told us that they were nor 
for sale as he wanted them for himself. His wife intended to 
use them for preserving. As we could not induce him to sell 
us some, we gathered a few without his leave and without pay- 
ing for them. 

While we were gathering the peaches, we saw the son coming 
and with him a lot of rebel soldiers. Then we knew where the 
son had been. As soon as the rebels saw us they immediately 
opened fire on us. We managed to retreat to the woods with- 
out any loss. Here we were able to defend ourselves for some 
time. The sound of the firing aroused the Union troops 
nearest to us, and a number came to our assistance. As soon is 
they came up the rebels retreated. We then returned to our camp 
with our hams. 


I now began to realize that a soldier's life was not a picnic, for 
hardships, trials and dangers were to come. So I thought it was 
time to form comradeship. I chose the following members of my 
company for comrades and tent mates : William H. Cole, Wil- 
liam C. Conklin, Andrew J. Wilson, George I. Williams and 
Jeremiah Williams. 

After forming our comradeship each was given a certain duty 
to perform, one to carry water, one to carry wood, another to 
cook the food, the other to put up the tent; thus every one had 
his work to do. Thus we all kept together until some fell sick or 
was wounded or killed in battle. Comradeship lasts but a short 
time in war. Jeremiah Williams died near Richmond, George 
Williams and William C. Conklin was discharged for disability 
at Harrison's Landing. They all came from West Milford, 
New Jersey. 

On April 29th we left Cheesman's Landing and moved to 
Yorktown, which the enemy had evacuated on the 4th of May 
without a general engagement. When we marched through 
Yorktown we discovered that the ground had all been mined by 
placing torpedoes in it, but we did not discover this fact until 
several of our men had been killed. 

On May 5th the battle of Williamsburg was fought by the 
third and fourth corps, the rebels falling back towards Richmond. 
Richardson's division, which had been separated from the second 
corps, marched to Williamsburg and beyond, but was ordered 
back to Yorktown. From there we took the boat up the James 
river to a place called Elthan, about five miles above West Point. 
My regiment, the Fifty-seventh New York, was in Richardson's 
division, and this division was the first division of the second, or 
Sumner's corps. By the 20th of May the army of the Potomac 
had concentrated near the north bank of the Chickahominy river, 
and on the 25th the Fourth Corps, under General Keyes, had 


crossed and taken a position at Seven Pines, within six miles of 
Richmond. The Third Corps, under General Heintselman, also 
crossed, and the two corps constituted the left wing of the army. 
The centre and right wings, consisting of three corps, remained 
on the north side of the river until the 31st. On that day, at two 
o'clock, the enemy, having planned to attack the left wing in 
overwhelming numbers (and to drive it into the swamps before 
assistance could cross the swollen stream) began to swarm from 
the woods along the Williamsburg road, and the battle of Fair 
Oaks was on in dead earnest. 

The heavy rains had so raised the river and flooded the swamp 
that it was very difficult to move men and nearly imposible to 
move artillery. Everything favored the success of the rebel plan 
indeed, only a miracle could save the left wing if the Confederate 
orders were carried out. But, as is usual in battle, the rebel gen- 
eral did not carry out his orders fully as he was expected to do. 

Leaving for a moment the scene of battle, we turn to Sumner's 
Corps, just before the battle above mentioned commenced. Some 
of the members of the Fifty-seventh New York had challenged 
the members of the Sixty-ninth New York to a game of baseball. 
While the game was in progress I was lying on the ground look- 
ing at the game when I heard a rumbling noise, and I said to 
Andy Wilson that there was fighting going on some where near 
us. When we stood up it could not be heard, but when we put 
our ears to the ground the sound could be heard very plain. 
Andy said "I guess you are mistaken Jake." I again put my ear 
to the ground and said, "Andy, our boys are fighting." 

Hardly had I spoken before orders came to report to our regi- 
ments at once. So the ball game came to a sudden stop never to 
be resumed. 

Let us see what Sumner was doing. The condition of the 
atmosphere was not so peculiar that day but that the sounds of 


battle was borne straight to the ears of the old soldier, whose 
command lay nearest to the imperilled left. 

That sound went straight from his ears to his heart. Anxious 
about the left, anxious about his swaying bridges, Sumner was at 
once in the saddle, and summoned his troops to arms. A little 
later word came from the headquarters of the army that the 
Second Corps should be prepared to march at a moment's notice. 
The troops w^ere at once drawn out of camp and moved toward 
the Chickahominy. 

Too strict a disciplinarian to actually begin the crossing of the 
river, Sumner led his divisions down to the very verge of the 
. stream until the heads of the columns rested on their respective 
bridges. Here he paused, awaiting the order to march. Both 
bridges over the raging and fast rising torrent were in a terrible 
condition. The long curduroy approaches through the swam.p 
had been uplifted from the mud and now floated loosely on the 
shallow waters. Of the condition of that part of the bridges 
that crossed the channel of the river it w^as impossible to ascer- 
tain, except by actual trial, but its timbers could be seen rising 
and falling, swaying to and fro under the impulses of the swol- 
len floods. 



The Crossing of the River. — March to Fair Oaks. — First and Second Days* 
Battles. — Sleeping Between Two Dead Men. — A Night Alarm. — The 
Enemy Defeated. 

"March!" And each division tried to pass over its bridge, 
Richardson below, Sedgewick above, at the so-called Grape Vine 
bridge, but with different results. Richardson's bridge, which 
would have been practicable in the morning, had now so nearly 
given away that when French's Brigade only had crossed it be- 
came impassible. Sedgewick's division had better luck, though 
even Sumner's stout heart failed for the time, as the bridge 
swayed and tossed in the river, but the solid column of infantry 
loaded it with a weight which even the angry Chickahominy 
could not move, soon pressed and held it down among the stumps 
of the trees, which in turn prevented its lateral motion, and as 
Sedgewick's rear passed over, the remaining brigade of Richard- 
son's column coming up from below, entered upon the bridge, 
and so the Second Corps crossed the Chickahominy to the rescue 
of the broken left wing by a single submerged bridge, which held 
together just long enough to allow their passage. 

And now the cry is forward. Sedgewick's division is fairly 
across the treacherous river and turning without a guide, it takes 
the road that leads most directly towards the thunders of the 
cannonade and the roar of musketry along the Williamsburg 
road. There was enough in that sound to stir the blood of a true 


soldier. Every man in the ranks understood that the whole fury 
of the most powerful assault which Johnston could deliver had 
fallen and was still falling on the imperilled left. 

"Step out, men. Swing your long legs to their full compass!" 
was the order. ''You are setting the pace for the whole rescuing 
column. Your comrades of the Third and Fourth Corps are 
turning bloodshot eyes down the road to Sumner's bridge, await- 
ing the gleam of your bayonets." 

Well did the boys take and hold their pace that day and at 
some turn of the road or some clearing on the left brought the 
sound of battle in vehement bursts nearer and clearer to their 
ears. Each man clutched his musket tighter and hurried faster 
along the way to Fair Oaks. 

The end comes at last, as the head of the column emerges from 
a belt of timber a low ridge appears in front, crossing the road 
at nearly right angles upon which are massed Couch's four regi- 
ments with Brady's battery. Doutbless the men who were in the 
advance had expected to come upon volleying lines reeling under 
the shock of furious charges half hidden by the sulphurous clouds 
of battle. But lo, all before is calm and serene. Are these the 
men to whose rescue we have been rushing in furious haste? 
Not even as yet deployed in line of battle, not a puff of smoke 
visible, not even a cannon shot hurling over their ranks. But 
Sully's men have short time for speculation regarding the posi- 
tion. The moment Couch sees the advance of Sumner's column, 
he begins the deployment of his own troops, while one of his 
staff officers, galloping to the head of Sedgewick's division, de- 
taches the First Minnesota and leads it to the right to the Court- 
ney house, where Sully has been ordered to take position. And 
not a moment toO' soon, for as the young staff officer is giving 
that grim veteran of the regular army some advice as to the dis- 
position of his force (which is received with outward courtesy 


and probably with inward amusement) a crowded column in 
gray bulges out of the woods close in front. 

Have you noticed the instinctive recoil which always attends 
the first emerging from the shade of the forest into the broad 
glare of day? So this column, the advance of General Smith, 
for the instant recoiled, and its leading officers, perceiving Sully's 
men in front, fell back into the woods to form under cover for 
the coming assault. Meanwhile at the Adams house, Kirby, v\-ith 
his gleaming Napoleons, dashes upon the right of the two parrots 
of Brady's battery, commanded by Lieutenant Fagan. Three 
of Couch's regiments — the Sixty-second New York, Eighty- 
second and Thirty-first Pennsylvania — Sixty-fifth New York 
and First United States Infantry move toward the right and con- 
nect with Sully while the space on the left of the road is rapidly 
occupied by the eager troops of Carman. Up comes the Fifteenth 
Massachusetts with a cheer, forms in support of the guns that 
point up the Fair Oaks road. The Eighty-second and Thirty- 
fourth New York in place on the left and we are ready. 

But not a moment too soon — for in front, out of the woods 
that hide the railroad from view, emerges a heavy body of the 
enemy. It is the brigade of Whiting, which cannot pass to attack 
Keyes' troops along the Williamsburg road until this threaten- 
ing force upon its left flank shall be driven off. 

Between Whiting on the Confederate right and Hampton on 
the Confederate left, Pettigrew's. brigade is filling the woods in 
our front; Hatton is fast coming up behind to support Hampton, 
Hood crossing the Nine Mile road has halted to be in readiness 
to support Whiting. It is too late. Half an hour ago this would 
have done very well, but Sedgewick is up now and the men are 
panting Avith the ardor of battle. Something more than one 
slim brigade now holds the road to Grapevine bridge. The toll 
is rising, it will cost Smith more than he has to get through. 


There is no delay in setting to work. Scarcely have the four 
regiments of Sedgewick taken part with Crouch's four when tlie 
storm bursts over against one-half our front opposite our left. 
The ground is open nearly to the railroad, which we left an 
hour ago. Here are two guns of Brady's battery with three 
guns of Kirby — all that have as yet come upon the ground — 
ready to sweep the open field with their fire or to turn to their 
right and shell the woods in which the enemy are massing. Be- 
hind the left of the artillery lies the Fifteenth Massachusetts. 
Behind the right of the battery lie the Sixty-second New York 
and Seventh Massachusetts, and on the left of the artillery are 
the Thirty-fourth and Eighty-second New York. On the right, 
extending along the inner edge of a dense woods, forming the 
centre of our position, lie the Eighty-second Pennsylvania and 
Sixty-fifth New York, both of Couch's divisions stretching along 
the edge of the tangled woods. They have thrown down a rail 
fence and piled the rails for cover. It is not high, but it will do. 
Against that feeble breastwork is to be delivered a most desperate 
and persistent charge. Beyond the Sixty-fifth New York the 
right of our line is formed again in the open ground about the 
Courtney house by the First Minnesota, to the support of which 
Burn's Pennsylvanians are fast coming up. But for these the 
enemy is not disposed to wait. 

The attack at first took two forms. One, the most persistent, 
that of seeking to pierce our centre by breaking out from the 
woods over the line of Williams and Cochrane. Another, inter- 
mittent and spasmodic, that of rushing out from the woods, dash- 
ing across the Fair Oaks road, swinging around to right, and 
charging up against Kirby and Fagan's guns. Later the enemy 
made efforts to carry the position in the open ground on our right 
about the Courtney house, which was held by Sully, to whom 
two of Brady's guns were sent, and who was supported by the 


Sixty-ninth and Seventy-first Pennsylvania of Burn's brigade. 
Though these regiments were not engaged, the extent from our 
left around the Adams house to our right around the Courtney 
house was four or five hundred yards. 

With this description of the ground and of the three phases of 
the fight, let us return to the moment when the ball was opened 
by Kirby's right piece. One of the Confederate brigades coming 
across the railroad had been permitted to form line of battle in 
the open facing the Adams house, under the impression that they 
were some of Heintzelman's troops which had turned back from 
the railroad upon finding Fair Oaks station occupied by the 
enemy. As soon as this impression had been corrected, through 
close personal inspection by an officer of General Courh's staft, 
Kirby opened fire. Whereupon that brigade moved rapidly ofT 
by its left and sought refuge in the woods, while Hampton, 
already in position pushed his brigade forward close up to the 
line held by the Eighty-second Pennsylvania and Sixtv-fifth New 
York with the purpose of breaking out on Kirby's right and 
taking his guns in flank. Hampton, however, was here met by a 
fearful fire from the two regiments which lay behind the fence 
rails along the inner edge of the woods. In this desperate as- 
sault, which was continued with only slight intervals for an hour 
and a half, Hampton was soon joined by Pettigrew, while Hat- 
ton came in as soon as he could be brought up to reinforce the 
attack at that point and to assail Sully across the open ground 
at the Courtney house. Whiting's own brigade closed into the 
support of Hampton, Pettigrew and Hatton's brigades losing 
heavily. Hood remained further back near the railroad. The 
advance of the enemy was made through the dense and tangled 
woods with the utmost courage, and the men held their fire until 
the advancing line was within twenty yards, when they opened 
with a volley which threw the enemy back, leaving a w^indrov/ 


of dead and wounded men to mark the line of their farthest 

The enemy having all disappeared from the open ground, the 
charge of Gorman and Dana's five regiments across the front of 
our main line closed the action of the day. Not because more 
fighting could not easily have been had out of Smith's column, 
but because night had now come and the Confederates had in- 
deed retired from our end of the woods. But .they still held on 
to those nearer Fair Oaks station, which they occupied in force, 
Hood's Texans having been called in from the right and Grif- 
fith's Mississippians and Semmes' mixed brig^ade from the left 
to support the four roughly handled brigades, which had done 
the work of the later afternoon. 

General Smith, and following him General Johnston himself, 
have expressed the opinion that if daylight had lasted one hour 
longer the Confederates, thus reinforced, would have won a 
decided victory and driven Sumner and Couch into the swamps 
of the Chickahominy. It is difficult, especially in war, to tell 
what might have resulted if something had happened or been 
done totally different from what happened or was done, but I 
know of no reason for supposing that to have prolonged the day 
of May 31st by one, two or three hours would have been dis- 
astrous to the Union forces on the right. In the fighting up until 
dark on that end of the line, had Hood's brigade been thrown in 
on the right it would have been crushed between the brigade of 
Birney, already in position along the railroad, supported by the 
column of Hooker rapidly coming up the track, and the troops 
at the Adams house, resting after their victorious charge. On 
the other hand, Griffith's and Semmes' brigades attempting our 
right would have found not only Sully's Minnesotians and Burn's 
Pennsylvanians on the ground, but Richardson's brigades also 
coming up the road from Grapevine bridge. People are often 


dreadfully mistaken in war, but ihere was no price which Sum- 
ner, Couch, Sedgewick and Richardson would not have jointly 
and severally paid for two hours more of daylight on May 31st. 
Hence as seen from our side there was certainly some doubt 
whether in one hour more General W. Smith would have driven 
the Union forces into the swamps of the Chickahominy. By 
eight o'clock Sumner had on the ground, available for action, 
twenty-three regiments, including Couch's, against nine which 
had actually encountered the enemy. 

During the fighting of the first day, General Johnson, in com- 
mand of the Confederate forces was wounded and at once turned 
over the command of all the Confederate forces to General 
Robert E. Lee, afterwards the Confederate commander-in-chief. 

At night we slept with the slain and with the groans of the 
wounded ringing in our ears. As the ground w^as wet, I went out 
to gather brush to sleep on. The first I knew I was in the lines 
of the enemy. I hurried back and informed General French that 
the enemy was in force on our front. We expected an attack at 
any moment. After seeing General French I took the brush 1 
had gathered and threw them down as I supposed between two 
of my comrades. In the morning when the men were aroused 
just before daylight I was also aroused, and seeing these com- 
rades, as I supposed still sleeping, I turned to one and given him 
a shake told him to wake up. Then turning to the other I also 
gave him a shake anci told him to hurry and get up. As they 
did not move, I felt rather angry at what I supposed was iheir 
laziness and gave them another good shaking. As they still lay 
still, I took a nearer look and found I had been sleeping all night 
between two dead rebels. 

It did not lake me long to get up . The first movement on 
Sunday, June ist, was by the Fifth New Hampshire regiment, 
which passed to our left and formed line of battle along the rail- 


road. We could not see the enemy in our front crossing the road 
beyond the station and going into position in the woods. Soon 
after we also moved to the left, crossed the railroad, advanced 
into the woods and near a creek, our right resting near the 

Here we were sitting on the ground or standing around. J 
w^ent to the rear of the regiment and was gathering May apples, 
when I heard a voice say "They are prisoners," and then sud- 
dently came a volley from the Confederate lines. It was like a 
clap of thunder when the volley came. My body belt dropped 
to the ground. I picked it up and hurried to my place in the 
regiment. In my excitement I tried to buckle on my belt, but 
could not. I then discovered that the buckle had been shot off. 
When the volley came it threw the regiment into momentary 
confusion. We knew we were on the line of battle and expected, 
of course, that something would soon happen, but this was so 
sudden that some of the men, and even officers, forgot for the 
moment which way a soldier should face in the presence of an 
enemy — a little mistake that cost one officer at least his commis- 
sion. A private in his precipitate retreat fell into the railroad 
ditch, which on top was covered with brush but underneath was 
full of water, and with some difficulty was fished out of the 
water by his comrades. 

This was our first battle and it is not strange that it took a little 
time to get down to business. All kinds of reports were going 
the rounds. It was said we were within the enemy's line; that 
we were firing on our own men ; and some one gave the order to 
fall back. However, we held the ground and finally got into 
fighting trim, so that as line after line of the enemy advanced 
they were successfully resisted and driven off. General French 
and Colonel Zooks were directing the movem.ents and encour- 
aging the men. Finally we moved a little to the left and swung 


around, took the enemy on the flank, drove him from his position 
and advanced without opposition. This flank movement seemed 
to turn the fortunes of the day in our favor, as no other attempt 
was made by the enemy to renew the conflict. 

During this movement our boys witnessed a pecuhar sight and 
which at the time caused much laughter among the Union troops. 
It seems that when the Confederate forces began to retreat the}^ 
went across an open field near to a farm house. The farmer 
ow^ned a lot of bees, having the hives setting a short distance 
from the house. When the rebels retreated they did not notice 
the hives of bees until they had upset them. Then they noticed 
them very quick, as the bees came out and no one but the rebels in 
sight, the swarms made an attack on them, with the result that 
the rebels did not stand on their order of going, but it was everv 
one for himself. While they were willing to fight us, yet here 
was an enemy that they feared worse than they did the Unio^i 

The regiment was now moved about, first in a position to sup- 
port the Irish brigade and then in support of a battery, and 
finally settled down again near where it had done its fighting. 
Much of the enemy's firing was wild, perhaps ours was no better. 
Part of their ammunition was buckshot and a part rifle balls, the 
former did little execution. During the afternoon and night the 
troops on both sides were in a fever of excitement. An acci- 
dental shot would set off a whole line of musketry. Especially was 
this true after dark when the men trying to sleep were awakened 
by the firing, and imagined a night attack. Sleep was very fitful, 
and sometimes a man would spring to his feet, grasp his gun, 
and find he was in a dream. Several times in the night orders 
were given to fall into line and the boys, expecting to advance, 
would examine their guns, see that everything was in shape for 
action, and then be ordered to stack arms and lie down again. 


From three o'clock in the morning until daylight, everybody 
stood in line, to prevent a possible surprise. 

Whoever began it, the action broke out in a fury between five 
and six o'clock on Sunday morning. General French's whole 
line was instantly involved and that veteran officer fought his 
command with energy and intrepidly. The Fifty-second New- 
York suffered severely, both in front and from an attempt of the 
enemy to turn its flank, losing one hundred and twenty men, in- 
cluding eight officers. Further to the right Zook — the Zook of 
Gettysburg — shook off the fiercest attack upon his front, with 
the Fifty-seventh New York, supported by Pickney of the Sixty- 
sixth New York. At the head of his own good regiment, the 
Eighty-first Pennsylvania of Howard's brigade, fell the gallant 
Miller. On the left Colonel John R. Brooks, leading the Fifty- 
third Pennsylvania for the first time into a fight, displayed that 
cool daring, that readiness of resources, that firmness of temper, 
wdiich were to raise him high among the most illustrious of the 
young soldiers of the Union army, while his splendid regiment 
responded to every call with easy courage and prompt 

The musketry had continued for an hour without an instant's 
cessation, extending now toward the left to involve Hooker's 
division of the Third Corps of which Sickel's brigade and the 
Fifth and Sixth New Jersey, led by Hooker in person, came 
enthusiastically into action on Richardson's front. The two 
lines were at less than half smooth bore range, when Richard- 
son, hearing that the regiments which had been engaged were 
getting out of ammunition, directed Howard to relieve General 
French. Howard, putting himself at the head of the Sixt3^-first 
New York regiment, Colonel Barlow and the Sixty-fourth New 
York, Colonel Parker, advanced up the railroad until he reached 
the position of Brooks, when he moved to the front. Brooks' 


men, whose cartridge boxes were empty, lying down to let them 
pass, coming into action. Howard at once advanced as rapidly 
as the dense, tangled and swampy woods would permit, until he 
had pressed the enemy back across the road into Casey's camp 
of Saturday morning. At this point Howard's horse was killed 
and the general himself struck down by a blow that cost him his 
good right arm. Giving to Colonel Barlow (who had already 
shown in this, his first fight, those qualities which were so soon 
to render him conspicuous in the sight of the whole army) orders 
to hold his position until reinforced, Howard went to the rear, 
there he turned over the command to Colonel Crose of the Fifth 
New Hampshire, but that officer was soon severely wounded, 
devolving the command of the brigade upon Colonel Parker of 
the Sixty-fourth New York, even before taking the Sixty-first 
and Sixty-fourth New York to the front. General Howard had 
learned that Colonel Miller of the Eighty-first Pennsylvania had 
been killed and that one wing of his regiment was left without a 
field officer and had become separated from the rest of the regi- 
ment, whereupon General Howard directed his aid, Lieutenant 
Nelson A. Miles, to collect the companies of that wing and with 
them hold the open field on the right of the railroad against any 
advance of the enemy from that direction. General Barlow, find- 
ing that his advance had carried him beyond his supports, soon 
called up Brook's who, having replenished his ammunition, took 
post with Barlow on the borders of Casey's old camp. 

There was now a lull in the fighting. The enemy's troops 
first engaged having apparently had enough and being well dis- 
posed to remain quiet and await reinforcements. As it is pos- 
sible to judge from ihe Confederate and Union reports, I under- 
stand that Armstead's Confederate brigade had given way in 
great disorder. General L. H. Hill also charged that Mahone 
withdrew his brigade from action without orders and that Col- 


ston when sent forward to take Mahone's place did not go into 
action, as he was expected. Meanwhile General Richardson 
took occasion of the lull in the battle to send forward the Fifth 
New Hampshire, the Sixty-ninth New York, Coin" pi Robert 
Nugent and the Eighty-eighth New York, Lieutenant Colonel 
Patrick Kelly to relieve the Fifty-second and Sixty-first New 
York and Fifty-third Pennsylvania on the front line. On the 
left General Hooker made fresh disposition to push his advan- 
tage and Birney's brigade, under Colonel J. H. Hobart Ward, 
was brought up and advanced toward the enemy. 

Scarcely were the changes completed when the attack was re- 
newed with considerable vivacity by, it would seem, the brigades 
of Pickett, Pryor and Wilcox. Two of the three brigades were 
perfectly fresh, not having been engaged on Saturday, and be- 
haved with extraordinary spirit and gallantry, but the action 
now was nearly over. General A. H. Hill, disgusted with the 
behavior of Armstead's brigade and offended by the action of 
General Mahone and Colston, determined to withdraw his troops. 
In this diversion Richardson and Hooker co-operated to the 
utmost of their ability. On the left Sickels' Excelsior brigade 
and the two New Jersey regiments under Hooker, on the centre 
Birney's brigade under Ward, on the right the Fifth New Hamp- 
shire and the Sixty-ninth and Eighty-eighth New York pressed 
forward together to clear the ground. The Thirty-fourth and 
Eighty-second New York, of Sedgewick's division, were sent in 
to reinforce Richardson, while on the extreme flank Generar 
French swung around the Fifty-seventh and Sixty-sixth New 
York, both under Colonel Pinckney until they were formed most 
at right angles to the general line, and then forward in person to 
charge across the front of the other regiments of the division. 
At the same time Pettit advanced his guns to a point where he 


obtained an enfilade on the eneni}^, who were still resisting the 
Irish regiments. 

That settled it. The Confederates had at break of day scarce- 
ly resolved in their divided councils whether to fight or not, but 
as soon as the first gun was fired the brigades nearest at hand 
turned, with or without orders, in all the surly courage of their 
kind, to return the blow, b-ut the lengthening line of the Union 
forces, as Richardson gave one hand to Sedgewick and the other 
to Hooker and the increasing weight of our fire were at last 
bringing into serious jeopardy the brigades of Pickett, Pryor 
and Wilcox, actually deserted as they had been by some of the 
troops designated to support them. While on their left Hood 
had received positive orders to make no movement and only to 
fight if he himself were attacked. Thus, though Mahone's 
brigade and two of Colston's regiments have now been brought 
up, the Confederates withdrew before our advancing lines. The 
Fifty-seventh and Sixty-sixth New York, moving forward with- 
out firing a shot, encounter only a single regiment, the Forty- 
first Virginia, which easily gives way and the battle of June ist 
was over. 



From Fair Oaks to Malvern Hill. — The Seven Days' Fight. — Jackson's 
Sudden Move from the Shenandoah Valley to the Peninsular. — 
McDowell's Army Bottled Up. — Scenes and Incidents of McClellan's 
Famous Retreat. 

On June 2nd, Andrew Wilson, William Hardy and myself 
went outside the lines to bury the dead and to carry in the 
wounded. We came across a wounded rebel officer and were in 
the act of putting him on a stretcher when we noticed another 
rebel coming out of the bushes. He carried his gun, but appar- 
ently did not suspect we were Yanks until he was very near us. 
Then he looked scared and I said, "Put down your gun and hejp 
this man onto the stretcher." Seeing the wounded man referred 
to was a rebel officer, the stranger stuck his gun into the ground 
and I immediately took possession of it. W^e then secured the 
new comer and took him into camp a prisoner. 

The third day of the battle little was attempted by either side. 
On the fourth we began to have the feeling that the battle was 
over. Two regiments, the Second Delaware and the Sixty- 
fourth New York, were now added to our brigade, making a 
total of six regiments instead of four as previously. For two 
weeks it rained incessantly, so that all the bridges over the 
Chickahominy were carried away and the army for some time 
was cut in two without possible communication between them, 
part being on the north side and a part on the south side of the 
river. The reddish clay soil and quicksands had become a vast 


morass, wagons and batteries sinking down to the hubs merely 
by their own weight. Whenever work was possible ditches and 
breastworks were dug or corduroy roads were laid, but the prin- 
cipal occupation was an endeavor to keep out of the mud. 

It does not fall within the scope of this narrative to describe 
the miserable causes which led to the failure of the Peninsular 
campaign. The successful efforts of the Confederate chiefs, so 
to play upon the fears of the administration at Washington as 
to prevent the reinforcement of McClellan's army by the power- 
ful corps of McDowell numbering 35,000 men. The great raid 
of Stonewall Jackson into the Shenandoah Valley and his suc- 
cessive defeats of the petty armies under more petty commanders, 
which the mischievous meddling of the politicians had caused to 
be constituted, ostensibly for the defence of the Capitol. Of al) 
this the army of the Potomac was to bear the consequences un- 
aided. About June i8th, Jackson, leaving behind him 60,000 
Union troops (who were to be as powerless to intervene in the 
operations of the next fortnight as if they had never been mus- 
tered into the service of the United States or born into the world) 
turned his fateful footsteps toward the Chickahominy. With such 
masterly precautions was his advance veiled from view that on 
the 25th his column reached Ashland on the Richmond and Fred- 
ericksburg railroad without warning having been given of his 
coming, or even of his having left the valley. (The Seven Days 

After the rain had ceased and the ground had settled some- 
what. General McClellan began to put into execution his plans 
for advancing. The centre at Seven Pines was pushed forward, 
and the skirmish at Oak Grove resulted, General Hooker being 
supported by the division of General Richardson. This move- 
ment, however, soon ceased, as Stonewall Jackson had come 
down from the Shenandoah Valley, and all the troops that could 


be spared from the south side of the Chickahoniiny were massed 
at Mechanicsville in a grand attempt to destroy the army of the 
Potomac by crushing its right wing first and then falhng upon 
its left. 

On the 26th, Jackson with his Valley troops crossing the 
Chickahominy high up marched directly for the West Point rail- 
way. A. P. Hill, at the head of a column of about equal 
strength, drawn from Richmond, crossing at Meadow^ bridge 
under the eyes of Lee and Davis, pushed back the Union out- 
posts. Jackson had found no one to oppose his movements to- 
ward the railroad and divining the situation from the sound of 
Hill's gims, he had turned tow^ard Cold Harbor. Thirty-three 
thousand Union troops were soon to be called to resist the united 
Confederate columns numbering 60,000 men. Wliile across the 
river seven divisions confronted Richmond, where General Ma- 
gruder, with barely 25,000 men, was doing his best, with the 
same audacity he had displayed at Yorktown to keep up the illu- 
sion of McClellan that Lee had still in his entrenchments at least 
80,000 men. 

At last the blow falls. Shortly before six o'clock on June 27th. 
Jackson hurls his fresh troops into the fight. The Confederate 
fire extends rapidly around our right. Everywhere the contest 
rages with rekindled fury. Brigades, already thrice repulsed, 
renew the assault and after a brief but desperate struggle the 
Union lines are broken at all points and thrown into retreat. 
Twenty guns have been captured, 6,000 men have fallen. Only 
a little space intervenes between the victorious Confederates and 
the river which runs behind Porter's beaten corps. Duane and 
Woodbury bridges have been hopelessly lost, but it is a far cry 
still to Alexanders bridge, for some gallant troops form upon the 
last crest and face the foe with unfaltering resolution, forty 
pieces of artillery turn their ugly muzzles north, while cool and 


collected as on parade Porter orders everything for a stern resist- 
ance to the bitter end. And now cheers rises along the slender 
Union line. It is the cheer of men (overweighted and worn) 
when they learn that help is at hand. It is a reinforcement from 
the Second Corps. Two brigades they are from the first division 
and are commanded by French and Meagher. These brigades 
advanced boldly to the front and by their example as well as by 
the steadiness of their bearing, reanimated our own troops and 
warned the enemy that fresh troops had arrived. 

It was nearly dark when we reached the scene of conflict, and 
advancing to the very front line, were just in time to check the 
last charge. Double quick up the hill we went cheering and being 
cheered, when General Doubleday cried out: "Whose troops 
are these?" and was answered, ''French and the Irish brigade." 
''To you, then," he responded, "belongs the honor of having 
saved the army of the Potomac." 

This day, during the night, all the troops were withdrawn 
from the north bank of the river to the south side, the Third 
brigade covering the rear and protecting the bridge burners. 
Before daylight on the 28th we were again in our old position at 
Fair Oaks. 

The day of the 28th of June was in general one of quiet and 
silence. The broken corps of Porter had before dawn of day been 
withdrawn to the left bank of the river. Slocum's division had 
rejoined Franklin at Calding. French and Meagher's brigades 
had returned to their camps near Fair Oaks. McClellan's whole 
army had been concentrated on one side of the river. Communi- 
cations with the Pamunkey and the York had been abandoned. 
The movement to the James had begun so far as the passage of 
the almost endless trains was concerned. 

On the morning of the 29th, McClelland suddenly let go his 
hold upon Richmond and the several divisions abandoning their 



entrenchments fell back to their first defensive position of the 
series that the army of the Potomac was to occupy during this 
critical movement. The line thus taken up crossed the Williams- 
burg road about the point where the Confederate advance on 
May 31st had been stayed. 

It is related that after the regiment had taken its advanced 
position at Gaines Mill, some one from the rebel front came out 
between the two armies and moved up and down as though 
looking for something. The man came nearer and nearer to our 
line, and was finally halted by "Who comes there?" He 
answered, "A friend on the opposite side." When taken prisoner 
he said he was the adjutant of the Thirty-eighth Georgia regi- 
ment, that his regiment had been in the fight all day and that he 
was out looking for the body of his colonel. He further said 
that three lines of the rebels had broken at the advance of our 
brigades and that there would be bloody work upon the morrow. 

The day following the night march from Gaines Mill was com- 
paratively quiet with us, but on the 29th the retreat to the 
James river commenced. We abandoned our entrenchments at 
Fair Oaks on Sunday, just four weeks after that battle, and 
moved down the railroad about two miles and took position in 
an open field near Orchard Station. When we left our entrench- 
ments at Fair Oaks each man was furnished with a pick and 
shovel in addition to his arms. This w^as done so that we would 
be ready to throw up entrenchments when we arrived at our next 
camp. I happened to look back after we had left the entrench- 
ments at Fair Oaks and saw that the enemy had occupied them, 
so I said to some of my comrades that I was not going to carry 
a pick and shovel as I thought we would need to use our guns 
instead from the closeness of the rebels and that I intended to 
throw mine away. The captain heard my remark and he said, 
"Boys, if you throw your picks and shovels away you will have 


to pay for them." But that did not stop me. I threw mine away 
and so did others. 

When we got to Orchard Station we found Regan's battery in 
position, and were immediately ordered into Hne to support it. At 
nine o'clock the next morning the enemy found us and began 
moving heavy infantry columns against our front and right. Re- 
gan's battery at once opened fire upon them with deadly effect. 

An hour afterwards the rebels opened fire from the north 
bank of the stream with every cannon at their command. They 
could not get across until the bridge was replaced, but they 
acted as though they would tear us all to pieces with shot and 
shell. General French called it the severest and most destructive 
cannonading that had occurred in this campaign, and the yet liv- 
ing members of the Fifty-seventh speak of it to this day as hav- 
ing made a lasting impression on their memory. 

At evening the brigade was stationed near the broken bridge 
with orders to hold it at all hazards until the army had its posi- 
tion at Malvern Hill. Our guns got perfect range on the bridge 
builders and kept them so warm with bursting shells during the 
night that slow progress was made with repairs. During the 
same afternoon there was considerable fighting at Glendale on 
our left, where Hill and Longstreet determined to break through 
and cut off our retreat, but their efforts were not successful, 
though the fighting was very bitter. Just before daylight we 
started towards the James river and the same morning joined 
the division. 

Daylight of the 30th of June found McClellan's army across 
the White Oak swamp with the ponderous siege train tenderly 
cared for by the First Connecticut heavies ; the ammimition and 
provision trains of the army, the long and pitiful procession of 
the sick and wounded who could walk or crawl to a place of 
safety, the long and shameful procession of men strayed or stolen 


from their regiments ^vith no stomach for fight but vast stomachs 
for fresh beef, the lowing bellowing herd of 2,500 cattle, all these 
under the protection of Keyes' corps, were already nearing the 
James river at Haxall. Yet success still remained to be achieved. 
Two more days must pass before entire safety is obtained. Mean- 
while the moving column must remain exposed to assaults from 
Jackson, following fiercely on the line of our retreat, and to still 
more dangerous assaults from Longstreet, Magruder, Huger 
and A. P. Hill, who, passing north of the White Oak swamp, wall 
press down upon the long flank of the Union columns, stretched 
from Frazier's farm to Malvern Hill, to retard Jackson's pursuit 
and to resist the flank attacks of the other Confederate command- 
ers, troops must be posted and bidden to stay in their places what- 
ever odds shall be brought against them. Since a collapse at any 
one point may be fatal, forty-eight hours must be gained for the 
interminable trains to find a secure cover on the James river. To 
earn those forty-eight hours will require the sacrifice of many 
thousands of brave men. 

To check the pursuit of Jackson down the road by which the 
Union army had retreated, General Franklin was posted at 
White Oak bridge with General Smith's division of his own 
corps, Nagle's brigade of Keyes' corps, Richardson's division 
of General Sumner's corps, and for a while two brigades of 
Sedgwick's division. The position was a strong one and was 
stoutly held. 

Jackson came up at eleven o'clock w^ith a force of infantry out- 
numbermg Franklin and with greatly superior artillery. The 
jaded troops had been massed on the ground beyond the swamp 
without much regard to order or concealment, and had generally 
fallen asleep where they were halted, fairly numbed with 
fatigue. Suddenly thirty pieces of Confederate artillery opened 
upon them from the other side. For a while there was a scene 


of dire confusion, and although the loss was small, many a sol- 
dier of Smith or Richardson's divisions holds that unexpected 
shelling at White Oak swamp among his most memorable ex- 
periences. Soon, however, order was restored, the dangerously 
crowded masses were rapidly deployed, and Jackson was con- 
fronted by infantry and artillery as steady as his own, in spite of 
his superiority of force. Even Jackson's splendid soldiership 
was useless against the natural obstacles which opposed the 
crossing. The action became largely one of artillery, and al- 
though the Confederates had nearly twenty batteries, the cool and 
steady firing of the Union guns under Captain — afterwards Gen- 
eral — R. B. Ayres kept the Confederates' infantry at arms' length 
until night. Thus on this, the most critical day of the seven, 
nearly one-half the pursuing army was neutralized by a compar- 
atively small force holding a commanding position at the cross- 
ing of the great swamp. 

From the first it was too late for Jackson to retrace his steps 
and follow the other corps of Lee around the northern limit of 
White Oak swamp with any hope of joininsr in the conflict of 
the day at Glendale, and thus he was held in the mortifying posi- 
tion of being completely blocked by a position which he could 
neither carry nor turn. 

Meanwhile the Confederate right wing, having been thrown 
around the swamp, was engaged in assailing the flank of the re- 
treating army. There were three points at which Lee's divisions, 
hurrying down from Richmond, might especially have been ex- 
pected to attack McClellan. The nearest on the Union line of 
march was Charles City cross roads. Just south of this on the 
Quaker road, leading thence to Malvern Hill, was Glendale. 
where a large clearing, offering a field of battle unusually wide 
for that section of Virginia. From Glendale southward along 
the Quaker road, the flank of the Union army was more or less 


protected by swamps, but as the line of retreat approached the 
James river it again became open to attack by troops coming 
down the river road to cover the last named point. 

McClellan, on the morning of the 30th, posted the corps of 
Keyes and Porter, a force as it proved far more than sufficient 
for the subordinate attack which the enemy designed to make 
here. The Confederates, under Holmes and Wise, seemingly 
surprised to find the Union troops in position, wxre driven off by 
the brigade of Warren and the fire from Porter's batteries, posted 
on Malvern Hill, but while thus at one end of the long Union 
line Holmes and Wise were easily repulsed by a fraction of Por- 
ter's corps and at the other end Franklin was enabled, through 
the strength of his position, to prevent Jackson from crossing 
the White Oak swamp, the main action of the day was fought at 
Glendale where Hill and Longstreet attacked the division of 
McCall, supported by Hooker and Kearney, and later by portions 
of Sedgwick's and Richardson's division. This was in fact one 
of the most severely contested action of the campaign. The 
troops actually brought under fire on the two sides were nearly 
equal in strength. McCall's division, after its brilliant repulse 
of Hill on the 26th, and had lost fearfully at Gaines Mill, 
bore the first onset of the enemy wiii fortitude, but repeated as- 
saults finally broke the line of Seymour's brigade, which gave 
way in confusion, and at the same time the division of Hooker, 
which was on the left of Seymour, though with a considerable 
interval of uncovered ground, was furiously assailed. To 
Hooker was sent the Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania, which here won 
from that general high praise. In the rear of the gap (between 
Seymour and Hooker) on the Nelson Farm had lain since morn- 
ing Burns' brigade, of Sedgewick's division, the other two 
brigades, those of Dana and Sully, having been detached to sup- 
port Franklin at the bridge as already described. 


Just in the crisis of the fight at Glenclale. however, the good 
troops recalled by Sumner's orders began to arrive upon the 
ground, having come from the bridge on the double quick. With 
impetuosity they advance into the space abandoned by Seymour. 
The fire here was intensely hot, and although some of the regi- 
ments, arriving in haste and thrown individually into action, be- 
came somewhat disordered, especially with McCall's men break- 
ing through their forming ranks, still the ground was never for 
an instant yielded to the enemy. Burns and Dana's brigades sus- 
tain the brunt of the action, the Seventy-second Pennsylvania of 
the former and the Nineteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts 
regiments of the latter greatly distinguishing themselves and 
suffering heavy losses. Hooker's men, too, push forward and 
the line is re-established. 

Finding our force too strong for him here, the enemy turns his 
efforts against the right brigade of IMcCall's division, com- 
manded by General Meade, on whose front is the famous Regular 
battery of Randall. Blow upon blow falls hard and fast, and at 
length, about six o'clock. Meade's men gave way, and Randall's 
guns are taken. General Meade is severely wounded and borne 
from the field. An hour later another desperate charge drives 
back McCall's centre and captures Cooper's battery. Kearney 
meanwhile is assailed with no less fury, but his magnificent divi- 
sion, inspired by its peerless leader, and strongly supported by 
Caldwell's brigade, which has been sent down from Richard- 
son's division at the bridge, throws off every assault. Thus 
foiled in their attacks upon Hooker and Sedgewick upon Kear- 
ney and Caldwell, the enemy, late in the evening, desisted from 
further efforts. A portion of the field wrested from McCall 
was indeed held by the Confederates, and they pulled out of the 
fight eight or ten captured guns, but the troops of the Second 
and Third corps held their ground with plenty of force to spare 
for just such another fight. 


While at Charles City Cross roads, Slocum, having easily 
beaten back the detachment that advanced against him, kept two 
unattached brigades ready for any emergency, having sent one 
brigade to Kearney in the crisis of the action. The disappoint- 
ment of the Confederates at this result was extreme. Greatly 
exaggerating the effect of their victory at Gaines' Mill, in which 
they believed they had defeated the bulk of the Union army and 
imagining a scene of general demoralization and panic along the 
line of McClellan's retreat. They had thought to win an easy 
victory, and by breaking through at Glendale to turn a flight into 
a rout, take Franklin in the rear, and destrov the army of 
the Potomac as a fighting force. Except their triumph 
over McCall's weakened divisions, they had gained nothing. 
The divisions of Hooker, Kearney, Sedgewick and Slocum re- 
mained intact. Every blow that had been dealt had been re- 
turned, swift, strong and sure. And they were only just ready 
to begin fighting when darkness came. 

The distant booming of cannon from the direction of 
Frazier's farm gave every evidence that Franklin was still keep- 
ing Jackson's fourteen brigades at bay. Couch, too, with his 
fresh divisions of the Fourth corps was drawing near the battle- 
field, coming up from Haxalls. Under circumstances like these, 
it was plainly useless to persist and although it was doubly hard 
for Hill and Longstreet to give up under the very eyes of Gen- 
eral Lee, who had brought the President of the Confederacy 
along with him to see the army of the Potomac cut in two. 

The fighting died down and the battle was over. The night 
of June 30th fell a pall over the hopes of the Confederate com- 
mander. McClellan had indeed one day more of battle. This, 
however, was not for life, but for a more desirable position 
farther down the river, where supplies could advantageously be 
landed at Haxalls. The army of the Potomac was already safe. 


that safety had been secured by the sturdy stand of Sumner at 
Savages on the 29th, the prudent judicious disposition of Frank- 
lin at the bridge on the 30th, and by the gaUantry and devotion 
displayed at Glendale. It was now possible for McClellan to 
withdraw Franklin from the crossing of the White Oak swamp 
and Sumner, Heintzelman and McCall from Glendale. The 
moment night fell all reason for occupying so long and so ex- 
posed a line ceased. The last of the trains had now reached the 
James river at Haxall and the morning was to see the whole 
army drawn up in magnificent battle array on the f.amous 
battlefield of Malvern Hih. 



Battle of Malvern Hill. — Victory of Union Army. — Retreat to Harrison's 
Landing. — ^Visit of President Lincoln to the Army. — General McClel- 
lan's Address to the Army. — Movement of Troops toward Malvern 
Hill. — Lee's Advance toward Washington. — Orders to the Army to 
go to Washington. 

In the early morning of July ist the army of the Potomac was 
drawn up in battle array, with General Porter on the left of the 
line, occupying the position from which on the day before he 
had repulsed the feeble attack of Holmes and Wise. His right, 
composed of Morrell's division, rested on the James river road. 
Here he connected with Couch's division, which since June 28th 
had been detached from the Fourth corps. On the right of 
Couch's (whose troops were arranged in a single line with but 
one regiment in support) lay the corps of Heintzelman. Kear- 
ney's division first, then Hooker's division next, on Hooker's 
right lay the corps of Sumner and on Sumner's right the corps 
of Franklin. The line was several miles in length and formed 
a huge semi-circle, the two extremities resting on the river ; the 
whole bristled with batteries, while the vast artillery reserve was 
placed on the broad plateau behind. It is not necessary to re- 
peat the oft told story of the victorious action of Malvern Hill. 
The infantry attack fell upon the front of Morrell's and Couch's 
divisions, although the artillery of Heintzelman's further to the 
right, and that of the fleet from the extreme left, contribtited 
largely to the destruction of the enemy's columns. As the 
blows fall harder and faster, troops from other parts of the line 


were brought up until at last nine infantry brigades were active- 
ly engaged. Yet these constituted less than one-third of the 
army of the Potomac. 

The successive assaults, the first of which took place at 3 p. m. 
were made by the troops of Hugur and Magruder, who appeared 
here for the first time since the battle of Savage Station. At 4 -.30 
p. M., Couch, crossing the James river road to the front of 
Morrell, and not finding that officer, assumed control himself, 
and from that time until the close of the action remained in 
charge of the whole infantry line, his horse being shot under 
him as he was marshalling one of Morrell's regiments, which 
had been momentarily thrown into confusion, and he displayed 
everywhere the utmost coolness, courage, resolution and a readi- 
ness to grasp every situation that came before him. The regular 
batteries of Kingsbury, Seely and Aimes, and the volunteer bat- 
tery of Weeden far surpassed the ordinary achievements of ar- 
tillery which the Confederates sought to bring into action. Bat- 
tery after battery on that side was driven from the field without 
being able to fire a single shot out of their guns, while upon the 
daring infantry lines, which pressed forward in the hope of 
carrying the crest, they rained a fire which, for destructiveness, 
has seldom if ever been exceeded in the history of war. The 
participation of the Second corps, which was stationed far to 
the right beyond the field of action and actual conflict, was 
through the brigades of Caldwell and Meagher, of Richardson's 
division. Caldwell was the first to arrive. After lying in re- 
serve under a severe fire of artillery for about an hour, his 
brigade was ordered into action. The Fifth New Hampshire 
was detached and sent to General Howe to support a battery 
on the extreme right of Couch's line. The Sixty-first New York 
and the Eighty-first Pennsylvania, both under Colonel Barlow, 
were put in between Palmer's and Abercrombies' brigades, being 


drawn up in the open field, while the enemy occupied the edge 
of the woods in front. Both these regiments bore themselves 
with the utmost steadiness under a heavy fire and were handled 
in the most able manner by their accomplished commander, who 
had already won a high reputation at Fair Oaks and Glendale. 
The Seventh New York, a German regiment, commanded by 
Colonel Van Schack, which had joined the brigade after Fair 
Oaks, fought on Barlow's left. 

A little after nightfall there was a sudden cessation in the teas- 
mg fire which the enemy still kept up, though the Sixty-firs l 
Nevv^ York and Eighty-first Pennsylvania had long since ceased 
firing, and in the lull Barlow heard the ominous clatter, which 
told that bayonets wxre being fixed by the enemy. A moment 
later there was a rapid rush out of the woods. Colonel Barlow 
having been warned of the enemy's intentions, was not thrown 
off his guard by the sudden charge, but holding his men firmly 
in hand waited until the enemy was close upon his line, when 
he ordered his men to fire. After the first volley the command 
was given to fire at will, before which the enemy fell back to the 
woods in the utmost confusion. Riding to the front of his line. 
Colonel Barlow found the dead and wounded of the enemy close 
up to his line. 

It was a late exegency of the battle which called the Irish 
brigade to the scene of conflict. About six o'clock a powerful 
column of the enemy advanced with extraordinary resolution 
upon the position held by Morrell as if determined to carry it at 
any cost. General Sumner, who had, at Couch's suggestion, al- 
ready despatched Caldwell's brigade, now, on hearing the first 
outburst which greeted this column, without waiting for any 
further request sent the Irish brigade post haste to report to 
Couch. The rising storm of battle quickened the steps of the 
enthusiastic Irishmen hastening to take part in the conflict. Im- 


mediately on their arrival at the West house they were ordered 
to support General Griffin's guns. It was nearly dark and the 
field of battle had become a scene of the most magnificent pyro- 
technics. Jets of flame were darting from thousands of rifles. 
Hissing fuses marked the flight of enumerable shells crossing 
the plain from every direction, while the din of battle never for 
a moment ceased. Moving across the road Meagher formed 
column of regiments. The Sixty-ninth, under the gallant Nu- 
gent, in front, advanced to the position of Martindale's brigade. 
The two rear regiments were soon detached (as will be ex- 
plained later) but the Sixty-ninth, supported by the Eighty- 
eighth under Major Quinlan, pushed forward and encountered 
the enemy with great spirit. Any one who has ever been in 
action knows how easy it is to recognize the firing of fresh 
troops, and the writer has never forgotten the outburst which 
announced that the Irish men had opened upon the Confederafc 
column, now half way up the slope. As soon as the Sixty-ninth 
had exhausted its ammunition, the Eighty-eighth took its place, 
while Nugent's men replenished their cartridge boxes. WHien 
the Eighty-eighth had in turn exhausted its sixty rounds of am- 
munition, the Sixty-ninth was again moved to the front. Scarce- 
ly had the Sixty-ninth relieved their comrades when Nugent 
discovered that a daring body of the enemy had mounted the 
hill and was bearing down upon his flank. Changing front with 
his left companies and sending back orders, which brought 
Quinlan with the Eighty-eighth up on the left of the Sixty-ninth. 
Nugent charged with both regiments and met the enemy in a 
hand to hand encounter, which speedily resulted in the complete 
overthrow of the attacking force and the capture of Lieutenant- 
Colonel Waggaman, commanding the Tenth Louisiana. 

While the Sixty-ninth and Eighty-eighth were thus engaged 
the remaining regiments of the brigade had been sent to other 


parts of the field. The Twenty-ninth Massachusetts, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Barnes, had been at first held in reserve, but was later 
sent to support Robertson's battery of horse artillery, which the 
terrific outburst of the early evening had caused Porter to bring 
forward in person with the greatest haste. Upon representa- 
tions made by an ofihcer of General McClellan's stafY, the Sixty- 
third New York was ordered by General Meagher to accom- 
pany that of^cer and act as a support to a battery which was 
going into action on another part of the line. 

Night fell upon the field of battle, cumbered with the corpses 
of the slain and the writhing bodies of the wounded. Over an 
extended front the ground between the Union lines and the 
woods had been tramped in repeated charges by the troops of 
Huger, Hill and Magruder, and everywhere prostrate horses and 
prostrate men bore witness to the gallantry which had carried 
these divisions of the army of Northern Virginia across the plain 
and up the fatal slopes of Malvern Hill. 

Night fell indeed, but not in quiet. The cannons still boomed 
at intervals, the shrieking shells could be traced through the 
darkness by their burning fuses as they crossed the field in angry 
retaliation, and as they burst lit up some little space with a lurid 
and baleful glare. Now and then the rattle of small arms broke 
forth as the uneasy lines of skirmishers pressed too closely on 
each other and for a moment aroused the expectations of a night 

Night fell upon the last hope of Davis and Lee and of their 
lately jubilant people, as well as their army. They were certain 
they would crush and destroy the Union forces. Until Glendale 
hardly a doubt had entered the Confederate mind that this and 
not less than this must be the outcome of the matchless valor 
of their soldiers and the daring strategy of their commanders. 

The close of that first of July day found McClellan's army 


intact. Not a brigade captured or destroyed. Its base safely 
shifted from the York to the James, with the navy at its back. 
Its Hne of battle stern and defiant, its last assailants beaten back 
to cover, the ground in its front strewn with the killed and 
wounded of one of the bloodiest battle of the war, in which not 
one inch of space had for one moment of time been yielded to 
the most furious assaults. The losses in this battle were : Con- 
federate killed, 2,823; wounded, 13,703; missing, 3,223, or a 
total of 19,749. The Union losses were as follows: Killed, 
1,734; wounded, 8,062; missing, 6,053, ^^ ^ total of 15,849. 

Although the battle of Malvern Hill was in all respects a 
victory for the Union army, the enemy having been repulsed at 
every point with great slaughter without gaining so much as a 
single trophy or occupying any part of the Union position for 
the briefest space of time. The army of the Potomac that night 
retreated to Harrison's Landing on the James river as a position 
better suited for the delivery of supplies and stores. 

On the fourth of July General McClellan issued the following- 
address to the Union army: 

Near Harrison's Landing. 

July 4, 1862. 
Soldiers of the Army of the Potomac: 

Your achievements of the last ten days have illustrated the valor and 
endurance of the American soldier. Attacked by superior forces, and 
without hope of re-inforcements, you have succeeded in changing your 
base of operations by a flank movement — always regarded as the most 
hazardous of military expedients. You have saved all your material, all 
your trains and all your guns and colors from the enemy. Upon your 
march you have been assailed day after day, with desperate fury, by men 
of the same race and nation, skillfully massed and led under every dis- 
advantage of numbers and necessarily of position. Also you have in 
every conflict beaten back your foes with enormous slaughter. Your 
conduct ranks you amongst the celebrated armies of history. No one will 


now question that each of you may always with pride say "I belonged to 
the army of the Potomac." You have reached the new base complete in 
organization and unimpaired in spirit. The enemy may at any moment 
attack you. We are prepared to meet them. I have personally estab- 
ished your lines. Let them come, and we will convert their repulse into 
a final defeat. 

Your government is strengthening you with the resources of a great 
people. On this, our nation's birthday, we declare to our foes, who are 
rebels against the best interest of mankind, that this army shall enter 
the capitol of the Confederacy; that our national Constitution shall pre- 
vail, and that the Union, which can alone insure internal peace and 
external security to each State, must and shall be preserved, cost what 
it may in time, treasure and blood. 


Major-General Commanding. 

The Malvern Hill engagement was the last of the seven days' 
battle and it was a sorry day for the rebels, as by it we got fairly 
even for Seven Pines and Gaines' Mill. Unbroken, and when the 
enemy came we gave them as warm a reception as they could 
ask. They seemed determined to accomplish their object and 
hurled their battalians in masses on our lines, but with the only 
result that they were mowed down like grass before a fire which, 
for destructiveness, has seldom if ever been exceeded in the his- 
tory of war. As the day closed, on fields populated with the 
Southern dead, the enemy seemed disposed to believe that they 
had found a foeman worthy of their steel. 

As night settled again the line of march was taken along the 
river road to Harrison's Landing and the seven days' retreat 
had passed into history. When the landing was reached and 
the long days of fighting and the longer nights of marching 
were over the men fairly fell in their tracks and slept day and 
night amid mud and rain, until the water literally ran into their 
their ears. During these Richmond fights the soldiers got ex- 
periences that was severe, but invaluable. Marching all night 


and fighting all day tested their strength and courage and gave 
excellent discipline. For the first time they found what it meant 
to be forced back by the weight of advancing columns ; to receive 
a charge; to see the lines ploughed with solid shot, raked with 
double canister and melt away before the withering fire of in- 
fantry; to hear the cries of the wounded, the groans of the 
dying and to see the fields of scattered dead. The first sight of 
so many killed was a shock to the nervous system and caused 
white lips and trembling limbs, and death was expected by the 
very next volley. But when volley after ^^olley came, and hours. 
passed amid the rain of lead, those who lived began to be some- 
what at home, and even showed signs of pugilism. The first 
severely w^ounded man was a little German, shot through the- 
abdomen and sure to die. Sitting on the g; round wi^^-" Hs hands, 
upon his wound he was crying, ''J^sus, Maria; Jesus, Maria," 
with such plaintive lamentation that it brought the tears to the 
eyes of those who heard him. 

The month of June had made veterans of the Army of the 
Potomac. And with such the rebels must reckon thereafter. 
The losses of the Second corps during the seven days' battle 
reached 2,420. The loss of the Fifty-seventh regiment was 
52; 8 killed, i officer and 8 men wounded and 35 missing. 

President Lincoln came down from Washington to Harrison's 
Landing and reviewed the army. The Second corps was in line 
July 4th, and at five o'clock saluted the President of the United 
States and the commander-in-chief of all its armies. 

When on Monday the army began its retreat an amusing in- 
cident occurred among the wagons. The drivers were ordered 
to unhitch and water their horses at a brook nearby, and while 
watering their teams a rebel battery caught sight of them and 
at once began to vigorously shell them. Such a skedadleing was 
seldom or ever seen. Mules and drivers flew in all direction to. 


the infinite amusement of both armies. It resulted in the aban- 
donment of many ammunition wagons because neither the mules 
or the drivers could be caught and returned to their places. 

It was now the privilege of the army to have a month of solid 
rest. Indeed no rest was more needed and no month was more 
enjoyed. The army was here reinforced by -a multitude of re- 
cruits called "Gray Backs." It is not to be understood that up 
to this time there was none of these pestilent fellows in camp. 
The severe marching had long before reduced many of the men 
to a single suit of underclothing, and as wash day had been much 
broken up by marching and fighting, the blessed duty of cleanli- 
ness had been sadly neglected. This, however, was no great 
disadvantage to the gray backs. Colonel Zook called the atten- 
tion of Surgeon Mackin to the fact that the men were infested 
with these vermin of which fact the doctor expressed his doubts. 
Whereupon the colonel, in a few emphatic, though perhaps not 
elegant words, replied : *'Why, the whole army is lousey. You 
are lousey, I am lousey, McClellan is lousey." The colonel was 
not far from right, though the men at first from very shame 
would scorn the idea that it was anything but prickly heat that 
ailed them. As time wore on, howxver, the disease wore on 
also and from mere desperation they would go out into some 
secret place in the woods for self examination. xA.s time wore on 
shamefacedness disappeared and what could not be cured was 
made an occasion of mirth. Some of the men, even though a 
high private, commanded a regiment of their own, had regular 
morning roll calls and battles in which the slaughter was fear- 
ful. It was no uncommon thing to see the edge of a wood or the 
bank of a stream lined with soldiers, half dressed, engaged in 
these roll calls. One of the boys, in a moment of delirium, im- 
agined that he was calling the roll of Fifty-seventh and his gray 
backs that day answered to such immortal names as Zook, Chap- 


man, Parisen, Throop and Kirk. It was said of an old garment 
that was missing that they had moved a httle way down the river 
and were going into winter quarters. Whether this latter state- 
ment be truth or fiction, the following incident is an actual fact : 
An ofificer of the Fifty-seventh was leading his men into a battle 
and at a certain point came under a fire of grape and canister. 
A charge was made and this gallant ofhcer, for such he was, ran 
out in front of his men, raised his sword high in the air with his 
strong right arm, cheered and led on his men, but his left hand 
had unconsciously gotten under his right arm and was there 
digging away with energy sufificient to divert the attention of 
his company he led from the hail of grape and canister that 
greeted them. 

On the 1 2th of July, Jeremiah Williams, a corporal of Com- 
pany A, Fifty-seventh New York, died. There never was a 
steadier or truer soldier than he, whom the boys most affection- 
ately mourned. He was never behind on the march or in battle. 
His body was embalmed (as were hundreds of others) by Dr. 
Thomas Holmes, who had established an embalming depot in a 
large barn at the landing, thus making it possible for friends 
who desired to have the bodies of their dear ones sent home to 
be buried in the family burying ground. 

The 1 6th of July was a welcome day, for the paymaster had 
arrived and the troops were paid for the months of March and 
April. Brigadier-Generals Sumner, Richardson and Sedgwick 
had been advanced in rank to major-o^enerals. and the order was 
read on dress parade. These promotions were praised by the 
entire army, as the additional star had been fairly won by each 
of these capable officers on the field of battle. 

Drinking water was very scarce and poor at Harrison's Land- 
ing, and the Fifty-seventh, under great dif^culty, dug a well, 
securing thereby better water. The diet was also improved by 


the addition of cabbage, tomatoes and dried apples to the usual 
army rations. It was on the last day of this month that the 
following episode occurred, wherein a rebel battery, planting 
itself on the south side of the James river and began vigor- 
ously to shell Harrison's Landing. This battery was not long 
in getting out of reach after the blue coats started for it, and 
the position was thereafter occupied by our troops. 

Much has been the wonder that the soldiers of the Army of 
the Potomac, in reviewing the Peninsular campaign, did not be- 
gin to doubt the ability of General McClellan to fight a large 
army, but if any did they were few. Throughout the North 
there was a howl of disappointment at the way the army had 
been permitted to be beaten in detail and finally driven into a de- 
fensive position. It evidently was not the fault of the Union 
soldier, for at both Fair Oaks and at Gaines' Mill they with- 
stood double their numbers and the seven days of retreat were 
days of severe punishment for the enemy. It had become a 
stereotyped declaration South that one Southerner could whip 
six Yankees, but the Peninsular campaign demonstrated the 
fact that this proposition would have to be reduced five-sixth at 
least, so far as the men were concerned. Since all that had been 
gained thus far by Lee's men was the result of superior general- 
ship, the northern soldier in most unfavorable situations had 
done as well as the Southern soldier had done in favorable 
situations. It was not as much credit to the 60,000 gray coats at 
Gaines' Mill to have driven 30,000 blue coats three miles in one 
afternoon as it w^as to the credit of the blue coats that they held 
their ground so long in the face of such odds and were not total- 
ly destroyed. 

The army remained at Harrison's Landing until about the 
seventh of August, when General Hooker advanced with his 
corps, supported by Sedgwick's division of the Second corps 


and Couch's division of the Fourth corps, toward Malvern Hill. 
By this time there appeared unmistakable signs of a movement 
by Lee's forces toward Washington by way of Manassas. The 
whole army of the Potomac w^as at once ordered to move to the 
Capitol. We marched down the James river to Charles City, 
thence to Williamsburg, crossing the Chickahominy river at 
Barrett's Ferry, thence to Yorktown and then to Newport News. 



From the Peninsular to Antietam. — McClellan Left Without a Command. 
— Buying Watermelons without Money. — Pope takes Command of the 
Army. — March to the Second Battle of Bull Run. — Defeat of Pope. — 
McClelland Again Called to the Command of the Army to Save 
Washington. — Battle of South Mountain. 

On the 25th of August we were aboard the steamer Spauld- 
ing and anchored in Hampton Roads. At three o'clock the next 
morning, weighing anchor, we moved up the Potomac river and 
on the following morning after breakfast we disembarked at 
Acquia Creek, but on the same afternoon we re-embarked, and 
on the following morning, August 28th, we landed at Alexandria 
and marched as far as old Camp California. 

On the trip around from Newport News the company's books 
were lost. All our baggage, clothing, etc., having been shipped 
on a transport and in going from Newport News to Alexandria 
the vessel was lost with all on board, so we never recovered 
clothing or books. 

The afternoon of the 29th found us on the Alexandria road 
at Arlington Heights and the Acqueduct bridge. While we 
were lying at the Acqueduct bridge, a lot of farmers came down 
with watermelons to sell to the boys. As I had no money T 
went to Captain Chapman and asked him to give me some. 
He gave me a "twenty-five cent shin-plaster," as we used to 
call them. It was the first time I had seen one. I took 
the twenty-five cents and I went to the farmer and offered the 
money, but he said it was no good. I then went back to the 
captain and told him what the farmer said, and he told me 1 


J ^ 

had better see the colonel. So I went to Colonel Zook and told 
him the circumstances, and he told me to gfo back and if the man 
would not take the money to take the watermelon anyway and 
bring it to him. I went to the farmer and offered him the money, 
which he refused, but I took the melon, and on my way to camp 
I dropped and broke it, so the boys got the pieces and ate them 
up. I went back. to the man and got another one, which I took 
to Colonel Zook, who cut it in half and he took one half and T 
the other. Shortly after eating the melon we were ordered to 

We passed the residence of the Lees, whence the view of 
Washington, Georgetown and the Potomac river enchants the 
eye of the beholder. Resting overnight, the regiment moved 
again toward Bull Run, reaching Fairfax Court House the same 
night and Centreville the next day. But on the following day 
we fell back with the rest of the army upon Washington. At the 
court house a slight skirmish occurred, in which the enemy's 
only part taken by the regiment in what was called the second 
shells made themselves somewhat offensive. This was the 
battle of Bull Run. 

That both Franklin and Sumner might have participated in 
the battle of Chantilly on the first of September there is no doubt, 
for both of these commands were then up within striking dis- 
tance and a new Malvern Hill might have been fought at Chan- 
tilly. The rebel General Jackson had undertaken one of his wild 
excursions into Pope's rear. Longstreet was far behind and 
could not come up until long after nightfall. Kearney and 
Reno's divisions actually sufficed to hold Jackson at bay. Hook- 
er's division, the two divisions of Franklin, the two divisions of 
Sumner and two brigades of Couch were all available to be 
thrown upon Jackson's right and left. Such an attack would 
have been simply fatal to Jackson. He had absolutely no way 


of retreat, but it was not to be so. The campaign was destined 
to end in humiliation. The braggart who had begun his cam- 
paign with insolent reflections in general orders upon the army 
of the Potomac and its commander, and with silly bluster about 
his policy being attack and not defence, about discarding such 
ideas as lines of retreat and bases of supplies, about looking 
before and not behind, about studying the possible lines of re- 
treat of his enemy and leaving his own to take care of themselves. 
This braggart had been picked, cuffed, hustled about, knocked 
down, run over and trodden upon as rarely happens in the his- 
tory of war. His communications had been cut, his headquarters 
pillaged, a corp had marched into his rear and had encamped at 
its ease upon the railroad by which he received his supplies. 
He had been beaten or foiled in every attempt he had made to 
bag those defiant intruders and in the end he was glad to find a 
refuge in the intrenchments of Washington. Whence he had 
sallied forth six weeks before breathing out threatenings and 

About four o'clock in the afternoon of September ist, from a 
prominent point we descried in the distance the dome of the 
Capitol of Washington. We would be there at least in time 
to defend it. Darkness came upon us and still we marched. As 
the night wore on we found at each halt that it was more and 
more difficult to arouse the men from the sleep that they would 
fall into apparently as soon as they touched the ground. Dur- 
ing one of these halts, while the brigade commander was resting 
a little off the road some distance in advance of the head of the 
column, it being starlight, two horsemen came down the road 
towards us. I thought I observed a familiar form and turning 
to Captain Chapman I said, "U I did not know that General 
McClellan had been relieved of all command, I should say that 
he was one of that party;" adding immediately. "I do really 


believe it is he.'' "Nonsense," said the captain, "what would 
General McClellan be doing out in this lonely place at this time 
of night without an escort." The two horsemen passed on (to 
where the column of troops were lying, standing or sitting, as 
pleased each individual) and were lost in the shadowy gloom 
But a few moments had elapsed, however, when Andrew W^ilson 
came running towards Captain Chapman crying out, "Captain, 
General McClellan is here." 

The enlisted men caught the sound and those who were awake 
aroused his sleeping neighbor. Eyes were rubbed and those 
tired fellows, as the news passed along down the column, jumped 
to their feet and sent up such a hurrah as the army of the Poto- 
mac had never heard before. Shout after shout went out into 
the stillness of the night and as it w^as taken up along the road 
and repeated by regiment, brigade, division and corps, we could 
hear the roar dying away in the distance. 

The effect of this man's presence upon the army of the Poto- 
mac in sunshine or rain, in darkness or in daylight, in victory 
or defeat, was ever electrical and too wonderful to make it worth 
while attempting to give a reason for it. Just two weeks from 
this time this defeated army, under the leadership of General 
McClellan, won the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, 
and we had to march ten days out of the two weeks in order to 
do it. From Chantilly we covered the retreat on the Vienna and 
Langley railroad. On arriving at the Potomac we at first took 
post on the Virginia side of the river, but on the next day, the 
third of September, we were ordered to Tennallytown, Mary- 
land, just outside the District of Columbia. The uncertainty of 
Lee's movements at this time and the necessary disposition of 
the troops to meet several possible contingencies, kept the whole 
army on the edge of uncertainty. MeClellan was aware that the 
mass of the rebel army had passed up the south side of the Poto- 


mac in the direction of Leesburg and that a portion of their 
army had crossed into Maryland. But he had no means of 
determining whether Lee proposed to cross his whole army with 
a view of turning Washington by a flank movement down the 
north bank of the Potomac, to move on Baltimore, or to invade 
Pennsylvania. This uncertainty made it appear to him neces- 
sary to march cautiously and to advance the army in such order 
as to keep Washington and Baltimore continually covered and at 
the same time to hold the troops well in hand so as to be able 
to concentrate and follow rapidly if the enemy took the direction 
of Pennsylvania or to return to the defences of Washington if, 
as it was generally feared by the authorities, the enemy should 
be merely making a feint with a small force to draw off our army 
while with their main army they stood ready to seize the first 
favorable opportunity to attack the Capitol. 

September ist, 1862, was a dark day for the country. Not 
only had the attempt to reach Richmond failed, but Pope's fol- 
lowing campaign, conducted with such a profusion of boastful 
and glowing despatches and proclamations, had resulted disas- 
trously. The North was despondent; the South was exultant. 
Lee had proved his strength to hold the Confederate territory 
against all invaders. Now he proposed reversing the situation 
and becoming an invader himself. It is doubtful whether when 
he set his columns in motion from Richmond he intended to 
carry the Confederate flag across the river that formed the divid- 
ing line between the warring powers. It is certain that his army 
was wretchedly equipped and poorly provided. Lee himself says 
that thousands of his troops at this time were destitute of shoes, 
but whether induced by incorrect representations of the popular 
feeling in Maryland, which he thought would lead the people to 
flock into his army as soon as he set foot on northern soil, or for 
whatever reason, the whole Confederate army crossed the Poto- 


mac at Leesburg, by the fords near that place, in three days — 
between the 4th and 7th of September, 1862 — and encamped in 
the vicinity of Frederick. There the standard of revolt was 
formally raised and the people of Maryland were invited by a 
proclamation of General Lee to join the Confederate force. 

Lee was disappointed when no recruits came. The ragged 
and shoeless condition of his troops operated strongly to quench 
the enthusiasm for service in the cause of the Confederacy. But 
there he was, across the border, and the moral effect, as well as 
the military necessities of the campaign, required that he should 
hold his position. He could not retreat without at least measur- 
ing strength with the powerful army which he knew must be sent 
to repel his invasion. So it was that the Maryland campaign 
came into existence. When the shattered battalions that sur- 
vived General Pope's disastrous campaign in Northern Virginia 
returned to Washington, President Lincoln requested General 
McClellan to resume command of the Army of the Potomac, 
which was increased in numbers by the addition of other corps. 
McClellan's reappearance at the head of the army had the most 
beneficial effect on the army, whose morale immediately under- 
went an astonishing change. Heterogeneous mass, made up of 
the aggregation of the remnants of the two armies and the garri- 
son of Washington, was reorganized into a compact body. A 
work that had mostly to be done while the army was on 
the march and as soon as it became known that Lee had crossed 
the Potomac, McClellan moved toward Frederick to meet him 
It was Lee's plan to dislodge the Union forces from Harper's. 
Ferry before concentrating his army west of the mountains, and 
his arrangements and orders were all made for this> enterprise,, 
but through a stroke of good fortune a copy of Lee's order for 
the movement of his troops fell into McClellan's hands on the 
day of McClellan's arrival at Frederick. This gave McClellan 


an inkling of his enemy's plan, of which he was not slow to take 
advantage, and at once there began a race for Harper's Ferry, 
The South Mountain had to be passed by the Union, the two 
principal passes known as Turner's Gap and Crampton Gap, 
were held by the rebel General McClaw, under orders not to per- 
mit the passage even if he lost his last man in doing it, and he 
held it well, but the forces under General Hancock advanced 
along the left of the road through the steep and narrow pass, 
drove back the Confederates from their positions at the base of 
the mountain, where they were protected by a stone wall. The 
crest was carried and 400 prisoners taken. 

The battle of South Mountain was not won soon enough to 
save Harpers Ferry. On the 5th of September we moved from 
Tennallytown to Rockville, Clarksburg and Urbana. All along 
this route the boys in blue were greeted with cheers and sent for- 
ward with a ''God speed." The country itself was different 
from that part of Virginia through which we had previously 
passed. The fields were highly cultivated, the stacks of hay were 
many and high, the stalks were full of corn, the homes tidy, the 
barns large. It was a welcome change also to be greeted with 
smiles instead of frowns. Probably no soldier who entered 
Frederick City on the morning of September 13th will ever for- 
get the cordial welcome with which the rescuing army was re- 
ceived by the loyal inhabitants. For five months the Second 
corps had been upon the soil of Virginia where every native 
white face was wrinkled with spite as the invaders passed, 
marching through or encamping in a region which to a northern 
eye was inconceivably desolate and forlorn, barren fields afford- 
ing the only relief to the dreary continuity of tangled thickets and 
swampy bottoms. Here in the rich valley of the Monocacy, shut 
in by low mountains of surprising grace of outline, all nature 
was in bloom. The signs of comfort and opulence met the eye 


on every side, while as the full brigades of Sumner, in perfect 
order and with all the pomp of war, with glittering staff and 
proud commanders, old Sumner at the head, pressed through the 
quaint and beautiful town, the streets resounded with applause 
and from balcony and window^s fair faces smiled and handker- 
chiefs and scarfs waved to greet the army of the Union. Whether 
the ancient and apocryphal Barbara Fritchie had sufficiently re- 
covered from the sentimental shock of a poetical shower of im- 
aginary musket balls to appear again on this occasion may be 
doubted, but many an honest and many a fair countennce of 
patriotic men and women looked out upon the brave array of 
Sumner's corps w^ith smiles and tears of gratitude and joy. 
Amid all that was desolate and gloomy, amid all that was harsh 
and terrible in the service, that these soldiers of the Union were 
called to render that bright day of September 13th, 1862, still 
that gracious scene of natural beauty and waving crops that 
quaint and charming southern city, that friendly greeting form 
a picture which can never pass out of the memory of those whose 
fortune it was to enter Frederick town that day. 

We rested beyond Frederick over Saturday night, and on 
Sunday morning pushed through Middletown toward South 
Mountain. All day long we could hear cannonading; indeed, 
the evening before it was quite distinct. Now, also, was visible 
the puffs of smoke from booming artillery along the mountain 
summit. Some of the boys amused themselves by measuring the 
seconds that intervened between the flash and the report of the 
cannon, thus calculating the distance between themselves and the 
battlefield. It was a beautiful landscape that lay off towards 
Turner's Gap looking south and west along the valley, with its 
cultivated fields and wooded mountain sides ; the view from the 
mountain tops, whence could be seen beautiful valleys spreading 
away as far as the eye could reach ; of the long rows of towering 


peaks of Sugar Loaf and Blue Ridge, of the Middletown and 
Boonsboro Valley all adding their mite to make a picture of un- 
rivalled beauty and grandeur. We ascended mountains until lost 
in the clouds, followed forsaken paths and crossed rich green 
plains that resembled gardens decorated with flowers. Such 
were the scenes we passed through on our march towards Tur- 
ner's and Crampton Gaps. There is no doubt that this is the 
most beautiful part of Maryland, and a spot hardly to be sur- 
passed for natural scenery and cultivation. After leaving Fred- 
erick and going west, the ascent of the Catoctin hills is made. 
From these hills the valley in which Middletown lies is spread 
out until South Mountain is in view. It was here w^e got our 
first view, and saw the smoke of the South Mountain battle. 

After passing through Middletown the roads could be traced 
by their barrenness and also by the dust from the canvas covered 
wagon trains, while the course of the creeks was told by the long 
winding streaks of shrubbery. Singular experiences come to a 
soldier sometimes from what to him is usually ordinary causes, 
to see men lying around dead in every shape and in every degree 
of repulsiveness torn to pieces, black and bloated, is nothing 
to a man of battle. Yet such a sight coming in an unexpected 
manner or out of time has all the shock natural to such an ex- 
perience. The soldier will sleep soundly amid the dead and the 
groans of the wounded and dying companions. It will not keep 
him aw^ake if it be on a battlefield, but let him lay down among 
the dead at the hospital and he is likely to feel cold chills creep- 
ing over him. He will be restless, will rise and seek companion- 
ship. So at South Mountain. A soldier is climbing through 
the woods with head down, slowly dragging his weary limbs 
after him, when suddenly his thoughtless sight rests upon the 
form of a dead oldier with bulging eyes and swollen face lying 
directly at his feet. The shock stuns him, the blood rushes to 


his heart and his Hp quivers. When he turns out and goes on, 
he instinctively looks back to see if the man has moved. Of such 
stuff are mortals made. 

The battle of South Mountain was a victory for our forces, 
but the Second corps came up too late to have a part in it. At 
the three gaps — Turner's, Fox and Crampton — the battle raged 
on the morning of the 14th of September. The enemy held these 
positions, but were driven at nearly every point, though not 
without hard fighting and after a determined resistance. The 
success of Franklin on the left endangered Lee's communica- 
tions, thwarted his purpose to push into Pennsylvania and com- 
pelled him to give battle near the Potomac. It also gave the 
Union army that espirit de corps which victory always bring. 
South Mountain was only a forerunner of what followed at 

At night when we reached South Mountain and just after wc 
had halted a detail of eight men from each company was chosen 
to guard the outer line against an attack of the enemy. I was 
one of the eight from my company. Our orders were to let no 
one enter our lines. Just before daybreak orders were given us 
to advance, as the enemy had commenced firing on our right. 
I was in the advance on the skirmish line. It was very dark and 
could hardly see where we were going, when I suddenly stumbled 
and fell between two rocks, but found that there was some one 
ahead of me, as I fell on top of a man. Neither one could recog- 
nize the other until we had asked and answered questions. I 
then found that he was a rebel and he found that I was a Union 
soldier. The rebel said to me, "Well, Yank, there is no use for 
us to kill each other; let us make a bargain," to which I agreed. 
Our agreement was that if the Union troops were successful 
then he was to be my prisoner ; but if on the other hand the Con- 
federate troops were successful then I was to be his prisoner. 


But, as it turned out, the Union troops were successful he be- 
came my prisoner, and I escorted him to the regimental head- 
quarters, while the boys all cheered me as I passed along the line. 
I was short in stature, while my prisoner was a man at least six 
feet tall. It has always been a question with me as to which was 
the most surprised when daylight came and we could see each 
other. But as we had made a compact we kept it. 

A detail of the regiments that w^as sent to scour the woods at 
South Mountain after its evacuation by the enemy, found many 
stragglers with grey coats, some trying to hide and others trying 
to get to their regiments. They were taken as prisoners of war 
and sent to the rear under guard. Their guns were broken over 
stumps and thrown away. Many rebels were thus picked up 
later on, others were found hiding in houses along the slope or 
in the valley and received the same treatment. 

From South Mountain to Antietam was a constant running 
fire between the two armies, the one falling back and the other 
pursuing. The light artillery would mount a hill and fire at the 
advancing blue coats, holding its position as long as it dared, 
and then limbering up, would run to the next eminence and re- 
peat the maneuver. So the day of the 15th passed until the night 
brought its partial but welcomed rest. Passing down the west- 
ern side of South Mountain, Richardson's division comes to 
Boonsboro and Feedysville, and finds the enemy massing his 
forces behind Antietam Creek. It is now evening twilight and 
the Fifty-seventh takes a position behind an embankment in sup- 
port of a battery which is shelling the woods beyond. Before 
dark one man in Company B is killed by a piece of shell. During 
the night the men slept well and awaken on the i6th greatly 
refreshed. It is Tuesday. A very heavy fog covers the ground 
and everything is quiet. We cook our coffee and toast our pork. 
After breakfast we fall in line and take our position on the 


battle line along the creek, our left resting on the Sharpsburg 

The 1 6th of September was spent by General McClellan in get- 
ting his army into position, while General Lee was hurrying his 
scattered forces together. Four divisions being twelve hours 
away, we had much the larger force present, but little Mac never 
took the initiative in battle if he could help it, but General Grant 
always did. General Hooker crossed the creek on our right and 
found the enemy posted on the Heights near Sharpsburg. He 
attacked Stonewall Jackson and drove him some distance, hold- 
ing the advanced position during that night. 




From South Mountain to Warrenton. — Battle of Antietam. — Death of 
Generals Mansfield and Richardson. — After a Victory, What? — 
Change of Commanders. — General McClellan Relieved and General 
Burnside Assumes Command. — McClelland's Farewell to the Army. 
— ^Anecdotes and Incidents. 

The real battle of Antietam began at daylight on Wednesday, 
September 17th. General Hooker had crossed all his corps during 
the night, the Twelfth corps following in support. These at- 
tacked the Confederates with headlong impetuosity. The action 
was furious, the losses monstrous. The advance, however, was 
met by fresh troops and brought to a stand. From daylight until 
nine o'clock one corps — the First — had done all the fighting, the 
centre and left of our line being inactive. General Mansfield had 
been killed and General Hooker disabled. 

The Second corps now crossed the creek in the centre of our 
line. Sedgwick's division moved across the Hagerstown road 
and was seeking the enemy near the Dunker church when a rebel 
brigade came upon his flank and turned it so effectually that it 
was doubled and broken and got to the rear with great loss. 
Next came General French's division, and began its attack near 
the Roulette house, driving the enemy back to the sunken road, 
taking several colors and 300 prisoners. Our division crossed 
the creek at about 9:30 a. m., the Irish brigade in the lead, and 
moved into action. The Irishmen advanced steadily and rapidly 
under a heavy fire until they had nearly reached the crest of the 


hill which overlooks Piper's. Caldwell's brigade formed on the 
left of Meagher's brigade, and took their place when they fell 
back for ammunition. Caldwell then pushed ahead and carried 
the crest of the hill overlooking the Piper house. Just beyond 
is the famous sunken road in which was a determined force of the 
enemy, and Caldwell can go no farther, but soon an attempt is 
made to turn his flank, and Brookes puts in the third brigade. 
We are lying behind the hill that overlooks the field of action, 
every moment expecting to be ordered into action. The bullets 
are whistling over our heads and our hearts are beating as fast 
as the lead is flying. Whose head will be the first to come off, we 
are asking each other, when shall we rise and move forward? 
The worst part of a battle is this waiting to go in. 

''Fall in !" The word has come at last. We jump up, get into 
line and march steadily in battalion front to the brow of the hill. 
Now we are in it, and the minnies are plenty. As we pass the 
Sixty-ninth, or what is left of them (about a hundred men) 
with colors in tatters, they cheer and we return it. Down the 
side of the hill toward the sunken road the Sixty-seventh and 
the Sixty-sixth charge together, and over the ditch they go, 
stepping on the bodies of the rebel dead. Yet another charge 
and we have taken the Piper house and are in the cornfield be- 
yond. All along the path of this charge our men have fallen 
killed or w^ounded, but victory is ours. Earlier in the day several 
attacks have been made upon the sunken road, but without suc- 
cess. It afforded great protection for the enemy, and to take it 
was like taking a fort. In charging forward we captured 
several prisoners and a stand of colors belonging to the Twelfth 
Alabama. It was said that the words "Captured by the Fifty-sev- 
enth New York Volunteers at Antietam, September 17th," would 
be painted on the flag and that it w^ould be deposited wath the 


W'ar Department for safe keeping. The position of the regiment 
in the cornfield was not attacked by the rebel infantry. 

In the official reports of the Confederates upon this battle it 
appears that the rebels fell back to a new line, made necessary 
by the loss of the ground taken by the First division. A battery, 
however, stationed on a hill not far in our front, seems to have 
had no notion of retiring, for it poured into the standing corn- 
stalks such a pelting storm of grape and canister that each ex- 
plosion seemed like a rushing mighty wind and a driving hail. It 
was our office now to hold the position gained, and as no firing 
was done, the boys protected themselves by hugging the soil. It 
is surprising how readily they dug their noses into the dirt. 

The order now came to correct the line, and the regiment fell 
back a little out of the cornfield to the brow of the hill in the 
rear, the same guns helping us up the hill by their grape shot 
adding now and then a shell. In the corner of a fence was dis- 
covered a pile of potatoes which the boys insisted should also 
fall back. It was only a temporary break in the ranks, a mo- 
ment of time and this charge also was successful, every potato 
being captured. We were no better off on the brow of this hill 
than we were in the cornfield. Here under our eyes battery after 
battery had been broken into pieces by the perfect range of the 
rebel guns and we lying on the same spot began to receive sim- 
ilar treatment, it was interesting to watch the waving of the line 
as the shots came and passed ; strong men felt inward tremblings 
and weak men looked backward as though they would run. One 
man at least found his legs cowardly, though his heart may have 
been brave. An officer near, seeing the danger that in such a 
critical situation if one man were to break all might follow, 
ordered this waverer to lie down twice. This was done and a 
third time he arose. Then the officer threatened to shoot him if 
stirred. As now it was death to run and as he might live if he 


Stayed, he took the chances and remained. However, he never 
forgot that incident. It seemed to rankle in his breast, and 
months after one night he came into his quarters half intoxicated, 
and as he lay in his bunk kept muttering, first low, and then loud 
and with bitter accents, "Lie down, lie down, lie down, or Fll 
shoot you." Poor fellow, he was but mortal, and under such a 
storm of iron how could any mortal stand it. 

Shelling does not last forever, and for some reason this bat- 
tery ceased firing and left us in peace. This advanced position, 
including the sunken road and Piper's house, was held by our 
division through the rest of the battle, no further effort being 
made by the enemy to retake the lost ground. There was fight- 
ing enough on our left where Burnside had crossed the creek and 
threatened Lee's communications, but in the centre there was 
quiet the rest of the day. 

General Richardson, affectionately called "Fighting Dick," 
while directing a battery on the hill near us, was struck with a 
piece of shell and mortally wounded. He was carried to General 
McClellan's heaquarters at the Pry house, and despite every 
effort to save his life, died there the following day, November 
5th. He was only forty- three years of age. The July before his 
death he had been promoted to major-general of volunteers. He 
was a good tactician, was prompt and brave, and well deserved 
the sobriquet of "Old War Horse," given to him by his men. It 
was with a feeling of a personal loss that we parted with General 
Richardson. He was not a fuss and feather soldier. He usually 
wore a soft hat and fatigue dress, and looked oftenest like a uni- 
formed farmer, but a study of his features revealed intelligence. 
determination, a quiet force of character and fatherliness, that 
made his men believe he was one of them. There has always 
been a halo around his head since Antietam, for the double reason 


that he, a general, was killed in battle at our side, and also that he 
was the first general officer thus lost to us. 

F. W. Palfry, a reporter of the New York Herald, gives the 
following description of the movements of the Second corps on 
that day: 

"Richardson's division of the Second corps, which is known 
as the First division, comprising the brigades of Meagher, Cald- 
well and Brooke, crossed Antietam Creek at 9:30 in the morn- 
ing of the 17th, at the same ford where the other divisions of 
the corps had crossed it, moved southward on a line nearly par- 
allel to the stream in a ravine behind the high ground overlooking 
the Roulette house. The command was formed with Meagher's 
brigade on the right and Caldwell's brigade on the left and 
Brooke's in support. Meagher's brigade advanced nearly to the 
crest of the hill overlooking the Piper house, and found the 
enemy in strong force in the sunken road in its front. After 
some sharp fighting, with considerable loss on both sides, Cald- 
well's brigade was marched up behind it and took its place, the 
two brigades breaking by company, the one to the front, the 
other to the rear. Meagher's brigade went to the rear to replen- 
ish its cartridge boxes, and Brooke's brigade remained as a sup- 
port to Caldwell's brigade. When the smart push on Kimball's 
left before referred to was made by the Confederates, Brooke 
hurried into action three of his regiments, the Fifty-second New 
York, Second Delaware and Fifty-third Pennsylvania and they, 
with some troops from the left of French's division, the Seventh 
Virginia and the One Hundred and Thirty-second Pennsylvania, 
dislodged the enemy from the cornfield on their right rear, 
Brooke moved forward the Fifty-seventh New York and the 
Sixty-sixth New York. Caldwell and Brooke thus united, pressed 
forward and gallantly gained possession of the Piper house. This 
was the end of the serious fighting on this part of the line." 


Mr. Palfry, in the same article, makes particular and honor- 
able mention of the Fifty-seventh New York. 

The musketry fire ceased at about one o'clock. Richardson, 
still holding the Piper house, withdrew his line to the crest of a 
hill, and at about the same time received a mortal wound. Han- 
cock was placed in command of his division. Our losses in this 
battle were very severe, besides losing Lieutenant-Colonel Pari- 
sen, three officers and sixteen men were killed, six officers and 
sixty-four men were wounded, of which number nine died from 
their wounds afterwards. Three men being missed, the total loss 
being loi. This loss of nearly one-third of the effective men of 
the regiment was about the largest that came to the regiment 
from any previous or subsequent battle during the war. Yet we 
may not say that the loss in proportion to our numbers was 
greater, since the strength of the regiment constantly decreased, 
and later losses may represent a larger proportionate loss. 

General Winfield S. Hancock now comes upon the scene as 
our commander, a relation in which he is sustain to us until 
nearly the close of the war. He was called by General McClellan 
from the command of a brigade in the Second division of the 
Sixth corps, to be the commander of Richardson's division of 
the Second corps. 

Night closed the long and desperately contested battle of the 
17th of September, 1862, nearly 200,000 men and 500 pieces of 
artillery were for fourteen hours engaged in this memorable 
battle. We had attacked the enemy in a position selected by the 
experienced engineer then, in person, directing their operations. 
We had driven them from their line on one flank, and secured a 
footing within the other. The army of the Potomac, notwith- 
standing the moral effect incident to previous reverses, had 
achieved a victory over an adversary invested with the prestige of 
recent success. Our soldiers slept that night conquerors on a 













field won by their valor and covered with the dead and wounded 
of the enemy. Thirteen guns, thirty-nine colors, upwards of 
15,000 stands of arms, and more than 6,000 prisoners were the 
trophies which attested the success of our arms in the battles of 
South Mountain, Crampton's Gap and Antietam. Not a single 
gun or color was lost by our army during these battles. 

During the night the men wanted water that could only be 
procured from a spring near where we lay, but unfortunately it 
was covered by the guns of the enemy's sharpshooters. So a 
certain number of men was detailed to take all the canteens and 
go to the spring and get some water. We would start one at a 
time, and running across the open ground, try and reach the 
spring before we were noticed. I was one of the men detailed 
for the service. On one of my trips, as I was returning in com- 
pany with a couple more men, carrying as many canteens as we 
could, my hat was knocked off my head. I picked it up and at the 
same time said to the men behind me in rather forcible language, 
"What are you doing; knocking my cap off?" He replied, "I 
did not do it." I picked up the cap and when I got to the camp, 
I examined the cap and found a bullet hole through the peak of 
it. So I found out who knocked the cap off my head. 

The day after the battle, September i8th, we lay in the im- 
mediate presence of the enemy. Couch's division had come up 
late in the evening of the 17th, and Humphrey's division of the 
Fifth corps arrived on the morning of the i8th. On that morn- 
ing men were detailed to go out under a flag of truce to bring in 
our Avounded and bury the dead, but the rebels did not honor our 
flag of truce, but at every opportunity fired upon our men. To 
those who do not know how the dead are buried upon a battle- 
field, I will explain by saying that we would dig a trench about 
twenty feet in legth, seven feet wide and about six feet deep. In 
this we laid them, one on top of the other until the trench was 


nearly full, and then we would cover them over with the dirt. 
We buried as many as possible, and brought in all the wounded 
we could, but as the rebel sharpshooters continued to fire on our 
flag of truce it was impossible to bury all our dead or get all the 
wounded. Between the two armies there was hundreds of the 
slain that lay covered by the rifles of the opposing skirmishers, 
under the pretence and doubtless in part from a sincere desire 
to secure the burial of these and the recovery of the more desper- 
ately wounded, but in part to alleviate, if possible, all the suffer- 
ing they could. 

Unauthorized arrangements were, during the i8th, made at 
several points between the Union and the Confederate pickets, 
arrangements, which caused much embarrassment to the com- 
manding general. In regard to the necessary movements of 
troops, the Confederates complained of these as in violation of 
the flag of truce. At last it became necessary to send word 
through the lines that all such arrangements were unauthorized 
and must be regarded as abrogated. 

When it was found that the Confederate army had retired from 
the battlefield of Antietam and was making its way into Virginia 
General McClellan immediately put in pursuit the Fifth corps, 
following closely upon the advance of the cavalry, towards Har- 
per's Ferry. It was soon discovered that Lee's retreat had been 
well provided with protection at every available point and for 
every possible emergency. Confederate batteries crowned the 
heights west of the river in such a position as to command all 
the fords. An attempt was made to dislodge the enemy, but it 
was only partially successful. Lee gradually withdrew his army 
towards Winchester. The Second corps marched to Harper's 
Ferry and occupied Bolivar Heights on the west side of the river. 
Here we arrived October 5th and remained until the 30th of 
October. We were greatly in need of clothing ; our food also had 


been scarce and poor. Consolidation among the smaller com- 
panies was begun. Colonel Zook was put in charge of the Third 
brigade and General Sumner, asking leave of absence, was suc- 
ceeded by General Couch, who assumed temporary command of 
the Second corps. General Sumner seems to have been in poor 
health and in need of rest. He was away but a short time, hovv'- 
ever, and on his return took command, not of his own corps only, 
but of two corps, the Second and Ninth, and was called the 
Right Grand division. We remained so long at Bolivar Heights 
that it seemed that we were to remain all winter. Therefore 
some of the boys carted bricks from an old house in the neigh- 
borhood and began to lay a foundation for winter quarters, but 
in the midst of the most interesting part of this w^ork, on October 
1 6th, orders came for the Charlestown reconnoissance. 

General Hancock marched the division to Charlestown, drove 
off the rebels after a considerable artillery duel, and pushed on 
two miles beyond the town, the Fifty-seventh taking a position on 
the left of the road beyond a patch of woods, with a clear field 
before them. The gallows on which John Brown was hung w^ere 
still standing, and the boys on seeing the gallows, struck up the 
song of John Brown's body, giving particular emphasis to the 
line ''But his soul goes marching on." 

General Hancock's instructions were not to bring on a general 
engagement, but to find the enemy's position. This having been 
accomplished, orders were given to return to Harper's Ferry. 
Before leaving our position, a sergeant, without weapons of any 
kind, who had been strolling along the road beyond our lines, 
started back through the woods. He met a stranger, who evidenr- 
ly was a spy, dressed in citizen's clothes. It was an embarrassing- 
situation for both of them, as neither was in a position to capture 
the other. If the spy had captured the sergeant, he could not 
have taken him far, since he was within our cavalry outposts, and 


the sergeant could not take the spy, as he had nothing more 
dangerous about him than a jack knife. Under the circum- 
stances, they were both of one mind, and conckided to let each 
other pass with the time of day. 

When we got back to Harper's Ferry, we found President 
Lincoln at General Sumner's headquarters. He honored the 
Army of the Potomac with a visit and remained several days, 
during which time he went through the different encampments, 
reviewed the troops and went over the battlefields of South 
Mountain and Antietam. On the 30th of October, the Second 
corps, forming the head of the infantry column, consisting of the 
First, Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth and Ninth corps (the Twelfth 
corps being left to guard the line of the upper Potomac), cross- 
ed the Shenandoah, and passing around the base of Loudan 
Heights into the valley, moved nearly to Hill Grove and along 
the Blue Ridge Mountains. On our march we were ordered to 
search the neighboring houses. As the men entered one of these 
houses, they were accosted by the housewife with the question, 
"What do you want?" 

The officer answered : "We are looking for Johnnies, madam." 

**Well, there ain't none in this house, and you had better clear 
out quick." 

''It is our orders to search every house, madam, and we cannot 
leave until we have searched yours." 

''Search my house! I'd like to see Yankees do it." 

"You shall have that pleasure," was the reply, as some of the 
troops went down into the cellar and others examined the ground 

"Now we will go upstairs," said the officer in command. 

"Well, if you will, you must," said the woman, "but you won't 
find nobody up there but a poor old sick one." 

"Is it a sick man?" was asked. 


**No, it ain't. It's my husband's Aunt Betty," was the reply, 
who has been sick going on ten years." 

''Where is she?" 

"Upstairs, there." 

Up they went and there, as the woman said, they found a bed- 
ridden crone, but the form which the bed clothes outlined was 
more extended and ample than the shape of an old woman would 
warrant, and modestly turning down the coverlet, they disclosed 
an armed Confederate lying at length with his boots on. The 
boys named him at once ''the sleeping beauty," and gathered him 
in. From him it was learned that the rebels were crossing the 
mountains. It was then a race betw^een the Union and rebel 
troops to see who could reach Snicker's Gap first. The race 
seemed to be with us, as we arrived first, and when they arrived 
we drove them back and held it until the main army came up. 

November 3rd, on the following day, we reached Upperville. 
On the 6th we arrived at Rectortown; on the 8th we were at 
Warrenton. The weather was cold and gloomy. The boys had 
to sleep spoon fashion in order to keep warm, and even then did 
not succeed particularly well. It was on this march that "sheep 
mania," as it was called, attacked the army. Orders were issued 
strictly forbidding the stealing of sheep, but the lambs would 
follow the army in spite of protests. It is said that a whole flock 
of sheep disappeared in one night. A special affection for this 
article of diet had developed in the Irish brigade, and many 
stories are told of the innocence of these men who, being from 
the Green Isle, were especially green concerning the presence of 
sheep's clothing found in their camp. There was a good reason 
for this epidemic of sheep winning. The rations had been poor 
and at best the army rations (of the day I am writing) were ex- 
ceedingly monotonous, while fresh meat was scarce; hence it was 
the greatest of luxuries. 


One day General Hancock, having observed some soldiers of 
the Irish brigade, after falling out of the ranks upon some pre- 
tence, steal around a piece of woods, manifestly bound on plun- 
der, determined to make an example. Accordingly he left the 
column with his staff, and galloping rapidly around the woods 
from the opposite side, he came upon the group, gathered around 
an unfortunate victim, on which one of the number was just pro- 
ceeding to make an anatomical observation. The less guilty 
members of the party being less closely engaged, caught a 
glimpse of the coming doom in time to climb over a high stone 
wall and escape, but upon the principal offender, taken in flagrant 
dereliction of orders, Hancock pounced with drawn sword and 
eyes flashing fire. 

Down on his knees went the wretch, scared by the general's 
aspect. "Arrah, dear General, don't be the death of me. I didn't 
do it, indade, I didn't." 

''You infernal liar," shouted the general, ''what do you mean 
by telling me that? I saw you, you scoundrel. I'll teach you to 
disobey orders. I'll teach you to kill sheep." And with this, 
crushing out the last hope of poor Paddy, he flourished his sword 
as if about to begin execution, when in a most opportune moment, 
up jumped the innocent subject of the controversy, and giving 
vent to its feelings in a quavering "baa," ran off, while amid the 
shouts of his staff the general put up his sabre and rode off. 

It cannot be denied that the Fifty-seventh had some touches of 
this fever for foraging, as will be seen from the following true 

"Two comrades and I started out one evening after a halt with 
irresistible cravings in our stomachs and blood in our eyes. Tha 
cry was "Fe, fi, fo, fum, I smell the blood of fresh mutton ; dead 
or alive, I will have some." We travelled a long distance before 
we came to a house. Here we found no sheep, but were satisfied 


with a large goose. On the way back we stopped in a secluded 
spot and undressed the gentleman. Then reaching camp, which 
we found in midnight slumber, we put on the pot, cut up the 
goose, and poked up the fire. The boiling continued all night, 
yet the meat was not tender. At breakfast the comrades enjoyed 
goose broth with crackers and coffee. The meat was then put 
in the haversacks and carried to the evening camp. It is a long 
pathetic story, and must be shortened by saying that the goose 
was cooked three nights in succession w^ithout yielding an inch of 
ground and then the discovery was made, so the story goes, that 
on his left leg was discovered a brand which, when it had been 
deciphered, was found to spell Noah ; so it was understood that 
the goose was one of the birds that went into the ark with a man 
named Noah, who was supposed to have lived in the time of the 

The order from Washington releasing General McGellan 
from the command of the army of the Potomac reached us all 
Warrenton, and caused great sorrow. Aside from the necessities 
or merits of the case, the men loved General McClellan. He was 
their first commander, had just led them through a victorious 
battle, and now had their fullest confidence. In the grief and 
indignation with which at Warrenton the soldiers received the 
nevrs that the commander in whom they delighted was again 
taken away from them, in this the Second corps fully shared. 

The following orders from the War Department was read to 
us on dress parade, and is as follows : 

Adjutant-General's Office. 

WASHINGTON, November 5, 1862. 
By directions of the President of the United States it is ordered that 
Major-General McClellan be relieved from the command of the army of 


the Potomac, and that Major-General Burnside take the command of that 

By Order of 


E. D. Townsend, Asst. Adj.-General. 

At the same time as the above was read to us, General McC^ 1- 
lan's farewell address was read to the troops : 

Camp Near Rectortown, Va. 

November 7, 1862. 
Officers and Soldiers of the Army of the Potomac: 

An order of the President devolves upon Major-General Burnside the 
command of this army. In parting from you I cannot express the love 
and gratitude I bear to you. As an army you have grown up in my care. 
In you I have never found doubt or coldness. The battles you have 
fought under my command will proudly live in our nation's history. The 
glory you have achieved, our mutual perils and fatigues, the graves of 
our comrades fallen in battle and by disease, the broken forms of those 
whom wounds and sickness have disabled, the strange associations which 
can exist among men, unite us still by an indissoluble tie. We shall ever 
be comrades in supporting the Constitution of our country and the nation- 
ality of its people. 

Major-General United States Army. 

On the 1 0th of November, the three divisions were drawn up 
on the left side of the Centerville Pike in columns of regiments 
with intervals sufficient to give place for sections of a battery. On 
the right of the pike stood the Fifth corps in a similar formation. 
Between these two gallant corps, so long his comrades, slowly 
and sadly rode their beloved chief, taking a last farewell of the 
army who had been with him on many a hard fought battlefield. 
Every heart of the 30,000 men was filled with love and grief, 



every voice was raised in shouts expressing at once sorrow, devo- 
tion and indignation, and when the chief had passed out of sight 
the romance of war was over for the army of the Potomac. No 
other commander ever aroused the same enthusiasm in the troops. 
Whether in degree or in kind, the soldiers fairly idolized him 
and were never tired of looking at him. The sight of him would 
bring cheers spontaneously from every lip. His voice was music 
to every ear. Let military critics or political enemies say w*iat 
they will, he who could so move upon the hearts of a great army 
as the wind sways along rows of standing corn, was no ordinary 
man. Nor was he who took such heavy toll of Joseph E. John- 
ston and Robert E. Lee an ordinary soldier. How sweet to him, 
as he passed up the road in his banishment and unmerited dis- 
grace, w^ere the cheers of those 30,000 comrades, rising and swell- 
ing upon the air. Himself the very soul of manly gentleness, 
courtesy and kindness, the acclamations which drowned even the 
roar of the artillery, and which follow^ed him far out of siglit, it 
was a farewell which no heart could more fully appreciate or 
more fondly cherish. 

General Burnside was now the commander of this magnificent 
army. An army that would make a worthy command even for a 
Napoleon or a Wellington. Thus Burnside, at Warrenton, was 
deliberating where he should deliver his blow. Two courses lay 
open to him. The one was to move directly forward, crossing 
the Rappahannock (as Meade was to do a year later) to fight 
Lee at Brandy Station, or at Culpepper, should he be found there 
in force ; or failing in that to cross in turn the Rapidan and take 
the direct route to Richmond. 

The other course left open to him was to move to the left and 
seize Fredericksburg on the right bank of the lower Rappahan- 
nock before Lee could apprehend his design. It was the latter 
course which Burnside resolved to take. Its success required 


three good stiff (though not excessive) days' marches on the part 
of at least the leading corps. 

With prompt cooperation from Washington in the way of 
providing rations, beef, cattle, and above all pontoons at Acquia 
Creek, of these latter needs General Halleck at Washington ^\as 
duly notified. 



From Warrenton to Fredericksburg. — Incidents of the March. — The 
Battle of Fredericksburg with Incidents of the Same. — Lincoln's 
Address to the Army. — Anecdotes of the Twenty-fifth New Jersey. — 
The Mud March. — The Army Again Changes Commanders. — Hooker 
in Command. 

With the Second corps in advance, we left Warrenton on tiie 
15th, and marching steadily, but with all night rests, reached 
Falmouth (a small town on the left bank of the Rappahannock 
and nearly opposite Fredericksburg) on the 17th. The fc;w 
pickets of the enemy who were on the bank of the river, hastily 
retired as the head of the corps came up. Fredericksburg was at 
this moment occupied by a regiment of cavalry, four companies 
of infantry and a light battery. The guns of the latter were to be 
seen in position on the northern outskirts of the city, the drivers 
and cannoneers lying idly about in groups, apparently expecting 
our approach, but also expecting a fair notice. It pleased Gen- 
eral Couch, however, to order Captain Pettit to take his guns by 
a round about way through some deep ravings, well to the rear 
of Falmouth, and to climb from behind a steep hill of considerable 
height exactly opposite the Confederate battery. The result of 
this movement was soon developed. As soon as Pettit's guns 
were in position he at once opened fire, throwing solid shot and 
shell in among the enemy's guns and gunners before they had the 
faintest idea that the ball was about to open. Gallantly they 
sprang to their guns, but it was of no use. Pettit with his parrotts 


had the advantage in elevation. His guns were six to their four, 
and besides, he had cannoneers who could hardly be matched in 
any battery of the regular army. Within five minutes every man 
had been driven from their pieces and had taken refuge behind 
the adjacent houses and walls. 

There stood the four guns abandoned in plain view. It was a 
tempting sight. Both Couch and Sumner, who had watched the 
contest from among Pettit's guns, fairlv ached to throw across 
some infantry and secure the prize, but the pontoons had not yet 
been heard from. The Falmouth ford was unknown and General 
Sumner conceived that his instructions precluded him from cross- 
ing until bridges could be laid. 

Meanwhile some of the Confederate artillery men, more braver 
than the rest, dashed out from cover with a prolange, and attach- 
ing it to the nearest piece, dragged it behind the house. In vain 
did Pettit send one shot after another to save the gun, which he 
had regarded as his own personal property, but it was useless. 

The enemy, under General Longstreet, arriving on the opposite 
bank, took not a little interest in the change of Union command- 
ers, saluting our pickets along the river with such enquiries as 
these: "Where is little Mac; wasn't he black enough for you? 
Hope you'll find some one with long enough heels by and by." 

Time passed monotonously during the weeks following. The 
troops commenced, though without any system, the construction 
of winter quarters, and fortifications were constructed on our 
side of the river as if we anticipated an attack from the enemy. 

Of the position before us little was known beyond what could 
be seen, although General Burnside had occupied the city and 
the country beyond in August with the Ninth corps, coming up 
from North Carolina. He was without information to build his 
plan of operations upon ; and even regarding the field apparently 
within our view, even regarding the fatal plain so soon to be 


drenched with the best blood of the army. A strange lack of 
knowledge existed, a remarkable instance of which, out of the 
writer's personal experience, will shortly be related. 

On the night of December 9th, 1862, the army before Freder- 
icksburg slept peacefully under their canvas roofs, as they had 
done many nights before, and though there was some activity, 
yet no intimation had been given of the very near approach of 
the terrible struggle that was so soon to begin. 

The organization of the army was now divided into three 
grand divisions. General Sumner commanding the right grand 
division. General Hooker commanding the centre grand division, 
and General Franklin the left grand division. The army was now 
for the first time to be fought under another commander other 
than General McClellan. 

We were hardly asleep on the night of the loth of December 
before orders came to fall in and we marched to the Lacey house, 
and then down to the shore of the river, where the engineers 
were laying pontoon bridges. Here we wandered around, or sat 
in groups discussing the coming battle, while others lay down on 
the ground to sleep. 

Just before the light of day men could be seen running the 
streets of Fredericksburg. This seemed to be a regiment getting 
into position for an attack. Soon after, out from the opposite 
bank, flashed a long line of light, followed by the report of mus- 
ketry. Nearly every man on the bridge had fallen and many of 
those on the shore. Immediately the fire was returned by the 
Fifty-seventh New York and soon the artillery on the Heights 
above began to beat down the walls and buildings in which the ' 
enemy were concealed. 

At daylight a mist yet rested over the river and hindered efifec- 
tive shooting, though the fire of the enemy was silenced except 
as sharpshooters plied their trade from hiding places. From 


five to eight o'clock in the morning these men worked their wills 
with little danger to themselves, but with fearful havoc to us. 
We were entirely unsheltered and at each report wondered whose 
turn had come, but did not have long to wait before knowing. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Chapman stood upon his horse, and an order- 
ly said to him,''Colonel, please do not expose yourself unnecessar- 
ily." Just then a bullet struck the orderly on the right side, cut- 
ting his suspenders and touching the flesh, like as if it had been 
marked with a hot iron. He turned and said that was a provi- 
dential escape. "Yes," said the colonel, and the next moment he 
was struck, fatally it was thought at the time from the location 
of the wound, but in his breast pocket were a package of letters 
and a blank book and through these the ball passed before reach- 
ing the body, thus breaking its force sufficiently to save his life. 

Captain Bell was struck in the head with a piece of shell, Cap- 
tain Mott was severely w^ounded in the right arm, Lieutenant 
Brewster had his right arm fractured. Lieutenant White was 
severely wounded, two men w^ere killed and twenty-three were 
wounded. These losses were entirely independent of the battle 
of Fredericksburg itself, which occurred on the thirteenth, and in 
which the regiment again lost heavily in officers and men. Our 
position on the bank of the river was entirely unoroterted, and 
as we could not get near the enemy or they near us, it seemed a 
useless sacrifice of life, thus to expose men. We could have 
done some execution perhaps, if we had been stationed higher up, 
whence we could look down behind the stone walls that hid the 
sharpshooters of the enemy, as it was, a man did not have half a 
chance for his life. 

At eight o'clock my regiment was relieved by the Seventh 
Michigan, and we marched back to our camp. Then about 2 
p. M. we joined the brigade near the Phillips house and remained 
there over night. The nth of December was a day of bombard- 


ment such as soldiers rarely see. One hundred and forty pieces 
of artillery was posted along Stafford Heights and belched forth 
fire, thunder and shot, while every discharge or bursting shell had 
its quadruple echo among the dwellings of the city. It was great 
amusement to us to watch a solid shot tear through a building, 
beat down a wall, topple over a chimney or rout out a nest ot 

In the afternoon troops were sent over in boats to clear the 
city, that the engineers might finish the bridges, which were 
about two-thirds across the river. Why this was not done in the 
first place does not appear. Had it been done, the Fifty-sev- 
enth would no doubt have formed part of the crossing party. By 
night the city of Fredericksburg was in our possession and four 
pontoon bridges spanned the Rappahannock. The troops, on the 
morning of the I2th, began to cross, with Franklin on the lower 
bridge and Sumner opposite the city. It was about noon that 
the Third brigade passed over and took their position on the west 
bank of the river near Water street. Here we lay the rest of the 
day, watching the crossing of the rest of the army, and dodging 
pieces of bursting shells. That night gave the last natural sleep 
of life to many a brave soldier. 

On Saturday, December 13th, 1862, the fateful battle of Fred- 
ericksburg was fought and lost. It seems to have been General 
Burnside's plan to do the principal fighting on the left, where it 
was thought was the w^eakest point in the enemy's line, and when 
an advantage had been gained there to assault Mary's Heights 
in the rear of the city. General Franklin began his advance on 
the left at 9 a. m., and gained some ground bv noon He had 
taken a portion of the enemy's works and had captured 300 
prisoners. The fighting continued here until dark, but the whole 
attack of Franklin failed, seemingly because he made use of but 
part of his force. At noon the attack on Mary's Heights was 


begun by the division of General French, the old commander of 
the Third brigade. Hancock's division followed French's, the 
Third brigade taking the lead. We filed by the right flank along 
Water street, then by the left flank out one of the streets leading 
west to the open ground beyond the buildings. As we turned 
west the fun began. The rebel artillery had exact range of every 
cross street, and as our troops appeared they opened fire, raking 
the line from front to rear. A shell would strike in the midst of 
a body of men and in a moment the air would be filled with pieces 
of flesh, clothing and accoutrements. One shell struck a man in 
the back, cut him in two and sent his entrails flying in all direc- 
tions. When we came within rifle range the boys involuntarily 
pulled their hats down over their eyes and leaned forAvqrd as if 
breasting a storm. This hail came not from one line of rifle pits,, 
but from one above another, and from fifty pieces of artillery. 

Fifteen hundred yards of open plain had to be crossed with 
intervening ditches, broken bridges and rail fences. At one of 
these fences the Fifty-seventh halted for a moment and hesit- 
ated, as though asking whether it were possible to go farther. 
It was a momentarily hesitation only, and when some one cried 
"Forward !" the boys climbed over the fence and advanced to the 
knoll within thirty yards of the stone wall. This was the farthest 
point reached during the day. What was left of the regiment 
held this line and kept up the fire for more than three hours. 
When their ammunition gave out the boys used cartridges from 
the boxes of the dead and wounded comrades. 

On this knoll occurred many instances of heroism, marking 
an utter disregard of danger under the very nose of long: lines of 
rebel infantry. At times there were hardly enough blue coats 
to form a respectable picket line. Yet the line was held and be- 
came an objective point for the new battalions constantly coming 
into the fight. The remark of Captain Alcoke that only one man 


got closer to the stone wall than he and that man was dead, shows 
how bravely the regiment faced the danger, how persistently it 
pressed forward, and how manfully it did its duty. The part 
taken in this battle by the Fifty-seventh is graphically portrayed 
by General Walker, in his history, wdiich he describes in these 
words : 

''Hardly had French's last brigade risen above the sheltering 
ridge when Hancock's leading brigade takes its place and awaits 
the orders to charge. It is the brigade of Zook's. And no man of 
all the thousands, who from either side watched its advance when 
at last the word came, will ever forget that peerless example of 
valor and discipline. Over the crest they swept. Brooke, with 
his renowned Fifty-third Pennsylvania, Bailey with the Second 
Delaware, Paul Frank with the Fifty-second New York, the 
Fifty-seventh New York under Major Throop, the Sixty-sixth 
under Captain Wehle, and Bostwick with the Twenty-seventh 
Connecticut. Forward as steadily as when on parade in old camp 
California, this magnificent brigade moved to its hopeless task. 
Will they succeed ? Success in its true sense is impossible against 
tier upon tier of blazing musketry. Zook's men bent themselves 
as men who breast a furious gale. The brigade has struggled 
forward to the last of the fences ; the stone wall less than a hun- 
dred yards away; the killed and wounded fall like leaves in 
autumn, while hundreds of men, brave among the bravest, lie 
down beneath the storm of lead. 

''The attempt to take Mary's Heights in front, with all the 
conditions so overwhelmingly adverse, was a gigantic folly, and 
only a miracle as great as the folly could have made this battle 
any other than it was — the most disastrous and unnecessary dis- 
grace of the war." 

If the Fifty-seventh must sacrifice itself in such an ill-planned 
and ill-starred battle, surely it could ask no higher words of 


praise than those given above, especially as they are from the 
pen of one who, as a historian, knew the regiment only by its 

Three hours after we had made our charge upon the heights, 
there was only six men of the Fifty-seventh with the regimental 
colors left on the advanced line. The reasons why there was 
only six men was this. When it became apparent that we could 
not advance any nearer to the enemy without sacrificing every 
man in line, it became a question with the commander how to 
get the men away with as little loss as possible. To do so in a 
body would make it appear to the enemy like a retreat, and on 
the other hand if the regiment fell back in a body the chances 
was that one-half of the men would be killed while so doing. It 
was decided to order the men to fall back by twos and threes 
until all would have retreated, but that the colors and the color 
guards should remain until the last. This movement was made 
and the men fell back as ordered, by twos and threes, so the read- 
er will now understand why there was only the six men and the 
colors left on the line. The names of the six men were : Sergeant 
G. Fredericks, Corporal George Taylor. Private^; William 
Hughes, William H. Hardy, Andrew J. Wilson and Jacob H. 
Cole, and with them it became a problem how to get the colors off 
the field. It was planned that they should go in twos, the first 
couple to take the colors, and if they fell, then the next couple 
perhaps would be spared to carry them further, but if the second 
ones should also fall, then the third couple would be near at hand 
to carry them back to the regiment. Though the fire was yet 
fierce, it mercifully happened that the time of starting was oppor- 
tune and only one of the number. Corporal Taylor, was seriously 
wounded, and he was carried off by those w^ho followed. 

The rest formed in line, and as they marched down Water 
street cheer after cheer greeted us along the way, and the remarks 


made 'Is that all that's left of you," told too nearly the truth of 
the bloody sacrifice of the faithful Fifty-seventh on that fateful 
thirteenth day of December. 

The climax of cheers, however, was reached when the remains 
of the regiment, scarce forty men, who had gathered on the shore 
of the river beheld the dear old flag floating aloft, yet in the hands 
of its defenders. Cheers and tears wxre mingled together with 
an earnest thanksgiving for its deliverance from a calamity that 
no true soldier ever forgets. 

Night was a welcome visitor to the broken hosts that lay along 
the Rappahannock river on the evening of December 13th, 1862. 
The w^ounded who were able crawled ofif the field, and many who 
were not able were carried off on stretchers. We lay on the shore 
during the early evening, watching the Confederate shells, with 
burning fuse, sail through the air above like lighted balloons, 
until we saw the flash and heard the report that marked their 
explosion. Sometimes bursting directly over us the pieces would 
strike the ground uncomfortable near us, or splash into the river, 
or bury themselves in human flesh. All of the 14th and 15th of 
December we lay on our arms, expecting a new attack, and when 
on the latter night, about ten o'clock, we were ordered to front, 
supposed it was for a night surprise, but found it Avas to cover 
the return of the army across the river. Here we stumbled in 
the darkness over muskets and haversacks, striking now and 
again a tin cup, whose hollow sound would bring a chance shot 
from the enemy. Finally we lay down among the dead and re- 
mained until about two o'clock, when we were awakened and 
ordered to the rear. Then came the shocking experience of try- 
ing to wake up the man close to whom we had been sleeping only 
to find that he was a dead one. Silently we stole away to the 
city and river, crossed the bridge, and soon after daylight, on the 


1 6th, entered again the camp that we had left on the night of 
the loth. 

After a night of soHd rest came the usual muster and account- 
ing for absentees. In addition to those mentioned as having been 
wounded on the eleventh was : Lieutenant Paul M. Pon was 
killed; Major Throop, who led the regiment into action, was 
mortally wounded and died the following 12th day of January; 
Captain Alcoke lost his left arm. Our total loss on both the nth 
and 13th, as corrected by the later returns, was: One officer and 
seven killed, eight officers and seventy men wounded, and one 
man missing; making a total of eighty-seven. 

Under a flag of truce Colonel Brooks, with a detail of men 
crossed the river on the morning of the 17th for the purpose of 
burying the dead. He found and buried 913 dead soldiers and 
brought across the river the bodies of five officers. Nearly all 
these had been stripped by the enemy of clothes and valuables and 
left entirely naked. The bodies that were found nearest the rebel 
works belonged to the divisions of French and Hancock. A 
search was made for the body of Lieutenant Pon, but without 

The regiment on dress parade listened to the following fatherly 
words from President Lincoln : 

WASHINGTON, D. C, December 22, 1862. 

To the Army of the Potomac: 

I have just read your commanding general's report of the battle of 
Fredericksburg. Although you were not successful, the attempt was not 
an error nor the failure other than accident. The courage with which 
you, in an open field, maintained a contest against an entrenched foe, 
and the consummate skill and success with which you crossed and re- 
crossed the river in the face of the enemy, show that you possess all 
the qualities of a great army, which will yet give victory to the cause of 


PJ-joto taken 1862. 


the country and of popular government. Condoling with the mourners 
for the dead and sympathizing with the severely wounded, i congratu- 
late you that the number of both is comparatively so small. I tender to 
you, officers and soldiers, the thanks of the nation. 


At the time my regiment was at Harper's Ferry, I received 
a letter from my aunt in Paterson, and among other news that it 
contained was the information that her son, Louis Messenger, a 
cousin of mine, had enhsted in the Twenty-fifth New Jersey, and 
that three of the companies in that regiment were from Paterson. 
So many events happened after I received my aunt's letter that I 
had partially forgotten all about my cousin having enlisted, but 
on the morning of December nth, 1862, we then lying in front 
of Fredericksburg, I had the fact recalled to my mind in this 
wise: On that morning after we had been relieved from duty (we 
having been guarding the engineers who were laying the pontoon 
bridges) as we arrived on the bank of the river, some of our 
boys cried out, "There goes the Twenty-fifth New Jersey," and 
then I remembered what my aunt had written in her letter. As 
soon as I was able to do so, I went to General Zook and asked 
him for a pass that I might go and find the Twenty-fifth New 
Jersey, which had just passed us, stating that my cousin was a 
member of said regiment and I would like to see him. The gen- 
eral gave me a pass and I found the regiment lying in the valley 
to our left. 

The first man I met was Colonel Derrom. The question he 
asked me was ''What regiment do you belong to?" I told him 
that I belonged to the Fifty-seventh New York, and stated that I 
had been in the fight that morning protecting the engineers, while 
they were laying the pontoon bridges, so that the army could 
cross. At the same time I showed him my rifle, which I had not 
had time to clean. The colonel at the time had on a pair of white 


kid gloves, and as he grasped hold of my rifle, the powder left its 
mark. He smiled and I laughed. He said he was satisfied that 
I had been in the fight that morning. He also remarked that 
there was terrible fighting going on now and that he would like 
to be in it. I replied, "That, Colonel, is only heavy cannonading 
between the two armies, and I think that tomorrow you will get 
all the fighting you want. I asked him for permission to see 
some of his men, as I had heard that three of the companies were 
from Paterson. He gave me permission, at the same time stating 
that he was also from Paterson. I then walked over to a lot of 
men and found a great many whom I knew. Among them were : 
William H. Hand, Robert Stalter, Jerry Stalter, Abe Shay and 
Gin Snyder of Long Pond Forge, Louis Messenger, John Struck, 
J. R. Spittle, James Stone, Louis A. Piaget, Amiza P. Dodd, 
George Kindall, George Vanderbilt, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Joseph 
Mosley, James Riley, A\'illiam Reed, Andrew Doremus, Albert 
Doremus, George Burton, David C. Bogert, John H. Riker, 
George Vanatta, Philip Alentnech, John McKiernan, J. T. Hil- 
ton, P. H. Van Riper, James J. Inglis, John Reid, A. J. Rogers, 
S. G. McKiernan, Cornelius Bogert, Henry Kimble, George 
Preston, David Ackerman, Henry Proll, George M Torbet, and 
many others whose names I cannot at the present moment recall. 
When I first met the boys I found them eating crackers and 
molasses. I said, ''Boys, you will pay for what you are eating." 
They all laughed and made fun over what I told them, and one 
made the remark that he had always eaten molasses and it never 
had ever hurt him yet, and he did not think it would hurt him 
now. I said ''All right, boys, but wait until tomorrow." And it 
was just as I told them. The next day every man of them had, 
at various times through the day, very urgent business in the 
rear, and if the enemy had been after them, they could not have 
moved any quicker. My time being up, I was obliged to hurry 
back to my regiment. 


On the 1 2th of December, the army of the Potomac crossed the 
river. We crossed early in the morning and lay in Water street 
near the river. The Twenty-fifth crossed with the Ninth corps 
and lay in the street above us. The boys from the Twenty-fifth. 
New Jersey came down to cook their coffee with us, and while 
they were cooking their coffee the Confederate artillery com- 
menced to drop shell upon us, which caused the boys of the 
Twenty-fifth to hurry back to their command. One hour later 
I went up to see the boys of the Twenty-fifth where they lay in 
the street. Jerry Stalter told me that they had found a keg of 
whiskey in a cellar and wanted me to have a drink. I told him 
that I was temperate, but if they would give me a canteen full I 
would take it down to the boys when I returned. Before I re- 
turned to my regijiient I found Colonel Derrom and the officers 
of the regiment had established their headquarters in a house, 
and while I was talking to the colonel a shell struck the roof of 
the house and exploded, which caused a scattering of the officers, 
and I hurried back to my regiment. Shortly after I returned 
we were ordered to advance in the line of battle. We were in 
the battle all that afternoon, and I did not see the boys of the 
Twenty-fifth until the battle was over, and then I visited the 
Twenty-fifth again and found that a lot of the boys had been 
wounded and some of them killed. 

I again had an interview with Colonel Derrom, and asked him 
if he had had all the fighting he wanted, to which he replied that 
he had. The friendship thus formed between Colonel Derrom 
and myself at Fredericksburg lasted as long as he lived. The 
Twenty-fifth New Jersey was a good regiment and Fredericks- 
burg being their first fight they did nobly. 

It seems strange, though perhaps it is natural, that when 
events of a very trying nature and of serious moment are occur- 
ring if anything ridiculous happens it is likely to bear the same 


extreme, and be as supremely ridiculous. No doubt human 
nature has provided these vents of mirthfulness to relieve the 
excessive pressure of serious action, just as volcanoes give outlet 
to the burning masses at the centre of the earth. So in a battle 
little things take on the grotesque and many a funny incident is 
told after the battle, which but for the intensity of the hour 
would hardly have been noticed. 

Amid the death hail of Hazel Dell a soldier trips and creates 
a laugh. As a ball removes another's hat the boys remark about 
his politeness. The utter abandon of the situation even makes 
fun out of the most serious casualties. 

On the morning of the nth, while supporting the bridge lay- 
ers, some one was shot and immediately began to yell as though 
he was being murdered. Above the roar of the firing his voice 
could be heard, crying, "I'm shot, I'm shot, take me off, take me 
off; I shall die, oh, I shall die." Sympathetic comrades rushed to 
his assistance, lifted him up and asked where he was hit. 'Mn 
the arm," he shouted, "take me off, take me off ; I shall die." 

It would hardly be possible for the skilled artist to reproduce 
the look of disgust that came over the faces of these would-be 
helpers. It certainly would not be in place to reproduce their 
language here, yet leaving out the expletives, and softening the 
expressions, it might be summarized somewhat as follows : "You 
crazy fool, if you are only shot in the arm get up and walk. Any- 
body would think that your head was shot off." 

At a dock where the regiment lay while in Fredericksburg, 
cases of tobacco had been sunk by the inhabitants to save them 
from falling into our hands. Their presence, however, was 
somehow discovered, many cases fished up, and the tobacco users 
got five or six plugs of good navy tobacco. 

While moving out of the city to charge the heights, after the 
railroad had been crossed and the lime kiln passed, a shell struck 


Albert Taylor, of Company I, and scattered his body so that a 
piece of his skull struck Corporal Lawrence Floyd and knocked 
him senseless for several minutes. 

While on the knoll near the stone wall, a little fellow was seen 
crawling along on his hands and knees and dragging behind him, 
by a thread of flesh, his broken leg. He seemed unconcerned 
until spoken to, then, yielding somewhat to the pain, asked the 
way off the field. ''Cheer up, my brave boy," said the stranger 
comrade, ''follow along that fence and you w^ll get off all right." 
On the boy crawled, leaving a trail of blood behind him, but 
whether his strength gave out or a new shot took his life is not 
known. Such instances are a necessary part of war and are too 
frequent to stir the emotions, yet their impress on one's memory 
never fades away. 

The Fifty-seventh New York and the Fifty-third Pennsyl- 
vania were assigned to provost duty at Falmouth, under the 
command of Colonel Zook. We were quartered in an empty 
house and barn. Companies B and C, for example, occupied the 
hay loft of a barn in which bunks were improvised and coverec^ 
with straw. An old stove was secured and set up, and the boys 
began light housekeeping. On Christmas day one of them made 
apple dumplings, using crushed crackers for flour, pork grease 
for lard and dried apples for stuffing. They were pronounced 
both elegant and excellent. The ingress to these palatial quarters 
was by the same route that Jack took to get to the top of the bean 

There was considerable picket duty to do along the river, the 
usual drills and parades and plenty of fatigue work. A baker 
kept a store near our quarters, selling what we called "India 
rubber pies," made of flour, water and dried apples. These he 
sold for twenty-five and thirty-five cents each. It happened that 
an army sutler had smuggled some liquor into camp, and some 


of the boys, having stolen it, carried it into the baker's shop for 
concealment, and there, with the baker, they got happy and care- 
less. The baker became so good natured that he told us to help 
ourselves to anything we wanted. We did not want much, but 
did succeed in carrying off a barrel of flour, nearly as much sugar 
and more of dried apples, but not to be too hard on this benevo- 
lent lover of his country's protectors, we left him the barrels and 
some other things we could not use. 

About this time boxes of good things began coming to camp 
from friends at home, but owing to the delay in reaching us, 
most of their contents was stale and could not be eaten, while 
that of others were in good condition. One box sent by Wash- 
ington friends contained a ten pound turkey, stuffed with oysters 
and packed in sweets. Everybody on the floor got a taste from 
this box. 

While the Fifty-seventh was yet at Falmouth, some officers 
were seen to go regularly into a certain store, so it was surmised 
that there must be something in the store worth going for, al- 
though what they bought and carried out was not visible to the 
naked eye. Some of the men became over curious to know what 
it was and determined to investigate. The most singular part 
of it was that two diff'erent parties, one from the Fifty-seventh 
New York and the other from the Fifty-third Pennsylvania had 
decided to investigate (unbeknown to each other) on the same 
night. One entered by the front door and the other by the back 
door without meeting or disturbing each other. The Fifty-third 
boys carried away a stove and the Fifty-seventh a bag of potatoes. 
In the morning the burglary was discovered and the quarters of 
the two regiments were searched. The stove was found, but no 
potatoes were in sight. The saddest of all is that the Fifty-third 
boys got the credit for both thefts, had to give up the stove, and 
do extra duty, but had not even a taste of the potatoes. 


This provost duty ceased about the last of January, when we 
moved to a position some two miles distant from the town, and 
put up log huts for winter quarters. One of these huts is de- 
scribed as eight logs high, covered with canvas, having a fire 
place and chimney at one end. A bedstead was made as follows : 
Four crotched sticks were driven into the ground for posts; on 
these lengthwise were laid two stringers and crossing them were 
smaller sticks, which formed the spring part of the bed ; on top of 
these several inches thick was laid pine boughs, which took the 
place of feathers, and the whole was covered with the army 
blanket. No Dives ever slept sounder or more comfortable on 
his bed of down than these soldiers slept here. 

About this time General Burnside reviewed the army, but 
there was a great contrast between this review and the last one 
of McClellan. As the latter was accompanied with incessant 
cheering, while in this not one cheer was raised. 

The mud campaign began on 20th of January, but the Second 
corps did not leave its camp. This was Burnside's attempt to 
cross the Rappahannock at the upper fords, and attack Lee on 
his left flank. It failed on account of the condition of the roads, 
but it would have been a greater failure had a battle been fought, 
because of the lack of sympathy with the movement, as it was 
undertaken against the judgment of most of the generals. 

Stonewall Jackson once said, "I can whip any army that is 
followed by a flock of cattle," meaning that hungry soldiers will 
fight desperately for food, and judging from the way that the 
rebels foraged and stripped our dead after a battle, Stonewall 
Jackson was right. 

General Orders No. 8, issued January 23rd, by General Burn- 
side, dismissed General Hooker from the service on account of 
insubordination, subject to the approval of the President. But 
the President did not approve. By the same order General 


Franklin was relieved of his command in the army of the Poto- 
mac. Two days after the following- order came from the War 
Department : 


WASHINGTON, D. C, January 25. 1863. 

The President of the United States has directed that Major-General 
Burnside, at his own request, be relieved from the command of the army 
of the Potomac. That Major-General Sumner, at his own request, be 
relieved from duty in the army of the Potomac. That Major-General 
Franklin be relieved from duty in the army of the Potomac. That Major- 
General Hooker be assigned to the command of the army of the Potomac. 

By Order of 


Townsend, Ass't, Adj.-General. 

It was everywhere known that General Hooker was insub- 
ordinate not so much that he would not obey orders, as that he 
talked openly against his superior officer. It was also believed 
that General Franklin was hike warm in his attack at Fredericks- 
burg, and this feeling caused his removal. General Sumner was 
not well, as events proved, as he died two months later, much to 
the regret of the men whom he had commanded while in the 
army of the Potomac. 

General Couch now became the commander of the Second 
corps. He came to us from the First division of the Sixth corps, 
and of him it was said by several writers that our great war had 
brought out a great wealth of manly valor, but in all the Amer- 
ican armies on either side rode no man across the bloody spaces 
of the battlefield more calm and resolute than did General Couch. 
Danger never depressed or dulled his faculties. We only knew 
the man ; it was only necessary to hear his voice or to look into 


his eyes during- a crisis of some terrible fi^lit to at once liave our 
confidence restored. General Couch is U) l^e our commander now 
until General Hancock succeeds him in June, 1863. He has 
already been at the head of the corps since Octo?jer last, though 
only temporarily assigned to it. He has led us since Antietam, 
but now assumes the permanent command. 

The retirement of General ]^>urnsifle was not regretted. The 
men had no confidence in his ability to learl them to victory. They 
had much more confidence in ''l^'ghting Joe Hooker," who now 
became commander of the army of the i'otomac, for they had 
fought by his side and knew that he was able and brave. Whether 
he could command so large an army remained to be seen. CJne 
thing we found out, and that was that he was a thorough discip- 
linarian. Everything had to be done just so and always 

The .slaughter of Fredericksburg was followed by the fiasco 
of the mud march, and then General l>urnside, having offered 
the President the alternative of accepting his resignation or at 
once removing a number of his corps commanders, was promptly 
relieved of his command and General Hooker, or ''Fighting Joe 
Hooker," as he was called, was put in his i)lace at the head of the 
army. General Hooker at once proceeded to straighten out the 
tangle in which Burnside had left the army, spent the wet months 
in reorganizing it, and in April had it in good condition to move 
on to another day of glory or another day of defeat. 




Private Letter from A. Lincoln to Major-General Hooker. — Incidents of 
Camp Life at Falmouth. — March to Chancellorville and General 
Hooker's Address. — Battle of Chancellorville. — Death of the Rebel 
General Stonewall Jackson. — The Retreat from Chancellorville. — 
Back to the Old Camp at Falmouth. 

When General Hooker assumed command of the army of the 
Potomac, President Lincoln sent him the following letter, which 
was of a private nature and was dated at Washington, D. C. : 

WASHINGTON, D. C, January 26, 1863. 

Major-General Hooker. 

GENERAL: — I have placed you at the head of the army of the Poto- 
mac. Of course, I have done this upon what appears to me to he suflBcient 
reasons, and yet I think it best for you to know that there are some 
things in regard to which I am not quite satisfied with you. I believe 
you to be a brave and skilful soldier, which, of course, I like. I also 
believe you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are 
right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable, if not an 
indispensable quality. You are ambitious, which within reasonable 
bounds, does good rather than harm; but I think that during General 
Burnside's command of the army you have taken counsel of your ambi- 
tion and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great 
wrong to the country and to a most meritorious and honorable brother 
ofRcer. I have heard in such a way as to believe it, of your recently say- 
ing that both the army and the government needed a dictator. Of course 
it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. 
Only those generals who gain success can set up dictators. What I now 
ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The 


government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is neither 
more nor less than it has done or will do for all commanders. I mucH 
fear that the spirit you have aided to infuse into the army, of criticizing 
their commander and withholding confidence from him, will now turn upon 
you. I shall assist you as far as I can to put it down. Neither you nor 
Napoleon (if he were alive again) could get any good out of an army 
while such a spirit prevails in it, and now beware of rashness, but with 
energy and sleepless vigilance, go forward and give us victories. 

Yours Very Truly, 


To General Hooker belongs the honor of having introduced 
the plan of designating the several army corps with distinctive 
badges. The germ of the idea was the happy thought of the gal- 
lant Phil Kearney, who at Fair Oaks ordered the soldiers of his 
division to sew a piece of red flannel on their caps so that he 
could recognize them in the tumult of battle. Hooker developed 
this idea into a system which proved most useful during the war. 
The honored badge of the Second corps was the trefoil, or clover 
leaf, and it was about the prettiest badge of them all, and the 
red was the prettiest of the trefoil. We became quite vain of this 
badge before we were through with it. 

The pickets along the river had become, by this time, quite 
familiar and used to keep up conversations and joke about mat- 
ters very freely. It was a long while before the rebels got over 
twitting us about our little Napoleon (referring to General 
McClellan) and about our stick in the mud campaign. Little 
boats with sails and rudders were made, and in these were put 
newspapers, tobacco, coffee and other exchangeable articles and 
passed back and forth. 

The weather during the winter of 1862 and 1863 was very 
severe on the army that lay in front of Fredericksburg and none 
suffered more than those whose duty it was to stand on picket 
guard along the river front. My regiment was frequently called 


Upon to do picket duty along the river; about every other week 
we were called upon for this duty, and when it rained or snowed 
we would have our clothes frozen on us, as we were not allowed 
to have any fire on the line. Many nights during the severest 
weather I would take my musket and turning it upside down, 
stick the bayonet in the ground, and then slapping my hands 
would run up and down my beat to keep warm. At such times 
as these it is that a man's thoughts will go back to the loved ones 
.at home and to scenes of his boyhood days, and it was so with 
me. Many nights, when solitary and alone on the picket line, I 
have imagined I could see the folks at home. At other times 
I would let my mind wander back to my boyhood days, among 
the mountains around Greenwood Lake, or as it was then known 
as the long pond, or of the days spent at Sloatsburg. 

While we lay at Fredericksburg, the regiment received a large 
number of recruits. They were divided among the different com- 
panies, and to teach them their duties they were placed under 
the care of the older members of their company. It was the 
same on picket duty. One of the new men was placed on picket 
with me. His beat joined mine, and during the early part of the 
night, I endeavored to instruct him in his duties — among others, 
how he should act when the grand rounds would come around 
about midnight. I done this several times until he assured me 
he understood it perfectly. It was but a short time after my 
last caution to him and while I was at the other end of my beat, 
I was startled to hear him challenge some one with the words 
''Halt! who goes there?" The answer was "The Grand Rounds." 
Instead of saying ''Halt, Grand Rounds! Advance sergeant, 
and give the countersign," the recruit said "Oh, h — , I thought it 
was the relief." Fortunately for the recruit it happened that the 
Grand Rounds that night was the colonel of our regiment, and 
when he came to me, said: "Jake, what kind of a man is that 


\ .. 

••f 'n-# 

.% Ah, ,«£ 


sentry ?" I said he is one of the new recruits. The colonel said 
"I thought so. If it had been an officer of another regiment he 
would have been court martialed." 

At the beginning of April, signs of a new campaign became 
visible. Supplies of every kind poured into the lines of the army. 
The hospitals were rapidly discharging their patients, and the 
ranks of the various regiments were filled up amazingly. Then 
the grand review, the usual prelude to a general movement, took 

It was a clear warm morning when our brigade started for 
rendezvous of the army on the plains of Falmouth, opposite 
Fredericksburg. On our arrival we found the entire command 
on the ground preparing for the review. The plateau selected 
sloped gradually to the river with here and there a few slight dips 
in the ground. On the right the cavalry were in front, ranged 
in solid masses by regiments and brigades, and as our regiment 
took up its allotted position, I saw that the infantry to the right 
and left were rapidly forming in like order. There were four 
lines, two corps in each, the regiments standing like blocks, with 
their colors in front, while the batteries of artillery were placed 
in the spaces between the divisions. Our brigade happened to be 
stationed on the highest point to the left. I could see the whole 
army as it stood marshaled in grand array on a plain fully two 
miles square. The sun was shining bright and warm. As or- 
ders came for the men to rest, the slight breeze being just suffic- 
ient to stir the heavy silken folds of the regimental colors as they 
waved in their tattered elegance. It was a scene for the genius 
of a Vernet, with all its martial glory and wealth of color. The 
bright rays of the sun flashing on a hundred thousand bayonets 
and sabers as they were moved at the word of command, the 
picturesque field batteries, the dashing cavalry, and the long dark 
lines of infantry, the parti-colored banners of the corps, divisions 


and brigade commanders bearing their strange devices of star, 
crescent and cross, were the saUent points in this living, animated 
picture. It was war in- all its pomp and circumstances, and as I 
watched the sunlight play in dalliance on the burnished steel of 
gun, barrel and bayonet, or followed with curious eye the pass- 
age of the clouds, throwing their soft shadows over the as- 
sembled host as the breeze carried them swiftly over our heads, 
I began to feel all that warm delight and enthusiasm that comes 
so naturally to a soldier at a time of a holiday or parade. Here 
was a mighty army ready for combat and campaign, marshaled 
in all its massive strength and power. 

As my eye w^andered over the striking scene, my cheek glowed 
at the brilliancy of the scene and the magic of the hour, though 
I knew this grand review to be but the prelude to a long summer 
of fatigue, danger and privations. We had arrived about the 
hour of noon, as so well timed wxre all the arrangements that 
there was no confusion, no hesitation. Regiments, brigades and 
divisions formed with a precision due to long practice and perfect 
discipline, so that the several corps fell into line with marvelous 
rapidity. As we thus prepared for the final ceremony, I could 
see on the heights beyond Fredericksburg, which a few weeks 
before we had vainly tried to win, long brown lines. It was the 
Confederate army of Northern Virginia, gazing at its opponent 
in the field. There, no doubt, were the eyes of Lee, of Long- 
street and of Jackson all fixed upon us. 

Seldom has an army moved in review before such spectators. 
There was no battle threatened, though the two armies were face 
to face. We were enjoying the brighter side of military life. 
The darker aspect was to follow in the near future, in a death 
struggle. Both armies were equally brave, and w^hile the one 
paraded to receive the President, the other watched with curious 
eyes the splendors of the pageant unfolded before it. 



As I leaned upon my gun, waiting for the signal that was to 
tell us that the review had commenced, my thoughts wandered 
back to the happy days in Paterson, and I saw^ again the old 
home, the faces of friends. Thus meditating on the past and 
the change that had taken place since I saw them last, I was 
rudely awakened from my day dreams and recalled to the present 
moment by the report of a field piece. It was the signal on the 
extreme left of the front line. I had noticed a tall flag staff from 
which fluttered a huge ensign. As the sound of the gun died 
aw^ay the flag fell and rose again. Then we saw the flash and 
smoke of another cannon, and as its booming came to our ears 
a third was fired. An aide now went galloping along the front 
of the cavalry. Next the bugles sounded the ''boots and saddle'' 
call, and I saw the 11,000 horsemen mount their steeds. Scarcely 
had the lines grow^n steady when a battery, stationed near the 
river, began firing the ''National Salute." On the instant we 
heard a hoarse command and a broad flash of light swept along 
the cavalry corps as the men drew their swords from their scab- 
bards, amid the smoke of the saluting battery. 

I saw a tall figure on horseback ride toward the centre of the 
line. It was the President, and at his side rode an officer, we 
knew to be General Hooker, while behind them galloped his bril- 
liant staff. As the President rode forward, color after color fell 
in obedience, and now and then a solitary sword dropped as the 
generals tendered their salutes. On from our right, then the 
infantry bugles began their clamor, and our lines became rigid. 
When the President came riding back, there was more flashes of 
light, as the brigades presented arms and the colors w^aved 
tumultuously in the increasing breeze. Up one line and down 
the other galloped the Chief of the People, and I could distin- 
guish Mr. Lincoln's face as he drew nearer and nearer our line. 


To the shrill note of the bugle and the measured roll of the drum, 
our corps now stood ready to give the salute. 

''Present arms!'' cries our colonel, hoarsely. And as the men's 
muskets pass from their shoulders to the front, I lowered my 
musket for a moment to see a tall form, crowned with a high 
black hat, and with him an erect soldierly figure. They gallop 
past side by side, and now the staff go thundering by. ''Shoul- 
der arms!" is the order, and then the men remain like so many 
statues, until I hear the clatter of hoofs behind us. As these 
sounds die away, the order to rest is again given and we watch 
the closing scenes. By and by the cavalry get into motion, wheel 
swiftly into column and begin counter marching to the left. Next 
the lines of infantry break into column, and an hour after our 
own turn comes and w^e are in motion. As we reached the route 
of marching in review I could see over the heads of the men a 
long line of troops extending over two miles in the distance, mov- 
ing toward the reviewing stand. 

At length we came to a signal flag. We are now approach- 
ing the President as he waits to see the army march by in solid 
column. "Right Shoulder Arms!" cries our colonel over his 
shoulder, and a minute after the regiment pushes forward with 
steady, swinging step, following our colonel's example, and I 
once more catch a glimpse of the President's face as he raises his 
hat in honor of our tattered and faded colors. Then came the 
order to quicken our steps, and as we dash on at a headlong pace 
we know that the review is at an end for us. Never again would 
all these men meet in a review again in this world. 

Many of the wounded of Fredericksburg were sufficiently re- 
covered to be again in their places, and are ready for another 
battle and other wounds. It seems strange, nevertheless it is 
true, that some men could not get near a battle without getting 
wounded, while others would be in the thickest of every fight and 


not get as much as a scratch. The boys used to say often on the 
eve of an engagement, "I am going to get a comfortable wound 
through the calf of my leg, just enough to give me a vacation for 
a month or two." Poor fellows, many of them got a long vaca- 
tion from the warfare of life, while others, after the most intens- 
est sufferings, lived to be life-long cripples. Another expression 
frequently heard was that "the bullet is not made yet to hit me" ; 
others again would seem to have a premonition of death, as in 
the case of Colonel Chapman. 

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On the 14th day of April, 1863, orders was received for us to 
march the next day at noon (this was the commencement of the 
Chancellorville campaign). There was issued to each man eight 
days' rations and 160 rounds of ball cartridges. Each man was 
to carry one shirt, one pair of socks. All our other clothing, 
except what we had on was to be packed and delivered to the 
quartermaster. No officers' baggage was allowed. It began to 
rain the same afternoon that the orders were received and con- 


tinued raining through the next day, so no start was made and 
we continued to lay in camp for twelve days after we received 
the orders, expecting each day to receive the orders to move. 
Not until the 26th of April was the Second corps called into line. 

General Doubleday had left several days before, taking the 
road south, and was now across the Rappahannock some miles 
below the city, in a movement which was a feint to deceive the 
enemy and draw him in that direction. On the 26th three corps, 
the Eleventh, Twelfth and Fifth, started up the river to cross at 
Germania, Ely and Kelly fords, for a descent upon Lee's left 
flank. The Second corps bivouaced the first night near Banks 
ford and the second night near the United States ford. It rained 
again, as usual, as it was the rainy season of the year, and the 
ground was soon one mass of mud. The 28th of April was 
spent in cutting a road and laying corduroy that the artillery 
might pass. The engineers completed the work of laying the 
pontoon bridges, and the same night the Second corps crossed 
the river. 

The Fifty-seventh began the 29th day of April by leveling the 
rebel breastworks on the west side of the ford. On the 30th of 
April Ave began our march westward through the woods and 
continued to march until nearly midnight. The first day of May 
opened very pleasantly, being warm, which was quite a contrast 
to the weather during the night, which had been cold and dis- 
agreeable. The regiment again began its march and moved 
about a mile or more beyond Chancellorville and then returned 
to the open space before the Chancellor house, and took position 
in the woods to the left for the night. It was here that we heara 
what General Hooker had said to his officers on the eve of the 
battle: ''The enemy must either ingloriously fly, or come out 
from his defences and give us battle on our own ground, where 
certain destruction awaits him." He is also said to have declared 


in conversation : "The rebel army is now the legitimate property 
of the army of the Potomac. They may as well pack up their 
haversacks and make for Richmond." 

Had success followed his movement these boasts would have 
passed into history as the wisdom of a great general, and there 
is no doubt that at the time they were uttered, General Hooker 
had every reason to consider himself able to make them good. 
But, as we shall learn later, he lost the battle of Chancellorville 
through two mistakes he made at the very commencement — first, 
by over-confidence; and second, by the position he chose for his 
line of battle. In fact, it is now generally conceded that General 
Hooker's loss of the battle of Chancellorville was due very 
largely to this falling back from the open and higher grounds 
beyond the woods to the low wooded and cramped position 
where artillery could not be used to advantage and the free 
movement of a large force was quite impossible. 

Had General Hooker pushed persistently out towards Fred- 
ericksburg, as he had begun, he could have secured a command- 
ing position for his cannon and comparatively good ground for 
fighting a large army effectively against one inferior in num- 
bers. Then he would have uncovered Banks Ford and con- 
nected easily with Sedgewick, who was before the city. 

Generals Warren, Couch and others protested bitterly against 
falling back, but Hooker assured them it was all right and re- 
peated the order. The evening and night of May ist were not 
restful, as there was heavy artillery firing in our vicinity and 
much activity among the skirmishers. Waking on the 2nd, the 
Fifty-seventh found itself on the left centre of our line and near 
its apex. It was part of the time in the woods, and part in the 
open or cleared ground. At the time of which I am writing the 
most of the ground from the several fords across the Rappahan- 
nock river consisted of dense woods, which extended for miles 


to the south of the Chancellor house, so that where the army was 
encamped it would be impossible to see the enemy five hundred 
yards away. 

On the morning of Saturday, May 2nd, 1863, the battle of 
Chancellorville began as soon as day daw^ned. The position oc- 
cupied by the Fifty-seventh New York was at a point where the 
line formed a sharp convex. The battle raged on three sides 
with intensest fury. The rebel shells crossed each other over our 
heads, coming from opposite directions, and raked our line from 
either side, so that one hardly knew on which side of a tree to 
get as he was as safe on one side as the other. There was a 
terrible fire of musketry in front, and on the right flank great 
confusion. After about three or four hours of fierce firing, all 
at once it became as still as though there was not a soul any- 
where around. This continued until about six or seven o'clock 
in the evening. During this interval of silence and repose 
various rumors became rife among the men that Lee w^as on the 
retreat south, and others that he was trying to get back to his 
entrenchments at Fredericksburg, but how little did we know 
the events that were taking place on the extreme right of our 
army and that before midnight our army would be in danger of 
either being destroyed or taken prisoners. 

Early in the morning Stonewall Jackson, with his magnificent 
corps of tried veterans, consisting of about 30,000 men, had 
moved across our front, and marching around to the extreme 
right flank of the army had, about six o'clock in the evening, at- 
tacked the right flank, which was held by the Eleventh corps, 
and broken it all to pieces. Of this, at the time, we knew nothing, 
as it was supposed that Lee was retreating south and every 
moment we expected to receive orders to march in pursuit of the 
rebel army. At this time, about six in the evening, our extreme 
right was about three miles from the position we occupied, but 


soon the quiet of our position was to be rudely disturbed. The 
men of the Eleventh and Twelfth corps came streaming down 
our line in such a way that our artillery could not fire without 
killing them. At this time I was under the impression that these 
men wxre all from the Eleventh corps, but since that time I have 
learned that only part were from the Eleventh corps. 

The men ran like frightened deer, not knowing whither. A 
battery near us opened fire on them, thinking that the rebels had 


U U 


broken through. General Morgan seems to have been laboring 
under the same misconception of the afifair as we did, as he said 
The stampede of the Eleventh corps was something curious and 
wonderful to behold. I have seen horses and cattle stampeded 
on the plains, blinded apparently by fright, rush over wagons, 
rocks, streams or any obstacle in the way, but never before or 
since have I seen thousands of men actuated seemingly by the 
same unreasoning fear that takes possession of a herd of cattle. 
As the crowd of fugitives ran by the Chancellor house, the great- 


est effort was made to check them, but only those stopped who 
were knocked down by the swords of staff officers or the sponge 
staffs of Kirby's battery, that was drawn up across the road. 
Many of them ran right on down the turnpike towards Fred- 
ericksburg, through our Hne of battle and picket line, and into 
the enemy's line, the only reply we could get to our arguments or 
entreaties were ''All ist verloren ; veres ist der pontoons ?" 

The movement of Jackson was successful beyond expectations, 
and yet in the sight of the various reports of the battle as given 
by the various officers, it has always been a wonder to the writer 
that the whole army w^as not captured or their retreat cut off in 
such a way that Hooker would have been obliged to surrender. 
And only for the blunder and stupidity of one of Stonewall Jack- 
son's generals such an event would have occurred. 

As I have already remarked the movement of Jackson was 
successful, but it cost the enemy even more than it cost us, as iit 
this battle Stonewall Jackson had been mortally wounded, and 
this was a greater loss to the rebel army than the loss of the 
whole battle was to us. We could fight again if defeated, but 
one of their best leaders was gone forever. 

When the success of Jackson's movement was assured, Lee 
pressed at every point with all his might, but with little success. 
About dark of the 2nd our line was moved to the west and be- 
yond the Chancellor house to a point on the edge of the woods. 
The Fifty-seventh was still farther advanced as a picket line. 
General Hancock, in his report, says that : ''On the night of the 
2nd of May the enemy frequently opened with artillery from the 
heights towards Fredericksburg, and from those on my right, 
and with infantry assaulted my advanced line of rifle pits, but 
was always handsomely repulsed by the troops on duty there, 
consisting of the Fifty-seventh, Sixty-fourth and Sixty-sixth 
New York Volunteers and detachments from the Fifty-second 


New York, the Second Delaware and the One Hundred and 
Forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers." 

On the night of May 2nd a detail was made from each regi- 
ment of the Third brigade of the First division of the Second 
corps to go on the firing line, with strict orders not to allow any 
one to pass. The countersign for the night was ''Scott." One 
peculiar thing about the orders for the detail when the men were 
chosen for this duty was that they must all be American born 
from American parentage. I happened to be one of those chosen. 
About midnight an attack was made, but which side commenced 
firing I never found out. All I know was that I w^ith the rest 
was shoved back and almost run over, and in trying to get clear 
I started through the bushes, which were very close together. I 
took my musket and parted them and thus worked my way 
through. When I got through I discovered a soldier whom I 
afterwards found was a member of the Third corps. I then 
discovered that the Second and 'Third corps had become mixed. 
Soon men began to call out this way for the Fifty-seventh, 
and then other regiments were called for, and so it went. As 
soon as daylight came, I found that instead of the Fifty-seventh 
New York it was the Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania that had been 
called for. As soon as possible I hastened to rejoin my regi- 
ment. After the fighting was over, on the 3rd of May, I visited 
the Seventh New Jersey and learned that a man whom I knew, 
by the name of Jess Huyler, had been killed. I learned about 
the position of his body, and at night I went out with some of the 
members of his regiment to find his body. After we had found 
it, we brought it inside our lines and buried him. Afterwards I 
wrote to his brother, who was then living at Greenwood Lake, 
giving him all the particulars of his death. 

Colonel Nelson A. Miles, under whose command we were on 
the night of the 2nd, speaks thus in his report : 


"At 3 A. M. I withdrew the picket Hne to the rear of an abatis, 
which had been formed during the night by some of the regi- 
ments of the division. Here I remained during the day. The 
force of our Hne consisted of the Fifty-seventh New York Vol- 
unteers, Colonel Chapman, two companies of the Fifty-second 
New York, four companies of the Second Delaware, and six 
companies of the One Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania, 
with the Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers. We were con- 
stantly engaged skirmishing with the enemy during the day, and 
about 3 p. M. the enemy commenced massing his troops in two 
columns, one on each side of the road, flanked by a line of battle 
about eight hundred yards in our front in the woods, and so near 
were they to us that we could distinctly hear every order given 
by their officers while making their formation. 

"They soon advanced with a tremendous yell and were met 
with a sure and deadly fire from our single line. A very sharp 
engagement then began, which continued for about one hour, 
when the enemy fell back in disorder. Their charge was im- 
petuous and determined, advancing within twenty yards of our 
abatis, but we hurled them back with fearful loss. During the 
night they made no further demonstration." 

The part thus taken by the Fifty-seventh regiment made it 
conspicuous in the entire battle. No less than ten times it is 
mentioned in the report of the general officers. 

There was a continuous falling back from the time Vve were 
ordered to retire from the first position, a mile beyond the Chan-^ 
cellor house, on the first day. General Hancock seems to have 
had a mania for giving up every good position until every hill 
was crowned with rebel cannon that poured their iron hail intO' 
the basin below, where the Union army was huddled together,, 
so that our holding a picket line against a whole brigade of rebels 
and repulsing them stands out in marked contrast on a black 


background to the action of some others in the same position. 

As soon as the regiment was reheved from the picket line, it 
became a part of General Caldwell's provisional brigade. This 
marched down the road towards the United States ford, about 
three-quarters of a mile, there faced the w^oods on the right of 
the road, and at the word of command advanced under a fire of 
grape and canister, and came upon the rebel rifle pits. A deadly 
volley from these at first halted our advance, but we poured back 
such a weight of lead that they left their pits and ran. After- 
wards we fell back a little to correct our line and throw up 

General Caldwell, in his report, says : "The Fifty-second and 
the Fifty-seventh New York of General Zook's brigade, behaved 
admirably. All the fighting of the third day was for the Chan- 
cellorville position, and by night Hooker had lost it." 

General Lee ordered forward his entire line, and the space 
before the Chancellor house was a very pandemonium of hissing 
shells. The rebel infantry piled out from the woods over our 
entrenched position in charge after charge, but were repulsed 
until our ammunition gave out, and no supports arriving (al- 
though more than 20,000 men had not had a chance to get at the 
enemy), a part of the line gave way, followed by another and 
then another. 

And now the moment of defeat approaches resolved to do or 
die, the decimated divisions of Stuart gather themselves together, 
close their ranks and advance for the final assault. From every 
quarter the rebel artillery opens a fearful fire over the plain, 
which fairly shrieks with the flying, plunging shells. The two 
wings of the Confederate army, which had been separated since 
the hour of the morning before when Jackson set out on his 
great flank movement, had again been reunited. As Perry on the 
left of Anderson and Archer on the right of Stuart join their 


brigades at Hazel Grove, Lee himself rides forward to greet the 
troops of Stuart's corps and to animate them for the conflict. 

All along the line from farthest right to farthest left the Con- 
federate host advances, McClay and Anderson push hard upon 
Hancock and Geary, while Heth, Rodes and Colstan renew their 
fierce assaults on Williams, Sickels and French. They will not 
be denied. French is thrown back upon the left of Meade's Fifth 
corps, which at this supreme crisis had received no orders to 
move. Berry's division is assailed on both flanks, many of the 
regiments have only the bayonet with which to meet the assault. 
The Third Maryland gives way on the right of Williams' divi- 
sion, and the Confederates rushing in, fire down Berry's line, the 
heroic commander is killed and General Mott, who should have 
succeeded him, has himself been wounded. General John M. Re- 
vere, of New Jersey, assumes command of the division and 
orders a retreat. 

General Sickels dashes forward to prevent this fatal error, 
but too late, the Confederates are in possession of the edge of the 
Chancellorville plateau, the brigades of Whipple and Birney's 
division, supporting Berry, are driven back and the field was 

We now come to a feature in the battle of Chancellorville 
which has been much misconstrued and misrepresented. During 
the terrible artillery fire which had preceeded the last general 
assault of the enemy, General Hooker was thrown down and 
stunned by a cannon ball striking a pillar of the Chancellor house 
against which he was leaning. Hooker, recovering from his 
brief stupor, sent for General Couch and gave him explicit orders 
to withdraw the troops from the plateau to a new line, and then 
he rode off to the rear. 

After the brigades of Whipple and Birney's division were 


driven back all the roads converging at Chancellorville were 
given up, and the whole army fell back to a new position. 

General Sedgwick now crossed at Fredericksburg and cap- 
tured ]Mary's Heights, but Lee sent a part of his army and drove 
him back. Thus Lee with an inferior force first whipped Han- 
cock at Chancellorville and then with part of the same army 
turned and whipped Sedgwick, while Hancock lay in the woods 
debating his retreat. 

I have previously spoken of Jackson's movements on the 
morning of May 2nd. Lee with his army lay in our front, but 
had no ambition, nor was it his desire to bring on an engage-^ 
ment to test the courage and endurance of his men in an assault 
on the left or centre of Hooker's position, which, at this time, 
was so placed that it would have cost Lee the most of his army 
to have taken. But there was one man who had discovered the 
true point of attack, and that man was Stonew^all Jackson. x\nd 
the point of attack he had decided upon was the right wing of 
the Eleventh corps, composed of about 8,000 men, and which 
hung as it was loose in the air, with the dense woods of the 
wilderness in front and around it to mask the movements of any 
enemy and with two or three miles of unguarded country be- 
tween it and the river, and between it and its nearest supports it 
offered the best point of attack to an enemy, but on the morning 
of which we write no enemy was in sight. 

For Jackson to plan was to attempt, and at an early hour he 
was on his way with thirty odd thousand men and guns, march- 
ing clear across the whole front of the Union army. That the 
rebels were marching across our front, although seldom in sight, 
was perfectly clear to every intelligent soldier on the line. The 
rattling volleys of musketry from the extreme left to the right 
indicated as plain as words could tell the march of the flanking 
columns. It is not my task to repeat the story of the utter and 


crushing defeat that Jackson inflicted upon the Eleventh corps. 
When it was known that the rebels were moving from the left to 
the right in front of the Union forces then it was the time for 
Hooker to have ordered them to be attacked, or else send some 
of his 20,000 reserve men to follow and march parallel with the 
rebel army of Jackson until our lines would have been unbroken 
from left to right. Instead of defeat we might have had victory 
on the 2nd of May. But with this the writer has nothing to do, 
as he simply desires to state what he saw and done as a member 
of the Union army. 

Of Lee's generalship we have no complaint; of Hooker we 
have little to say. If the same ability with which the battle was 
planned had controlled the fighting of the second and third days 
of May, a very different result would have followed. 

We had now joined our brigade again and with it lay in the 
woods through the 4th and 5th of May. Rain fell and the roads, 
especially those newly made, became perfect quagmires. The 
retreat over the river began on the night of the Fifth. Up to 
our knees in slush we sought to find our way to the fords. It 
frequently happened that men striking their feet against the cov- 
ered stumps stumbled forward into the slough, covering them- 
selves with mud. It was a horrid night. The men were dis- 
heartened and worn out, but could not help laughing, as man 
after man dove under and came up with his new uniform of soft 
mother earth. A battery passed, on the caisson of which sat a 
man covered with a tarpaulin, and lo, he was singing to himself 
such familiar tunes and melodies as "Home, Sweet Home." It 
seemed supremely ridiculous that any one should sing under such 
circumstances, so the boys hooted and jeered at him, crying, 
"Catch him," "Shoot him," "Stop him" and the like, but still 
the song under the tarpaulin went on. 


So the men consoled themselves after a defeat. "Why did I 
go for a soldier?" This sentence came later to be an army- 
classic. Its power to soothe one's sorrows and heal one's woes 
was never failing. It meant that the soldier had voluntarily en- 
listed, that hardships were a part of his occupation and were 
therefore not a matter of complaint. Indeed, there was nothing 
more marked in the entire range of the Union soldier's experi- 
ence than the recuperative powers by which he arose above dis- 
couragements and revived after defeat. Such a soldier will never 
stay whipped, if ever he can be called whipped. In this respect 
he was greater than Napoleon, for Napoleon, while a master of 
strategy and a cyclone in action, was nervous in defeat. Paul 
Jones was his opposite, for his most signal victories came when 
he was fairly defeated. There is quite a difference between being 
whipped and being defeated. 

The rain continued its drizzily downpour, and the army 
tramped through the wilderness toward the promised land be- 
yond. By morning the regiment was over the river and by three 
o'clock in the afternoon of the 6th of May we were back in our 
old camp at Falmouth. 

In counting our losses in the regiment during the three days, 
it was found that two men had been killed, two officers and 
twenty-six men had been wounded, and one man was missing; 
making a total loss of thirty-one. A comparatively small loss 
when we consider the fighting that was done by the Fifty-seventh 
regiment on May ist, 2nd and 3rd. 

So the days began to draw out in tediousness, the usual routine 
of camp life continued. The army, as it were, had sat down to 
watch the enemy, while the Rappahannock flowed on its way to 
the sea. Every time we went on dress parade, which was every 
day unless the regiment w^as on picket duty, there would be quite 
a contrast between our colors and the colors of some of the regi- 


ments that had not as yet seen the service that the Fifty-seventh 
had seen. Soon it was noised about in the camp that we were 
to have a new stand of colors in exchange for our old ones, which 
had been almost shot to pieces. A new stand of beautiful colors 
came from New York about the ist of June, and their appear- 
ance for the first time on dress parade produced the sensation of 
the hour. 

Speaking of sensations reminds one of how little it took in the 

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^^^^ - 


monotony of camp life to create a sensation. The burning of a 
barrel chimney attached to one of the tents was equal — as a camp 
sensation — to the burning of Moscow. The accidental explosion 
of a gun with the slight wounding of its owner would start more 
gossip than the removal of a commander. 

At Stephensburg, a comrade heard that a deserter was to be 
hung. It was within fifteen minutes of the time, and he ran two 
miles to be on hand at the drop. Anything for a sensation. 


When things were dull, as it generally was when we were 
lying in camp, and nothing could be thought of to break the 
monotony that was sure to come, the boys would put on some 
coffee to boil, and then would eat a little. The camp fire was a 
distinguishing feature of the soldier's life. It was his hearth 
stone, and how the memories of those camp fires come back to 
the writer at this late day. At the end of a day's march and we 
had stacked our arms, thrown ofT our knapsacks and haversacks, 
a rush would be made for the nearest rail fence, or the nearest 
wood, and each mess of four to six men would start its fire. One 
would take all the canteens and go to the nearest stream for 
w^ater. Then individual cups were filled and put on the fire to 
boil, the coffee being put in at the same time as the water. As 
soon as it was on the fire a stick would be sharpened to a point 
at one end, and then put into a slice of fat pork, which we would 
toast over the fire. Crackers, or ''hard tack" as they were called, 
would be treated in the same w^ay. Some times to vary the bill 
of fare, pieces of pork and broken crackers would be put in the 
tin and stewed together. This we called lob scouse. If some 
corn, potatoes or other vegetables could be added it was called a 
son of a gun. As each man was his own cook, so each man after 
his meal would wash his own dishes, and for towels and dish 
cloths we would use grass. After supper the fire would be 
replenished, the men would sit around it on the ground and talk 
of the days' march, of where the army is heading, of a possible 
battle, and of other things suggested by the soldier's daily cares. 
As the tw^ilight w^ears away and the shadows deepen, theit 
thoughts become more and more serious, and conversation turns 
on the distant home with parents, brothers, sisters, friends and 
sweethearts, perhaps. 

Then comes the history of each family, the characteristics of 
its members, sainted parents or heaven housed children. And 


then again the talk may turn to premonitions of death previous 
to a battle, and then rough sermonizing on Providence and man's 
trust in heaven. The writer well remembers several instances 
w^here the premonition of death came to some one of the mem- 
bers of his regiment when on the eve of a battle. Soon one after 
another spreads his blanket upon the ground, and with a ''good 
night" is soon wrapped in dreamless slumber. 

Every day of the closing days of spring of 1863 was a period 
of darkest shadow throughout the loyal States of the North, 
and well does the writer remember the scenes that would ensue 
when some fortunate comrade received some of the papers from 
home. How he would be surrounded by an anxious circle of 
his comrades eager to hear the latest news from home. And of 
the other armies of the field, and the result of their efforts for 
the preservation of the Union, no darker period in the country's 
history had ever been than was that between January ist and 
June I St, 1863. 

The cause of human freedom was at stake, and to its friends 
all the portents of disaster were at hand. Doubt, despair, distrac- 
tion had held vigorous sway for months. The critical period of 
the great contest had been reached and the defenders of the 
Union and Freedom watched with bated breath the march of 
events. The future of the American continent and of the world 
lay trembling in the balance. 

The statesmen looked forward with deep hearted anxiety, and 
from the blackness before them took no comfort. The wise, 
supremely great, yet sad hearted Lincoln saw no shadow of 
rejoicing save in the grim comfort of the reduced hope. The 
saying of the old hermit was true in the case of the Union 
cause, that the darkest hour of the night is just before the dawn. 
The night of the nation seemed to be interminable, the dawn 
after long hours of watching was not apparent, no flush of rosy 


hope lightened the unbroken blackness of the vista. All was as 
a shadow. 

Let us see what was the cause of all this gloom and doubt. 
The troops of the North were held everywhere in check by the 
rebel armies. Sherman's disaster at Vicksburg, on the Missis- 
sippi, with Grant's unfruitful battle of Murfreesborough and 
his retreat, and in the east Burnside's disaster in front of Fred- 
erickburg, and later by the defeat of Hooker at Chancellorville. 
All these events coming as they did, one after the other, was 
enough to cause the stoutest heart to quail, but it w^as not so with 
the rank and file of the several armies. 



Before Fredericksburg. — ^^Situation of the Several Corps. — The Army 
Breaks Camp. — The Race Between Lee and Hooker. — The March to 
Gettysburg and the First Day's Battle.— The Death of General Rey- 
nolds. — Anecdotes of the March. 

On June 5th, 1863, the army of the Potomac was commanded 
by General Joseph Hooker and lay along the north bank of the 
Rappahannock river, confronting the rebel army of Northern 
Virginia, under General Robert E. Lee, mainly concentrated 
about the town of Frederickburg on the south bank of the river. 

The several corps of the army of the Potomac were distri- 
buted as follows : The First corps, commanded by General 
Reynolds, was in the vicinity of the White Oak church; the 
Second corps, commanded by General Couch, was near Fal- 
mouth; the Tihrd corps, commanded temporarily by General 
Birney, was at Boscobel, near Falmouth; the Fifth corps com- 
manded by General Meade, was in the vicinity of the banks. 
United States and adjacent fords on the Rappahannock; the 
Sixth corps, under General Sedgwick, was near White Oak 
church, with the Second division of General Howe thrown for- 
ward to Franklin. Crossing the Rappahannock a little below 
Fredericksburg, near the mouth of Deep Run, the Eleventh 
corps, under General O: O. Howard, was near Brooke's Station 
on the Acquia Creek Railroad, and the Twelfth corps, under 


General Slocum, near Stafford Court House and Acquia Land- 
ing. The cavalry corps, under General Pleasonton, had two 
divisions in the vicinity of Warrenton Junction and one division 
in the neighborhood of Brooke's Station. Having thus de- 
scribed the position of the various corps of the army of the 
Potomac, we shall now speak of the invasion of Maryland and 
Pennsylvania by the rebel armies. 

On the loth day of June General Hancock assumed command 
of the Second corps, General Couch, at his own request, being 
assigned to duty in Pennsylvania. On the same day General 
Sickels, who had been absent on leave, assumed command of 
the Third corps, relieving General Birney, who was temporarily 
in command. 

Before the authorities at Washington began fully to realize 
the purposes of General Lee, General Milroy had been crushed 
at Winchester and the invasion had begun, but not, however, 
without arousing the Army of the Potomac. General Hooker 
had become conscious of the enemy's movements, and finding 
that Lee was extending his forces northw^ard over a distance of 
nearly one hundred miles. He sought permission to attack him 
in the flank in the hope of either cutting off Hill or compelling 
the return of the adventurous rebels. Forbidden by the admin- 
istration to take this step. Hooker had no alternative but to retire 
from his position at Fredericksburg and move rapidly north- 
ward, keeping between the enemy and Washington. The story 
of that long march and of the desperate battle in which it cul- 
minated is too well known to require a detailed recital. It will 
only be needful to describe the part taken by my regiment and 
the Second corps. 

During the early part of June there was manifest restlessness 
on the part of the rebels, and this caused a corresponding uneasi- 
ness in the Union camp. The guard house clipper was full of 


reports of movements ; first of the enemy and then of our army. 
The pickets and cavalry outposts up the Rappahannock reported 
detachments of troops passing northward. The signal stations 
were active with rockets and torches at night and signal flags 
by day. Our signal officers had deciphered a signal of the enemy 
which ordered a movement of his cavalry across the upper fords 
of the Rappahannock. It was not long before skirmishing began 
to be reported from beyond the Blue Ridge, and it then became 
evident that Lee was on his way for a second invasion. 

The troops of A. P. Hill were still on picket at Fredericksburg 
and our army still in its tents. This, however, was all changed 
in a day. Camp was broken and the race between the two 
armies began. Lee had gotten a good start. The rebels knew 
how to get over the ground and no mercy therefore could be 
shown to us. 

The Second corps, acting as a rear guard, started on the 15th 
of June. During two days and two nights there was almost no 
opportunity for sleep and there was very little on the third 
night. The weather being intensely sultry, many fell out from 
utter exhaustion and not a few from sunstroke. The march con- 
tinued by way of Stafford Court House, which was found in 
flames, having been fired by stragglers from the preceeding col- 
umn. Resting here only two or three hours, we pushed on to 
Acquia, Dumfrees and Wolf Run Shoals. On the 17th the regi- 
ment was at Sangster Station, having traveled more than forty 
miles. We remained here over the 19th to keep between Wash- 
ington and the enemy. 

About midnight the bivouac of the division was rudely dis- 
turbed by hideous outcries, followed by the noise of men rush- 
ing hither and thither among frightened mules and horses. 
Headquarters turned out in dire alarm and the soldiers awak- 
ened suddenly from the deep slumber that follows a painful 


march, and seized their arms. The coolest heads among them 
beHeved that a band of guerillas, hanging upon the flanks of the 
column, had taken advantage of the darkness to dash among 
the sleeping troops. At last it turned out that all the fright 
came from a soldier having been seized with a nightmare, from 
which he awoke screaming. 

Before daybreak of the 17th of June we were again upon the 
march, taking the road toward Centreville, which place we 
reached the same evening. Here we rested for the night. On 
the morning of the 21st we were again early upon the march, 
and marched until we reached the Bull Run battlefield at night, 
or nearly sundown, where we went into camp. After supper I 
with a number of others were placed on picket with orders that 
at three o'clock, or as near that time as possible, we should with- 
draw and rejoin our commands in time to aeain rp.<^ume the 
march. It was the duty of the officer in charge of the picket line 
to have the men report to him at a given point, and that when all 
had reported to have marched them back to the encampment. 
Had the officer done so on this morning I should not have had 
the experience I did. When in the morning the time (as I 
thought) had arrived for me to retire, I did so; but instead of 
taking the road to camp, unfortunately I took the wrong road 
and after marching for some time and not reaching camp I found 
I was lost. It was a very dark morning, and in marching kept 
stumbling, as I supposed, over what I thought was stumps and 
stones. As the morning wore on it began gradually to grow a 
little lighter, and my eyes began to get more used to darkness, 
so that I could discern objects more clearly. I then became 
aware that what I had been stumbling over in my wanderings 
were not the stumps of trees nor rocks of stone, but the heads, 
arms and legs of soldiers who had been killed on this the 
Bull Run battlefield. The reader can imagine my feelings at the 


moment I made this discovery. Here was I all alone with the 
silent dead, and no matter in what direction I would look I could 
see the ghastly remain. Some of the heads would be looking at 
me with their sightless eyes, making me wish that I was with the 
boys of my company far from the battlefield of Bull Run. 

In order that the reader may understand the formation 
of a picket line, I will endeavor to explain, so that it will be 
plain to them how it was that I was alone. In front of an army, 
when an enemy is in front of them, there will be a line of 
sentinels posted, in some cases two or three miles in advance of 
an army, and they will be known as the picket line. Each post 
will be composed of two or three men about two or three hundred 
yards apart. Then between each one of these picket posts there 
will at night be stationed one man, who will be in advance of the 
picket line about two hundred yards. This man is known as the 
outer picket, or more commonly called the vidett. When on a 
vidett post the man never challenges any one, but shoots without 
challenging. This was the kind of post I was on during the 
night of June 2ist, and instead of the officer waiting for me to 
return to the picket line, he called the men together and marched 
to camp, while I was left alone. 

After considerable tramping around I managed to get to where 
the regiment had been encamped during the night, but found that 
they had left to resume the march early in the morning, while I 
was left alone without any food, and did not know which way to 
go to find my regiment. After considerable thinking and look- 
ing around, trying to get my bearings as it were, I started, as I 
thought in the direction of Thoroughfare Gap, and as events 
proved I was not wrong. After marching a considerable length 
of time I came upon a member of the Sixty-sixth New York, 
who was sitting on a rock by the side of the road singing ''Home, 
Sweet Home." From him I learned the direction the army had 


gone, so we concluded to march on together. Towards night I 
found my regiment encamped at Gainsville, where we spent the 
23rd and 24th of June, 1863, guarding the railroad. It was at 
this place that the brigade was entirely cut off from the rest of 
the corps by Stuart's cavalry, and several messages from Gen- 
eral Hancock to General Zook were intercepted. From Gaines- 
ville the march was to Thoroughfare Gap and thence northeast 
to Edwards Ferry, where we crossed the Potomac on the 23rd. 
The boys waded the stream, singing "My Maryland, My Mary- 
land." It was a pretty sight to see the lines of troops descend 
into the river and climb the opposite bank. Neither did they 
regret the wetting, as the weather was hot and their clothes were 
soon dry again. From Edward's Ferry on the 27th the route 
\tas to Barnesville, and the next day to Monocracy Junction. 
Here we were sent forward to guard the Monocacy bridge 
against cavalry scouts, of which the countrv was now full. It 
was here we learned that General Hooker had been relieved 
from command of the army, to be superseded by General George 
R. Meade. General Meade had done good service with the First 
corps as a division commander, and was now at the head of the 
Fifth corps. 

It was dangerous to change commanders on the eve of a 
battle, as President Lincoln once said ''never swap horses while 
crossing a stream." But the authorities at Washington seemed 
unwilling to trust General Hooker with the enemy so near the 
Capitol. The immediate cause of his resignation was a differ- 
ence between him and General Halleck regarding tactical mat- 
ters alone. 

On the night of the 28th I was sent out on the main road to 
do picket duty with orders to allow no one to pass without the 
countersign, which on this night was "Scott." The night was 
very dark; it was impossible to see fifteen feet away. After 


being on duty about an hour or so, I heard the tramp of a horse, 
and as they came nearer I heard the jingle of a saber, and when 
the horse and rider came in hailing distance as I thought, I hailed 
him with the cry of *'Who goes there", and he answered "a 
friend without the countersign" and asked at the same time 
what troops we were. I answered by saying the Second army 
corps of the Union army, and he replied, "I want to pass as I 
have important news for General Hancock." I called the 
sergeant of the guard and a file of men, who escorted him to 
General Hancock's headquarters. And as it proved, he did in- 
deed bring important news, as we were at once ordered on a 
forced march. The news that he brought was, as we afterwards 
learned, that General Lee with his army was in Chambersburg, 



From Monocacy Bridge to Taneytown. — Hooker Relieved of the Com 
mand. — Meade Appointed to Command Army of the Potomac. — 
General Orders to Corps Commanders, Incidents, etc. 

On this day, June 29th, 1863, important events transpired. 
General Hooker who had exhibited such consummate skill in 
handling his army, was succeeded in command by General 
George G. Mead. The circumstances which led to this change 
were as follows : On Friday, the 26th of June, 1863, General 
French was placed in command of the garrison at Harper's 
Ferry, supposed to be ten or eleven thousand strong, and strongly 
posted upon Maryland Heights. On the same day that General 
French assumed command General Hooker sent the Twelfth 
Corps under General Slocum as far as the mouth of the 
Monocacy, with the view that the two corps should operate 
upon "the enemy's line of communications by following up 
his rear, capturing his couriers and trains and intercepting 
him in case of his defeat. General Hooker therefore 
inquired of the authorities at Washington by telegraph as 
follow^s : "Is there any reasons why Maryland Heights should 
not be abandoned after the public stores and other property be 
removed ?" This dispatch was forwarded at half past ten o'clock 
on Saturday, June 27th, 1863, and brought the following reply 
from General Halleck: ''Maryland Heights have always been 
regarded as an important point to be held by us and much ex- 


pense and labor has been incurred in fortifying them. I cannot 
approve of their being abandoned except in case of absolute 
necessity." In response to this inquiry General Hooker at once 
sent the following reply: 

I have received your telegram in regard to Harper's Ferry. I find 
ten thousand men here in condition to take the field. Here they are of 
no earthly account — they cannot defend a ford of the river, and so far 
as Harper's Ferry is concerned there is nothing of it. As for the forti- 
fications, they are the work of the troops. They will remain v/hen the 
troops are withdrawn. No enemy will ever take possession of them. 
This is my opinion. All the public property could have been secured 
tonight and the troops marched to where they could have been of some 
service. Now they are but a bait for the enemy, should he return. I 
beg that this may be presented to the Secretary of War and his ex- 
cellency the President. 



Before General Hooker had time to receive a reply to this 
last communication, he sent the following additional one: 

SANDY HOOK, June 27, 1863. 
Major-General H. W. Halleck, General-in-Ohief, Washington, D. C. 

My original instructions require me to cover Harper's Ferry and 
Washington. I have now imposed upon me an enemy in my front of 
more than my army numbers. I beg to be understood respectfully but 
firmly that I am unable to comply with this condition with the means 
at my command, and earnestly request that I may at once be relieved 
from the position I occupy. 


General Halleck had never regarded General Hooker with 
much favor, and the relations between them were not at all 
friendly and cordial. He therefore very naturally improved 
his opportunity to get rid of one whom he did not regard as a 
suitable person for the command of the army, and using his 


influence with President Lincoln, as his military adviser, in- 
duced him to accept General Hooker's resignation and place 
General Meade, who was in command of the Fifth Corps, in 
the chief command. In accordance with this arrangement at 
two o'clock on the morning of the day following the interchange 
of messages between General Hooker and General Halleck. On 
Sunday, June 28th, 1863, Colonel Hardie of the War Depart- 
ment reached Frederick with the official orders making these 
changes. General Hooker upon receiving the official accept- 
ance of his resignation, issued the following characteristic order r 

FREDERICK, MD., June 28, 1863. 

In conformity with the orders of the War Department, dated June 
27, 1863, I hereby relinquish command of the Army of the Potomac. It 
is transferred to Major-General George G. Meade, a brave and accom- 
plished officer, who has nobly earned the confidence and esteem of the 
army on many a well-fought field. Impressed with the belief that my 
usefulness as the Commander of the Army of the Potomac is impaired, 
I part from it, yet not without the deepest emotions. The sorrow of 
parting with the comrades of so many battles is relieved by the con- 
viction that the courage and devotion of this army will never cease nor 
fail; that it will yield to my successor as it has to me a willing and 
hearty support, with the earnest prayer that the triumphs of this army 
may bring success worthy of it and the nation, I bid it farewell. 



General Hooker took leave of the principal officers of the 
army on the afternoon of the day he relinquished command. 
They were drawn up in line and he passed along shaking hands 
with each and laboring in vain to stifle his emotions, the tears 
rolled down his cheeks. The officers were also deeply affected. 
The scene was similar to the final separation between Wash- 
ington and his officers at the close of the War of the Revolu- 


tion. General Hooker at once set out for Baltimore, according 
to his instructions, and waited there three days for further 
orders from the Adjutant General's office, but as none came, 
he went over to Washington, where he was forthwith arrested 
by General Halleck for visiting the Capitol without leave ancl 
in violation of the rule which forbade officers to do so. General 
Hooker was undoubtedly right in the course he wished to pur- 
sue, and the general voice of history will sustain him in it. He 
may have acted hastily in tendering his resignation, but what-^ 
ever faults he may have had, his high position, the distinguished 
service he had rendered, the masterly manner in which he 
handled his army, and the hold he had in the confidence and 
love of that army upon which the destiny of the government 
hung, should have secured to him better treatment. It was not 
the first time that patriotism and devotion to duty have been 
sacrificed to official jealousy and personal spite. The order 
placing General Meade in command of the army was a com- 
plete surprise to him. He had never sought promotion, and 
was as modest as he was brave. He had entered the war as a 
Brigadier in the Pennsylvania reserves, and commanded a divis- 
ion at Antietam, and at Fredericksburgh, and the Fifth Corps 
at Chancellorsville. He was loved and respected by his own 
soldiers, because he was always ready to endure hardships with 
them; plain in dress and speech and familiar in conversation, he 
was accessible to all. He enjoyed in a high degree, especially 
after the battle of Fredericksburg, the confidence of President 
Lincoln. General Meade was not elated by his promotion, but 
on the contrary was evidently deeply impressed with a sense 
of the great responsibility which rested upon him; the destiny 
of the Republic was in his hands — one false step and the Union 
would be lost — and yet he did not shrink from taking the posit- 
ion which unsought and unexpected had been assigned him, and 


he announced to the army his acceptance of the command in 
the following modest and appropriate words : 


June 28, 1863. 
By direction of the President of United States I hereby assume 
command of the Army of the Potomac. As a soldier in obeying this 
order, an order totally unexpected and unsolicited, I have no promises 
or pledges to make. The country looks to this army to relieve it from 
the devastation and disgrace of hostile invasion. Wliatever fatigues 
and sacrifice we may be called upon to undergo, let us have in view 
constantly the magnitude of the interests involved, and let each man 
determine to do his duty, leaving to an all-controlling Providence the 
decision of the contest. It is with just diffidence that I relieve in com- 
mand of this army an eminent and accomplished soldier whose namo 
must ever appear conspicuous in the history of its achievements, and T 
rely upon the hearty support of my companions in arms to assist me in 
the discharge of the duties of the important trust which has been con- 
fided to me. 

Major-General Commanding. 

Such change of commanders of a great army upon the eve 
of battle in which the destiny not only of the nation but of Re- 
publican institutions was at stake, was a fearful experiment. It 
reflects great harm upon the patriotism of the men composing 
that army that demoralization to some extent did not result, 
but they cheerfully accepted the fact of the change and pressed 
on to meet their foe without as much as an hour's delay. Can 
history produce anything like it? 

General Meade as soon as he entered upon the command, 
sought an interview with General Hooker, and used every eifYort 
to obtain of him information concerning the strength and posi- 
tion of the different corps of the army and the movements of 
the enemy. In his testimony before the committee on the con- 
duct of the war, he said: *'My predecessor. General Hooker, 


left the camp in very few hours after I reHeved him. I received 
from him no intimation of any plan or any views that he may 
have had up to that moment, and I am not aware that he had 
any, but was waiting for the occasion togovern him, just as I 
had to do subsequently." 

Thrown entirely upon his resources, General Meade sum- 
moned his trusted friend General Reynolds to his side, and the 
two together agreed upon a plan which ended in the victory at 
Gettysburg. It should be stated here that w^hat was denied 
General Hooker was granted to General Meade, and he was 
given the option to do as he pleased with men at Harper's Ferry. 
He, how^ever, either did not approve of Hooker's project to send 
these men in conjunction with the Twelfth Corps to operate 
upon Lee's line of communication, or else he supposed the time 
for that movement had passed, and he could use these men to 
better advantage elsewhere. He accordingly ordered General 
Slocum to rejoin the main army, and the bulk of the garrison 
at Harper's Ferry, under General French, was directed to take 
a post as a reserve at Fredericksburg when our forces moved 
forward. General Cauch, estimated at twenty thousand men at 
Harrisburg, was also placed under his orders. Among the first 
official acts of General Meade after assuming command of the 
army, was to ask the assent of the government at Washington 
to the appointment of General Kilpatrick to the division of 
cavalry under General Stahl and the promotion of Custer, Mer- 
ritt and Farnsworth, the three young captains, to the command 
of brigades in that division. The request was at once granted, 
and the subsequent career of the men attested the wisdom of 
that change. 

Shortly after the dispatch from Washington was received 
granting this request of General Meade, a second message came 
over the wire announcing that Stuart with his cavalry was 


making a raid near the Capitol, and in a short time thereafter 
the wire was cut and telegraphic communication for a time 
ceased. Stuart after crossing the Potomac on the day previous 
pased close to Washington and Baltimore, creating considerable 
excitement in these cities. At Rockville he came upon a large 
wagon train filled with supplies on its way from Washington 
to the army at Frederick. This train with its escort he cap- 
tured and took with him to Gettysburg, handing it over there 
to the Confederate quartermaster. Colonel Walter Taylor, of 
General Lee's staff, in a contribution to the Southern historical 
papers, says that the capturing of this train was unfortunate 
for Stuart, for in capturing and bringing it away he was con- 
siderably delayed. After the capturing of this train, Stuart kept 
on hi's way, in a northerly direction, through Brookville, travel- 
ling all night. On Monday, the twenty-ninth, as the army was 
now approaching that important pass in the mountains called 
Newman's Gap, where the turn ike leading through (jett\sburg 
to Baltimore crosses, and where if at all south of the Susque- 
hanna, General Lee would concentrate for battle. It became 
all important to have it well in hand and some well-defined plan 
laid out, the following was therefore agreed upon. A strong 
cavalry force was to be thrown out to the left to cover Monterey 
Pass and thus protect the flank and rear from an attack from 
that quarter, and to the right to look after Stuart, who was 
moving around in that direction. The Seventh Corps of Infan- 
try were to radiate from Frederick upon seven different roads, 
which while diverging from that place all tended northward 
and converged at Gettysburg. This plan will be best under- 
stood by imagining a vast pan with the base of its handle resting 
upon Frederick, the point of divergence and the seven different 
corps like the stick of a fan radiating therefrom. This immense 
force could be pushed northward to the Susquehanna or swung 


around to interpose between the enemy and Philadelphia, in 
case he should go in that direction, or be concentrated at Gettys- 
burg or any other point if necessary. In accordance with the 
general plan already stated, the First and Second Brigades of 
Buford's Cavalry commanded respectfully by Gamble and Devin, 
left Middletown and crossed through Turner's Pass to Boons- 
borough, west of the South Mountain. Finding no enemy in 
that vicinity, they turned and marched north and passed through 
Covetown to Monterey Springs, recrossing the mountain there 
and encamping over night near Fairfield. This reconnaissance 
developed the fact that the enemy were all farther down the 
valley, and that no danger was to be feared from that direction 
ei'ther from the left flank or rear. 

Merritt's brigade of the same division proceeded from Mid- 
dletown to Mechanicstown. Gregg's division marched from 
New Market and Ridgeville to Westminster, and Kilpatrick's 
division, formerly Stahl's, went from Frederick to Lettlestown. 
Stuart after riding all the previous night, reached at the dawn 
of day the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad at Sykesville. The 
bridge at this place was burned and the track about Hood's Mill 
was torn up. Resting here during the fore part of the day, the 
command sometime in the afternoon resumed its march and 
reached Westminster about five o'clock P'. M. At this place a 
spirited engagement took place between this force and the First 
Delaware Cavalry, which was at length driven off and pursued 
some distance toward Baltimore, adding much to the panic there. 
Gregg's division of the Federal cavalry, which was marching 
in that direction, to intercept Stuart was delayed by the infantry 
and trains, and did not reach Westminster until some hours 
after Stuart had passed. At night the head of Stuart's column 
rested at Union Mills, half way between Westminster and Littles- 
town. The movements this day were as follows : The army 


headquarters were moved from Frederick City to Taneystown, 
and the artillery reserve from the first named place to Bruce- 
ville. The First and Eleventh Corps marched from Frederick 
to Emmittsburg, the last named by a road parallel to the Em- 
mittsburg road leading through Cregerstown, the Third and 
Twelfth Corps moved on parallel roads to Taneytown and Bruce- 
ville where they encamped. The Second Corps from Monocacy 
Junction via. Liberty and Johnsonville, to Union Town, still 
further east. The Fifth Corps from Ballinger's Creek via. 
Frederick and Mount Pleasant to Liberty, and the Sixth Corps 
following Gregg's cavalry went from Hyattstown via. New 
Market and Ridgeville to New Windsor. The outer line of the 
great fan, it will thus be seen, that the line extended from Em- 
mittsburg on the left to New Windsor on the right. The First 
Corps, under General Reynolds, forming the left of the army, 
and the Sixth Corps, under General Sedgwick, its right. This 
was the position of the army of the Potomac on the evening of 
Monday, June the 29th. The night before the concentration of 
Lee's forces began in the direction of Gettysburg, Tuesday, June 
the 30th, the First Corps started from Emmittsburg for Gettys- 
burg, but hearing that the enemy were reported to be upon the 
Fairfield road. General Reynolds halted at Marsh Creek. The 
Third Corps marched from Taneytown in the direction of Em- 
mittsburg, and encamped at Bridgeport. The Twelfth Corps 
marched from the same place and rested over night at Littles- 
town. The Fifth Corps from Liberty via. Johnsville Union 
Bridge, and Union to Union Mills, and the Sixth went from 
New Windsor to Manchester, and Kilpatrick's division, the 
artillery reserve, moved from Brachville to Taneytown. Gregg's 
cavalry division left Westminster and proceeded to Manchester; 
went from Littlestown to Hanover to intercept Stuart. Stuart, 
who had bivouacked over night at Union Mills, midway be- 


tween Westminster and Littlestown, learning that Kilpatrick 
was at the last named place waiting for him, attempted to avoid 
an encounter by going through crossroads to Hanover, but Kil- 
patrick, who was aware of this change, anticipated him and 
reached that place first. When Stuart arrived at about ten 
o'clock in the forenoon a desperate engagement which lasted 
four hours ensued between Kilpatrick and the Confederate rear, 
under General Wade Hampton. Both sides claim the victory 
in this engagement. The Confederates were driven further 
northward. When at Hanover, Stuart was but twelve miles 
from Gettysburg and fourteen from York, ignorant of the con- 
centration of the Confederate army at the first named place and 
expecting to unite with Early ai York, as he sa\s G neral 
Lee directed, and unaware that Early was then en route from 
that place to Gettysburg, he pressed on further northward, cross- 
ing the tracks both of White's battalions of cavalry and Early's 
whole division, and yet failed to ascertain the departure of 
these troops or the course they had taken. Had he known of 
Early's departure from York and the direction he had taken, he 
could have effected a junction with him before sundown, some- 
where about East Berlin, or had he fallen in with White's bat- 
talion, which on that day had gone by the York pike toward 
Gettysburg, he could have joined it and reach the Confederate 
advance at Marsh Creek that same night, but he was ignorant 
of the movements of these two commands, and they were equally 
ignorant of his approach, for no notice such as it is alleged 
General Lee had promised to send Early had reached him. Had 
Early known that Stuart had taken the circuitous route around 
the Federal army, he might have been on the lookout for him, 
but he was also ignorant of this. Indeed at one time on that 
day, Stuart was within seven miles of Early's infantry, the latter 
actually hearing his guns, and yet they were mutually ignorant 


of each other's proximity. Surely the people who resided in 
that neighborhood must have been very loyal to their govern- 
ment, and know how to keep their own counsels, or Stuart failed 
to interrogate them. 

At a late hour this day Stuart learned that Early had left 
York, but was misinformed as to the direction taken. He was 
told that he had gone in the direction of Shippensburg. Misled 
by this report he abandoned his design upon York and turned 
the head of his column in the direction he supposed Early 
had gone, encamping over night somewhere west of York, he 
resumed his march next morning and passing through Chiles- 
burg and Churchtown, reached Carlisle in the evening. Here 
he was surprised to hear that Rodes had marched in the direc- 
tion of Gettysburg and the town was in possession of Pennsyl- 
vania and New York militia men under General Smith, who 
had advanced that day from Harrisburg. After demanding the 
surrender of the town and throwing a few shells into it, and 
burning the United States barracks, situated outside of the 
place, he hastily left and hurriedly made his way to Gettysburg, 
which he reached in the evening of the ensuing day. And this 
was the bold rider who was to harass and impede the patriot 
army, in case it should attempt to cross the Potomac, in pursuit 
of the invaders of its soil, and the would-be destroyers of its 
government. The cavalry brigades of Gamble and Devin, under 
the command of General Buford, which had rested over night 
near Fairfield, after their reconnoissance west of the mountain, 
on the previous day, marched by the way of Emmittsburg to 
Gettysburg, and proceeding westwardly on the pike leading to 
Chambersburg, encamped over night about one mile and a half 
from the town. Aware of the fact that indications pointed to 
a probable collision with the Confederate Army in a short time, 
General Meade soon after assuming command of the army, 


directed General Reynolds to proceed to Gettysburg, and report 
to him the character of the ground there, at the same time 
ordering General Humphreys to examine the ground in the 
vicinity of Emmittsburg. 

These precautions were taken not with the purpose to Halt 
the army there, and wait for an attack, but to be prepared for 
any emergency which might arise. The army in the meantime 
was still pressing forward. 

On the night of Tuesday, June the 30th, information reached 
headquarters that General Lee was concentrating his army east 
of the mountain in the vicinity of Gettysburg, and General 
Meade ignorant of the nature of the ground in front of him, 
at once instructed his engineers to select some ground (having 
a general reference to the existing position of the army) which 
he might occupy by rapid movement of concentration and thus 
give battle on his own terms, in case the enemy should advance 
across the South Mountain. The general line of Pipe Creek 
was selected, and a preliminary order of instructions issued to 
the corps commanders, informing them of the fact, and ex- 
plaining how they might move their corps and concentrate in a 
good position along the line. These were but ordinary precau- 
tions which any commander who had any reasonable sense of 
the responsibilities of his position would have taken. And yet 
they have been made the grounds of an accusation that General 
Meade contemplated a retreat from Gettysburg: to the position 
selected at Pipe Creek. This accusation does great injustice to 
General Meade, from the fact that he was not unduly com- 
mitted to that line, nor unwilling to meet the enemy elsewhere, 
is proven by General Humphreys, who says that in the instruc- 
tions issued to the corps commanders, relating to the line of 
Pipe Creek, it was expressly declared that developments may 
cause the commanding general to assume the offensive from his 


present position. A very few hours after these instructions were 
issued, circumstances did arise that caused a change. General 
Meade himself says: "It was my firm determination never for 
an instant deviated from to give battle wherever and as soon 
as I could find the enemy." 



PYom Taneytown to Gettysburg and the First Day's Fight, With 

Incidents, etc. 

Simultaneously with the issuing of the instructions to the 
coq)s commanders regarding Pipe Creek General Meade circu- 
lated the following timely order : 

June 30, 1863. 
The commanding general requests that previous to the engagement 
soon expected with the enemy, corps and all other commanding oflScers 
will address their troops, explaining to ithem briefly the immense issues 
involved in the struggle. The enemy are on our soil. The whole 
country now looks anxiously to this army to deliver it from the presence 
of the foe. Our failure to do so will leave us no such welcome as the 
swelling millions of hearts with pride and joy at our success would give 
to every soldier of this army. Firesides and domestic altars are in- 
volved. The army has fought well. Hereafter it is believed that it will 
fight more desperately and bravely than ever if it is addressed in fitting 
terms. Corps and other commanders are authorized to order the instant 
death of any soldier who fails in his duty this hour. By command of 

S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General. 

As we are now upon the eve of battle, the two great armies 
having been brought almost face to face, it will be well to re- 
capitulate the positions occupied by the Confederate army on? 
the night of Tuesday, June 30th. The divisions of Heth and 


Pending of hill corps were at March Creek four miles west of 
Gettysburg on the Chambersburg road ; and Anderson's division 
of the same corps was four miles further west on the same road 
at Cashtown. The divisions of Welcome and Good of Long- 
street's corps were about Fayetteville and Greenwood, sixteen 
miles from Gettysburg on the Chambersburg pike. Pickett's 
division of the same corps was in the neighborhood of Cham- 
bersburg. Early and Rodes of Ew ell's corps were at Heidlers- 
burg, ten miles north of Gettysburg, and Johnson's division of 
this corps was at Greenwood. Jenkin's cavalry was below 
Carlisle. The brigades of ones and Robertson wercabou; Ship- 
pensburg, Imboden, Mercer burg and btuart somewhere north- 
west of York. 

Position occupied by the Federal army on th enight of Tues- 
day, June 30th. The First Corps under General Reynolds was at 
Marsh Creek, between Emmittsburg and Gettysburg, and four 
miles from the last named place. The Eleventh Corps, General 
Howard, was at Ejnmittsburg, ten miles from Gettysburg. The 
Third Corps, General Sickels, was at Bridgeport, twelve miles 
from Gettysburg. The Twelfth Corps, General Slocum, was at 
Littlestown, ten miles, the Second Corps, General Hancock, was 
at Uniontown, twenty miles ; the Fifth Corps, General Sykes, 
was at Union Mills, sixteen miles, and the Sixth Corps, General 
Sedgwick, was at Manchester, twenty-seven miles. Gregg's 
cavalry division was at Manchester, Kilpatrick at Hanover, and 
the brigades of Gamble and Devin, of Buford's division, were 
about one mile and a half west of Gettysburg on the Chambers- 
burg road. This vast fan was now about to be closed and as 
the Confederate army in its concentration was wrung to the 
right and closed upon its right support, the Federal army was 
to be swung to the left and close upon its left. The point of con- 
tact between the two great opposing forces was Gettysburg, and 


the parts which would first come in contact were Reynolds upon 
Federal left and Heth upon the Confederate right. The reader 
will do well to watch in the coming details the times and places 
where the various parts of these two great hosts come into 

The first day of the battle at Gettysburg, Wednesday, 
July 1st, 1863. 

In the morning of Wednesday, July ist, 1863, both divisions, 
one of hill corps advanced from Marsh Creek upon Gettysburg, 
General Buford, as stated in the previous chapter, held the ridges 
west of the town with the cavalry brigades of Generals Gamble 
and Devin. About half past nine o'clock these men appeared in 
front of Buford's Videttes and skirmishing commenced on the 
farm of Hon, Edward McPherson, and thus the series of battles 
of Gettysburg began. The object of this advance by General 
Heth is thus stated by Colonel W. H. Taylor, General Lee's 
adjutant general. General Lee had instructed General Heth to 
ascertain what force wasi at Gettysburg, and if he found infan- 
try opposed to him, to report the fact immediately without forc- 
ing an engagement. General Buford was aware of the presence 
of the enemy in his front and had prepared for them by dis- 
mounting a large part of his force and placing them in line. 
His batteries also had been placed at commanding points. As 
soon as General Heth found himself in the presence of Buford's 
dismounted cavalry, he formed his men in line of battle, with 
Archer's and Davis' brigades in front and Pettigrew's and 
Brockenborough's brigades in the rear. Unaware that any Fed- 
eral infantry were near, Heth sent word to General Hill at Cash- 
town that the advance of his division had encountered the 
enemy's cavalry near Gettysburg. At an early hour in the morn- 


ing General Reynolds received a dispatch from General Buford 
informing him of the proximity of the Confederates. Upon re- 
ceiving the dispatch General Reynolds at once set out to his 
assistance with the nearest division, that of General Wadsworth, 
leaving General Doubleday, his second in command, to draw in 
the pickets, assemble the artillery and the remainder of the corps 
and follow after as soon as possible. He also dispatched a cour- 
ier to General Howard at Emmittsburg, ordering him to advance 
to the front as rapidly as possible. This order reached General 
Howard at eight o'clock, and he at once put his corps in motion, 
Barlow's division taking the most direct route, and the divisions 
of Generals Schurz and Steinwehr proceeding by way of Har- 
ner's Mill, a distance of thirteen miles. Having thus put his 
corps in motion. General Howard, accompanied by his staff, 
pushed forward in advance to the scene of strife. At about ten 
o'clock General Reynolds dashed into Gettysburg in advance of 
his troops, and pushing on out by the Chambersburg road to 
Seminary Hill, took a survey of the situation, and seeing that 
the enemy was there in force and that Buford's dismounted 
cavalrymen were being badly pressed, he rode rapidly back again 
into the. town and out the Emmittsburg road, for about a mile, 
and there met the head of his column which he turned directly 
across the fields toward the seminary. The men hurriedly 
formed in line under cover of the ridge, w^hen the right moved 
to the north side of the Chambersburg pike, and across the bed 
of the abandoned railroad, and the left advanced to the west of 
the ridge near the seminary. 

From the time that the conflict opened until the arrival of 
Wadsworth's division, Buford's men, though hotly pressed, re- 
sisted the approaches of the enemy most stubbornly, and by 
taking advantage of every favorable point, to protract the strug- 
gle, succeeded in holding on until the expected assistance at 


length came up, but while the formation of the Hne was in pro- 
gress, the heroic Reynolds seeing the pressure which was made 
upon Buford's slender lines, led Cutler's brigade forward for 
their relief. Hall's Second Maine Battery was posted in the 
road, and the Fourteenth of Brooklyn, New York, and the Ninety 
Fifth New York were advanced a short distance on the left. 
General Wadsworth was also directed to place the three re- 
maining regiments of his brigade, the One Hundred and Forty- 
Seventh New York, the Seventy-Sixth New York and the Fifty- 
Sixth Pennsylvania on the right of the road. When this forma- 
tion was completed, the cavalry brigade under Gamble, which 
had been most heavily engaged withdrew and formed a column 
on the left of the infantry. Between the Fairfield and Cham- 
bersburg roads was a piece of woods which both parties were 
contending for. Archer's brigade, preceded by a line of skir- 
mishers, was crossing Willoughby Run to enter these woods on 
one side as the Iron brigade was going in on the other. General 
Reynolds, anxious as to the result, rode forward a short dis- 
tance to reconnoiter, and raising his field glass to his eyes he 
sought to take in the full situation, when a ball from a sharp- 
shooter musket struck him on the back of his head, coming out 
near the eye, and he fell dead. Chief in the full flush of life 
and health, vigorously leading on the troop in hand and ener- 
getically summoning up the rest of his command, watching and 
even leading the attack of a comparatively small body, a glorious 
picture of best type of military leader, superbly mounted, and 
horse and man sharing in the excitement of the battle, Reynolds 
was of course a shining mark to the enemy's sharpshooters. He 
had taken his troop into a heavy growth of timber on the slope 
of a hillside and under the regimental and brigade commanders 
the men did their work well and promptly. Returning to the 
expected division he was struck by a minnie ball, fired by a sharp- 


shooter hidden in the branches of a tree almost overhead and 
killed at once. His horse bore him to the little clump of trees, 
where a cairn of stones and a rude mark on the bark, almost 
overgrown, still tell the fatal spot. 

With the fall of General Reynolds the command devolved 
upon Major General Abner Doubleday, who had, after execut- 
ing Reynolds' order and setting the remaining two divisions of 
the corps in motion, pushed on ahead to the field of battle. 
General Doubleday at once set to work to meet the advancing 
enemy and for another hour the work of destruction went on 
until the Federal line fell back to Seminary Ridge. As Wards- 
worth fell back with his left and Archer pressed fonvard on his 
heels, the right of the division was swung around in the rear of 
the pursuers, enveloping the Confederate advance and making 
prisoners of Archer and several hundred of his men. 

At length shortly after eleven o'clock the two remaining divis- 
ions of Reynolds came upon the field, together with Cooper's, 
Stuart's, Reynolds' and Stevens' batteries. General Doubleday's 
own division, then commanded by General Rowley, was at once 
taken to the front and placed in position. The division of Gen- 
eral Robinson was placed in reserve at the seminary. Pander's 
Confederate division had also by this time come up from Marsh 
Creek and was formed in the rear of fight. The Confederate bat- 
teries too were posted on the ridge west of Willoughby Run, as 
well as upon even other commanding position, the fire from 
which swept the field in every direction and proved destructive. 
At half past eleven o'clock A. M., General Howard, in advance 
of his troops, came upon the field, and ignr rant of the dec th of 
Reynolds, sent messengers in search of him and asking for in- 
structions. While waiting the return of his aids he went to the 
top of the college, which is situated about half a mile little north 
of east of the theological seminary, to reconnoiter the surround- 


ing country. His aide, Major Biddle, soon came back and re- 
ported the sad intelligence of the fall of Reynolds and that com- 
mand now devolved upon himself. He at once assumed com- 
mand, turning over his corps to General Carl Schurz. It is 
claimed that while upon the top of the college General Howard 
saw the advantages of Cemetery Hill, and at once gave orders 
to halt Steinwehr's division of his corps there, and form a strong 
line supported by artillery, as a rallying place in case of defeat 
upon the position they then occupied. For this act he received 
the thanks of Congress. The claim made for General Howard 
that he was the first of the Union generals to perceive the ad- 
vantages of Cemetery Hill, is disputed by some who give this 
credit to General Reynolds. (Reynolds' claim rests on the fol- 
lowing statement made by General Doubleday) : General Buford 
gave way slowly, taking advantage of every inch of ground 
to protract the struggle. After an hour's fighting he felt anx- 
ious, and went up into the steeple of the theological seminary, 
from which a wide view could be obtained, to see if the First 
Corps was in sight. One division of it was close at hand and 
soon Reynolds, who had preceded it, climbed up into the belfry 
to confer with him and examine the country around. Although 
there is no positive testimony to this effect, therefore the credit, 
if any, must remain with General Howard. 

General Howard at once saw that the First Corps was con- 
tending against large odds, and sent back for the Eleventh Corps 
to come forward quickly. He also sent a dispatch to General 
Meade who was then at Taney town, thirteen miles distant, in- 
forming him of the death of General Reynolds, and of the large 
Confederate force present, and the probabilities that Lee was 
concentrating his whole army at that point, as well as the favor- 
able position there for a battle. Dispatches were also sent to 
General Slocum, who with the Twelfth Corps had left Littles- 


town early in the morning, and was then resting at Two Tav- 
erns, five miles south of Gettysburg, and to General Sickels, 
who had marched from Bridgeport to Emmittsburg with the 
Third Corps, informing them of the perilous position of the 
First and Eleventh Corps, and urgently calling upon them to 
hasten to their assistance. Owing to the direction of the wind, 
the sound of the guns did not reach Taneytown, and General 
Meade was not aware that a portion of his army had met the 
enemy, and that General Reynolds had fallen, until one o'clock 
P. M., when Howard's courier arrived. Upon the reception of 
this dispatch he sent General Hancock to the front with orders 
to assume command of all the troops and to report to him con- 
cerning the nature of the ground there and the practicability of 
fighting a successful battle at that place. General Meade has 
been blamed for sending General Hancock to supersede officers 
who were his superiors in rank. His justification for doing this is 
as follows: Congress had passed an act authorizing the Presi- 
dent to put any general over any other superior in rank if in his 
judgment the good of the service demanded it, and General 
Meade then assumed this power in the name of the President, 
believing that the exigencies of the situation required it. That 
there was not the best of feeling existing between some of the 
general officers then at the front is painfully evident in some of 
their actions and writing. General Buford was doubtless aware 
of this when he penned the following dispatch to General Meade : 


July 1, 1863, 3:20 P. M. 

General Reynolds was killed early this morning. In my opinion 

there seems to be no directing person. 


General Slocum declined without orders from Meade to go 
to the assistance of the First and Eleventh Corps. He was 


concentrating his whole! army at that point, as well as the favor- 
aware of the commanding general's circular fixing upon Pipe 
Creek for the field of battle and he probably thought it unwise 
to bring on a general engagement elsewhere. Not so, however, 
with Sickles. He too had received Meade's circular and w^hen 
at two o'clock P. M., Howard's dispatch calling for assistance 
was received, he was for a time perplexed. From indications on 
the day previous it was feared that the enemy would attempt to 
flank the Union line by its left by way of Fairfield and Emmitts- 
burg, and he was under orders from the commander-in-chief 
to hold the latter place at all hazards. Through General Tre- 
maine, one of his aides, he had received but a short time before 
a suggestion from Reynolds that he had better come to the 
front, but no positive order to that effect, and now when How- 
ard's dispatch w^as received he at once determined to hasten to 
the rescue, and leaving two brigades and a battery to hold Em- 
mittsburg, he put the balance of his corps in motion for Gettys- 
burg, arriving there just as the broken and shattered survivors 
of the First and Eleventh Corps were taking their new position 
upon Cemetery and Culp Hills. A letter was also sent to Gen- 
eral Meade, informing him of what he had done and asking his 
approval of it, which approval was subsequently given. 

We turn again to the field of strife to note what was trans- 
piring there. Nearly two hours of desperate fighting had taken 
place since the two divisions of Reynolds' Corps had reached 
the field in aid of the First. During this time hundreds were 
slain and many more wounded, but the patriot troops were hold- 
ing their own. At length at one o'clock P. M. the head of the 
Eleventh Corps reached Gettysburg, Schimmelpheming's divis- 
ion led the way, followed by that of Schurz, now temporarily 
commanded by Barlow, Schurz taking command of the corps 
while Howard commanded the field. These two divisions were 


directed to prolong the line of the First Corps along Seminary 
Ridge. The remaining division, under Steinwehr, with the re- 
serve artillery, under Major Osborne, were ordered to occupy 
Cemetery Hiil, in the rear or south of Gettysburg, as a reserve. 
While these newly arrived troops were taking the positions 
assigned them Buford's scouts reported the approach of a large 
Confederate force from the north, directly upon the right of the 
Federal line. It will be remembered that Rode's division from 
Carlisle and Early from York, had reached Heidlersburg, ten 
miles north of Gettysburg, the previous evening. These were 
the troops approaching. Lee's orders to Ewell were to recall 
these two divisions and have them concentrated about Cash- 
town. In accordance with this order they left their encamp- 
ment at Heidlersburg about ten o'clock A. M., Early proceeding 
upon one road and Rodes by the one diverging to the right and 
leading by Middletown to Cashtown. While en route to that 
place the sound of cannonading in the direction of icttvsbuig 
was heard, and at Middletown, seven miles northwest of the 
first named place, General Ewell, who was travelling with Rodes, 
hearing that Hill's troops were marching towards Gettysburg, 
in the exercise of discretion which is sometimes allowable, turned 
the head of his columns in the same direction. The increasing 
sound of the guns as he approached the town convinced him that 
the Federals were there in force and caused him to make imme- 
diate preparations for the battle. 

At half past one P. M. a battery belongin.g^ to Rodes' division 
reached Oak Hill, an eminence about one mile northeast of the 
Seminary, and having established a line, at once opened fire. At 
the same time Rodes' infantry moved forward into line. They 
were formed across Seminary Ridge facing south, with Iver- 
son's brigade on the right, supported by Daniels' and O' Neil's 
in the centre and Dole on the left. Ramseur was held in reserve. 


While these preparations were being hurriedly made by the Con- 
federates, similar preparations were being made by the newly- 
arrived divisions of the Eleventh Corps, the last of whom only 
reached the field at forty-five minutes after one o'clock. Colonel 
Taylor, of Lee's staff, in the same report previously referred to, 
further says: "On reaching the scene of conflict, General Rodes 
made his disposition to assail the force with which Hill's troops 
were engaged, but no sooner were his lines formed, than he 
perceived fresh troops of the enemy extending their right flank 
and deploying in his immediate front. He was soon actively 
engaged, and the contest became sharp and earnest. When it 
was known that Rodes and Early were approaching the field, 
General Howard sent another urgent request to General Slocum, 
who with his magnificent corps w^as but five miles distant and 
resting in the fields, to hasten to his assistance, and as these 
powerful accessions to the Rebel force entered into the engage- 
ment, messenger after messenger bore with tremendous speed 
appeals for help, but it came not. At last when Howard saw 
that the crisis was approaching, he sent his brother, Major 
Charles Howard, a member of his stafT, to urge General Slocum 
to come in person if he would not send his troops. To this last 
appeal General Slocum replied that he declined to go to the 
front, or take any responsibility, as he understood that General 
Meade did not wish to bring on a general engagement. 

General Slocum had before this proven himself to be a good 
soldier and on the following two days did excellent service, as 
well as subsequently to the close of the war. He doubtless felt 
that he had sufficient reasons for his course that day, but history 
will record his refusal to hasten to the relief of his imperilled 
comrades as a grave error. His conduct was in marked contrast 
to that of General Sickels. The same orders had been issued to 
all. General Sickels had received Meade's circular indicating 


Pipe Creek as the ground chosen for battle, and was at Emmitts- 
burg on his way to Middleburgh to take the position assigned 
him in the intended Hne, when he received at that place Howard's 
dispatch stating the situation at the front, and urgently calling 
upon him for assistance. Had he, like Slocum, adhered to the 
letter of his instructions, which were only given to provide for 
a possible contingency, he too would have paid no attention to 
the call of his imperilled comrades, but his heroic soul responded 
to the appeal and he at once set his columns in motion. After 
the arrival of Rodes and the formation of his troops confronting 
those of the Eleventh Corps, which had reached the field but a 
short time before, the battle raged with varied results for over 
an hour, when at three o'clock P. M., Early came in upon Rodes' 
left and struck the Union right. 

Almost simultaneously with this Pender's division of Hill 
Corps, which had been in reserve, came in upon the extreme left 
of the line, and both flanks being turned, retreated, as capture 
became inevitable. Rodes, observing the effect of Early's attack, 
ordered his line forward, and the Union Hues were broken. The 
right, which was considerably wearied by their hurried march 
from Emmittsburg and had borne the fierce onslaught too of 
Rodes' and Early's division, w^as the first to yield. It fell back 
steadily and in tolerable order, covered to some extent by Bu- 
ford's cavalry, until the town was reached, when it was thrown 
into inextricable confusion, as the men became intermingled in 
various cross streets, during which several thousand of them 
were captured. 

In the meantime the sturdy left wing, which had stood like a 
wall of adamant against the foe since morning, was also com- 
pelled to fall back before Pender's tremendous onslaught. In 
vain the heroic Doubleday and Robinson and Wadsworth at- 
tempted to stay the tide. To remain longer under such a wither- 


ing fire with their left overlapped by Pender a quarter of a mile, 
was certain death or capture. The retreat of this part of the 
force, however, was conducted in a more orderly manner than 
the right, men firing and falling back and at length reaching 
Cemetery Hill through the suburb of the town. Some idea of the 
losses sustained by patriot forces that day may be inferred from 
the fact that Wadsworth's division entered the fight with four 
thousand men and came out of it with but sixteen hundred. 
Rowley's division also suffered almost as severely and Stone re- 
ported that two-thirds of his brigade had fallen. Severe and 
terrible, however, as were the losses of the Union troops, the 
Confederates suffered as severely in killed and wounded. In 
prisoners taken the Federals lost most, chiefly in the number 
taken in Gettysburg, among whom were thei'r wounded who had 
been taken there from the field. 

Deeds of heroism were displayed during the engagement of 
this day that deserve everlasting remembrance. The following 
only, related by Colonel Wallow, a Confederate officer and eye- 
witness, can be given. The colonel says, a little to the left of 
Hay's command a tattered Federal regiment faced to the right 
and attempted to make a stand, but in a very few moments, over- 
come by the hopelessnes if not the folly of their position, the 
greater part turned and fled. Just at this moment a most gallant 
young officer, riding bravely forward waving his hat and bran- 
dishing his sword, cried out : "Don't run, men. Cowards run." 
Some of our men cried out, ''Don't shoot that man; don't shoot 
him." Several companies swung around with the intention of 
capturing him and his li'ttle band of heroes, when a volley fired 
from the right struck him, and he tumbled dead from his horse, 
to fill up the long sad roll of the unknown. General Hays, who 
was near at the time, expressed his deep regret when the gallant 
hero fell. The broken and defeated but not demoralized patriots 


who liad been compelled to fall back before overwhelming num- 
bers, at length reached the hill of refuge. South Gettysburg, 
where by the prudent forethought of that Christian soldier, 
General Howard, rallying place had been repared. Steinwehr's 
division had been formed in double lines and artillery placed so 
as to command every approach by the north, and as our wearied 
men approached they were rallied and placed in position by 
Howard, Steinwehr, Schurz and Hancock, who had now came 
up, and as the pursuing Confederates pushed up through the 
field to the northern slope of hill, Wendrick battery poured grape 
and canister upon them, compelling them to halt. It was about 
half past four P. M. when the defeated troops of the First and 
Eleventh Corps reached Cemetery Hill, and about the same time 
General Hancock arrived, wdio, in obedience to Meade's orders 
directing him to proceed to Gettysburg and examine the position 
chosen by Howard, and also to take command of all forces there, 
had. hurried to the front and arrived at this most critical period. 
General Hancock informed Howard of his instructions, and at 
once set about rallying the men and placing them in position ro 
meet any attack the enemy might make. General Hancock, after 
a brief survey of the position chosen, was much pleased with it, 
and reported to the commander-in-chief that it was admirably 
adapted for fighting a defensive battle, but liable to be turned by 
way of Emmittsburg, and that he w^ould halt. 

Until he could arrive and judge for himself, a dispatch reached 
General Meade at half past six P. M. Before it arrived, how- 
ever, General Meade, satisfied from reports brought by officers 
returning from the field that Lee was concentrating his whole 
army there, issued orders to the Fifth and Twelfth Corps to 
proceed to that place and w^hen Hancock's dispatch arrived he 
sent out orders to all his corps commanders to move to Gettys- 


At seven o'clock General Slocum reached the field, and being 
the senior officer, Hancock turned over the command to him. 
and went back to see General Meade at Taneytown, to inform 
him of the condition of affairs at the front. Reaching head- 
quarters at nine P. M. he was informed by General Meade that 
he had decided to fight at Gettysburg and had given orders 
accordingly. At eleven P. M. both generals with the headquar- 
ter's staff left Taneytown, and reached the front at one A. M. of 
the second of July. During the brief time General Hancock was 
upon the field he made the best disposition of the forces at his 
command w^hich he possibly could. In Gulp Hill, a commanding 
position, Wadsworth's division of the First Corps was at once 
sent. Then to Round Top he at once sent Geary's division of 
the Twelfth Corps. The Eleventh Corps were placed in the front 
and right center and the remaining two divisions of the First 
Corps joined the left of the Eleventh and extended the line down 
on the left towards Round Top. To this the cavalry were joined. 
The new position chosen, in the main, for us was one of great 
strength. Having given the details of the first day's engagement 
as well as stated the condition, and had the Confederates followed 
up the advantages gained and stormed Cemetery Hill at once, 
the result of the next two day's fighting might have been sadly 
different from what they were. That our position could have 
been promptly made is asserted by one entirely competent to 
judge. General Doubleday, who says, both, full and well, had re- 
ceived stunning blows during the day and were disposed to be 
cautious, they therefore did not press forward and take the 
height, as they could easily have done at this time. The failure 
of the Confederates to attack Cemetery and Gulp's Hill in the 
three hours which inten-ened between the time when the broken 
and shattered Federals took possession of them and the darkness 


of evening, was fraught with consequences of such vast import- 
ance that the reasons for it deserve special consideration. 

The following, taken from the highest and most important 
sources, is to the point. General Doubleday, in the same con- 
nection above referred to, says : General Lee reached the -field 
before Hancock came and watched the retreat of the First and 
Eleventh Corps and Hancock's movements and dispositions 
through his field glass. He was not deceived by the show of 
force and sent a recommendation, not an order, to Ewell to 
follow up. Ewell in the exercise of his discretion as a corps 
commander did not, so he had lost three thousand men and 
both he and Hill were under orders not to bring on a general en- 
gagement. In fact they had all the fighting they desired for 
the time being. Colonel Campbell Brown of Ewell's staff states 
that the latter was preparing to move forward against the right, 
when a false report induced him to send Gordon's brigade to 
reinforce Smith's brigade on his extreme left, to meet a supposed 
Union advance in that direction. The advance of these two 
brigades decided him to wait for the arrival of Johnson's divis- 
ion before taking further action. When the latter came up, 
Slocum and Sickels were on the ground. General Lee witnessed 
the flight of the Federals through Gettysburg and up the hills 
beyond. He then directed his adjutant general to go to General 
Ewell and say to him that from the position which he occupied, 
he could see the enemy retreating over those hills, without or- 
ganization and in great confusion, that it was only necessary to 
press these people in order to secure possession of the heights, 
and that if possible he wished him to do this. General Ewell, 
in his official report, states his reasons for not ordering the 
attack, which are as follows: The enemy had fallen back to a 
commanding position that was known to us as Cemetery 
Hill, south of Gettysburg, and quickly showed a formidable 


front there. On entering the town, I received a message from 
the commanding general to attack the hill if I could do so to 
advantage. I could not bring artillery to bear on it. All the 
troops with me were jaded by twelve hours' marching and fight- 
ing. General Ewell deemed it unwise to make. The troops were 
not moved forward and the enemy proceeded to occupy and 
fortify the position. Opportunity for a successful attack had 

Thus the curtain of night fell upon the scene, hiding from 
view the thousands of dead, wounded and suffering men of both 
armies, who lay scattered over the field. The telegraph mean- 
while carried the news of the sad results to the national cause 
all over the loyal north, producing gloom, anxiety and fear. 
Here I close this chapter, preparing to resume the narrative with 
incidents of the morning of June 29th, 1863. 

On the morning of June 29th, the regiment started on what 
was perhaps the most remarkable day's march during its ser- 
vice. The day was hot throughout and the halts were brief. From 
early mornig through afternoon to evening and then until mid- 
night the press was forward. There was complaint and 
grumbling, growling, and worse. The men declared that Han- 
cock would not stop until he got to Harrisburg. Straggling be- 
gan early and rapidly increased towards evening, and was fear- 
ful by midnight, and when the regiment halted for the night there 
were twenty-seven men present besides the staff. The day began 
with route march and ended with go as you please. The dif- 
ferent regiments became mingled with the stragglers and the 
stragglers with other regiments than their own. 

At the end of the column, when the last regimental staff had 
passed, there followed an army of the lame, the halt, the sick, 
and last of all the born tired. The ambulances Avere full of offi- 
cers and men. It is said that a thousand men in the Second 


corps were physically disabled for weeks thereafter. Even many 
who went into the battle of Gettysburg and did good service 
under its stimulating influence, after it w^as over were sent to 
the hospitals at Washington and Baltimore for general repairs. 
The halt was near Uniontown. The route had been by way of 
Liberty and Johnsonville, a distance of nearly thirty-five miles. 
On the 30th the corps rested at Uniontown for the day. All 
day long the stragglers were coming up and one by one joined 
their regiments. A motley, dirty crowd they were, for having 
fallen in their tracks and slept, they had made an early start to 
find their corps, not waiting to wash or clean themselves. 

Early on the morning of July ist we again stretched our weary 
limbs and about noon we reached Tennallytown. Here we ex- 
pected to go into camp and remain for some time. 

The advance of the army composed of the First and Eleventh 
corps, under General Reynolds, at this time had passed Gettys- 
burg a mile or more when it encountered the rebel forces, who 
were concentrating at that point. While we were putting up our 
tents I saw General Meade ride up to General Hancock's head- 
quarters, and shortly after we were ordered to fall in and we 
beg-an a forced march, which we found out later was to the 
battlefield of Gettysburg. 

The following is the text of General Meade's order as received 
by General Hancock just previous to our leaving Tennallytown : 


July 1, 1863. 1:10 P. M. 
Commanding Officer, Second Corps: 

The major-general commanding has just been informed that General 
Reynolds has been killed or badly wounded. He directs that you turn 
over the command of your corps to General Gibbons, that you proceed 
to the front and by virtue of this order, in case of the truth of General 
Reynold's death, you assume command of the corps there assembled, viz.. 


the Eleventli, First and Third, at Emmittsburg. If you think the ground 
and position there a better one on which to fight a battle under existing 
circumstances, you will so advise the general and he will order all the 
troops up. You know the general's views, and General Warren, who is 
fully aware of them, has gone out to see General Reynolds. 

By Order of 


Major-General Commanding. 

After we had commenced our march we began to hear the 
booming of cannon and at once the men were all excitement, and 
we marched still faster. Soon dame rumor was busy among the 
men. First we heard that Reynolds was killed and that Han- 
cock had been ordered to the front and General Gibbons placed 
in command of the Second corps. For once dame rumor w^as 
right, as we afterwards found out. 

On our march from Fredericksburg to Gettysburg, strict 
orders were issued that there should be no foraging under severe 
penalty for each and every offence. As we w^ere nearing Gettys- 
burg a flock of geese came near the road and, as is usual with 
geese, they commenced to hiss. As they all looked plump and 
fat, I could not resist the temptation to run my bayonet through 
one. As I did so General Zook happened to ride up, and seeing 
me with the goose on my bayonet, he drew his sabre and spur- 
ring towards me, pretended to strike me. I did not wait, but 
with the goose still on the bayonet started on the double quick to 
my company. After 'getting among the boys I took the goose off 
the bayonet and carried it in my hands until I reached camp. 
At night General Zook sent for me to come to his quarters. I 
went and he asked me about the goose, saying at the same time 
that he was surprised to think that one of his men would disobey 
orders, and again asked me why I had done so. I said, ''Gen- 
eral, as we passed that flock of geese they began to hiss at >xs 
and I knew at once they were rebels, and thought it my duty to 


capture a rebel at any time. I did so and have brought him 
to your headquarters, and now await your decision." He said, 
"You may leave your prisoner here and go to your tent." 

While on the march we found the trees loaded with cherries 
and other fruits. Everything was pleasing to the eye and palate, 
but we could not tarry long enough to enjoy the fruit or flowers. 
The closer we came to the battlefield the more we saw of 
wounded, and stragglers and an ambulance passed through our 
lines bearing the body of General Reynolds. Soon we began to 
realize that the enemy was making a strong effort to drive back 
the Union forces. We arrived on the scene of the first day's 
battle shortly after dark. We then learned that the First and 
Eleventh corps had been pretty well cut up and defeated, having 
been driven through the streets of Gettysburg and had assembled 
on what is now known as Cemetery Ridge. By orders of Gen- 
eral Hancock, on the night of July ist we lay on the left of the 
Baltimore Pike. As soon as w^e had halted for the night, the 
usual detail of men was made — some to get water, others to 
make the fires, and others to do the cooking. I was one to get 
water, but lost my supper, as I was so tired I fell asleep while I 
was waiting for the supper to be cooked and I did not wake up 
until we were called in the morning to get ready to take our 
position on the battlefield. As I had lost my supper, I also was 
unfortunate enough to lose my breakfast. 

In order to have a correct understanding of the details of the 
two days' battle, and that the reader may grasp the positions 
occupied by the two great armies, we will describe their positions 
as follows : Approaching Gettysburg from the southeast, by the 
Baltimore Pike, we ascend by a gradual slope a high ridge which 
is in the shape of a horse-shoe with its left side or flange longer 


than the other. Upon this ridge and conforming to its natural 
outHne the Union Hne was established. The toe of this horse- 
shoe reaches the southern outskirt of the town and rests upon 
what is called Cemetery Hill, so named from the fact that upon 
it was situated the local cemetery connected with the town. Its 
right side or flange extends somewhat eastward and then curves 
sharply to the south, ending with Gulp's Hill, a wooded and 
rocky eminence. Rock Creek, a stream of some considerable 
size, runs by its eastern base, and passing south at length enters 
the Monocacy. This flank was well protected by the nature of 
the slope, which is high and commands the entire country around 
it. The distance from the toe of the horse-shoe, which was the 
Federal center, to the termination of the line at Rock Creek, is 
about three-quarters of a mile. The left side or flange, which 
was considerably longer than the right, follows the ridge in a 
southwestward direction and terminates at two high well-defined 
and rocky-sided hills or cones, known as Little Round Top and 
Big Round Top. The last-named top was the Federal left. It 
is high, rocky, rugged and exceedingly rough, and during the 
battle was a position of the greatest importance, in fact it was the 
key of the whole battle. The artillery upon its summit com- 
manded the entire country around. Behind these hills the ground 
gently sloped toward the east and afforded an excellent protec- 
tion to the reserves and ammunition trains. The superiority of 
the Federal position commanded the town and the entire country 
over which the Confederates must pass to attack them, as well 
as the right or left of their line. Therefore upon a larger triangle 
the enemy was compelled to operate. This gave the Union troops 
the incalculable advantage of moving on an interior and shorter 
line and enabled them to throw their reserves with rapidity to any 
place along the line, either east or west, where they might be 
needed. Such then were the positions of the two great armies. 



The Second Day's Battle. — Premonition of Death. — General Zoolv is 
Killed.— Wounded and Taken Prisoner.— The Third Day's Battle.— 
Pickett's Charge. — Retreat of the Rebel Army. — Again Among 
Friends. — Sent to the Hospital. — Life in the Hospital. — Rejoined My 
Regiment. — Death of Colonel Chapman. — New Faces and New Com- 

We were hurried to the front and ordered to take a position 
along the Emmittsburg road. Never shall I forget the day. It 
was very hot and everything was very quiet until about ten 
o'clock, when we were ordered to move to the left and fiill up the 
space that General Sickels had left open in the morning. 

On that morning I seemed to have a presentment that I would 
either be wounded or killed. With this feeling within me, I 
said to Andrew Wilson that I knew something would happen to 
me that day, and w^e there mutually agreed that if I was killed 
he was to write to my mother and if he was killed I was to do 
the same for him. As I had quite some money on my person I 
went to General Zooks and asked him to take charge of it for 
me. The general said : ''My boy, you must not have such feel- 
ings, but if you are afraid I Avill give you a pass to go into the 
ambulance corps." 

I said : "No, General, I have never yet deserted my comrades in 
battle and I do not intend to desert them now. If I am killed 
I shall be killed doing my duty." So the general took the money, 
and soon after I returned to my quarters, the general sent for 


me, and when I went to his tent he said to me : "My boy, I have 
the same sensations you have — that I will be killed — and you 
had better take the money and give it to some one else." After 
some further conversation I took the money, and when I got 
back to my company I went to Captain Mott, and telling him of 
my feelings, asked him to take the money, telling him that if 1 
was killed what to do with it. So he received the money and 
gave me a receipt for it. 

While we were lying in this position w^aiting for the battle to 
open, I w'as visited by my brother, w^ho w^as a member of the 
First United States cavalry. He was on General Kilpatrick's 
staff and was carrying despatches to General Meade's head- 
quarters. While WQ were talking a single shot was fired, and at 
once the battle was on. I said to my brother, ''The enemy seems 
to be moving and I think you had better get back to your quar- 
ters." He bid me good-bye and started at once. 

I have briefly mentioned the fact that General Hancock had 
left us at Tennallytown and had gone to the front. Such was 
the case, and as I have since learned that the Union forces, con- 
sisting of the First and Eleventh corps had been driven back 
with the loss of over 4,000 men by capture besides many dead 
and wounded. 

It was the purpose of General Reynolds to hold Gettysburg, 
if possible, until the rest of the army arrived. While this was 
not accomplished, yet Cemetery Ridge was saved and proved 
the key to the position. 

When General Hancock arrived on the ground of the first 
day's fight, he and General Warren conferred together and se- 
lected the stragetic points, such as Cemetery Ridge, Gulp's Hill 
and Little Round Top. They also made a great show of force 
by moving and placing troops so as to deceive the enemy, and 
soon brought order out of the general confusion. 


The poor fellows who had fought so hard, while looking and 
praying for the main army, were enspirited by General Han- 
cock's presence, and cheer after cheer went up as they though: 
reinforcements had arrived. Fortunately no further attack was 
made upon our lines, and darkness brought its welcomed relief. 
Before morning the Second, and indeed all except the Sixth 
corps, were on the ground or near at hand and the danger of an 
unequal contest had passed. During the night the several corps 
were assigned positions for the impending struggle, which must 
begin as we thought, with the earliest light of the coming day. 

The Second corps occupied the left centre on Cemetery Ridge, 
a little to the left of Cemetery Hill. There was a clear field in 
front, extending down a gradual descent to the bed of a stream 
called Plum Run, beyond which was the Emmittsburg road. 
Seminary Ridge, on which the rebels had massed their forces, 
began to rise just beyond the road, its crest was about a mile 
from and ran nearly parallel to Cemetery Ridge, along which the 
Union army was posted. On our left front was the peach 
orchard, in its rear was the wheatfield, and to the left rear of 
these was the woods and the two round tops. Far to the right 
was Gettysburg, at that time, a small town, and to the right 
rear of the town was Gulp's Hill, the extreme right of our line. 

The corps were arranged from right to left as follows: The 
Twelfth on Gulp's Hill, the Eleventh on Cemetery Hill, and part 
of the first in reserve formed the right wing. The second and 
third divisions of the Second corps, the third division of the First 
corps, and the first division of the Second corps formed the 
centre in the order named. The Third and Fifth corps formed 
the left wing. General Slocum was in command of the right, 
General Hancock the centre and General Sickels the left. 

The Fifty-seventh regiment did its fighting on the 2nd of July 
not in its own front, but to its left with the Third corps in the 

iq6 under five commanders. 

wheatfield and adjoining woods. General Longstreet occupied 
the rebel right wing, hence our fighting was with Longstreet's 
corps. Lee had given him orders to attack at daylight, but 
Longstreet, usually so prompt did not move until about noon, 
by which time the Fifth corps had arrived on the ground and 
the Sixth corps was only three hours away. This delay was life 
to the Union army. 

It is not my purpose in this book to give a complete history of 
the army or even of the Second corps, but only such doings as 
show our relations to the whole while engaged in a battle. One 
part of an army knows little about the positions and fighting of 
another part, but when it is over and one is at liberty to examine 
the map of the position and hears the account of the struggle, he 
quickly sees what relation he sustained to the whole. 

General Lee thinking the peach orchard was the left of our 
line, expected by turning it to double our flank and get into our 
rear, so Longstreet massed his men under cover of the woods 
and hurled brigade after brigade upon the Third corps in the 
peach orchard and the wheatfield. 

When the attack commenced Round Top was a signal station 
unoccupied by troops. General Warren saw in it the key to the 
position and ordered troops to occupy it. Both armies met on 
its summit and after desperate fighting, the rebels were driven 
down the hill, defeated. Lee fretted greatly over the loss of 
Round Top, but could not possess it later. Then it had been 
fortified against him. The fighting, thus began on the left, con- 
tinued with great fury. General Sickels had formed the Third 
corps into a right angle, the ends resting on the main line and 
the angle in the peach orchard. This, in military tactics, is a 
weak formation, because each line can be enfibded by the en- 
emy's troops surrounding its apex, and so it proved in this case. 

The fighting was stubborn, but the line gave way. The rebels 



poured into the peach orchard, thence through the opening of the 
woods into the wheatfield and up to Plum Run. It was at this 
junction that General Hancock sent the first division of the 
Second corps into the wheatfield to drive back the victorious 

The morning of July 2d had passed to the amazement of all in 
the Union rank without any aggressive movement on the part 
of General Lee, notwithstanding the strong reasons which 
prompted him to take an early initiative, only one additional 
brigade, that of McLaw, came upon the confederate side during 
this day, while on the Union side the fifth corps was already close 
to the field of the battle and the sixth corps toiling patiently along 
on its unbroken march of thirty hours might be expected on the 
ground before sun should set. Yet hour after hour was allowed 
to go by without a sign of activity among the confederate forces 
as seen from our lines, at last just at this moment when General 
Meade learned of the advance of Sickles' command, the divisions 
of Hood and McLaw of Longstreet's corps began this long 
meditated attack against the Union left, for it was here and not 
upon Gulps or Cemetery Hill that the confederate commander 
had determined to deliver his blows. 

Lee's plans was by extending his lines to outflank that portion 
of Sickles' force which might be found to have been drawn back- 
ward from the Peach Orchard toward Round Top or else by 
sheer force to break through that line and thereupon to sweep 
down the Emmettsburg road, take that portion of Sickles' line 
and rolling it up until the victorious troops should come opposite 
the confederate center where Hill corps and Anderson's division 
could be first, and then Pender should be thrown forward to join 
in the accumulating assault, either to carry Cemetery Ridge 
from the south and southwest, or to move directly into the 
Union's rear, Hood was intrusted the outflanking or breaking in 


of that portion of the Union hne which might be found drawn 
back from the Peach Orchard toward Round Top to McLaw's. 
The attack on the angle at the Peach Orchard and the move- 
ment down Emmettsburg road against Humphrey's division, as 
Hood after the long delay involved in getting so formidable a 
force into position while moving them out of sight of the Union 
signal parties came against that portion of the Union line which 
was refused, he found it in unexpected force. Here were the bri- 
gades of Detrobriand and Ward, and though the great length of 
the line to be held had drawn them out perilously thin, wxll did 
the old division of Kearney acquit itself that day, but though the 
line of Detrobriand and Ward resisted stubbornly it could easily 
be outflanked since its extreme left extended only to the Devil's 
den, and soon the brigade of McUaw and tw^o regfiments of 
Robertson's Texans parting from the rest of Hood's division, the 
Commander of which had already fallen severelv wounded, passed 
around the extreme left of Sickles', around Devil's Den and di- 
rected their movement against little Round Top. The position of 
little Round Top, not less important upon the left than Cemetery 
Hill upon the center, or Culps Hill upon the right had been 
strongly neglected ever since Geary sent thither by Hancock up- 
on his first arrival on the field had been withdrawn to join the 
Twelfth Corps 

The vast extension involved in Sickles' advance had left no 
troops available to occupy the hill, and thousands of confeder- 
ates, fierce and eager, were advancing to seize it, while defended 
solely by a signal officer and his two assistants, though not by 
these alone : one other was there, a slender, graceful young offi- 
cer, Engineer Warren, who had climbed the slope to scan the 
western horizon w^here his prescient mind had described the 
signs of danger, perceiving the yet distant approach of McLaw's 


Warren commands the signal officers to continue their work 
to the last moment in order to create the impression that the hill 
is occupied, and darting northward seeks some casual force that 
may anticipate the fatal occupation of little Round Top by the 
enemy. It is the head of columns of the Fifth Corps which he 
meets hastening to the support of Detrobriand, he takes the re- 
sponsibility of detaching the foremost troops and hurries them 
forward to anticipate the arrival of the confederate line of bat- 
tle. There is not a minute to spare, the opposing forces meet 
on the crest, the contest is close, fierce and deadly, the rocky 
slopes and narrow wooded passes resound with infernal clamor. 
Vincent falls at the head of his men. Weed also isi struck down 
with a mortal wound and as Hazlitt bends over him to catch the 
last message he too is thrown lifeless upon the body of his friend. 
But our line is now complete and the valor of the men of Maine, 
Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania has made it secure. 

Well did General Abbott say that but for the wonderful con- 
pedial of Warren and his prompt acceptance of responsibility 
the name of Gettysburg might only have been known in histor}^ as 
that of the place where the Union cause made its grave. Although 
the attempt of Hood to outflank the Union left had thus been 
thwarted, his assaults upon the southwestern part of Sickles' 
line did not for a moment cease, while McLaw's now coming into 
action on Hood's left assailed the force holding the Peach 
Orchard adown. 

Both lines which formed that fatal angle, the confederate bat- 
teries poured their enfilading fire, Sweitzer and Tiltan brigades 
had already been sent to assist Birney division and a portion of 
Humphrey's was brought over to support the left, but the hostile 
forces are too powerful. Eleven confederate batteries have long 
been pounding our troops : at last with a supreme effort. Barks- 
dale's ^lississippians burst through Graham's feeble line, drive 



out McGilvary artillery and pour down into the rear of the Un- 
ion troops. Sweitzer and T'iltan are overwhelmed and thrown 
back, and fo r a time all seems lost. 

When about four o'clock p. m. the order came to move, the 
Fifty-seventh fell in, filed left, went into the woods and was soon 
under fire. As we pushed forward a bullet struck my right arm 
and passed through it. As we charged into the wheatfield a shell 
exploded and shattered my right leg and killed two of my com- 




TAKBN JULY 5th, 1863. 

rades. When I was shot in the arm, the feeling was the same 
as though I had been struck on the elbow — a feeling of numb- 
ness came into the arm — and I turned to the comrade by my side 
and asked him why he had hit me. He said : '*I did not hit you, 
but you have been shot and you had better go to the rear." I 
laughed at him and said I w^as not hurt bad enough to do so. 
Shortly after I was injured, as I have mentioned, by the shell. 
After my leg was shattered I fell down, laying for a few minutes 


unconscious, and when I came to my senses I found I was sur- 
rounded by the enemy and a rebel officer was standing over me 
with one foot on my wounded leg. I pleaded with him to step 
off my wounded leg. He said in answer to my pleadings, 
drawing his sword, "You d — Yankee, I will cut your heart out," 
and as he raised his sword a ball came from the direction of 
Little Round Top and cut him through the throat, and he fell 
beside me dead. As darkness crept in to cover the scene of 
blood and death, the musketry fire ceases, the artillery fire lan- 
guishes, and the pall of smoke drifts away on the rising night- 

The second day's battle here is over. Wearied by the long 
march and heavy fighting and suffering from my wounded leg 
and arm, and the moans of others suffering from wounds came 
across the battlefield and could not be shut out even by covering 
my head. 

And it was terrible, on the right 

Raged for hours the heavy fight, 

Thundered the battery's double hass — 

Difllcult music for men to face; 

While on the left where now graves 

Undulate like the living waves, 

That all the day unceasing sweep. 

Up to the pits the rebels keep — 

Round shot ploughed the upland glades 

Sown with bullets, reaped with blades. 

Shatered fences here and there 

Tossed their splinters in the air. 

The very trees were stripped and bare. 

The barns that once held yellow grain 

Were heaped with harvests of the slain. 

The cattle bellowed on the plain. 

The turkeys screamed with might and main. 

And brooding barn-fowl left their rest. 

With strange shells bursting in each nest. 


But weariness at last asserted itself and I fell asleep 
until morning. In the morning the rebels carried me from the 
range of their guns to a small knoll and from where I lay and 
watched the Confederates moving their artillery along the Em- 
mittsburg road and in the peach orchard to higher ground, for 
the purpose of obtaining a more commanding position for their 
artillery and comparatively clear ground for the movement of 
their infantry. I counted nearly seventy-five pieces of artillery 
near the peach orchard. I wait for the coming of the strife that 
is to decide the battle and the life of the Republic. The Union 
and Confederate soldiers lay within easy reach of each other. 
Only a short cannon shot separated the two armies. Both were 
awaiting the orders of their chiefs. 

At one o'clock two cannon shots in quick succession gave the 
signal, and instantly the Confederate position was for three miles 
wrapped in flame and smoke. Nearly 140 guns opened at once 
on the Union lines. The air was full of shrieking shells and fly- 
ing shot. The bursting shells sent their deadly fragments down 
in showers upon the rocky ridge, and over the plain behind the 
earth was thrown up in clouds of dust as the monstrous missiles 
buried themselves in the ground or glanced from the surface to 
take a new, and perchance, a more dangerous and fatal flight. 
On every hand caissons exploded, struck by iron balls, which 
but a half a minute before had lain in the limber chests of the 
batteries a mile away. As I lay there looking at the shot and 
shell, these words came to my mind : 

A hundred guns; yes, fifty more, 

Rained down their shot and shell; 
As if from out its yawning door, 

Drove the red blast of hell. 
The hiss, the crash, the shriek, the groan, 

The ceaseless iron hail; 
All this, for half the day, I own, 

It made the stoutest quail. 



After an hour the firing ceased, and for a time the stilhiess 
was oppressive. Then I suddenly saw what it all meant. Over 
the hill came a long line of skirmishers and behind them a line of 
battle, and behind that line another and then another. I raised 
on my left elbow and watch eagerly the long lines of the enemy's 
infantry as they emerged from the woods on Seminary Ridge. 
It presented one of the finest sights ever witnessed on a field of 
battle or anywhere else. Its front w^as nearly a mile in length. 


P— 5^:^>' - 


With their rifles carried at a right shoulder shift, they moved 
steadily onward as if on a grand review, marched across the 
fields, on across the Emmittsburg road, climbing over the two 
fences and so towards Cemetery Ridge. Every battery in the 
Union lines then opened fire. The smoke after a while became 
so dense that I was unable to see anything further. Just as the 
smoke began to lift somewhat I was again able to see. 

But suddenly, far to left, we heard 
The band strike up, and lo. 


Full in our front — no breath was stirred- 

Came Hancock, riding slow. 
As slow as if on dress parade, 

All down the line to right 
And back again. By my good blade, 

Was ever such a sight. 
We lay at length, no ranks could stand 

Against that tempest wild. 
Yet on he rode, with hat in hand, 

And looked, and bowed, and smiled. 
Whatever fears we had before 

Were gone; that sight, you know, 
Just made us fifty thousand more 

All hot to face the foe. 

At last I heard the Union band play the ''Star Spangled Ban- 
ner." Then I knew that Pickett's grand charge at Gettysburg 
had failed and that the Union troops had won the victory. After 
the repulse of Pickett's charge the rebel soldiers scattered all 
over the field like a lot of sheep without a head. Soon after 
darkness fell upon the scene, while the Confederate troops were 
momentarily expecting the advance of the Union troops, but no 
advance came, and thus closed the third day of the battle of 
Gettysburg. In the early part of the night the moon shone very 
bright, and as I lay within the rebel lines I ascertained that thd 
rebels were about to retreat. This I learned by overhearing Gen- 
eral Lee order General Longstreet to leave a strong picket force 
and to withdraw the troops under cover of the darkness. 

About four o'clock in the morning it commenced to rain. The 
rebels were retreating: in fact, they had been retreating since 
midnight. This did not carry out what the rebels had told me 
on the morning of the 3rd. On that day they very boastingly 
said to me, ''Well, Yank, we expect to eat our Fourth of July 
dinner in Harrisburg." This was said before Pickett made his 


The morning of the 4th opened dark and gloomy. It was 
raining very hard and the rebels that were left felt very much 
depressed in spirits. Instead of being successful, they had met 
with defeat, their army was in retreat and all that was left of 
their army at Gettysburg was their strong picket line, which 
they could hold as the Union troops made no movement to oc- 
cupy the field of battle that had been evacuated by the rebels 
during the previous night. By midnight of the 4th there was not 
a living rebel left on the battlefield of Gettysburg, as early in the 
evening their picket line was withdrawn and I was left all alone 
among the dead. 

Early on the morning of the 5th of July the Union army ad- 
vanced and soon I was again among friends. I was removed to 
the Second corps hospital, where my wounds were properly 
dressed. There was such a number of wounded men brought to 
the hospital that we were obliged to take our turn in being at- 
tended to. While I was waiting for my turn to come I became 
an eye witness of a sight which I shall never forget while I live 
and one I hope never to witness again. I saw the physicians 
cutting off an arm from some, legs from another, and piling 
them in heaps outside the hospital to be afterwards buried. After 
my wounds were dressed, I was removed to the railroad station 
and sent to the hospital in Philadelphia, Pa., where I was giv- 
en the very best of care and attention. 

While in the hospital I was obliged to have an operation per- 
formed, having a small bone removed from my arm, and also 
one from the leg, that had been shattered when I was wounded. 
From the effects of the operations I was taken with wound fever 
and gangrene set in, so that I was not expected to live, but with 
the good care I received I recovered. I remained in the hospital 
from the 12th day of July, 1863, until April, 1864. While in 
the hospital I received the best of care and many dainties from 


the Sisters of Charity and the citizens in general. I shall never 
forget the Sisters for their kindness, nor shall I forget the din- 
ners they gave us on Christmas and New Years. For our Christ- 
mas dinner we had chicken and all the delicacies of the season, 
and on New Year's they gave us a turkey dinner with all that 
we could wish for. It was quite a change from hard tack and 
salt pork to turkey and chicken. While I was in the hospital, 
and I had almost recovered, the doctors desired me to join the 
Invalid corp attached to the hospital, but as soon as I was well 
enough I requested to be sent to my regiment. I liked the hospi- 
tal and every one connected with it was so kind to the soldiers, 
but I felt that my duty lay with my regiment and that was my 

In April the hospital authorities complied with my request, 
and I was discharged from the hospital and sent to Washington 
in company with one hundred others. Upon arriving in Wash- 
ington we were marched across the long bridge to Camp Distri- 
bution in Virginia, where I remained about a week. Then upon 
my request I was sent to my regiment in company with hundreds 
of other soldiers, who were going to the front to join the 
various regiments of which they were members. I rejoined my 
regiment on the second day's battle of the Wilderness while it 
was in action. It was a great pleasure for me to again meet my 
comrades, but before the day was over it became a day of sad- 
ness. Our colonel was killed during this fight, and to me it was 
a heavy blow. He was my orderly sergeant in the three months' 
service, and afterwards, when I enlisted for three years, he be- 
came my captain. At the battle of Antietam he was promoted 
to a major for bravery and afterwards promoted to lieutenant- 
colonel, and on April 24th was made colonel. It was during the 
time I was away in the hospital that he was made colonel of the 
regiment. I also found upon my return that all those who en- 


listed when I did that there was only a few left. Some had been 
taken prisoners, among them being my tent mate, Andrew Wil- 
son, who was taken prisoner at Bristow Station ; others had been 
wounded, and others had been discharged, so that I met with 
new faces, unknown to them and they unknown to me, excepting 
that I was a member of Company A, Fifty-seventh New York 



Battle of the Wilderness. — Return of the Regiment to Fredericksburg. — 
Burying the Dead. — Return to the Army. — The Siege of Petersburg, — 
Marching and Fighting. — Ordered Mustered Out. — Return Home. 

I have previously mentioned the care and attention I received 
while in the hospital, but I also desire to speak of the cleanliness 
observed in all its department. The hospital was divided into 
w^ards, every patient having a bed to himself with clean white 
sheets, each bed being supplied wdth two sheets, pillows and 
pillow cases and two heavy blankets. The floors were as clean 
and white as soap and water could possibly make them. 

After the battle of the Wilderness we were sent to Fredericks- 
burg to keep the disloyal part of the community in check. There 
was much guard and fatigue duty, the burial of our dead, we 
would dig a trench about twenty feet long by seven feet wide, 
and then would lay the bodies side by side until we had filled its 
length, then about a foot of dirt was placed on them until all was 
covered; then we would again lay other bodies in the trench, 
then more earth until the trench was filled. A head board was 
placed at their head on which was marked their names and the 
number of their regiment and company. 

The regiment remained at Fredericksburg until May 28tb, 
when with other regiments it formed a provisional brigade under 
the command of General Cessanola, and started for the main 
army, w^hich was then at Cold Harbor. Our route was south- 



ward down the Rappahannock river to Port Royal, thence to 
Bowhng Green and Hanover Court House, where we joined 
the right wing of the army. This point was reached on the 3rd 
of June, but it was not until the following day that we joined the 
brigade at Cold Harbor. 

Some skirmishing was done by the regiment and a detail of 
thirty men was sent to the left of the Second corps to feel the 
enemy and uncover his position. This was accomplished and 





a lively fire was exchanged, but v^ithout loss to us. 

At the beginning of the Sumner campaign of 1864, General 
Grant hoped and expected that he could disable or destroy Lee's 
army between the Rapidan and Richmond. After the battle of 
Cold Harbor these expectations vanished and General Grant, 
contrary to Halleck's suggestions to besiege Richmond on its 


east side, decided to cross the James river and strike its com- 
munications by the capture of Petersburg. 

During the eight days at Cold Harbor, preparations for the 
movement v^ere going on, by the gathering of transports and 
pontoons near the proper point on the James river, by the grad- 
ing of approaches down the banks of the river, and by carefully 
arranging for the advance of the several corps. 

The third brigade at this time was commanded by Colonel 
Clinton D. Medan Gall, and was composed of six New York 
regiments in the order named : Thirty-ninth, Fifty-second, 
Fifty-seventh, One Hundred and Eleventh, One Hundred and 
Twenty-fifth and the One Hundred and Twenty-sixth. General 
Barlow^ commanded the division, General Miles the first brigade, 
Colonel Kelly the second, and Colonel Beaver the third brigade. 
General Gibbon led the second division and General Birney the 
third. The movement toward Petersburg commenced on the 
night of June 12th, the Second corps started about midnight, 
leaving Colonel Hammil wdth the Sixty-sixth New York on 
picket line until it had completely withdrawn. The march con- 
tinued all night. On the 13th the Chicahominy river was crossed 
at Long Bridge and Charles City Court House was reached. 
The third brigade arrived at the James river at 4 p. m. on the 
14th. We formed line of battle, threw up breastworks and 
bivouaced for the night. At dawn of the 15th crossed the James 
river on transport from Wilcox's Landing to Wind Mill Point, 
and halted until 10 a. m., waiting for rations that did not come. 

Starting for Petersburg at that hour. General Barlow took the 
wrong road and travelled a long distance towards City Point 
before he discovered and corrected his mistake ; thus making the 
march longer than necessary and delaying his arrival at the fronc 
until midnight. The next day, June i6th, at 4 p. m., the third 
brigade advanced on the enemy's w^orks at a point near the Hare 


house. It was hoped that Lee's men had not yet arrived, but to 
our sorrow they were found to be on hand. After pihng knap- 
sacks, the hne of battle was formed, bayonets were fixed, guns 
put at a right shoulder shift, the command "Forward" was given, 
and out we marched into a hail of shell, canister and lead suffi- 
cient to satisfy the hungriest warrior. The boys greatly dreaded 
this charge, as it seemed a hopeless one. After forming line we 
waited quite a while before advancing, and this led to a calcula- 
tion of chances for life and consequently to a loss of nerve. Many 
good byes were said and loving messages left for home friends. 

The plain over which the attacking party must pass, was swept 
by a direct and cross fire from the earthworks that crowned the 
ridge beyond. Over this plain the brigade charged in close col- 
umn to a fence, behind which were the enemy's advanced rifle 
pits. Here the men became somewhat huddled and hesitated 
when the color bearer, Charlie Van Hise, carried the flag un- 
furled over the fence and into the orchard, followed by the regi- 
ment. The rebels gave way and fell back to their main line. The 
position thus gained by the first division consisted of three 
redouts and their connected works, was held and fortified, our 
pickets occupying the orchard beyond. General Barlow led this 
attack in person with hat in hand. 

The losses of the Fifty-seventh were severe. Captain Alcoke 
was shot through the lungs. Lieutenants Britton and Brower 
were severely wounded. Captain Middleton, Lieutenant Moore 
and Adjutant Case were slightly wounded. Three men were 
killed and thirty-six were wounded. On the 17th, before day- 
break, we again charged on the enemy's works and drove him out, 
capturing a battery and taking some prisoners. One rebel officer 
who was captured said, '*If you had let me know you were com- 
ing so early in the morning, I would have tried to give you a 
warmer reception." 


We were soon relieved and fell back to the rifle pits thrown up 
during the night, which now became our second line. The enemy 
withdrew from parts of their line. On the night of the 17th and 
on the 1 8th, General Birney advanced to the vacated position. On 
the 20th the Second corps was relieved by the Ninth corps, and 
went in reserve. Reserve, did I say? Yes, a reserve that gave 
rise to the name of Hancock's cavalry. A reserve that seldom 
stopped in one place long enough to get rested from its last tramp 
to and from the extreme end of the line. A reserve that was in 
nearly every fight from Deep Bottom to Ream's Station. A re- 
serve for heavy marching and for the support of every charge. 

When the Army of the Potomac settled down to the siege of 
Petersburg, we thought that now at last we would have a chance 
to rest, and yet at this late day, how well does the writer recall to 
memory the quick alarms, the midnight marches, the extra 
fatigue duties and the desperate battles that became our portion, 
while the rest of the army laid entrenched. 

On the 2ist of June, the reserve corps found itself on the march 
by the left flank. General Grant had planned to extend his line to 
the left, so as to embrace the Weldon Railroad, and thus cut off 
one highway of supplies to the enemy's capitol. As we filed out 
of the woods, where our position had been, and took the high and 
open road that led to the Jerusalem Plank Road, we felt like vet- 
erans whose wars were over, and henceforth we would rest from 
bloodshed for a season at least, far from the din of musketry and 
the unceasing ''pop, pop, pop" of the pickets that through the 
life-long day and night kept up a Fourth of July racket. 

In dead earnest the march of the 21st was south and west be- 
tween the Jerusalem Plank Road and the Weldon and Petersburg 
Railroad, the distance between the two roads — three miles — was 
to be occupied by the Second corps on the right and Sixth corps 
on the left. The Fifty-seventh marched rapidly at first, then 


coming to a place where the road turned into a wood, skirmish 
firing began to be heard in front, and we moved cautiously step 
by step, now a little and then a little, until the wounded began to 
come in, some walking and some on stretchers. We still advanced 
until within range of the rebel batteries, when a halt was made. 
A detail was now called for to go out as skirmishers. It was at 

Eating Supper in Peace. 

this time that a shell burst over the regiment, killing three men 
and wounding others. Some of the living claimed miraculous 
escapes from this disaster. 

After a little while the general line of the division was cor- 
rected. We took our place in it a little to the rear, threw up 
entrenchments and rested over night. On the 22nd of June the 


division moved to the front and right to connect with Mott's 
division. In doing so it was making a right wheel, and this threw 
its left forward beyond the Sixth corps, which was slow in com- 
ing up on the left of the Second. General Barlow provided for 
the possible coming in of the enemy between himself and the 
Sixth corps by throwing the left of his division in reserve. The 
Second, Third and Fourth brigades in the order named from 
right to left were in advance, while the First brigade was in 

General Lee, discovering Grant's movements toward the Wel- 
don Railroad, sent General A. P. Hill to check it. General Hill 
arrived upon our front just as General Barlow was executing the 
movement I have just described, and struck the Fourth brigade 
on the left and rear and simultaneously attacked three columns 
deep on the right flank. The break seenis to have begun on the 
left, but was quickly followed by the right, when a spontaneous 
movement of the whole line took place toward the rifle pits in the 
rear. This retirement was not so bad a thing, had it been care- 
fully done, but many of the recruits threw away their luggage, 
and by their haste succeeded in breaking up the regimental forma- 
tion, so that 1,700 men were captured, besides four guns of 
McKnight's battery. These were the first guns that had been 
lost by the Second corps since its formation, and was therefore 
the more greatly regretted. One man of the Fifty-seventh was 
killed and one was reported missing. 

On the 23rd we marched again toward the front until we ar- 
rived at a thick woods, where we could hardly see the end of a 
company, and here we "monkeyed around", as the boys used to 
say, until we lost our bearings and were attacked by the enemy in 
three columns. When we think of the many struggles our men 
had with unseen foes in the woods, and the disasters which often 
followed, it is easy to account for the distrust we felt as we 


entered such places, and a certain backwardness to go forward, 
and so it resulted here, for when the enemy flanked us on the left, 
a panic ran along the whole line from left to right, and the whole 
line broke and skedaddled to the rear. We had taken a position 
in the w^oods, connecting with the left of the Irish brigade and 
keeping close to the ground. Whether there was a line of skirm- 
ishers in our front or not, I never could find out, but the battle 
commenced and bullets came zipping through the woods, invisible 
shafts of death from unseen hands. 

■ Sergeant Evans had temporary command of the next company, 
and during a lull told us that one of his men had been killed. The 
bullets now came fast and our men began to fire, although no foe- 
man could be seen in the hazy woods. I pulled the trigger of my 
gun, the cap snapped, and as I turned to put on another I saw the 
line of the left giving way, and the Irish brigade on the right get- 
ting ready to go, for they were rising from the ground. A bullet 
crushed a sapling in front of me, so I hurriedly primed my gun, 
aimed at the green space in the direction of the foe, fired and fell 
back. Then I felt solitary enough, the only man to be seen was 
the dead man on the ground with a handkerchief over his face. 
I remember how, in my flight, I hopped over many fat haver- 
sacks, which had been thrown away, probably by new recruits 
or conscripts, of whom there were many now in the army, ancT 
some of them sadly impaired the moral of the rest. Upon reach- 
ing the road, I met the troops, both officers and men, hastening to 
the point from which we started. I did not stop to count them, 
but helped to swell their number. Catching sight of the men in 
gray up a wooded road moving parallel to us, we re-formed the 
line in the breastworks and waited for the rebels. We did not 
have long to wait, for they massed in the woods about two hun- 
dred yards distant, made two charges, but were quickly and easily 
repulsed. Our batteries in the breastworks had a chance to get in 


their work, and afterwards shelled the woods as a discourage- 
ment to their intimacy. 

Two or three days after the fighting, some of our men found 
two wounded rebels in the woods, who were brought into camp 
and kindly cared for. One was shot through the body and arm 
and yet had survived. He conversed calmly with the boys when 
it seemed as though he should have been crazed or dead from his 
wounds and privations. The only attention they had received 
for their wounds was from the welcome rain, which, as usual, 
came down after the battle. How we had watched the skies and 
the rolling clouds for some promise of a change, but none was 
given, till the cannon's deadly voice resounded over the parched 
hills and valleys. Then the heavens relented, and how appropri- 
ate, for when men are arrayed to slay each other the angels might 
indeed weep as well as the sympathizing clouds. 

From now on siege operations begin and are pushed forward 
in earnest, so that most of our time is spent in digging trenches 
and building forts. The shells from the mortars look very beau- 
tiful at night, as they describe long arcs with burning fuses, pass- 
ing from our lines to the enemy's, and from their position into 
our works, each one leaving a streaming tail of fire behind it. 
Sometimes we counted as many as thirty in the air at one 
time. Our men are protected from them and from other heavy 
missiles, by strong bomb proofs, so that we did not lose many 
killed or wounded. We have now immense earthworks with 
bomb-proof coverings extending for many miles across the 
Appomattox and James rivers on our right and stretching 
away towards the South Side Railroad on our left. The re- 
doubts are immense and all connected by curtains for infantry. 
There is a vast armament of artillery on both sides which thun- 
ders away with noise enough to frighten the world, but does very 
little execution among the men. The fatigue is terrible to the 



men who are digging the works, making new redoubts, curtain 
covered ways, etc. 

Whole divisions of 10,000 men are detailed for fatigue duty at 
the same time. The works will soon form such a labyrinth that 
none but those who are in them daily will be able to find the way 
to the front or when there to get out again. 

On the 26th we broke camp and started at 4 p. m., the First 
division in the lead, crossed the Appomattox about 9 p. m. at the 
Point of Rocks, and continued on to the James river, which was 
reached and crossed on pontoons below Bailey Creek about 3 
A. M. on the 27th. General Grant's object in this movement was 
that the Second corps and two division of the cavalry should 
secretly get to the north banks of the James river, the cavalry to 
make a dash into Richmond if the chances seemed favorable, but 
if not to destroy the two railroads east and north of the city. 
Grant thought that this movement might draw the enemy from 
the vicinity of Petersburg and make better the chances of success 
at the Burnside mine explosion. It was particularly understood 
that no general assault should be made on the works at Deep 

As it turned out the main thing accomplished was the drawing 
of a large part of Lee's army to the north bank of the James river, 
a result every way worthy of the movement. 

After crossing the river we were sent forward to a grove on 
the edge of Straw^berry Plains. We crossed the plains to the 
Long Bridge road, where we found the enemy entrenched. Upon 
these entrenchments General Miles charged vigorously, capturing 
several prisoners and four 20-pound Parrott guns. The troops 
pushed on to the New Market road, drove the enemy back to their 
line of forts, then returning to the Long Bridge road, where we 
remained until the 29th, on which night the return to Petersburg 


was begun. The loss of the Fifty-seventh during this march was 
one officer and two men wounded. 

At 3 A. M. the next morning, the Second corps found itself in 
support of the Ninth corps in time to see the mine explode. This 
mine affair, so full of promise, turned out to be not only a failure 
but a disaster. The loss was about 3,500, of whom 450 men 
were killed and over 2,000 wounded. It was the saddest affair 
I witnessed during the war. 

On the 29th of August, General Hancock was sent with his 
corps twelve miles south to Ream's Station. Here the First divi- 
sion occupied the line of battle all of the 23rd, while the other 
divisions were tearing up the railroad tracks, but on the 24th it 
took its turn in tearing up the railroad tracks while the others 
held the line of battle. We worked southw^ard all day from 
Ream's Station to Romany Creek, returning to the station at 
night. The work of destruction began again on the 25th at day- 

About 9 A. M. the work of destruction was interrupted by an 
assault of the enemy. At that time skirmishing commenced and 
about two o'clock in the afternoon the first attack in force was 
rrtade by four brigades of General A. P. Hill. The Third brigade 
of our force occupied the rifle pits near the line, and the fighting 
was heaviest on its front. Charge after charge was made with 
determination by the rebels, but each was repulsed. Finally the 
rebels charged in two columns deep, and some of the new recruits 
on the left, belonging to the Seventh New York, broke and the 
enemy got in on our flank, yet our boys held on, using the bayonet 
until left alone and outnumbered. Many of them were taken pris- 
oners. Several hand to hand encounters occurred in this 
struggle. One of our boys, called Pettit by name, got a rebel by 
the collar and was dragging him over the breastworks when he 
received a bayonet thrust in the head. Charles Eichorn had a 


pitched battle with a rebel. Charley knocked him down and was 
in turn knocked down, but finally got away alive. But the most 
heroic conduct was that of a Dane in Company I, who, when the 
Confederate colors were planted on our works, sprang for and 
grabbed them. He was instantly shot by a rebel officer, but as he 
fell, held the colors in his grip, was drawn over the breastwork, 
and did not release his hold until they had pounded his arms and 
hands almost to a jelly and fairly wrung the flag from his dying 

In the battle of Ream's Station the regiment lost three killed 
outright, one who died of his wounds later, six others wounded 
and twenty-three missing, a total loss of thirty-three. More men 
of our regiment w^re taken prisoners in this afternoon engage- 
ment than in any other one battle during the entire war. This 
last pitched battle of the Fifty-seventh was marked, we are happy 
to say, by much general valor and individual heroism, the boys 
fighting desperately at close quarters and carrying its imperiled 
colors triumphantly from the field. When night came on the 
corps returned returned to its old place near the Williams' house, 
occupying again its old camp, and for a time had rest. 

The illustrious career of the Fifty-seventh New York Volun- 
teers is now nearing its close. Already two companies have filled 
out their term of enlistment and returned home, and on the 21st 
day of September, Company A turns its face homeward, and 
soon I shall be with friends at home again. How I would like to 
name all my comrades in this book and call the attention of the 
reader to their brave deeds, but space forbids. I can only men- 
tion a few. 



Scenes and Incidents. — Anecdotes of Officers and Men of the Fifty- 
seventh New York. 

I have briefly mentioned in former chapters my captain and 
colonel, S. K. Zook and A. B. Chapman. I desire to speak more 
of them and their kindness to me during my service. Shortly 
after I had enlisted for three years, my mother wrote Captain 
Chapman a letter, committing me to his care. Shortly after he 
received this letter he went to Paterson on recruiting service. 
While in Paterson he visited my parents and at their solicitation 
he remained all night. During his visit he promised my parents 
that he would act as a father to me, and I need not say that he 
was more like a father to me than as my captain. Many times 
while on our marches he has carried my knapsack for miles at a 
time, and in many other ways he tried to assist me, and no father 
could have been kinder to me than he was. He was one of 
the bravest officers and always kind to his men. At the battle of 
Antietam he was promoted for bravery, and at the battle of 
Chancellorville he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel, and 
at the battle of Gettysburg he was again promoted to the 
colonelcy of the regiment. After I was wounded during the 
second day's battle of Gettysburg, I did not see him again until I 
rejoined my regiment at the Wilderness, and much to my sorrow 
and regret he was killed in that battle on the very day I returned, 
and I shall never forget the sorrow of my old comrades when we 
realized that our friend and captain was lost to us forever. 



I have before me at this time two letters that I wrote to my 
mother, the first one was wTitten during my three months' ser- 
vice, the other long after I had been in the three years' service; 
and as I sit and look upon them, my mind wanders back to the 
days of the Civil War. What memories they bring to me. How 
well can I see my comrades as I saw them in the days of '61 and 
'65. The boys of the Fire Zouaves, and then the boys of the 
Fifty-seventh. Where are they now ? I have only the memories 
of a few. Many sleep in Southern graves; others have passed 
over the river since we were mustered out in '64 ; w^hile the rem- 
nant of that brave regiment are waiting for the final call to greet 
the Great Commander of us all. My first letter was written just 
after the battle of Bull Run and is as follows : 

WASHINGTON, D. C, July 23, 1861. 

You will understand long before this shall reach you, the fearful 
events that have occurred during the last few days; which have pre- 
vented me writing. On the 21st we fought the battle of Bull Run, in 
which we were defeated. Our retreat began in an orderly manner, but it 
was not long before it became a disorderly flight, that did not end until 
the troops reached Washington. And even now as I write, they are still 
pouring into and through this place in a state of utter disorganization. 
Yesterday it rained all day and through the night. Many a panic-stricken 
soldier is wandering footsore, exhausted and hungry through the streets 
of the Capitol, not knowing where to go or what to do. My regiment's 
term of service is about expiring, and we expect to get away from here 
next week; so you can look for me home soon. 

Your Loving Son, 


The other letter I mentioned was written from Harper's Ferry, 
and it was also to my mother. How many scenes and incidents 
had taken place between the time I wrote the first and this one ! 


How many miles had I traveled and battles we had fought ! But 
here is the letter as wTitten : 

HARPERS FERRY, October 18, 1862. 

You will understand before this reaches you the glorious yet fearful 
events which have prevented me from writing to you. We fought a 
terrible battle near Sharpsburg called the battle of Antietam. This has 
been the first time since we left Harrison's Landing until now that I 
have had the opportunity of writing. We are now in camp at Harpers' 
Ferry at the foot of the mountain, which is entirely commanded by the 
hills on the Maryland side. It is quite cold here at night. The first 
thing we did when we arrived here was to wash our clothes in the Poto- 
mac river. Yesterday we marched to Charlestown, the place where John 
Brown was hung, and advanced about a mile beyond, when we were 
attacked by a large body of the enemy lying in ambush, and as they 
were in larger force than ourselves we marched back to camp. We 
passed the Thirteenth New Jersey on the march through Frederick City. 
I heard that there was some Paterson boys in the Thirteenth and that 
the regiment had been with us in the battle of Antietam. We are under 
orders to be ready to march at any moment. 

I have told you all the news out here. I hope this will find you as 
v/ell as this leaves me at present. 

From Your Loving Son, 


p g, — I forgot to mention that William has been transferred to the 
First United States cavalry; so you will learn that we are not together 
any more. — Your Son, Jacob. 

Whatever emotions these words may awaken in others, they 
bring to me some of the saddest memories of these four years, m 
which vvere crowded the experiences of an ordinary lifetime. 
Standing on picket posts in the dreary darkness and sickening 
dampness of miasmatic swamps, hurrying to the front through 
the slush and bogs that bordered it, fighting hip deep in 
its turbid waters, I can see now the faces of those brave men, who 


never faltered at a command, whatever fate obedience to it might 
involve. During the weary days and nights preceeding these 
battles, the boys, as they returned from outpost duty, kept the 
camp in roars of laughter with soldier yarns about their experi- 
ence at night at the front. How one man relieved temporarily 
from guard duty by his comrade of the next relief, lay down on 
a log to match a brief nap and dreaming that he was at home in 
his bed, turned himself over and fell off the log into the water at 
its side. From another whose imagination had been impressed 
by his surroundings, made the outpost hideous with his frog-like 
snoring. I recall one private who had a genius for drawing in 
camp. He would represent this or that comrade with a frog-like 
face and the body and legs of a frog standing in the water with 
knapsack high up on his back, his gun in one hand and a Johnny 
cake in the other, the title below it being ''Bill," ''Bob or "Jake." 

When on our marches, if we happened to meet one of the na- 
tives and asked him how far it was to a certain place, the answer 
we would receive would be: "Well, it is a right smart get, I 
reckon." This at first was amusing, but after a while we would 
count the miles by the dead mules and horses we saw along the 

On many of our marches we came in contact with the First 
New Jersey cavalry, and I cannot forget the kindness I received 
from its members. Many times they have carried my knapsack 
for miles, thus placing me under deep obligations to them. 

So many incidents come to my mind at this time that it is im- 
possible to write them all, but some I cannot forget. 

After the battle of the Wilderness we moved to Cold Harbor, 
and fighting all day with no apparent success the boys got 
together and related incidents of the battle that had come under 
.their observations, and also speaking of those who had been 


killed, wounded or missing. Then they would say who will be 
the next when we go into the next battle. 

On the second day's battle of Cold Harbor, General Grant 
ordered General Hancock to take the First division, under Gen- 
eral Barlow, and make a bayonet charge upon the rebel position; 
which was in a dense woods. Owing to the denseness of the 
brush and trees it was impossible to see the enemy in our front. 
General Barlow was aware that if the charge was made that it 
meant a severe loss in men. In fact, he told General Hancock 
that if he made the charge it meant the annihilation of his divi- 
sion. But as a good soldier he prepared to obey the order, by 
taking off the sword that had been presented to him by his divis- 
ion, and also all his papers and other articles and marked them, 
that in case of his death they might be sent home to his wife. 
Afterwards he rode along the line and told the men that if they 
had any thing to send home to their families, or a letter, they had 
better do so at once, as he did not expect that if the charge was 
made that there would be many left to tell the tale, as the ground 
over which they expected to charge was all mined. The boys at 
once prepared to take his advice. In addition to their other 
preparations, they wrote their name and regiment on a piece of 
paper and fastened it under their coat collars, but fortunately the 
order to make the charge never came. 

After the army left Harper's Ferry, we marched along the 
base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. While on the march. Gen- 
eral Hancock desired to obtain information as to the position of 
the enemy, and in order to do so he called for some of the men 
to volunteer to act as scouts. When the call came I said to some 
of the boys that I intended to offer my services. They told me 
that I was foolish to do so, as I was likely to get shot for my 
pains, or would get into hot water ; but this did not deter me. 
I went to Major Chapman and asked that I might be detailed as 


a scout. He consented, and I then went personally to General 
Zook with my request, telling him that Major Chapman was 
willing. After some persuasion on my part he granted my re- 
quest. At the same time he informed me of the information de- 
sired by the general, which was the position of the enemy and 
also as to the way he was marching. I was to go up into the 
mountains and gather all the information possible. I was also 
given such informtion as to the position of the enemy as was 
known to our officers, and also to report as accurate as possible 
all that I might see or hear. I started on my mission, and after 
considerable work, reached the top of the mountain, and in order 
to get a better view of the surrounding country I climbed a 
tree. Here I had a magnificent view. From my position I could 
see the whole country for miles around me in every direction, a 
wonderful sight indeed. Spread out beneath me was the rebel 
army. The information I was thus able to give General Hancock 
as to the position of the enemy, and also as regards the roads 
upon which the enemy was moving, enabled him to be prepared 
for an attack. 

While I was seated in the tree viewing the rebel army I had a 
peculiar experience. Sitting in the tree, watching the movements 
of the rebel army, I was suddenly aroused to my position by the 
firing of a shot, which broke a limb of the tree in which I was 
sitting. I need not say that it did not take me long to get down 
to the ground. When I landed on the ground I saw a young 
lady, who informed me that she had fired the shot to save my 
life, as the enemy were then coming up the mountain, unknown 
to me. I thanked her for doing so, and shortly after I saw the 
enemy coming. The shot had also warned some of our boys, 
who, coming up at this time, were enabled to meet the enemy ?nd 
hold the position. 

On the evening of May 29, 1862, there was brought to our 


camp for the use of the regiment, the first stretchers we had ever 
seen. We were standing in line, ready to march on to Richmond. 
Each man appeared to know what they were for. I think there 
were four to a regiment. They were made as follows : The two 
poles were about six feet long; to the poles were fastened strong 
duck cloth. They were intended to carry the wounded off the 
field. We all know what these things meant. There was no fun 
poked at each other that evening. I remember that one of the 
boys came to me and said, "I am sick and not able to march." 
I replied, *'I will speak to Colonel Zook for you, but, you know, 
I am only a private like yourself." So I went to the colonel and 
told him about the case, and he asked me how I knew that the 
man was sick, and I told him that whatever Jeremiah William.s 
said I knew to be true. So the colonel excused him on my recom- 
mendation and indeed the poor fellow told the truth, as he died 
within thirty days after. 


^iV— "The Harp that once through Tara's Hall." 

of Paterson Police Department, who enlisted in 1861 in the First New Jersey Cavalry. 


Farewell my friends, I now must go, 

And leave you here behind, 
But in my breast there still shall flow 

A heart that beats with thine. 
I go, my country calls aloud 

For soldiers bold and brave, 
Better by far a soldier's shroud 

Than live to be a slave. 

But still there's pangs in parting, friends, 
Which makes my heart recoil, 

A WAR SONG. 233 

My poor old father standing bent 
By many years of toil; 

Though many winters he hath run. 
And hoary is his head; 

Defend that flag, my son, he said, 
For which our fathers bled. 

And there is my poor mother dear, 

O'ercome by grief and woe, 
Her wailing voice comes to my ear. 

Impressive, deep and low. 
She clasps me fondly to her breast 

With anguish, grief and pain, 
And said: my son, that flag preserve, 

Or number with the slain. 

But sisters I have two; 

With grief their bursting hearts did swell, 
I have no brothers to say farewell. 

As I take my fond adieu. 
They cling to me with fond despair 

And unto me they gave 
A motto wove with their own hair: 

Die or the Union save. 

My loving wife distracted stands, 

Which grieves my 'heart to see. 
She takes my children, little ones, 

And brings them unto me; 
Tears do fill their little eyes, 

And from my loving wife: 
Defend that flag, she cries. 

Yes, with your precious life. 

And there is good old Paterson, 

Whose pleasures I recall; 
Where I have roamed in days by gone 

Around the Passaic Falls, 
But all these pleasures now I leave 

In answer to that call. 
Come forth ye soldiers bold and brave 

For freedom fight or fall. 


At the battle of Malvern Hill I saw a scene I will never forget. 
A man riding along leisurely in front of my regiment, bare 
headed, without either coat or jacket, begging the men not to 
shoot too high, take good aim, make every shot tell. He rode 
there for probably fifteen minutes. There was blood running 
from one side of his head down to the flank of his horse. I was 
never able to find out who he was or what became of him. A 
large hound was also in the fight and was very much excited, 
barking and running from one tree to another, as g^reat limbs 
were cut off by cannon balls, and stopping occasionally to lick the 
blood as it flowed from the wounded and dead soldiers. 

It was here I saw the first cavalry charge of the war. It was 
made by the Sixth Pennsylvania regiment of cavalry. The boys 
carried lances about eight feet in length. On the end was a spear 
and underneath the spear a piece of red flannel, cut like a guide 
flag and of about the same size. Our men had used all their 
ammunition, and General Sumner sent the cavalry into action 
in order to hold the enemy in check until the men could refill their 
cartridge boxes with fresh ammunition. 

Shortly after I joined my company after my enlistment, while 
laying at Camp Scarsdale, Captain Chapman gave to all the 
members of his company a certificate of membership. This was 
done in case any one of his men should be in New York City it 
would prevent his arrest should any one attempt to arrest him or 
molest him. The following is a copy of the certificate : 

To All Whom These Present Shall Come or May Concern, Know Ye: 

That Jacob H. Cole is a private in the company under my command 
designated as Company A in the Fifty-Seventh Regiment of New York 
State Volunteers, and as such is entitled to all the privileges and advan- 
tages appertaining thereto. 

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand the Twenty^ninth 


day of August in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and 

Captain Commanding Company. 
Countersigned : — 

S. K. ZOOK, 

Colonel Commanding Fifty-seventh Regiment. 

While we were encamped at Falmouth, Va., I desired to visit 
the camp of the First United States cavalry, for the purpose of 
seeing my brother. That I might do so without being arrested, 
I applied to Captain Chapman for a pass, which, after a few 
days' delay, I received, a copy of which is below : 


Hancock's Division Camp near Falmouth, 

December 28, 1862. 
The Provost Guards will pass the bearer, Jacob H. Cole, to and from 
the camp of the First United States Cavalry. The regiment is probably 
near General Burnside's headquarters. 

S. K. ZOOK, 
Brigadier-General, Commanding Third Brigade. 
Countersigned : — 


Commanding First Division, Second Corps. 

I have only briefly mentioned Colonel Zook, but I cannot close 
these memoirs without speaking at greater length of our com- 
mander. As colonel of the regiment no one could have been 
more thoughtful of his men than Colonel Zook. No matter what 
duty they had to perform, he was always near to encourage. 
When the regiment lay at Camp Scott, near Yorktown, we were 
obliged to go out and build corduroy roads. We had been doing 
this three days and on the fourth day Colonel Zook refused to 
allow his men to go out on fatigue duty again. General Sumner 
requested him to reconsider his determination, but as he refused 


General Sumner placed him under arrest, with the result that the 
whole regiment was under arrest for three days, after which he 
was restored to duty and we were released. After the battle of 
Fair Oaks, General Sumner sent for Colonel Zook and compli- 
mented him for his bravery, at the same time apologized to him 
for having placed him under arrest at Camp Scott and asking 
his pardon, which was freely given. And not only at Fair Oaks, 
but in every other battle up to Gettysburg, he showed the same 
courage. On the morning of the second day's battle of Gettys- 
burg, General Zook leading, and as we were entering the wheat- 
field, we came to a stone wall. General Zook did not stop to go 
around the wall but jumped his horse over it. Just as he did 
so, he was struck by a rebel bullet and killed. As I saw him fall, 
I remarked to Andy Wilson, ''There goes General Zook. It will 
be my turn next," and shortly after I was wounded in the arm. 
Among all the killed on that day no one was more regretted than 
General Zook. Not only by his old regiment, but by the whole 
brigade that he commanded. I have ever kept him in remem- 
brance, even at this late day for his kindness to me as a boy. 

Token in 1865. 



The Close of the War.— The Grand Review, with a Sketch of the Corps 
and their Commanders. — The End of the Army of the Potomac. 

Forty years ago, on the 23rd of May, 1865, the Army of the 
Potomac, having fought a good fight and finished its course with 
honor, passed in final review before the President of the United 
States. Prior to its final disbandment, the writer stood on Penn- 
sylvania avenue, in Washington, an eye witness of probably the 
greatest review of an army ever witnessed anywhere in the world. 
And as he stood in front of the grand stand, on which there was 
the President, his Cabinet and General Grant, he was filled with 
sadness. The immortal Lincoln had passed away by the assas- 
sin's hand. He who had done so much to bring the strife to an 
end was not there to witness the grandest sight of the age. And 
another source of sadness was that the gallant and great hearted 
Sixth corps, under General Wright, was still detained at the 
South in the vicinity of its old battlefields, but its pickets were no 
longer disturbed by the crack of hostile rifles, and no four o'clock 
in the morning yell broke the well earned sleep of its veteran 
regiment. Peace reigned where so lately raged furious war. 

Let us look upon that mighty host that marched along Penn- 
sylvania avenue that day, with full company front, magnificent 
cavalry corps, Sheridan's daring raiders, Sheridan's desperate 
fighters, wheel into view, their great captain is not with them. 
Today he has gone post haste to the Rio Grande to serve notice 


Upon the French Invader in Sheridan's place, and no less full of 
fire and fight, rides his favorite lieutenant-general, Wesley Mer- 
rill. Worthy successor to such a chief, worthy leader of such a 
host, 8,000 sabres strong, the Cavalry corps of the Army of the 
Pbtomac, as regiment after regiment and brigade after brigade 
of gallant horsemen, bronzed by Virginia sun, pass up the ave- 
nue, we see coming the magnificent cluster, little thinking in that 
proud moment of an early and hideous death amid the fiendish 
yells of a horde of naked savages. 

There at the head of his division rides Stout. There gallant 
Thomas Devin. So for an hour and twenty minutes the clatter 
of sabres and the tramp of horses fill the air, as the heroic cavalry 
of Gaines' Mill and Chancellorville, of Brandy Station and Aldie, 
of Gettysburg, Yellow Tavern, Winchester, Fisher Hill, of Toms 
Brook and Five Forks, of Rice's Station and Sailor's Creek ride 
proudly by, the cavalry are gone forever. 

Comes next the Engineers brigade, with its well known pon- 
toons, under Benham. Oh! what stories those pontoons tell! 
What recollections they call to mind as they go lumbering by. 
How many times have our columns streamed over those bridges 
of boats on the joyous advance or in sullen retreat. Do you re- 
member that dull December day of 1862, when we fought our 
way across the Rappahannock and up the streets of Fredericks- 
burg, and then the remembrance of the retreat from Chancellor- 
ville, amid a fearful downpour of rain and over a rapidly rising 
river, as we went back in rage and shame from that splendid 
inititive and those three days of bloody, purposeless, useless fight- 
ing, what sight more eloquent of the mingled experiences of the 
great war, its triumphs and its reverses, its high hopes and its 
shameful disasters, than those great arks of things at which we 
used to jeer as they went their toilsome way down the steep 
and clayey river banks of Virginia. 


And now a moment's pause, and then the noble Ninth corps, 
the men of Burnside's old command, led by General John G. 
Parke, a soldier scholar and stainless gentleman, bursts into 
view. These are the men of the North Carolina expedition, the 
men of Roanoke and Newbern, who came up under Burnside and 
Reno to reinforce the Army of the Potomac in its dire strait at 
Manassas and Chantilly, and to share its glories at South Moun- 
tain and Antietam. These are the men of Fort Sanders and Foru 
Stedman, of Spottsylvania and Bethesda Church, the men who, 
on the 25th of March, 1865, redeemed the day that had been lost, 
and that in the early morning of the 2nd of April, 1864, leaped 
over the Confederate entrenchments along the Jerusalem Road, 
answering Sheridan's despatches from Five Forks with the news 
of the fall of Petersburg. With Parke, as division commanders, 
are Orlando B. Wilcox of Michigan, G. Griffin of New Hamp- 
shire, and John J. Curtin of Pennsylvania. 

Here come the Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania, that dug the mine 
at Petersburg. Then we see the famous twin regiments of the 
North Carolina battles, the Fifty-first New York and the Fifty- 
first Pennsylvania, the veteran regiments of Massachusetts, the 
Fifty-sixth, Fifty-seventh, Fifty-eighth and Fifty-ninth, and that 
fine brigade of western troops under Colonel Samuel Harriman, 
comprising the Seventeenth and Twenty-seventh Michigan and 
the Thirty-seventh Wisconsin. These were the men who had 
done so much to teach Western dash and daring to the slower 
but not less steady soldiers of the Atlantic seaboard. Here, too, 
are such fine regiments as the Sixth, Ninth and Eleventh New 
Hampshire, the Seventeenth Vermont and the Thirty-fifth Mass- 
achusetts, the Seventh-ninth, or Highlanders, who lost more men 
in battle than what was mustered in when they first went to the 
war, and the One Hundred and Ninth regiment. Both of the 
above were from New York. Then comes the Fourteenth regi- 


ment of heavy artillery of New York, the Forty-fifth, Fiftieth 
and One Hundredth Pennsylvania, the First Michigan Sharp- 
shooters, and the Second Michigan Infantry. 

With the Ninth corps this day marches a division of troops 
that are not of the Army of the Potomac, but v^hich in the Shen- 
andoah Valley under Sheridan have vindicated their claim to 
brotherhood with the bravest and the best. It is General Wil- 
liam Dwight's division of the Nineteenth corps, with its three 
brigades under General Davis and James D. Fessenden, of 
Maine. The Ninth corps column is appropriately closed by its 
artillery brigade, under General John C. Tidball, to whom more 
than any other man was due the repulse of the Confederates on 
the 25th of March, 1865 and the recapture of Fort Stedman. 

Here comes the splendid Fifth corps, fresh from Five Forks. 
At its head rides not the gifted young officer whose presence 
saved Gettysburg to the Union arms, and who at Bristol turned 
his rear guards upon both of the pursuing columns of Lee's army. 
Why General Warren rides not with the Fifth corps today, it is 
not the time or place to ask, but surely if he is indeed to stand 
aside, silent and mournful, while the gallant troops go on to re- 
ceive the thanks of a grateful country, no worthier man could 
have been found to take his place than the grim, taciturn, reso- 
lute veteran, Charles Griffin. 

Here march all that is left of the old First corps, which fought 
under the accomplished but unsuccessful McDowell at Groveton 
and Manassas, under John F. Reynolds at Fredericksburg, and 
again at Gettysburg, where on the ist of July, 1863, this able 
and heroic officer laid down his life that Cemetery Ridge might 
be held for the Union troops, fast coming up to the greatest battle 
of modern times. Behind Griffin, too, on this day, marched all 
that was left of the old Fifth corps, which under John Fitz Porter 
bore the brunt of Confederates' assault through the memorable 


seven days' battle on the Peninsular at Gaines Hill, Glendale, and 
on the heights of Malvern Hill, which at the second battle of Bull 
Run, upon the 30th of August, 1862, under the same gallant and 
accomplished leader, made itself an immortal name by the reck- 
less fury of its defence, and at Fredericksburg under Butterfield, 
and at Gettysburg under General Sykes, added fresh lustre to its 
ever stainless arms. Such was the body of troops which, undei 
direction of General Warren, led the great campaign of 1864-5, 
and which all the way from the Wilderness to Five Forks, 
whether at Spottsylvania or on the North Anna at Bethesda 
Church, or at Cold Harbor, over the blood stained earthworks of 
Petersburg, or amid the tangle thickets of Hatcher Run, had 
borne itself as became the renown of its two constituent corps 
out of the old Army of the Potomac. 

The order of divisions is that of Chamberlain, who led his 
gallant regiment, the T\ventieth Maine, in the fierce hand-to-hand 
fight that raged along the sides of Little Round Top, and in the 
closing struggle of 1865 swept with his well appointed brigade 
over the Confederate entrenchments on the White Oak Road, 
and who now rides at the head of the old division of Morrell and 
Grifhn. Then comes the division Ayres. Brave Ayres, the soul 
of honor, courage and duty, ever ready and resolute, stoutest of 
heart when the hearts of others fell, and finally the divisions of 
Crawford. Conspicuous among the many gallant regiments 
which thus form the Fifth corps' column or some which, by rea- 
son of their long service sustained heroism and prodigious losses, 
can never be mentioned without the Sixteenth and Twentieth 
Maine, the Twenty-second Massachusetts, the Ninety-seventh, 
One Hundred and Forty, One Hundred and Sixty-sixth and One 
Hundred and Forty-seventh New York, the Eleventh, Eighty- 
third, One Hundred and Eighteenth, O'ne Hundred and Twenty- 
first, One Hundred and Forty-second, and One Hundred and 


Fifty-fifth Pennsylvania, the First Maryland, one of four fine 
regiments from that State, at the head of which rides Dennison, 
with his empty sleeve ; and those four noble Western regiments, 
the First and Sixty-sixth Michigan, the Sixth and Seventh Wis- 
consin, the two regiments last named belonged to that famous 
brigade of the old First corps, known as the Iron Brigade from 
the West, out of whose five regiments there fell during the war 
njDt less than 1,131 men killed or mortally wounded. With two 
of the regiments I have named the deadliest day had been Gaines 
Mill, with two the second Bull Run, with one Antietam and Shep- 
erdstown Ford, with three the deadliest day had been Fredericks- 
burg, with two the Wilderness, with one Spottsylvania. In the 
case of most of these regiments there had been some one day of 
terrible trial, where in the crisis of some desperate battle the con- 
figuration of the ground and the formation of opposing lines at 
just that point, perhaps, also, that the misbehavior of other troops 
had brought upon its front an intolerable, unimaginable heighth 
of fire, when men dropped like leaves in autumn gales, and all 
who stood drank deep of the very bitterness of death, as instance 
the losses of a single day, perhaps of a brief hour of fighting, 
made up one-third or even one-half, of all the losses sustained 
during three or four years of service. 

Other regiments there were which had never known one trans- 
cendent moment of mortal agony, but had spread their gigantic 
total of the killed not very unevenly over a half score of battles. 

With its main columns closed by Wainwright's brigade of 
artillery, comes the Fifth corps. It passes swiftly and steadily 
up the avenue this May morning, amid the plaudits of the specta- 
tors, passes the reviewing stand, and then taking the route step, 
makes its way to Georgetown, where it marches across the 
Acqueduct Bridge to the well remembered camp at Ball's Cross 


No one leaves his post. For a corps not less renowned than any 
which had fought out that bloody strife to a triumphant issue, 
advances to salute the chief under whom it had conquered. At 
its head, on a snow-white horse, followed by a score of officers 
similarly mounted, rides that heroic and thrice accomplished sol- 
dier and scholar, Andrew A. Humphreys. His serene and noble 
face is lighted by the joy of triumph and the pride he feels in the 
troops which follow him — the corps of Sumner, Couch and Han- 
cock. That corps which, in a fair fight with Lee's great army, 
had taken forty-four Confederate flags ere first it lost a color of 
its own, which had left more than 40,000 of its members killed 
or wounded on the battlefields of Virginia, Maryland and Penn- 
sylvania ; the corps which crossed the Chickahominy to the rescue 
of the beaten left at Fair Oaks ; which delivered the great assault 
on Mary's Heights ; on which fell Longstreet's attack at Gettysr 
burg; which stormed the salient at Spottsylvania on the 12th of 
May, 1864; and at Farmside, on the 7th of April, 1865, fought 
the last battle of the war. 

Out of the hundred regiments sustaining the largest losses in 
all the armies of the United States, East or West, thirty-five have 
served under this corps' banners. Some of these, long sincQ 
wasted to skeletons, have been sent away from the front, but 
there still remains enough to witness these years of desperate 

Here is the First Maine heavy artillery, which leads the roll of 
regiments, suffering the absolute loss in a single battle of 632 
officers and men, who fell in its desperate charge of the i8th of 
June 1864, at P'etersburg of whom two hundred and ten were 
killed or mortally w^ounded, just one month before at Spottsy!-^ 
vania it had lost in a brief action one hundred and forty-seven 
killed or mortally wounded. Its aggregate for the war is four 


hundred and twenty-three, or nineteen per cent of its total en- 

Here, too, is the Fifth New Hampshire regiment — Gallant 
Cross, Gallant Men — which leads the roll of all the infantry reg- 
iments of the army in the total number of its fatal casualties, 
295 men having been killed or mortally wounded in its ranks. 
There marches the First Minnesota, the regiment suffering the 
largest proportional casualties in a single action, having lost 224 
men killed or wounded out of the 262 it took into action at Get- 
tysburg, or 83 out of every 100. Here, too, are such renowned 
regiments as the Seventeenth and Nineteenth Maine, the First 
regiment of heavy artillery of Massachusetts, the Eighth regi- 
ment of heavy artillery of New York, the Eleventh, Nineteenth, 
Twentieth, Twenty-eighth, Fortieth, Fifty-second, Fifty-ninth, 
Sixty-first, Sixty-third, Sixty-fourth, Sixty-ninth, Eighty-eighth, 
Ninety-third, One Hundred and Eleventh, One Hundred and 
Twentieth, One Hundred and Twenty-fourth, One Hundred and 
Twenty-fifth, One Hundred and Twenty-sixth, One Hundred 
and Sixty-fourth and the One Hundred and Seventieth infantry 
regiments of New York. 

The Seventh, Eighth, Eleventh and Twelfth New Jersey, the 
Fifty-third, Fifty-seventh, Sixty-ninth, Eighty-first, One Hun- 
dred and Sixteenth, One Hundred and Fortieth, One Hundred 
and Forty-fifth and One Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsyl- 
vania, the First Delaware, Tom Smythe's old regiment, the Sev- 
enth West Virginia, Meikel's Twentieth Indiana, the Fifth and 
Seventh Michigan, Frank Haskell's Thirtieth Wisconsin. Such 
are some of the regiments which compose the columns of the 
Second corps in the grand review. Its First division is today 
commanded by General John Ramsay. Here is all that is left 
of the old division of Sumner, Richardson and Hancock, includ- 
ing the once famous brigades of Brooks, Caldwell, Zook and 


Meagher, together with the survivors of Alexander Hay's 
brigade, which came up at Gettysburg and helped to hold Ceme- 
tery Ridge against Pickett's men. This is the division that lost 
in the war 2,237 men killed outright and 11,724 men wounded 
in battle. These are the men of the Sunday morning at Fair 
Oaks, of the sunken road at Antietam, of the stone wall at Fred- 
ericksburg, of the salient at Spottsylvania, of the closing fight 
at Farmville. 

Next comes the division commanded by General Frank Bar- 
low, the old division of Sedgwick. Here are the men of Ball's 
Bluff, the men who crossed the Chickahominy with Kirby's bat- 
tery on the 31st of May, 1862, who came up on the right of the 
Fourth corps at Fair Oaks and who covered the rear of the re- 
treating army at Savage Station. These are the men who came 
out alive of the frightful charge at the Dunker Church on the 
17th of September, 1862 ; the men who stood on the right and on 
the left of the clump of trees upon which Longstreet directed his 
great charge, and who, under Gibbons, Hall and Andy Webb, 
beat back the furious flood of rampant rebellion at its utmost 
heighth. With these came all that are left of the Corcoran Le- 
gion and of French's old Third division of the Second corps, and 
now, under Gersham Mott, advances the last division of the great 
infantry column, consisting of the survivors of that magnificent 
division of Kearney and Hooker, its three brigades under Detra- 
briand, Pierce and McAllister, comprised a wealth of courage 
and discipline never surpassed in the history of war. These are 
the men of Williamsburg and Seven Pines, of Glendale and Bris- 
tow Station, of Manassas and Chantilly, of Chancellorville and 
the Peach Orchard at Gettysburg, who, on the opening of the 
great campaign of 1864, leaving their old associations with pas- 
sionate regrets, carried with their new relations the same devoted 
loyalty, the same fiery but steadfast courage, which had made 


the name of the Third corps the synonymous of soldiery virtue. 

And now Hazard's artillery brigade brings up the rear, and 
the great review is over. Oh, that the story would be longer, for 
then the one I have rudely and hurriedly told would tell of those 
who were absent from their colors and that could have length- 
ened the march out to a whole day and night. How greatly, too, 
would their presence have altered its aspect, of those whose forms 
had once been most conspicuous in that gallant army. There 
were some who, after rising to a high command, had, either 
through accident or fortune, or through popular or adminis- 
trative impatience, or because of their own confessed limitations, 
been removed under more or less censure, yet carrying with them 
for life and forever the love and devotion of their soldiers. Such 
in the highest place were McClellan, Burnside and Hooker. A 
few there were who with less of observation had drifted out of 
the currents of active operations through changes which were 
perhaps for the benefit of the service, yet without any imputation 
upon their courage and patriotic devotions. Of these I surely 
need not speak. Others there were who, in the heighth of their 
usefulness, had been removed by cruel wounds and had been con- 
demned for the rest of the war, to see younger and more fortu- 
nate soldiers occupy their places and lead their troops to battle. 

Some, too, there were who, after long and distinguished ser- 
vice in the Army of the Potomac, had carried their swords to 
other fields. Such were Hancock, Slocum, Couch, Howard, 
Williams and Geary. But where on the day of that great re- 
view were Reynolds, Reno, Kearney, Richardson, Whipple, 
Berry, Stevens, Bayard, Rice, Wadsworth, Zook, Alexander, 
Hays, Weed, Vincent, Taylor, Rodman, Stevenson and Smythe? 
All in honorable soldiers' graves, killed in battle. Sumner, too, 
that grand old veteran, and David Birney had yielded to the 
stroke of disease scarcely less fatal in war than the bullet of the 


enemy. The Sixth corps was still in the field, but where was 
Sedgwick and David Russell, and who shall call the roll of the 
thousands of younger officers and tens of thousands of enlisted 
men, who had dropped out of the ranks of the gallant army in 
the three years of almost continuous battles. 

Of the wonderful exhibition of civic virtue which character- 
ized the return to the arts of peace of more than 800,000 Union 
soldiers within the course of a few months it is not necessary to 
speak of here. 

As the men who had so long been gathered under the standard 
of the Army of the Potomac had not been less distinguished than 
any others for their discipline in camp, their endurance on the 
painful and protracted march, and their courage and tenacity in 
the long, hard and doubtful battle. So the historian of this gallanll 
body of troops may rightfully claim for them honor second to 
none for their good citizenship since the restoration of peace. 
May these, together with all the unnamed ones, be star-crowned 
at last in the Glory Beyond, is the earnest wish of 




The Assassination of President Lincoln 


There remains to be recorded the crowning act of infamy in 
this wicked rebeUion — an act committed when the confederacy 
was crumbhng to pieces, when Lee's army had surrendered and 
Johnston's was at the mercy of Gen. Sherman; committed in 
the capital of the nation, when the loyal people were rejoicing 
over victories and the hopes of a speedy peace. President Lincoln 
had been re-elected by a large majority of the popular vote, and 
a remarkable majority in the electoral college. On the 4th ol 
March he was a second time inaugurated, and from the eastern 
portico of the Capitol pronounced a brief address, hopeful, bui 
not triumphant, and imbued with religious feeling and solemnity 
which made it deeply impressive. Its closing words exhibited 
the spirit with which he would administer the government—, 
"With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness 
in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to 
finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds; to 
care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow 
and his orphans; to do all which may achieve and cherish a just 
and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." After 
four years of war, and all the toil, care and anxiety which they 


had brought to him in the execution of his high office, he entered 
upon his second tei*m under more auspicious circumstances than 
he had begun the first, and with hopeful prospects of peace the 
more congenial labor of pacification. The final blows at the mil- 
itary power of the confederacy w'ere struck; he had himself en- 
tered the conquered confederate capital ; the end of the rebellion 
was already in sight, within little more than a month after his 
inauguration. With the people he was rejoicing over the vic- 
tories and hopes of the hour, when, on the night of the 14th 
of April, he was assassinated — on the night of that day, when, 
by his direction, with appropriate ceremonies and in the presence 
of a distinguished company, the national flag was raised over 
the ruin of Fort Sumter, symbolizing, on the spot where the re- 
bellion had achieved its first victory, the final triumph of the 

The assassination was the result of a conspiracy, organized 
during the previous winter and early spring, by a number of 
traitors, resident in Washington and Maryland, which was in- 
tended to cripple the government by the simultaneous murder of 
its principal officers, and so to disorganize its powxr and appall 
the loyal people, that the rapidly waning fortunes of the rebellion 
might revive and perhaps ultimately triumph. The assassin and 
apparently chief conspirator was John Wilkes Booth, an actor, 
and with him were associated ten or twelve others, not the least 
malignant and active of whom was a woman, Mrs. Surratt, 
whose son was also a principal coadjutor. 

It was alleged, and with some reason, that the plot was known 
to, and approved by, the confederate government at Richmond, 
and that Davis and some of his cabinet, and their agents in 
Canada, were accomplices in the crime. Whether this be so 
or not, certain it is that propositions to assassinate President 
Lincoln and other prominent members of the government were 


received and entertained by Davis and his associates, and were 
not rejected at once, and with the scorn which became civilized 
and Christian men. On the evening of April 14th, when the 
people were manifesting their joy at the prospects of speedy 
peace, the Presi4ent was induced, through the instigation oi 
Booth, to be present at a performance at Ford's Theatre. While 
seated there, in his private box, with his family and one or two 
friends. Booth obtained admission to the box, and with fatal 
precision discharged a pistol at the head of the President, and 
then leaping upon the stage, and crying with theatrical affecta- 
tion, *'Sic semper tyrannis!" he rushed to the rear of the theatre, 
through which a free passage was prepared for him, and mount- 
ing a horse in waiting, rode away. 

The excitement which followed as soon as the act was known 
was intense, but the assassin had escaped. The President was 
removed to a house opposite the theatre, where, after lingering 
in an insensible state for a few hours, he expired. On the same 
night another of the conspirators gained admission to the house 
of Mr. Seward, Secretary of State — who was confined to his bed 
by serious injuries, caused by being thrown from a carriage— and 
made a murderous assault upon him, stabbing him in several 
places, and also nearly killing the Secretary's son, who attempted 
to detain the assailant. Other conspirators who were to dispatch 
the Vice-President and other members of the cabinet, failed to 
accomplish their part of the work. 

The wounds of Mr. Seward and his son were severe, and their 
condition for some time was critical, but they ultimately recov- 
ered. The assassination of President Lincoln sent a thrill of 
horror through the nation, and the deep and general feeling of 
grief which followed can hardly be paralleled in history. Every- 
where the people were in tears. For the President, by his fidel- 
ity to his country, his honesty of purpose, and his kindness of 


heart, had become endeared to them. The country was in 
mourning, and on the 19th of April, when the remains of the 
Martyr President were borne to the Capitol with solemn funeral 
services, in every city and hamlet throughout the Northern 
States, the tolling bells, minute guns, the sad procession, the in- 
signia of grief, the fervent prayer, and the touching eulogy, 
told of a sorrow general and unaffected, such as was never before 
exhibited. And when the remains were borne in solemn funeral 
state through the chief cities of the east, to his former home in 
Illinois, their progress was marked by imposing obsequies sur- 
passed only by the real mourning which the people everywhere 
manifested. The death of Mr. Lincoln was a great loss to the 
nation, for his entire devotion to the country, his integrity, his 
firmness in the right, his patience, and his kindness of heart, had 
inspired the confidence of the people, and in the difficult ques- 
tions of pacification and reconstruction which were to follow, 
they felt that he would desire only to attain the right results, 
and acting in accord with the sentiment of the North, and with 
the spirit of his immortal emancipation proclamation, would 
ultimately, though it were by slow and experimental steps, have 
reached the true solution. Prompt and vigorous measures were 
taken by the government for the arrest of the assassin and his 
accomplices, and by the efforts of the detectives the conspiracy 
was soon discovered, some of the conspirators were arrested, 
and large rewards were offered for the arrest of others, includ- 
ing in the number Davis and some of his rebel associates. 

The direction of Booth's flight was soon ascertained, and he 
was traced through Maryland, and finally overtaken, with a 
comrade, at a barn in Virginia, where he showed a desperate re- 
• sistance, and being mortally wounded by a shot from one of his 
pursuers he died a painful death. Other conspirators were ar- 
rested and tried by a military commission. Nine were found 


guilty, and four of them, Harold, Payne, Atzerot and Mrs. 
Surratt, were hanged; three, Dr. Mudd, Arnold and McLaugh- 
lin, were sentenced to inprisonment for life; and one, Spangler, 
whose guilt was less aggravated, to imprisonment for six years. 
Others who were supposed to be accessories, were not brought 
to trial, and the son of Mrs. Surratt, who was one of the most 
active of the conspirators, escaped from the country; he was 
subsequently found in the military service of the Pope. He was 
arrested in November 1866, but escaped, and was again arrested 
in Alexandria, Egypt. The day that President Lincoln died, 
Vice-President Johnson took the oath of office in the presence 
of the cabinet, and succeeded to the presidency. 

Mr. Johnson was of humble birth, and a self-educated and 
self-made man, in a section of the country where the opportuni- 
ties for such men to rise were more limited than at the North. 
He had risen, in spite of his early disadvantage, to the highest 
honors in the gift of the people of his state, and was finalK 
elected by the people of the loyal states to a position from which 
he succeeded to the chief magistracy of the nation. His origin 
and social and political position made him more democratic than 
most of the leading men of the South, and he always entertained 
for the slaveholding aristocracy feelings of hostility. 

Upon the breaking out of the rebellion he gave expression to 
this hostility in the freest manner, and from the first declared 
and maintained his loyalty to the Union. Though from educa- 
tion and association he had always defended the institution of 
slavery, during the war he readily accepted emancipation as the 
legitimate result of rebellion, and seemed to occupy the same 
ground as the mass of the Northern people in regard to the 

It was this, together with his constant loyalty and his hatred 
of the confederacy, that led to his election to the Vice-Presi- 


dency. Upon his accession to the Presidency, his repeated dec- 
laration, at that time and previously, led some of the persons to 
fear that his hostility to the confederate leaders would lead him 
to pursue a harsh and vindictive course toward them, and 
caused others to believe that a wise dispensation of Providence 
had removed the kind hearted Lincoln at a time when leniency 
might be fatal to a final pacification of the country. 

His administration did not prove as popular as could be desired, 
the people wished to keep Mr. Lincoln's cabinet intact, but Presi- 
dent Johnson removed Mr. Stanton on charges and called Gen. 
Grant into his cabinet as Secretary of War, in Stanton's place. 
Johnson further made himself unpopular to a degree which 
finally led to proceedings to impeach him, but after many weeks' 
trial he was acquitted.