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Preface v 

I. The Beginning of the War 1 

II. The Monitor and the Merrimac and Other 

Experiences 9 

III. The Peninsula Campaign and the Second 

Bull Run 25 

IV. The Antietam Campaign 36 

V. The First Fredericksburg and Chancel- 

lorsville 51 

VI. Gettysburg 72 

VII. The Wilderness and Spottsylvania ... 93 

VIII. Cold Harbor and Petersburg and the 

Winter of 18G4-65 117 

IX. The Last Campaign. Petersburg to Ap- 
pomattox Court House 141 

The White and the Red Cross 157 


Frank B. Fay was born in Southborough, Massachu- 
setts, on the twenty -fourth of January, 1821, the eldest 
son of Francis B. and Nancy Brigham Fay, and died 
March twenty, 1904. 

He had the ordinary school education, and entered 
active business in Boston at the beginning of his twenty- 
first year, as a member of the firm of Fay & Farwells, one 
of the largest commission houses in Boston at that time. 
He continued in this business successfully many years, 
commanding the respect and confidence of all who knew 
him. He retired with a moderate competency, entered 
into several special partnerships which were also success- 
fully maintained, and which gave him leisure for the public 
service which he enjoyed and in which he won distinction. 

There was another finer trait which became a passion 
within him as the years went on, namely, a desire to serve 
those about him who were in trouble, and his mind and 
his heart were alway open to them. He entered 
public life early, and won public confidence by the breadth 
of his views, his courage, good sense, and high character, 
and this confidence ripened into the love of multitudes 
of people through all the years of his service for them. 
Whether in the crises of public affairs or in the private 
perplexities and griefs of those who gave him their con- 
fidence, he always managed to get under the load to 
lighten it for them. In these unobtrusive ministries his 


nature grew rich in tenderness and sympathy, and he was 
the burden-bearer of many souls. This spirit became 
dominant in him as the years rolled on, and was the key- 
note of his career. It was inborn within him, coming by 
rightful inheritance from his father, the Honorable Francis 
B. Fay, whose whole life was rich and fruitful in good 
deeds, and from his mother also, who is still remembered 
for her inspiring helpfulness in all the ways of charity. 
When Fort Sumter was fired upon and the nation was 
in a blaze of war, Mr. Fay consecrated himself to the 
service of his country. 

He was already endowed by years of experience and 
discipline for the work to which he then set his hand, and 
all his powers were readily at command for the emergen- 
cies of the conflict which soon came thick upon him. He 
began this service when the call for troops was made, and 
it did not end until the Confederate banners were furled 
in 1865 and the war ended. 

He was Mayor of Chelsea, Massachusetts, at the time, 
and the men who went to the front were his especial care. 
This work soon took on large proportions, and included 
all who were in the service of their country, and it was 
continued with an unfaltering devotion and tenderness 
that made his presence a blessing on many a stricken field. 
He became widely known throughout the Army of the 
Potomac, and was welcomed everywhere. His sober 
gray dress, his tall spare form, his rather long hair, his 
kindly face, his generous plans for service, made him so 
marked a personality that the way was opened for him 
where civilians were not generally allowed to go. He 
was a privileged person, and it was a strong type of char- 
acter that could win that distinction in the rough-and- 


tumble of army life, where, without rank, individuals 
were submerged in the mass, and were passed by and 
forgotten. But, although privileged, he never intruded 
and was never in the way, yet was always at hand in 
emergencies with his abundant stores and his wise and 
kindly ministry. He seemed to have an intuitive per- 
ception of the objective of a campaign and also of his 
own objective in that movement. With almost unfailing 
precision his ambulances were pushed to the point of 
greatest need, and his stores were often available before 
the medical wagons were brought up. He was a great 
administrator in these affairs, and had the rare gift of 
seeing the right thing to do at the right moment, and a 
swift power of execution which was always efficient and 
sure. It is this type of man whose career in the army 
we are now to follow. 

The narrative is partly his own. It is wholly so, so far 
as its outline is concerned, but it had to be filled in and 
enriched from a mass of disconnected notes and memo- 
randa that he left behind him, which illuminate the story, 
and also by a record of experiences that he shared with 
others, scenes in which he was a central figure, but which 
he had no disposition or time to describe. 

It is our task to use such material as we have, to tell 
the story of his army life which has never been told even 
to those who were nearest to him, to make real his self- 
devotion, his constancy, his chivalrous joy in work, and 
the treasures he himself gathered in his heroic ministra- 
tions. We shall then justly measure the service he ren- 
dered to his country. 



The Beginning of the War. 

I have been asked to note some of my experiences 
with the army during the Civil War. I begin this nar- 
rative with some hesitation, but yield to the wishes of 
my family and my friends, who have made me feel that 
it is a duty to make at least an outline of a service which 
filled so large a place in my life in those years. 

My experience was an unusual one. Probably no one 
not officially connected with the army was with it so 
much, especially for the purposes I had in view, which 
were to minister to the needs of soldiers, whatever their 
condition, sick or wounded or well. I ought to say in 
advance that for many reasons I felt that I was unfitted 
for such service. In the first place I was a man of peace. 
I never believed in war, and had refused to be even a 
fine member of a military company from conscientious 
motives. I had never seen a person die, had never 
seen a serious wound, and was sensitive to every form 
of suffering in others. Even the sight of a man with his 
arm in a sling gave me sympathetic pain, and I always 
felt that, if my fellow-citizens had known there was to 
be a war, they surely would not have chosen me as mayor 
of the city in December, 18G0. But, being in office in 
time of war, I accepted the trust, laying aside all per- 
sonal considerations for my country's sake, and did 
what could be done on many fields to lighten the burdens 
of the people whom I had taken the oath to serve. 

I remained in office after three elections, during 1801, 
1802, and 1803, doing some work that I did not seem to 


be especially culled upon to do as an official of the City 
Government, and then declined a fourth nomination, 
desiring uninterrupted service with the army in the 

When in Aprii, 1861, it became evident that we were 
on the verge of war, it was known that the Chelsea Light 
Infantry was liable to be called into service, and the 
City Government was anxious that it should promptly 
respond; but Captain D. W. Bailey, then in command, 
had shown some hesitation about going. On the even- 
ing of the eighteenth of April I called him to the mayor's 
office, and said, "We must know at once if you will go." 
He frankly replied that he had a blank resignation in his 
pocket which lie proposed to fill out and send in the next 
day. But unfortunately, as it seemed, the call came on 
the morning of the nineteenth for the company to be 
ready to march at once. Without consulting any one, 
Captain Bailey went to the State House, and said his 
company could not be made ready to go. Governor 
Andrew disbanded it at once, and sent General Bullock 
with an express wagon to take their guns. The company 
had already gathered in the armory, and at the moment 
of the delivery of the guns Sumner Carruth, a lieutenant, 
offered to take command if a company could be enlisted, 
— stepped to the front and said, "Boys, will you follow 
me?" — and at nine o'clock that evening the recruited 
company marched to the State House. It became my 
duty and pleasure to tender the company to Governor 
Andrew, and I was authorized by the adjutant-general, 
as a justice of the peace, to swear them in, which was 
done in the Doric Hall Rotunda. In tendering them to 
the Governor, I alluded to the unfortunate events of the 
morning, hoping that the events of the afternoon would 
make amends. The Governor said he must forget that, 
as this was a new company, and this was probably the 
only one that was sworn into the service in the State 
House during the war.* It was too late for the com- 
pany to join the marching force, and it was not until 
May twenty-three that it was sworn into the service of 

* Captain Bailey volunteered later, and went into service with the 
nine months' troops. 


the United States, becoming Company H of the : 1st 
Massachusetts regiment, the Erst company m the state 
sworn into the three years' service. Much in the mean 
thne h >een done by the City Government us well as 
Stii people, both men and women, to get the company 
ready and my heart and hands were necessarily full. 

This Company H went to the front, and on Ihnrsday, 
JuW eigMeXat Blackburn's Ford at Bull Run was en- 
July uMi "" several were killed or wounded. On 
g l g ^tin 2 the t" by Tl If despatch in the BostonH,r- 
alfFleft for the fonl that evening Senator Sumner 
had letters for me to General Mansfield, then m com- 
mTnd of the fortifications of Washington, to whom I 
applied or a pass to the battlefield, to recover the 
i the dead ancl to aid the wounded. His adjntant- 
oeneral received me, and, after telling him the object of 
„w vtit^ ^exclaimed, "Angels and ministers of grace 
eiend us! and so you are going to ^vev'he oi 
dead soldiers!" But, as I was a suppliant, J said, vven, 
t you will remember that our citizens are not as 
amihar With death as you are, and cannot be expected to 
" plwte your feelings." At. the same time I presume 
he had never smelled powder in Ins hie, except at YVest 
Point The flattery pleased him, and he referred ine to 
General Mansfield in the next room. It appeared that 
Genera Mansfield's authority did not extend beyo^he 
fortifications, and 1 was referred to General Scottwho 
said "1 can give no passes to the front to-day -and he 
had good reasons for his refusal It was fortunate that 
IT application was denied, as I should have .raet the 
thing fragments of our army defeated at Bull LUiii, now 
in "mid retreat in utter demoralization from the battle- 
field^ I remained in Washington some days, helping the 
wounded, hunting up scattered men, and notifying Chelsea 

° f Tnt w^!y°nrst experience among wounded soldiers. 
It S before me 'a rare opportunity or service 
though 1 did not then dream of the demands it wou d 
soonmake upon me or the scenes through which it would 

^CHy^^s mayor I came into. somewhat 

intimate relations with the soldiers and their families, 


and tried to make them feel that my interest was much 
more than an official one. I induced the men to pledge 
a portion of their pay to their families or for deposit in 
the savings bank against their return. Doubtless this 
action of mine led to my appointment in 18G2 as one of 
the Allotment Commissioners for Massachusetts and 
afterwards as United States Allotment Commissioner for 
colored troops. Through this Massachusetts commission 
more than three million dollars were sent to the state 
treasurer for the purposes named. But for this allot- 
ment, much of this money would have been wasted or 
lost in the service. Both these offices were without com- 

My salary as mayor was four hundred dollars a year, 
and it is fair to say that in all my service during the war 
I paid my own expenses, keeping no account of them. 
They were all incident to my position and of great va- 
riety, and doubtless amounted to as many thousands as 
I received hundreds. It proved the best investment of 
my life, yielding an increasing income of satisfaction and 
comfort through the years and blessed memories to the 
end of my days. And what more could one ask than 

It is to be noted here that Mr. Fay dismisses in a few 
words the service he rendered as one of the Allotment 
Commissioners of Massachusetts, but it is too important 
to be thus dismissed. 

In looking over the mass of his war papers, dating back 
to 1861 at the time he was Mayor of Chelsea, we see his 
figure emerge and rise above those of his fellows in the 
great service to which at that time he devoted his life. 
It began with the enlisted men of his own city, and became 
widely extended to the soldiers of his own si ite and of 
other states, and was spread over four ye;.rs of war. 
It led him through all the campaigns of the Army of the 
Potomac, and never ceased, so long as there was a wounded 


soldier anywhere who could be reached by his ministry. 
Hundreds of these papers have passed under examination. 
They touch a multitude of interests that cannot be cata- 
logued, and were all collateral to the great stream of 
beneficence which flowed onward and outward from his 
office through the war. There seemed to be no move- 
ment or activity within the multifarious lines of service 
for the men of the city of Chelsea in which he did not 
have a part. Here are rosters of soldiers, recruiting 
papers, orders for money, pay-roll receipts, shipments 
of stores, requisitions for hospitals, calls for more troops, 
lists of inquiries about missing men, the unravelling of 
complications about soldiers' pay, correspondence with 
families about allotments of pay, appeals from fathers 
and mothers about wounded sons or sons killed in battle, 
appeals for efforts to effect exchanges of prisoners from 
heart-broken parents, lists of effects found upon soldiers 
killed in battle, the return of these effects to those at 
home, with endless memoranda relating to men who had 
disappeared from the ranks or from hospitals, lost forever 
to the dear ones at home. There is simply no end to the 
variety or to the detail of these tragic stories that filtered 
through his mind and heart in those heroic years. Mr. 
Fay was not simply a public servant who took upon 
himself the duties of a chief magistrate, but he was the 
friend and brother of all who came to him in trouble. 
His official responsibilities with the Commonwealth and 
the city were, as a matter of course, administered with 
business-like fidelity, but they did not end there. There 
were hundreds of families involved in these responsibilities, 
and he stood as their personal friend, ready to serve, 
all his resources being at command to lighten the burdens 


of those who had cheerfully given of their best for the 
service of their country. 

In regard to the allotments of soldiers' pay, at the sug- 
gestion of President Lincoln the Congress passed an act on 
the twentieth of July, 1861, providing for an Allotment 
System for the benefit of all volunteers in the service of 
the United States, the same to be carried out by three 
commissioners from each state having volunteers. Frank 
B. Fay, Henry Edwards, and David Wilder, Jr., were 
appointed commissioners for Massachusetts in the month 
of February, 1862, and immediately began their work, 
visiting all the regiments of that state then in the field, 
and continuing the same service with the other regiments 
subsequently formed. The most direct and systematic 
plans were made. The commissioners arranged that the 
amounts allotted from the government pay-rolls should 
be sent to the treasurer of the Commonwealth, and by 
him to the treasurer of the city or town where the person 
resided to whom the allotment was made, who was to 
be notified, and then was to receive the amount. It was 
also arranged that, should the soldier so desire, the sum 
allotted or saved from the pay could remain to his credit 
in the hands of the state treasurer, to draw interest at 
five per cent. The system avoided the possibility of 
loss to the soldier, and relieved him of the expense of 
sending the money home, and made the state treasury 
a savings bank for those who desired it, the whole plan 
being executed solely for the advantage of the soldier. 

The story of this service is briefly told here to show the 
absorbing character of his civic duties in connection with 
the war that Mr. Fay assumed in those strenuous years. 
There were sixty -one Massachusetts regiments of infantry, 


five of cavalry, four regiments of heavy artillery, and 
sixteen batteries of light artillery,* and, scattered as they 
were over the vast field of operations, some idea may be 
formed of the prodigious amount of work that fell on these 
commissioners, who served without pay. 

Governor Andrew, with his tender and large-hearted 
interest in this great scheme of relief for the families of 
enlisted men, gave every facility for the prompt and effi- 
cient work of this commission, of which Mayor Fay was 
the chairman. In fact, the Governor had much to do 
with the passage of the act providing for it, realizing the 
necessity of some provision for the dependent families 
of the men who had suddenly been called to leave their 
homes in defence of their country. 

Circulars explaining the allotment act were pre- 
pared and mailed to the Massachusetts troops, as pre- 
liminary to personal visits to the regiments, each man 
being made acquainted with the plan and its advantages. 
The soldier was then left to make his own allotment of 
such part of his pay, if any, as he wished to have re- 
served. It will be seen that the task of carrying out this 
system was by no means a light one. Long journeys 
had to be made to distant armies and scattered camps, 
often on foot to almost inaccessible outposts. Whole 
companies were sometimes found to have been detached 
on active service, and at other times both officers and men 
were found to be indifferent to the plan and turned it 
down. There were also occasions when the entire army 
appeared to be on the eve of some great movement, or 
whole divisions had been advanced beyond reach or had 

* Massachusetts contributed during the Civil War, for the army and 
navy, 159,105 men, and expended $27,705,109 in this service. 


been sent to other departments of the service. Under 
these conditions the men could not be expected to give 
attention to such matters, and the work had to be aban- 
doned. Then it often proved that the paymasters them- 
selves were delayed in their disbursements, or errors 
were discovered in the pay-rolls, which involved delays 
in the payments and consequent privation to the men 
and their families, and also for months afterwards a mass 
of correspondence in straightening out these complica- 
tions. All these and a multitude of other difficulties 
arose, which were met and overcome by these devoted 
commissioners, until forty-one regiments had been reached, 
and induced to take advantage of the system, which 
continued in operation until the end of the war. So 
well was this work done that three million dollars, as 
has been stated, were sent home by the Massachusetts 
soldiers, besides the amounts sent directly by the men 
themselves. It was a great public service, and was 
worked out by Mr. Fay and his associates with the en- 
thusiasm and devotion which characterized all their 
army work. 


The Monitor and the Merrimac and Other 

In briefly considering the first campaign in Virginia, 

we must go back to the first call for troops after the firing 

upon Fort Sumter in 1861. The Confederate forces 

from South Carolina and the Gulf states were rapidly 

thrown into Virginia, while on the part of the North 

forty or fifty regiments of three months' men were quickly 

concentrated at Washington in defence of the capital. 

General McDowell, a highly trained officer of the regular 

army, was placed in command, and did what he could to 

organize his forces and make them ready for the serious 

work before them. They were raw troops, suddenly 

brought together from civil pursuits, with no knowledge 

of war, without discipline or organization, without a 

staff or a commissariat, and without organized artillery. 

It was simply an army in the making, but not yet made. 

The hostile forces confronted each other on the line of 

the Alexandria and Manassas railroad, and it was hardly 

to be expected that they could long be in this position 

without conflict. There was, moreover, great pressure 

upon the government by an impatient Congress and 

people for an immediate advance upon the enemy; and, 

largely in obedience to this great public demand, the 

battle of Bull Run followed on the twenty-first of July, 




After a day of obstinate fighting with varying success, 
a part of tie Federal line was thrown back in disorder 
in the afternoon, when, apparently without reason, 
panic swept the field. The troops fled, one division 
after another gave way, organization was lost, army 
trains and artillery joined in the rout and blocked the 
roads, and almost the entire force in hideous disorder 
surged back into the streets of the capital. The Con- 
federates, unaware of the extent of the disaster, having 
been on the edge of defeat repeatedly through the day, 
did not follow up their advantage, and were in fact in 
retreat themselves at the moment of the Federal rout. 
It was a hungry, disorganized mob that swept back into 
Washington, and there was no power anywhere to stem 
the tide. It was three months before confidence was 

About a week before this disaster General McClellan 
came into notice in a short but brilliant campaign in 
Western Virginia, where he was able to telegraph to 
Washington, as its result, the capture of a thousand pris- 
oners with all the enemies' stores, baggage, and artillery, 
and the complete disruption of the hostile force. He 
sent his captured flags to Washington, and was then 
called there and placed in command, and given the task 
of the reorganization of the scattered fragments of 
McDowell's defeated army. It was a giant's task, and 
it went forward with tremendous vigor. The nation had 
sprung to arms, and all its resources were placed at the 
command of the government for the prosecution of the 

General McClellan had not only to reorganize the army 
then existing, he had to create a new one from the raw 


material he had at hand; and, from the disspirited regi- 
ments and organizations unfitted to march or fight, he 
had at the end of three months a hundred thousand men 
trained and disciplined and deserving the name of the 
"Army of the Potomac." It was a great achievement, 
and, as Swinton says, "whatever may be written of 
McClellan's later career as a military commander, he yet 
challenges from all impartial minds the credit due to this 
mighty performance." He became the popular idol, and, 
as he went on with the reorganization of the army, con- 
fidence increased, and there seemed for a time to be no 
limit to the trust reposed in him as he made ready for the 
great contests that were to test his really untried abilities 
as a leader in great campaigns in the field. 

By the middle of November the army was considered 
ready for an active campaign. General McClellan had 
already declared on assuming command that the war 
should be "short, sharp, and decisive," and this was the 
key-note on which public sentiment turned. But the 
late fall and early winter dragged along with the army 
inactive about Washington, when it was learned that the 
plans had been changed, and that there would be no 
movement until spring. He had at that time about 
a hundred and fifty thousand men under his command, 
two-thirds of whom might have been used to operate 
against his enemy, who still menaced the capital, flaunt- 
ing their flags about Fairfax Court House within sight 
of Washington, and who were even erecting their bat- 
teries on the Virginia side of the Potomac, obstructing 
the navigation of that river. The patience of the nation 
was sorely tried. Its anxiety broke out at last in loud 
clamor for action, and this was the beginning of those 


embarrassments which marred the harmonious relations 
between the government and the commander of the 

We do not need to go into General McClellan's reasons 
for this inaction. They have been elaborately stated in 
his memoirs, and were sufficient for him. But, as the 
campaign went on, it was seen by competent military 
critics that he was deficient in certain qualities of mind 
that were essential in dealing with large problems of war. 
This was well illustrated at the time by the remark of the 
president of a Western railroad where he had been em- 
ployed as chief engineer, who said, before he assumed 
command of the army, that he would show the same qual- 
ities in that position that he did as an engineer. "No 
man can build a better bridge than McClellan, but the 
trouble with him is that he does not dare cross it when 
it is done, and this quality of his mind will be shown in 
any army he may command." 

General McClellan's plans contemplated a campaign 
against Richmond with his base at Chesapeake Bay, and 
a portion of his army was transferred to the lower Penin- 
sula during the month of March, 1862. Whether the 
movement would have been farther delayed but for the 
direct order of the President that it should begin is a 
question. A great fleet of transport boats was assembled, 
and 114,500 men, 14,000 animals, forty-four batteries of 
artillery, wagons, ambulances, pontoon trains, and the 
enormous equipage of the army were safely landed within 
the month. A European critic calls it the stride of a 
giant, and it was so. 

General McClellan reached Fortress Monroe on the 
second of April, and a part of his army was put in motion 


for Yorktown on the York River, about sixty miles from 
Richmond, and siege operations were begun there. This 
siege was made necessary, as McClellan looked at it, 
by the withdrawal, by orders from Washington, of Mc- 
Dowell's corps of twenty-five thousand men, which was 
needed for the defence of the capital, but which was to 
have been used for a flanking movement against York- 
town. But Ropes, the military critic of this campaign, 
insists that McClellan could have forced the enemy to 
abandon Yorktown with the forces he had, and have 
saved the delays of the siege by pouring the thousands of 
men he had through the weak Confederate lines; and he 
adds that "one cannot help believing that greater enter- 
prise and daring on the part of the commanding gen- 
eral would have been rewarded by a striking success." 
Moreover, the Confederates gained the advantage they 
desired by McClellan 's siege operations, namely, time to 
concentrate their forces for the active campaign that 
followed. We shall see how they used this advantage 

Having now stated the situation of the Army of the 
Potomac up to April, 1862, let us leave our forces in front 
of Yorktown, and turn to Mr. Fay's personal story. He 
had remained at home for several months after the battle 
of Bull Run, absorbed in his civic duties, which were 
mainly those connected with the war, and it was not until 
March, 1862, that he returned to the army to continue his 
work as Allotment Commissioner. 

While at Fortress Monroe on this visit, he witnessed 
that remarkable naval engagement between the Merrimac 
and the Monitor which made a new era in naval warfare. 
This conflict was also witnessed by Arthur B. Fuller, 


chaplain of the ICth Massachusetts regiment, who vividly 
describes it. We add also some account of the conflict 
from the Confederate side,* taken from reports and narra- 
tives of those who were on board the Merrimac when 
she moved down the James River on her career of de- 
struction. These two accounts, condensed now into one 
narrative, give a vivid picture of this historic conflict. 

On the fifteenth of March, 1862, a small fleet appeared 
in the James River, steaming down into Hampton Roads 
from Norfolk. It proved to be a convoy of a mysterious 
monster, half ship, half house, which had been rebuilt 
at the Norfolk Navy Yard, and was known as the Mer- 
rimac. She came down the river for battle, her objective 
being the wooden frigates Cumberland, Congress, Min- 
nesota, and Roanoke, together with a fleet of gunboats, 
store-ships, and transports anchored in Hampton Roads. 
They were all at her mercy, and she was determined to 
work havoc among them and make her name remembered 
in naval history. 

She came down with her stars and bars flying, and made 
for Newport News. As she approached with resistless 
force, with the black smoke streaming from her funnel 
and leaving a trail behind, the wooden ships in con- 
sternation cleared for action, the smaller craft getting 
closer in shore under the batteries or putting out to sea. 
The Merrimac was a formidable vessel, their first and 
only Confederate ironclad, and, so far as they knew, was 
the mistress of the seas. 

"As we drew near the Cumberland," the Confederate 
report says, "we fired our pivot gun. Our crew was 
half naked, powder-blackened, and streaming with sweat 

* The Long Roll, Mary Johnston. 


on the gun-deck and at the boilers. The shell she sent 
burst above the Cumberland's stern pivot, Killing and 
wounding many of her crew. When we were all but on 
her, her starboard blazed. This broadside tore up the 
carriage of our pivot gun, cut another off at the trunnions 
and the muzzle of the third, riddled the smoke-stack, and 
killed and wounded nineteen men. AVe answered with 
three guns, and as the smoke lifted we were on her under 
the fore-rigging, ramming her with an immense iron 
beak, which in the awful impact was torn off and re- 
mained in her side. Our ship hung for a moment and then 
backed clear, leaving a ragged gaping hole. She was 
listed to port and was sinking. The water reached her 
main deck, but all her men were on her spar-deck, serving 
her guns, fighting to the last. One by one they stopped 
as she was submerged, but she flew her colors till she 

"We then bore down on the Congress. She had 
slipped her cables, and ran aground, where she was safe 
from our ram. We could get no nearer than two hun- 
dred feet, but there we began to rake lier with our 

"A hundred guns from the shore batteries and from 
the Congress and Minnesota were trained upon us, and the 
shot penetrated at every point not iron-clad that showed 
above our shell. There were now more dead and wounded 
to be cared for, and among the latter were Commodore 
Buchanan and Flag Lieutenant Minor; but we brought 
down her main-mast, disabled her guns, strewed her decks 
with blood, smashed in her sides, and set her afire. She 
hauled down her colors in her helplessness and ran up a 
white flag, when we ceased firing. Her hull was lifted 
high by the sand bank which held her. One by one her 
guns exploded and at night her ports were windows lit 
from within by fire, and at two o'clock in the morning 
her powder magazines were reached, with a burst of 
flame and an earthquake sound which rent her apart, 
and when all was cleared away there were only the huge 
fragments upborne by the sand and burning, and that 
was the end of the Congress." 


The Minnesota and the Roanoke, which were the next 
objective, lay aground and helpless. The Merrimac 
turned her guns upon them and upon the batteries and 
camps of Newport News, and withdrew the victor in the 
contest. She anchored off Sewells Point up the river 
to care for her wounded, to repair damages, and the next 
day to make ready for the final victory that then lay 
within her grasp. 

"How anxiously," says Chaplain Fuller in his narrative, 
"we waited for the morrow! At sundown there was 
nothing to dispute the empire of the seas with this marine 
monster which had wrought such ruin, and, so far as we 
knew, nothing to prevent her placing Washington, New 
York, and all our seaboard cities under tribute to her guns. 
But this was not to be. As night drew on, a speck of 
light gleamed on the distant wave; it moved, it came 
nearer, and at ten o'clock the Monitor appeared. She 
was but a speck on the dark sea, a laughable object by 
day, "a cheese-box on a raft' the enemy called her. 
She took her place concealed in the shadow of the Min- 
nesota, awaiting the conflict. The next morning the 
Merrimac returned to her work of destruction, moving 
slowly down to her easy prey, and opened her broadsides 
upon the remaining vessels, when, lo! the little Moni- 
tor steams quietly out and offered her battle. How puny 
she seemed! Nothing but that little round tub appear- 
ing above the water, yet flinging the gage of battle to the 
gigantic Merrimac. It was David going out to meet 
Goliath! There were but two guns within that turret, 
but there were determined men behind them. The 
Merrimac after a few minutes of astounded silence opened 
the contest. She tried to sink her puny foe by a broad- 
side, but, after the smoke rolled away, she had not been 
sunk, but stood there with the white wreaths of smoke 
crowning her tower, as a coronet of glory. She returned 
the fire, and for five hours stood to her task. The Mer- 
rimac tried to ram her, but in thus exposing herself to the 


raking fire of the little craft she gained nothing by that 

"Sometimes," continued the Confederate narrative, 
"there was not ten feet of water between those sunken 
decks. We fired every seven minutes, now the bow gun, 
now the after pivot, now a full broadside. The Minne- 
sota as we passed gave us all her broadside guns, a 
tremendous blow at point-blank range, but our turtle 
back shook oft' the shot and shell and answered with her 
bow gun. This shell burst amidships on the frigate, 
exploded a store of powder, and set the ship afire. The 
Monitor backed away, gathered herself together to ram 
us in her turn, and laid her bow upon us and fired her 11- 
inch guns twice in succession, which drove in the Mer- 
rimac's sides three inches or more, and every man above 
the ports of the after guns was knocked down by the 
impact and bled at nose and ears. Her lighter draft put 
us at disadvantage. She was lighter and quicker and 
countered upon us, and manoeuvred about us with ease, 
withdrawing out of danger from our ram to protect the 
other ships, sending shot and shell from her two gigantic 
guns, which we returned with our powder getting low. 
It was late afternoon. The tide was falling, and, being 
damaged, our pilots felt their way back to Sewells Point." 

Her signals of distress were flying as she moved up the 
river, and she was towed back by her consorts to the 
dry dock at Norfolk, from which she never emerged. 
The Monitor was victorious and saved the day for the 

This great battle on the sea was the most important 
event of the war up to that time, and its results were felt 
in all the navies of the world. After the conflict Mr. Fay 
went on board the Monitor, and, when he saw the slight 
effect the monster guns of the Merrimac had upon her, 
wrote: "I should have no fear to be on board of her 
in action. She has proved her invincibility. In one way 


it was an amusing sight to see what a splendid harbor- 
master the Merrimac was, and how quiekly the harbor 
was cleared after she appeared. Peace to her pieces!" 

The siege operations in front of Yorktown continued 
until the place was no longer tenable, and it was aban- 
doned by the Confederates, but not without an obstinate 
battle at Williamsburg, which opened the way for our 
troops to White House on the Pamunky River. The 
army then gradually extended its lines, in the invest- 
ment of Richmond, from White House Swamp, across the 
Chickahominy, round to Cold Harbor and Mechanics- 
villc. Meanwhile the Confederates had met with a serious 
loss in the capture of Norfolk and the Navy Yard and 
the destruction of their famous ironclad. The defeated 
Merrimac, which had taken shelter there for repairs, 
drew too much water to go up the James, and as she 
could not keep the sea, now that her only port was closed 
to her, she was blown up by her commander, Commodore 
Tatnall, and her short career ended. This opened up the 
James River to a point within seven or eight miles from 
Richmond. These latter events took place in May, 186 l 2. 

As there were no active operations of the army imme- 
diately impending and his allotment business was over, 
Mr. Fay returned home for a few weeks, and wrote a 
series of "War Notes" covering his experiences in the 
region of Fortress Monroe and Yorktown. 

Some extracts from these notes are here given : — 

May 16, 1862. 
"It is in my philosophy to speak cheerfully of the dir- 
est calamities and the sorest griefs." 

When I left home in March as a commissioner for 
Massachusetts on soldiers' allotment, I had no expecta- 



tion of so long an absence, and, but for the intervening 
event of the disaster to the Chelsea company in front of 
Yorktown, I should have returned sooner. It has served 
to show that the municipal machinery can run quite well 
without a mayor; and this makes me content to be ab- 
sent when other duties call me away. 

I first visited the 1st and 11th regiments, which fa- 
vored the allotment system, and excelled all others in the 
state in the amount allotted, say nearly $7,500 per month 
each. I trust I shall be excused for being a little proud 
that the Chelsea company has outdone any other in the 
state in the amount allotted, say $975 per month. 

The allotment system I believe to be a good one for 
the soldiers, their families, and the state. Many, how- 
ever, looked upon it with suspicion, and seemed to think 
that, as the commissioners received no pay and the state, 
city, and town treasurers no additional compensation, 
"there must be a catch somewhere." In reply we re- 
ferred to the general policy and practice of the state 
towards its soldiers as more liberal than that of any 
other state. They admitted this, and the soldiers of 
other states frequently referred to it. Still the idea that 
so much should be done solely for the benefit of the sol- 
dier could not be readily believed, so that, while many 
embraced the system, many refused it. 

From Camp Hooper I went to Fortress Monroe. The 
army was lying a few miles from the fortress, and I had 
an opportunity of meeting the Chelsea boys in many 
regiments, and since then have seen all in the 1st, 9th, 
11th, 15th, 16th, 18th, 19th, 20th, and 22d regiments, 
and Nims and Rhode Island battery C, sappers and 
miners, and the 12th regular infantry. 

On my arrival at Fortress Monroe our fellow-citizen 
C. B. Wilder, agent of the contrabands, kindly furnished 
me with a horse to enable me to reach the troops before 
the advance, which took place next morning. I had 
never had much experience in the saddle, and to make 
almost my first experience there in presence of so many 
experienced horsemen did not elevate my pride, though 
it did the legs of my trousers, and I fancy I exhibited 
more hose than horsemanship. I think my horse knew 
my unskilfulness, and the more I hurried him the harder 


he made it, as an intimation to be quiet. I was reminded 
of that saddle for some days afterwards. 

After the battle between the Monitor and the Merri- 
mac we went to Warwick Court House to hunt for Mas- 
sachusetts regiments, and slept that night upon some 
hay kindly provided by one of the officers, with a tent-fly 
for a coverlid. Started early for a walk across the Penin- 
sula toward Yorktown, meeting Massachusetts regiments 
on the way and attending to our allotment duties. The 
army being in motion, we found it difficult to get their 

The next three nights slept once in a tent, once under 
a tarpaulin, and once in a rebel cabin then occupied as 
a hospital, under the temporary charge of Drs. Gay, 
Hodges, and Homans of Boston. The road by which we 
travelled ran as near the front as civilians were allowed 
to go; and bear in mind that civilians were very scarce 
there. Every hour I was taken for a Confederate, and 
could hear the boys say to each other, "That fellow looks 
secesh." But I answered them good-naturedly, remem- 
bering that it was not the first time since the war began 
that my motives had been misinterpreted. I had only 
to hail from Massachusetts and I was well received every- 

The next day I reached the 1st regiment and found 
a home with the Chelsea company, although working 
among neighboring regiments and batteries. I found 
them looking well notwithstanding they had a hard time 
during the trip from their winter quarters, by close 
stowage and stormy weather on the steamers and by 
bad roads, frequent changes of camps, and short supplies. 
However, cheerfulness is the prevailing state of mind in 
all the regiments. Most certainly the affections of the 
boys cling around their homes, their wives and children, 
parents and sweethearts, if they have them, and they 
would be glad to come home when the war is over. It 
seems remarkable to us, when men come on furloughs or 
detailed for special duty, how uneasy they get after a 
few weeks and are not content till they have returned to 

I had prolonged my stay upon the Peninsula a few 
days, thinking, if a battle took place, I might be useful 


among the wounded. But after a short time at the 
front I was satisfied that some weeks must elapse before 
the advance would be made, and therefore returned to 
Washington, promising, if possible, to make my next call 
upon them in Richmond. 

I should be ungrateful if I did not here acknowledge 
the uniform kindness and attention I received every- 
where. From colonels to privates, all have treated me 
as a brother. A hearty, cordial grasp of the hand, with 
a thoughtful, constant kindness toward me, is a richer 
compensation for the labor and discomfort of these 
journeys than can be expressed in figures. I ask no 

Then came the sad story of the disaster at Cheesman's 
Creek to Company H of the 1st Massachusetts regi- 
ment, the news of which reached me as I had completed 
my business in Washington and was about returning 
home, and that 26th of April was a memorable day for 
me. I had left that company of Chelsea men so recently, 
with full ranks, and now there were "fourteen in killed 
and wounded." I took the first train and boat for 
Fortress Monroe and Cheesman's Creek, arrived next 
day, sent to camp for the bodies of the dead, and found 
the wounded most comfortably situated on board the 
steamer Commodore. 

The embalming of the bodies, the sending them for- 
ward, the ceremonies here, are all on record, and I need 
not repeat them. Although accomplished with some 
difficulty, it has all been amply repaid by the comfort it 
has carried to sorrowing hearts, and I think I may say 
also to our whole community, for our soldiers have be- 
come so linked into our affections that private griefs 
become public ones. 

I shall not stop here to argue the point of expense, 
raised by one of your correspondents, nor the question 
of robbing the volunteer of the glory of a soldier's grave, 
raised by another journal. Different men place different 
estimates upon "dollars" and upon "glory." For myself, 
I must say, I place at the present time a greater value 
upon comfort to the heart of the widow and the orphan 
and the bereaved parent. Before we enter upon another 
war, we will argue these and many other questions, that 


those who enlist in it may know what is to be done to 
those who die on the field and to those "beloved, who 
are left to mourn." 


During this week our troops were busy in building 
their fortifications and placing guns upon them, while 
the rebels were busy in using their guns already placed. 
They kept up almost a constant fire, doing little execu- 
tion, seldom returned by our forces. The song of the 
shells was the only music we had, for the bands and the 
drums had been silent for some weeks. One gets used 
to this music in a short time and it becomes a pleasure, 
provided you do not find it approaching in a direct line, 
and then it becomes exciting. I had an opportunity to 
be a bit of a soldier on the day before evacuation. Gen- 
eral McClellan was in the camp of the 1st regiment with 
Professor Lowe, who made an ascension in his balloon, 
upon which the rebels tried their rifled cannon. I was 
in an adjoining camp, and, as I was hurrying to the spot 
where McClellan stood, I heard a shot coming which 
seemed to my unpractised ear to be "quite convenient." 
I had heard about "dropping," and I tried it. About 
the time I struck the ground a solid shot did the same 
about twenty -five feet from "Little Mac" and about 
fifty feet from my resting-place. 

The boys laughed at the mayor for going down, but 
I found it to be quite the fashion all around me, and I 
"allowed" they would excuse me for adopting the pre- 
vailing style. General McClellan smoked his cigar a little 
more rapidly than usual, mounted, and rode off. They 
were fortunate shots for the rebels, for it prevented the 
discovery of the evacuation of their position then going on. 

That night was the noisiest I have ever known. The 
enemy concealed their retreat by an incessant firing by 
their rear- guard. Our camps were all darkened, as the 
guns had a good range on us, and I was obliged to sus- 
pend writing. The 1st regiment was on picket duty, 
and, as I was alone in the tent, had an excellent opportu- 
nity to reflect upon the probabilities of a shot coming 


into that particular tent, but these reflections soon ended 
in sleep and no shells entered the camp. 

Early the next morning the regiment returned, bring- 
ing the news of the evacuation of Yorktown. Then 
came shouts of joy and music of the bands from all the 
surrounding camps. This was followed by the order to 
"prepare to march, not to return." As I was unwilling 
to lose the opportunity to enter Yorktown with the 
troops, I marched on with the regiment, avoiding the 
torpedoes concealed beneath the surface of the road. 
We reached the town in safety, found it abandoned, and 
pressed on a few miles beyond, dropping in upon many 
rebel tents and barracks, where we found the fires still 
burning. We spent the night in Yorktown, occupying 
two of those tents, and had for supper three hardtacks, 
which we divided between us. In getting some water 
for this slender meal, I had an interesting adventure. 
I had picked up a pail and a tin cup and had found a well, 
drawn a supply, and fully satisfied my thirst, and was 
coming away, when some soldiers who were on guard in 
the town said in passing, "You had better get your water 
from some other well." "Why?" I inquired. They re- 
plied that they had found a paper on the curb of the well, 
"Beware of the water!" I had heard of arsenic in wells, 
and felt that the men who were capable of concealing 
torpedoes in the road might poison the water also. 
However, if this well was poisoned, my case was settled; 
but I would not poison my friend, so I emptied my pail 
and went to the other well, drank enough from that to 
weaken the dose I had already taken, and returned to 
my tent. I still live, and we may presume that the 
rebels need all their arsenic for medicinal purposes among 
their own soldiers. 

Next morning our breakfast consisted of three-quarters 
of a biscuit each, which I had fished out of another pocket, 
and more cold water. 

There were no white inhabitants left in Yorktown ex- 
cept an old white mule, whose usefulness had gone, "sad 
relic of departed worth," and who had been left to wander 
unfed, unhaltered, and undone. 

It had begun to rain, and, as I was without great-coat 
or shawl, by the aid of my companion I made a water- 


proof garment of a piece of canvas from our bedquilt, 
cutting a hole for my head in the centre and two for 
my arms at the sides. It was not ornamental, but was 
very useful. We pressed on to our destination through 
mud and rain, reaching it some eight miles from York- 
town, to find everything gone, "Headquarters of trans- 
portation removed to Yorktown," so we had to return 
there. It was sundown when we arrived, and, after 
sundry efforts to find shelter, my companion found a 
deserted hut (with a fireplace, but no door), and we took 
possession. We made firewood of the bedstead, shelves, 
and empty barrels, and with a few boards made a door, 
and with hard bread and water for supper made a night 
of it. In an unsuccessful search for a sutler the next 
morning to supply a breakfast, I met a wagoner of the 20th 
Massachusetts, who, seeing our half -starved condition, 
handed me some boiled eggs from his scanty fare. "Help • 
yourself," he said, but I declined his luxuries. When he 
insisted, I took his name, and two months afterwards had 
an opportunity to return the favor, when I found him 
sick at Harrison's Landing, needing the very supplies I 

As our service was over for a time in the army, we left 
Fortress Monroe for Baltimore, and these interesting 
experiences ended. 


The Peninsula Campaign and the Second Bull Run. 

When the war began, Miss Helen L. Gilson, who had 
been in my family as a friend and teacher of my children, 
expressed her strong desire to serve in the army as a nurse. 
She had noble qualities of mind and heart. She was a 
winning personality, and was strong and brave, and 
we knew she would do good work there. A properly 
indorsed petition was accordingly sent to Miss Dorothea 
Dix in Washington, asking for an appointment for her. 
She replied, if she was over thirty years old, she could come, 
but, as Miss Gilson was only twenty-three, this service 
was denied her. In April, 1862, however, an urgent letter 
was received from Miss Dix, asking her to report in Wash- 
ington, which she did. Miss Dix was surprised to find 
her so young and attractive, and to her eyes so unfitted for 
service, and she was sent to the Columbian College Hos- 
pital, where she remained for a time with Mrs. Pomroy, 
but without important duties. The real call, however, 
came later in the season, and it found her ready and eager 
to respond. This call came in the following way. I 
was returning from the army to Washington, and while 
awaiting the boat at Fortress Monroe met Rev. Frederick 
N. Knapp, who was in charge of the Special Relief of the 
Sanitary Commission. He was at that point with a 
steamer of supplies and some ladies on board as nurses. 
I asked him if he needed any new recruits, and he said 
yes, and asked me to send Miss Gilson down at once 
to him. He had met her in Washington and knew she 
could be useful. She went immediately to the army, 
reported to Mr. Knapp at Yorktown, and her work began, 
and it was continued, as we shall see later, until the end 
of the war. 

General McClellan's forces at that time were in front 
of Richmond, occupying long semicircular lines in the 



investment of that capital. The sudden transfer of this 
army from the high banks of the Potomac to the low and 
swampy region of the Peninsula, intersected with a net- 
work of creeks and rivers, caused a serious amount of 
sickness from malarial and typhoid fevers, and our forces 
were wasting away in those weeks of the early summer. 

These conditions were alarming in view of the ap- 
proach of an active campaign, whose character could be 
well foreseen in the inevitable crash of battle between 
two hundred thousand men well equipped with all the 
modern enginery of war. 

The government and the Sanitary Commission made 
such preparations as they could for these emergencies, 
and the resources of both were sadly overtaxed. Many 
hundreds were prostrated by these wasting fevers, and 
the field hospitals were crowded. Their removal was 
a necessity before the fighting began, and it was already 
going oh- when Generat Lee struck our lines with the 
shock of battle. I was at home some weeks previous to 
this time, having left Miss Gilson at work in the field 
hospitals at White House, where she remained until the 
place was evacuated. I reached the army again at the 
beginning of this campaign, and went through that track 
of war, being later located at the camp of the 1st Mas- 
sachusetts regiment not far from Harrison's Landing, 
which was the new base of the army. 

Let us introduce here a few words as to this great 
Peninsula campaign, to make the situation clear. Gen- 
eral Joseph E. Johnston, one of the ablest of the Con- 
federate leaders who had been in command of that army 
in Virginia, had been wounded at Williamsburg, and was 
in temporary retirement. General Robert E. Lee, who 
was the military adviser of Jefferson Davis, was chosen in 
his place, and promptly determined that the Union army 
should no longer menace the Confederate capital. Being 
ready for battle, he suddenly assumed the offensive, and 
forced General McClellan into a campaign which proved 


a disastrous one. The onslaught was so sudden and so 
terrific that he forced the Union army back, after a 
series of engagements, to Harrison's Landing on the 
James, and these successive conflicts are known in his- 
tory as the "Seven Days' Battles." Lee's army of about 
a hundred thousand men was protecting Richmond with 
a long front on both sides of the Chickahominy River, 
while McClellan confronted him with about a hundred 
and ten thousand men whose outposts were in sight of 
the Confederate capital. Fair Oaks, Gaines's Mills, Sav- 
age Station, Glendale, and Malvern Hill were all within 
the Federal lines, each of them the scene of tremendous 
conflicts during the short campaign which began on the 
twenty-seventh of June, 1862. Gradually our army was 
forced backward, not always beaten, but slowly seeking a 
new base of supplies on the James River. In spite of the 
fact that the Confederates met with final defeat at Mal- 
vern Hill, the total advantage was with General Lee, 
who had driven the Union army back from the very 
gates of Richmond to a point twenty or thirty miles 
from that city. This was accomplished only by terrible 
losses on both sides. In this series of engagements the 
Federal army lost 1,734 killed, 8,000 wounded, and 6,000 
missing (half of whom were probably wounded), a total 
of 15,849 men. The Confederate losses, according to 
their own reports, were about twenty thousand men, the 
latter army being the attacking force. 

These were the first great battles of the war. The blood 
of both armies was up, their respective leaders were being 
tested, and the frightful losses on both sides were ominous 
of coming conflicts. From the figures given, it can be 
seen what a trail of blood was left behind, and how many 


thousands of men had to be cared for, scattered over 
these disastrous fields. It was into such a holocaust of 
suffering and death as this that Mr. Fay and Miss Gilson 
began their hospital work. 

Our temporary field hospitals first received and cared 
for all these men, but the malarial climate and the 
intense heat of this summer made it imperative that 
they should be sent North as rapidly as they could be 
moved, and they were transferred to the permanent 
hospitals in Washington. 

To accomplish this, the Sanitary Commission applied 
to the Quartermaster -General for some of the large 
steamers that had been used as transports to the Penin- 
sula, and were then lying idle, at a cost to the government 
of $800 to $1,000 a day each. The Secretary of War at 
once ordered as many of them as would carry a thousand 
men to be detailed to the Commission, which on its part 
agreed to take charge of the sick and wounded, and land 
them in Washington. These vessels were bare of every- 
thing for hospital purposes, but they were promptly fitted 
up and supplied from the storehouses of the Commis- 

To retrace our steps a moment, we will go back to Miss 
Gilson's work at White House, which was suddenly inter- 
rupted by General Lee's attack, which broke through 
McClellan's lines and compelled his change of base. 
From the moment the Confederate advance began, White 
House was no longer tenable; but, as we have seen, this 
fleet of steamers was at hand. The sick and wounded 
were quickly transferred, and moved down the river 
to Fortress Monroe on their way to Washington. Miss 
Gilson secured passage on a tugboat for Harrison's 

7 // E I' I. N I V II. A C A MP AH) .V 29 

Landing, which was protected by our gunboats, and 
under date of July ten, 1862, she tells the story of this 
• ience: — 

It was a sad, anxious night after what seemed to us 
to be an ignominious retreat of our army from it- posi- 
tion in front of Richmond. Our -rnall tugboat on which 
i 'J came alongside the Monitor, which was 
anchored at Harrison'-, Landing. We were almost sur- 
rounded by gunboats, and the firing was kept up all 
about us. We could see the bursting shells and hear the 
explosions, and for a few hours the fleet did efficient 
service against the rebel batteries, which were finally 
silenced. The next day was the Fourth of July. The 
shore was alive with troops, and steamers were con- 
stantly arriving for the transport of the sick and 
wounded who were lying on the ground, to be counted by 
acres. Learning that the large Sanitary Commission 
er Knickerbocker was to earry a load of the 
wounded to Washington, a few of us volunteered our ser- 
vices *o care for them, and before night five hundred men 
were placed on board. The ship was absolutely bare of 
supplies, as it was suddenly turned over to the Com- 
mission by the government, but the deficiency was soon 
made- good from the Sanitary storehouses. Our party 
will never forget that Fourth of July. We dined on a 
few crackers which were found among the remnant of 
our -tor'-. We al-o had a demijohn of wine, which we 
diluted and gave to our exhausted men. ft was a touch- 
ing sight to -cc t!,<-r. [,;. }, of our country, re- 
duced by disease, come tottering towards us, entreating 
with imploring tones for a piece of bread or a cup of cold 
water. Everybody was in a whirl of activity, and the 
rush, heat, and confusion on shore one can never forget, 
as th< rloaded train- arrived with their suffering 
freights of the wounded, who were fairly thrust upon 
waiting boats. Lines of stretchers with their 
helpless burd carried from the railroad 
to the transport boats, and the entire force of the 
tar/ Commissi o employed. 


One of this corps continues the description as follows : — 

Many of these men had died upon the cars. They had 
been almost entirely unattended, and were literally 
packed together in the common freight cars with only a 
wisp of hay for a pillow. Many of the severely wounded 
came upon the roofs of the cars. It was midsummer in 
Virginia, and the close, fetid air was almost insupport- 
able even to those who had become accustomed to such 
scenes. As the men passed from the cars to the boat, 
they paused at the Sanitary Commission tent which was 
pitched on the wharf, to be stimulated and refreshed 
before starting on their way. From this tent, meals were 
sent to every man on these boats, and more than three 
thousand were fed in this way. No one who lived and 
worked through these days and nights can tell the story 
exactly as it occurred. They remember scenes and 
sounds, but nothing in detail, and to this day there comes 
back the sight of wounded men borne by contrabands 
on board these steamers, dumping them anywhere and 
walking over them without compassion. Imagine an 
immense river-boat, every berth, every mattress, every 
square inch of room on every deck filled with wounded 
men, — even the stairs and gangways filled with them, — 
and then imagine fifty well men, laborers and others on 
every sort of errand, rushing here and there, every touch 
bringing agony to the poor fellows, while stretcher after 
stretcher comes along trying to find an empty space, — 
and then imagine what it was for these men of the Sani- 
tary Commission to keep calm and firm in such surround- 
ings and bringing order out of the chaos, and making 
sure that each man was cared for, refreshed, and fed.* 

Follow us now on this steamer Knickerbocker, which 
was the boat on which Mr. Fay worked, as she moved 
down the James and up the Potomac to Washington. As 
night drew on, nobody who was on board can ever forget 
the ominous stillness of those crowded decks or the 
solemn hush of those suffering men. It was as dark as a 

* Miss Wormely's Sanitary Commission, p. 82. 


sepulchre and as silent as the grave, save an occasional 
moan from some wounded man. They were packed to- 
gether so closely on the open decks that one could hardly 
move among them. With flickering candles to light the 
way, what a vision it was, the pallor of the suffering faces, 
the torn and clotted garments covering throbbing wounds ! 
But the night passed, and, as the steamer drew up to the 
Seventh Street landing at Washington, the ambulances 
were waiting to transfer them to comfortable beds in the 
permanent hospitals. All these scenes and events oc- 
curred in June and July, 1862, and continued until the 
sick and wounded were finally withdrawn, and the cam- 
paign ended on the Peninsula. 

Then followed a period of inaction, while new military 
dispositions were made in Washington under the direction 
of General Halleck, who had been made general-in-chief 
of the armies. The government needed an experienced 
soldier for counsel with headquarters at the capital, and 
he was placed in command. It proved a costly appoint- 
ment for both government and people. General Pope 
had also been called from the West. He had won some 
distinction at Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River, 
and was given the command of a new army in Virginia, 
which was formed from the troops in the Mountain De- 
partment of that state and the Department of the Shen- 
andoah, then under Fremont, Banks, and McDowell. 
This new force was called the "Army of Virginia," and 
was designed to cover the city of Washington from any 
attack that might be made by General Lee from the direc- 
tion of Richmond, and also to insure the safety of the 
Valley of the Shenandoah. 

Meanwhile General McClellan's army was on the Pen- 


insula, resting after the disastrous campaign had ended 
at Malvern Hill. Pope had gathered about forty-five 
thousand men, but the three great divisions were wide 
apart, and were not brought together until it was dis- 
covered that General Lee was moving northward from 
Richmond with several divisions of his victorious army, 
which had been re-enforced from the Gulf states under 
Generals Jackson, Hill, and Longstreet. 

General Pope's force could be hardly called an army, as 
it consisted of corps and divisions that had never been 
previously united, had had no experience in common, and 
knew as little of their commander as he knew of them. 
This heterogeneous body was now to be attacked by a 
real army, composed of bodies of veteran troops who 
knew their leader, who was the most accomplished soldier 
of the day, General Robert E. Lee.* 

Pope's army, scattered as it was, was in a most danger- 
ous position as Lee's forces advanced, but, when his move- 
ment was discovered, Pope drew his divisions somewhat 
closer together, both sides manoeuvring for position over 
a wide stretch of country, from Gordonsville to the Rap- 
pahannock, and back towards Centreville and Manassas. 
It ended in a partial concentration about Bull Run, the 
scene of the first disastrous battle of the war. 

Meanwhile a part of McClellan's army had joined Gen- 
eral Pope; and Lee, realizing this, and having his forces 
well in hand, determined to force a battle before any fur- 
ther additions from the Army of the Potomac could reach 
the field. 

There was really no commanding mind present in that 
campaign. Pope was at a disadvantage from the start. 

* Ropes's Story of the Civil War. 


Halleck attempted to direct movements from Wash- 
ington, but the scene shifted every hour, and such di- 
rection was futile. Halleck was no tactician on the 
field of battle, whatever else he may have been, while 
Lee and his commanders were working out with great 
precision a campaign over a country they knew by heart. 
Pope personally knew but little of his commanders, who 
were widely separated, and there was no unity of pur- 
pose anywhere. He was trying to feel his enemy, who 
were elusive, now appearing in force in his front, now on 
his flanks, or with their cavalry working in his rear, and 
he was consequently ill prepared for the onset when it 

The action began in the late afternoon on the twenty- 
eighth of July, with severe and continuous fighting, which 
continued with great obstinacy on both sides. The at- 
tack of Lee was a surprise to the Federals, and, owing 
to the late hour of the day or to other causes, the whole 
Union strength was not brought out. No advantage was 
gained on either side, and the losses were heavy. The 
next day found the Union army badly dislocated, its parts 
widely separated from each other, one corps at Groveton, 
others at Bristow Station, another at Manassas, and still 
another at Centreville, and it seemed hardly possible to 
concentrate them for a continuation of the battle that 
day. The artillery was employed during the morning, 
but there was no serious engagement until the after- 
noon, when the Federal attacks had been everywhere re- 
pulsed, and no success had so far been gained. On the 
thirtieth the battle was resumed. Pope massed his forces 
north of the Warrington turnpike, the whole plan being 
based on the belief that the Confederates were retiring. 


But this was a mistake. They were far from retiring. 
They were strongly posted and ready for battle, and 
Ropes in his story, after a careful analysis of the situ- 
ation, said "it was unnecessary to comment on the reck- 
less tactics employed by General Pope on that day." 
Trying to force the enemy's position, our troops main- 
tained themselves for half an hour close to the Confed- 
erate lines, but were swept by the enfilading fire of the 
guns, and retired in disorder. Position after position was 
attacked by the Federal army, but they were repulsed. 
At every point the enemy were too strong, both in posi- 
tion and in numbers, and the day ended in defeat. One 
grave mistake after another was made in Pope's tactics. 
He weakened one part of his line to strengthen another, 
and the Federal troops became confounded and bewildered 
by the spectacle of their supports and reserves marching 
to other parts of the field, weakened not only in num- 
bers, but by the withdrawal of the troops they had de- 
pended upon for their re-enforcement in the combat, and 
were in no condition to make effectual resistance. There 
had been severe fighting over a long line and severe 
losses at intervals for three days, and the battle of the 
Second Bull Run ended. Lee captured seven thousand 
prisoners, numerous colors, thirty guns, and twenty 
thousand small arms, and our killed and wounded num- 
bered some five thousand men. 

Fortunately, several brigades had not been engaged, 
and the discipline of the army was not impaired. Had 
Pope held on and waited another day, he would have had 
the re-enforcement of Sumner and Franklin, who were 
at hand with twenty thousand men from the Army of 
the Potomac, and a different story might have been told. 


But his retreat on the night of the battle changed the 
conditions, and gave the whole campaign a character of 
hopeless failure. 

General Pope, on assuming command a short time be- 
fore, announced that his headquarters were in the sad- 
dle, and that he had never shown his back to the enemy. 
It proved an inglorious campaign. The army was then 
drawn back to the defences of Washington, and Pope 
resigned his command. It was then united with the 
Army of the Potomac, which went almost immediately 
into the Antietam campaign. 

The Antietam Campaign. 

General McClellan reached Washington soon after the 
defeat of Pope's army, and was placed in command of 
the defences of the capital. Both of the Union armies 
had been consolidated, and McClellan, being the only 
officer in charge, assumed control of all movements out- 
side the lines of Washington as well as of those within 

The success of the Confederate campaign had been re- 
markable. The theatre of operations had been trans- 
ferred from the front of Richmond to the front of Wash- 
ington. "The Union armies were now on the defensive, 
and the rich harvests of the Shenandoah Valley and of 
Northern Virginia were now the prize of the victors. To 
crown and consolidate these conquests, Lee now deter- 
mined to cross into Maryland." * His army lacked much 
of the material of war, its transportation was much re- 
duced, and the men were poorly shod and clothed, but 
they were in high spirits and ready to follow their leader. 

It has been stated by those who have made a study of 
the motives which induced General Lee to take the enor- 
mous risks of this invasion of Maryland that he had rea- 
son to believe that the people of that state were ripe for 
revolt, that they wished to "regain their liberties," and 
would be eager to join the Confederacy if an opportunity 

* Swinton's Army of the Potomac, p. 194. 


was given them. There was a strong though not large 
secession element in Baltimore, and there is no doubt they 
had promised recruits to his army, and were ready for any 
desperate deed to forward the success of such a movement. 
General Lee's proclamation to the people of Maryland 
that he was not their enemy, but their friend, certainly 
expressed this hope and offered this opportunity, and he 
probably felt that, if continued success followed his cam- 
paign, it might be made so decisive as to end the war. 
But in all this he was mistaken. 

Moving his army north, he crossed the Potomac in the 
vicinity of Leesburg, Virginia, swinging round into Mary- 
land. It was not known at first where he had gone; but, 
finding that his forces were making this aggressive move- 
ment, General McClellan pushed forward from Washing- 
ton rapidly, and on the thirteenth of September the right 
wing of his army reached Frederick. It numbered eighty 
thousand men, with large forces left in the defences of 
the capital. 

Lee's forces numbered about fifty-five thousand effec- 
tive men, and, after severe fighting in the passes of South 
Mountain, they were finally brought into desperate con- 
flict at Antietam, where McClellan took up his position 
for the expected battle. The whole Confederate line was 
about three miles in length, and on every suitable emi- 
nence General Lee had placed his batteries for the most 
effective use of his guns. 

We do not need to give more than a brief summary of 
the movements of the two armies, and may omit most of 
the detail of the story of the conflict on this historic field, 
where with badly conceived and ill-combined movements 
McClellan began the great battle. 

88 ii i/; PAPERS OF FRANK B. FA ) 

In the tirst shock oi the conflict on one part of the field, 
the losses within hardly more than an hour were tnosl 
severe. More than a third to more than a half of three 
of the Federal brigades were either hilled or wounded 
within thi- time, and all of the regimental commanders 
in those brigades were either killed or wounded. Hooker 
had lost upward of twenty-five hundred men of the ten 
thousand he had brought into action, At another point 
on the Hagerstown pike, where the fighting was most 
severe, the l&th corps lost some seventeen hundred 
men out of the seven thousand brought upon the field. 
In both of these actions the Union troops suffered from 
the fire of the Confederate batteries stationed on the 
rising ground already referred to. Our batteries at the 
same time poured a destructive fire upon the Confeder- 
ates, the shot ami shell passim; over the heads of the 
Union troops, and their losses must have boon greater 

than ours 

rhere was then a short lull in the battle, hut it was 
soon resumed in the fields and woods near Dunker Church 
by Sunmer, Sedgwick, ami French, where they were con- 
fronted by the Confederates who had taken positions 
behind the rocky ledges with which that region abounds, 
ami the losses here were terrible, over twenty-two 
hundred officers ami mem ami it was all sustained in 
a very few minutes. General Sedgwick was three times 
wounded, ami left the field, ami the troops fell back ami 
reformed under the protection of the batteries. But the 
Confederates were in no condition to make farther at- 
tacks; they had no reserves, every man had been engaged, 
and at terrible sacrifice o( life had repelled the three as- 
saults on the left Bank of their army. 

Then the left centre of the Confederates was involved, 
and the conflict which followed here was without question 
one of the most sanguinary and desperate of the whole 
war. Shortly after it began, the Confederates fell back 
country road, or lane. For a considerable part of 
its course the level of this road is below that of the ad- 
joining fields, so that it constituted a sort o( natural rifle- 
pit. This sunken road was held for a time by the Con- 

* Rojh - " . vol, ii. p. 859. 


federates, but at last they broke, and the road became 
for them a pit from which there was no escape from the 
deadly fire of their antagonists on the upper bank. The 
road was speedily filled with the dead and wounded. To 
this day it is called "the Bloody Lane." The Confed- 
erate left centre was thoroughly broken up. Its losses 
in killed, wounded, and prisoners greatly exceeded ours, 
and the casualties in the two divisions of Barlow and Rich- 
ardson exceeded twenty-seven hundred men. Severe and 
almost even fighting on the right of the Union line ended 
the battle.* 

During the night Lee tried to reform his forces and 
renew the engagement the next day, but it was found im- 
possible, and on the night of the eighteenth of September 
his army crossed the Potomac, defeated. The battle of 
Antietam was one of the bloodiest of the war, and it is 
probable that more men were killed and wounded on 
that seventeenth of September than on any other day 
in the whole war. The Confederates lost 13 guns, 39 
colors, 15,000 stand of arms, 8,000 killed and wounded, 
and 6,000 prisoners. The Federals lost 12,000 killed 
and wounded, but not a gun or a color. The dead and 
wounded of both armies were left on the field to be 
cared for by the government and the Sanitary Com- 

We have given this brief summary of the movements 
of the two armies in these three great campaigns of the 
Peninsula, the Second Bull Run, and x\ntietam, that we 
may be carried forward clearly and consecutively in 
our narrative. We have followed the varying fortunes 
of the gigantic struggle, we have seen the trampled fields 
torn with shot and shell, and have watched the hundred 

* Ropes's Story of the Civil War. 


and fifty thousand men in the deadly embrace of battle 
over blood-stained fields, stretching from lower Virginia 
to the upper Potomac and into Maryland, that we might 
make clear to ourselves the scale upon which this conflict 
was waged, its incredible sacrifice of life, its dreadful suffer- 
ings, and also the brighter picture of the agencies of 
alleviation that were employed to gather in the wounded 
and by all healing ministries bring them back to life again. 
It was this stupendous shock of war through which Mr. 
Fay passed in this summer of 1862, and it was this trail 
of blood that he followed in his persistent ministry. We 
must now resume his narrative : — 

I left the Peninsula with the last of the wounded while 
Pope's struggle with the Confederate army at Bull Run 
was going on. Reaching the capital, we found enough 
to do in the reception and care of the men who had fallen 
on that field; and, as soon as it was made clear that Gen- 
eral Lee was moving into Maryland, I made ready for 
what we might find to do in that emergency. While I 
was in Washington [he writes], the 35th Massachusetts 
regiment, which had just been mustered into service, 
reached the capital in time to join the movement into 
Maryland. It was commanded by Colonel Wild and 
Lieutenant-Colonel Carruth, and we saluted our Chelsea 
company as it moved forward and went into that fearful 
conflict at Antietam, although some days passed before 
the two armies came together in the shock of battle. On 
taking up a paper on the morning of the fifteenth of Sep- 
tember, I saw the announcement of the death of the 
brave and capable General Reno in Turner's Gap of the 
South Mountain range, and knew that the 35th regiment 
was in his division, and had already received its baptism of 
blood. This was within less than a month of the date 
of its leaving home. I started at once for the scene of 
that engagement, taking train for Frederick, Maryland. 
I met Dr. Steiner of the Sanitary Commission there, who 
persuaded me to remain until the next day, as he pro- 


posed to send a wagon-load of supplies to the battlefield. 
I did so; and the next morning, the team not being ready, 
started on foot for Middleton, and during that day, Sep- 
tember seventeen, 1862, heard the guns of the battle 
of Antietam not far away. At Middleton I saw Colonel 
Wild of the 35th Massachusetts, whom I had saluted 
three or four days before, with his arm shot away at the 
shoulder, and began to work at once among the wounded 
at that place. As the burial parties were already be- 
ginning their work, I went with them, placing marks of 
identification on the bodies of the dead soldiers, with their 
names when ascertained, so that head-boards could be 
placed at their graves. These head-boards were pieces 
of cracker-boxes or other planed boards, marked with 
a pencil, a much more durable mark than when made by 
a pen. During the evening the Sanitary Commission 
wagon came up, and I went on with it, walking and riding 
by turns toward the battlefield. We were on the road 
all night, and by gray dawn we reached the field. The 
bridge had given way, and we were stalled till morning. 
I lay down in a corn-field, and had my first experience of 
sleeping on the ground, but it was good, refreshing sleep. 
We found a sad state of things on our arrival. The 
whole town of Keedysville was one great hospital: houses, 
stores, churches, mills, and barns were all filled with the 
wounded, and hundreds, even thousands, were not shel- 
tered at all. I filled my haversack and started out to no- 
tify surgeons to come to our wagon for supplies, and tele- 
graphed Chelsea to send men and women and additional 
stores. As a result of the despatch, nine of our best people 
joined me, bringing abundant supplies, and they did 
most effective work on that field. I made my head- 
quarters at Mr. Iveedy's house in this town which was 
named for him, and found him generous and hospitable.* 

* Forty years later Mr. Fay wrote as follows of these friends: "Of 
these nine friends all but two have gone forward to their heavenly life, 
leaving dear and cherished memories. We may believe that in that 
better land where there is no war, but all is peace, they may find in 
mutual service as much joy in helping others to progress in the spiritual 
life as they had here in the ministry to the suffering." Mrs. Sibyl 
Hunt at this date (1911) is now the only survivor of that party. 


One day a bale of blankets arrived, which Mr. Keedy 
said was for me. It had no address upon it, and I dis- 
tributed them promptly among those who were in the 
greatest need. The next day a gentleman from Pennsyl- 
vania appeared, inquiring for his blankets. They had been 
sent to him to distribute among Pennsylvania men. I 
told him they were all in use by the men who were around 
him, and he could take them if he so desired. But he 
smiled and said they were evidently doing good to some- 
body's soldiers, and he would leave them where they 

I found enough to do at Keedysville. The Sanitary 
Commission was doing most systematic beneficent work, 
and we joined them in that splendid service. I hunted 
the field over for our Chelsea men, and found on the bare 
floors of an entry of a little house in town several of them, 
and with them Captain W. S. Cheever and (from Rox- 
bury) Captain W. S. King of the 35th Massachusetts 
regiment, all badly wounded. I telegraphed to King's 
wife, and in response Captain Wyman and Mayor (after- 
wards Governor) Gaston started for the field. They 
both did good service there among the wounded of Captain 
King's company, which was recruited in Roxbury, and 
which suffered severely in that battle. On their return 
home they met Governor Andrew in New York, and 
through him two thousand blankets were sent promptly 
forward by the government. They also reported con- 
ditions to the New York branch of the Sanitary Com- 
mission, and they promptly responded by a large ship- 
ment of supplies. Our Chelsea delegates reported, when 
they returned, that they found me without an extra shirt, 
having torn up those I had to use for bandages. It was 
here that I met Oliver Wendell Holmes, who left hurriedly 
for the front in search of his son, Captain Holmes of the 
20th Massachusetts regiment (now Justice Holmes of 
the United States Supreme Court), who was wounded 
in this battle. We were strangers, but I ventured to ask 
if I could help him, and he replied, "Yes, I am anxious 
to go through the hospitals, if you can point them out to 
me." I replied that every house, barn, mill, and church 
within a radius of miles was a hospital, but that we could 
undoubtedly find his son. I then remembered that I had 


seen some of the wounded men of the 20th regiment in a 
house near by, and we went in search of him. 

Dr. Holmes afterwards wrote an interesting account 
of this search in an article in the Atlantic Monthly for 
December, 1862, and we copy here some passages of 
this story: — 

In the dead of night which closed upon the bloody field 
of Antietam, my household was startled from its slumbers 
by the loud summons of a telegraph messenger. The air 
had been heavy all day with the rumors of battle, and 
tens of thousands had walked the streets with throbbing 
hearts in dread anticipation of the tidings any hour might 
bring. The telegram was opened and read, "Captain 
Holmes wounded through the neck, thought not to be 
dangerous, at Keedysville." Through the neck — no bul- 
let left in wound. Windpipe, foodpipe, carotid, jugular, 
half a dozen smaller but still formidable vessels, a great 
braid of nerves, each as big as a lampwick, spinal cord, 
ought to kill at once, if at all. 

Dr. Holmes started the next day, and after many in- 
teresting experiences reached Keedysville as quickly as 
the trains could carry him. 

On entering the small settlement of Keedysville, a 
familiar face and figure blocked the way, like one of 
Bunyan's giants. The tall form and benevolent counte- 
nance, set off by long flowing hair, belonging to the excel- 
lent Mayor Frank B. Fay of Chelsea, who had come 
promptly to succor the wounded of that great battle. It 
was wonderful to see how his single personality pervaded 
this torpid little village; he seemed to be the centre of all 
its activities. All my questions he answered clearly and 
decisively, as one who knew everything going on in the 
place. But the one question I had come to ask, Where is 
Captain Holmes ? he could not answer. There were thou- 
sands of wounded in the place, he told me, and it might be 


a long job to find him; the only way would be to go to 
every group of wounded and find him. A medical officer 
was presently met, who answered my question by point- 
ing to a house, saying he is staying there. A chorus of 
hallelujahs arose in my soul, but I kept them to myself. 
Now, then, for our twice-wounded volunteer, our young 
centurion whose double-barred shoulder-straps we have 
never yet looked upon. Let us observe the proprieties, 
however; no swelling upward of the mother, — no hysterica 
passio, we do not like scenes. A calm salutation — then 
swallow hard. That is about the programme. I pushed 
open the door, and inquired. "Oh, no, sir; he left yester- 
day morning for Hagerstown in a milk-cart." And still 
I had to follow him. 

It was a long hunt with many experiences, but the 
captain was finally found some days afterwards on a 
train that had left Hagerstown for Harrisburg. He had 
been traced to that point, and Dr. Holmes was in the 
station, awaiting the arrival of that train, and, when it 
came swiftly and silently in, he was almost startled to see 
it there on the track in front of him. 

Let us walk calmly through the cars now and look 
around us. In the first car, on the first seat to the right, 
I saw my Captain; there saw I him, even my first-born, 
whom I had sought through many cities. 

"How are you, Boy?" 

"How are you, Dad?" 

Such are the proprieties of life. The hidden cisterns 
of the soul may be filling fast with sweet tears, while the 
windows through which it looks are undimmed by a drop 
or a film of moisture. 

In the interval between the arrival and departure of 
Dr. Holmes from Keedysville he visited the battlefield, 
of which he gives the following description : — 


On coming near the brow of the hill, we met a party 
carrying picks and spades. "How many?" "Only 
one." The dead were nearly all buried then in this re- 
gion of the field of strife. We stopped the wagon, and, get- 
ting out, began to look around us. Hard by was a large 
pile of muskets, scores, if not hundreds, which had 
been picked up and were guarded by the government. A 
long ridge of fresh gravel rose before us. A board stuck 
up in front of us bore this inscription: "The Rebel Gen- 
eral Anderson and 80 rebels are buried in this hole." 
Other smaller ridges were marked with the number of 
the dead lying under them. The whole ground was 
strewed with fragments of clothing, haversacks, canteens, 
cap-boxes, bullets, cartridge-boxes, cartridges, scraps of 
paper, portions of bread and meat. I saw two soldiers' 
caps that looked as if their owners had been shot through 
the head. In several places I noticed dark red patches 
where a pool of blood had curdled and caked, as some poor 
fellow poured out his life on the sod. I then wandered 
about the corn-field. It surprised me to notice that, al- 
though there was every mark of hard fighting, the Indian 
corn was not trodden down. At the edge of this field 
lay a gray horse, whose owner, a rebel colonel, was killed 
near this place. Not far off were two artillery horses in 
their harnesses. Another had been attended to by a 
burying party who had thrown some earth over him, 
but his legs were stark and stiff beneath his partial cov- 
ering. There was a shallow trench before we came to 
the corn-field, too narrow for a road, too elevated for a 
watercourse, and which seemed to have been used as a 
rifle-pit; at any rate, there had been hard fighting about 
it. The opposing tides of battle must have blended their 
waves at this point, for portions of gray uniforms were 
mingled with the "garments rolled in blood," torn from 
our own dead and wounded soldiers. I picked up a rebel 
canteen and one of our own, but there was something 
repulsive about the trodden and stained relics of that 
battlefield. It was like the table of some hideous orgy 
left uncleared, and one turned away from its broken frag- 
ments and muddy heel-taps. A bullet or two, a button, 
a brass plate from a soldier's belt, served well enough for 
a memento of my visit. 


And so ended this incident which fell, by the way, in 
the midst of the overwhelming cares and duties of Mr. 
Fay's work on that Antietam battlefield. 

As to the general conditions on the field of Antietam 
and the mass of suffering there, the surgeon of the 2d 
Massachusetts regiment reported that there were nearly 
ten thousand of the wounded of both armies lying in 
the fields from half a mile to three miles in rear of the 
battlefield, needing supplies of all kinds. The mortality 
among the Confederates had been fearful. Upon one 
spot Hooker's corps had advanced over a swell of land 
where their foes were sheltered; yet the havoc among 
our men did not equal the continuous rank of dead 
lying behind the fences which were riddled with musket- 

Dr. Agnew of the Sanitary Commission, passing over 
the radii previously ascertained to be within the circle 
of the battle, went with the wagon-loads of supplies carry- 
ing relief to the thousands of wounded men lying there. 
In some places they were clustered about barn-yards 
and floors and stables. He said he saw fifteen hundred 
wounded men lying upon straw near two barns within 
sight of each other. Indeed there was not a barn or farm- 
house, or store, or church or school, between Boons- 
borough and Keedysville and Sharpsburg that was not 
entirely filled with the wounded, both rebel and Union. 
Thousands were in the open air, and all received the kind 
service of the farmers' families and the surgeons. 

"As to the measures taken for relief, everything in the 
way of medical supplies, as might have been expected, 
was deficient for two or three days after the battle. Men 
suffering agony from their wounds were without opiates. 


Dressings, stimulants, concentrated food, were difficult, 
if not impossible, to obtain. The medical trains were 
stalled in the great movement of the army, which had 
passed rapidly through two disastrous campaigns, and 
was now in the midst of a third, which had left its thou- 
sands of wounded on our hands. The Sanitary Commis- 
sion was first in the field, owing to the vigor and foresight 
of its leaders in Washington. It was at work at least two 
days before the medical wagons arrived. Thirty pounds 
of chloroform were given out within three days after the 
battle, saving fifty lives and several hundreds from the 
agony of severe operations. Nearly every barn and hos- 
pital and cluster of wounded over the wide extent of the 
field, embracing an extent of thirty miles, were receiving 
essential relief, while the regular medical stores lay at 
Monocacy Bridge, unable to cross it." * 

The Sanitary Commission stores sent to Antietam 
within ten days of the date of the battle consisted of 
28,763 pieces of dry goods, shirts, towels, bedticks, and 
pillows; 30 barrels of old linen, bandages, and lint; 3,188 
pounds of farina; 2,620 pounds of condensed milk; 5,000 
pounds of beef stock and canned meats; 3,000 bottles of 
wine and cordials; and many tons of lemons and other 
fruit; crackers, tea, sugar, rubber cloth, tin cups, and 
hospital conveniences. These stores afforded incalcu- 
lable relief over these wide-spread fields. Within eight 
days from the occupancy of the field of Antietam by our 
force, nearly all the wounded received ample supplies of 
hospital clothing from the depots of the Sanitary Com- 
mission and the medical purveyor, f 

* Sanitary Commission Document, No. 48. 
f Dr. Steiner's Report Sanitary Commission. 


Dr. Dimon of the 2d Maryland regiment, who was at 
Antietam, wrote as follows of the provision the state of 
Massachusetts made for her wounded men in this battle, 
and also of Mr. Fay's work on that field : — 

The second day of the battle of Antietam, I did not 
know where I should get a hundred things I needed for 
my wounded men, when there suddenly appeared at the 
fence a wagon, in the charge of two gentlemen and a 
lady from Chelsea, Massachusetts, who had, as if by 
inspiration, filled it with everything necessary, — tin 
cups, basins, lanterns, bandages, lint, shirts, drawers, 
bed-sacks, towels, tea, candles, soap, concentrated food. 
They were supplying all troops along the road, not only 
their own, but those from every loyal state and every 
corps of the army. We had not previously a lantern 
to enable us at night to keep the wounds wet, turn over 
the wounded to ease their positions, or give them drink. 
If we used candles, which were scarce, they would blow 
out or endanger the barn in which we were. Tin cups 
to eat and drink from, and to keep water for bandage 
wetting, were in proportion of one to four men, including 
their canteens. We had but one basin for dressing the 
wounds of one hundred and forty-seven men, and that 
had a hole in the bottom stuffed with rags. So you see 
what a godsend this supply was from Massachusetts, 
and it seemed as though that state was the only one 
ready to relieve, instantly, the poor fellows who are 
doing so much for the country. 

I am ashamed to say I have seen no one from New 
York, except a sutler asking fifty per cent, advance on 
his goods; and the Marylanders only appeared with 
their stores ten days after the battle. Those articles I 
have particularly mentioned constituted only a speci- 
men of the judicious and plentiful supply that these 
generous and thoughtful people brought to us. I begged 
their names for my own grateful memory, of Mayor 
Fay of Chelsea, Massachusetts, of Alderman Low of the 
same town, and Miss Gilson, who were the first of those 
to relieve our wounded soldiers. 


Dr. Louis H. Steiner, the head of the Sanitary Coin- 
mission's operations in Maryland during the Antietam 
campaign, also wrote as follows of Mr. Fay in that 
emergency : — 

"Mr. Frank B. Fay and Miss Gilson have been working 
with untiring zeal and devotion at or near Keedysville 
since the battle. These philanthropic patriots are ex- 
amples worthy of all imitation on the part of those who 
aim to keep the good deeds which their right hands do 
from the knowledge of the world. I am pleased to record 
their names as among those whose labors have been more 
or less aided by the supplies of the Commission." 

It can be well understood that there was little time for 
reports or letter-writing in such emergencies as Mr. Fay 
faced during the weeks after this battle. We can see him 
moving over the field with his supplies, or bending ten- 
derly over these suffering men, cheering them with hope- 
ful words, sending messages to their families, binding up 
their wounds, listening with helpful, sympathetic interest 
to their stories, and performing the last offices of comfort 
to those who were passing into the other world. 

This work, so continuous, so persistent, pressed severely 
upon him. He was worn and overtaxed in body and 
mind, and the drain upon his sympathy was constant and 
severe. He wrote: "I am troubled almost beyond en- 
durance by the mass of suffering I have no power to re- 
lieve. I have but little sleep, and that often in the open, 
on the ground, or in the shelter of a stone wall, wrapped 
in my blanket, or, if more fortunate, on the bare floor 
with a haversack for a pillow. And, as for meals, there 
are none provided, and we eat as opportunity offers. 
The dreadful scenes we have witnessed take the life 


and courage out of a man. I have seen three thousand 
wounded within three miles of this place, besides other 
thousands between here and Frederick, and I doubt if 
I have seen half of them. And the dead! I had little 
conception of the horrors of a battlefield. Hundreds upon 
hundreds lying stark and unburied, waiting the last min- 
istry of 'earth to earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes. ' " 

Of Miss Gilson he wrote: "She had left Washington 
before I did, in an ambulance, in company with a lady 
from Philadelphia, to visit a hospital a few miles from 
the capital; but, hearing of the battle, they pressed for- 
ward to the field, and quickly established themselves 
there and began their work. We afterwards moved to 
Pleasant Valley, a few miles in the rear, and here our 
main work was done after the wounded were brought in 
from the fields and the emergencies of the campaign 
were over." 

Mr. Fay then returned to Chelsea, leaving Miss Gilson 
with the army until the wounded were removed to the 
hospitals in Washington. 


The First Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. 

As we have seen, after the battle of Antietam General 
Lee withdrew his army safely across the Potomac on the 
twentieth of September, 1862. McClellan did not follow, 
though urged, even ordered, to do so from Washington. 
Both armies were doubtless glad to be free from the 
presence of each other, both of them needing rest and 
recuperation after the three terrible campaigns through 
which they had passed. They rested on their arms, the 
Confederates in the Shenandoah Valley, the Army of 
the Potomac near the scene of its recent battle, amid the 
hills and valleys of South-western Maryland. 

A month passed before McClellan began his movement 
back into Virginia, and by the first of November his 
entire army had crossed the Potomac below Harper's 
Ferry, and moved towards Warrington. The govern- 
ment had become profoundly distrustful of him and re- 
moved him from the command, and he never went into 
active service again. Burnside was chosen to succeed 
him. This was on the seventh day of November. He 
reformed the army into three grand divisions of two 
corps each for his impending campaign, with his base at 
Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock. As it proved, this 
was his first great mistake, as Lee had no difficulty in 
concentrating his army in what proved to be an impreg- 
nable position on Marye's Heights to meet him. But 



we have to do with the movement of his army rather 
than with criticism of the campaign, which is left to the 
military historians. 

The city of Fredericksburg lies on the southerly bank 
of the Rappahannock, with the heights of Falmouth 
rising from the northerly side of the river. The town lies 
in the hollow of the great plain between these two com- 
manding positions. Lee's army was rapidly concen- 
trated on a series of ridges a mile beyond the town, the 
centre of the position being on Marye's Heights, and was 
intrenched there along the crest of these hills. At the 
end of a few weeks a most formidable array of works had 
sprung into existence for his artillery, which would pre- 
sent an inferno of fire into which no man or army would 
willingly venture. Plans were made by Burnside to 
turn this stronghold either above or below the city, but, 
as they were discovered by his antagonist, they had to 
be abandoned, and on the tenth of December it was 
determined to force the Rappahannock. Before dawn 
on the eleventh the pontoons were moved forward, and 
the engineers, under the cover of a heavy fog, began 
swiftly and silently their work of construction of the 
bridges for the passage of the army.* 

They were met by the volleys from the sharp-shooters 
on the opposite bank, who were behind rifle-pits, stone 
walls, and buildings on the river street of Fredericks- 
burg. By noon two bridges were available two miles 
below the city, but the one opposite the city met a differ- 
ent fate. It was here that a murderous fire was main- 
tained, driving the men from their work, until General 
Burnside concentrated the fire of all his artillery upon 

* Swinton's Army of the Potomac, p. 236. 


the city to dislodge the sharp-shooters and batter down 
their defences. Nearly every man on these pontoons 
had been either killed or wounded. 

The chief of artillery, General Hunt, then sent strong 
parties in open boats to land and dislodge or capture the 
opposing force. This coup-de-main was successful, and 
the bridge was completed within a few minutes. Up to 
this time it was literally going into the valley of the 
shadow of death to continue the effort on these pon- 
toons. Volunteers were now called for to man them 
again in the effort to carry a force into the city. 
Swinton says, "The movement was gallantly executed, 
and the army, assembled on the northern bank of the 
river, spectators of this heroism, paid the brave fellows 
the rich tribute of soldiers' cheers." 

Among these volunteers was Chaplain Arthur B. Fuller, 
a Unitarian minister, of the 16th Massachusetts regi- 
ment, who on account of broken health in the service 
had the day before resigned and had received his dis- 
charge. He had been watching with great concern the 
events of the day at the pontoons, and heard the call for 
volunteers. He seized a musket and joined in the hazard 
of the enterprise. The sudden emergency in which he 
decided to act was wholly unexpected by him. He was 
dressed in the uniform of a staff officer, and had been 
cautioned early in the day against exposing himself, as 
he would be a special mark for the sharp-shooters; but, 
in spite of all, he joined the ranks, and fell pierced by two 
bullets soon after entering Fredericksburg. One of his 
comrades thus wrote of his last moments: — 

"We were in advance of the others who had crossed, 
and marched up the street from the landing. He ac- 


costed me, saying, ' I must do something for my country,' 
and took his place on my left. He was perfectly cool 
and collected. I have seldom seen a man on the field 
so calm and mild in demeanor, evidently not acting from 
impulse or martial rage. His position was in front of a 
grocery store, and in five minutes after he took it, having 
fired once or twice, was killed instantly, and did not 
move after he fell, and was left on the field after we re- 

Mr. Fay's narrative is now resumed, as it relates to 
what occurred after the chaplain's death and his per- 
sonal connection with it: — 

I had returned to the army as- soon as it was massed 
in front of Fredericksburg, and, not long after Mr. 
Fuller crossed, I crossed the bridge with Miss Gilson, 
and made my way into the city to be on the field of battle. 
At the end of the pontoon I met Lieutenant Myrick of 
the 35th Massachusetts regiment, who was in charge of 
some prisoners. He asked me if I knew Chaplain Fuller, 
and said they thought they had found his body, and I 
was directed to the point where he fell. I identified it 
at once, as I knew him well, and asked the lieutenant 
to make a box and place the body in it and send it across 
the river to Lacy House, and I would arrange to send it 
to Boston. He said there were no boards. I told him 
to tear off some from one of the houses opposite, and he 
had no difficulty in providing himself with the material. 
The body was tenderly removed and sent to Washington 
in charge of a wounded officer, and thence by Adams 
Express to its destination. 

Colonel Higginson, in writing of the death of Chaplain 
Fuller in his Harvard Memorial Biographies, said: "I 
know of no other case in this war or in any other in which 
a chaplain, the day after his discharge, still wearing his 


uniform and, therefore, more exposed, bearing his dis- 
charge on his person, volunteered without a soldier's 
training for the most perilous duty of a common soldier, 
and was killed in doing it." 

Miss Gilson, who was with Mr. Fay and joined in the 
identification of the body, thus wrote of Mr. Fuller: — 

"I met him a few days before his death, and drew 
from my pocket a well-worn copy of Army Melodies of 
which he was one of the editors, and told him I had 
carried it through the Peninsula campaign, often ad- 
ministering the medicine of music to the sick and 
wounded. The next Sunday I was one of a party 
who joined in a religious service conducted by him, and 
attended by some five hundred convalescent soldiers. 
Every eye was fastened upon him during his address, 
and each upturned face caught the glow of his enthu- 
siasm. We parted, and I saw no more of him until 
we identified his body in Fredericksburg, surrounded by 
the rebel sharp-shooters who had fallen with him there. 
'Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, 
it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much 

Mr. Fay then writes: — 

The day before the battle I saw the 35th Massachusetts 
regiment marching towards the river. I knew they had 
been paid off the day before, and had collectively a 
large sum of money that they might be glad to send 
home before going into battle. I overtook them just 
as they came to a halt, and arranged with Major Willard, 
then commanding, to receive and forward the money. 
He called his captains, who then began receiving it from 
the men, recording their names and the amounts from 
each, together with the address to which it was to be 
sent, and I gathered it in. We had just completed our 


work when the regiment resumed its march and went 
forward into battle. I shall make some farther reference 
to this later in the story. The money received was sent 
to Washington and was afterwards distributed according 
to the addresses given. 

When Miss Gilson and I crossed the pontoon bridge 
into Fredericksburg, we went over in an ambulance. At 
the pontoon the guard would not let her pass. I insisted 
that she went everywhere within the lines of the army, 
and he called the sergeant of the guard, an Irishman, 
who, on seeing the beaded chain and cross she wore, mis- 
took her for a Sister of Charity, and she was allowed to 
pass. It was just beyond this point that we identified 
the body of Chaplain Fuller. 

We found work to do directly where we stood, and re- 
mained in the city through the day, undisturbed by the 
battle which was raging about us, both within and beyond 
the town. As night came on and the wounded were 
brought in and were carried across the river to our camps, 
we made ready for our crossing also. 

General Ferrero, who was standing with General Couch 
near by, came to us, and said: "You must not cross the 
pontoons now. Don't you see the rebels have a direct 
range on the bridge with their battery? You can see 
the shells dropping at the end of the pontoon on the other 
side." I had noticed the firing and had heard the shells, 
but had not noticed where they fell. I moved Miss 
Gilson to one side behind a house, when an officer came 
up, and said, "I beg pardon, but there is a stone chimney 
behind you, and, if a shell should strike it, you will both 
be hurt," and I moved her again to a safer spot. Our 
batteries then opened on the rebel battery, and silenced 
it. General Ferrero then said, "Now is your chance, go 
immediately," which we did, and were soon on the other 
side out of range. 

I mention an incident here, which for the moment 
caused me much amusement. That morning Miss Gil- 
son, who had been more under fire than I had, and had 
shown great courage, asked me, "How do you think we 
are going to behave when we get under fire?" I replied 
that we could never tell till the time came. Just before 
we crossed the river I bought a newspaper, and, while 


standing with the shells flying over us, began to read it, 
just pretending to show my indifference. She looked at 
me, and said, "Don't expose yourself, for at any moment 
you may be in eternity." When we crossed the pontoon, 
there were no other travellers that way. We were glad to 
be safely back again; but we did not hurry, for I knew 
there were thousands of men lying in their rifle-pits 
watching us, and we would not run. That convinced me 
that pride often forces a man to be brave. 

In 1869 I was visiting a friend in Illinois, and, as I was 
relating some of my army experiences, one of his other 
guests said, "I can vouch for that last story you told, 
as I was on the staff of a Confederate officer at the time, 
on Marye's Heights, and with my field-glass noticed a 
lady and gentleman crossing that pontoon, and thought 
they did not seem to be in much of a hurry." It was 
curious to have such a confirmation of the story twenty- 
seven years afterwards, from one who was called our 
enemy at that time. 

We were established at Howard's Hospital in the rear 
of Falmouth Heights, overlooking the field of battle, and 
here we found enough to do. 

I have often thought of an incident at this hospital 
which shows how quickly a soldier becomes familiar 
with death. One of the men in the hospital had just 
died. After he passed away, I placed a handkerchief 
over his face. The man next him was wounded in the 
arm, and, as I handed him a cup of broth, he raised him- 
self to a sitting posture, and, as he could not hold his 
cup at the same time, placed it on his dead comrade's 
breast until he could help himself with the other hand. 
Death was in fact stalking everywhere about us and was 
hardly noticed. 

The next morning the artillery opened the battle of 
Fredericksburg. We were in a good position on the 
heights of Falmouth to witness it. The Confederates 
had opened their fire, and the shells were bursting over 
us, and we moved to a more sheltered place on a hill 
near the station, and here I watched the progress of the 
battle, including the fearful struggle that went on beyond 
the city, the repeated and terrific assaults on Marye's 
Heights, the repulse at the stone wall and the sunken 


road at its base, where so many of our brave men were 
killed and wounded. This, together with our ministry 
to many of these men, was an experience never to be 
forgotten. I later became familiar with every foot of 
this ground when, in 1864, I occupied this region with 
my Auxiliary Corps of the Sanitary Commission after 
the battle of the Wilderness. 

That night, while in my tent in a belt of woods near 
Lacy House, I heard the tramp of soldiers, moving in 
masses, marching by, and hailed them, and asked where 
they were going. " Going back," they replied. "Who is 
going back?" "The whole army is going back," they 
answered; and it was then that I realized that we had 
been defeated. 

But we must give here a brief account of the battle. 
The pontoon bridge was laid on the morning of the 
eleventh of December. Forty-eight hours had passed in 
preparation for the attack upon Lee's defences. 

The nature of the ground indicated that the main 
attack should be made on the left, below Fredericks- 
burg, where there was room to deploy out of hostile range, 
whereas the plain behind Fredericksburg and below the 
terraced heights held by Lee's army was restricted, and 
badly cut up by ditches, fences, and a canal, and was 
directly in front of those formidable works which looked 
down in grim irony on all attempts at direct assault. 
General Burnside's plan conformed to these conditions, 
and he so instructed both Franklin and Sumner, his two 
commanders, but, after these officers had made their 
dispositions, Burnside changed his plan and determined 
to fight on another. We do not need to follow in detail 
the confusions which came upon this chess-board.* 

The morning of the thirteenth of December found the 
sun struggling with a thick haze that covered everything, 

* Swinton's Army of the Potomac, p. 246. 


and delayed for some hours the impending battle; but 
towards ten o'clock the lifting fog revealed Franklin 
spread out on the plain, showing the gleaming bayonets 
of a column advancing to the attack. It was not long 
before the heavy fighting began, the Confederate guns 
concealed in the woods being silent until the Union forces 
were in point-blank range, when they opened and poured 
shell and canister upon them. The Confederates shat- 
tered Meade's line with a loss of forty per cent, of his 
force, while Reynolds lost four thousand of his support- 
ing force. 

Meanwhile Longstreet held his position along the stone 
wall and rifle trenches of the telegraph road at the foot of 
Marye's Heights. The whole plain in front of him was 
swept by a direct and converging fire from the batteries 
on the semicircle crest above; but under Burnside's 
orders there was nothing left to do but to assail this 
position. Division after division was thrown forward, 
and cross-fires of shot and shell opened great gaps in the 
advancing ranks; but, "closing up," the ever-thinning 
lines pressed on, but fell back amid the shouts and yells 
of the enemy, with losses of near half their number. 
Hancock then advanced under the same terrific fire, got 
nearer his goal, but his men were forced back after fifteen 
immortal minutes, losing two thousand of the five thou- 
sand he led into that charge, and it was found that the 
bravest of these had thrown up their hands and lay dead 
within five-and-twenty paces of the stone wall.* 

It was in this charge that the noble Major Sidney 
Willard of Boston, in command of the 35th regiment, 
already spoken of, led his men into this valley of the 
shadow of death. Waving his sword and leading the 
charge, he fell, and, when his companions went to his 

* Swinton's Army of the Potomac, pp. 250-252. 


side, he murmured, "Tell them I tried to do my duty to 
my country." 

It is not to be supposed that Burnside realized the 
bloody sequence to which he was committing himself 
when he ordered a division to assail the heights of Fred- 
ericksburg; but, having failed in the first attempt, there 
grew up in his mind something akin to desperation. 
Walking restlessly up and down the heights above the 
banks of the Rappahannock and gazing at the rebel 
position beyond the town, he exclaimed vehemently, 
"That crest must be carried to-night." After failing in 
three assaults, he ordered Hooker in desperation to make 
a fourth. Hooker went forward to reconnoitre, but, seeing 
its hopelessness, begged him to desist; but Burnside in- 
sisted. Batteries were brought up to breach the works, 
and four thousand men went forward to a fourth attack, 
but were thrown swiftly back, leaving seventeen hundred 
of their number on the field, and the winter's day closed 
with thousands left dead or wounded before Longstreet 
on the left and Stonewall Jackson on the right of that 

In the night the aurora which flamed brilliantly over 
the northern sky looked down on the scene which has 
been thus described : f — 

Elsewhere the sky was dark, intensely clear, the winter 
stars like diamonds. There was no wind. The wide un- 
sheltered plain was sown thick with men who had dropped 
from the ranks, their marchings and tentings and their 
battles over. They lay here now stark and pale, but on 
the plain of Fredericksburg many and many were not 
dead and resting. Hundreds lay there, and could not 
rest for mortal anguish. They waved a hat or sword or 
empty hand for help and all in vain; and those who could 
not lift their voices moaned and sent up their prayers to 

* Swinton's Army of the Potomac, pp. 250-252. 
f The Long Roll, Mary Johnston, p. 650. 


the silent heavens. Some had grown delirious, and upon 
that plain there was even laughter. All the various 
notes, taken together, blended into one long, dreary, 
weird, and awful sound, steady as a wind in miles of 
frozen weeds. . . . All through the night there streamed 
the boreal lights. The living and the dying, the ruined 
town, the plain, the hills, the river, lay beneath. The 
blue army slept and waked, the gray army slept and 
waked, and for two days lay there resting; the third 
night, in storm, in howling wind and driving rain and 
sleet, the Army of the Potomac, grand division by grand 
division, recrossed the Rappahannock. 

General Lee was unaware of the extent of the disaster 
to the Union army, and, expecting an hourly renewal of 
the contest, refrained from assuming the offensive until 
it was too late. His enemy had been withdrawn. The 
loss on the Union side was twelve thousand in killed, 
wounded, and missing, — a tragic ending of the campaign. 

In anticipation of the battle the Medical Department 
had made ample preparation for the wounded. Eighteen 
field hospitals had been established, with a perfect sys- 
tem for their removal from the field. This was accom- 
plished without confusion, and such was the energy with 
which it was carried out that, when Burnside withdrew 
his army from the city on the third day after the battle, 
every man that could be found was either on his way to 
Washington or was well cared for in the temporary hos- 
pitals in the rear of our lines. 

With the thousands of men to be removed either on 
foot or in ambulances from so extended a line of battle, 
it seems incredible that it should have been accomplished 
so speedily, when one considers the long distances to be 
covered in the search for these men in scattered cabins 
and farm buildings, and in all the nooks and corners of 


the city of Fredericksburg, and in the face of an alert 
and watchful enemy. 

While the field hospitals remained in operation, Mr. 
Fay kept at work through the freezing weather, living 
in a tent without a fire, and subject to all the ex- 
posures of an inclement season. It was winter and 
extremely cold, and, as there were no stoves, there 
was great suffering in the hospitals. Bricks, however, 
were heated in open fires, and proved a good sub- 
stitute in the wards. Mr. Fay wrote: "At this time 
I seemed to be everything to everybody. I was called 
chaplain, surgeon, nurse, and major, but no title was 
needed to characterize the range of my duties." He 
might also have been called the "Hospital Directory," 
for it was his custom to make a record of the names and 
home addresses of all wounded soldiers with whom he 
came in contact, and was the source of knowledge con- 
cerning them. Far into the night, when his work was 
done in the hospital, he was sending forward to their 
families the last messages of these men. In hundreds 
of cases these careful records, maintained through the 
war, proved of inestimable value, as they told the last 
story of one and another poor fellow whose fate would 
never have been kjiown and who would otherwise have 
gone down into a nameless grave. 

During the campaign Mr. Fay had been re-elected 
Mayor of Chelsea, and returned home in December to 
prepare his address and make ready for his inaugura- 

After so disastrous a campaign it can be readily under- 
stood that great despondency in the army followed. De- 
sertions increased, and for the first time in its history it 


could be said to be demoralized. Confidence in Burn- 
side's ability to lead such an army was destroyed, and 
this feeling existed not only among his general officers, 
but all through the rank and file. After a few weeks 
this sentiment became so strong that it was carried up 
to Washington. Burnside resigned, and General Hooker 
was placed in command. 


Under General Hooker, who in many conflicts had 
gained great popularity through the country and was 
known familiarly as "Fighting Joe," the army recovered 
from its depression, regained its old spirit and courage, 
and by the close of April, 1863, had reached a high degree 
of efficiency. His army had been increased to one hun- 
dred and twenty thousand men, including a cavalry force 
of twelve thousand horses, and was ready for another 
contest. The rolls of Lee's army showed on the first 
of April a total of sixty thousand effective men, and it 
remains to be seen what these two generals did with 
their respective forces. 

Hooker planned to place his main army on the south 
side of the Rappahannock, twenty-five miles above 
Fredericksburg, towards Chancellorsville, and to mask 
this movement by throwing a very considerable force 
across the river below that city, to menace Lee's position 
there, compelling him to abandon it, while at the same 
time he prepared a powerful cavalry column to operate 
on his lines of communication with Richmond. This 
was a great plan, and promised success. But General 
Lee had not been idle through the winter, and had practi- 


cally covered all the fords of the river for a length of 
twenty-five miles, occupied every advantageous position 
and hillside with formidable works for his artillery, and 
felt secure, knowing his ability to mass his forces quickly 
at any given point. 

Hooker's movement, Swinton says, "in throwing his 
main army across the river above the points where 
it was guarded, and the remarkable success attending 
it, of which Lee did not become aware until the Rappa- 
hannock had been crossed, were the result of a secrecy 
and celerity of march new to the Army of the Potomac." 
He adds: "To have marched a column of fifty thousand 
men, laden [each] with sixty pounds of baggage, and en- 
cumbered with artillery and transportation, thirty-seven 
miles in two days; to have bridged two streams guarded 
by a vigilant enemy, with the loss of half a dozen men, 
one wagon, and two mules, is an achievement which has 
few parallels, and which deserves to rank with Prince 
Eugene's famous passage of the Adige. The success of 
this movement inspired the army, and greatly elated its 
commander, and there was much to justify jubilant 
expectation, for, of the two lines of retreat open to Lee, 
Hooker had laid hold of that by Gordonsville and 
threatened that by Richmond. The bright promise 
of these operations was clouded by but one fact, — the 
cavalry column which was to cut Lee's communications 
with Richmond had been delayed by the rise of the 
Rappahannock, and could not at the proper moment 
co-operate with Hooker as he had planned." * 

All went well with Hooker's column so far. But, 
starting on an offensive campaign, he suddenly changed 

* Swinton's Army of the Potomac, pp. 278-280. 


it to a defensive one, and this was his grave error. He 
had reached his objective point, he had surprised his 
enemy, who had but a mere handful of a division in his 
front, and then, if ever, he should have moved forward. 
But at that point he failed, began to intrench, and his 
delay of forty-eight hours gave Lee his opportunity, 
and he used it well. 

The real character of the movement which had been 
so well concealed became apparent to Lee, who, with 
instant perception of the situation, now seized the masses 
of his force, and with the grasp of a Titan swung them 
into position, as a giant might fling a mighty stone from 
a sling. Holding the Heights of Fredericksburg firmly, 
the rest of his army was put in motion towards Chancel- 
lorsville to meet Hooker. Hooker held, although not 
in great force, a ridge commanding Chancellorsville, 
which was vital to him, but lost it, the very position Lee 
was contending for. It might have been regained, but 
at this juncture his three columns had orders to with- 
draw. His commanders, with amazement at this order, 
sent to beg Hooker to push his army forward and hold 
the position they had gained, but it was of no avail, and 
he threw away the initiative with all its mighty gains 
and far-reaching hopes. Up to the moment of meeting 
his enemy, he showed a master grasp of the elements of 
war, but then there seemed to be a collapse of his powers 
and he was unequal to the emergencies that rapidly fol- 
lowed. His line of battle was some five miles in length 
at Chancellorsville, with the thickets of the Wilderness 
all around him, and he determined to fight a defensive 
battle. His position was a menacing one to Lee, and it 
was unassailable by direct attack, but Lee and Jackson 
together were equal to their emergency. Jackson pro- 
posed in council to execute a movement on a grander 
scale than he had ever attempted before, and deal one 
of those sudden and mortal blows on his enemies' rear 
that he had successfully carried out in former cam- 
paigns, and this was ordered. The plan was skilfully 


masked and carried out, and Jackson's three divisions of 
twenty-two thousand men burst with resistless force upon 
the rear of the Union army. Brigade after brigade, sur- 
prised, broke and fled. The confused mass overran the 
next division, which compelled it to give way, and the 
whole 11th corps was soon in rout. Lee at the same 
moment was delivering mortal blows at Hooker's left 
and centre, and the open plain around Chancellorsville 
was like a simoon sweeping over a desert. A rushing 
whirlwind of men and artillery and wagons swept down 
the road, past headquarters and on toward the fords of 
the Rappahannock. Hooker, flaming out with his old 
fire, called for his old division, and the torrent was stayed. 
Jackson, quick to perceive the necessity of a final blow, 
went forward to reconnoitre. He went with his staff 
too far, and into the enemy's lines, and on returning 
through the darkness was mortally wounded by a volley 
from his own men, who mistook his escort for a body of 
Federal cavalry. He died at the end of a week. He 
was one of the greatest leaders on the field of battle, and 
his loss was a serious disaster to the Confederate army 
and the Confederate cause. 

But the battle was not yet lost, as there were two more 
days of fighting. Sedgwick with his corps three miles 
below Fredericksburg had been ordered to rejoin the main 
army, and met the Confederates strongly intrenched on 
Marye's Heights. He captured this position after a 
severe conflict which cost him five thousand men. Ad- 
vancing then towards Chancellorsville, and in Lee's 
rear, he was checked by that commander, who faced 
about to meet him, and then turned back again to con- 
front Hooker, delivering heavy blows at his position at 
Chancellor House, around which the battle raged. At this 
point in the battle, General Hooker was thrown down by 
the concussion of a shell that struck one of the pillars 
of that house, on the balcony of which he was stand- 


ing. This prostrated him for a time. "The corps com- 
manders had already seen that it was only a question 
now of saving the honor of the army, as it was in effect 
without a head. Hooker had resolved to retire, and 
seemed incapable of other resolve." * 

On the fourth of May both armies were in deadlock. 
Hooker had a strong defensive position, and Lee felt 
unable to attack with less than his whole force, which 
could not be brought into action while Sedgwick was in 
his rear. While Sedgwick was able to hold his own, he 
was not able to advance. Lee tried to cut the knot, but 
was not able. On the following night Sedgwick withdrew 
across the Rappahannock River, and the same night 
Hooker, in spite of the protests of his corps commanders, 
determined to retire also, and in the midst of a night as 
gloomy as the mood of the army the troops filed across 
to the north bank, and the campaign ended by the return 
of the army to the old position it occupied previous to the 
ill-fated movement. 

Swinton remarks "that it was not the Army of the 
Potomac that was defeated, but its commander, and the 
rank and file were puzzled at the result of a battle in which 
they had been made to retreat without the consciousness 
of having been defeated." The Confederate loss was 
13,000 men, including prisoners. On the Union side the 
losses were 17,000 killed, wounded, and missing. The 
army left behind its wounded, 14 pieces of artillery, and 
20,000 stand of arms. 

In the emergencies of this short and disastrous campaign 
neither the Sanitary Commission nor Mr. Fay could do 
much to relieve the suffering on the field of Chancellors- 

* Swinton's Army of the Potomac, p. 293. 


ville. It was practically out of their hands. Permission 
had been given, but afterwards withdrawn, for the move- 
ment of supplies across the river, because of the already 
overloaded transportation of the army, and consequently 
the situation of our wounded over many square miles of 
the battlefield was most deplorable. There were field 
hospitals in rear of the lines of battle, but the sudden and 
disastrous issue of the conflict forced the abandonment 
of large numbers of our men, who were left to suffer and 
die in the enemy's hands, whose means of alleviation 
were already overtaxed by the care of their own wounded. 
Our crowded field hospitals in charge of medical officers, 
besides thousands of men outside of them, were left 
behind, to be removed a few days later under flag of 
truce; and they were so removed after a correspondence 
between the two commanding generals. 

Reference has been made to the severe conflicts near 
Fredericksburg and at Marye's Heights by Sedgwick's 
corps, where the losses were some five thousand men. 
Our forces held the city at this time, and Mr. Fay moved 
with his ambulance of stores into the town, and continued 
his work there till its abandonment by our forces. His 
record of this experience is meagre, but we quote it 
here : — 

Rev. William H. Channing was with us there, receiving 
and working among the wounded who were brought into 
the city from the conflicts on the Heights. Late one 
night we all went out some distance from the town to 
aid large numbers who were being brought in from the 
field, who would otherwise have been unattended. 

Their wounds were dressed, and they were supplied with 
milk punch and nourishing food, and, as we returned long 
after midnight, an old negro woman, who had seen us 


at work there, begged us to come to her house and rest. 
She was most hospitable and kind. The next morning 
we took possession of the mayor's house, and prepared 
the stimulants and food for the wounded in a church 
near by. While engaged in our work here, it was reported 
that the enemy were swarming into the town, as our forces 
had abandoned it, and we were practically alone, and 
liable at any moment to be captured. We soon saw 
batteries of artillery and other vehicles moving rapidly 
down hill from the direction of Marye's Heights, and 
knew that it was time to leave. We placed all our stores 
in the church where we had been working, and went 
rapidly to the river and crossed the pontoons safely to 
the other side. We met our old friend Dr. Welling at 
this point, who was in charge of the hospitals at Potomac 
Creek, which were filled with the wounded from this en- 
gagement, and established ourselves there, continuing 
our absorbing work until the wounded were transferred 
to Washington. 

At this time I made efforts to get a good supply of 
vegetables for the soldiers, of which they were in great 
need. General Hooker had introduced soft bread into 
the army ration, but there was nothing else in this form 
but desiccated vegetables, and there was more or less 
scurvy among the troops. I offered to supply the Medi- 
cal Director with all the fresh vegetables he might need, 
if he would secure the transportation, knowing that I 
could induce the people of New England to send cargoes 
down to the base of the army. But he preferred corn- 
meal, and my effort failed. Later the suggestion was 
acted upon by the Sanitary Commission, which supplied 
the army with great stores of anti-scorbutics as they 
were needed. 

At this Potomac Creek hospital we had a German by 
the name of "Silers," who was a comical genius, and 
Veazie also, a droll countryman of ours, and they kept 
our quarters in good humor in spite of its many distress- 
ing scenes. Our cook in the special diet kitchen was a 
negro, and very religious, and was much concerned about 
the future state of the poor fellows who were dying all 
around us. One day, as Miss Gilson came into the 
kitchen from the wards, she said that Captain Smith had 


died, an officer well known to us all. He was a good 
officer and a good man. The cook was much troubled 
about his spiritual state, and asked if he was a Christian. 
She replied that she never asked that question. "I do 
what I can for them. I care for them, I pray with them, 
I sing to them, I work for them and feed them, and think 
I need do no more." Veazie, standing near by, said: 
"Do you know what I think when a soldier dies? I 
think the Lord snatches him up so quick that the devil 
can't get hold of him." 

At that time we had several barrels of porter sent 
down to us from Philadelphia. We buried all but one 
to keep them cool. One was on tap, and, while Veazie 
was in the tent, the bung came out, and, as the most con- 
venient way to stop the overflow, he sat upon the bung- 
hole, but the beer still escaped around him in foam, 
which was a comical sight. 

While here, General Hooker and some of his staff dined 
with us, and it is but justice to him, considering the 
charges that were rife about his habits at that time, to 
say that he drank nothing at our table that day. 

After the battle of Chancellorsville it became evident 
that General Lee would not long remain inactive, as he 
never failed to seize an opportunity for an offensive 
movement against his enemy. There was, therefore, 
great activity in every department of the army in prep- 
aration for another campaign which would be sure to 
follow. The army was recovering its old spirit and was 
gradually placed in position to cover the approaches to 
Washington, while the cavalry was thrown out to feel 
towards the passes of the Blue Ridge. 

The wounded were removed to Washington, the hos- 
pitals about Aquia Creek were closed, and Mr. Fay re- 
turned home to look after the city administration. He 
found municipal affairs in good condition, and well 


managed under the usual committees, and, more than all, 
the people were satisfied. To avoid cause for criticism 
at his long absences, he declined a re-election at the end of 
1862, but there was a unanimous expression of the wish 
that he should remain in office, as he was their war mayor 
and was meeting all the requirements of his position. 

He had not been long at home before the clouds of 
another great campaign burst upon Washington, in 
General Lee's second invasion of the North, and Mr. 
Fay made ready for the Gettysburg campaign of June and 
July, 1863. 



I had been at home but a short time when the papers 
announced that the sick and wounded from Chancellors- 
ville had been removed to Washington. I knew that 
meant a movement of the army, and that I ought to be 
there. I was getting ready, when a despatch came from 
Miss Gilson, saying: "Changes. When are you coming?" 
It had been discovered that General Lee was on his way 
north with his army, and that the Army of the Potomac 
must pursue. Our hospital supplies had been hurriedly 
packed and sent on barges up the Potomac to Alexandria. 
The surgeons and Miss Gilson had started June sixteen 
on horseback, and, passing through Washington, had gone 
on to meet the army at Manassas Junction. On my 
arrival at Washington I went to Alexandria to see if I 
could trace the supplies, but found they had been sent 
forward. By the kindness of a surgeon I obtained a 
pass in an ambulance to the field. The next morning I 
found that the larger part of our stores had been used 
on the way by the men in charge, and it was inexpedient 
for us to go on with the army empty-handed. I there- 
fore decided to return to Washington to obtain a new 
supply. This was a great disappointment to Miss Gil- 
son, who was anxious to be present at the time of the 
battle, which was daily expected. She knew she could 
be useful among the wounded, as she had become skilful 
in surgical dressing and in the preparation of special 
diet. She shed some tears at my decision, but yielded 
to the apparent necessity. We took our ambulance and 
personal baggage and started for Washington. The 
guerillas were scouring the country, and we could not 
reach our destination that night, but stayed at a little 
wayside hotel where the rebels had rested, and spent 
part of that day. I locked Miss Gilson into a room, and 



slept myself over the bar-room where there was carous- 
ing all night. We reached Washington the next morn- 
ing, remained several days, hearing rumors of battles 
which did not take place. Manoeuvring on a grand 
scale was going forward by both armies, while both were 
rushing onward toward some unknown point of con- 
flict. We waited developments, and in the mean time 
secured supplies and obtained transportation for them 
on a freight train to Baltimore. The Sanitary Com- 
mission then filled my car with additional stores, and sent 
Mr. William A. Hovey, of the office staff, with them to 
see to their disposition. I finally became satisfied that 
the conflict would be in Pennsylvania, and made my 
plans accordingly. 

This forecast was correct, as we shall see in the follow- 
ing brief review of Lee's movement in that great cam- 

The Army of the Potomac had twice been driven back 
defeated in its attempt to cross the Rappahannock at 
Fredericksburg, and these defeats had raised the spirits 
of the Confederates to the highest pitch. After the defeat 
at Chancellors ville, as we have seen, the Federal troops 
were despondent, and besides were meeting with serious 
losses by the retirement of the short-term men whose time 
of service had expired. Lee's army, on the contrary, was 
being strengthened by conscription in the South, and had 
been largely re-enforced by two divisions of Longstreet's 
corps, which had been operating elsewhere. The con- 
ditions in the Army of the Potomac were perfectly well 
understood by General Lee: they opened the way to 
him for another invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania, 
and he promptly took advantage of them. This move- 
ment was well under way before the meaning of it became 
clear, and, when it did become known, Lee's advance was 


far north in the vicinity of Winchester, having marched 
seventy miles in three days. His line extended upwards 
of a hundred miles at that time. Hooker, held back by 
General Ilallcck in Washington, finally started in pursuit, 
moving his army to cover the capital. But finding him- 
self deprived of his freedom in action, and embarrassed 
by the delaying tactics of his superior officer, he resigned, 
and General George G. Meade was appointed in his place, 
and was given absolutely a free hand. The forward move- 
ment of the army went on, as if no change of com- 
manders had occurred. Lee's advance had already moved 
into Pennsylvania, and swept everything before it. Sub- 
sistence was levied on the rich farms of the country, and 
herds of horses and cattle were sent southward, and for a 
time Lee appeared to be master of the situation. 

The concentration of both armies was gradually made 
on Gettysburg, a great natural battlefield, and here the 
decisive battle was fought. Meade proved to be a great 
tactician. Having an interior line, he was able to menace 
Lee, while at the same time he was so disposing his army 
as to be ready to confront his enemy wherever he might 
concentrate. Both armies were finally brought into 
line at the then obscure hamlet of Gettysburg, which 
proved to be the scene of one of the mightiest encounters 
of modern times. 

It was the turning-point of the war, and this series of 
notes from Mr. Fay's papers would not be complete 
without some account of it. The most vivid, complete, 
and comprehensive narrative of the battle in our literature 
is one that was recently made public. It was written a 
few days after the battle by Colonel Frank Aretas Haskell 
of General Gibbon's stall', whose position as adjutant- 


general in the 2d corps gave him unequalled opportunity 
for observation of many parts of that field, and we shall 
draw briefly from this privately printed narrative. 

The battle began on the first day of July, 1863, before 
the Army of the Potomac had reached the field, and was 
sustained on that day by the 1st corps and two divi- 
sions of the 11th corps and Buford's cavalry, and these 
fragments of the army faced the overwhelming numbers 
of the enemy which had first arrived on the field and had 
taken their positions on a series of ridges beyond and 
north of the town, and commanding it. The Federals 
had withstood the Confederates through the day of heavy 
fighting most gallantly, but were forced back in some 
disorder in the afternoon. Hut General Hancock's arri- 
val at this moment on the field, with his staff, had given 
a great re-enforcement of strength and courage, and the 
shattered brigades were reformed and took new positions 
on Cemetery Ridge, south of the town, which they held, 
and which proved later to be the centre of the great 
defensive line. This ended the first day's battle. Our 
losses were about ten thousand men, and this was not 
reassuring, but the rest of 1 he army was at hand. Genera] 
Meade reached the field in the late afternoon, and saw 
at once that a strong defensive position had been secured, 
and concentrated his army about it. Our line was in the 
form of a semicircle bending outward, of a length of four 
or five miles from Round Top on our left, along a series 
of ridges to Gulp's Hill on our right. General Lee's 
position was on a great semicircular line facing inward, 
its two wings embracing ours. 

It appears thai General Lee had promised his corps 
commanders that he would not assume the offensive, 


but let his enemies come out and attack him. But, as 
Swinton says in his Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, 
"after the first day's conflict, with his entire army well 
in hand, he determined to give battle, and such was the 
contempt of its opponents engendered by Fredericksburg 
and Chancellorsville that there was not in his ranks a 
barefoot soldier in tattered gray but believed that Lee 
would lead his army into Baltimore and Washington, if 
not into Philadelphia and New York." 

" General Meade's final dispositions for battle were made 
before eight o'clock the next morning. The artillery was 
placed in its positions, the ammunition brought up, and 
the line made ready for the conflict. The morning was 
thick and sultry, the sky overcast with low vapory 
clouds. The men looked like giants there in the mist, 
and the guns of the frowning batteries seemed so big that 
it was a relief to know that they were our friends." 

The two armies were well matched in numbers, about 
one hundred thousand men in each, and in artillery also, 
a hundred and twenty-five guns in each. The Federal 
lines were about a mile and a half from those of the enemy, 
with a great plain lying between them, broken somewhat 
by two low ridges, with farms of wheat, with grass and 
pastures and peach orchards and fields of waving corn; 
and this was the battlefield of Gettysburg. 

The second day's battle did not begin till afternoon, 
when General Sickles of the 3d corps, without orders, 
on his own initiative, moved his forces forward a thousand 
yards to command a ridge that he thought he should 
occupy. This movement was unexpected and unau- 
thorized, and was a mistake, but, having been made, it 
had to be sustained by heavy columns of re-enforcements, 


as our whole left was threatened. To lose that com- 
manding position of Round Top would put the entire 
army in peril, and it had to be saved. The great battle 
of Gettysburg on the second day was fought over this 
extended line, and involved most of the corps of both 

Colonel Haskell's narrative is as follows: — 

The infantry of Longstreet and Hill came sweeping 
down on Sickles's front and enveloped his flank, sweeping 
it back after heavy fighting, which involved in succession 
our 3d, 5th, 2d, 6th, and 12th corps. The battle raged 
fiercely and continuously for hours all along our left 
and up the rock-ribbed slopes of Round Top with various 
fortunes, until the blunder of Sickles was repaired and 
the old lines were re-established. 

Brigade after brigade of the enemy was thrown forward. 
The whole slope of Round Top is full of them in masses 
rushing toward our crest, which is aflame with the fire of 
our infantry and artillery. It is terrific, and it is a 
wonder how anything human can stand before it, and yet 
the madness of the enemy drove them on clear up to 
the muzzles of the guns, close up to the lines of our in- 
fantry; but our line stood firm. Such fighting cannot 
last long. It has gone on wonderfully long already. 
But, if we stop to notice it, the rebel cry has ceased. The 
Union lines advance. The rebels are breaking! They 
are in confusion in all our front. The wave has rolled 
upon the rock, and the rock has smashed it. They broke 
when they had almost pierced our lines, and the whole 
front, in spite of waving flags, and yells and the entreaties 
of officers, and the pride of chivalry, fled like chaff before 
the whirlwind, back down the slope, over the valley, 
shattered, without organization, fugitive into the woods, 
and victory was with the Republic. Our left on the 
line of battle was secure. And how look those fields, 
the ripening grain, the corn, the orchards, the grassy 
meadows, and in their midst the rural cottage of brick or 
wood? They were beautiful this morning. They are 
desolate now, trampled by the countless feet of the 


combatants, ploughed and scarred by shot and shell, 
the orchards splintered, the fences prostrate, the harvests 
trodden in the mud. And more dreadful than the sight 
of all this, thickly strewn over all their length and breadth, 
are the habiliments of the soldier, — the knapsacks and 
the haversacks yawning with the rations the owner will 
never call for; canteens of cedar and of cloth-covered tin; 
blankets and trousers, overcoats and caps, and some are 
blue and some are gray; muskets and ramrods, and bay- 
onets and swords, and scabbards and belts, some bent and 
cut by shot and shell; broken wheels, exploded caissons, 
and limber boxes and dismantled guns; and all these 
were sprinkled with blood, horses, a mangled heap of 
carnage, and last, but not least numerous, many thou- 
sands of men. And there was no rebellion here now, — 
the men of South Carolina were quiet by the side of those 
from Massachusetts, with upturned faces, sleeping the 
last sleep, with many wounded lying by their side, still 
survivors of the rage of Gettysburg. Yet, with all this 
before them as darkness came on, and new dispositions 
were made, the Army of the Potomac was quite mad 
with joy. No more light-hearted guests at a banquet 
than were these men as they boil their coffee or munch 
their soldier's supper to-night. And such sights as these 
will be so long as war lasts upon the earth. 

But this did not end the battle on the second day. 
Our right had been weakened to re-enforce our left, and, 
before the 12th corps could be brought back to defend 
its old position on Culp's Hill, the enemy determined to 
crush that line and double up that wing of our army. 
General Ewell had sworn an oath to do this, and in the 
late afternoon, before the conflict at Round Top was over, 
he suddenly burst upon this weakened line, and thrust 
his forces within our breastworks and held his position 
there during the night, awaiting General Lee's re-enforce- 
ments in the morning. The 11th and part of the 1st 
corps were thrown into the battle to check the Confed- 


erates, and the fighting was most severe. Culp's Hill 
is densely wooded, a precipitous, rocky defile, a natural 
fortress, and was strengthened along its entire crest by 
heavily timbered breastworks thrown up the night 
before. The old 12th corps now reached the field and 
prevented farther breach of our lines, which were held 
safely through the night. 

General Lee had thus directed his attack upon both 
flanks of our army. He expected to carry one of them 
the next day, and made his dispositions to drive Ewell's 
wedge in farther, and so dislodge and double up his 
enemy. But General Meade checkmated him by assum- 
ing the offensive before Ewell could be re-enforced, hav- 
ing brought powerful batteries to bear during the night, 
which opened a frightful fire at four o'clock in the morn- 
ing. The Confederates lost their hold, still fighting for 
hours behind rocks and trees, until they were finally 
repulsed and driven from our lines, which were then re- 
established. Their dead and wounded were thick all 
over the slopes of this long ridge. The forest trees were 
almost literally stripped some fifteen or twenty feet up 
from the ground, so thick upon them were the scars the 
bullets had made. Upon single trees not eighteen inches 
in diameter one could count two hundred and fifty bul- 
let-holes. These perforations told the story of the hail- 
storm of lead that swept through these dark recesses. 
After the battle, all through these bullet-stormed woods 
were interspersed little patches of earth raised a foot or so 
above the ground, and near by upon a tree whose bark 
had been smoothed by an axe, written in red chalk, would 
be the words "75 Rebils beried hear" and "54 rebs there," 
etc. Such were the marks of conflict in these woods when 


the writer passed through them some weeks afterwards. 

The Federal losses during the two days' fighting had 
already reaehed the frightful aggregate of more than 
twenty thousand in killed, wounded, and missing, and the 
battle was as yet undecided. Both the efforts of General 
Lee to turn the flanks of the army had failed, and there 
remained nothing for him to do but to assault the centre of 
our lines. He had gained nothing up to this time, his 
losses were even heavier than ours, and he was less san- 
guine of success. His hope now lay in his artillery. 
Colonel Haskell resumes his narrative: — 

During the night the lines of the Union army were re- 
formed and made ready for the renewal of the conflict 
on the next day, the third of July. The disabled batteries 
were replaced and well braced up with guns, wherever 
there were eligible places, from the artillery reserve. It 
was half-past one before a sound of musket or gun was 
heard upon the field. For hours an ominous stillness 
had rested upon it. Immediately after the sharp sound 
of one of the enemy's guns struck our ears. It was the 
signal-gun for the opening of the battle. In a moment 
the whole rebel line was pouring out its thunder and its 
iron on our devoted crest all over the centre of our posi- 
tion. The mighty din that now rises to heaven and shakes 
the earth is not all the voice of rebellion, for our guns, the 
guardian lions of the crest, have opened their fiery jaws 
in reply. The men of the infantry have seized their arms, 
and behind every rock and in every ditch they hug the 
ground, silent, unterrified, little harmed. One hundred 
and twenty-five guns are now pouring their solid shot 
and shell on our position, and our batteries of Parrots, 
Napoleons, and rifled ordnance of an equal number 
are sending their messages of death onward to the enemy. 
These guns are great infuriate demons whose mouths 
blaze with snaky tongues of living fire, and the smoke 
of Hades. The thunder and lightning of these two 
hundred and fifty guns are incessant, all-pervading, in 


the air above our heads, on the ground at our feet, remote, 
near, astounding, and these hailstones are massy iron 
charged with exploding fin-. Our artillery men on the 
crest budged not an inch, but though caisson and limber 
mashed, and gun- dismantled, and men and horses 
killed, they kept on with their tremendous reply. An 
hour and a half passed, and the firing did not abate. 
Soon after some signs of weariness appeared, and the 
fire slackened and by three o'clock ceased. The dead 
and wounded were lying about; some batteries losl 
to twenty-five men each, and half their horses, but our 
infantry in their rifle-pits were unbroken. The em 
fire was too high, — its purpose had failed. General Lee 
planned to break or destroy the centre of our line with 
his artillery, and then pour his masses of infantry upon 
it, pierce it, and roll it back upon its two win| 
complete bis victory. But man proposes, and God dis- 
poses. Silence again fell upon the field, and then i 
eye could see the- legions of th< . an overwhelming 

tide of armed men, sweeping upon us. We sprang to our 
saddles, and a dozen bounds brought us to the crest. 
To jay that none grew pale and held their breath would 
not be true. There are eighteen thousand in this col- 
umn, with more than half a mile of front. .More than a 
thousand yards the dark gray masses deploy, man touch- 
ing man, rank pressing rank, line supporting line, a 
forest of flashing steel, and not five minutes' march away! 
'\ (;<■;.' move as one soul in perfect order, over ridge or wall 
or stream, through orchard or meadow or corn-field, 
grim, irresistible. As they approached and drew nearer, 
our whole- artillery opened upon them with shrapnel and 
canister bellowing in their faces, until only a hundred 
yard-, divide our ready left from their advancing right. 
All was orderly and still upon the- crest as they drew near 
and we mi de ready for them. Should they pierce our 
line and become an entering wedge and drive it home, 
that would sever our arm;.- asunder, and the well-earned 
fruit- of yesterday would be lost. It was a vital moment 
for us,- and thm the storm began. Our volleys blaze 
and roll like an inferno of fire along a thousand yards of 
front, and the countless level barrels of the enemy blaze 
ba.ek upon US. Wondering how long the rebel rani:-, 


deep as they were, could stand this fire of infantry and 
artillery, Webb's brigade suddenly broke at the angle 
of our crest, and it was lost to us. Our line was melting 
away. They were already driving their wedge to split 
it, and were massing their forces there. But Colonel 
Haskell, acting as a general at that point, brought up 
Hall's brigade, reformed Webb's broken line, and after 
long contest the rebel division staggered back, and the 
crest was safe. But the conflict raged farther down our 
front, where the enemy were massed, near the apex of 
the crest, as if a new battle, more deadly than the first, 
had sprung up from the ground. In the shock and con- 
fusion of this contest all formations were lost; com- 
panies, regiments, brigades, are blended and intermixed. 
The jostling, swaying lines on either side boil and roar 
and dash their foamy spray, two hostile billows of a 
fiery ocean. Thick flashes stream from the wall; thick 
volleys answer from the crest. Individuality is drowned 
in a sea clamor. The dead and wounded lie where they 
stagger and fall, and there is no humanity for them now. 
Now the loyal wave rolls up as if it would overleap its 
barrier, the crest; and the wave surges back. Again 
it surges, and again it sinks. The color sergeant of the 
72d Pennsylvania grasps the stump of the severed lance 
in both hands, waves the flag, and rushes toward the 
wall. "Will you see your colors storm the wall alone?" 
One man only started to follow. Down go color-bearer 
and color to the ground, the gallant sergeant is dead. 
But the whole line springs; the crest of the solid ground 
heaves forward its maddened load, men, arms, smoke, 
fire, a fighting mass; it rolls to the wall; flash meets 
flash; the wall is crossed; a moment ensues of thrusts, 
blows, yells, shots, followed by a shout, universal, that 
makes the welkin ring again, and the last, bloodiest fight 
of the great battle of Gettysburg is ended and won. 

Swinton, in his Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, 
says : — 

"Whatsoever valor could do to wrest victory from the 
jaws of hell, that the troops of Pickett's division did, 


but at last, almost within the works, they flung them- 
selves on the ground to escape the withering fire that 
was pouring into them, and threw up their hands in 
token of surrender, while the remnant staggered back 
broken and defeated." 

"Saddest sight of such a field," says Haskell, "were 
the thick dead of Maine, Minnesota, and Michigan and 
Massachusetts and the Empire and Keystone States, 
who, not yet cold, had given their lives' to the country 
on that stormy field. Sixteen hundred of the enemy lay 
dead among the trampled grass, and eight thousand 
wounded are with them in our hands." Their total losses 
in the three days' battle were estimated at thirty-five 
thousand men, though the actual figures were never 
given. Five thousand were buried by our detail after 
the battle, and there were ten thousand prisoners. Their 
wounded probably numbered twenty thousand, as they 
were the attacking force and were frightfully exposed. 
Our own losses were close to thirty thousand killed, 
wounded, and missing. 

Oh, sorrowful [writes Colonel Haskell] to see so many 
wounded. The whole neighborhood in the rear became 
one vast hospital, miles in extent. Some could walk, 
others were moved on stretchers, and thence the am- 
bulances bore them to their destination. At every 
house, barn, and shed the wounded were laid, by many a 
cooling brook, by many a grassy hillside the red flags 
beckoned them to their tented asylums, a great army, 
a bruised, mutilated mass of humanity. Every con- 
ceivable wound that iron and lead can make were there. 
Some have undergone the surgeon's work, some, like men 
at a ticket-office, awaiting their turn. Some walk about 
with an arm in a sling, some prone upon the ground. 
From a small round hole upon many a breast the red 
blood trickles, but the pallid cheek and the hard-drawn 


breath and dim-closed eyes tell how near the source of 
life the bullet had gone. The surgeons with coats off 
and sleeves rolled up, and their attendants with green 
bands upon their coats, are all at work, and their story 
need not be told. Near by appears a row of small fresh 
mounds placed side by side. They were not there day 
before yesterday, they will become more numerous every 
day. Such things I saw as I rode along. 

General Lee retired into Virginia with his defeated 
army. It was several days before Meade could follow 
in force. The Union army was worn down with four 
weeks of marching and fighting. It was diminished by 
heavy losses, by sickness and prostration. The enemy 
was somewhere in its front strongly placed in defensive 
positions, their main body concealed, protected by rifle- 
pits, and could confidently await attack until they could 
safely cross the Potomac into Virginia. When General 
Meade was ready, he moved, and struck their rear-guard 
as the main body were crossing the river and were mov- 
ing southward. A long campaign of manoeuvres followed, 
extending through the rest of the summer of 1863 and 
the winter of 1864, when both armies again faced each 
other on the banks of the Rapidan. 

We have followed, perhaps, in too great detail this 
series of conflicts on the field of Gettysburg. But let it 
not be forgotten that these first three days of July, 1863, 
were the most momentous of the war. During this time 
the life of the nation hung upon a thread. The capture 
of Washington and an unchecked invasion of the North 
would have followed Confederate success on that field. 
In those dark days of the war, who could have foretold 
the results of such a catastrophe? It may not be in 
vain, therefore, that these pictures are given here of 


heroic struggle at the cannon's mouth, in fire and flame 
and smoke, with the uncounted dead scattered over six 
miles of the field of battle, that those of another genera- 
tion who may read the story may catch the spirit of the 
men who stood fast on the rocky summits of Gettysburg, 
and offered their lives to their country, "that govern- 
ment of the people, by the people, for the people, shall 
not perish from the earth." 

Returning now to the battlefield, let us see how it was 
there after the conflict ended. 

"Thousands of stricken horses still lay scattered as 
they died. Bent, splintered muskets, rent knapsacks, 
bruised canteens, shreds of clothing of blue and gray, 
belts and cartridge-boxes, broken wheels, torn blankets, 
ammunition boxes, smashed timbers, shattered gun-car- 
riages, parts of harnesses, — of all that men or horses wear 
or use in battle were scattered broadcast over miles of 
the field." It was strewn with the dead from the fast- 
nesses of Round Top to Culp's Hill, and all along the 
front of Cemetery Ridge, through Sherfey's peach orchard, 
the dead angle, and even in the lines of the Confederates 
about the Seminary, and the ridges and fields and shambles 
of the first day's conflict. They were temporarily buried 
where they fell, in trenches or in single graves, and, when 
the writer passed over the ground some weeks after the 
battle, the mounds were everywhere, telling the dreadful 
story of the uncounted dead, friend and foe lying side 
by side. 

Extraordinary efforts were made by the Sanitary Com- 
mission to reach the field by the time the battle began. 
Their wagons accompanied the army, and relief was dis- 
pensed to wounded men within an hour after their wounds 


were received. Two wagon-loads of supplies were with 
the headquarters' train, and, as soon as the assault began, 
these wagons were despatched, under escort and under 
fire, to the point where the surgeons had established their 
temporary hospitals, and to which the wounded were 
brought in in large numbers. As these wagons bearing 
the familiar inscription, "U. S. San. Com." (always dear 
to the eyes of sufferers in the army), came in sight, a sur- 
geon who was standing not five hundred yards in rear of 
the line of battle, surrounded by sufferers, for whose suc- 
cor he had exhausted all the means at hand, exclaimed 
joyfully: "Thank God! here comes the Sanitary Commis- 
sion. Now we shall be able to do something ." Brandy, 
beef soup, chloroform, lint, bandages, were all at hand, 
and saved many lives. The wagons, being emptied, 
were at once sent back for more supplies, and this was 
repeated time and time again. These Sanitary Commis- 
sion wagons always appeared to be ahead of the medical 
stores, which were often delayed in the overburdened 
transportation of the army.* 

All over the field, during the battle, the wounded, as 
they fell, were gathered into the field hospitals that were 
nearest them, and as soon as possible were sent forward 
to the trains. They made their painful way alone, 
trying as best they could to stanch their wounds; some 
more seriously hurt, haggard and pale, were resting their 
arms on the shoulders of their fellows; many were on 
stretchers, with appealing eyes; and not a few breathing 
their last. Reaching the railroad, they were cared for 
according to their need. 

Opposite the station were the store tents of the Com- 

* Sanitary Commission Reports. 


mission, with clothing, crutches, canes, pads, pillows, 
splints, bandages, and with every kind of stimulant, 
all of which were dealt out with unsparing hand. Large 
kitchens with cooks and attendants were at work day and 
night providing for the demand. Surgeons and dressers 
were also at hand, applying fresh dressings and preparing 
these thousands of men for their journey to Harrisburg, 
Baltimore, and Washington. 

Dr. Steiner of the Commission, who was in charge of 
the work in the field, says regarding the numbers of those 
who received this particular care: "I do not think that 
a man of the sixteen thousand who were transported 
during our stay went from Gettysburg without a good 
meal. Confederates and Unionists together, they all had 
it, and were comforted and satisfied." 

It was into such bewildering scenes as these, enacted 
over this wide field where twenty-two thousand men of 
both armies were left to be succored and cared for, 
that Mr. Fay and Miss Gilson came with their sup- 
plies, and with their finely trained skill and sympathy 
went to work in the 3d corps hospitals on that battle- 

Let us now take up Mr. Fay's brief narrative, which 
left him with his stores starting from Baltimore for South- 
western Maryland, where the expected battle was to take 
place : — 

Reaching Winchester on the third of July, we found 
our stores had been stalled on the way. An ambulance 
train had, however, come down from the front with the 
wounded, and I secured transportation for our party on 
its return, while I waited for the supplies. When they 
arrived, I engaged three four-horse wagons, loaded them, 


and started for the front, Mr. Hovey and I securing two 
horses from wounded officers who desired them returned 
to the army. We were near exhaustion, having had no 
sleep, and had tramped all day in the rain, but started 
at night for the field, twenty miles away, and rode till 

We waded through streams of uncertain depth, swollen 
by rains, and after many difficulties reached the field by 
sunrise. Here it was all confusion, and the battle was 
still in progress, though near its end, and there was much 
difficulty in locating the 3d corps hospital, which was our 
destination. There were sad sights here for us, and work 
enough for a hundred men, if we had had them. The 
wounded were brought in, and were crying out every- 
where for attention. They were in barns and outhouses, 
scattered on the ground over a vast field, Confederates 
and Union men lying side by side, helpless and suffering 
together. I need not describe the scene. It is beyond 
description. We could do much, but not a fraction of 
what was needed. Miss Gilson slept in her ambulance, 
and I found my bed on a pile of sawdust in a store tent. 
It was a time of great stress and strain, and can never be 
forgotten. To attempt to give any account of our work 
in detail would be impossible. We simply worked where 
we stood, and did what our hands found to do. I never 
visited the field to see where the battle raged, which now 
I should have been glad to have done. But our one spot 
of earth with its sad burdens was all we could attend to 

Night and day the work was never done. Two inci- 
dents occurring here have often been recalled. I found a 
rebel soldier, badly wounded through the lungs, lying in 
a corn-field. He could only whisper at first, but by the 
aid of stimulants was able to speak distinctly. He was 
lying between the rows in a muddy flow of water, which 
was trickling down under him. He asked me to move 
him upon a dry spot, which I did. He said to me, "I 
know I shall not live through the night," which seemed 
evident to us all. I offered to write to his family, and 
was surprised to hear him say that his wife lived in Ohio. 
On expressing this surprise, he said: "I do not wonder at 
it. I have treated my family shamefully. I abandoned 


them, went South, and here I am." I took his address 
and wrote to them, and the next day he could not be 
found. He had doubtless died as he expected, and the 
burial parties had buried him where he fell. My letter 
reached his old home, and his family received in this 
way their last word from him. Another occurrence im- 
pressed me deeply. A young man by the name of Ev- 
erett (a brother of one of the Boston firm of Williams & 
Everett) was wounded in the ankle, but lockjaw inter- 
vened, and he suffered severely. He was lying upon 
damp ground, but under a shelter-tent. As I was called 
to the town for supplies, I asked Miss Gilson to have 
one of our bed-sacks filled with hay, and make a bed for 

That night, about midnight, I was caring for him, 
when, in sudden agony, he sprang up and seized the tent- 
pole, with the look of death in his face. A comrade 
put out his wounded arm to sustain him, and he died 
standing there. I prepared his body for burial and 
gathered together his belongings to be sent to his family. 
As I did so, the man lying next him asked me to stoop 
down beside him, when he said, "I have lockjaw also, 
and shall soon follow him." I saw the symptoms, but, 
as was my habit, tried to encourage him, and said, "You 
have many chances for recovery, and are even now quite 
comfortable." He replied that, if he could have a dry 
bed to lie upon, he might get well. Removing him thence, 
I turned Everett's bed over, placed comfortable blankets 
upon it, and left him for the night. He was our special 
care. Two days later he rode off on an ambulance, to 
be transferred to Baltimore. Some years afterwards, 
standing one evening in Scollay Square waiting for a 
car, a man spoke to me, and said, "Do you remember 
the death of Everett at Gettysburg?" "Surely I do," 
I replied. He then said, "I was the wounded comrade 
who put out my arm to hold him as he died." It was re- 
markable that we should have come together again after 
so many years. 

We remained at Gettysburg until the wounded were 
gathered into permanent hospitals and the battlefield 
emergency was over, when we started for home. This 
was in August, 1863. 


It was at this time that I made the first suggestion 
which led to the organization of the Auxiliary Relief 
Corps of the Sanitary Commission, which did such 
efficient work on all the later battlefields of Virginia. 
As I returned home, I met Mr. Frederick N. Knapp, who 
was in charge of the Special Relief work of that organiza- 
tion, and said to him that the Commission might do as a 
body ivhat I was doing as an individual, working at the 
bedside of the soldier. They had never done this, their 
battlefield relief being confined to the distribution of 
hospital supplies in the emergencies of battle. I opened 
before Mr. Knapp the immense opportunities of service 
in the line of personal ministry to the wounded, and I 
knew I had in him a wise and sympathetic listener. The 
suggestion did not bear fruit at once, but after one or two 
letters passed between us, in which I stated in detail 
my many experiences and laid before him a plan for or- 
ganization, it was found that the seed had fallen into 
good ground, as we shall see later in the story. 

While at home after the battle of Gettysburg, during 
the month of September, 1863, I received an urgent ap- 
peal to go to Folly Island, South Carolina, where Com- 
pany G of the 40th Massachusetts regiment was sta- 
tioned. This company was recruited in Chelsea, and was 
comprised of many of our best young men. We were 
particularly interested in this company, and, when it 
was organized, desired that it should be officered by 
Chelsea men, and I went to Governor Andrew about it. 
He listened to my request, and said: "Mr. Fay, this is no 
picnic. We want men for officers who have been bap- 
tized in blood." I replied that we had selected such 
men, and mentioned the names of George E. Marshall, 
who had been a sergeant in the 13th Massachusetts and 
was then in hospital, wounded, and William A. Smith 
of the 1st Massachusetts, and Horatio Jenkins, who had 
also seen service. These men received their commis- 
sions from the Governor. 

The climate of South Carolina that summer, together 
with other conditions, had caused a good deal of sickness 
in the company stationed there, and it was their con- 
dition that induced me to waive my preference to remain 
at home, and go to them. 


We had a cool reception from General Gilmore and 
from the medical director in charge. They did not want 
volunteer assistance. It had proved meddlesome in the 
past, and all such applications for service were at that 
time denied. Our passes from the War Department car- 
ried us through, however; and, when the colonel and 
surgeon of the regiment were found to be eager for our 
service, we were allowed to remain. 

The men themselves welcomed us warmly. We found 
many of them depressed and ill and their strength much 
reduced by improper diet in that enervating climate. 
A special diet kitchen was at once established. This 
diet was greatly needed in every ward of the hospital 
which was filled with patients. In the 40th regiment 
alone there were one hundred and twenty cases there. 
The water used was sea water, filtered through the sandy 
shore, and the men were generally in low spirits. We 
were here about three months, during which time the 
health of the regiment improved, and its whole morale 
seemed changed. 

The 24th Massachusetts regiment was at Morris 
Island, and some colored regiments in the same locality; 
and, wherever we went, we were treated with the utmost 
cordiality by officers and surgeons. It was here that 
I first saw the horse "Johnny Reb," loaned to me by 
Lieutenant Jenkins. I afterwards bought him, but 
General Gilmore would not allow any horse to leave the 
island. The horse was afterwards sold to the surgeon 
of the regiment, and my next view of him was at Ber- 
muda Hundreds in Virginia in the fall of 1864. I met 
the surgeon there, and said jocosely, "I see you have my 
horse." "Your horse?" "Well," I said, "I bought 
him and never sold him." He then said quite seriously, 
"If this is your horse, I cannot hold him, although I 
thought I bought him fairly." I explained, but said 
to him that, if he ever left the army for any reason, I 
wished him to give me the first choice to buy him. He 
later resigned, and I bought him over again. The horse 
was one of Ashley's rebel cavalry, wounded in the head 
at Gettysburg, captured and cured, and wounded twice 
afterwards before he came into my possession. He was 
a wonderful animal, in perfect health, fast, intelligent, a 


good jumper, and afraid of nothing, and I used him for 
years afterwards. 

We returned home from South Carolina in December, 
in time to prepare my farewell address as mayor of the 
city, having positively declined another re-election. 

At this time the Army of the Potomac was in winter 
quarters near Culpeper, and Mrs. Fay desired to visit 
Dr. Welling, whose headquarters were with the 11th 
New Jersey regiment at Brandy Station. We made 
that visit, which was full of pleasant incidents to Mrs. 
Fay, returning home in February; and on the seventh of 
March, 1864, I returned to the army, Miss Gilson having 
spent the winter there. 


The Wilderness and Spottsylvania. 

We were now approaching the last year of the war. 
General Grant had been summoned to Washington from 
his triumphs in the West, and had been invested with his 
new rank of Lieutenant-General, commanding the armies 
of the United States. He entered upon his great task 
with headquarters in the field with the Army of the 
Potomac. Nobody who lived through that winter of 
1863 and 1864 will ever forget those solemn days during 
which the nation girded itself for that portentous struggle 
which was impending in Virginia. 

The Sanitary Commission during that winter, in an- 
ticipation of the coming campaign, made ample prepara- 
tions to meet its emergencies, and its plans were matured 
on the broadest possible scale. Among other changes 
in its service was the establishment of the Auxiliary 
Relief Corps, as suggested by Mr. Fay, in an effort to 
get closer to the soldier in the field, and to provide a more 
intimate and tender ministry than had ever before been 
undertaken on a large scale on the battlefield. This 
was the fruit that matured from the suggestions made 
to Mr. Knapp after the battle of Gettysburg. 

About a month before the campaign began [Mr. 
Fay writes], I was commissioned to organize this new 
form of relief and take charge of it. I asked to be ex- 
cused, as such administrative work would deprive me 
of the opportunities for personal service at the bedside 



of the soldier, which I preferred; but I was told that, if 
I declined, the work would not be done at all. I was 
offered all the men and all the money needed to perfect 
it and to carry it through, and, as a result, the Auxiliary 
Relief Corps was then and there formed, and began its 
work. It was understood that I should select fifty men 
for this service, and the Commission would provide the 
remainder from lists of students from Harvard, Prince- 
ton, and other colleges. I sent for Edward Everett Hale, 
Rev. William H. Channing, George L. Chaney, General 
James F. B. Marshall, Professor Leonard, and others of 
like character, and among them Mr. A. M. Sperry, who 
afterwards became my good friend and took my place 
when I resigned. Dr. Hale could not join us at that 
time, and he sent in his place William Howell Reed, 
who promptly reported with the others at Fredericks- 

My first duty was to provide a series of emergency 
store chests, in which ample supplies could be closely 
packed and easily transported to any point where they 
might be needed, to be used whenever other stores were 
not at hand or could not otherwise be obtained. 

The careful consideration of possible needs in the plan 
for these chests will be seen in the following list of the 
contents of one of them, which was opened by the writer 
at Fredericksburg, while the battles of the Wilderness 
were going on. The whole invoice was packed in a space 
of fourteen cubic feet, about the size of a large carpenter's 
chest, and, as we read the list, it seems incredible that it 
could have been done. 

6 cans of tomatoes. 

3^ can of crackers. 

6 of chicken. 

2 lbs. coffee. 

6 " of mutton. 

1 lb. tea. 

.2 " of milk. 

3 lbs. sugar. 

G lbs. of farina. 

4 bottles whiskey, 

3 lbs. of meal. 

2 brandy. 

6 papers of broma. 

2 cider. 

1 pail of butter (6 lbs.). 2 " sherry. 


1 bottle cider vinegar, 
1 " raspberry vinegar. 
1 cologne water. 

1 bay rum. 

2 bottles Jamaica ginger. 

1 bottle brown ginger. 

C bottles extract of almonds. 
4 of vanilla. 

2 of lemon. 
2 " of ink. 

4 papers hops. 

2 dozen lemons. 
1 bottle mustard. 
25 nutmegs. 

1 bottle Cayenne pepper. 

2 bottles pepper. 

1 box salt. 
6 shirts. 

13 pairs of drawers. 
8 pairs socks. 

2 dozen handkerchiefs. 

5 arm slings. 

4 pairs slippers. 

6 boxes troches. 

6 boxes Russia salve. 
6 empty vials. 
12 boxes matches. 
1 paper tacks. 
6 lbs. nails. 
1 ball twine. 
A lot of bandages. 
A lot of comfort-bags. 
A lot of night-caps. 

1 roll of oil silk. 

2 pillow-sacks. 
2 padded rings. 

1 piece of netting. 

2 bedticks. 

}/o ream of paper. 

1 dozen penholders. 

1 dozen pencils. 

1 box pens. 
250 envelopes. 
12 cakes of soap. 

6 sponges. 
12 dozen pipes. 

1 box candles. 

1 roll of wire. 

1 box of combs. 

6 sheets of wrapping-paper. 

1 blacking-brush. 
12 papers tobacco. 

1 dozen towels. 

1 dish-pan (3 gallons). 

1 baking-pan. 

1 dozen deep tin plates. 

1 dozen tin plates. 

1 tin cup. 

6 teacups and saucers. 

2 tin tumblers. 
2 tunnels. 

2 toasting-irons. 

2 basting-spoons. 
12 large spoons. 
12 teaspoons. 

1 butcher's knife. 

6 knives and forks. 

1 basin. 

1 hand-saw. 

1 hatchet. 

1 hammer. 

2 pocket looking-glasses. 
1 nutmeg-grater. 

1 brush broom. 

1 corkscrew. 

2 candlesticks. 

I called the corps together in Washington for con- 
ference and for general instructions. There were no 
hard-and-fast rules. The men understood that the corps 
was organized for personal ministry, and that this was to 
be provided with all the sympathy and devotion they 
would give a patient at home. They were selected men, 


well equipped by previous training for service, and could 
be trusted to act with courage and good sense in all emer- 
gencies, and we were soon called into service. 

The Army of the Potomac had been massed north of 
the Rapidan, confronted by General Lee with his army 
highly tempered and ready for the conflict. General 
Grant suddenly moved his army of a hundred thou- 
sand men across that river, and began a campaign 
"unsurpassed by any on record in the elements that 
make war grand, terrible, and destructive." This can 
only be made real to the present generation by reading 
Morris Schaff's story of the battles of the Wilderness 
in the successive numbers of the Atlantic Monthly which 
appeared during the fall and winter months of the years 
1909-10. These battles were fought on the fifth, sixth, 
and seventh of May, 1864, with results that will appear 
later in this record. 

The Wilderness was not a forest in its ordinary features. 
The region rests on a belt of mineral rocks, and for a 
hundred years mining has been done there. The timber 
had been cut down for many miles, and in its place there 
had arisen a dense undergrowth of low-limbed, scraggy 
pines, stiff, bristling with chinkapins, scrub oak, and 
hazel. It is a region of gloom and the shadow of death. 
The troops could only receive direction by the compass. 
Lines of battle were impossible, and no officer could see 
ten files on each side of him. Artillery was almost wholly 
out of use, and cavalry also. But in the horrid thicket, 
obscured by the smoke of the infantry firing, lurked two 
hundred thousand men, and through its lurid flames 
there came out of its depths the crackle and roll of mus- 
ketry, like the noisy boiling of some hell-cauldron, that 
told the story of death. Tens of thousands of the dead 
and wounded in blue and gray lay in the thick woods,* 

* Swinton's Army of the Potomac, pp. 428, 429. 


while the nation, holding its breath, awaited the news of 
the conflict that flashed over the wires. 

If it was a drawn battle, leaving both of the combatants 
bleeding and exhausted after three days of conflict, it 
soon became certain that there would be no retreat for 
the Army of the Potomac. If Grant had to wade through 
a sea of blood, he would go forward to his goal, and, when 
night came, the army began its great flanking movement 
out of the Wilderness to Spottsylvania Court House. 
To confirm this, General Grant's sententious message 
was sent out to the country, that he would fight it out on 
that line if it took all summer. 

We must leave the details of the conflict to the his- 
torians, as we are more concerned here with the poor 
human wreckage left on the field, as the army swept on 
its way. 

Simultaneously with the advance movement of the 
army the Sanitary Commission threw its forces into the 
field, and the men of Mr. Fay's corps began their work. 
Belle Plain on the Potomac was the temporary base of 
the army, and this corps landed there and were sent 
forward, some on foot and some by ambulance, to Fred- 
ericksburg. This base of the army was an ordinary 
beach on that river, sloping up to higher ground, and 
for the moment the whole transportation of the army 
was concentrated here. River boats and barges, pon- 
toon trains, commissary stores, ammunition, batteries 
of artillery, men and horses, regiments of soldiers, wagons 
and ambulances, quartermaster trains and hospital 
equipment, went floundering on through the mud and 
rain. Meeting all this entourage of the army outward 


bound, were the great incoming trains of the wounded 
returning over the boggy roads from the battlefields, and 
room had to be found for them as they swept into this 
great scene of confusion, and landed their living freights 
of suffering men upon the hillsides bordering the river. 
Three thousand men were lying cold and shelterless on 
these soggy fields when we reached there, awaiting trans- 
portation to Washington, and the numbers were increas- 
ing every hour. 

The kitchens of the Sanitary Commission were in full 
operation, and there was ceaseless work in the dressing 
of wounds, in the distribution of stimulants, hot broths 
and other food to these half-famished men who had been 
jolted over the long reach of these sodden roads, stretch- 
ing for twenty miles from the Rapidan. 

The rain poured down on these shelterless thousands, 
and the ground was like a sponge. Blankets were pro- 
vided, and fires were started over the hills, and in the 
evening they were gleaming with cheerful warmth. 
Groups of men were huddled over them, and were ac- 
cepting their lot with a cheerful courage that was won- 
derful to see. 

Our destination was Fredericksburg, and we moved 
forward to that city, crossed the pontoons over the 
Rappahannock, and reported to Mr. Fay at his head- 
quarters, which was marked by the red flag of the Sani- 
tary Commission. 

He had divided his Auxiliary Corps into companies of 
six, with a captain over each of them, and they were 
assigned to different sections of the city. The ambu- 
lance trains were now all halted at Fredericksburg and 
unloaded there. Every house in the city was turned 


into a hospital. Every public building and church was 
also used. The pews were torn out to make floor space, 
and the wood was used for fires in the kitchens. But 
the long trains kept arriving in an endless procession, 
until their living freights had to be discharged upon the 
sidewalks until shelter could be provided. The battles 
were going on, the booming of the guns and the crash 
of musketry filled the air, and twenty thousand wounded 
men were in the city. 

We found Mr. Fay in a whirlwind of activities, quiet, 
calm, efficient, and apparently unmoved by the clamor 
and agony of appeal for help from a hundred different 
sections of the city which he had to meet. He quieted 
the fever around him by his presence and self-control, 
and kept himself and those about him sane. Delegates 
from many states poured in upon him, each on his own 
errands of mercy. He received their passes and set them 
all at work. They could not leave without his per- 
mission, and this added large numbers to his working 
force. The Auxiliary Corps was known as the A. X. C. 
All requisitions for supplies were examined and vised, 
and, as the storehouses became emptied, new supplies 
were daily received from Washington, so that at all 
times there was an abundance for all emergencies. 

Mr. Fay welcomed our party of four, General and Mrs. 
James F. B. Marshall, Rev. William H. Channing, and 
the writer, and we were assigned to Marye's Heights, 
a mile from the centre of the city, and the emergency 
chest already described was sent forward. We found 
that every possible place of shelter in the outskirts of 
the town was occupied as a hospital. In mansions, in 
barns and sheds and farm buildings, in rooms, entries, 


attics, and upon porticos we laid our wounded men, and 
were thankful for any shelter for them. Among these 
houses was the Rowe mansion, occupied by the owner. 
He was a good Confederate, and held to his cause by 
opening his cellar at night as a rendezvous for a band of 
Mosby's guerillas (his son being one of them), who held 
their secret meetings there, planning the capture of the 
town with all our wounded. This house was our head- 
quarters, and we were living over a powder mine which, 
we knew, might at any moment explode. 

Our principal hospital building was on the summit of 
these heights, the home of John L. Marye, from whom 
they were named. It was a typical Southern mansion, 
with fine grounds, — a great hospitable house in its best 
days, but then ruined by the plunging shot and shell 
during the two great battles of Fredericksburg which 
raged about its doors. Gaping holes were rent in its 
walls, partitions were torn away, rich mouldings and 
ornaments were shattered by the concussion of artillery. 
General Lee had made this his great defensive position, 
and occupied these heights with his batteries of a hundred 

No space was unoccupied under that roof. As close 
as they could be laid, these suffering men were placed 
upon the floors, with barely sufficient room between them 
for the dressing of their wounds. Even to this day the 
writer can see the long rows of men lying there, and can 
locate in order, man by man, those whose wounds received 
our care and whose heroism won our undying admira- 
tion. This man with a ragged channel through his cheek 
and jaw across which a fragment of shell had ploughed 
its way; there one with his shoulder torn away, with the 


ashen hue of death on his face; this Indian sharp-shooter 
with a shell wound in his thigh, — they are all burned into 
the memories of those who saw them, and come back to 
us now, each with his own tragedy; some of them plead- 
ing for a sleeping powder for one night at least to ease 
the pain. Here side by side they lay through long days 
and nights, with no sound save the stifled moan, yet all 
of them having the grateful consciousness that they were 
tenderly cared for from great reserves of sympathy, as 
well as from the unfailing supplies which were always 
at hand in these emergencies. • 

Let the writer give here the following notes to show 
the character of the work and the tenderness and sym- 
pathy which were back of the entire service of these men 
of Mr. Fay's corps who carried out, each in his own way, 
the spirit of the service that it was designed to secure for 
the wounded men. 

In one corner, upon a stretcher, lay a soldier whose 
character was indicated by his strong face, his bright 
intelligence, and his manly self-control. He was wounded 
through the lungs, and every breath was pain. His cheer- 
ful courage, his companionship, bis gratitude for all our 
sympathy and care, his bright smile even in the face of 
death, lighted up that room of suffering. In the hurried 
evacuation of the place, at the last moment, he passed 
away, was saved the agonies of transportation, and was 
laid under the shade of the old oak-trees on that hill- 
side where so many of his comrades found their last 

Near him was a pitiful case, a lad, Adoniram Cookson, 
wounded in the back by a fragment of a shell. He was 
hardly more than sixteen years of age, and how he drifted 


into the army we never knew. He was so pinched and 
delicate one could easily have carried him in his arms. 
The only position in which he could rest was on his 
elbows and his knees, and he was constantly turning from 
side to side and moaning in his delirium. We watched 
over him and comforted him as his mother would have 
done, and in intervals of consciousness got his home 
address and sent the sad story to those who had lost 
their boy. He fell asleep at last, and joined the ranks 
of the other brave fellows who had given their lives for 
their country. 

Another lad in the corner of the same room was 
propped up by a bed-rest, and was slowly wasting 
away. He never complained, and could never express 
his gratitude for our care. His life slipped away from 
us, and we had another story to tell to another stricken 

Even the storerooms and entries of the old mansion 
were crowded, the places made vacant by removal or 
death being quickly occupied again by new arrivals. 
And so from room to room, from entry to entry, we 
moved about through the day and night, carrying our 
comforts and our stimulants, speaking cheering words 
here, giving a little companionship there, to brighten, so 
far as was possible, the heavy hours. "It is so hard to 
hear the hours strike," said one who could not sleep; yet 
here they were bearing their pain or facing inevitable 
death with a courage that was wonderful to see. 

In a group of four Indian sharp-shooters in one corner 
of this hallway, each of them with the loss of a limb, 
an arm at the shoulder, or a leg at the knee, never was 
patience more finely shown. It was the old Indian en- 


durance, silent, speechless in their suffering, and dying 
there, making a mute appeal to our sympathy, and 
expressing both in look and manner their gratitude for 
our care. 

William H. Chambers, who was paralyzed by a spinal 
wound, preferring a stretcher in the open air to the close 
and crowded rooms, was lying helpless on the lawn. There 
was a touching contrast between the poor, wrecked body 
and his bright, clear mind, which in these last hours was 
burning like a flame. He was fast sinking away. He 
knew he could not live, and did not wish to live to be 
a burden to his friends. As we were about to move 
him to the steamer for Washington, he died, leaving mes- 
sages for those at home and welcoming the change that 
was coming to him as a happy release. We were strangely 
drawn to him, and could not resist the inspiration of his 
gentle, kindly spirit, which could look so bravely upon 
death and speak so calmly and without fears of those 
far away who would mourn for him. Yet his death was 
a relief to all, — to him and to us, who felt that life pro- 
longed would be to him a lingering misery. 

One soldier (I can never forget his simple, earnest faith) 
asked me to stop and talk with him. A discharge of grape 
and shrapnel through his leg had shattered it from thigh 
to foot; and, as the wound was fatal, an amputation was 
deemed unnecessary. The poor man knew his end was 
near, and he had much to say of his wife and his crippled 
boy, and asked me to write to them. He told me his 
motive for entering the army, of his home in the Green 
Mountains of Vermont, and of his great sacrifice. He 
had been a minister of the Methodist faith in his earlier 
days, and later the editor of a local paper. He dropped 


his pen and shouldered his musket when the call for 
troops came, and his life and service in the army were all 
he had to give, and he gave them freely for his country. 
As I sat on the floor with his hand in mine, and saw the 
film gathering over his eyes, and knew from his whispered 
words that he felt the end was near, he looked up and sent 
his last messages, asking that a lock of his hair or some 
token be sent to his wife and children, and very soon the 
new morning dawned for him. 

The last words of one of these men may be worth a 
record here. He was wounded in the groin, and had been 
lying for several days with no possible hope of recovery. 
He talked freely of this, and said, "When the end comes, 
dress me in a clean white shirt and put two white roses 
in my hands," then adding, to those who were lying near 
him, "Keep on, boys, fighting for the flag; bear all things 
and suffer all things, but never give it up." His request 
was remembered even to the roses, and his grave was 
strewed with flowers. 

Monday, the twenty-third of May, 1864, was a perfect 
day. The breeze came fresh and cool from the north, 
the air was pure, the sky cloudless, and the whole firma- 
ment a heavenly blue. It was a day for the convalescents, 
and it seemed as if our men must be revived by the brac- 
ing air. We moved them out of the stifling rooms to the 
lawn. Under a grand old oak, whose spreading branches 
gave shelter to nearly fifty men, was a Massachusetts 
lad, Joseph White, whose case we had been watching for 
many days with the strongest interest. His wound 
was in the arm under the shoulder, and did not seem to 
be severe. He had been weakened by hemorrhage, but 
was hopeful that within ten days he would be at home 


under his mother's care, and asked me to write her. Tak- 
ing pen and paper, I wrote at his dictation, and the letter 
was full of his hopes and plans. He felt as sure of life as 
any one of us who ministered to him. I left him for an 
hour, hardly out of sight, working among his companions 
who seemed to need care even more than he, when, turn- 
ing, I noticed an extreme pallor in his face. I found that 
an artery had been opened in process of healing, and that 
he was beyond all human aid. He realized this, and knew 
there was no help for him, and it was wonderful to see 
his courage as he looked at those oozing drops which 
every moment brought him closer to the other world. 
The letter was still unsealed, and he asked me to add the 
postscript with his last messages, and in a few hours he 
passed into his larger home. 

In the mean time fierce conflicts were going on, all 
through the Wilderness and up to the very edge of Spott- 
sylvania and beyond, and the wounded were daily swell- 
ing the numbers under our care. One ambulance train 
which reached the Heights discharged its living freight 
of five hundred wounded men upon the ground, there 
being no nook nor corner of shelter in any building in the 
town. These men had had no nourishment for three days, 
and many of them were dying. The kitchens were started 
again, and soon rich broths of chicken, mutton, and 
tomato were being generously provided, with milk punch, 
soft bread, and stimulants, every man being refreshed and 
fed, and made as comfortable as possible until he could 
be sent forward on his way. 

The fearful losses in these great battles made a call for 
re-enforcements imperative, and a column of sixteen thou- 
sand men from the defences of Washington were sent 


forward, and moved down through Fredericksburg to join 
the army. We had received the news of the capture, by 
Hancock, of nine thousand prisoners a few days before, 
and this column was actually passing to the rear, while 
the new army of fresh troops were marching to the front. 
They were full of fire, and their enthusiasm was enkindled 
afresh at the sight of the captured guns and other trophies 
of that field. The roses were blooming in the gardens 
everywhere, and, as the column passed the Heights, clus- 
ters of them were thrown into the ranks, as if to strew 
their way to victory. The strains of their music, their 
colors, their glistening steel, had passed but a few miles 
beyond sight and hearing, when they were struck by the 
shock of battle. E well's corps of Lee's army in an at- 
tempt to turn our left fell upon these re-enforcements. 
The fighting was obstinate, and continued some hours 
until the Confederates were driven back, defeated. Gen- 
eral Porter in his narrative in The Century Magazine 
relates that, in passing over this battlefield after dark, 
a staff officer saw in the vicinity of the Fredericksburg 
road a row of men stretched on the ground, looking as 
if they had just lain down to sleep. He started to shake 
several of them to arouse them, and was shocked to find 
that this row consisted entirely of the dead, lying as they 
fell, shot down in ranks, their alignment perfectly pre- 
served. The scene told with mute eloquence the story of 
their valor. 

Five hundred of these brave men, who had passed 
through their first shock of war, were brought back 
wounded, and some of them dying, with the roses hardly 
faded that we had thrown to them, the ambulances 
moving over the same roads over which they had 


marched with steps so firm and hearts so light a few 
hours before. It was after sunset, and the long train of 
ambulances and army wagons was parked in an open field 
directly in front of Marye's Heights, which we then 
occupied as our hospital, and where we made ready for 
the service demanded of us. 

The camp for the night was settled at dark, the horses 
were champing their food after their long day's fatigue, 
and the weary drivers were stretched asleep around the 
expiring embers of their fires, while the moon, half ob- 
scured in the smoke of these tremendous battles which 
had not yet ceased, shone out red and lurid, lighting up 
that field for ministry to those who had come under our 

In the first ambulance the writer reached was Captain 
Kellier of the 20th Massachusetts regiment, severely 
wounded. His arm was off at the shoulder, which was 
also injured, and his jaw was fractured by a fragment 
of the same shell that had injured his arm. He appeared 
to be near his end, but was restored by stimulants, and 
later told his story. How he ever got into that ambu- 
lance train we never knew, as his regiment swept onward 
with Grant's flank movement and he was left among the 
dead on the field where he fell. His regimental surgeon, 
Dr. Hayward, — a hero himself, if there ever was one, — 
had passed him by as mortally hurt and dying, but Kel- 
lier appealed to him to try to save him. He was placed 
on the rough operating table, his arm was removed, the 
shoulder attended to, the jaw wired back into its place, 
and a new cheek was built up by transplanting from the 
severed arm; and all this skilful treatment was given 
with only the rough appliances of the battlefield. He had 


been taken to the rear on a stretcher, and in this condi- 
tion had fallen into our hands. With a feeding-cup he 
was served through the night at intervals with as much 
strong milk punch as he could drink, and with other 
nourishment, but we supposed he could not survive the 
transportation to Washington. He did survive it, how- 
ever, and got well. Four months later, coming out of the 
Parker House in Boston, the writer ran across him, his 
empty sleeve and his scarred face being the only reminder 
of that experience. He said he was in extremis when 
we met him, but, when he drank that milk punch, 
he felt life coming back to him, and he knew he should 

Under one of the ambulances we found a lad of the 
1st Massachusetts heavy artillery, Charles H. Cutler 
of Lawrence, wounded through the breast. He had 
crawled out for a breath of air, covered with his tent- 
cloth which served as a blanket. He was praying that 
he might die. Rev. William H. Channing, who was of 
our party, with that quick sympathy and readiness for 
service which was characteristic of all he did, drew from 
the lad his story, got his father's address, and spoke 
to him of his critical condition. He replied that death 
would be welcome to him in his agony. He wanted to be 
baptized. So, kneeling under the ambulance with our 
rubber basin of cold spring water, the poor boy received 
his first and last communion with tender words of prayer 
and blessing. Giving him a sleeping powder, we left him 
with hearts touched and uplifted by the gentle resignation 
of the poor sufferer, who was so soon to pass into his 
eternal rest, and then sent to his home the story of these 


Moving through the long streets of this ambulance 
train, we kept at work through the night. The embers of 
the fires were dying out; and in perfect stillness, with 
the moon low in the west, with flickering candles we 
visited the dead to gather together and mark for identi- 
fication every article we could find that gave the name of 
the man and of his home address. There were many 
such names and addresses, and many such articles, 
photographs, testaments, watches, and other belongings 
that were sent forward later, with the full story of the 

At daylight we were still on the field with fresh spring 
water for the wounds and a breakfast of bread, hot soup, 
milk punch, and coffee, before starting the ambulance 
train over the terrible roads to Belle Plain on its way to 
the hospitals in Washington. But the dead were yet 
to be buried. With a small detail of men the long trench 
was dug, each of us taking a turn at the spades, and here 
we placed the eight comrades who had died for their 
country. Standing on the mound of earth his own hands 
had helped to make, surrounded by soldiers and teamsters 
who were serving on that field, Mr. Channing began his 
short funeral service over those brothers bound together 
in a common cause, commending their souls to the lov- 
ing care of the Almighty Father. 

As the hours passed through that night and the succeed- 
ing days, we lived over again in our memories the frightful 
conflicts of the first battle of Fredericksburg a year and a 
half before, which had raged over the very fields upon 
which we were then standing, and in front of the very 
stone wall against which Burnside had repeatedly and 
unavailingly thrown his forces. The converging cross- 


fires of Lee's batteries on the crest above had opened 
great gaps in the advancing ranks, and night dropped its 
curtain on the scene where ten thousand dead and wounded 
were stretched on that ground or piled up along that 
sunken road which not one of them could cross and live. 
These blood-soaked fields with which we had now become 
familiar became sacred soil for us, not only by the sacri- 
fice of these men who had given their all for their country, 
but also by our own ministry to the five hundred men 
then under our care. 

The following picture is given here of Miss Helen 
Gilson on one of those days of trial when she and Mr. 
Fay visited our group of hospitals on the heights of 
Fredericksburg : — 

One afternoon, just before the evacuation, when the 
atmosphere of our rooms was close and foul, and all 
were longing for a breath of our cooler northern air, 
while the men were moaning in pain or were restless 
with fever, and our hearts were sick with pity for the 
sufferers, I heard a light step upon the stairs, and, look- 
ing up, saw a young lady enter, who brought with her 
such an atmosphere of calm and cheerful courage, so much 
freshness, such an expression of gentle womanly sympathy, 
that her mere presence seemed to revive the drooping 
spirits of the men, and to give a new power of endurance 
through the long and painful hours. First with one, then 
at the side of another, a friendly word here, a pressure 
of the hand there, a smile of good cheer and of tender 
sympathy with every one of them in their extremity, her 
presence was an angel's ministry to these suffering men. 
Before she left the building, she sang a few familiar hymns 
and national melodies, and I remember how her voice, 


which was one of unusual sweetness and power, penetrated 
to every part of the building. Soldiers with less severe 
wounds from the rooms above began to crawl out into 
the entries, and men from below began to creep up on 
their hands and knees to catch those notes of her song 
which were thrilling indeed at that time and which 
even now linger in my memory. This is my first remi- 
niscence of Helen Gilson, whose ministry was always 
so tenderly welcomed wherever she went in the Army 
of the Potomac. 

The flanking movement of General Grant from Spott- 
sylvania to Hanover Court House in the direction of 
Richmond left Fredericksburg exposed, and made the 
evacuation of that place an immediate necessity. Those 
who could walk were sent forward on foot to Belle 
Plain, and thousands of others were loaded on the 
steamers which were brought up the Rappahannock to 
Fredericksburg, and sent on to Fortress Monroe and 
Washington. Great suffering ensued in this hurried re- 
moval, and many died in the transit, but there was 
no alternative. It was either that or the capture of 
everybody in the town, which would have been the 
greater calamity. 

There is always in such movements a poor remnant 
liable to be sacrificed, and such is the fortune of war. 
In this case, after the steamers were loaded and under 
way, some forty men were discovered to be in the farm- 
houses of the region, all of them with thigh amputations. 
They were helpless, and would have died if we had aban- 
doned them. A detail was sent out to scour the country 
for miles to bring them in, and one by one, borne on 
stretchers, they were laid on the deck of our small Sani- 


tary Commission steamer, Kent, which was the last to 
leave, and which was held for them. The certain capture 
of the entire party seemed at one time to be its fate. 
The Medical Director, Dr. Edward B. Dal ton, would not 
allow the steamer to leave until all could leave. Mosby's 
guerillas were already in the outskirts of the town, and 
we could hear the tramp of their cavalry and the clank- 
ing of their sabres and carbines as they came charging 
and cheering down the heights toward the river. But 
Dr. Dalton stood unmoved, with his guard with levelled 
muskets ready to enforce his orders to both the steamer 
captain and his crew, and no man touched that hawser 
that held us to the shore; and, as the last stretchers 
were brought on board and the lines were cast off, 
these rough riders came swarming down to the landing 
with yells and curses, firing their last volleys as we 
swept round the bend of the river, out of sight and 

Mr. Fay had gathered his entire corps together on 
this boat, and all got to work on the decks to care for 
the forty amputated cases that had thus been saved. 
This was the last achievement of Mr. Fay's splendid corps 
at Fredericksburg, and was characteristic of all the heroic 
work they did on that field. 

The steamer touched at Port Royal on the Rappahan- 
nock, and soon had orders to move up the York and 
Pamunky Rivers to White House, which was the new 
temporary base of the army. 

The entire negro population of the region had been 
literally swept away from their homes and their anchor- 
age by the movement of the two armies through this 
part of Virginia. It was an impulse unrestrained for 


freedom. They swarmed to the river-banks by the hun- 
dred, even by the thousand, in companies, in smaller 
groups, in farm wagons, even singly and alone. There 
were whole families, even to the children, some of them 
babies in arms. They had their small belongings and 
were dressed in the gay attire of their former owners, all 
moving like the children of Israel through their desert 
into what they thought was to be their promised land. 
As we swept by them down the river to our destination, 
they held up appealing hands to be taken on board and 
carried they knew not where. At Port Royal they 
swarmed in such numbers that a government barge was 
appropriated for their use. A thousand or more were 
stowed upon her decks, all seeking to be free, knowing 
not what freedom meant. It was simply a dream to 
them. There were gleaming signals all about us, and a 
thousand colored lights were reflected in the water. In 
the distance we could hear the low soft music of the 
negroes' songs. Impassioned and plaintive, it increased in 
volume, until the whole chorus broke out in wild melodies 
which came to us over the water, gradually melting away 
into the croonings of the few who were charged with the 
refrain. Visiting the barge and listening again to their 
singing, we seemed to hear a thousand voices blended 
into one. When the music ceased, Miss Gilson, who was 
with us, spoke to them. She tried to tell them what 
freedom meant. There would be no longer the old 
master and mistress to deal out the peck of corn or to 
care for the old people and the children. They would 
now have to work for themselves, provide for their own 
sick, and support their own families; but all this would 
have to be done under new conditions. No overseer 


would threaten them with the lash, for their new master 
would be the necessity of earning their daily bread. 
The old order of things had passed away, and the new 
order had come. Then, enforcing industry, truthfulness, 
and fidelity, she said: "You know the Lord Jesus died 
and rose again for you. You love to sing his praise and 
to draw near to him in prayer. But this is not the whole 
of religion. You must do right as well as pray right. 
Your lives must be full of kind deeds, of unselfishness and 
forbearance and truth. This is true piety. You must 
make Monday and Tuesday just as good as Sunday, 
remembering that God looks not only at your prayers, 
but at the way you live and speak and act every day 
of your lives." She then sang Whittier's well-known 
hymn, "Song of the Negro Boatmen": — 

Oh, praise an' tanks! De Lord he come 

To set de people free; 
An' massa tink it day ob doom, 

An' we ob jubilee. 
De Lord dat heap de Red Sea waves 

He jus' as 'trong as den; 
He say de word: we las' night slaves; 

To-day, de Lord's free men. 

We pray de Lord : he gib us signs 

Dat some day we be free; 
De norf-wind tell it to de pines, 

De wild-duck to de sea; 
We tink it when de chureh-bell ring, 

We dream it in de dream; 
De rice-bird mean it when he sing, 

De eagle when he scream. 


We know de promise nebber fail, 

An' nebber lie de word; 
So, like de 'postles in de jail, 

We waited for de Lord: 
An' now he open ebery door, 

An' trow away de key; 
He tink we lub him so before, 

We lub him better free. 

De yam will grow, de cotton blow, 

He'll gib de rice and corn; 
Oh nebber you fear, if nebber you hear 

De driver blow his horn! 

It was a pathetic, a terrible sight to see these people, 
whole populations, throwing themselves away in masses 
from their homes, casting themselves upon the world, 
with no thought of their future, moved by one impulse, — 
to be free. It was the beginning in this part of Virginia 
of the grave problem of the negro which the government 
had to face, and which afterwards found its partial solu- 
tion in the Freedman's Bureau, in the colored schools 
and camps, where he was trained and made to work 
out, as best he could, his own salvation. And this care 
continued for years during the entire reconstruction 

Mr. Fay's administrative work at Fredericksburg has 
been described here in one part only of the great field of 
his operations, but it illustrates the whole of it. In this 
story he does not appear prominently in it, but his pres- 
ence and his direction dominated it all. Everybody was 
inspired by his personality and looked to him as the 
leader. There was no nook or corner of the town that 


was not under his constant care, and never in the rear 
of any battlefield, since war began on the earth, was 
sympathy so wisely directed or so generously expended 
in ministry, with resources so large, as over this great 
area of suffering men. 

His corps was landed at White House on the Pamunky 
River, a few miles in rear of Cold Harbor where the two 
armies came immediately into conflict. The story of 
what was done there will be told in the next chapter. 


Cold Harbor and Petersburg and the Winter of 

Mr. Fay reached White House with his corps on the 
eve of the battle of Cold Harbor. He found there the 
18th corps and part of the 10th, which had just arrived 
as re-enforcements of the Army of the Potomac. The 
army at the time was in a great movement from Hanover 
Court House to Cold Harbor, which was an important 
strategical point in the campaign. The concentration 
of General Grant's forces here will be referred to later on. 

The Medical Director of the army, Dr. Dalton, had 
been ordered to establish a temporary hospital at White 
House to receive the wounded in the expected battle, 
and toward night Mr. Fay and the writer went over the 
great plateau to select a site. Good water was the first 
necessity. Several springs were found, and an open 
field, dry and accessible, was staked out for the tents 
then unloading from the barges by the riverside. The 
plan of the hospital was drawn, its streets laid out, and 
the work went on. Through the long hours of the night 
Mr. Fay superintended the landing of the tents, gave a 
hand in the unloading of supplies from his own steamer, 
in establishing kitchens, and working in the swamps 
in the midst of the thick fog rising from them. The 
writer shared with him these labors, to be ready for the 
impending battle. 



The next morning a desultory firing began, full of fore- 
boding of the coming conflict. While waiting there, our 
party, consisting of Mr. Fay, Mr. and Mrs. J. F. B. 
Marshall, Mrs. General Barlow, and Miss Gilson, went 
to the 40th Massachusetts regiment in command of 
Colonel Marshall, of which the Chelsea company was 
a part, nearly all of the men being personally known to 
Mr. Fay. The headquarters were under a thick bower 
of the branches of magnolia-trees, as shelter from the 
blazing sun, and we had a soldier's welcome. General 
Barlow was also there. He came down from his com- 
mand to see his wife, who had followed him so far in 
the campaign, keeping in the rear, but still in com- 
munication with him. We reclined under the shade, 
quietly talking of many things, while Colonel Marshall 
awaited orders. The men were resting on their arms, 
their knapsacks within reach, ready to move. By the 
appearance of the men no one could have told that they 
were on the eve of battle. They were old soldiers who 
knew what campaigning was. They boiled their coffee, 
and munched their hard bread as usual. They were 
chatting in low tones and were running about among 
their comrades, making ready for their march and talking 
of everything but their future. How few of them realized 
that for many of them the setting sun of that day would 
be their last on earth! As we sat in this cool, shady 
spot, a staff officer rode up with orders for the regiment 
to join in the brigade. The colonel parted with us, 
speaking the last words he was ever to speak to these 
friends, mounted his horse, and the column moved forward. 
The skirmishing had begun, the regiment formed with 
the other forces, and plunged into the battle of Cold 


Harbor. Within a few hours the colonel and a hundred 
of his men were dead on that field. The brown, haggard 
soldiers with powder-stained hands placed him reverently 
under the sod with their comrades who had fallen at his 
side. This is the brief story of Mr. Fay's experience 
within the sound of the guns of Cold Harbor, which 
were sending out their messages of death to many thou- 
sands of men on that fateful day. 

Turning now to General Grant's flanking movements 
before the battle. After he had reached and passed 
Hanover Court House, he concentrated his army about 
Cold Harbor during the last days of May. Lee had 
already brought his forces up, and was building impreg- 
nable works along the Chickahominy. There is a perfect 
network of roads and small streams and rivers all through 
this region. The country is flat, with low swampy bot- 
tom-lands, and quickly becomes impassable in the heavy 
summer rains. 

It is a bad region for army movements. Lee was 
covering Richmond and the Virginia Central railroad, 
his line of supply, while Grant was trying to secure the 
Pamunky roads to Richmond. Both were aiming at 
the same point, but General Lee had got there first, and 
was on an interior line. By the twenty-ninth to the 
thirtieth of May the two armies were getting close to- 
gether, Lee's forces being heavily intrenched. On the 
thirty-first our army was pressed up to the enemy, as 
close as practicable without assaulting; but the position 
they held was so strong naturally, and so well defended, 
that an assault was not attempted on that day. The 
main line of the enemy was about fourteen hundred yards 
distant from ours, the interval being mostly open ground, 


but broken more or less by swamps, and it had artillery 
in position with direct and flanking fire. Lee's position 
was about six miles from the exterior line of the intrench- 
ments of Richmond, his right only about half of that 
distance from the most advanced intrenchments. This 
proximity to the defences of the Confederate capital, 
together with the condition of the Chickahominy River, 
appeared to bring Grant's turning movements to an end. 
Lee's right was secure. His left, being among the wooded 
swamps of two rivers, was difficult to attack. His front 
was the assailable part, though it had not been reported 
that it was practicable to carry it by assault. But Gen- 
eral Grant decided to make the attack. He had in fact 
to do this or withdraw, his alternative being a safe pas- 
sage across the James, for which preparations had already 
been made, for the transfer of his entire army and its 
trains to the front of Petersburg. But he would not 
accept this alternative until he was convinced that his 
enemy's line could not be carried. Promptly, therefore, 
at the hour designated on the third of June, the whole 
line was in motion, and for an hour the dark hollows 
between the two armies were lighted up with the fires 
of death. The 2d, 6th, and 18th corps advanced under 
heavy artillery and musketry fire, and carried the rifle- 
pits. But there the fire became still hotter, and cross- 
fires of artillery swept through the ranks of the 18th to 
the 2d corps of Hancock. Notwithstanding this destruc- 
tive fire, the troops went up close to the main line of the 
intrenchments, but, not being able to carry them, put 
themselves under cover and maintained the positions 
they had gained, which were in some places but thirty, 
forty, or fifty yards from the enemy's works. The greater 


part of the fighting was over in an hour, though attacks 
were renewed after that time, but without result, and 
the battle ended disastrously. General Grant took the 
entire responsibility of failure, and in his Autobiography 
regretted that he ordered the assault. The offensive 
movement stopped as soon as he became convinced that 
it could not succeed. For several days the army con- 
fronted General Lee, threatening his position to detain 
him where he was until new dispositions could be made. 
The losses during the three days in front of Cold Harbor 
were about ten thousand men, and in all the operations 
from the first to the twelfth of June, when the army 
crossed the James, the grand total was fourteen thou- 
sand men. It seemed then as it does now that it was 
a frightful waste of life without compensating results, 
and this appears to be the verdict of history. 

The great plateau at White House was a temporary 
hospital. It was soon covered with tents, kitchens, and 
feeding-stations, and more than eight thousand men 
passed through our hands. Mr. Fay's quarters were on 
the deck of a barge, without other shelter than an ordi- 
nary fly-tent through the heavy and continuous rains. 
How Miss Gilson or Mrs. General Marshall survived the 
exposure of these dreadful days this story cannot tell. 
Mrs. General Barlow was prostrated, and was removed to 
Washington, where she shortly after died, a martyr to the 
cause. As one looks back upon that hospital encamp- 
ment and all the suffering witnessed there, its distinctive 
features are lost in the confused recollection of agonizing 
sights and sounds, of sleepless nights, of days crowded 
full of effort to relieve the victims of that fearful conflict. 
By the fourteenth of June, two weeks after the battle, 


the army crossed the James and the wounded were trans- 
ferred to Washington. 

During the interval between the battle of Cold Harbor 
and the withdrawal of the army to its new position in front 
of Petersburg, while General Grant was making these 
new dispositions and was engaged in the gigantic task of 
the safe transfer of his forces, Mr. Fay had been chosen, 
without his knowledge, a delegate to the National Re- 
publican Convention held in Baltimore, and we will let 
him tell his own story: — 

I obeyed this call reluctantly, although as I think 
fortunately, for by this time I was in the early stages 
of malarial fever, and needed the change. The work was 
put into the competent hands of Dr. Parish, and I took 
the boat for Baltimore. Nature struggled for a day or 
two with the disease, and successfully in the end, as it 
proved to be nothing more than a temporary prostration, 
and I was able to do my part in nominating Lincoln and 
Johnson for the next four years. How little we realized 
the tragedy that was so soon to follow the inauguration! 
After the convention adjourned, I went to Washington, 
and from there to Fortress Monroe to await events. But 
immediately after our steamer arrived there with our 
stores, and our corps of twenty-five men and women 
were ready again for service. Receiving permission to 
go up the James, and feeling sure that the next move- 
ment would be in front of Petersburg, we pushed up to 
City Point, which would be, in that case, the natural 
base of the army. This forecast was correct. We found 
that the 2d and the 18th corps had already landed there, 
having crossed the river in pontoon boats, and had gone 
up towards Petersburg, and had had an engagement 
there. Our supplies were landed and our kitchen started, 
and we provided for those most in need whom we found 
there. This was before the main army had crossed the 
river. We found at City Point Colonel Arnold A. Rand, 
of the 4th Massachusetts cavalry, in command of the 
post. He was well known to me, and furnished us with a 


four-horse wagon and a cavalry guard, and we despatched 
a load of stores for the front, under the charge of General 
J. F. B. Marshall, who, with a corps of eight men, with 
Mrs. Marshall and Miss Gilson, went to the front to be 
ready for the coming battle. 

Soon after we reached City Point, the great pontoon 
bridge, a mile long, was laid across the James for the 
transfer of the army. To accomplish this change of base 
secretly in the face of an alert and watchful enemy, with a 
wide river in our rear, was a most hazardous undertaking. 
Such a movement, when successful, is regarded as the 
ablest manoeuvre taught by military art. While Grant 
was supposed to be in front of Lee, heavily intrenched, 
the latter suddenly learned that the entire Union army — 
its vast supplies, its infantry, cavalry, artillery, and all its 
trains — had been silently moved across the river, and were 
on the march to Petersburg. This was one of the greatest 
achievements of Grant during the war. It was a cam- 
paign of giants. Lee at once retired toward Richmond, 
and by the time our forces had begun to draw a cordon 
about Petersburg Lee had already thrown some of his 
forces into the city, and was intrenching there. General 
Grant failed to secure this position, as he had planned, 
because of the failure of his advance forces to seize it, as 
they were ordered to do and might have done, and the 
opportunity was lost. Heavy fighting followed for three 
days before he would abandon this objective, which was 
vital to the success of his campaign. This series of con- 
flicts resulted in a complete repulse of our forces at every 
point, and they were attended by a mournful loss of life. 
Siege operations were then begun before both Peters- 
burg and Richmond, and continued until spring. 


Mr. Fay's journal does not tell the story of what hap- 
pened to General Marshall's party, who made their way 
to the front with the stores in that four-horse wagon, but 
the writer, who was one of his corps, can relate it. 

They reached the lines of the army at dusk, and found 
themselves suddenly involved in the lines of the battle of 
Petersburg, but were turned back out of the danger zone. 
They had lost their way through the woods, being guided 
by the musketry firing, and, finding themselves involved 
in the regimental movements, and almost between the 
lines of fire, got back to the rear as best they could. The 
field hospitals, if such they could be called, were simply 
points to which the wounded were brought and laid upon 
the ground, the operating tables being built up on the 
spot from such rough boards as could be gathered from the 
farm-houses near. The medical trains had been stalled 
for hours in the fields in the forward movement of the 
army, and could not be reached, but the surgeons estab- 
lished these hospital stations and began their work without 
their anaesthetics, hoping hour by hour that they would 
be at hand. The story of what happened in the rear of 
these blazing lines of musketry, its victims with the 
grime and smoke of battle upon them brought thus to the 
knife of the surgeon at the amputation tables, simply 
cannot be told. It does not need to be told. 

It was in the midst of such physical horror as this that 
Mr. Fay's Sanitary Commission team worked its way 
through these congested lines of the army, and came upon 
the scene with the supplies of ether, chloroform, dressings, 
stimulants, and food, with its efficient men and women 
ready for service ; and there was not a surgeon on the field 
who used the supplies who did not thank God for them, 


and feel that the relief given through those three days of 
battle alone justified the entire expenditure of the Sani- 
tary Commission during the war. The forecast which 
provided for this emergency, and the pushing of this 
wagon-load of supplies through all the difficulties en- 
countered, were simply characteristic of all Mr. Fay's 
service in the field. 

As the siege of Petersburg went on, City Point became 
the gateway of the army. It was the base of supplies, 
and a town of considerable proportions grew up about the 
banks of the river. The headquarters of the army were 
established there, and a mile back from the landing, on a 
wide plateau, were the great corps hospitals. A branch 
railroad ran through the centre of the hospital grounds, 
so that the sick or wounded might avoid ambulance 
transportation, and be taken directly from the cars and 
laid upon their hospital beds. A dispensary, commis- 
sary storehouses, general and special diet kitchens, were 
provided for each of the hospitals, with provision for the 
Sanitary Commission stations in each corps. It was a 
vast establishment, with accommodation for many thou- 
sand men, all under the care of Dr. Edward B. Dal ton, 
Medical Director. It was at this point that Mr. Fay 
established his headquarters during the summer and 
winter of 1864, until the final campaign in 1865, which 
ended in the capture of Richmond and the surrender of 
General Lee. 

Dr. Dalton gave the Sanitary Commission all the 
facilities needed for its work. His personal relations with 
Mr. Fay were most friendly, and the two departments 
worked together effectively. Dr. Dalton was a highly 
gifted administrative officer, and left his mark upon the 


entire field-hospital system. Seventy-five thousand sick 
and wounded men passed through these hospitals during 
the year. 

It was during the summer of 1864 that Mr. Fay nar- 
rowly escaped with his life from the explosion of the 
ammunition barge at City Point which cost so many 
lives. He tells the story of this experience, as follows: — 

On the eleventh of August, 1864, I went down to the 
mail-boat, as was my custom, to mail my letters. I also 
had a team to get a tent which had been made for me and 
which had just arrived. The mail-boat had a large 
number of passengers, — friends who had visited the hos- 
pitals and the army, and officers going home on furlough 
or sent as messengers to Washington. At the stern of 
the boat lay a barge loaded with ammunition. The 
steamer had just started, and, as I was throwing a box 
into the wagon, the ammunition exploded, killing every 
one on the barge or near it. If it had happened a few 
moments before, the mail-boat would have been blown 
to pieces with the loss of the passengers and crew. How 
many were killed will never be known, but the fragments 
of human bodies were lying all about. The buildings on 
the wharf nearest the barge were crushed. Missiles of 
all kinds, shells, Minie balls, pieces of lumber, guns, 
bayonets, filled the air, and dropped all around me. I was 
knocked down by the concussion, somewhat injured in 
the face, my arm was disabled, and my side severely 
bruised, though the ribs were not broken. Curling up 
in the smallest space, I put my arms over my head to pro- 
tect it. At that moment a frightened horse, with swinging 
trace chains, came on the run down the railroad track where 
I was lying. I got under my wagon, for the missiles were 
still falling. One of the horses of my team had fallen. 
The runaway horse struck him as he was struggling to 
free himself, and his heels were more dangerous than 
the flying fragments in the air. I fortunately escaped 
further damage, and the horse died before he could be 
rescued. At that moment some one called out, " Another 


explosion," and I saw piled up against the building, 
which was on fire, large boxes of ammunition which had 
just been unloaded. Starting to run, it occurred to me 
that there might be men under the crushed building who 
ought to be rescued, and I turned to them. At that 
instant a tugboat ran up to the wharf, threw out some 
hose, with one man only to handle it. My right arm 
was helpless, but with the other hand and arm we man- 
aged to drag it to the fire, and it was soon extinguished. 
My horse was hitched at a distance and was uninjured, 
and, reaching the hospital, I was duly cared for, and re- 
mained a short time only out of commission. To show 
the force of the explosion, I learned afterwards that the 
keel of the barge was thrown over the building, which was 
thirty feet high, and landed on the track near where I 
was lying. It was a fortunate escape for me. 

There are some additional facts relating to the fright- 
ful effects of this explosion given by Morris Schaff, the 
ordnance officer in charge of that barge, that will be of 
interest as showing the wonderful escape of Mr. Fay from 
instant death, which was the fate of nearly all of those 
who were near the barge at the moment of the explosion. 
This officer states that there were some twenty or thirty 
thousand rounds of artillery ammunition and seventy- 
five to one hundred thousand rounds of small-arms 
ammunition on that barge. "We were at a game of 
chess in my house on the bluff, a hundred and fifty yards 
back from the wharf. A solid twelve-pound shot crashed 
across the bed into the mess-chest. Shells burst over us, 
and a fragment just grazed my shoulder. There was, of 
course, a sudden stampede into the garden. Shells were 
falling or bursting every instant. The sky was full of 
falling missiles. One of my clerks was killed there, and 
we carried his body back into the office from which he had 


fled when the projectiles that were hurled in every direc- 
tion began to enter it. From the top of the bluff there 
lay a staggering scene of a mass of overthrown buildings 
in tangled and impenetrable heaps, and in the water 
were wrecked and sunken barges. Next the ammunition 
barge was a canal-boat filled with saddles and cavalry 
equipments. The explosion sent them flying in every 
direction, like so many big-winged bats. One of them 
killed the lemonade man who at the moment was doing 
a thriving business under a tent-fly, surrounded by mule 
drivers white and black, soldiers and civilians, many of 
whom suffered the same fate. In a barber's shop near, 
all were killed, and, when their bodies were gathered 
where the tent had stood, they numbered thirty in all. A 
musket was found standing upright in the road, buried to 
the second band, almost half a mile back from the wharf. 
I have always thought it must have been that of the 
sentinel on the barge, for it does not seem possible that 
any of the rifles in the storehouse could have reached a 
height such as this one must have attained, to give the 
necessary velocity to penetrate so deeply. It was esti- 
mated that the explosion cost the lives of at least two 
hundred men, besides the maiming of a multitude of 
others, though the exact number of casualties was never 

Dr. R. B. Prescott, who was also near the spot, wrote as 
follows of his experience: "It has always seemed almost 
miraculous that I was not one of the victims. I was 
knocked down by the concussion, and an officer with 
whom I had been talking only a moment before was 
instantly killed, — torn all to pieces in fact. In my mind's 
eye I have often seen that dreadful spectacle, that im- 


mense cone-shaped mass of flame and smoke rising seem- 
ingly hundreds of feet into the air, and filled with timbers, 
saddles, military stores, and bodies of men and horses. 
It was a sight never to be forgotten." 

The appalling fact regarding this explosion is now a 
matter of history. It was caused by a Confederate tor- 
pedo, manufactured and placed there by a rebel officer, 
Captain Maxwell, who with great daring penetrated our 
lines with it. His report to the Richmond authorities 
was captured by Dr. Prescott, referred to above, in 
which the whole story is given in great detail, with the 
description of the torpedo, which was fired by clock-work. 
This officer (Captain Maxwell) relates with some gusto 
that "the scene, though terrific, was in some aspects 
ludicrous! The air was filled with all sorts of the mu- 
nitions of war. Army saddles careened through the air as 
though playing leap-frog, while headless bodies, arms, 
legs, and heads of the unfortunate crew flew about in the 
smoke." One does not need to comment on this de- 
scription. It was not war. It was simple butchery. 

There was another incident that occurred at City Point 
some months later which will be of interest. It was 
related to the writer by Mr. Fay, and concerns the visit 
of President Lincoln to the army during the winter of 

He had come down to the James River to confer 
with the two Confederate Commissioners, Alexander H. 
Stephens and Judge Campbell, in relation to terms of 
peace that would be acceptable to them. As he expected, 
nothing came of it; but public sentiment at the moment 
seemed to demand the interview. During that visit he 
was at General Grant's headquarters near the hospitals, 


and visited all of them. Standing by the diet kitchen 
of the 6th corps hospital, the headquarters of Mr. Fay, 
after the President had visited every bedside and had 
shaken hands with all the convalescent soldiers who stood 
in line before him, Senator Sumner who was with him 
remarked, "Mr. President, you have taken the hand of 
some thousands of men to-day: you must be very tired." 
"Tired?" said Mr. Lincoln. Then, with a quizzical look 
in his face, he glanced about as if in search of something, 
picked up an axe that was near him, and, swinging it 
several times over his head, began with powerful strokes 
upon a chopping-log in front of the kitchen. Every stroke, 
clean and strong, went to its mark like that of an ex- 
perienced woodsman, and the chips went flying all about 
him and about the wondering company standing near. 
Then, dropping the axe, he turned to Mr. Sumner, and 
said, smiling, "No, Mr. Senator, you will see I am not 
tired, and can still hew to the line." A few weeks later 
he lay dead at the hand of the assassin, and there was 
not one among these thousands of men who did not 
recall with tender emotion or who could ever forget the 
pressure of that friendly hand as he came into the pres- 
ence of his great leader and friend. 

Up to the date of the attack on Petersburg the colored 
troops had taken but a passive part in the campaign. 
They were now first brought into action where the fighting 
was desperately contested, as was shown by the numbers 
of the dead and wounded left on the field. The wounded 
were brought down to City Point, where a temporary 
hospital was established to receive them. It was ill 
provided, its organization, if it had any, was imperfect, 
and the mortality was frightfully large. The severity 


of the campaign in a malarious country had prostrated 
many with fevers, and typhoid in its most malignant 
forms was raging with increasing fatality. The stories 
of suffering reached Miss Gilson at a moment when the 
campaign through which she had passed had greatly 
impaired her strength; but her duty seemed plain, and, 
as there were no volunteers in the emergency, she pre- 
pared to go. Her friends did not expect she would sur- 
vive this task, but, saying she could not die in a better 
cause, she started out alone. A hospital had to be created. 
Official pride and prejudice had to be met and overcome, 
and it had to be done without seeming to interfere. She 
gave, as was her rule, instant and unquestioning obedience 
to medical and disciplinary orders, and this opened a 
pathway for a service that was welcome everywhere. 
A hospital kitchen was organized on her method of special 
diet, the nurses were made to learn her way and to accept 
discipline, and harmony soon prevailed. The rate of 
mortality decreased, and the hospital became known as 
one of the best in the department and had the most 
cheerfully picturesque series of buildings at City Point. 
Her personal presence in the wards was a benediction, 
as was her ministry at the bedside of the soldier. Nobody 
could see her moving about her work, or sitting in her 
sober gray flannel gown by the dim candle-light, with 
her eyes open and watchful through the night, with hands 
ready for all those endless wants of sickness, without being 
moved by the devotion and tenderness which were given 
to the humblest man whom she was there to serve. And 
every hour as it passed added strength to her influence 
and to her command of a position which won and received 
the warm appreciation of the entire Medical Corps. 


In Mr. Fay's narrative there are many references 
to a book, Hospital Life in the Army of the Potomac, from 
which he quotes as a sufficient record of his own experi- 
ences. It was written by one of his corps who was closely 
associated with him, and the story there told is often as 
complete a narrative as if Mr. Fay himself had written 
it. Some of the pages of this volume are quoted here as 
showing the work that was done at City Point during 
the long siege before Richmond and Petersburg. 

The editor gives this additional picture of Miss Gilson 
at this time: — 

The grace and dignity with which she went about her 
work won all hearts. As she passed through the wards, 
speaking here and there cheering words to these suffering 
men, calling them by name, and knowing the story of many 
of them, they would follow her with their eyes and hold 
out a supplicating hand for just the word of sympathy 
and good cheer that was always at command for all of 
them, and she was always rewarded by grateful words 
for her tenderness and care. She seemed to be mother and 
sister to them all. 

Absorbed in her work, unconscious of the influence of 
her gentle personality, whether in the kitchen, in the heat 
and overcrowding incident to the issue of a large diet 
list, or in her quiet hours at the bedside of these men, she 
always seemed to impart courage and good cheer; and 
when asked for some simple religious service, the reading 
of a psalm, the singing of a hymn, or the offering of a 
prayer, her voice was always at command in these devo- 
tions. But it was not in these ministries alone that her 
influence was felt. Was there jealousy in the kitchen, 
its cause was soon discovered and harmony was restored; 


was there profanity among the convalescents, her daily 
presence and kindly admonition or reproof were enough 
to check the evil; or was there hardship or discontent, 
the knowledge that she was sharing the discomfort also 
was enough to compel patient endurance until a remedy 
could be provided. And so through the whole war, 
from the seven days' conflicts upon the Peninsula in those 
July days of 1862 through the campaigns of Fredericks- 
burg, Chancellorsville, Antietam, Gettysburg, and the 
conflicts of the Wilderness, for the possession of Rich- 
mond and Petersburg, in 1865, she worked steadfastly 
on until the end. Through scorching heat and pinch- 
ing cold, in the tent or upon the open field, in the am- 
bulance or in the saddle, through rain and snow, amid 
unseen perils of the enemy, under fire upon the field, or 
in the more insidious dangers of contagion, she did her 
part with womanly devotion, and to hundreds whose 
sufferings she relieved or whose lives she saved she was 

"A noble type of good 
Heroic womanhood." 

Mr. Fay became greatly interested at this time in an 
Italian soldier who had strayed into our camp, and we 
find references to his story in his memoranda. The poor 
fellow was ill and helpless, and had wandered away from 
his regiment with a deadly homesickness, entirely broken 
down and needing rest and care. In some way unknown 
to us, he had found his way to this colored hospital. 
He could not speak a word of English, and, as it proved, 
was far gone in consumption. We had been ministering 
to his wants with the sympathy his case had awakened, 
and by French and such few Italian words as we had 


at command tried to talk with him. As we spoke of our 
cold climate and contrasted it with that of Italy, his 
eyes brightened, and, with his arms extended upward, 
he gasped out, "L'ltalie est paradis!" He seemed to 
see his own smiling Pavia and Vigevano, to feel the soft 
breath of the Mediterranean, and to bring up all the sunny 
memories of his far-off home that he was never to see 

After much effort we found in a neighboring hospital 
an Italian who could act as interpreter. We were eager 
to learn his story, which proved to be the old tale of de- 
ception and fraud, of the cruelties of the bounty agents, 
and of sufferings the sequel of which would soon be death. 
He had been in the country but a few days when, he 
knew not how, he found himself clothed in a blue uniform 
and regularly enlisted in the military service of the gov- 
ernment. A man of delicate frame, he had simply broken 
down from the severities and exposures of the campaign, 
and here he was to die. His mind reverted to his distant 
home, and he spoke with deep feeling of his poor old 
father and mother and his brothers and of what a tragedy 
their separation had proved, of his dear old cathedral 
of Vigevano, and of his employments which he should 
never enter upon again. He knew he was going to die, 
yet did not shrink from death. He welcomed it rather; 
for what was life to him? It was only privation, hard- 
ship, loneliness, and suffering. He had no influence to 
procure his discharge; he could make no appeal for jus- 
tice; his comrades were strangers, and spoke a strange 
tongue, of which he knew not a word; he had no com- 
panion to whom he could look for sympathy or to whom 
he could tell his story of wrong; indeed, he could hardly 


make himself understood by these new friends who were 
trying to comfort and cheer his last hours. But one 
boon was granted him, — that of hearing his native lan- 
guage from the lips of a countryman. At first he seemed 
bewildered, then overjoyed that such a blessing should 
have been his before he died. His eyes opened, express- 
ing content and peace, though there was still a restless- 
ness and anxiety, of which we could not guess the cause. 
He was sinking rapidly with some weight upon him that 
he had not the words or the wish to reveal. At length, 
asking if he had money to dispose of, he gave a sigh of 
relief, and unstrapped his belt, which contained, as it 
proved, eight hundred and fifty dollars. His pulse was 
growing faint, but he tried to write the name of his family 
and their home address. The words were slowly spelled 
out one by one in a trembling hand, — his own name, 
Giovanni Qualia, and that of his brother, Giuseppe 
Qualia, St. Andrews Street, Vigevano, Department of 
Pavia, Province of Vigevano, Italy. The money was 
to be sent to him, to be divided according to his discre- 
tion. The dying man seemed now at ease, and we left 
him to rest. As we withdrew, he held my hand firmly 
in both of his to express his gratitude. He never spoke 
again, and before morning passed away. His body was 
removed to the tent for the reception of the dead; and 
at four o'clock of the following afternoon on two 
stretchers the body of a colored soldier who had died 
in the cars on the way to the hospital and this poor, 
friendless Italian were carried out to their graves. 
There were two mourners walking on either side, — a sad 
funeral procession. We performed a short service for 
the poor unknown negro, whom nobody would mourn, 


and for this stranger from another land. Soldiers 
gathered about the mound of earth, standing with un- 
covered heads, and, while the earth trembled with the 
tremendous firing all about us, we committed these two 
men to their soldiers' graves. This was our Sunday 
service. Letters were sent to Italy, containing a remit- 
tance of twenty-nine hundred and fifty-two francs, the 
proceeds of the money given into our care, and it was 
gratefully acknowledged later by the family. 

Half a mile from the hospital grounds at City Point 
was a wretched group of tents called the hospital of the 
wagon-train. It was not a hospital, but a place where 
some thirty men were lying sick and neglected, who had 
been discovered by Mr. Fay, and whose condition was 
deplorable. They were wagoners, rough, hardy pioneers 
from Maine, but, being civilians and employed only as 
laborers, were not entitled to medical care except such 
as they could secure by payment. They were destitute 
and suffering from inflammatory rheumatism. Mr. Fay 
arranged for such care as we could give them, and their 
condition gradually improved. One old man was lying 
on a rough bunk, quiet and patient, with sunken eyes 
and a face worn by pain. Mr. Fay provided him with 
many comforts, and, as he received them, he said: "We 
have these societies in our town for the soldiers, but I 
never began to realize the value of them till now. Mind, 
I'm none of your flatterers. I'm an old man, have had a 
hard lot in life. I've got five sons in the army, — my all; 
and, if I never see them again, I give them to the cause. 
You don't know how your coming here kind o' cheers me 
up." We knew it did, for we saw the tears gathering in 
his eyes; and, when I thought of those five sons, I could 


but recall the letter of consolation then just written by- 
Abraham Lincoln to the poor widow who had buried her 
five boys, when he spoke of the feeling of "solemn pride" 
which was her precious privilege, now that she had laid 
such a sacrifice upon the altar of her country. I could 
not but feel that the same was applicable to him also, — 
that "solemn pride." 

But these instances of tender care need not be multi- 
plied. They are brought together here to show how per- 
fectly Mr. Fay was able to realize his own conception of 
a personal ministry among suffering soldiers which, with- 
out treating them in masses, could reach down to the in- 
dividual man in his need, to soothe his pain, to cool his 
brow, to touch with gentle hand his shattered frame, 
and by all the resources of wise and tender ministry 
bring him back to life again. 

There is, however, another side to life in an army hos- 
pital, and any true picture of it must represent that other 
side. It is not full of romance or of heroism, though there 
is an abundance of both to be found there. You are deal- 
ing with all sorts and conditions of men, some of them 
strong, thoughtful, heroic, claiming nothing for them- 
selves, eager to share, ready to bear others' burdens 
as well as their own. Then there are also just the aver- 
age men, who have negative characters or none at all, 
stolid, indifferent, who don't care much either way. Then 
come the "bummers," who joined the army for the large 
bounties they received, deserted, and then "jumped 
them " to enlist again for more money. They were always 
ready to play upon one's sympathies and to practise the 
well-known tricks of such soldiers, who disgraced the 
uniforms they wore. These were the outcasts of society, 


of whom the world would say they were fit only for the 
front of battle and it would be a good riddance if they 
died. It was our fate to meet many of them. 

There was one institution at City Point during this 
year that was filled with such men. It was known as 
the "Bull Ring." It was the prison of the army, and con- 
sisted of barracks, with a wide enclosure open to the sky, 
surrounded by a high stockade", and guarded night and 
day. There were four hundred men imprisoned here, and 
their condition was a disgrace to the army. They were 
held under a great variety of charges, ranging from the 
highest crimes known to military law down to the common 
delinquencies of the soldier. The court martial dealt with 
these men as rapidly as it could, but its work never ap- 
peared to be done. When rumors of unwholesome brutal 
conditions in this prison reached Mr. Fay, his indigna- 
tion was quickly aroused, and he at once asked permission 
on behalf of the Sanitary Commission to make an inves- 
tigation. The writer joined him in this inspection. We 
stood on a raised platform built on the stockade for the 
guard, and looked down upon the yard. Presently the 
men came shuffling out of the building, with that listless 
air which showed how indifferent they were to their fate, — 
couples chained together, men half naked and alone, 
clad in every variety of garments, Federal uniforms and 
Confederate, the blue and the yellowish-gray, all in rags; 
some with a meal-sack over their shoulders, some with 
a gunny -bag for a jacket, others with their cotton drawers, 
and with feet tied up in bagging to serve as shoes and 
stockings; without hats, with uncombed hair, ragged, all 
alive with vermin. Here were hardened criminals, — the 
outlaws of society, — reckless and defiant, many of them 


under sentence of death, yet unconcerned about their 
fate, and careless whether the execution were ordered for 
to-morrow or were indefinitely postponed. There were 
sixty or seventy others who knew that after trial their 
crimes would be expiated on the scaffold or that they 
would be shot, who yet accepted their lot with a profane 
bravado which made one shudder. 

The line was formed, and our distribution of clothing 
began. One by one they came forward. To the first, 
"Unbutton that blouse and let us see what you require." 
It was stripped open, and the man was naked to the waist, 
"A woollen shirt for you." The next man, with gunny- 
cloth tied over his feet, sore and bleeding with the cold, 
"A pair of shoes and stockings." The next, compara- 
tively comfortable, "Only a towel." The next one, with 
only a thin pair of drawers, "Warm drawers and a pair 
of trousers." And so, one by one, the men pressed for- 
ward, some with meal-sacks for a blanket, others without 
even this covering, breaking the line in their eagerness 
to receive something to keep them warm, — a shivering, 
suffering crowd, pinched by the frosty morning air. They 
moved about the yard to keep up a brisk circulation, — 
men of all ages, from the gray -haired to the youngest lads, 
and some so broken in spirit that they had resigned them- 
selves to whatever fate might be in store for them. There 
was one lad not over sixteen years old in this pen, a bright 
little fellow, quick in his movements, the only cheerful 
one in all that crowd of men. As I asked the officer in 
charge why a boy was placed with such desperadoes, the 
lad looked up and said with perfect nonchalance, "I 
relieved my captain of some of his greenbacks ; he had too 
many, and I had none; he didn't know how to use them, 


and I thought I would spend them for him." The boy 
was demoralized; but, when I remonstrated with the 
officer against confining such a lad with such associates, 
he said, what I had already been convinced was true, that 
he was as bad as any of the men, and could not be worse. 
I replied that he might be made better, and ought to be 
removed. He pointed to headquarters, and told me to 
go there, if there was wrong to be redressed. 

After the distribution of the clothing, we went through 
the barracks. They were about fifty feet in width by 
one hundred and fifty feet long, and through the entire 
length, on each side, were bunks in tiers, which held three 
or four men each. In the middle of the building there 
was another similar construction, and every bunk was 
occupied. It was a dark, noisome place. The only re- 
deeming feature of the prison was the food and the ar- 
rangement for cooking and serving it. Here everything 
was clean and in order, with an abundant supply. A 
report of the general conditions found in this Bull Ring 
was made to General Grant, and within a short time they 
were greatly improved, and all cause of complaint on 
the ground of inhumanity was removed. 

And so the winter of 1864-65 passed with all these 
varied experiences, while Grant was gradually extending 
his lines and preparing for his great coup-de-main in front 
of Petersburg and Richmond in the coming spring. 


The Last Campaign. Petersburg to Appomattox 
Court House. 

The long winter of 1864-65 had passed, the buds 
and leaves of another springtime were opening, and we 
were entering upon the last campaign of the war. 

Before we go on to the conclusion of the story, we must 
briefly review the military situation, and note the co- 
lossal scale with which, on every side, General Grant was 
bearing down upon the Confederacy, now tottering to 
its fall. The vast combinations on the chess-board of 
the war had been going on for months under his direction, 
and were now culminating to the point of co-operation 
between the armies of the West and the East, with the 
single purpose of the destruction of the insurgent armies 
and the collapse of the Confederacy. Sherman's daring 
and splendid march to the sea had cut the Southern 
states in twain. He had captured Atlanta in the summer 
of 1864, and had made possible that great swinging 
movement through Georgia to the Atlantic coast, the 
pivot of which was the Army of the Potomac in front of 
Petersburg and Richmond. 

"Sherman had advanced from Atlanta, destroying 
Southern railroads, founderies, mills, workshops, and 
warehouses, moving over half a continent, and working- 
ruin to all material resources as he marched. He reached 
the coast before the end of December, crossed into South 



Carolina in February, 1865, and then moved slowly up 
through North Carolina to be ready to act in concert 
with Grant when the time was ripe to strike his enemy." 

During the winter months of 1864-65, when so little 
appeared to the outside world to be doing in Virginia, 
Grant's efforts, says Swinton, "were mainly directed to 
restraining the Confederates from voluntarily giving up 
to him Petersburg and Richmond, which were no longer 
his objective. Lee's communications were now his 
objective, those interior lines of supply of food and 
ammunition which ran through the Carolinas and the 
Seaboard States, and radiated over the great productive 
territory of the Central zone." 

Sherman was destroying those lines of communication, 
and was drawing his coils tighter over that entire region. 

"He had reached Goldsborough, North Carolina, late in 
March, 1865, with a clear course to Petersburg, a hundred 
and fifty miles away, but remained there refitting his 
forces, as General Grant feared that, if he should move 
any farther on his way, Lee would abandon Petersburg 
and Richmond, and this he did not desire until he was 
ready for a pursuit that would end in the destruction of 
his adversary." * 

Sheridan, with his ten thousand cavalry, started up 
the Shenandoah Valley early in March, as a part of the 
great forward movement, broke up and shattered Early's 
forces, completed the destruction of the James River 
Canal, destroyed the railroad toward Richmond and 
Lynchburg, and then, going entirely round General Lee's 
army, breaking up en route all the railroad tracks and 
bridges, he joined Grant again in front of Petersburg. 

* Swinton's Army of the Potomac. 


With these great combinations culminating to a point, 
and with forces adequate to his need, it seemed that the 
campaign now to be opened could have but one result. 
Swinton says that "it was not alone the overwhelming 
weight of physical power that threatened the insurgent 
armies, or that the Union forces had torn asunder the 
fabric of the Confederacy; but secret causes of disturbance 
in the moral order in the South had corrupted the life- 
blood of the revolt. The people had separated themselves 
from their leaders, and their cause was ready to fall to 
the ground. There were men enough in the South to 
continue the war, but those men were beyond the reach 
of the authorities at Richmond. The conscription had 
broken down, and the collapse of the commissariat was 
equally complete." * The desertions from the army were 
constant and large, and at the opening of the campaign, 
although Lee had on paper a hundred and sixty thousand 
men, he had in reality less than fifty thousand to defend 
forty miles of intrenchments. "It only remains to show 
how, in the last wrestle, these men comported themselves, 
when they at last broke down under a burden too heavy 
to bear, and the revolt which they had for four years 
upheld with their bayonets fell with a crash that re- 
sounded through the world." f 

Lee's only hope was to unite with Johnston on the 
Danville line, and this was what Grant determined to 
prevent. We do not need to follow the campaign in 
much detail, although there are incidents in it that are 
of great interest. It really began with an offensive move- 
ment by General Lee on the twenty-fifth of March, 1865, 
in front of Petersburg, in the hope of diverting Grant's 

* Swinton's Army of the Potomac. t Ibid. 


attention from his proposed lines of pursuit, and to open 
for himself a line of retreat on the south side of the 
Appomattox, which was a much shorter line to Amelia 
Court House, his point of concentration on the Danville 
railroad. But, bold as this plan was, it failed. General 
Grant was not to be diverted by such an attack. It cost 
the Confederates two thousand prisoners and as many 
more in killed and wounded, and Lee could ill afford such 
a loss. "This offensive movement neither retarded nor 
precipitated the catastrophe, for Grant, having fixed the 
twenty-ninth of March for the opening of his campaign, 
held firmly to that plan." * 

Both armies were unleashed on the twenty-ninth and 
thirtieth of March, 1865, and the fighting began on the 
thirty-first. On the first of April Sheridan was engaged 
victoriously at Five Forks, and had a part of Lee's line 
completely entrapped; and on Sunday morning, the 
second of April, Jefferson Davis was notified of Lee's 
purpose to abandon Richmond, and the Confederate 
President fled. Heavy fighting was going on all along 
the line, General Lee using all his resources to foil and 
hold off his enemy. The Confederate army, as we have 
seen, had been greatly depleted during the winter by 
desertion, and its wonderful courage and morale was 
greatly impaired. Moreover, General Lee was fighting 
forces overwhelming in numbers. 

Abandoning Petersburg and Richmond, General Ewell, 
under orders from Breckenridge, Secretary of War, set 
fire to the cotton and tobacco warehouses and left the 
Confederate capital in flames, and it fell, after slight 
resistance, into the hands of the Union forces. 

* Swinton's Army of the Potomac. 


General Lee retreated by the north bank of the Appo- 
mattox instead of the south bank as he preferred, and 
Grant pursued on parallel lines to strike the Danville 
road by Burkesville Junction, to interpose his forces 
there. Lee was moving his army to Amelia Court House. 
Reaching there, he learned that the loaded cars containing 
the large supplies he had gathered for the subsistence of 
his army, and which he had ordered to meet him at that 
point, had been met by another order from Richmond, 
which was misinterpreted, and the entire stores had been 
sent to that city and burned in the conflagration. This 
was a deadly blow to General Lee. The chase for the 
hunted prey went on with all the vigor of a Grant and 
a Sheridan. One disposition was made after another, the 
entire army so far victorious in hot pursuit, pressing the 
rear, striking one flank and then another, cutting off 
trains, capturing artillery and prisoners. Swinton says 
that "the Confederates began their retreat with but one 
ration. They were living on the exhausted region through 
which they passed, and their foragers were so restricted 
by the clouds of Union cavalry that they could collect 
practically nothing. Those men were fortunate who had 
in their pockets a few handfuls of corn which they might 
parch by the wayside. The misery of the famished troops 
during these first days of April passes all experience of 
military anguish since Napoleon's retreat from the banks 
of the Beresina." 

The doom of the Confederacy was written in unmis- 
takable lines. But, in spite of this, General Lee, with 
courage and skill unabated, fought on, throwing his divi- 
sions upon every weak point of his adversary. It was 
all in vain, however, and he was forced back with con- 


stant losses in these attempts to save his army. Pressed 
upon all sides, in hunger and fatigue, the Confederate 
column reached Farmville, with the armies of Grant so 
massed in front and rear as to give immediate promise 
of a sure and final ending of the campaign. This was 
the seventh day of April, and on the evening of that day 
General Lee received a note from General Grant asking 
of him the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, 
and on the ninth of April, after a personal conference at 
a farm-house near Appomattox Court House, the generous 
terms of capitulation offered were accepted, and the great 
Civil War was at an end. 

During the first part of the campaign Mr. Fay re- 
mained at City Point. The wounded of both armies 
were scattered over sixty miles of territory, being left on 
the fields where they fell or moved to such shelter by 
the wayside as could be found for them. All along that 
bloody track of war every farm-house, barn, or wayside 
church, became a shelter for the wounded. The Medical 
Director of the army, Dr. Dalton, was ordered to estab- 
lish a hospital at Burkesville Junction, a railroad centre, 
and to gather in the wounded there preparatory to their 
transfer to City Point. Surgeons from the base hospitals 
were ordered forward with tents and supplies, and the 
writer was detailed by Mr. Fay to join them. The rail- 
road connection was broken at Wilson's Station, and a 
camp was made at that point until transportation to 
Burkesville could be had. A few hours after our arrival 
there a large body of Confederate prisoners appeared in 
the distance, creeping slowly forward in a long, sinuous 
line over the hills, filling the roads and going into bivouac 
in the fields adjoining our camp. This column proved 


to be the corps of General Ewell, eighty -five hundred 
officers and men, captured by General Sheridan, and now 
moving to tide water where they could be held or paroled, 
awaiting the farther issues of the campaign. They had 
marched twenty-five miles over the boggy roads and 
through persistent rains, and the sight of this heroic but 
impoverished column (it was Stonewall Jackson's old 
corps) was enough to move any heart to pity. Chilled 
and suffering from the cold winds of the season, drenched 
to the skin, they simply dropped into the soppy grass 
in the last stages of exhaustion. The writer went down 
into this bivouac and moved among them to see what 
might be done to relieve the hapless misery of their 
condition. Footsore and weary, those who wished to go 
into hospital came forward. There were hundreds of 
them on fire with fever or racked by malarial chills or 
rheumatic pains, emaciated by hunger and want, and 
far too many for any hospital accommodations there. 
The commissary of the prisoners was then furnishing 
ample rations, and the fires were blazing on every hum- 
mock of dry ground, and groups were huddled over them 
on these closely guarded fields. In a group apart were 
the general officers, and the writer was detailed to con- 
sult with them as to what might be done on the spot 
for those who could not go forward. But the numbers 
were far too great for our resources of alleviation, and it 
was decided that they must all be rested and fed, and 
then all go on together, let who might drop by the way. 
There was no alternative. There was General Ewell, the 
commander, and Kershaw and Custis Lee and Tucker 
and Admiral Semmes of Alabama fame, with Du Bois 
and other division and brigade commanders of this famous 


corps who had long followed their great leader and had 
won immortality with him. We sat together by the 
camp-fire, talking of the campaign and the crisis of the 
war, which, all admitted, was now at hand. General 
Ewell seemed prematurely old, with deep lines in his 
sunken cheeks, moving on crutches, a worn, sad-faced, 
broken man. He was no longer fighting Dick Ewell, 
with his dare-devil, picturesque profanity, his energy in 
battle, the chosen leader of Jackson's corps, who through 
a hundred battles had won the love and confidence of 
those who followed him. In the great catastrophe which 
had now befallen the Confederate forces he accepted 
the situation, and took the best, in fact the only view of 
the capture of his corps. He said the men would no 
longer fight, and the war was over. I told him of the 
Richmond conflagration, the fires of which he had him- 
self lighted as his forces were withdrawn from the city, 
and the result of which he had not heard. His eyes 
blazed with their old fire as I told him of the feeling in 
Richmond for those who had ordered that conflagration, 
and he replied with passion, "As commanding officer, I 
was compelled to execute that barbarous order, and my 
main regret now is that I did not throw the man who 
issued it, General Breckenridge, the Secretary of War, 
into the midst of the flames." Kershaw, a model soldier 
in look and bearing, said to me as we talked apart, "For 
two years I have seen the inevitable, and did my duty 
for the cause I espoused, but I am glad the end has 
come," and that was the general voice of all of them. 

One of the rank and file came forward, mistaking me for 
a surgeon, and holding out his hand, which was covered 
with a stained and ragged handkerchief, asked if his 


fingers could be amputated. He was encased in mud, 
having fallen on the march from exhaustion and been 
trampled upon. His trousers were in ribbons about his 
feet, his hat without a brim, his hair bleached and tangled, 
and his Confederate butternut uniform just holding 
together. He was a pitiable-looking object, but the 
moment I heard his gentle Southern speech I saw there 
was a good kernel inside the rough shell. His wound 
had not been dressed since his musket was shot from his 
hand some days before, nor had the steel splinters been 
removed, and it was in a shocking condition. The hand 
was quickly cleansed and dressed, the steel splinters cut 
away, and there was certainly hope that it could be saved. 
As we were about to part, he begged for a "hardtack." 
One of the guard at his camp-fire cheerfully took from his 
haversack his ration of uncooked pork, cut off a generous 
slice, and with two pieces of hard bread made him a 
sandwich. My rebel soldier fairly devoured it. He 
said he was about starved, as his only rations for nine 
days had been a pint of unground corn. He then gave 
his history. He said he was from Savannah, and about 
the last of the old battalion of his friends who joined in 
1861, and he had fought through the entire war. His 
father, who was well known in Washington as a Union 
man, had recently been appointed by President Lincoln 
collector of the port of Savannah, and he thought, if a 
letter could be sent to him, he could secure a parole. 
The letter was written, and it was a satisfaction a few 
weeks later to meet both the father and the son in Wash- 
ington, and to know that the parole had been quickly 
arranged. The war was over, and the young man, 
clothed and in his right mind, recalled joyfully that raw 


pork sandwich, which to him was a never-to-be-forgotten 

After this incident of the Confederate soldier was 
closed, the great column of prisoners moved forward to a 
point where they could be paroled as soon as the news of 
General Lee's surrender reached them. 

All these incidents happened at Wilson's Station on 
the way to Burkesville Junction, which was our destina- 
tion. Reaching Dr. Dalton's headquarters at that point, 
we found the almost impassable roads of the region 
congested with the ambulance and wagon trains. They 
were often stalled in bog holes, and were floundering 
through the mud, filled with the wounded who had fallen 
by the way over the sixty miles of battlefields and had 
been gathered in and brought to this point on the South- 
side railroad. Reaching there, these trains were turned 
into the open fields surrounding the station, and were 
unloaded upon the sodden ground and by the roadsides 
everywhere, and, after every house, barn, shed, and 
freight building were filled, there were still thousands 
lying shelterless there. As soon as the railroad was 
opened, the supply of hospital beds was ample, but for 
many days the conditions were most deplorable. 

In two or three open sheds and in one railroad build- 
ing were six hundred men without even straw for bedding, 
and there were no blankets to protect them from the 
rain which soaked through these long wards of misery. 
Dr. Richardson, who was in charge, ordered milk punch 
for the amputated cases, and they were soon supplied. 
Several were dying; and my brandy flask was soon in 
use, restoring two or three sufficiently to get from them 
their names and to write some last message to their 


friends. In one row were five men lying on the hard 
floor, all with thigh amputations, and all were dying. 
In a small room partitioned off from the main shed 
were three hopeless cases, placed there that they might 
breathe their last in peace, apart from the noise and 
excitement of the overcrowded place. Men were sitting 
up, bathing their wounds when they could get water, or 
were helping each other, and up to that time nobody 
had entered the room since they had been placed there. 
As we entered one of these buildings, from one end to the 
other there were cries: "Doctor! O doctor! come and 
dress my wound." — "Mine, doctor, mine!" — "Don't 
pass me by!" each one making his own particular 
appeal. In another shed were two hundred Confederate 
wounded. One poor fellow with a thigh amputation 
lying in a building with some of our own men, in answer 
to the question whether he wished to be removed to the 
shed where his own companions were, said, "We are all of 
one family now; these are my brothers as much as yours; 
let me stay where I am," while I could see under his head 
a little Testament which he had been reading, having 
the new revelation of that wider fellowship which, I felt, 
he was so soon to realize in another world. 

As soon as the railroad connection was restored with 
City Point, the trains were taxed to their capacity in 
the transfer of the wounded, and in three or four weeks 
the emergencies of this last campaign of the war were over. 

While all this was going on and we were in the midst 
of these absorbing cares, the campaign was drawing to 
a close. Rumors of the surrender of General Lee had 
reached us, but the first visible evidence of the great vic- 
tory was the wonderful sight of the forty captured battle 


flags which came swinging into line in the advance of 
Sheridan's cavalry, in front of Dr. Dalton's headquarters. 
The great leader himself was mounted on the powerful 
horse that carried him to victory at Winchester. As he 
appeared, every cap was thrown into the air. Resound- 
ing cheers, a great roar of welcome, greeted him as he 
threw himself from his saddle and was surrounded by 
his troopers. The veterans stacked their captured ban- 
ners, which, torn and in rags, were the emblems of our 
victory. The headquarters tent which the writer shared 
with the Medical Director was Sheridan's headquarters 
also, and it was a never-to-be-forgotten moment for all 
of us, — the Confederate standards lowered and drooping, 
and never again to feel the breeze! 

Then later in the day came Grant himself, the uncon- 
querable, with his staff and the corps commanders of 
the army, Humphreys, Wright, Parke, and Ord, dis- 
mounting at our poor Burkesville station, where there 
was hardly standing room among the wounded lying 
there. They had ridden hard and far that day from Ap- 
pomattox Court House, thirty-five miles distant, encased 
in mud, but protected by their rubber garments from 
the persistent rains. Grant stood impassive and silent, 
taking little notice of the soldiers and others about him, 
who were regarding him with wondering interest, as they 
saw their great leader at the height of his achievements. 
The dignity and quietness of this remarkable group of 
men was in strange contrast to the tumultuous enthu- 
siasm and gratitude of the nation then finding expression 
both within and without the army. It was one of the 
epochs of history, and these men who were its heroes 
were absolutely without sign of personal triumph. They 


appeared to be simply a group of tired men, eager to 
get back, as if returning from an ordinary inspection of 
the army, yet the whole world was ringing with their 

The broken railroad connection with City Point having 
been restored, the horses of the officers were loaded on 
the train, and within an hour these great leaders were 
on their way back to the base of the army on the banks 
of the James. Robert Lincoln, the son of the President, 
then on Grant's staff, with whom we talked, in speaking 
of the campaign said: "This is the tenth day since we 
left City Point. It exactly fulfils General Grant's plans, 
for, on giving to the staff commissary the orders for the 
headquarters rations, he simply said, 'Ten days' rations. 
We shall be back here in ten days.'" It was a wonder- 
ful fulfilment of the prophecy of that great campaign. 

Then followed too quickly the overwhelming tragedy 
of the death of Lincoln, struck down all unconscious of 
his fate, in the moment of his triumph, by the bullet of 
the assassin, who stood lurking behind him. An un- 
known voice at my tent in the dead of night announced 
the assassination. Stumbling up from profound sleep, I 
groped my way to the station, where the news announcing 
the catastrophe was then passing over the wires to Gen- 
eral Meade's headquarters. If the nation was stunned, 
how must it have fared with the army which had faced 
death in a hundred battles, through four years of war, 
fighting on to the end for their country? Every man 
grasped his musket, ready for any duty. Should it be 
a war of extermination? That was the first great pas- 
sionate cry. But no, there were to be no reprisals. That 
was Lincoln's way. Flags drooped from half - staff, 


drums muffled, dirges in the air in the place of martial 
music, and the measured booming of the guns were all 
emblems of the common grief. Men spoke low and 
trod softly, for fears were in the way. The golden bowl 
was broken, and the good President lay dead, — a sacrifice 
for his country. 

It was through such experiences as these that Mr. Fay 
and those who were with him moved about their sad 
work over these desolate fields, through these long, win- 
dowless freight houses and the station platforms, dress- 
ing wounds, stimulating those whose strength was gone, 
and giving good cheer to men who had borne the burden 
of the battle and had shed their blood for their country. 
We could not do too much for those who had done so 
much for us, and so we worked on over this great track of 
war till every man was gathered in and all had been 
transferred to the wards in hospitals where every healing 
ministry was provided for them. 

The last weeks of Mr. Fay's hospital experience were 
spent at Petersburg in the quiet, comfortable tents and 
barracks of the Fair Grounds. Peace had come, and here 
were the remnants of those who were to need his care. 
In the gardens of the city, flowers were blooming in tropi- 
cal luxuriance, and the wards of the hospital were fra- 
grant with them. The quiet of these days was like an 
oasis in the desert of suffering through which he had 
passed, and there are many cases of interest of which we 
have the notes. With one of these stories the record will 

A boy of seventeen, a conscript in the Confederate 
army, was dying. He was the only son of a poor min- 
ister in one of the small settlements on the Southside 


railroad, not far from Petersburg, and was seized during 
one of the last months of the war, while working on his 
father's farm, hurried to Richmond, and placed in the 
ranks of the army. He had grown up on the farm, an 
average country lad, doing his work, knowing nothing 
of the world or its base ways. His home was the parson- 
age of a poor parish with its narrow outlook and its stern 
theology. He had been brought up to feel that there was 
no hope for any human soul save through conversion 
and the blood of Christ; and here he was now, under- 
standing nothing of these things, on this poor hospital 
bed, facing the end. The shell had grazed the spinal 
column, and had paralyzed the lower part of his body. 
Lockjaw had set in, and we saw that he was doomed. 
He opened his eyes, and said: " I am afraid to die. I have 
put off my repentance till it is too late, and I know God 
will not receive me." This was his one thought, his one 
agony. What could he do, how be converted? How was 
he to get the blood of Christ? What did it all mean, and 
why was he thus doomed? The long hours of the day 
were given up to him. All the resources of encourage- 
ment and consolation which these friends could offer him 
from Scripture or from their own hearts were freely given. 
God was not an angry God, but his Father. He was not 
doomed. Every promise and every hope gave assurance 
that this was so. After a long time spent in an effort to 
quiet his mind and to brighten his last hours, spiritual 
things became more real, the meaning of life and the life 
beyond became more clear, and, when these realities 
took possession of him, he became peaceful and trustful 
to the end. A letter was sent to his father, and it was a 
sad sight to see this poor, bent, gray-haired man sitting 


by the hour by the bedside of his boy. We left them to- 
gether, the son so happy now, the father so thankful 
that even this boon had been vouchsafed him, and both 
knit together in this last communion and companionship 
of their lives. So the night passed, and in the morning 
he bore the body of his son back to his stricken and child- 
less home. 

And so the story of Mr. Fay's army life is brought to 
a close. With the return of peace came the home wel- 
come to the sick and wounded men. Ward after ward was 
vacated, hospital after hospital was given up, until the 
dismantled barracks were all that were left of the scene 
of these exhausting labors; and even these visible rem- 
nants of the war soon passed from sight. But the mem- 
ories of these years lived on and yielded their rich rewards. 
Mr. Fay had learned in the army the joy of service, the 
greatest lesson of all, and this was his best possession. 
His whole nature was enriched. The more he gave, the 
more he had to give: he had won by service that which 
the world cannot give and cannot take away, — the gentle 
heart, the quiet mind, and a soul at one with the Eternal. 

"There is a jewel that no Indian mine 
Can buy, no chemic art can counterfeit. 
It makes men rich in greatest poverty; 
Makes water wine, turns wooden cups to gold, 
The homely whistle to sweet music's strain, — 
This much-in-little, all-in-naught, content." 


Almost simultaneously with the preparation of these 
war papers there arose the interesting question of the 
connection of the Red Cross of international fame with 
the United States Sanitary Commission, and a brief 
chapter will be devoted to a statement of that connection. 

The first suggestion of it was made by Mr. Anson M. 
Sperry, who succeeded Mr. Fay when he retired from the 
Auxiliary Relief Corps, and, the facts being presented 
to the Red Cross office in Washington, Major-General 
George W. Davis, chairman of the Central Committee, 
in two valuable monographs* has traced the origin and 
development of both these organizations, and has shown 
in graphic narration the connection between them. 

He has established historically the priority of the great 
American prototype of the Red Cross, and has made it 
clear that the evidence of the achievements of the United 
States Sanitary Commission and the adjustment of its 
operations on a colossal scale to the exigencies of war 
that were presented to the Congress of Geneva in 1864 
made that congress a success, and that without that 
evidence it would have probably been a failure, and all 
the efforts of M. Henri Dunant to establish the Red Cross 
might have been unavailing. 

This connection having been established, it is proper 

* In the American Red Cross Bulletin for April, 1910, and in the 
American Journal of International Law and Supplement of July, 1910. 



to recall from the preceding narrative (see pages 93-96) 
Mr. Fay's relation to it. 

The Auxiliary Relief Corps which he organized in 1863- 
1864 and led into Grant's campaign in Virginia in the 
spring of 1864 was the consummation of his own inde- 
pendent work in the army and of his personal ministry to 
the wounded during the first three years of the war. As 
these years went on, with closer observation of the need 
of adequate organization for such a service, with deepened 
sympathy for individual suffering, with the consciousness 
of the inadequacy of his own personal means to so great 
an end and of individual helplessness in the presence of 
the tragedies of the battlefield, there was no alternative 
for him but to see that organization was provided to meet 
them. He turned to the Sanitary Commission. It re- 
sponded with large resources, with an extraordinary 
grant of power to him in perfecting the organization, and 
sent him into the Wilderness campaign with a body of 
highly trained men equal to the emergency. 

It was on these battlefields in Virginia in 1864-65 that 
organized personal ministry was brought to bear for the first 
time in war in the alleviations of the sufferings of tens of 
thousands of wounded and dying men. And it was then 
demonstrated for the first time that this provision could 
be adequately made and the service adequately performed 
outside the resources of government and entirely by volunteers. 

This latter was the theoretical contention of M. Dunant 
at Geneva, as against the doubting judgment of his 
associates, at the moment it was being proved on a colossal 
scale in Virginia, and the credit of the demonstration is 
due to the United States Sanitary Commission, under the 
powerful personal force of Frank B. Fay. 


The American delegates at the Geneva Congress had to 
combat the adverse opinion of the other plenipotentiaries 
that such a service was possible, and this was done suc- 
cessfully when the proof in their possession was presented. 
They laid before the congress "the latest reports and most 
valuable publications, medical, statistical, and others, 
with photographs of the principal depots and stations of 
the Sanitary Commission, with hospital plans, photographs 
from life of the field relief corps with its men, wagons, 
horses, tents, and their arrangements in action. These 
life pictures, books, and practical proofs produced an effect 
as great as it was valuable. To many of these earnest 
men seeking for light, with their whole hearts, in the 
interest of a long-suffering humanity, it was like the sight 
of the promised land. They had been working in the 
dark, and this was the opening of a window, letting in a 
flood of light, and putting an end to all the doubt that had 
arisen in their minds," and from this moment the Geneva 
Congress which established the Red Cross was a success. 

This covers the ground of the priority of the United 
States Sanitary Commission in the work of battlefield 
relief. But there is also an interesting connection between 
the silver Greek cross of that organization and the 
Red Cross insignia, which should be stated, as it also is 
a matter of history. 

There was in use by the Auxiliary Relief Corps of the 
Sanitary Commission in the Army of the Potomac a 
badge, consisting of a small silver Greek cross, surrounded 
by an oval band of silver, with the words "U. S. Sanitary 
Commission" deeply and legibly engraved upon it, which 
was attached to the coat or cap of its members when in 
service. This badge carried its bearers everywhere in 



the army, when on duty. It came into general use, and 
was as distinguishing a mark of their position in the army 
as were the army corps badges worn on the cap of the 
soldier. It was worn by the writer through Grant's 
campaigns of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court House, 
Cold Harbor, and Petersburg, and up to the surrender of 
General Lee at Appomattox Court House in 1865; and it 
is an interesting fact that while the International Congress 
was in session in Geneva in 1864, legislating for the neu- 
trality of hospitals and ambulances in future wars, these 
white cross badges were in actual use in the great conflicts 
in Virginia, while their bearers were relieving the horrors 
of war in their ministry of comfort and healing on the 
field of battle. The Sanitary Commission blazed the way 
for the Red Cross, and made its later triumphs possible. 

When Mr. Fay retired from the Sanitary Commission at 
the close of 1864, and its affairs were turned over to Mr. 
Anson M. Sperry, the Auxiliary 
/0? '■•Ca -SrffSK Relief Corps presented Mr. Fay 

with a silver Greek cross, perfectly 
designed and richly mounted and 
inscribed, in token of the loyal 
affection of its members and in 
memory of their united service 
for the soldier on many fields of 
battle. On another page will be 
found a full-sized reproduction of 
this cross, which is now in the 
possession of the American National Red Cross in Wash- 
ington, having been presented to that association by Mr. 
Harry F. Fay of Boston, son of Mr. Frank B. Fay, as the 
proper custodian of this valuable insignia of a kindred ser- 


vice. The banners of the United States Sanitary Com- 
mission have long since been furled, and its achievements 
of nearly half a century ago are well-nigh forgotten. The 
years 1861-65 are about as far away from the youth of 
1910 as the battle of Waterloo was distant from the men 
of that time. The memories of martial valor, the sacrifice 
and devotion of those years when the life of the nation 
trembled in the balance, are now receding like muffled 
drum-beats into a dim and distant past, and will soon pass 
away. But the literature will survive, and in that lit- 
erature the stories of the United States Sanitary Com- 
mission and its achievements will have many pages of 
surpassing interest, which will live as long as this nation 
shall endure. 

"Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, 
it abideth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much 
fruit." The spirit that moved the men of the Sanitary 
Commission is still alive and will continue to live. The 
basis of it was Love, and Love is eternal and never dies. 
Its inheritor in this majestic service is the Red Cross of 
the twentieth century, and in its enlarged domain it 
will continue to work its miracles. It does not wait for 
war to move it to great achievements. It listens to every 
cry of suffering everywhere. In war, in earthquake, 
in famine, in plague, in fire and flood, in all calamities 
that afflict, mankind, it is present in service in the spirit 
of the Divine Master, whose immortal words should be 
inscribed on all its banners: "Inasmuch as ye have 
done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye 
have done it unto me." 

W 56 

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