Since then the Merrimack has not shown herself; and the enemy confess her disabled, and her commander, Buchanan,— ominous name,— severely wounded, four of her crew killed, and seventeen wounded.
The regiment occupied Norfolk and Portsmouth and Suffolk for a time; then joined the Peninsular army, and had war and suffering in earnest, being attached to Hooker's division.
Chaplain Fuller had just obtained a furlough, but refused to avail himself of it. Their first serious skirmish was on June 19, near the scene of the battle of Fair Oaks.
When the regiment was ordered out, the Chaplain was lying in his tent, suffering with a severe sick-headache.
Hearing one of the soldiers say, in passing near the tent, that he wished he had a sick-headache, the Chaplain at once rose, went to the field, and happening to get under a dangerous cross-fire, behaved with such coolness as to increase very greatly his influence among the men. Indeed, all through that campaign he seems to have shared h
incent was in command of his regiment during the ten days, but was not actively engaged, losing in all but three or four men. After its defeat, the army returned to its old camp.
The commander of the brigade was at this time mustered out of service, and the command fell to Vincent,— a change acceptable to officers and men. In another month the army commenced that long and weary march that was to end with the battle of Gettysburg.
On this march Vincent rendered signal service.
By the 19th of June the Fifth Corps had reached Aldie.
But little was known of the movements of the Rebels, and it was important to learn whether their main army was still behind the Blue Ridge.
To ascertain this, General Pleasanton, commanding the cavalry corps, was directed to engage their cavalry, known to be between Aldie and Ashby's Gap.
This general requested that infantry might be sent to assist him, and General Meade, then commanding the Fifth Corps, gave him his First Division.
The troop marched
al Crittenden much.
May 18.—We made a fruitless attack on the enemy's works.
Shelling is trying to the nerves, but seldom very dangerous.
It's these venomous little bullets that we are afraid of.
June 3.—It is about six o'clock of a beautiful evening, and the day's fighting is over.
The siege of Richmond has begun, they say.
June 11.—We have plenty to eat, drink, and smoke, for the first time during the campaign.
I don't think we shall finish this campaign for some time yet.
June 19.—I wrote you a line yesterday just to say that I was safe, after the toughest time yet. These night marches are very pleasant when there is a moon, except for sleepiness; but when they are continued through the next day, they are frightfully exhausting.
On June 17th he says:—
Just before sunset the charge was ordered, and, in the midst of a frightful flanking fire of grape and canister from the battery on our left, in addition to the severe musketry fire in front, was made.
ch was surrendered to me Sunday morning, which I shall send home when I get a chance.
Our corps has done splendidly, and has driven the Rebels every time we have met them.
Since we have been fighting our regiment has taken over two hundred prisoners.
On the night of the day after this letter was written the regiment was ordered to recross the river, and returned to Stafford Court-House, where it had been before encamped.
Next came the expedition to Beverly Ford.
Of this he wrote on June 19th, from Leesburg, Va.:—
It is some time since I have had an opportunity of writing to you, for we have been on the march for two weeks. A week ago last Saturday we were detached with one other regiment of our corps, to go over the river with the cavalry.
In the first twenty-four hours we marched thirty-two miles. Tuesday morning we crossed the Rappahannock at Beverly Ford, where all the Rebel cavalry were massed.
We did not have much difficulty in crossing, but we did not get far bef
r soldiers, they would prove themselves worthy of the trust.
While acting as clerk in the Quartermaster's Department at Newbern, he was continually brought in contact with colored men and their families, most of whom had been slaves before the occupation of the place by Union troops; and in letters to various friends, as well as in private conversation, he had repeatedly expressed faith in their military capacities.
He was commissioned on the 7th of June, 1863, First Lieutenant, and on June 19th Captain, of Company H, Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Volunteers, and at once entered enthusiastically upon the work of preparing his men for the field.
He occupied every hour of his time in regular and extra drills, and, for six weeks previous to their departure for Newbern, labored incessantly to bring them into a soldierly condition.
In this endeavor he met with perfect success, and the appearance of his company was most creditable alike to him and to the men. The record of events subjo
utenant [Lieutenant Fletcher] was wounded at the same time I was,—shot through the head.
The doctor said he could not live; but when I last saw him, day before yesterday, he was looking much better, and I am confident he will, with good care, recover.
At all events his old love of fun has not left him, for he made my sides ache with laughing.
Glorious news from Vicksburg, is n't it?
Much love to all. Send your letter as this letter is headed.
Have n't heard from any one since the 19th of June.
Ever your affectionate son, Ed.
His wounds, though severe, were not considered dangerous at first, and were not so reported by the surgeons.
But towards the end of July his case became very critical, and his friends, learning of his failing strength, hastened to be with him. At this time it was thought that to save his life amputation of the right leg must be made.
Amputation accordingly took place, but he survived the operation but a few hours, dying the next morning, August