how the soldiers were sheltered.
“The heath this night must be my bed, To-morrow eve, more stilly laid,
The bracken curtain for my head,
My lullaby the warder's tread,
Far, far from love and thee, Mary.
My couch may be my bloody plaid,
My vesper song, thy wail, sweet maid.
It will not waken me, Mary.
lady of the Lake.
After enlistment, what?
This deed done, the responsibility of the citizen for himself ceased in a measure, and Uncle Sam took him in charge.
A word here to make clear to the ninformed the distinction between the militia and the volunteers.
The militia are the soldiers of the State
, and their duties lie wholly within its limits, unless called out by the President
of the United States
in an emergency.
Such an emergency occurred when President Lincoln
made his call for 75,000 militia, already alluded to. The volunteers, on the other hand, enlist directly into the service of the United States
, and it becomes the duty of the national government to provide for them from the very date of their enlistment.
Before leaving the State
these volunteers were mustered into service
. This often occurred soon after their enlistment, before they had been provided with the garb of Union soldiers.
The oath of muster, which they took with uplifted hand ran as follows:--
I, A-- B--, do solemnly swear that I will bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies and opposers whatsoever, and observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me according to the rules and articles for the government of the armies of the United States.
Mustering in recruits.|
The provision made for the shelter of these troops before they took the field was varied.
Some of them were quartered at Forts Warren
while making ready to depart.
But the most of the Massachusetts volunteers were quartered at camps established in different parts of the State
Among the earliest of these were Camp Andrew, in West Roxbury
, and Camp Cameron, in North Cambridge.
Afterwards camps were laid out at Lynnfield
, Readville, Worcester
, Long Island
, and a few other places.
The “Three-months militia” required
no provision for their shelter, as they were ordered away soon after reporting for duty.
Faneuil Hall furnished quarters for a part of them one night.
The First Massachusetts Regiment of Infantry quartered for a week in Faneuil Hall; but, this not being a suitable place for so large a body of men to remain, “on the first day of June the regiment marched out to Cambridge
, and took possession of an old ice-house on the borders of Fresh Pond
, which had been procured by the State
authorities and partially fitted up for barracks, and
Readville (Mass.) Barracks.: from a Photograph.|
established their first camp.”
But this was not the first camp established in the State
, for three years troops had already been ordered into camp on Long Island
and at Fort Warren
Owing to the unhealthiness of the location selected for the First Regiment, their stay in it was brief, and a removal was soon had to North Cambridge, where, on a well-chosen site, some new barracks had been built, and, in honor of President Lincoln
's Secretary of War
, had been named “Camp Cameron.”
Barracks then, it will be observed, served to shelter some of the troops.
To such as are not familiar with these structures, I will simply say that they were generally a long onestoried
building not unlike a bowling-alley in proportions, having the entrance at one end, a broad aisle running through the centre, and a double row of bunks, one above the other, on either side.
They were calculated to hold one company of a hundred men. Some of these buildings are still to be seen at Readville, Mass., near the old campgrounds.
But while barracks were desirable quarters in
the cooler weather of this latitude, and sheltered many regiments during their stay in the State
, a still larger number found shelter in tents prior to their departure for the field.
These tents were of various patterns, but the principal varieties used were the Sibley
, the A
or Wedge Tent
, and the Hospital
or Wall Tent
tent was invented by Henry Sibley
, in 1857.
He was a graduate of the United States military academy at West Point
, and accompanied Capt. John C. Fremont
one of his exploring expeditions.
He evidently got his idea from the Tepee
wigwam, of poles covered with skins, and having a fire in the centre,--which he saw on the plains.
When the Rebellion
broke out, Sibley
cast in his fortune with the South
He afterwards attained the rank of brigadier-general, but performed no services so likely to hand down his name as the invention of this tent.
It has recently been stated that Sibley
was not the actual inventor, the credit being assigned to some private soldier in his command.
On account of its resemblance to a huge bell, it has sometimes been called a Bell Tent
. It is eighteen feet in diameter and twelve feet high, and is supported by a single pole, which rests on an iron tripod.
This pole is the exact radius of the circle covered by the tent.
By means of the tripod the tent can be tightened or slackened at pleasure.
At the top is a circular opening, perhaps a foot in diameter, which serves the double purpose of ventilation and of passing a stove-pipe through in cool weather.
This stove-pipe connected with a cone-shaped stove suited to this shape of tent, which stood beneath the tripod.
A small piece of canvas, called a cap
, to which were attached two long guys, covered the opening at the top in stormy weather.
It was not an unusual sight in the service to see the top of one of these tents in a blaze caused by some one having drawn the cap too near an over-heated stove-pipe.
A chain depended from the fork of the tripod, with a hook, on which a kettle could be hung; when the stove was wanting the fire was built on the ground.
These tents are comfortably capacious for a dozen men. In cold or rainy weather, when every opening is closed, they are most unwholesome tenements, and to enter one of them of a rainy morn ing from the outer air, and encounter the night's accumulation of nauseating exhalations from the bodies of twelve men (differing widely in their habits of personal cleanliness) was an experience which no old soldier has ever been known to recall with any great enthusiasm.
Of course the air was of the vilest sort, and it is surprising to see how men endured it as they did. In the daytime these tents were ventilated by lifting them up at the bottom.
tents went out of field service in 1862, partly because they were too expensive, but principally on account of being so cumbrous.
They increased the amount of impedimenta too largely, for they required many wagons for their transportation, and so were afterwards used only in camps of instruction.
I believe they are still used to some extent by the militia of the various States.
A, or Wedge tents|
remember having seen these tents raised on a stockade four feet high by some regiments during the war, and thus arranged they made very spacious and comfortable winter quarters.
When thus raised the accommodated twenty men. The camp for convalescents near Alexandria, Va.
, comprised this variety of tent stockaded.
The A or Wedge tents are yet quite common.
The origin, it is of this tent is not known, so far as I can learn.
It seems to be about as old as history itself.
A German historian, who wrote in 1751, represents the Amalekites as using them.
Nothing simpler for a shelter could suggest itself to campers than some sort of awning stretched over a horizontal pole or bar. The setting — up of branches on an incline against a low horizontal branch of a tree to form a rude shelter may have been its earliest suggestion.
But, whatever its origin, it is now
a canvas tent stretched over a horizontal bar, perhaps
six feet long, which is supported on two upright posts of about the same length.
It covers, when pitched, an area nearly seven feet square.
The name of these tents is undoubtedly derived from the fact of the ends having the proportions of the Roman
letter A, and because of their resemblance to a wedge.
Four men was the number usually assigned to one of them; but they were all often occupied by five, and some times six.
When so occupied at night, in it was rather necessary to comfort that all should turn over at the same time, for six or even five men
were a tight fit in the space enclosed, unless “spooned” together.
These tents when stockaded.
were quite spacious and comfortable.
A word or two just here with regard to stockading.
A stockade proper is an enclosure made with posts set close together.
In stockading a tent the posts were split in halves, and the cleft sides all turned inward so as to make a clean and comely inside to the hut. But by far the most common way of logging up a tent was to build the walls “cob-fashion,” notching them together at the corners.
This method took much less time and material than the other.
But whenever I use the word stockade or stockading in any descriptions I include either method.
I shall speak further of stockading by and by.
The A tents were in quite general use by the State
and also by the general government the first two years of the war, but, like the Sibley, they required too much wagon transportation to take along for use in the field, and so they also were turned over to camps of instruction and to troops permanently located in or near important military centres or stations.
or Wall tent is distinguished from those already described by having four upright sides or walls.
The hospital or wall tent,|
this fact it probably owes the latter name, and it doubtless gets the former from being used for hospital purposes in the field.
These tents, also, are not of modern origin.
They were certainly used by Napoleon
, and probably long before his day. On account of their walls they are much more comfortable and convenient to occupy than the two preceding, as one can stand erect or move about in them with tolerable freedom.
They are made of different sizes.
Those used as field hospitals were quite large, accommodating from six to twenty patients, according to circumstances.
It was a common occurrence to see two or more of these joined, being connected by ripping the central seam in the two ends that came in contact.
By looping back the flaps thus liberated,
the tents were thrown together, and quite a commodious hospital was in that way opened with a central corridor running its entire length between a double row of cots.
Tile smaller size of wall tent was in general use as the tent of commissioned officers, and so far as I now recall, was used by no one else.
While the Army of the Potomac was at Harrison's Landing
, under McClellan
, he issued a General Order
(Aug. 10, 1862) prescribing among other things wall tents for general field and staff officers, and a single shelter tent for each line officer; and the same order was reissued by his successors.
But in some way many
Officer's wall tent with fly.|
of these line officers managed to smuggle a wall tent into the wagon train, so that when a settled camp was entered upon they were provided with those luxurious shelters instead of the shelter tent.
Over the top an extra piece of canvas, called a fly, was stretched as additional protection against sun and rain.
These tents are generally familiar.
now provides her militia with them, I believe, without distinction of rank.
The tents thus far described I have referred to as used largely by the troops before they left the State
But there was another tent, the most interesting of all, which was used exclusively in the field, and that was Tente d'abri
--the Dog or Shelter Tent
Just why it is called the shelter tent I cannot say, unless on the principle stated by the Rev. George Ellis
for calling the pond on Boston Common a Frog Pond
: because there are no frogs there.
So there is little shelter in this variety
But about that later.
I can imagine no other reason for calling it a dog tent than this, that when one is pitched it would only comfortably accommodate a dog, and a small one at that.
This tent was invented late in 1861 or early in 1862.
I am told it was made of light duck at first, then of rubber, and afterwards of duck again, but Inever saw one made of anything heavier than cotton drilling.
This was the
tent of the rank and file.
It did not come into general use till after the Peninsular Campaign
Each man was provided with a half-shelter
, as a single piece was called, which he was expected to carry on the march if he wanted a tent
The dog or shelter tent.|
to sleep under.
I will describe these more fully.
One I recently measured is five feet two inches long by four feet eight inches wide, and is provided with a single row of buttons and button-holes on three sides, and a pair of holes for stake loops at each corner.
A single halfshelter, it can be seen, would make a very contracted and uncomfortable abode for a man ; but every soldier was expected to join his resources for shelter with some other fellow.
It was only rarely that a soldier was met with who was so crooked a stick that no one would chum with him, or that he cared for no chum, although I have seen a few such cases in my experience.
But the rule in the army was similar to that in civil life.
Every man had his chum or friend, with whom he associated when off duty, and these tented together.
By mutual agreement one was the “old woman,” the other the “old man” of the concern.
A Marblehead man called his chum his “chicken,” more especially if the latter was a young
By means of the buttons and button-holes two or more of these half-shelters could be buttoned together, making a very complete roofing.
There are hundreds of men that came from different sections of the same State, or from different States, who joined their resources in this manner, and to-day through this accidental association they are the warmest of personal friends, and will continue so while they live.
It was not usual to pitch these tents every night when the army was on the march.
The soldiers did not waste their time and strength much in that way. If the night was clear and pleasant, they lay down without roof-shelter of any kind; but if it was stormy or a storm was threatening when the order came to go into camp for the night, the shelters were then quite generally pitched.
This operation was performed by
Shelters as sometimes pitched in summer.|
the infantry in the following simple way: two muskets with bayonets fixed were stuck erect into the ground the width of a half shelter apart.
A guy rope which went with every half-shelter was stretched between the trigger-guards of the muskets, and over this as a ridge-pole the tent was pitched in a twinkling.
Artillery men pitched theirs over a horizontal bar supported by two uprights.
This framework was split out of fencerails, if fence-rails were to be had conveniently; otherwise, saplings were cult for the purpose.
It often happened that men would throw away their shelters during the day, and take their chances with the weather, or of finding cover in some barn, or under the brow of some overhanging rock, rather than be burdened with them.
In summer, when the army was not in proximity to the enemy, or was lying
off recuperating, as the Army of the Potomac did a few weeks after the Gettysburg campaign
, they would pitch their shelters high enough to get a free circulation of air beneath, and to enable them to build bunks or cots a foot or two above the ground.
I the camp was not in the woods, it was common to build a bower of branches over the tents, to ward off the sun.
When cold weathther came on, the soldiers built the stockades to which I have already referred.
The walls of these structures were raised from two to five feet, according to the taste or working inclination of the intended occupants.
Oftentimes an excavation was made one or two feet deep.
When such was the case, the walls were not built so high.
Such a hut was warmer than one built entirely above ground.
The size depended upon the number of the proposed mess.
If the hut was to be occupied by two, it was built nearly square, and covered by two half-shelters.
Such a stockade would and often did
accommodate three men, the third using his half-shelter to stop up one gable.
When four men occupied a stockade, it was built accordingly, and covered by four half-shelters.
In each case these were stretched over a framework of light rafters raised on the walls of the stockade.
Sometimes the gables were built up to the ridge-poles with smaller logs, but just as often they were filled by an extra halfshelter, a rubber blanket, or an old poncho
. An army poncho, I may here say, is specified as made of unbleached muslin coated with vulcanized India-rubber, sixty inches
wide and seventy-one inches long, having an opening in the centre lengthwise of the poncho, through which the head passes, with a lap three inches wide and sixteen inches long.
This garment is derived from the woollen
poncho worn by the Spanish-Americans
, but is of different proportions, these being four feet by seven.
The army poncho was used in lieu of the gum blanket.
The chinks between the logs were filled with mud, worked to a viscous consistency, which adhered more or less tenaciously according to the amount of clay in the mixture.
It usually needed renewing after a severe storm.
The chimney was built outside, after the southern fashion.
It stood sometimes at the end and sometimes in the middle of one side of the stockade.
It started from a fire-place which was fashioned with more or less skill, according to the taste or mechanical genius of the workman, or the tools and materials used, or both.
In my own company there
A poncho on.|
were two masons who had opportunities, whenever a winter camp was pitched, to practise their trade far more than they were inclined to do. The fire-places were built of brick, of stone, or of wood.
If there was a deserted house in the neighborhood of the camp which boasted brick chimneys, they were sure to be brought low to serve the Union
cause in the manner indicated, unless the house was used by some general officer as headquarters.
When built of wood, the chimneys were lined with a very thick coating of mud. They were generally continued above the fireplace with split wood built cob-fashion, which was filled between and lined with the red clayey soil of Virginia
, but stones were used when abundant.
Very frequently pork and beef barrels were secured to serve this purpose, being put one above another, and now and then a lively hurrah would run through the camp when one of these was discovered on fire.
It is hardly necessary to remark that not all these chimneys were monuments of success.
Too often the draught was down instead of up, and the inside of some stockades resembled smokehouses.
Still, it was “all in the three years,” as the boys used to say. It was all the same to the average soldier, who rarely saw fit to tear down and build anew more
The smoke of his camp-fires in warm weather was an excellent preparative for the smoking fireplace of winter-quarters.
Many of these huts were deemed incomplete until a sign appeared over the door.
Here and there some one would make an attempt at having a door-plate of wood suitably inscribed; but the more common sight was a sign over the entrance bearing such inscriptions, rudely cut or marked with charcoal, as: “Parker House,” “Hole in the wall,” “Mose Pearson
's,” “Astor House,” “Willard
's hotel,” “Five points
,” and other titles equally absurd, expressing in this ridiculous way the vagaries of the inmates.
The last kind of shelter I shall mention as used in the field, but not the least in importance, was the Bomb-proofs used by both Union and Rebel armies in the war. Probably there were more of these erected in the vicinity of Petersburg
than in all the rest of the South
combined, if I except Vicksburg
, as here the opposing armies established themselves — the one in defence, the other in siege of the two cities.
These bomb-proofs were built just inside the fortifications.
Their walls were made of logs heavily banked with earth and having a door or wider opening on the side The interior of these structures varied in size with the number that occupied them.
Some were built on the surface of the ground, to keep them drier and more comfortable;
others were dug down after the manner of a cellar kitchen; but all of them were at best damp and unwholesome habitations — even where fireplaces were introduced, which they were in cool weather.
For these reasons they were occupied only when the enemy was engaged in sending over his iron compliments in the shape of mortar-shells.
For all other hostile missiles the breastworks were ample protection, and under their walls the men stretched their half-shelters and passed most of their time in the summer
of 1864, when their lot was cast in that part of the lines nearest the enemy in front of Petersburg
A mortar is a short, stout cannon designed to throw shells into
This is accomplished by elevating the muzzle a great deal.
A 13-inch mortar.|
higher the elevation the greater the strain upon the gun. For this reason it is that they are made so short and thick.
They can be elevated so as to drop a shell just inside a fort, whereas a cannon-ball would either strike it on the outside, or pass over it far to the rear.
Mortars were used very little as compared with cannon.
In the siege of Petersburg
, I think, they were used more at night than in the daytime.
This was due to the exceeding watchfulness of the pickets of both armies.
At some periods in the siege each side was in nightly expectation of an attack from the other, and so the least provocation — an accidental shot, or a strange and unusual sound after dark — would draw the fire of the pickets, which would extend from the point of disturbance all along the line in both directions.
Then the main lines, both infantry and artillery, thinking it might possibly be a night attack, would join in the fire, while the familiar Rebel yell, responded to by the Union
cheer, would swell louder as the din and roar increased.
But soon the yelling, the cheering, the artillery, the musketry would subside, and the mortar batteries with which each fort was supplied would continue the contest, and the sky would become brilliant with the fiery arches of these lofty-soaring and more dignified projectiles.
As the mortar-shells described their majestic curves across the heavens every other sound was hushed, and the two armies seemed to stand in mute and mutual admiration of these magnificent messengers of destruction and woe.
Sometimes a single shell could be seen climbing the sky from a Rebel mortar, but ere it had reached its destination as many as half a dozen from Union mortars would appear as if chasing each other through the air, anxious to be foremost
in resenting such temerity on the part of the enemy.
In this arm of the service, as in the artillery, the Union
army was greatly superior to the enemy.
These evening fusillades rarely did any damage.
So harmless were they considered that President Lincoln
and other officials frequently came down to the trenches to be a witness of them.
But, harmless as they usually were to our side, they yet often enlisted our warm personal interest.
The guns of my own company were several times a mark for their particular attentions by daylight.
At such times we would watch the shells closely as they mounted the sky. If they veered to the right or left from a vertical in their ascent, we cared nothing for them as we then knew they would go one side of us. If they rose perpendicularly, and at the same time increased in size, our interest intensified.
If they soon began to descend we lost interest, for that told us they would fall short; but if they continued climbing until much nearer the zenith, and we could hear the creaking whistle of the fuse as the shell slowly revolved through the air, business of a very pressing nature suddenly called us into the bomb-proofs
; and it was not transacted until an explosion was heard, or a heavy jar told us that the bomb had expended its violence in the ground.
These mortar-bombs could be seen very distinctly at times, but only when they were fired directly toward or from us. They can be seen immediately after they leave the gun if they come against the sky. Coming towards one they appear first as a black speck, increasing in size as stated.
Besides mortar-shells I have seen the shot and shell from twelve-pounders in transit, but never from rifled pieces, as their flight is much more rapid.