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Military Sketch no. 2

Edmund H. Gooding.
I was born September 5, 1846, in Boston, and moved to Somerville July, 1850.

After having endeavored for almost two years to convince my parents that I was old enough to be a soldier, and that I ought to go to the war, I finally succeeded in getting their consent, and, accordingly, I enlisted January 13, 1864, in Company in of what was known as the New Battalion of the First Massachusetts Cavalry, then in camp at Readville, Mass.

After a short time, the battalion was sent to Giesboro Point, near Washington, and from there marched to Warrenton, Va., where the regiment lay in winter quarters, reaching Warrenton March 24.

About the first of May winter quarters were broken up, and the regiment, with the rest of the Army of the Potomac, started on what is known as the ‘Wilderness Campaign.’ We had a chance at some of the fighting, being engaged in the Wilderness May 5, and at Todd's Tavern May 6.

On May 9 the Cavalry Corps started on ‘Sheridan's raid around Richmond.’

We were in battles at Sampson's Cross Roads May 9, at Ashland May 11, and in front of Richmond May 13.

My horse gave out on the second day of the raid, and I had the alternative of either keeping up with the column on foot or of paying an involuntary visit to Richmond and some rebel prison. I preferred the former.

As the column was pushed along rapidly, it was a hard tramp, and as we had drawn three days rations before we [38] started, and received no more for over a week, meals were not always on time, nor were they luxurious. The section of country through which we were marching had been tramped over many times by the armies, and was rather bare of eatables. Now and then we would capture a little corn meal, and, if we were especially fortunate, once in a while a little ham or bacon, but for some days the steady diet of some of the men was mush and milk (minus the milk).

From Haxall's Landing, on the James river, about seven hundred of us dismounted men were sent back to Giesboro Point to be re-mounted. On the night of July 4 one hundred and sixty-four muskets were issued to every able man in the ‘Dismounted Camp,’ so called, and the next day we were sent up to Harper's Ferry, as infantry, to help head off the raid on Washington. We had our share of marching and fighting, and finally part of us got back to Giesboro on the twenty-seventh of July. On August 24 we obtained horses, and on the twenty-fifth we left for the front to rejoin the regiment near Petersburg.

From that time up to March 17, 1865, we were kept busy, picketing, scouting, and raiding; the engagements that amounted to anything being Jerusalem Plank Road, September 16, 1864; Reams Station, September 30; Vaughan Road, October 1; South Side Railroad, October 27; Bellfield, December 9.

In the latter part of November, 1864, the regiment, having been depleted by losses and by the return home of men whose term of service had expired, was consolidated from twelve to eight companies, and I was changed from Company M to Company A. On account of the regiment being so small, we were sent, on the seventeenth of March, 1865, to City Point, Va., to do provost duty.

We remained there until April 14, when we were sent to Burkesville.

On May 2 we started for Washington, via Richmond. We [39] camped at Arlington Heights and at Fairfax Seminary, near Alexandria, remaining there until orders to send us home were received. We took part in the grand review of the Army of the Potomac in Washington on May 23, and on June 25 we started for Massachusetts, reaching Readville on the twenty-eighth.

I finally received my pay and discharge July 20, 1865, having ‘worn the blue’ for one year, six months, and one week. My experience in the service was similar to that of thousands of others. I was more fortunate than many, for I had no severe sicknesses, escaped being wounded, and did not get taken prisoner. It was not pleasant to march all day in a storm, and then lie down in the mud at night to try and sleep, and it was not pleasant to go hungry; but to undergo such discomforts was part of our duty as soldiers.

The longest interval between meals that I ever had to stand was about thirty-six hours, and I was thoroughly hungry by the time we got to where we could draw rations.

I had been in active service only a very short time before I realized that hardtack, salt pork, and coffee made a very good diet, even if it did seem a little monotonous now and then.

There were times when we were short of food and short of grain for our horses; but, as I look back to those days, the only wonder is that the government was able to make the shortages so few, and I do not believe there ever was a war in which the soldiers were so well fed and well clothed as were the men of the Union Army.

Compliments of Edward Glines Mayor

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