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Chapter 9:

  • The military condition
  • -- reverses and successes of the Union arms -- service and return home of the nine months regiments -- list of casualties -- deserters -- the July riot in Boston -- prompt action -- an abstract ofthe orders -- alarm in other cities -- the attack in Cooper Street -- Theeleventh Battery -- the word to fire -- the riot suppressed -- the draft -- appointment of Provost-marshals -- the Fifty-fifth colored Regiment -- letters from Secretary Stanton -- injustice to the colored troops -- Lettersof the Governor on the subject -- difficulties with the draft -- Major Blakesent to Washington -- request to allow bounties to drafted men refused -- John M. Forbes in Washington -- letters to the Governor -- Heavy Ordnance -- Colonel Lowell -- the attack on Wagner -- death of Colonel Shaw -- instances of bravery on the part of colored troops -- letters to Generaldix -- troops for coast defence -- Governor writes to Governor of Ohio -- formation of veteran Regiment -- Massachusetts Militia -- letters to Colonel Lee -- colored Cavalry -- letter of Secretary Stanton -- Confidentialletter on the exposed condition of the coast -- telegraph Communicationwith the forts -- letters to Senator Sumner -- exact condition of the defences -- letter of the Adjutant-General -- reports of General William Raymond Lee -- Colonel Ritchie sent to England -- Democratic State Convention -- Republican State Convention -- re-election of Governor Andrew -- the President calls for three hundred thousand more Volunteers -- extra session of the Legislature called -- Governor's address -- bounties increased -- abstract of laws.

The preceding chapter brought the record of the State, as it relates to the military correspondence of the Governor and the departments, to July 1, 1863. Before proceeding farther, we propose to briefly sketch the military operations in the several departments from Jan. 1 to July 1, and particularly in regard to the nine months regiments, the services they performed, and their return home at the expiration of their terms of service. General Banks was in command of the Department of the Gulf; General Hooker, of the Army of the Potomac; and General Foster, of North Carolina. All of the nine months regiments, except the Sixth, were in the Departments of the Gulf and North Carolina. The Sixth Regiment [442] was in Virginia, near Suffolk, during most of its term of service.

On July 1, General Banks, with his command, was in front of Port Hudson, on the Mississippi. General Grant was besieging Vicksburg, which fell into his hands July 4. Port Hudson capitulated a few days subsequent; and the Army of the Potomac was advancing, by forced marches through Virginia, across the Potomac into Pennsylvania, to head off Lee, who had advanced with his entire command, by a flank movement, into that State.

The armies met on the second and third days of July, at Gettysburg, when the great battle of the war was fought, and the most important victory gained by the Union arms. The defeat of the rebel army at Gettysburg, the capture of Vicksburg by General Grant, and the fall of Port Hudson, culminating as they did within a few days of each other, were the most important events which had happened during the war; they gave strength and courage to the Union cause, and weakened and discouraged the enemy. Lee was driven back behind his fortifications in Virginia, south of the Rapidan; the Mississippi was ours; the Southern Confederacy was severed; and from that time until the close of the Rebellion, in the spring of 1865, it lost strength and prestige.

The battle of Chancellorsville was fought May 4, when the Army of the Potomac was under command of General Hooker, from whom successful military operations had been expected. On the first day of May, he commenced his advance movement across the Rappahannock. The loyal people of the nation hailed the advance as an event sure to result in success,—the defeat of Lee's army, and the capture of Richmond. Their expectations were sadly disappointed. The battle of Chancellorsville was a defeat to the Union arms; and the retreat of the army across the Rappahannock to its original quarters, the long lists of killed and wounded published in the papers, and the many rumors which reached us from the front, added to the general feeling of disappointment and sorrow which pervaded loyal hearts. In order to ascertain from an official source the true cause and the exact position of affairs, Governor Andrew [443] telegraphed to Mr. Stanton, May 8, as follows: ‘May I ask if the storm and rise of the Rappahannock determined Hooker's recrossing?’ To which Mr. Stanton replied,—

The President and General-in-chief have just returned from the Army of the Potomac. The principal operation of General Hooker failed; but there has been no serious disaster to the organization and efficiency of the army. It is now occupying its former position of the Rappahannock, having recrossed the river without any loss in the movement. Not more than one-third of General Hooker's force was engaged. General Stoneman's operations have been a brilliant success. A part of his force advanced to within two miles of Richmond, and the enemy's communications have been cut in every direction. The Army of the Potomac will soon resume offensive operations.

General Hooker remained in command of the Army of the Potomac until June, when he was superseded by General Meade.

We have already briefly recited the formation and departure of our nine months troops: we now proceed to briefly sketch narratives of their services from the time they left the State until their return; beginning with the Third Regiment, which was in the Department of North Carolina.

On Dec. 11, 1862, the regiment started from Newbern with the ‘expedition to Goldsborough,’ which occupied eleven days; and the troops marched more than one hundred and fifty miles. It participated in the battles of Kinston, Whitehall, and Goldsborough. The regiment was complimented at the last-named battle by its brigade commander for its bravery in tearing up the railroad track while under fire, and its steadiness in supporting Belger's and Morrison's Batteries while repelling the brilliant charge of the rebels under General Pettigrew, and also for its coolness while recrossing the creek, which had been flooded by the rebels. Though it was under fire several hours during the day, its only loss was six men wounded.

On the 30th December, the regiment was attached to General Heckman's brigade.

On Jan. 14, it was attached to Colonel J. Jourdan's brigade, with which it remained during the remainder of its term of service. On the 26th, it moved to ‘Camp Jourdan,’ near Fort [444] Totten, one of the most important points in the defences of Newbern.

On March 6, the regiment went with General Prince's division on an expedition into Jones and Onslow Counties, occupying five days, during which it was detailed with other troops twice for important detached service.

On the 8th of April, it joined a column under General Spinola, and made a forced march to Blount's Creek; had a slight engagement with the enemy. During this expedition, the troops marched thirty miles, and had a skirmish with the rebels, in one day.

On the 16th of April, it joined a column under General Prince, and marched to Coir Creek, remaining six days, during which time several slight skirmishes with the enemy took place. It was this movement, combined with the operations of another column on the opposite side of the Neuse, which caused the rebels to evacuate their position in front of Washington, N. C., thereby releasing the Forty-fourth Massachusetts from its uncomfortable position.

On the 11th of June, the regiment was ordered to

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