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[126]

1848.


John Franklin Goodrich.

Private 21st Iowa Vols. (Infantry), August 28, 1862; died at Vicksburg, Miss., June 4, 1863, of disease contracted in the service.


John Franklin Goodrich was the son of Allen and Mary (Emerson) Goodrich, and was born in Mount Vernon, New Hampshire, August 13, 1826. He was fitted for college by Mrs. Ripley of Waltham, Massachusetts. In college he was not prominent as a scholar, nor very well known among his classmates; but the respect in which he was held was manifested at a class dinner, a few years after graduating, when he had gone to California, by the wish, pithily expressed in a toast, ‘that he might become as rich as he was good.’

After graduation he was employed for one year as clerk in one of the manufacturing companies at Waltham. At the beginning of the California gold excitement he visited that region, remaining there five years, and obtaining a respectable competence by labor in the mines. Returning, he purchased a farm in Epworth, Dubuque County, Iowa. He was there married, September 12, 1857, to Miss Marion Pratt, whose family had emigrated to Iowa from Connecticut. They had three children,—two sons and a daughter,—and were living in prosperity on their farm when the war began.

In August, 1862, at the age of thirty-six, he enlisted as a private in the Twenty-first Iowa Volunteers (Infantry), Colonel Samuel Merrill. In a subsequent letter, referring to this enlistment (October 17, 1862), he says:—

If there had been an abundance of young men in our State ready to enlist, I should undoubtedly have remained at home. But it was not so. The alternative remained for me to enlist and be removed far away from all the sweet amenities of home, incur all the risks of war in all its varied forms,—and those on the battlefield are not the greatest,—or remain at home in peace, and have [127] my cheek mantle with eternal shame. It was a severe trial for my dear wife, but she endured it with Christian fortitude. It is the hardest trial I have to endure, to think that she may be constantly worrying about me.

In the same letter, in allusion to the death of a sister's child, he adds:—

O how hard it would be for me to part with my dear little ones. I did not know before how closely about my heart had been woven the silken threads of their bright and happy lives.

And his letters to his sisters at the same time speak of his wife and children as ‘the source of his greatest earthly happiness.’

The regiment was at first sent to Missouri, where, although not engaged in any great battle, it had its full share of watching, marching, and skirmishing. It was once highly complimented for performing a night march of twenty-eight miles, and fording eight streams on the way, some of these being waist-deep, and at November temperature. At Hartsville, Missouri, January 1, 1863, a battalion of the regiment, including less that three hundred, after being overwhelmingly outnumbered and flanked, held its position, under Lieutenant-Colonel Dunlap,—although all other regiments had retired,— until the enemy, numbering four thousand, had retreated under cover of the night. In all these duties, Goodrich is stated to have borne an honorable part, and seems to have been sustained through all by a strong, unaffected religious feeling. He expresses pleasure, in his letters, that even amid the vice and profanity of the camp he can enjoy the privilege of social worship; and after being brought face to face with danger, he learns that ‘the more we are called on to do and suffer, the better off we are.’

For more than two months after this battle, he remained at Hartsville with two others, on detail, to take charge of the wounded men, rejoining his regiment March 20, 1863. During this period he wrote as follows:—

I seem to realize more and more, as the danger increases, how sweet a thing it is to live for my family. I sometimes tremble at [128] the thought that I may in the lapse of time be brought to welcome a settlement of this great difficulty by some means other than those strictly honorable to our government, for the sake of peace. I have just finished reading the life of Washington by Weems, a contemporary of Washington. It was found on the field after the battle. Some Rebel had thrown it away, and I do not wonder; for he must be to the Rebels like a great avenging Nemesis, haunting their every footstep. I could wish for no greater punishment than for every Rebel to be obliged to read it; for if one spark of honor remained, his cheek would mantle with shame at his degeneracy and violation of all principles so inexpressibly dear to the heart of Washington.

We hear no news here, and know nothing that is going on in the world. How we long to hear of glorious and decisive victories! O for a Washington to lead our armies, and march them on, in the name of the “Lord of hosts,” to a decisive issue! Have we not been sufficiently humbled as a nation before God? and will he not speedily avenge us of our adversary? Surely his anger endureth but for a moment.

There are no social gatherings for religious purposes in this whole vicinity. It seems almost as though war and rebellion had obliterated the thought of God, the Bible, and an eternal state of existence from the heart of the community; but Christianity has to do with the individual rather than the community. It is as imperatively necessary for us to “keep our hearts with all diligence” in the midst of a godless multitude as in the society of Christians. I pray God to keep me ever humble at the foot of the cross, that he will ever feed my soul with the bread of life, that it perish not in the wilderness of Sin. Although I have been separated during my stay here from the religious influences that ever attended our little Christian Association in camp, I have likewise escaped all contact with the wickedness and vice that prevail to such a fearful extent in an army. I tremble to think of the awful consequences that must necessarily result to thousands of the young men that are in the army “drinking in iniquity as a flood.” I sometimes think that it is because iniquity doth so abound in our army, that God has no more prospered us in this war. I never allow myself for a moment to doubt the entire justice of our cause, nor that it must finally succeed, if we are true to the great work before us. “God and the right” should be our motto. May we not constantly trust the Excellency of Heaven and Earth in this great affliction? “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Then let us [129] not be discouraged, but put up our earnest petitions to the Throne of Grace for a speedy deliverance from this great trouble.

During the siege of Vicksburg, the Twenty-first Iowa formed a part of the Thirteenth Army Corps. Foreseeing the fierce, decisive contest for the supremacy of the Mississippi that was to ensue, Goodrich wrote, just as he was embarking at St. Louis:—

If my life is necessary in dealing the death-blow to this horrid Rebellion, I shall freely, willingly give it up. If I die, it will be with a conviction, as firm as eternal truth itself, that our country will be finally saved. As the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church, so the blood of patriots shed in this war is a guaranty of our country's salvation, future welfare, and prosperity.

April 29, 1863.

I feel that the prayers of my wife and sisters will be answered to the full satisfaction of your souls. Sister Mercy has great faith that I shall be returned to my family in safety. But I feel that it would be wrong to make this a requisite in our prayers. If it subserves God's purposes better that I should die away from the bosom of my family, let us school our hearts to say “Thy will be done.” I know that all will be well, and that the Almighty will prove himself a God hearing and answering prayer. Then may we not leave all to his wisdom, knowing that in his hands all is safe? I know, from bitter personal experience, that it will be one of the bitterest trials to school yourself to submission to the will of God in these hours of danger. Yet we know that his will must be done, even if he sees fit to take my life. Let us pray that this cup may pass away; yet “not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” I will not anticipate evil, but wait for God to develop his plans more fully, and in the mean time exercise implicit faith in his wisdom and goodness. I cannot but believe that all will be well, and that our government will yet be firmly established over all the rebellious territory.


Just before the battle at Port Gibson, he writes:—

The enemy, without doubt, occupy a strong position. If they make a stand, (as we think they will,) we shall no doubt have a bloody contest. God only knows the issue. I pray him to cover my head in the day of battle, if it be his will; but if he has otherwise ordained, “his will, not mine, be done.” It would be very sweet to meet my wife and children once again on earth. It is almost [130] agonizing to the mind to think of the bare possibility that we may meet no more; but God is all-wise and good. He doeth all things well. When in action I trust I shall act prudently; but I pray God I may never shrink from duty, even if it leads me to the cannon's mouth. . . . .


near Vicksburg, May 20, 1863.

The battle has commenced. The enemy are very strongly intrenched, and hold a very strong position. We expect to storm their works to-day; and if it is in the power of man to take them, they will be taken. May God aid us, I earnestly hope and pray. The battle is not to the strong alone. May the God of battles be on our side, and inspire our men with true and unflinching courage, and give us a speedy victory, and thus bring an end to this awful carnage and desolation. On Sunday, the 17th instant, our regiment, in conjunction with the Twenty-third Iowa Infantry, made a charge upon the rifle-pits at Black River Bridge. Our company lost one man killed, H. W. Britton, my former messmate (poor fellow), and nine wounded, one or two mortally. God mercifully spared my life through this fiery trial, thanks to his name. We buried seven the day of the battle, and four or five have died at the hospital since. The issue of the coming contest lies in the hands of the Almighty. I am as clay in the hands of the potter. He has thus far shielded me from danger. Many must fall; I may be among the number. Go to the Throne of Grace for strength to endure, and a spirit to submit to his holy will and pleasure. I pray for submission to his will, whatever it may be, trusting that if we meet no more on earth, we shall form an unbroken family in that home that Christ has gone to prepare for those that love him. God grant me that unflinching courage that shall enable me to march through the stormy missiles of death without fear.


This was almost the last thing he wrote.

In the charge on the enemy at Black River, May 17th, Goodrich was one of the first to enter their works, and so at the assault on the outer works at Vicksburg, May 22d. Here he contracted the brain fever, of which, on the 4th of June, 1863, he died. He was taken into the tent of his Lieutenant, for more tender nursing; and recovering his consciousness for a little while before his death, his last messages were for the welfare of his children, that they might be brought up in the path of Christian duty. [131]

Lieutenant Hill, of his company, writing after his death, says:—

Mr. Goodrich was as brave a soldier as ever entered the field. Every fight that we have had he was in; and when the charge was made on the Black River works of the Rebels, he rushed forward, and was nearly the first man to mount the embankment, and nobly did he lead back a number of Rebels from their riflepits to our camp. The same is true at the charge on the outer works of Vicksburg. It may be said of him, that a good man has fallen. Mr. Goodrich has lived the life of a Christian from the time he enlisted until the day of his death. The evening before his death he assured me all was well, and his trust was in Christ alone. He repeated several times over, to tell his dear wife to train up his two sons for Christ; and very calmly passed away about four o'clock on the morning of the 4th of June.


[132]

Lucius Manlius Sargent.

Surgeon 2d Mass. Vols. (Infantry), May 28, 1861; Captain 1st Mass. Cavalry, October 31, 186; Major, January 2, 1864; Lieutenant-Colonel, September 30, 1864; killed near Bellfield, Va., December 9, 1864.


Lucius Manlius Sargent, Jr., was born in Boston, September 15, 1826,—the son of Lucius Manlius and Sarah (Dunn) Sargent. He gave early evidence of much talent, and of a daring and impetuous nature. It is recorded of him as a child, that, when a friendly clergyman had taken him on his knee, and asked him what he meant to do in life, he answered, ‘I don't know, sir, whether to be a minister or a highwayman; but I should n't like to be anything half-way.’ ‘On another occasion, having by accident fired in an upper chamber a pistol which he was forbidden to touch, and hearing the rush of the alarmed family on the stairs, he cautiously lowered himself a few feet, and then dropped from a third-story window, as the only method of gaining an instant audience of his kind old nurse in the basement, to whom he poured out his griefs, and then manfully walked up stairs to explain the offence, and receive punishment.’

He had from childhood a great love of reading, a retentive memory, and a very ready imagination. He delighted in poetry, and wrote verses with great facility. His instructors in preparation for college were Rev. W. A. Stearns, with Messrs. Charles K. Dillaway and Stephen M. Weld; and in 1844 he entered the Freshman Class of Harvard University.

In college he entered at once upon the rather perilous career which attends the class wit and satirist. In rhymes, bon-mots, and caricatures he had no rival; while his varied intellectual tastes, with his love of athletic exercises, and of gay society, furnished temptations to draw him away from the regular college studies. The paths of the class wit and the class first scholar rarely coincide. Yet one of the first scholars in Sargent's class volunteers the testimony, that, [133] ‘under an outside of apparent frivolity, he cherished a sincere respect for whatever was manly and true, and had many generous impulses.’

He did not complete his undergraduate course with the Class of 1848, but received his degree eleven years later, after establishing an honorable reputation as a physician. During the intermediate period he had interested himself in a variety of pursuits, into each of which he threw himself for a time with his accustomed energy. Music, painting, astronomy, and practical seamanship occupied him in turn, he having in the last-named vocation made a voyage to Liverpool before the mast.

He was married, when barely twenty-one, to Miss Letitia Sullivan, daughter of Jonathan Amory, Esq., of Jamaica Plain. After his marriage he fitted up a studio at his house, and passed much of his time in the study and practice of art. This led him into the medical profession, in a manner best stated by Dr. B. E. Cotting, afterwards his professional instructor.

Art anatomy naturally led him to practical anatomy, and thence to medical science in general. Having decided to enter the profession, he made the business of preparation no half-way matter. His zeal was unbounded and his application unremitted. Nothing was too trivial to escape his rapid observation, nor too difficult to discourage his ardent enthusiasm. His progress was remarkable, and the position he attained unprecedented,—so that when he graduated he was already a man of mark, to whom the profession looked in full expectation of greater things in after days. The hospital created the office of Artist, to secure his services; and the Boston Society for Medical Improvement, at the earliest moment allowed by their constitution, elected him a member. He soon became one of the most prominent physicians of the section of the city where he was located; and a brilliant future seemed opening before him. . . . . To great physical strength he added the most delicate touch with the pencil, and the tenderest manipulation of the sick. . . . . But the chief obstacle to his medical career came from a source the last to be suspected by any one not intimately acquainted with his character,—extreme tender-heartedness. Fearless of gods and men, the plaintive weakness of a sick child appalled, and its death while under his care completely unnerved him.

[134]

His other professional teachers were Dr. Jeffries Wyman and Dr. Henry J. Bigelow. He took his degree at the Harvard Medical School in 1857, and was for a time House Surgeon at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and also Dispensary Physician. But the spirit of adventure was still strong in him, and at the outbreak of the war he was one of the first to volunteer for the post of regimental Surgeon, and was the first man commissioned in that capacity in Massachusetts. His regiment was the Second (Infantry), Colonel Gordon; he was commissioned May 28, 1861, and remained with the regiment in Virginia, in the faithful discharge of rather monotonous duty, until October 9, 1861, when he resigned, in order to accept the more congenial position of Captain in the First Massachusetts Cavalry (Colonel Robert Williams), to which he was commissioned on the last day of the same month. His elder brother, afterward Brevet Brigadier-General Horace Binney Sargent, was then Lieutenant-Colonel of the same regiment.

The regiment was stationed in the Department of the South until August 19, 1862, when eight companies, including that commanded by Captain Sargent, were ordered to the Army of the Potomac. From that time they took part in all the cavalry service in that region, and were especially engaged at Kelly's Ford, Sulphur Springs, Stephensburg, and Aldie. At the last action he was left for dead on the field, but subsequently revived and recovered. It proved that a rifle-ball had made a subcutaneous circuit of nearly one third the chest, without further penetration.

Of the varied duties of a cavalry officer, those which best suited his temperament were of course the most stirring and dangerous. He had in him a large element of excitability,— a trait which, while often impairing steady discipline, may yet impart peculiar power on special occasions. Recklessly daring, he was in some respects well suited to the branch of service he had chosen. To the strict routine of regimental business and order he was naturally less attracted. Yet he had the merit of adhering faithfully to his command, sharing the severest service and the poorest fare of his men; seeking neither [135] promotion outside, nor staff position, nor leave of absence. And he showed in some respects—as, for instance, in the temporary discontinuance of intoxicating drinks—a self-control hardly to have been expected from one of his general temperament, and one whose brilliant social powers exposed him to peculiar trials.

He was promoted as Major of his regiment, January 2, 1864; and became its Lieutenant-Colonel, September 30, 1864,—a little more than two months before his death.

The precise circumstances of his death have been variously stated; and the following account, derived from officers of the regiment, varies in some degree from that given in the Report of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts. The hurried and broken character of cavalry engagements often renders it difficult to secure accuracy of detail in their narration. It appears that soon after the successful raid on Stony Creek Station, Virginia, as the division to which the First Massachusetts Cavalry was attached (part of the Fifth Corps) was moving southward, the forces of the enemy were found strongly intrenched near Bellfield. The infantry had been left along the Weldon Railway, to tear up the track, while the cavalry was moving on, to distract the attention of the enemy. Lieutenant-Colonel Sargent, with his regiment, was at the head of the column, and was just approaching some abatis through which the highway ran. Just then General Davies, the brigader commander, rode up and detached the rear squadron of the regiment in pursuit of some supposed scouts or pickets of the enemy. Captain Teague, in command of the squadron, rode within range of the enemy's earthworks; and when the enemy opened upon them with shot and shell, he halted and formed line, seeing nothing more to pursue. At this moment Lieutenant-Colonel Sargent rode hastily up, and said, ‘Captain, General Davies orders that you—’ and at this moment a piece of a shell struck him in the shoulder, shattering it, and throwing him from his horse. Captain Teague then drew back his men beyond reach of the fire, and sent a sergeant and four privates to bring in the wounded officer. During the [136] transportation, he spoke a few words, but died within two hours of his fall. The event occurred on the 9th of December, 1864.

It was afterwards ascertained that General Davies, when he heard the firing, had directed Lieutenant-Colonel Sargent to recall the advancing squadron, and that the latter, instead of sending an orderly, had gone himself. General Davies afterwards described the movement as ‘a most gallant charge, contributing greatly to the success of the late movements.’ Certainly to fall thus, sword in hand and in the face of the enemy, was the very death which Sargent's impulsive and daring nature would have chosen. ‘Had he lived,’ wrote his former commander, Colonel Robert Williams, ‘I am sure that he would have added many additional laurels to those he had already gained.’


[137]

William Oliver Stevens.

Captain New York 72d Vols. (Infantry), May 30, 1861; Major, June 25, 1861; Colonel, September 8, 1862; died May 4, 1863, of wounds received at Chancellorsville, Va., May 3.


William Oliver Stevens was son of William Stevens,—formerly a lawyer of Andover, Massachusetts, now Judge of the Police Court in Lawrence,—and of Eliza L. Stevens, daughter of George Watson. His paternal grandfather fought in the battle of Bunker Hill. The patriotism that kindled his blood burnt no less eagerly in that of the descendants, three of whom have fallen in the struggle that has just closed,—William; his brother Gorham, a youth of rare promise; and their cousin, the brave and lamented General I. I. Stevens, who had graduated with especial honors at West Point.

William was born in Belfast, Maine, on the 3d of February, 1828. In preparation for college he entered Phillips Academy at Andover, in 1841, where to this day is left a pleasant reminiscence of the short, thick-set, round-faced boy, quick and active in duty or play, frank in his intercourse, pleasant and genial in his manners,—the type of the man.

More grateful yet is the recollection of him in the minds of his classmates at Cambridge. With a cheery voice, a merry eye, dark hair curling closely over his head, and a countenance open as the day,—the window of a warm heart and generous disposition,—erect in his carriage, frank, unreserved, he at sight won the love of the shy, awkward squad that the first months of college life brought together.

It was an affection that deepened with fellowship; and being of boyish size, he soon became in a peculiar manner the pet of his class. Perhaps this was to his cost, in some ways. Such good company he made of himself, so overflowing was he with life and cheerfulness and all genial qualities, that his time was usurped by his friends: he was allowed but little opportunity [138] for study, and so never aimed at collegiate honors. Indeed, his social qualities were so attractive that few then cared to measure the mental. He was quick of apprehension; and the fine tact he displayed implies the possession of good judgment of men and motives, and good common-sense.

He was one of the earliest enthusiasts in regard to boating in Cambridge, and was the cockswain of the Undine, one of the first college club-boats. He was very diminutive in stature at that time, although he afterwards attained to a manly height. It would be hard to say whether it were due more to this smallness of size, or were rather as a term of endearment, that he was universally known as ‘The Bud.’ It was a bud that needed only the development of a healthy life and the sunshine of a loving home to blossom and ripen into goodly fruit.

After graduation he studied law for eighteen months with his father, and again for a year with the Honorable Thomas Wright of Lawrence. The responsibilities of life opened to him, and he devoted himself diligently to his studies. ‘Resolute and determined,’ says Mr. Wright, ‘whatever he undertook he accomplished. He felt he had a duty to perform. He entered upon the practice of his profession determined to succeed, with a confidence in himself which afterwards proved not to have been unfounded.’

But it was a self-confidence without a taint of arrogance. ‘Never distrustful of the future, he counted success as certain.’ The same confidence and hopefulness were later no mean accessions to his worth as an officer. In all the vicissitudes of war, he wore a steady, hopeful front,—a support to the wavering, a strength and encouragement to all.

He practised his profession for a few months at Newnansville, Florida, but left on account of the debilitating influence of the climate, going to Dunkirk, New York, where he established himself in 1852. He married, in 1855, Virginia T. Grosvenor, daughter of the Honorable Godfrey John Grosvenor, then of Geneva, New York, but originally from Maine. By this marriage he had two sons,—George Watson, seven [139] years of age at the time of his father's death, and William Grosvenor, twenty months old, besides one daughter, who died in infancy.

Here he won the respect and affection of all classes. Among his associates at the bar, his courtesy in practice, his legal ability, his integrity, high sense of honor, and manly straightforwardness inspired marked confidence and esteem. In the resolutions adopted by the bar, after his death, special reference is made to ‘the scrupulous care with which he ever sought to guard and promote the dignity of his profession, and to make it the means of purifying the administration of justice.’

In 1859 he was elected District Attorney of Chatauqua County. The vote was a very flattering one,—in Dunkirk being nearly double that of his party ticket. Some sturdy old farmers from the county, and others who, from his very youthful appearance, had voted against him, came to him after a few months' trial of him in office, to say, ‘Mr. Stevens, we voted against you; now we have to say, if you wish our votes at any time, or any aid whatever, count on us.’

One of the first cases brought forward by him was an indictment for a capital offence,—an event that had not occurred before in the county for many years. Several other cases of importance followed, in all of which he acquitted himself to the great acceptance of the bench, the bar, and the public, receiving many expressions of encouragement and praise.

His letters to his father at this time show him as very busy, prosecuting his profession with great zeal, and with an earnest aim to master its principles and practice. He claims in these letters that he has the friendship of the whole bar. The respect of the presiding justices he certainly had. Graceful in delivery, clear in statement, logical in reasoning, with an ingenuousness that impressed his listeners with the honesty of his convictions, combining enthusiasm with great pertinacity of purpose, the future seemed to him bright and promising.

But it was soon to be overcast. When civil war grew imminent, anticipating that he might be called upon to serve his [140] country in the field, he writes that no whispering of ambition could persuade him to leave his wife and child. ‘But if summoned,’ he adds, ‘I shall obey without faltering, conscientiously believing such to be my duty as a husband, a father, and a man.’

The opportunity was at hand. For several years he had been the commander of a militia company (Company D of the Sixty-eighth Regiment New York State Militia). He had put his wonted zeal into the work of drilling and disciplining this little corps, till it had become the crack company in that part of the State; and at the inauguration of Perry's statue, where a number of such associations had been brought together, it had received marked applause. Perhaps it is not too much to say that to his labor, in this respect, was due, in good measure, the promptness with which the citizens of the town met the call for soldiers at the outbreak of the Rebellion. In January, 1861, he offered the services of the company to the Governor in case of emergency. It had just then fallen in numbers to twenty-eight, but was immediately filled to the full standard of eighty.

After the roll of Fort Sumter's guns, there was no hesitation in his mind. To the remonstrances of friends his reply was, ‘If I don't go now, my boy must.’ He at once prepared his company for active service, and on the 21st of April again offered it to the State, and received orders to report with it at Elmira on the 1st of May. Countermandatory orders and delays intervening, he went to Washington to seek the acceptance of the Sixty-eighth entire, or at least his company. In this he failed. He was, however, offered a Captaincy in the Regular Army, which he declined.

Learning from the Secretary of War that Daniel E. Sickles, Esq., was empowered to raise a brigade of volunteers, Stevens immediately applied to him; his company was accepted, and ordered to report at Staten Island. Returning home, he found that many of his men, impatient of delay, had joined other organizations, but his indomitable energy and perseverance were not to be thwarted; and on May 31st, within seven [141] days of the date of his order, he reported at the designated rendezvous with a company completely uniformed, and one hundred and five strong. It was incorporated into a regiment commanded by Colonel Nelson Taylor, and known as the Third Excelsior Regiment, and subsequently as the Seventysecond New York Volunteer Infantry.

At the camp, he at once showed that he had in him the elements of an excellent officer, and displayed such knowledge of his duties, that he was selected by his Colonel, and, without a dissent from his brother officers, was commissioned as Major, June 25th. He proved an excellent disciplinarian and drill-master, having a clear and happy method of imparting instruction by explanation and illustration. Heart and mind were devoted to his work, which he mastered to its minutiae. A true soldier, he became very sensitive of the reputation of his regiment, to the efficiency of which, says his Colonel, he added much.

His affable manner, his manliness and unaffected dignity, attracted and attached all who came within his sphere. Ready to adjust difficulties, though firm in discipline,— full of sympathy for all human interests,—he especially won the love of his men,—a love which in the rough proof of war when once given is poured out with no stint.

Assiduous study made up in him the want of previous military training. Active service in the face of the enemy is a stern school, but the most thorough for a soldier. So well did he improve it, that the brigade commander under whom he served his last campaign, and whose fullest confidence he won,—General Revere, a veteran in service,—describes him as ‘a truly splendid officer and magnificently brave.’

Immediately after the battle of Bull Run the Excelsior Brigade was ordered to Washington, and put in the defences of the city. The large fort on the Eastern Branch, known as Fort Stanton, was built under the immediate supervision of Major Stevens. In October his command was ordered to Lower Maryland, and stationed for some time at Budd's Ferry, opposite Shipping Point, where Rebel batteries blocked [142] the passage of the Potomac. During the winter of preparation and drill which followed, he gained the warm friendship of his division commander, General Hooker. With spring came the campaign of the Peninsula. The division was assigned to the Third Corps, General Heintzelman commanding. At the siege of Yorktown, busied in the construction of approaches, Stevens won the name of a meritorious and gallant officer.

The battle of Williamsburg was the first severe test of fighting qualities of his regiment. In following up the retreating enemy, Stoneman's cavalry found itself, on the afternoon of May 4th, checked at Fort Magruder, a bastioned work, with several redoubts on either side effectually covering the road. Hooker's division, which followed in support of the cavalry, bivouacked in the woods that night, and came up before the fort early in the morning of May 5th. It commenced the attack at half past 7 o'clock, and for a while cleared the ground in its front; but the enemy, concentrating his forces, advanced to the attack, and again and again endeavored to turn Hooker's left. The firing became very hot, the enemy having a partial shelter in the woods, while the division was drawn out, partly in the open, partly in the felled timber, protecting itself as well as it could by the logs strewn on the ground. The brigade on the left was driven in, and soon after a heavy attack was made on the right also. Between these cross-fires the Excelsior Brigade lay, taking the brunt of the battle till after four o'clock, when the opportune arrival and gallant advance of Kearney's division allowed General Hooker to withdraw his troops, exhausted by the long day's fight. It had been a gallant struggle against superior numbers, protracted through rain and mud and hunger, until ammunition was nearly exhausted. They had suffered severely: the brigade had lost, perhaps, a third of its numbers, two hundred and eighteen having been killed and wounded from Major Stevens's regiment alone. The Major, who that day commanded the regiment, as the Colonel was in command of the brigade, was delighted with the behavior of his men. ‘Not one did I [143] see waver,’ he said. ‘Of course,’ he adds, ‘it was necessary for me to be moving from point to point, and it was necessary to go over the logs to do so. I was hit three times,—first by a ball which ricochetted and bruised the calf of my right leg; next, by a ball which grazed my face just under the right side of my mouth; and again by one that grazed a shoulder-blade.’

The phrase ‘of course’ modestly apologizes for constant activity, not only in directing his own men, but in going to and fro to encourage the whole shattered line,—services that won the commendations of his brigade commander, and of Colonel Dwight, commanding the First Excelsior, which fought gallantly side by side with the Third. And the ball which ‘grazed’ his face proved to be a buckshot, that inflicted a severe wound, and remained in his jaw till his death.

While the Major was thus engaged, his brother, a Second Lieutenant,—a stripling fresh from Cambridge,—escaped from the hospital, was toiling with a wounded leg after his regiment, also hotly engaged. Coming up to the scene of action, this boy gathered a couple of hundred stragglers, planted them by a battery, and defended it in the teeth of the enemy till Kearney and succor arrived.

Again the regiment was engaged at Fair Oaks, and through the seven days battles, till the close of the campaign at Malvern Hill. The Major had long since won the love and respect of his men; and his conduct in the campaign led his commanding officers to describe him as possessed of courage of a high order, of coolness and equanimity that never failed, and of a clearness of judgment that under the most trying and confused circumstances remained unshaken.

As it seemed as if the Army of the Potomac was about to enjoy a rest from its labors, the Major, at the request of his Colonel, was sent to Dunkirk to recruit the depleted ranks of the regiment. When at home he was offered the command of a new regiment then forming, but declined it, preferring, at sacrifice of rank, to remain with those who, through danger and hardship shared in common, had learned mutual respect and trust. He was also unwilling to give aid to the disastrous [144] policy of constantly sending out bodies of raw and inexperienced men to be instructed by incompetent hands in numerous and varied duties, when the same material, put into regiments already in the field, would give them new strength and vigor, and the recruits would themselves speedily become assimilated and learn one additional lesson of incalculable value to a soldier,—a pride in the history and name of their organization.

He returned, September 1st, with one hundred and twentyeight recruits; and as Colonel Taylor had been commissioned as Brigadier-General, was promoted to the colonelcy, the commission dating from September 8th.

In November, marching across the country, he rejoined the Army of the Potomac at Warrenton Junction. At Fredericksburg his command was in the left grand division under Franklin, and was not engaged. The winter was given to the drill and discipline of his regiment, now largely increased by the addition of new men, and with such success that General Revere (now the brigade commander) describes it as a magnificent regiment of stalwart men in splendid condition.

The end of April found the Army of the Potomac again in motion. The Third Corps crossed the Rappahannock at the United States ford on Friday, May 1st, and, moving up towards Chancellorsville, bivouacked in the rear of the troops then briskly engaged with the enemy. During that night and the following day the enemy was busy in cutting a road through the woods in front of our line, and marching by it large masses of his force from the left to our extreme right, where late in the afternoon they burst like a tornado upon the astounded Eleventh Corps, breaking it and driving it before them.

The Third Corps was hurried up to check the rout and hold the enemy, who by their own impetus had then been thrown somewhat into confusion.

The most graphic sketch of the demeanor of Colonel Stevens on that day is to be found in a manuscript narrative by Chaplain J. H. Twichell of the Second Excelsior Regiment, from which the following is an extract:— [145]

To me there is no scene of individual soldiership to which I so frequently recur as to Colonel Stevens at the head of his regiment, leading it into fire at the battle of Chancellorsville. . . . .

Those who were present at that time and place will never forget how suddenly, within half an hour, on the afternoon of May 2d, the whole aspect of our affairs was changed from bright to dark by a swift, unlooked — for disaster. When the attack, like a thunderbolt out of the clear sky for unexpectedness, struck the right wing useless at a blow, our corps was lying in reserve. We were instantly ordered into the breach, and being under arms, in ten minutes had turned the corner at the Chancellor House, and were hurrying out on the plank-road toward the quarter where the storm had burst. A third of a mile farther on we met the rout. It is always a trying thing for troops to stem a tide of confusion and retreat, while going into action, and that was the worst situation of the kind I ever witnessed. Thicker and faster poured back the panic-stricken rabble, nearer and nearer swept down the successful onslaught of the enemy. Plainly, no time was to be lost. Though we were still marching in column, the order to load without halting was given, and the men marched, and loaded, and cursed the fugitives, all at the same time. Then came the order to form in line of battle, and go into position. Being a non-combatant, I drew up beside the road, upon a little knoll, where several batteries of the Seventeenth Corps artillery were planted, to watch the process. It was while sitting there upon my horse, that I saw Colonel Stevens pass by, leading his command; and, as I have said, his appearance then comes first to my memory, when I call up the examples of individual soldiership that have fallen under my observation. I can neither forget nor describe it. His natural, habitual bearing was military. That I had noticed the first time I saw him, in the spring of 1861, when he was fresh from the court-room and his law, it was in such marked contrast with that of the generality of volunteers; but on this occasion all the soldier in him roused to its highest pitch: it was splendid. If a face ever reflected the gaudium certaminis, his did then. It was a noble, handsome face, always alive with expression, and now it shone with a light of eagerness and daring that made one forget the surroundings for a minute, to look at it. Truly it was a goodly sight to see that calm, undaunted front, amid the terror that was manifest on every hand. It relieved the depression of calamity, and seemed to afford reason for believing that the waning fortunes of the day would yet be restored. [146] Every little while he turned in his saddle, and cast his eye over the regiment pressing close behind, as if in that way to impart his own high spirit to his men; and that he did so was soon after fully proven.

The Excelsior Brigade was thrown out on the right of the plank-road, down which the enemy was advancing, and upon which Jackson, who had conceived and executed this brilliant move, intending to cut off and annihilate the army of the United States, was that evening so mysteriously killed. During the night the brigade threw up a line of log breastworks, strengthened by abatis, in preparation for the attack expected in the morning. The men were weary and hungry, but rest they had none: the constant alarms and driving in of the pickets kept them on the alert all night.

At daylight of the 3d, the enemy opened with artillery and musketry. For some hours the line was gallantly defended, until its left flank, resting on the road, was turned, and the breastworks enfiladed. Regiment by regiment the brigade broke off from the left before the column that bore down upon it. To meet its advance, Colonel Stevens immediately ordered a change of front; and while the movement was being executed, he was struck by a minie — ball, which pierced his chest. As the regiment was driven past him, he called to one of his old company, unclasped his sword, and gave it with the words, ‘Carry it to my wife,—remember me to my boy.’

Captain Bliss and two men attempted to raise him. The officer was shot, and the yelling masses of the enemy immediately closed around him. ‘Several of his men,’ writes his brigade commander, who regarded him with ‘particular affection,’—‘several of his men and officers come to me actually crying with grief to announce his fall.’

He was carried to a hospital at the house of a Mr. Chancellor, near the Wilderness Church, on the plank-road. He was tenderly cared for by our own surgeons and by the enemy, bearing his suffering with patient composure, and at times unconscious. When a wounded sergeant of his regiment came [147] to his side and asked what he could do for him, the answer was, ‘Nothing, unless you close column by division.’ That day his thoughts seemed to dwell upon his men, his regiment, though he was too feeble to say much.

The next day he was removed into a small bed-chamber, and the ball, which had passed from left to right through his breast and shoulder, was extracted from its lodgement in the arm. He seemed relieved, talked freely for a while of home, of his wife and boys, his father, and his country, and with his wonted cheerful smile expressed the hope that he might recover. When at noon an officer came to parole such as were fit to take the oath, he took the pen and blank form in his hand, looked first at the one, then at the other, then gave them back, saying he could not write.

During the afternoon he became delirious; again his thoughts went back to the battle-field, and he called, as if to his men, ‘Forward, men, steady!’ Then he sank quietly, and in the early evening passed away.

The chaplain of the Third North Carolina Volunteers, Rev. George Patterson, who had been struck with the appearance of the wounded officer, had procured him a bed and privacy, had washed his body, had bathed his temples, and had tenderly watched over him. ‘I thank God fervently,’ he afterwards wrote to Colonel Stevens's father, ‘that it was my privilege to nurse him. . . . . He was gentle and tender; the heart of a woman in the body of a warrior.’ And a surgeon of the opposing army told the father that so gallant and soldierly was the young man's aspect, he had called in several brother officers to look at him.

A further extract from the graphic narrative of Mr. Twichell will show the impression left among the officers of our own army.

So far as I ever knew or heard, his military life was without reproach; and every commander he had, from old Joe Hooker down, had marked him as one of the most promising young officers in the Potomac Army. Indeed, his corps commander once told me that he had been only waiting till he should have fought one battle as [148] Colonel (he had lately been promoted to that rank) before recommending him for further advancement. He lacked no quality requisite to the utmost success in the profession of arms. He was rarely skilled in the science of it, had a strong natural liking for it, and possessed to a wonderful degree the power of controlling his men and inspiring them with enthusiastic confidence in him. Poor fellow! I saw them crying in the ranks as they stood presenting arms to his body when it was brought back from over the river.

As a man, too, he was singularly free from faults. To his soldierly traits and accomplishments he added the rarer virtues of Christian morality. He was a steadfast example of modesty, purity, and temperance; yet at the same time his tent was one of the cheeriest places to spend an evening in that the army afforded; for he was the most genial entertainer, and knew the art of good-fellowship to perfection. His generosity and charity were of the kind that “never faileth.” I recall an instance illustrative of this, which I was told by those who witnessed it.

At one time a captain of his regiment, mistakenly conceiving himself injured by the Colonel in some official transaction, for several weeks cherished and expressed a bitter spirit toward him, and avoided meeting him as much as he could. Meanwhile the Colonel took no notice of the matter, but invariably spoke of and to the captain, without manifesting displeasure with his conduct, though its injustice must have deeply offended him.

Finally, however, it was made known to the captain in some way that he had been entirely wrong in the case, and going to the Colonel in person, he acknowledged his fault and made a full apology. It was a scene not easily to be forgotten, when that same evening, at the customary meeting of the regimental officers for training in tactics, the Colonel made the reconciliation public, by taking the captain's hand before them all, and openly declaring his satisfaction in the fact that they were friends again. This same officer was also fatally wounded at Chancellorsville, and it was commonly reported after the battle that he was struck while stooping over the Colonel, having been the first to reach his side after he fell.

Chaplain Patterson took from Colonel Stevens's neck a locket of his wife's hair, and sent it to her, with his papers. The body, dressed in uniform, was wrapped in a blanket, and laid in the ground near the old Wilderness Church. It was [149] soon after exhumed by one of our surgeons, placed in a rude coffin made from a door of the church, and delivered to the father at the ford. After resting awhile in the Governor's room in New York City, it was transported to Dunkirk, where it lay in state, under guard, till the day of the funeral.

All classes and ages assembled to do honor to him whose sympathetic nature, kindly to all, was in turn beloved by all. Resolutions of honor had been previously adopted by the officers of the Excelsior Brigade, by the Supreme Court, by the members of the bar in that county, and by the citizens of Dunkirk. And just before the burial, the grim Arsenal was the scene of a most touching ceremony. The infant son of Colonel Stevens, held over his lifeless body, was baptized with the customary forms of the Church, assigned the name of his father, and sanctified to the cause in defence of which that father had sacrificed this world's ease and successes, friends, wife, child, and the immeasurable opportunities of life.

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