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Sumner Paine.

Second Lieutenant 20th Mass. Vols. (Infantry), April 23, 1863; killed at Gettysburg, Pa., July 3, 1863.

A brief sketch of Sumner Paine is all that will be of general interest, as his life was short and he was in the service of his country only two months. He was born May 10, 1845, son of Charles C. Paine of Boston, and great-grandson of Robert Treat Paine, a patriot of the Revolution. His mother was Fanny C., daughter of Hon. Charles Jackson.

When eleven years old, he went with his family to Europe, and even at that age explored with great interest all the ruins in and around Rome. The summer in Switzerland was an intense delight to him; he accompanied his brothers in two pedestrian excursions among the Alps, exploring most of the passes of central Switzerland and the valleys of Zermatt .and Chamouni, and climbing some of the highest mountains without the least fatigue. Twenty or thirty miles a day over a high mountain pass was to him the height of enjoyment. At the end of his last day's walk, over the Gemmi, from Lenkerbad to Interlachen, a good forty miles, he was fresh and brisk. His letters to his young friends at home described vividly these different scenes, in boyish but graphic words.

He returned to Boston in 1858, at the age of thirteen, and re-entered the Latin School, where he soon regained the ground he had lost in his two years absence, ranking there as first scholar. He entered Harvard College in July, 1861. He learned with great ease, and took a high stand in his Class; but he had a strong desire, from the very beginning of the war, to take part in it, and this prevented his feeling such an interest in his college studies and duties as he would have felt in more peaceful times. He entered the army in May, 1863, as Second Lieutenant in the Twentieth Massachusetts [454] Volunteers. He well knew the history of this regiment, and its reputation for discipline and gallantry, as proved by the unusual losses among its officers; but instead of deterring him, these facts were his chief attraction. He received his commission with pleasure; and with high resolves to make himself a thorough soldier,—a career for which he was admirably adapted in physique and mental power,—he hastened instantly to his post. Just eighteen years old, he joined his regiment at Fredericksburg, late on Saturday evening, May 2d, receiving a warm welcome from his brother officers. Early on the following morning began the battle of Chancellorsville. Captain O. W. Holmes was very soon wounded, and Lieutenant Paine took the command of his company, which place he held through that terrible day; and he was, according to all statements, calm and cool.

Then came the forced marches which carried our army to Gettysburg, and the battle that followed. Wednesday and Thursday had left the fortunes of war trembling in the balance. On Friday, July 3, 1863, the Second Corps, under Hancock, held the left centre of our line, midway between the Cemetery and the Round Top,—the lowest part of our lines, left by nature the easiest to assault, and thus the key to our position. It was here that General Lee ordered Pickett's division, composed in good part of veteran Virginia troops, and supported by another column, to make their last terrible assault. Not a shot was fired by the Twentieth Massachusetts till the enemy were near, and Lieutenant-Colonel Macy gave the order. Then its fire was quick and deadly. Though directly in front of them, the enemy did not reach them; but ten or twenty rods to their right, the weight of the enemy crushed through our line, passing over it, perhaps thirty or forty yards, up a little hill. It was the crisis of the day, if not the turning-point of the war. General Hancock, in command of the corps, and General Gibbon, in command of the division, had both been wounded. Colonel Hall, commanding the brigade, was hurrying up his men. Lieutenant-Colonel Macy received orders from him to lead the Twentieth Massachusetts against [455] the enemy. He gave his orders to Captain Abbott, who commanded the right company, and to his Adjutant, but before they were repeated to any one else, both himself and his Adjutant were shot down. Captain Abbott led his company, and the other companies seeing the movement, and with the instinct of assault, followed. Other troops came up. It was in this attack, in the thickest of the fight, and exposing himself in front of his men, that Lieutenant Paine was struck by a ball which broke his leg. Falling on one knee he waved his sword, and urged on his men, and was at that moment struck by a shell, which caused instant death. His last words, just before he fell, were, ‘Is n't this glorious?’

The Twentieth Massachusetts mustered that night only three officers and twenty men. But of Pickett's assaulting column, a still smaller proportion was left, for there were few who crossed our line without being killed or captured.

The fittest record of Lieutenant Paine's bright promise as an officer and of his heroic death is in the following words of the lamented Major Abbott:—

There is one thing I can bear testimony to, and that is his wonderful talent in making himself one of the most accomplished officers I knew in the army in two months time. His memory and application were so great that in a month's time he knew the whole book of tactics and regulations, and commanded a division in battalion and brigade drill as well as any old officer, besides doing all his guard and police duty with an exactness, a rigor, an enthusiasm, that the commanding officer in vain tried to stimulate in some of the older officers, sparing neither himself nor his men. When Lieutenant Paine was officer of the guard, his influence was felt by the remotest sentinel on the outskirts of the town. His intelligence and discipline and indomitable resolution were so fully recognized by Colonel Macy, that he often spoke of promoting him. Besides Lieutenant Summerhays, who saw him as I have described, he was seen by Lieutenant Perkins during the action, his face, according to both, actually glowing with pleasure, as it used in Falmouth when he had the best of an argument. He used always to be asking me how an officer should bear himself in battle, when he should be behind and when before his men. I had always rather understated than overstated the amount of danger it was necessary [456] to incur, because I had seen at Fredericksburg that he would be rather disposed to expose himself too much than otherwise. He certainly carried out to the letter the duty, as he used to describe it, of an officer charging at the head of his men, and he evidently felt all the joy he supposed he should. His body was found close to the fence where the Rebels made their last desperate stand.


Cabot Jackson Russel.

Sergeant 44th Mass. Vols. (Infantry), September 12, 1862; first Lieutenant 54th Mass. Vols. March 23, 1863; Captain, May 11, 1863; killed at Fort Wagner, S. C., July 18, 1863.

Cabot Jackson Russel was born in New York on the 21st of July, 1844. He was the son of William C. Russel, a lawyer of that city, and Sarah Cabot, daughter of Patrick T. Jackson of Boston. His mother died a few days after his birth, and for the first nine years of his life his home was in the house of his grandmother, Mrs. Jackson, in Boston. In 1853 he removed to his father's house, and attended school in New York.

During these childish years his family remember his passion for playing knight-errant, wounded soldier, Mexican volunteer; his untiring interest in Apollyon's fight with Christian, and in all stories of battles; also the number of copy-books he filled with his compositions of warlike adventure by land and sea. These last are very spirited, and exhibit remarkable power of combination. And it is worth our remembering that, after John Brown's death, his picture always hung over this boy's bed.

He remained with his father until 1860, when he returned to Boston and entered the Latin School. After one year's study, he was admitted to the Freshman Class in Harvard University. At that period he was a very attractive boy, and among many whose hearts he won was the writer of these pages, who, though his superior in years, and at first merely a casual acquaintance, soon felt for him that intimate esteem which sterling and lovable qualities insure. His person was handsome, and his features, especially his eyes, were most expressive. His buoyant spirits animated a simple, confiding heart, and with the sweetest temper he combined manners so winning that life seemed brighter for his presence. Only [458] a few words were necessary, perhaps only a glance or a smile, to excite a friendly feeling; for both old and young liked to breathe his fresh life, and even the rough fishermen of Beverly, with whom he made frequent excursions in his summer vacations, were always glad to help him in his plans.

But his pleasant qualities were not the only attractions to those who knew him well. He had a persistency and force of character which, although not fully brought into action except under the pressure of responsibility, were readily felt by those intimate with him. His impulses sprang from a basis of character which was felt to be solid, and he never seemed to be influenced by small or ignoble motives. He possessed, too, the magnetic art of infusing his own spirit and energy into the minds of others; and the qualities which were most highly appreciated by his superior officers, when he was in the service, endeared him to the companions of his boyhood.

His perfect health of body and temperament made life very delightful to him. ‘It flowed gayly on like some rejoicing stream,’ and it was natural that an existence like his, ‘full, warm of blood, of mirth, of gossiping,’ should at first show but little of serious purpose.

Thus endowed, rich in the love of friends and in the delights of his young life, Cabot unsuspectingly approached the struggle with himself. His first experience ended in mortification. His gay and social temperament led him away from his duties, after his entrance into College. He remained there only a few months, and was then suspended, in consequence of inattention to his studies. It was a necessary lesson; and he never spoke of this time, and of its wasted opportunities, without expressing deep regret.

He returned to New York, and devoted himself to his Greek and Latin. While thus engaged, it was proposed to him, in the spring of 1862, to join a party of scientific men in a trip across the Western prairies, by way of Salt Lake. The prospect of such a journey was very fascinating, and the advantages of it seemed to his friends very great. He was [459] allowed, therefore, to undertake it; but only upon the express stipulation that he was to return and resume his studies by a certain day.

There were, as usual, great delays in starting, and the expedition was by no means one of ease and comfort. The party incurred all the risks and hardships of emigrant trains, yet no trial cast a cloud over Cabot's cheerfulness, and his companions bear witness to his unflagging spirit and sweet temper. ‘Whoever else,’ one of them says, ‘might be discouraged or out of humor, Cabot was always bright and ready to help.’ His natural humor found infinite fun in the various little contretemps of the journey, and from every small disaster he managed to extract some pleasure. Adventure was his element, and he found an attraction in the Western desert, which, as he fancied, would determine his choice of an occupation. But no Western ranches or droves of horses were to justify his dreams.

At Fort Laramie, on his journey out, he heard of the seven days battles before Richmond. In a letter dated Fort Laramie, June 10, 1862, he says: ‘The officers gave us their telegrams, which told all they knew, and these said McClellan fought seven days, retreated, and lost twenty thousand men. We do not know whether that is true or not, and I don't know about Jim or Charley (Lowell). If anything has happened to either of them, father, I shall want to enlist as soon as I get back.’ While at Fort Bridger, he received a letter telling him of Lieutenant James Lowell's death. He forwarded the letter to the companion from whom he had just parted, writing across it, ‘Now I shall certainly go.’

In another letter speaking of the late battles and of his sad loss he writes, ‘Since then I have wanted doubly to go, and I wish—how I wish—father would let me.’

At Fort Bridger he learned that, if he went to Salt Lake, it was doubtful whether he could return by the day fixed. He was within a few days of the most interesting object of their journey, but the opportunities for returning were uncertain. He therefore gave up the trip, and turned his face [460] eastward. What he saw in passing through Missouri confirmed him in his wish to help put down the rebellion. He reached home before the time appointed, and upon his arrival his friends were struck with the great change in him. He himself felt like a different person. He had become very athletic, and his clear eye and bronzed complexion testified to his rugged health. He had not lost his winning ways, and they evidently came from a heart grown more manly. But the change was more radical. His whole soul was now bent on joining the army. It was not merely the death of his cousin nor his sympathy with heroic enterprise that seemed to influence him, but an earnest wish to perform a worthy part in the contest. He was not appalled at the prospect of losing his life or of being crippled, nor did he appear ambitious of military fame, or anxious to join a crack regiment. He thought the artillery was the most dangerous and honorable post, and preferred it on that account, but he was willing to take the position of private in any regiment in any arm of the service.

Mr. Russel did not at once yield to his son's entreaties. Though he warmly sympathized with his wishes, he foresaw that his son's whole future would be changed by yielding to them, and he waited some days to assure himself of the character of his motives. When he became satisfied, he consented to his joining the Forty-fourth Massachusetts. This regiment was then recruiting under command of Colonel F. L. Lee, and Cabot immediately went to Readville and asked to be enlisted as a private. His age at this time was just eighteen years. Two weeks subsequently he was appointed to a vacant sergeantcy in Company F, Captain Storrow, in which office he served through the Tarborough and Goldsborough campaigns, and through the uneventful period of the following January and February. He was treated with much kindness by his superior officers, who highly commended his pluck, endurance, and fidelity to duty. His letters at this time are full of hope for the future, and of an eager desire to improve in his military duties. Under date of October 28th he writes:— [461]

There is good prospect of fighting for the nine-months men, so we feel very bully. When we get under way in drill we shall have a battalion drill every morning and a brigade drill every afternoon. So I shall learn something of big manoeuvring, if I could only get the smaller ones. To know and to execute are very different things.

Under date of November 1st, he writes with much simplicity:—

We are all in splendid spirits and very jolly, and I cannot bring myself now to think of the fight to-morrow in a religious light, though I feel very earnest and determined. I hope I and the regiment will behave well. I think we shall.

On the next day the regiment set out on an expedition. While marching in the dark they were attacked, and a short but sharp action took place, in which our sergeant was for the first time under fire. He bore himself bravely and with a coolness that was creditable to so young a recruit.

A few days later he writes:—

The interest of our life has fizzled out, and we are not to go on the expedition which is now at Morehead. . . . . We and the Fifth Rhode Island are left behind. Is it not rough to lose the honor of having Charleston on our flags?

And again:—

O, do not think of giving up! How can one? I had rather fight forever than go back and be what we must be.

As the winter wore away it became evident that he would not be willing to leave the service; and as the term of his enlistment drew towards its close, his appeals for a place in the artillery or cavalry became more earnest. In response to them an effort had already been made to obtain a commission for him, when on the 4th of March, 1863, he suddenly made his appearance in Boston. The cause of this was soon explained.

During the last few months the question as to the employment of colored troops had often been discussed by him while in camp, and especially with his friends Simpkins and Sergeant [462] James. The former was several years older than his two young companions, and of so noble a character that Cabot's friends acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to him for his good influence over their absent soldier-boy. The result was, that when Governor Andrew wrote to Colonel Lee, requesting him to send from his regiment a certain number of young men as officers for the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, Cabot was among those to whom the offer was made. It was a question of duty against inclination, but he did not hesitate. His decision gave great pleasure to his friends, who knew his previous anxiety to join a different service, and who had refrained from expressing their wishes in this respect, because they would not interfere with the freedom of his choice.

He entered the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, commanded by Colonel Robert G. Shaw, in company with Adjutant Garth Wilkinson James, to whom he was deeply attached, and his very kind friend and adviser, Captain (afterwards Brevet Brigadier-General) A. S. Hartwell. Captain Simpkins joined the regiment at a later period. Cabot served at first as Second Lieutenant in Captain Hartwell's company, but soon received the command of Company H, then newly forming. He found the men neither so awkward nor so dull of apprehension as he had supposed, and the ridicule he had expected did not annoy him. ‘After the first burst of laughter was over,’ he says, ‘I have had nothing to stand against, and sympathy from a great many quarters where I did not expect it.’

And yet he saw great difficulties in the future, and, under the new responsibility, was doubtful as to his fitness for his office. This stimulated rather than impaired his efforts, and notwithstanding his youth he became noted for careful drill and discipline, so that his men improved rapidly under his instructions, and appeared well in camp and on parade. Still, much was wanting to their complete efficiency as soldiers; and in the performance of his duty their young Captain obeyed his own conscience and the kind and wise counsels of his Colonel, the bright exemplar of fidelity to whom he looked in his moments of doubt. [463]

On the 3d of June the Fifty-fourth reached Hilton Head, and on the 10th took part in an expedition to Florida, under command of Colonel Montgomery, in the course of which they burned the deserted town of Darien, ‘by order of the commanding officer.’ He writes: ‘This is not the sort of work I came for, nor do I believe it good work, but it is not for me to criticise. Colonel Montgomery, I think, has caught some Kansas ideas about retribution which hardly belong to civilized warfare.’ On the 15th of July the regiment was at James Island, and early on the next morning the three companies on picket duty, of which Company H was one, were attacked by a considerable force of the enemy. They behaved very well, and were complimented by the commanding general. The following letter gives an account of the action.

off Morris Island, July 17, 1863.

dear father,—We have had an engagement on a small scale; all officers safe, but alas for my poor men! Simpkins, Willard, and myself were detailed for picket on the 15th instant, with our companies. We went out, Simpkins's and my companies on the line, Willard's in reserve. We went out at six P. M. All night the Rebel lines were uneasy, and my men kept firing on their scouts. Just at daybreak Simpkins's line was violently driven in, the enemy thus turning my flank and getting behind me . . . . . They had a large force, and we had to retreat, firing as we went; it was a double-quick run all the way, but the Rebels were at the reservehouse as soon as we. Then we had to get to camp, fighting as we could. My right was entirely cut off and driven into a marsh, where they were slaughtered, but fought like demons. One of my sergeants, named Wilson, was surrounded, but killed from three to six before he went under. A man named Preston Williams saved my life. As we reached the reserve-house, the reserve was driven in, and a cavalry officer charged at me and cut twice at my head. The first time the blade missed, and the second Williams caught on his bayonet, and shot the man through the neck and head. The most wonderful part was that I knew nothing about it till I was told after the fight was long over. I was very sorry I had not known of it at the time, as I could have shot the officer with my revolver, which I held in my hand ready for close fighting. . . . .

My loss was very heavy; out of about seventy men I had on [464] picket, the total loss, killed, wounded, and missing, was, forty-five men,—pretty heavy for three companies. When we reached our line it was in order of battle, the batteries ready, and the gunboats. Then the Rebels caught it. They were sent back double-quick. The whole regiment then went on picket, was relieved that night, and marched by causeways to the neighborhood of Folly Island. . . . . My men report three to have surrendered, and then to have been shot; but wounded men were often kindly treated, and told not to be alarmed, as they should not be harmed. This last was where officers were. In the marsh, where my men were, there were no officers, and, of course, no restraint. Wilson was a splendid fellow: he died like a hero. Where he lay was tramped in a circle of twenty feet or so where he had kept three cavalry men and some infantry at bay. Good by, dear father; my men did nobly.

This was the last letter that his friends received from Captain Russel. His fellow-officers relate that he was very much gratified by the good behavior and spirit of his men, and that during the march of the next two days he seemed very happy and pleasant. A short sketch of those days is added from the pen of his friend, Adjutant James, who was himself severely wounded, and barely escaped with life from the assault on Fort Wagner:—

Captain Russel took part in the sharp skirmish on James Island on the 16th of July, where his company bore the brunt of the battle, and he showed distinguished ability and courage. When the skirmish line was driven in by an overwhelming force of the enemy, he was ordered to regain the old position, and to hold it at all hazards. Accordingly he deployed his skirmish line, advancing anxiously and boldly, with field-glass in one hand and sword in the other, rallying his men by fours and by platoons, as the necessity of the moment required, and capturing himself the first prisoner of the day. He sent back word to his Colonel in less than thirty minutes that his line was formed fifty yards in advance of the old one.

On the night of the 17th instant, orders were received to join General Strong's brigade, then at the front of Morris Island. About three o'clock of the afternoon of the 18th, the Fifty-fourth reported for duty to Brigadier-General Strong, and was placed by him at the head of an assaulting column, then forming on the beach in front of Fort Wagner, which was the objective point. Company [465] H held the left of the second line of the regiment, which position was the most dangerous on account of its proximity to the flanking fire of James Island.

At dusk of that night the column was ordered forward, and Russel, with an ardor and devotion which never wavered, threw himself upon his death. When last seen by those who survived, he was lying mortally wounded on the ground, and across him the body of his dear friend, Captain William H. Simpkins, his comrade in arms and in death, than whom the country has lost no nobler and more devoted servant during the war.

My friendship with Cabot began with our joint entrance into military life; and from the first moment to the last of that friendship, it presented him full of honor. For one so young he displayed striking ability and strength of character; so that when, at the age of eighteen years, he was placed in command of men of the Fortyfourth, many of them ten years his seniors, graduates of the University, they gladly recognized his title to their confidence and support. Pre-eminently conscientious in all his military duties, frank, sweet-tempered, manly, handsome, he won the respect and personal devotion of his officers and men.

From temperament and principle he was an enthusiast for freedom; and no one entered into the war with a greater conviction than he that it was bound up intimately with the interests of liberty. He had no sooner made his choice between the promptings of inclination and those claims he deemed of paramount importance, than his sympathies grew with the enforcement of the negroes' rights. He would gladly have devoted his life, if it had been protracted, to this cause. As it was, he gave it up in its very flower, with a zeal, a courage, a disinterestedness, unsurpassed even in the annals of the war.

The darkness of night hung over the sufferings of that sacrifice where the noblest and the best, appointed to lead blat soldiers to death, and prove that they were men, had obeyed the order. When our troops fell back from an assault in which they were not supported, hundreds of dead and wounded marked how far they had gone. Among those who did not return was Captain Russel. A ball struck him in the shoulder and he fell. Captain Simpkins offered to carry him off. But the boy had become a veteran in a moment, [466] and the answer was, ‘No, but you may straighten me out.’ As his friend, true to the end, was rendering this last service, a bullet pierced his breast, and his dead body fell over the dying.

Some of his soldiers offered to carry him off, but his last order was, ‘Do not touch me, move on, men; follow your colors’; and they left him. He was not quite nineteen, and he was breathing his spirit out in suffering, in the darkness of night, amid the roar of musketry and cannon. But he lay by the side of a dear friend, in the steps where his hero leader had fallen, and surrounded by hundreds whom he had helped to raise to be men and fellow-soldiers. There was no one there to receive his last words of affection, but his generous impulses in behalf of his country and his fellowmen were becoming through his blood an element of the nation's life. No stone need mark the place where his bones moulder, for future generations will reverently point to the holy ground where the colonel and two captains of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts were buried with their soldiers.

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