The mutinous volunteers.
A letter from Washington
to the Philadelphia Press gives a long account of the recent mutiny in the New York 79th, or Highland Regiment.
One cause of the difficulty seems to have been that the men did not wish to join the brigade of Gen. Sickles
, to which they had been assigned, while it is also stated that they claimed the right to go at the expiration of three months service, which was denied them.
The regiment was drawn up into line to hear the orders of Gen. McClellan
, namely, that the ringleaders of the mutiny were to be placed in arrest, and the regiment was to be ordered to fall in by company and march to the quarters assigned them in Virginia
, and if they refused to obey this order they were to be fired upon.
The writer proceeds:
The scene during the reading was exceedingly impressive.
The sun was just going down, and in the haxy, uncertain twilight the features and forms of officers and men could scarcely be distinguished.
Immediately behind his aid was Gen. Porter
, firm and self-possessed.
was in front of his own regiment, endeavoring to quiet his rather nervous horse.
In the rear of the regulars, and a little distance apart, Gen. Sickles
sat carelessly on horseback, coolly smoking a cigar and conversing with a friend.
At one time during the reading a murmur passed through the line of the mutineers, and when that portion of the order directing to surrender its colors was read, a private in one of the rear companies cried out in broad Scotch tones.--‘"Let's keep the colors, boys !"’ No response was made by the remainder of the regiment.
at once rode up the line to where the voice was heard.
It would have been more than that soldiers' life was worth had he been discovered at the moment, in pistol range, by any of the officers.
When the reading was concluded, a voice cried out, ‘"fire !"’ and a number of spectators in the rear of the infantry, supposing the work of death about to commence, ran a little distance to escape the balls.
After the orders had been read, General Porter
said to Colonel Stevens
, ‘"Point out the leaders."’ A squad of men were detailed from the battalion to accompany the Colonel
, who went from company to company and designated the obnoxious members.
They were marched to the rear to the number of forty or fifty, and placed under arrest.
This operation took some time, and it was dark before the arrest was completed.
The final order was then given to wheel by company into column and march to the quarters in Virginia
This was the order which they had disobeyed in the morning, and which, if again disobeyed, would have been followed by a fire from the regular infantry.
There seemed to be a moment's delay, but the mutinous volunteers, evidently seeing that resistance was useless, reluctantly obeyed, and took up the line of march to their quarters.
The arrested leaders were taken to the guard house, while the remainder of the regiment was escorted by the cavalry and the battery.
The news of this disaffection has created a deep feeling of grief among the friends of the 79th.
It has been said that the intrigues of some of its officers have caused the present trouble, but of this I know nothing.
A strict investigation will be entered into, and some of the ringleaders may be shot, as an example to this and other regiments.