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Chapter 4: our first campaign.--battle of Fair Oaks. About the middle of March we broke camp and took up our line of march for our first campaign. We bade good-by to our tents, which had sheltered us since we left Massachusetts, and sent them to Washington with our extra personal baggage, where I expect they are to-day, as we never received them again. We marched to the river, then up the towpath of the canal to Harper's Ferry, forded the Potomac at Point of Rocks, and for the first time our feet pressed the sacred soil of Virginia. We saw here the devastations of war,--the ruins of the old arsenal that had been burned by the rebels, the dilapidated and vacant houses,--but most interesting to us was the old engine-house, where John Brown made his gallant fight. This we found filled with rebel prisoners. Truly, we said, his soul is marching on. As soon as arms were stacked we rushed to the arsenal ruins for relics. I found an old gun-lock and several other parts of muskets
March 24th (search for this): chapter 6
e offence was not repeated. With Captain Devereaux, who joined us at Muddy Branch, came more recruits, and the regiment was now full, Company A having had for a few days one hundred and two enlisted men, several of the old men were discharged, bringing us down to the required number. A fine band was attached to the regiment, and having become very well drilled in the manual, our dress parades were almost perfect, and were witnessed by nearly all the soldiers and citizens in the town. March 24 we received marching orders. Crossing the river we took cars at Point of Rocks for Washington, where we arrived the next day. We remained in Washington two days, then marched to the navy yard and took the old transport North America for Fortress Monroe. In no place is the life of a soldier so hard as on a transport. Crowded between decks like cattle, unable to cook or even make coffee, they must subsist on what rations are issued and drink the water from the casks. The crews are alway
stop to register, but took possession of the rooms and passed a comfortable night. Next morning we reembarked, and reached Fortress Monroe during the night. The following day we landed and marched to Hampton, where we found the Army of the Potomac awaiting the arrival of our division. We encamped here about two weeks, quartered in Sibley tents. We were not required to drill often, and the time was pleasantly passed in visiting the several Massachusetts regiments in the army. Early in April the grand Army of the Potomac moved towards Yorktown. It was a grand army, every regiment having its full quota. The experience of the previous months had made them reliable as soldiers. Incompetent officers and disabled men had been discharged, and those now on duty were filled with patriotic enthusiasm. They only desired a chance to fight, clear up the war and go home. Every man had confidence in General McClellan, and almost believed that he was sent by the Lord to lead us to victory
ce that could be heard a quarter of a mile. D-n him, I am the sickest man in the company, was his indignant answer; but he went on duty just the same, and never again answered sick call until wounded. Such cases were the exception, however, and every day the number grew less, as our men were ordered back to general hospital. The works we were erecting were of the strongest kind, as it was intended to besiege Yorktown, and the heaviest guns were mounted for that purpose. Sunday morning, May 4, found the regiment on picket duty. It had been a lively night, as the shelling had been constant. Lieutenant Hume, in charge of an outpost, believed that the rebels had left the works in his front; sending his opinion back to the commanding officer, he started to cross the field. No gun was fired and he continued on. The regiment was then ordered forward double quick, as others had seen Lieutenant Hume and were anxious to be first in the works, but the 19th could run either to the front
ber,--Send a man to take Daniel Webster's place. We supposed Daniel had been shot, but if a man was wanted to fill the place of our lamented Daniel Webster, we did not think Company A could spare the man. After a sharp fight the rebels fell back and we began the march up the peninsula. The condition of the roads was such that we halted more than we marched, but at last we reached the banks of the Chickahominy River, and were ordered on picket between Bottom and Grape Vine bridges. Saturday, May 31, the battle of Fair Oaks began. We were not relieved from picket until Sunday morning, when we were ordered to the front; here we were marched from right to left and left to right, constantly under fire but not really engaged. We were at times passing over portions of the field that had been held by the rebels, and the ground was strewn with the dead and wounded. When the battle ended we were ordered on picket, where we remained ten days, having a brush with the rebel pickets every d
June 25th (search for this): chapter 6
eft to right, constantly under fire but not really engaged. We were at times passing over portions of the field that had been held by the rebels, and the ground was strewn with the dead and wounded. When the battle ended we were ordered on picket, where we remained ten days, having a brush with the rebel pickets every day. We were then given a few days' rest and ordered to the front, where we threw up a line of works and remained there while the army held the advance position. On the 25th of June General Hooker asked for one regiment from Sumner's corps to assist in the attack on the rebel lines in our front. The 19th was selected. We advanced in front of our intrenchments and were soon hotly engaged. Led on by our gallant colonel, we soon had the rebels in full retreat, and had the army advanced at that time I am confident we could have marched into Richmond in five hours, as we were only a few miles from the city. Just as we were ready to make the final charge an aid came to
en burned by the rebels, the dilapidated and vacant houses,--but most interesting to us was the old engine-house, where John Brown made his gallant fight. This we found filled with rebel prisoners. Truly, we said, his soul is marching on. As soon as arms were stacked we rushed to the arsenal ruins for relics. I found an old gun-lock and several other parts of muskets. These I packed in my knapsack,--and the next day threw them away. With other regiments we marched up the valley to join Banks's division, and bivouacked at Charlestown in the field where John Brown was hanged. The next morning Company A was ordered back to Harper's Ferry for provost duty. The rest of the regiment marched on, but in a few days returned and took position on Bolivar Heights, occupying deserted houses. Captain Merritt was appointed provost marshal at the ferry and everything was soon in military order, the company quartered in houses, the officers boarding in the town. One day Captain Merritt, w
John Brown (search for this): chapter 6
our feet pressed the sacred soil of Virginia. We saw here the devastations of war,--the ruins of the old arsenal that had been burned by the rebels, the dilapidated and vacant houses,--but most interesting to us was the old engine-house, where John Brown made his gallant fight. This we found filled with rebel prisoners. Truly, we said, his soul is marching on. As soon as arms were stacked we rushed to the arsenal ruins for relics. I found an old gun-lock and several other parts of muskets. These I packed in my knapsack,--and the next day threw them away. With other regiments we marched up the valley to join Banks's division, and bivouacked at Charlestown in the field where John Brown was hanged. The next morning Company A was ordered back to Harper's Ferry for provost duty. The rest of the regiment marched on, but in a few days returned and took position on Bolivar Heights, occupying deserted houses. Captain Merritt was appointed provost marshal at the ferry and everything
gan army life in earnest. Our rations were served to us uncooked, and company cooks ordered to the ranks. A company cook is a peculiar being; he generally knows less about cooking than any man in the company. Not being able to learn the drill, and too dirty to appear on inspection, he is sent to the cook house to get him out of the ranks. We were not sorry when the cook house was abolished. The first day after our arrival the 19th and 20th Massachusetts regiments, under command of General Dana, were ordered to reconnoitre the enemy's works. We discovered a fortification near Winn's Mill, and the 19th was ordered to march through a piece of woods, then along the front, and discern its extent. We did this under a sharp fire of musketry. It was not our intention to attack, but as Company E, commanded by the brave but impulsive Captain Mahoney, was fired upon, he ordered the men to charge the works, and would have done so had not Colonel Hincks recalled him. Like a true Irishman
ere ordered to support Captain Porter, 1st Massachusetts battery. At West Point we saw a feature that we never saw before, or at any other time during the war. It was a human telegraph. A line of men was deployed some twenty feet apart, and extended from the line of battle to headquarters. The men at the front would start the message, and it would be repeated by each turning the head to the rear as he spoke. One message I remember,--Send a man to take Daniel Webster's place. We supposed Daniel had been shot, but if a man was wanted to fill the place of our lamented Daniel Webster, we did not think Company A could spare the man. After a sharp fight the rebels fell back and we began the march up the peninsula. The condition of the roads was such that we halted more than we marched, but at last we reached the banks of the Chickahominy River, and were ordered on picket between Bottom and Grape Vine bridges. Saturday, May 31, the battle of Fair Oaks began. We were not relieved fr
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