Marshaling the Federal army
Charles King, Brigadier-General, United State Volunteers
Union men wore anxious faces early in the spring of 1861.
For months the newspapers had been filled with accounts of the seizure of Government forts and arsenals all over the South
State after State had seceded, and the New York Tribune
, edited by Horace Greeley
, had bewildered the North
and encouraged the South
by declaring that if the latter desired to set up a governments of its own it had every moral right to do so. The little garrison of Fort Moultrie
, in Charleston Harbor
, threatened by a superior force and powerless against land attack, had spiked its guns on Christmas night, in 1860, and pulled away for Sumter
, perched on its islet of rocks a mile from shore, hoisted the Stars and Stripes, and there, in spite of pitiful numbers, with a Southern-born soldier at its head, practically defied all South Carolina
The Star of the West
had been loaded with soldiers and supplies at New York, and sent to Sumter
Then South Carolina
, duly warned, had manned the guns of Morris Island
and driven her black to sea. Not content with that, South Carolina
, the envy of an applauding sisterhood of Southern States, had planted batteries on every point within range of Sumter
All the North
could see that its fate was sealed, and no one, when the 1st of April came, could say just how the North
would take it.
The second week settled the question.
With one accord, on April 12th, the Southern
guns opened on the lone fortress and its puny force.
The next day, with the flagstaff shot away and the interior of the Fort
all ablaze, the casemates thick with
The famous New York seventh, just after reaching Washington in April, 1861
The first New York State militia regiment to reach Washington after President Lincoln's call for troops, April 15, 1861, was the Seventh Infantry.
The best blood and most honored names in New York City were prominent in its ranks.
It eventually supplied no less than 606 officers to the Union army.
Veterans now hail it as the highest type of the citizen soldiers who went to the front.
The old armory at the foot of Third Avenue could not contain the crowds that gathered.
At this writing (1911) it is just being demolished.
The Seventh left for Washington April 19, 1861, and as it marched down Broadway passed such a multitude of cheering citizens that its splendid band was almost unheard through the volume of applause.
On April 24th the regiment reached Annapolis Junction, Maryland.
On that and the day following, with the Eighth Massachusetts for company, it had to patch the railway and open communications with Washington.
The men were mustered into service on April 26th, and their Camp on Meridian Hill, May 2d to 23d, was pointed out as a model.
They took part in the occupation of Arlington Heights, Virginia, May 24th to May 26th, and assisted in building Fort Runyon.
They returned to Camp Cameron on the latter date, and were mustered out at New York City, June 3, 1861, but those not immediately commissioned were mustered in again the following year, and in 1863.|
blinding smoke, with no hope from friends, the gallant garrison could ask only the mercy of the foes, and it was given willingly—the soldier's privilege of saluting his colors and marching out with the honors of war.
And then the North
awoke in earnest.
In one day the streets of New York city, all seeming apathy the day before, blazed with a sudden burst of color.
The Stars and Stripes were flung to the breeze from every staff and halyard; the hues of the Union
flamed on every breast.
The transformation was a marvel.
There was but one topic on every tongue, but one thought in every heart: The flag had been downed in Charleston Harbor
, the long-threatened secession had begun, the very Capitol
was endangered, the President
at last had spoken, in a demand for seventy-five thousand men.
It was the first call of many to follow—calls that eventually drew 2,300,000 men into the armies of the Union
, but the first was the most thrilling of all, and nowhere was its effect so wonderful as in the city of New York
Not until aroused by the echo of the guns at Sumter
could or would the people believe the South
in deadly earnest.
The press and the prophets had not half prepared them.
Southern sympathizers had been numerous and aggressive, and when the very heads of the Government
were unresentful of repeated violation of Federal rights and authority, what could be expected of a people reared only in the paths of peace?
The military spirit had long been dominant in the South
and correspondingly dormant in the North
The South was full of men accustomed to the saddle and the use of arms; the North
had but a handful.
The South had many soldier schools; the North
, outside of West Point
, had but one worthy the name.
Even as late as the winter of 1860 and 1861, young men in New York, taking counsel of far-seeing elders and assembling for drill, were rebuked by visiting pedagogues who bade them waste no time in ‘silly vanities.’
‘The days of barbaric battle are dead,’ said they.
Officers of the seventy-first New York infantry|
The Seventy-first New York Infantry, or ‘Second Excelsior,’ was organized at Camp Scott, Staten Island, New York
, as the second regiment of Sickles
' brigade in June, 1861.
The men left for Washington
The lower photograph shows a group off duty, lounging in the bright sunshine near their canvas houses — in this case ‘A’ tents.
They accompanied McClellan
to the Peninsula
, and served in all the great battles of the Army of the Potomac until they were mustered out at New York City, July 30, 1864.
The regiment lost five officers and eighty-three enlisted men killed and mortally wounded, and two officers and seventy-three enlisted men by disease.
good sense of the American
people will ever stand between us and a resort to arms.’
The ominous rumbles from Pensacola
, Baton Rouge
, and San Antonio
meant nothing to these peace proclaimers; it took the thunderclap of Sumter
to hush them.
It took the sudden and overwhelming uprising of April 15th to bring the hitherto confident backers of the South
face to face with an astounding fact.
Seventy-five thousand men needed at once!—the active militia called instantly to the front!
Less than fifteen thousand regulars scattered far and wide—many of them in Texas
, but mainly on the Indian
frontier—could the Nation muster in gathering toils.
Many a Southern-born officer had resigned and joined the forces of his native State, but the rank and file, horse, foot, and gunners stood sturdily to their colors.
Still, these tried and disciplined men were few and far between.
Utterly unprepared for war of any kind, the Union
leaders found themselves forced to improvise an army to defend their seat of Government—itself on Southern soil, and compassed by hostile cities.
The new flag of the seceding States was flaunted at Alexandria
, in full view of the unfinished dome of the Capitol
The colors of the South
were openly and defiantly worn in the streets of Baltimore
, barring the way of the would-be rescuers.
The veteran Virginian
, General Winfield Scott
, at the head of the United States army, had gathered a few light guns in Washington
His soldierly assistant, Colonel Charles P. Stone
, had organized, from department clerks and others, the first armed body of volunteers for the defense of the threatened center, and within a few months the first-named was superseded as too old, the second imprisoned as too Southern— an utterly baseless charge.
The one hope to save the capital lay in the swift assembling of the Eastern
militia, and by the night of April 15th the long roll was thundering from the walls of every city armory.
From Boston Common to the Mississippi
, loyal States were wiring assurance of support.
The West in 1861—boys of the fourth Michigan infantry
While the East was pouring its thousands to Washington, the West, an unknown quantity to the Confederacy, was rapidly organizing and sending forward its regiments.
In 1860, the population of Michigan was 748,112.
In the course of the war Michigan furnished 87,364 soldiers, of which 14,753 gave their lives.
At the outbreak of the war the State had a militia strength of only twenty-eight companies, aggregating 1,241 officers and men. The State appropriation for military service was only $3,000 a year.
At the President's call for troops on April 15th, Michigan's quota was only one infantry regiment.
On May 7th the Legislature met and passed an Act giving the Governor power to raise ten regiments and make a loan of $1,000,000. On May 13th, the first regiment left for the seat of war, fully armed and equipped.
Public subscriptions were started at all centers.
Detroit raised $50,000 in one day as a loan to the State.|
And that night the muster began, Massachusetts
promptly rallying her old line-militia in their quaint, high-topped shakos and long gray overcoats—the Sixth and Eighth regiments mustering at once.
New York city was alive with eager but untried soldiery.
First and foremost stood her famous Seventh, the best blood and most honored names prominent in its ranks.
The old armory at the foot of Third Avenue could not contain the crowds that gathered.
Close at hand mustered the Seventy-first—the ‘American Guard’ of the ante-bellum days.
But a few streets away, with Centre Market as a nucleus, other throngs were cheering about the hall where Michael Corcoran
, suspended but the year before because his Irishmen would not parade in honor of the Prince
, was now besieged by fellow countrymen, eager to go with him and his gallant Sixty-ninth. Four blocks further, soon to be led by Cameron
, brother to the Pennsylvania Secretary of War
, the Highlanders
were forming to the skirl of the piper and under the banner of the Seventy-ninth.
West of Broadway
, Le Gal and DeTrobriand
were welcoming the enthusiastic Frenchmen
who made up the old ‘red-legged Fifty-fifth,’ while, less noisily, yet in strong numbers, the Eighth, the Twelfth, and in Brooklyn
the Fourteenth, were flocking to their armories and listening with bated breath to the latest news and orders from Washington
Orders came soon enough.
First to march from the metropolis for the front was New York's soldierly Seventh, striding down Broadway
through countless multitudes of cheering citizens, their splendid band almost unheard through the volume of applause.
Never before had New York seen its great thoroughfare so thronged; never had it shown such emotion as on that soft April afternoon of the 19th.
Prompt as had been the response to marching orders, the gray column of the Seventh was not the first to move.
Sixth had taken the lead one day earlier, and was even now battling its way through the streets of Baltimore
A young volunteer from the West
This youthful warrior in his ‘hickory’ shirt looks less enthusiastic than his two comrades of the Fourth Michigan Infantry shown on the previous page.
Yet the Fourth Michigan was with the Army of the Potomac from Bull Run to Appomattox.
The regiment was organized at Adrian, Mich., and mustered in June 20, 1861.
It left the State for Washington on June 26th, and its first service was the advance on Manassas, July 16th to 21, 1861.
It participated thereafter in every great battle of the Army of the Potomac until it was relieved from duty in the trenches before Petersburg, June 19, 1864.
The veterans and recruits were then transferred to the First Michigan Infantry.
The regimental loss was heavy.
Twelve officers and 177 enlisted men were killed or mortally wounded, and the loss by disease was one officer and 107 enlisted men.|
had the Cortlandt Street Ferry
borne the last detachment of the Seventh across the Hudson
when the newsboys were shrieking the tidings of the attack on the men of New England
by the mob of ‘blood-tubs’ and ‘plug-uglies’ in the Maryland city
It takes five hours to go from New York to Washington
to-day; it took six days that wild week in 1861.
The Seventh, with the Massachusetts
Eighth for company, had to patch the railway and trudge wearily, yet manfully, from Annapolis
to the junction of the old Baltimore
and Washington Railroad, before it could again proceed by rail to its great reception on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington
Then New York's second offering started—another wonderful day in Gotham
In less than a week from the original call, the active militia was under arms in full ranks, and most of it en route for the front.
Farther west the Lake
—each had mustered a regiment with its own favorite companies—Continentals, Grays
or Light Guards as a nucleus.
, and Minnesota
each had been called upon for a regiment, and the response was almost instantaneous.
, and Illinois
, more populated, had tendered more than the thousands demanded.
By the 1st of June, there was camped or billeted about Washington
the cream of the State
soldiery of every commonwealth east of the Ohio
and north of the Potomac
, asked for twelve thousand men, had rushed twenty thousand to the mustering officers.
, called on for fifteen hundred, sent more than twice that number within two days. Ohio
, taxed for just ten thousand, responded with twelve thousand, and Missouri
, where Southern sentiment was rife and St. Louis
almost a Southern stronghold, tumultuously raised ten thousand men, unarmed, undrilled, yet sorely needed.
But for Nathaniel Lyon
of the regular army, and the prompt muster
Soldiers from the West in 1861—fourth Michigan infantry
No less enthusiastic than the sister State across Lake Michigan was the then far-Western State of Wisconsin.
Its population in 1860 was 775,881, and the State furnished during the war 91,327 men, or nearly 13 per cent. of the population.
The State's loss in men was 12,301.
Within a week after the President's call for 75,000 men, April 15, 1861, Governor Randall, of Wisconsin, had thirty-six companies offered him, although only one regiment was Wisconsin's quota under the Federal Government's apportionment.
Within six days the first regiment was enrolled.
Wisconsin suffered a financial panic within a fortnight after the fall of Fort Sumter. Thirty-eight banks out of one hundred and nine suspended payment, but the added burden failed to check the enthusiasm of the people.
The State contained large and varied groups of settlers of foreign birth.
Among its troops at the front, the Ninth, Twenty-sixth, and Forty-sixth Regiments were almost wholly German; the Twelfth Regiment was composed of French Canadians; the Fifteenth of Scandinavians; the Seventeenth of Irish, and the Third, Seventh, and Thirty-seventh contained a large enrollment of Indians.
Wisconsin's contribution of troops took the form of four regiments of cavalry, one regiment of heavy artillery, thirteen batteries of light artillery, one company of sharpshooters, and fifty-four regiments of infantry.
Such unanimity for the Union cause surprised the Confederacy.|
of her Union men, Missouri
would early have been lost to the Nation.
And as for Kentucky
, though in grand numbers and gallant services her sons repudiated his action, Governor Magoffin
refused a man for the defense of the general Government, or what he called the ‘coercion’ of the Southern States
But it was a motley concourse, that which gathered at Washington
where all eyes were centered.
The call for seventy-five thousand militia for three months was quickly followed by the call for five hundred thousand volunteers for three years, and such was the spirit and enthusiasm of the North
that, as fast as they could be uniformed, faster than they could be armed, the great regiments of State volunteers came dustily forth from the troop trains and went trudging along the length of Pennsylvania Avenue, out to the waiting camps in the suburbs.
Within the month of its arrival, the Seventh New York, led by engineers and backed by comrade militiamen, had crossed the Potomac
, invaded the sacred soil of Virginia
, and tossed the red earth into rude fortifications.
Then it had been sent home for muster-out as musketmen, but, let this ever be remembered, to furnish almost instantly seven hundred officers for the newly organizing regiments, regular and volunteer.
Two little classes of West Point
cadets, graduated in May and June respectively, brave boys just out of their bellbut-toned coatees, were set in saddle and hard at work drilling whole battalions of raw lads from the shops and farms, whose elected officers were to the full as untaught as their men. Local fame as a drillmaster of cadets or Zouaves gave many a young fellow command of a company; some few, indeed, like Ellsworth
, even of a regiment.
Foreign soldiers of fortune, seeing their chance, had hurried to our shores and tendered their swords, many of them who could barely speak English receiving high commissions, and swaggering splendidly about the camps and streets.
Many of the regiments came headed by local politicians, some who, but the year gone by, had been fervent supporters of Southern rights and slavery.
few came under command of soldierly, skilled young officers from the regular service, and most of them led by grave, thoughtful men in the prime of life who realized their responsibility and studied faithfully to meet the task.
Then wonderful was the variety of uniform!
It was marked even before McDowell
led forth the raw levies to try their mettle at Bull Run
Among the New Yorkers were Highlanders in plaid ‘trews’ (their kilts and bonnets very properly left at home), the blue jackets of the Seventy-first, the gray jackets of the Eighth, and Varian
's gunners—some of whom bethought them at Centreville
that their time was up and it would be pleasanter ‘going home than hell-ward,’ as a grim, red-whiskered colonel, Sherman
by name, said they surely would if they didn't quit straggling.
There were half-fledged Zouaves, like the Fourteenth New York (Brooklyn
), and full-rigged Zouaves, albeit their jackets and ‘knickers’ were gray and only their shirts were red—the First ‘Fire’ of New York, who had lost their martial little colonel—Ellsworth— before Jackson
's shotgun in Alexandria
There were Rhode Islanders in pleated blue blouses—Burnside's boys; there were far Westerners from Wisconsin
, in fast-fading gray.
each was represented by a strong regiment.
's Germans were there, a reserve division in gray from head to foot.
There were a few troops of regular cavalry, their jackets gaudy with yellow braid and brazen shoulder scales.
There were the grim regular batteries of Carlisle
, and Griffin
, their blouses somber, but the cross cannon on their caps gleaming with polish, such being the way of the regular.
It was even more marvelous, later, when McClellan
had come to organize the vast array into brigades and divisions, and to bring order out of chaos, for chaotic it was after Bull Run
The States were uniforming their soldiery as best they could in that summer of 1861.
New York, Massachusetts
, and Pennsylvania
usually in blue, the Vermonters in gray, turned — up with emerald, as befitted the Green Mountain
First Minnesota infantry at Camp Stone, near Pooles-Ville, Maryland, in January, 1862
The First Minnesota Infantry was the first regiment tendered to the Government, April 14, 1861.
It was mustered into the service April 29, 1861, fourteen days after the President's proclamation.
The regiment embarked June 22, 1861, for Prairie du Chien, whence it proceeded by rail to Washington.
Its first uniforms furnished by the State were black felt hats, black trousers, and red flannel shirts.
It served throughout the war. The population of Minnesota in 1860 was 172,023, including 2,369 Indians.
It furnished 24,020 soldiers, of whom 2,584 were lost.
While the whole people of Minnesota were striving night and day to fill up new regiments to reinforce the national armies, they had to maintain garrisons along the Indian frontiers.
One garrison was at Fort Ripley, below Crow Wing, and another at Fort Ridgly, in Nicolett County. Fort Abercrombie and a post on the Red River fifteen miles north of Breckinridge were strongly fortified.
In the Sioux war of 1861, from one thousand to fifteen hundred persons were killed, and property to the value of over half a million dollars destroyed.
Most of the regiments raised for the war saw some service at home, fighting the Indians within the borders of the State.
Thus the First Minnesota sent two companies to Fort Ridgly, one to Fort Ripley, and two to Fort Abercrombie to quell Indian uprisings before they dared to gather at Fort Snelling to leave the State for the struggle with the South.
Minnesota sent two regiments and two battalions of cavalry, one regiment of heavy artillery, three batteries of light artillery, two companies of sharpshooters, and eleven infantry regiments to the front during the war.|
one Western brigade in the newly formed Army of the Potomac came clad in gray throughout, not to be changed for the blue until late in September.
But for variety, New York city led the country.
A second regiment of Fire Zouaves had been quickly formed, as dashing in appearance as the first.
of the old militia (with a black-eyed, solemn-faced little regular as second in command, soon to become famous as a corps leader) marched forth at the head of a magnificent body of men, the color-guard, nearly all seven-footers, all in the scarlet fez and breeches of the favorite troops of France
Zouave rig was by long odds the most pleasing to the popular eye in the streets of the big city—and, less happily, to Southern marksmen later —for all in a day the improvised wooden barracks were thronging with eager lads seeking enlistment in the Zouave
's in Philadelphia
's (Second Fire), Duryee
's (Fifth New York), Bendix
', and ‘Billy Wilson
's’ in New York.
To cater still further to the love for the spectacular and the picturesque, still more distinctive regiments were authorized—the Garibaldi Guard
—mainly Italians, under Colonel D'Utassy
, in a dress that aped the Bersaglieri.
The D'Epineul Zouaves, French and would-be Frenchmen, in the costliest costume yet devised, and destined to be abandoned before they were six months older.
Still another French battalion, also in Algerian campaign rig—‘Les Enfants Perdus
, indeed, once they left New York and fell in with the campaigners of Uncle Sam.
Then came the Chasseurs, in very natty and attractive dress, worn like the others until worn out in one real campaign, when its wearers, like the others, lost their identity in the universal, most unbecoming, yet eminently serviceable blue-flannel blouse and light-blue kersey trousers, with the utterly ugly forage cap and stout brogans of the Union
Fanciful names they took, too, at the start, and bore
proudly at home but meekly enough at the front, where speedily the ‘Ellsworth Avengers’ became the Forty-fourth; the ‘Brooklyn Phalanx,’ the Sixty-seventh; the ‘Engineers,’ the Thirty-eighth; the ‘Lancers,’ the Sixth Pennsylvania.
Dick Rush's gallant troopers were soon known as the ‘Seventh Regulars,’ and well did they earn the title.
So, too, in the West
, where the ‘Guthrie Grays
,’ once Cincinnati
's favorite corps, were swallowed up in the Sixth Ohio, and in St. Louis
, where the ‘Fremont Rifles,’ ‘Zagonyi Guards,’ and ‘Foreign Legions’ drew many an alien to the folds of the flag, and later to the dusty blue of the Union
As for arms, the regiments came to the front with every conceivable kind, and some with none at all. The regular infantry, what there was of it, had but recently given up the old smooth-bore musket for the Springfield
rifle, caliber 58, with its paper cartridge and conical, counter-sunk bullet; but Harper's Ferry
Arsenal had been burned, Springfield
could not begin to turn out the numbers needed; Rock Island
Arsenal was not yet built, and so in many a regiment, flank companies, only, received the rifle, the other eight using for months the old smooth-bore with its ‘buck-and-ball’ cartridge, good for something within two hundred yards and for nothing beyond.
Even of these there were enough for only the first few regiments.
Vast purchases, therefore, were made abroad, England
selling us her Enfields, with which the fine Vermont
brigade was first armed, and France
parting with thousands of the huge, brass-bound, ponderous ‘carabines à tige’
—the Belgian guns with a spike at the bottom to expand the soft leaden bullet when ‘rammed home.’
With this archaic blunderbus whole regiments were burdened, some foreign-born volunteers receiving it eagerly as ‘from the old country,’ and therefore superior to anything of Yankee invention.
But their confidence was short lived.
One day's march, one
Tasting the soup: a formality soon abandoned
One of the formalities soon abandoned after the soldiers took the field was that of tasting the soup.
Here it appears as observed at the Camp of the 31st Pennsylvania near Washington, in 1861.
This duty fell to one of the officers of each company, and its object was to discover whether the soup was sufficiently strong to pass muster with the men, but as the war went on the men themselves became the only ‘tasters.’
The officers had too many other pressing duties to perform, and the handling of the soup, when there was any, became the simple matter of ladling it out to men who were only too glad to fill up their cans and devour the contents.
The hunting-horn on the hat of the man leaning on his gun just behind the officer betokens the infantry.
It was a symbol adopted from European armies, where the hunter became by a natural process of evolution the chasseur or light infantryman.
In the Union armies the symbol was stretched to cover all the infantry.
The presence of the feather in his hat also indicates that this photograph was taken early in the war. After the first campaign such superfluous decorative insignia were generally discarded.|
short hour's shooting, and all predilection for such a weapon was gone forever.
And then the shoes with which the Federals
reached the front!
Not one pair out of four would have borne the test of a ten-mile tramp, not one out of ten would have stood the strain of a ten-days' march, and those that first took their places, the make of contractors, were even worse.
Not until the ‘Iron Secretary
, got fairly into swing did contractors begin to learn that there was a man to dread in the Department of War, but Stanton
had not even been suggested in the fall of 1861.
, the venerable Pennsylvania
politician, was still in office.
, the young, commanding general was riding diligently from one review to another, a martial sight, accompanied by his staff, orderlies, and escort.
The weather was perfect along the Potomac
that gorgeous early autumn of 1861.
The beautiful wooded heights were crowned with camps; the plains and fields were white with snowy tentage; the dust hung lazily over countless drillgrounds and winding roadways; the bands were out in force on every afternoon, filling the soft, sunshiny air with martial melody; the camps were thronged with smile-wreathed visitors, men and women from distant homes; the streets of Washington
were crowded, and its famous old caravanseries prospered, as never before, for never had the Nation mustered in such overwhelming strength as here about the sleepy old Southern ‘city of magnificent distances’—a tawdry, shabby town in all conscience, yet a priceless something to be held against the world in arms, for the sacred flag that floated over the columned White House
, for the revered and honored name it bore.
In seven strong divisions, with three or four brigades in each, ‘Little Mac,’ as the volunteers rejoiced to call him, had organized his great army as the autumn waned, and the livelong days were spent in the constant drill, drill that was absolutely needed to impart cohesion and discipline to this vast
array, mostly American bred, and hitherto unschooled in discipline of any kind.
marched his militiamen forward to attack Beauregard
at Bull Run
, they swarmed all over the adjacent country, picking berries, and plundering orchards.
Orders were things to obey only when they got ready and felt like it, otherwise ‘Cap’—as the company commander was hailed, or the ‘orderly,’ as throughout the war very generally and improperly the first sergeant was called— might shout for them in vain.
‘Cap,’ the lieutenant, the sergeant—all, for that matter—were in their opinion creatures of their own selection and, if dissatisfied with their choice, if officer or non-commissioned officer ventured to assert himself, to ‘put on airs,’ as our early-day militiamen usually expressed it, the power that made could just as soon, so they supposed, unmake.
It took many weeks to teach them that, once mustered into the service of ‘Uncle Sam,’ this was by no means the case.
They had come reeling back from Bull Run
, a tumultuous mob of fugitives, some of whom halted not even on reaching Washington
It took time and sharp measures to bring them back to their colors and an approximate sense of their duties.
One fine regiment, indeed, whose soldierly colonel was left dead, found itself disarmed, deprived of its colors, discredited, and a dozen of its self-selected leaders summarily courtmar-tialed and sentenced for mutiny.
It took time and severe measures to bring officers and men back from Washington
to camp, thereafter to reappear in town only in their complete uniform, and with the written pass of a brigade commander.
It took more time and many and many a lesson, hardest of all, to teach them that the men whom they had known for years at home as ‘Squire
’ or ‘Jedge,’ ‘Bob’ or ‘Billy,’ could now only be respectfully addressed, if not referred to, as captain, lieutenant
, or sergeant.
It took still longer for the American
man-at-arms to realize that there was good reason why the self-same ‘Squire
’ or ‘Jedge’ or even a ‘Bob’
or ‘Billy’ of the year agone, could not now be accosted or even passed without a soldierly straightening-up, and a prompt lifting of the open hand to the visor of the cap.
All through the months of August and September, the daily grind of drill by squad, by company, by battalion was pursued in the ‘hundred circling camps’ about Washington
Over across the Long Bridge
, about the fine old homestead of the Lees, and down toward Alexandria
the engineers had traced, and the volunteers had thrown up, strong lines of fortification.
Then, as other brigades grew in discipline and precision, the lines extended.
, backed by the Western
brigade, crossed the Chain Bridge
one moonless night, seized the opposite heights, and within another day staked out Forts Ethan Allen and Marcy, and ten strong regiments fell to hacking down trees and throwing up parapets.
Still further up the tow-path of the sleepy old Chesapeake
and Ohio Canal
, the men of Massachusetts
, New York, and Minnesota
made their lodgment opposite Edwards' Ferry, and presently from Maryland Heights
down to where Anacostia Branch joins the Potomac
, the northern shore bristled everywhere with the bayonets of the Union
, and with every sun the relentless drill, drill, drill went on.
At break of day, the soldier lads were roused from slumber by the shrill rattle of the reveille.
Following the methods of the Mexican War
, every regiment had its corps of drummers and fifers, and stirring music did the youngsters make.
The mists rolled lazily from the placid reaches of the Potomac
until later banished by the sun, and doctors agreed that miasma lurked in every breath, and that coffee, piping hot, was the surest antidote.
And so each company formed for reveille roll-call, tin cup in hand, or slung to the haversack in those regiments whose stern, far-sighted leaders required their men to appear full panoplied, thereby teaching them the soldier lesson of keeping arms, equipment, and clothing close at hand, where they could find them instantly, even in the dark.
Twelfth New York infantry at Camp Anderson, 1861|
The painfully new uniforms, and the attitudes that show how heavy the gold lace lay on unaccustomed arms, betoken the first year of the war. This three-months regiment sailed from New York for Fortress Monroe, Virginia
, April 21, 1861; it arrived April 23d, and continued to Annapolis
It was mustered in on May 2, 1861, and assigned to Mansfield
It took part in the advance into Virginia
May 23d, and the occupation of Arlington Heights
the following day. It was there that, under the supervision of the Engineer Corps, its members learned that a soldier must dig as well as fight, and their aching backs and blistered hands soon made them forget their spruce, if awkward, appearance indicated in this photograph.
Ten strong regiments were set to hacking down trees and throwing up parapets for Forts Ethan Allen and Marcy, staked out by the boys from Vermont
These New York volunteers were ordered to join Patterson
's army on July 6th, and were part of the force that failed to detain Johnston
in the Shenandoah Valley.
With his fresh troops Johnston
was able to turn the tide in favor of the Confederates
on the field of Bull Run
, July 21st.
They bore themselves well in a skirmish near Martinsburg, Va.
, on July 12th.
On the 5th of August they were mustered out at New York City.
Many, however, reenlisted.
was not the best of coffee the commissaries served in 1861, but never did coffee taste better than in the keen air of those early misty mornings, and from those battered mugs of tin.
Customs varied according to the caprice of brigade or regimental commander, but in many a battalion in that early-day Army of the Potomac, a brief, brisk drill in the manual followed reveille; then ‘police’ and sprucing — up tents and camp, then breakfast call and the much relished, yet often anathematized, bacon, with abundant loaves from Major Beckwith
's huge Capitol bakery, and more steaming tins of coffee.
Then came guard-mounting, with the band out, and the details in their best blue and brightest brasses, with swarms of men from every company, already keen critics of the soldiership of the adjutant, the sergeants, and rival candidates for orderly, for the colonel and the officer-of-the-day.
Later still, the whole regiment formed on the color line, and with field-officers in saddle—many of them mightily unaccustomed thereto—and ten stalwart companies in line, started forth on a two or three hours hard battalion drill, field-officers furtively peeping at the drill books, perhaps, yet daily growing more confident and assured, the men speedily becoming more springy and muscular, and companies more and more machine-like.
Back to Camp in time for a brush-off, and then ‘fall to’ with vigorous appetite for dinner of beef and potatoes, pork and beans, and huge slabs of white bread, all on one tin plate, or a shingle.
Then time came for a ‘snooze,’ or a social game, or a stroll along the Potomac
shore and a call, perhaps, on a neighboring regiment; then once again a spring to ranks for a sharp, spirited drill by company; and then the band would come marching forth, and the adjutant with his sergeant-major, and ‘markers,’ with their little guidons, would appear; the colonel and his field seconds would sally forth from their tents, arrayed in their best uniforms, girt with sash and sword, white-gloved and precise, and again the long line would
form for the closing, stately ceremony of the day—the martial dress-parade.
It was at this hour that the great army, soon to be known as the Army of the Potomac, seemed at its best.
Many of the regiments had been able to draw the picturesque black felt hat and feather, the ugly, straight-cut, single-breasted coat of the regular service, and, with trousers of sky blue, and glistening black waist, and shoulder-belt, and spotless white gloves, to pride themselves that they looked like regulars.
Many of them did.
Excellent were the bands of some of the Eastern
regiments, and throngs of visitors came out from Washington
to hear the stirring, spirited music and to view the martial pageant.
, always with his staff, would watch the work from saddle, his cap-visor pulled well down over his keen eyes.
Occasionally some wandering soldier, on pass from neighboring camp, would shock the military sensibilities of veteran officers by squirming through the guard lines and offering the little general-in-chief a chance to ‘shake hands with an old Zouave.’
Once it happened in front of a whole brigade, and I heard him say ‘Certainly’ before a scandalized aide-de-camp, or corporal of the guard, could hustle the intruder, grinning and triumphant, away from the imposing front of the cavalcade.
Time and again, in open barouche, with not a sign of escort, guard, or secret-service officer, there would come the two foremost statesmen of the day; one of them just rising above his companion and great rival of the East
—as he had already overcome his great antagonist, the ‘Little Giant of the West
’—and rising so steadily, rising so far above any and all contemporaries that, within another year, there lived no rival to his place in the hearts of the Nation, and within the compass of the two generations that followed, none has yet approached it. Tall, lank, angular, even awkward, but simple and unpretentious, cordial and kindly and sympathetic alike
to colonel, corporal
, or drum-boy, Abraham Lincoln
sprawled at his ease, with William H. Seward
sitting primly by his side —the President
and the Premier—the Commander-in-Chief
and the Secretary
of State—the latter, his confident opponent for the nomination but the year agone, his indulgent adviser a few months back, but now, with wisdom gained through weeks of mental contact, his admiring and loyal second.
It was characteristic of our people that about the knoll where sat McClellan
, in statuesque and soldierly pose, his aides, orderlies, and escort at his back, there should gather an admiring throng, while about the carriage of the dark-featured
-coated, tall-hatted civilian there should be but a little group.
It was characteristic of McClellan
that he should accept this homage quite as his due. It was characteristic of Lincoln
that he did not seem to mind it. ‘I would hold McClellan
's horse for him,’ he was sadly saying, just one year later, ‘if he would only do
Only a few days after this scene at Kalorama
, all the camps along the Potomac
about the Chain Bridge
were roused to a sudden thrill of excitement at the roar of cannon in brisk action on the Lewinsville road.
had sent out a reconnaissance.
It had stumbled into a hornet's nest of Confederates; it needed help, and Griffin
's regulars galloped forward and into battery.
For twenty minutes there was a thunderous uproar.
A whole division stood to arms.
The firing ended as suddenly as it began, but not so the excitement.
To all but two regiments within hearing that was the first battle-note their ears had ever known—how fearfully familiar it was soon to be!—and then, toward sunset, who should come riding out from Washington
, with a bigger staff and escort than ever, but our hero, ‘Little Mac,’ and with enthusiasm unbounded, five thousand strong, the ‘boys’ flung themselves about him, cheering like mad, and, after the American
manner, demanding ‘speech.’
That was the day he said, ‘We've had our last defeat; we have made our last retreat,’ and then
followed the confident prediction that the war would be ‘short, sharp, and decisive.’
In unbounded faith and fervor, old and young, they yelled their acclamations.
Was there ever a commander by whom ‘the boys’ stood more loyally or lovingly?
A few days later still, on the Virginia
slopes south of the Chain Bridge
, where was stationed a whole brigade of ‘the boys’—Green Mountain
boys principally, though stalwart lads from Maine
, New York, and Pennsylvania
, were there also, preparations were in progress for a tragic scene.
There had been some few instances of sentries falling asleep.
Healthy farm-boys, bred to days of labor in the sunshine, and correspondingly long hours of sleep at night, could not always overcome the drowsiness that stole upon them when left alone on picket.
An army might be imperiled—a lesson must be taught.
A patrol had come upon a young Vermonter asleep on post.
A court martial had tried and sentenced, and to that sentence General Smith
had set the seal of his approval.
For the soldier-crime of sleeping on guard, Private Scott
was to be shot to death in sight of the Vermont
A grave would be dug; a coffin set beside it; the pale-faced lad would be led forth; the chaplain, with bowed head and quivering lips, would speak his final word of consolation; the firing-party—a dozen of his own brigade—would be marched to the spot, subordinate, sworn to obey, yet dumbly cursing their lot; the provost-marshal
would give the last order, while all around, in long, rigid, yet trembling lines, a square of soldiery would witness a comrade's death.
But on the eve of the appointed day, the great-hearted Lincoln
, appealed to by several of the lad's company, went himself to the Chain Bridge
, had a long conversation with the young private and sent him back to his regiment, a free man. The President of the United States
could not suffer it that one of his boys should be shot to death for being overcome by sleep.
He gave his young soldier life only that the lad might die gloriously a few months later, heading the dash of his comrades upon the Southern
Officers of ‘the red-legged fifty-fifth’ New York at fort Gaines, 1861
Right royally did Washington welcome the Fifty-fifth New York Infantry, surnamed ‘Garde de Lafayette’ in memory of that distinguished Frenchman's services to our country in Revolutionary days, in September, 1861.
The ‘red-legged Fifth-fifth’ was organized in New York City by Colonel Philip Regis de Trobriand (who ended the war as a brevet major-general of volunteers, a rank bestowed upon him for highly meritorious services during the Appomattox campaign) and left for Washington August 31st.
The French uniforms attracted much attention and elicited frequent bursts of applause as the crowds on Pennsylvania Avenue realized once again how many citizens from different lands had rushed to the defense of their common country.
The Fifty-fifth accompanied McClellan to the Peninsula, and took part in the desperate assault on Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg, after which it was consolidated, in four companies, with the Thirty-eighth New York December 21, 1862.
The regiment lost during service thirty-three enlisted men killed and mortally wounded, and twenty-nine enlisted men by disease.
Its gallant colonel survived until July 15, 1897.|
—sending, with his last breath, a message to the President
that he had tried to live up to the advice he had given.
It was indeed a formative period, that first half-year of drill, picket duty, and preparation along the Potomac
, and so expert became the patrols of the provost guard, so thorough the precautions at headquarters, that straggling from Camp to camp, especially from Camp to town, became a thing of the past.
Except a favored few, like the mounted orderlies, or messengers, men of one brigade knew next to nothing of those beyond their lines.
Barely three miles back from the Potomac
, up the valley of Rock Creek
, was camped an entire division, the Pennsylvania Reserves, in which the future leader of the Army of the Potomac was modestly commanding a brigade.
Just across the Chain Bridge
, he who was destined to become his great second, proclaimed ‘superb’ at Gettysburg
, was busily drilling another, yet the men under George G. Meade
and those under Winfield S. Hancock
saw nothing of each other in the fall of 1861.
Over against Washington
, the Jerseymen under dashing Philip Kearny brushed with their outermost sentries the picket lines of ‘Ike Stevens
' Highlanders,’ camped at Chain Bridge, yet so little were the men about Arlington
known to these in front of the bridge, that a night patrol from the one stirred up a lively skirmish with the other.
In less than a year those two heroic soldiers, Kearny
, were to die in the same fight only a few miles farther out, at Chantilly
Only for a day or two did the ‘Badgers
,’ the ‘Vermonters,’ and the ‘Knickerbockers’ of King
's, and Stevens
' brigades compare notes with the so-called ‘California Regiment,’ raised in the East
, yet led by the great soldier-senator from the Pacific
slope, before they, the ‘Californians,’ and their vehement colonel marched away along the tow-path to join Stone
's great division farther up stream.
Three regiments, already famous for their drill and discipline had preceded them, the First Minnesota, the Fifteenth
Father Scully preaching to the ninth Massachusetts regiment: service for the recruits at Camp Cass, Arlington heights, Virginia, 1861.
It was not often during army life that the advanstage of churches or places of religious worship were available to the troops in the field.
When chaplains were connected with regiments in active service, any improvised tent or barrel for an altar or pulpit was utilized for the minister's benefit.
The question of denomination rarely entered the minds of the men. Where a church edifice was near the camps, or when located near some village or city, services were held within the edifice, but this was very infrequent.
The camp at Arlington Heights was located directly opposite Washington and Georgetown, D. C., overlooking the banks of the Potomac River on the Virginia side.
The Ninth Massachusetts was a regiment composed of Irish volunteers from the vicinity of Boston.
The Catholic chaplains were very assiduous in their attention to the ritual of the Church, even on the tented field.
Many of these chaplains have since risen to high positions in the Church. Archbishop Ireland was one of these splendid and devoted men. An example of the fearless devotion of the Catholic chaplains was the action of Father Corby, of the Irish Brigade, at the battle of Gettysburg.
As the brigade was about to go into the fiercest fighting at the center of the Federal line and shot and shell were already reaching its ranks, at the solicitation of Father Corby it was halted, and knelt; standing upon a projecting rock, the brave father rendered absolution to the soldiers according to the rites of the Catholic Church.
A few minutes later the brigade had plunged to the very thick of the fierce fighting at the ‘Loop.’
Attentive and solemn are the faces of these men new to warfare, facing dangers as yet unknown, while they listen to Father Scully's earnest words.
Not a few of the regiments in the Union armies were led by ministers who assisted in organizing them, and then accepted the command.
When the Fiftieth New York Engineers were stationed in front of Petersburg, Virginia, they made a rustic place of worship, spire and all, after the model of their winter-quarters.
A photograph of this soldier-built edifice is shown on page 257. The muskets and glistening bayonets of the soldiers, leaning against the fence in the foreground of the Petersburg picture, contrast vividly with the peaceful aspect of the little church—an oasis in a desert.|
Blair, of Missouri
Although remaining politically neutral throughout the war, Missouri contributed four hundred and forty-seven separate military organizations to the Federal armies, and over one hundred to the Confederacy.
The Union sentiment in the State is said to have been due to Frank P. Blair, who, early in 1861, began organizing home guards.
Blair subsequently joined Grant's command and served with that leader until Sherman took the helm in the West.
With Sherman Major-General Blair fought in Georgia and through the Carolinas.|
Smyth, of Delaware
Little Delaware furnished to the Federal armies fifteen separate military organizations.
First in the field was Colonel Thomas A. Smyth, with the First Delaware Infantry.
Early promoted to the command of a brigade, he led it at Gettysburg, where it received the full force of Pickett's charge on Cemetery Ridge, July 3, 1863.
He was brevetted major-general and fell at Farmville, on Appomattox River, Va., April 7, 1865, two days before the surrender at Appomattox.
General Smyth was a noted leader in the Second Corps.|
Baker, of California
California contributed twelve military organizations to the Federal forces, but none of them took part in the campaigns east of the Mississippi.
Its Senator, Edward D. Baker, was in his place in Washington when the war broke out, and, being a close friend of Lincoln, promptly organized a regiment of Pennsylvanians which was best known by its synonym ‘First California.’
Colonel Baker was killed at the head of it at the battle of Ball's Bluff, Virginia, October 21, 1861.
Baker had been appointed brigadier-general but declined.|
Kelley, of West Virginia
West Virginia counties had already supplied soldiers for the Confederates when the new State was organized in 1861.
As early as May, 1861, Colonel B. F. Kelley was in the held with the First West Virginia Infantry marshalled under the Stars and Stripes.
He served to the end of the war and was brevetted major-general.
West Virginia furnished thirty-seven organizations of all arms to the Federal armies, chiefly for local defense and for service in contiguous territory.
General Kelley was prominent in the Shenandoah campaigns.|
Cross, of New Hampshire
New Hampshire supplied twenty-nine military organizations to the Federal armies.
To the Granite State belongs the grim distinction of furnishing the regiment which had the heaviest mortality roll of any infantry organization in the army.
This was the Fifth New Hampshire, commanded by Colonel E. E. Cross.
The Fifth served in the Army of the Potomac.
At Gettysburg, Colonel Cross commanded a brigade, which included the Fifth New Hampshire, and was killed at the head of it near Devil's Den, on July 2, 1863.|
Pearce, of Arkansas
Arkansas entered into the war with enthusiasm, and had a large contingent of Confederate troops ready for the field in the summer of 1861.
At Wilson's Creek, Missouri, August 10, 1861, there were four regiments and two batteries of Arkansans under command of Brigadier-General N. B. Pearce. Arkansas furnished seventy separate military organizations to the Confederate armies and seventeen to the Federals.
The State was gallantly represented in the Army of Northern Virginia, notably at Antietam and Gettysburg.|
Ransom, of North Carolina
The last of the Southern States to cast its fortunes in with the Confederacy, North Carolina vied with the pioneers in the spirit with which it entered the war. With the First North Carolina, Lieut.-Col. Matt W. Ransom was on the firing-line early in 1861.
Under his leadership as brigadier-general, North Carolinians carried the Stars and Bars on all the great battlefields of the Army of Northern Virginia.
The State furnished ninety organizations for the Confederate armies, and sent eight to the Federal camps.|
Steuart, of Maryland
Maryland quickly responded to the Southern call to arms, and among its first contribution of soldiers was George H. Steuart, who led a battalion across the Potomac early in 1861.
These Marylanders fought at First Bull Run, or Manassas, and Lee's army at Petersburg included Maryland troops under Brigadier-General Steuart.
During the war this little border State, politically neutral, sent six separate organizations to the Confederates in Virginia, and mustered thirty-five for the Federal camps and for local defense.|
Finegan, of Florida
Florida was one of the first to follow South Carolina's example in dissolving the Federal compact.
It furnished twenty-one military organizations to the Confederate forces, and throughout the war maintained a vigorous home defense.
Its foremost soldier to take the field when the State was menaced by a strong Federal expedition in February, 1864, was Brigadier-General Joseph Finegan.
Hastily gathering scattered detachments, he defeated and checked the expedition at the battle of Olustee, or Ocean Pond, on February 20.|
Crittenden, the Confederate
Kentucky is notable as a State which sent brothers to both the Federal and Confederate armies. Major-General George B. Crittenden, C. S. A., was the brother of Major-General Thomas L. Crittenden, U. S. A. Although remaining politically neutral throughout the war, the Blue Grass State sent forty-nine regiments, battalions, and batteries across the border to uphold the Stars and Bars, and mustered eighty of all arms to battle around the Stars and Stripes and protect the State from Confederate incursions.|
Cleburne, of Tennessee
Cleburne was of foreign birth, but before the war was one year old he became the leader of Tennesseeans, fighting heroically on Tennessee soil.
At Shiloh, Cleburne's brigade, and at Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, and Franklin, Major-General P. R. Cleburne's division found the post of honor.
At Franklin this gallant Irishman ‘The “Stonewall” Jackson of the West,’ led Tennesseeans for the last time and fell close to the breastworks.
Tennessee sent the Confederate armies 129 organizations, and the Federal fifty-six,|
and Twentieth Massachusetts, followed by longing hearts and admiring eyes, for rumors from Edwards' Ferry told of frequent forays of Virginia
horse, and the stories were believed and these noted regiments envied by those held back here for other duty.
The Fortieth New York, too, had gone—Tammany Hall's contribution to the Union
cause—Tammany that a year back had been all pro-slavery.
Something told the fellows that grand opportunity awaited those favored regiments, and something like a pall fell over the stunned and silent camps when late October brought the news of dire disaster at Ball's Bluff.
, the brave Union leader, the soldier-senator, the hero of Cerro Gordo
, the intimate friend of Abraham Lincoln
, shot dead, pierced by many a bullet—Raymond Lee
and many of his best officers wounded or captured—the Fifteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts tricked, ambushed, and driven in bewilderment into the Potomac
, brave and battling to the last, yet utterly overwhelmed.
No wonder there was talk of treachery!
No wonder the young faces in our ranks were grave and sad!
Big Bethel, Bull Run
, Ball's Bluff—three times had the Federals
clashed with these nimble foemen from the South
, and every clash had wrought humiliation.
No wonder the lessons sank home, for young hearts are impressionable, and far more than half the rank and file of the Army of the Potomac was under twentyone—far more than a third not then nineteen years of age. With all its fine equipment, its rapidly improving arms, its splendid spirit that later endured through every trial, defeat and disaster, with all its drills, discipline, and preparation, the Army East and West—Potomac, Ohio
, or Tennessee
, had yet to learn the bitter lessons of disastrous battle, had yet to withstand the ordeal by fire.
It took all the months of that formative period, and more, to fit that army for the fearful task before it, but well did it learn its lesson, and nobly did it do its final duty.
Glimpses of the Confederate army
Scenes photographes within the Confederate line.
The first historical publication of scenes photographed within the Confederate lines, during the Civil War, may be found in the illustrations to the chapters by Admiral French E. Chadwick and General Marcus J. Wright, on pages 86-110 of volume i. More of such previously unpublished photographs appear in volume III, pages 169-171.
With the three chapters that follow are presented an even larger number of war-time Confederate photographs.
All the series above referred to were never before reproduced, or even collected; in fact, the very existence of such faithful contemporary records remained unknown to most veterans and historians until the publication of this Photographic history. The opportunity thus furnished to study the volunteers of the Confederacy as they camped and drilled and prepared for war is unique.|
A vivid ‘glimpse of the Confederate army’—1861 inside the battery North of Fort McRee at Pensacola
This spirited photograph by Edwards of New Orleans suggests more than volumes of history could tell of the enthusiasm, the hope, with which the young Confederate volunteers, with their queerly variegated equipment, sprang to the defense of their land in 1861.
Around this locality in Florida some of the very earliest operations centered.
Fort McRee and the adjacent batteries had passed into Confederate hands on January 12, 1861, when Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer withdrew with his eighty-two men to Fort Pickens in Pensacola Harbor.
The lack of conventional military uniformity shown above must not be thought exceptional.
camps and men in general pretended to nothing like the ‘smartness’ of the well-equipped boys in blue.
Weapons, however, were cared for. All through the Southern camps, soldiers could be found busily polishing their muskets, swords, and bayonets with wood ashes well moistened.
‘Bright muskets’ and ‘tattered uniforms’ went together in the Army of Northern Virginia.
Swords, too, were bright in Florida, judging from the two young volunteers flourishing theirs in the photograph.
This is one of the batteries which later bombarded Fort Pickens and the Union fleet.
It was held by the Confederates until May 2, 1862.|