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Chapter 2: off to the front.

The full equipment for the regiment was not received in time to enable it to leave by the 27th of August, but all was in readiness on the following day. The men were ordered to strike tents on Tuesday night, Aug. 27, and prepare to march. Two days rations were issued, consisting of four sandwiches, or eight crackers, and four pieces of ham.

The Nineteenth Regiment was the fourteenth organization of Massachusetts' Volunteers to enlist for the war and its members made a very creditable showing when, in heavy marching order, they were waiting for the train that was to take them to Boston.

At about three o'clock in the afternoon of Wednesday, August 28, the regiment was formed in line, a short drill took place, and then the State Colors were presented and turned over to the Color Guard. Col. Hinks in accepting them said that he ‘intended making the regiment the best that the state had furnished.’ Dress parade was then called, the last one in camp, and the regiment, 791 in number, filed on board the cars, already waiting at the side of the camp ground. Everybody was cheering. Hasty farewells were said, and the train slowly started over the South Reading Branch of the Eastern railroad.

The farmhouses along the route were alive with people who shouted and waved handkerchiefs in farewell to the troops. The station at Salem was filled with the friends and relatives of the men; a salute was fired from a small cannon and the officers were presented with bouquets. There was no time for a special demonstration, however, and the train went on to Lynn, the home of Colonel Hinks, en route to Boston, where a great crowd greeted it.

The regimental wagon train then was larger than that of [10] an army corps in active service later. Each company had a four-horse wagon, headquarters two, quartermaster four. There were in all sixteen wagons, painted the regulation blue, beside the ambulances.

Boston was reached at 5.15 o'clock and an immense crowd welcomed the regiment at the station. The men quickly formed in column and marched through Canal, Blackstone, Commercial, State, Washington, School and Beacon Streets to the common, where a halt was made. Here an hour's rest was had and an opportunity given for a final leave taking of friends and relatives. The regiment was visited here by Adjutant General William Schouler and Quartermaster General John H. Reed, and here the Chaplain, Rev. J. C. Cromack, was presented, by William B. May, with a beautiful sword, belt and sash.

This visit to Boston was a great event for the members from the country towns, many of whom had never seen the city and their great desire to see Boston Common and the State House was now gratified. They felt jolly and were bound to make the most of the ‘picnic.’ Awkward, helpless in all these small prosaic arts by which the veteran ekes out the scant comforts of a soldier's life, like all new regiments, the men of the Nineteenth were well fitted to excite a smile as they trod the streets on their way to the ‘sacred soil.’

From the Common they marched, at 7.30 P. M., to the Old Colony depot, accompanied by the band of the Seventeenth Massachusetts Regiment, taking the train and the Fall River Line boat for New York.

As the steamer rounded into the North River on the morning of August 29, it was hailed with cheers, the waving of flags and firing of guns. As it approached a United States warship, the drums were heard to beat to quarters, and, as the steamer passed abreast of her, the sailors manned the yards, swinging their caps and gave three cheers and a tiger. They then disappeared as suddenly as they had sprung up, the event making a very pleasing impression upon the spectators.

The regiment arrived at New York at 1.00 P. M. on August 29, was met by a delegation of the ‘Sons of Massachusetts’ and marched in double files to the barracks in City Hall Park, [11] where dinner was served, it having been prepared by Assistant Quartermaster Frank E. Howe, of New York.

The officers sat down in the northern room of the barracks, which were handsomely decorated,—the following inscription appearing at the end of the great room: ‘New York Seventh and Massachusetts Sixth and Eighth,—brothers in arms who saved our Nation's Capital.’ The state flag of Massachusetts was suspended over the tables, which were tastefully garnished with fruits and vegetables of the season, together with an occasional long-necked bottle. Some of the enlisted men were given a testament and they were then allowed to roam about the city for a time after dinner.

Some of the men struck up:

Nineteenth regiment is marching on,
Nineteenth regiment is marching on,
Glory, Glory, Hallelujah—
Glory, Glory, Hallelujah,
As Hinks goes marching on.

The regiment left the City Hall Park, marched up Broadway, countermarched at the Metropolitan hotel, passed through Canal to Vestry Street, to Pier 39, North River, and went on board the Ferry boat John Potter, of the Camden and Amboy Line, taking the cars at Perth Amboy for Washington. On the march through the streets of New York City, cheers were given for ‘the Union,’ ‘The Commonwealth,’ ‘The Hub of the Universe’ and ‘Our New York Friends.’ The journey to Baltimore was one continuous ovation. Not much sleep was had, as the regiment was met at every station and all along the line with great enthusiasm, crowds cheering, flags flying, and, at many places, the firing of cannon. The regiment arrived in Philadelphia at 3.30 in the morning being quartered and fed at ‘The Cooper Shop’ refreshment saloon. Its coming into the city had been signalled to the people at ‘The Cooper Shop’ by the firing of a cannon, as was the custom when a regiment arrived, en route to the seat of war.

At Baltimore, the regiment formed in line, fixed bayonets and then marched through the streets from the upper to the [12] lower station. The band played the national airs, the flags were flying and there was no lagging behind. Everyone looked for a different greeting from that they received in Philadelphia, and got it, for the regiment received no attention whatever, except two faint cheers from three persons, led by a United States soldier. As it marched through the streets where the men of the Sixth had met with so warm a reception, the bullet marks on the buildings were pointed out. The mayor of the city accompanied the regiment and the people looked and acted much like other people, but did not seem glad to see the Nineteenth.

The journey from Baltimore to Washington was long and tedious. The train was continually being side-tracked to allow the regular passenger trains to pass. At one of these stops, First Lieutenant John Hodges, Jr., of Company B, was in danger of being left behind, and the men of his company unshackled their car to prevent its departure without their popular officer. At frequent intervals, soldiers were seen doing guard duty on the railroad, and, for the first time, the members of the Nineteenth saw men being punished at the guard house. One was seen with his head through a barrel and another was carrying a heavy log of wood.

At midnight, August 30, the regiment arrived in Washington and was halted at ‘The Soldiers' Rest.’ The Nineteenth had to stand under arms until a Pennsylvania regiment had eaten supper. The meal furnished was very bad. A vigorous protest was instituted by Col. Hinks at the quality of food supplied, and on the following morning a more respectable meal was served.

Some of the companies of the Nineteenth were obliged to camp on the platform outside of the building that night because a Pennsylvania regiment occupied the barracks. The other companies slept on the floor. The night was warm and the men outside slept soundly. When they awoke it was to witness a strange scene. A great number of hogs were running about, grunting and squealing and eating of the refuse matter that lay in the muddy streets. It was the first time most of the men had seen hogs running at large. Some resented the [13] presence of the intruders, and one was heard to exclaim, ‘I didn't think I was coming out here to be rooted over by d— hogs.’

Many of the boys chased them, but with poor success, and then an old pump was found and the morning toilet was made. The younger element in the ranks appreciated the novelty of their experiences and found no fault, declaring ‘It's all in the three years, and is nothing after you get used to it.’

During the afternoon the regiment marched down Pennsylvania Avenue for three miles to Meridian Hill, where it established camp, and here Colonel Hinks instituted the rigid system of instruction which was observed in the regiment as long as he retained command of it. Meridian Hill was well wooded and commanded a fine view of the surrounding country, with the Potomac but a mile and a half distant.

About the first thing that happened to the regiment after it reached Meridian Hill was the taking by the government of its nicely painted wagons and the horses, and the issuance in their place of the conventional army wagons, drawn by six mules, giving ten wagons, only, to the regiment and one additional for headquarters, in place of the sixteen which had been brought from Lynnfield.

After the regiment reached Meridian Hill, the fact that some of its officers and men had served in the Three Month's Regiments previously was found to be of great advantage, for they already had made many acquaintances among the military officials at the Capitol and throughout the District. Colonel Hinks and Lieutenant Colonel Devereux were both wellknown. The Nineteenth's officers received much more attention from the officers of other organizations because of their wide acquaintance than otherwise would have been the case.

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