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Chapter 26: a period of rest in camp at Falmouth.

After waiting at the Lacy House for a short time, the regiment was ordered to return to its old camp at Falmouth. While here a large number of British army officers from Canada were, by international courtesy, permitted to visit the army of the Potomac, even at the very front. They were entertained by the Commander-in-chief and then by the various corps commanders.

They visited Gen. Hancock, and early one morning Lieut. Col. Devereux received a note from Gen. Hancock asking him if he would parade his regiment at 2 o'clock in the afternoon and put it through the manual peculiar to it. He replied that his ‘boys’ would be ready at the appointed time. He said nothing to the officers or men of the fact that they were to give an exhibition drill at 2 o'clock, preferring to take them by surprise. The headquarters of Gen. Hancock were some distance away, on a rising ground from which he could overlook all the camps in his command. At the appointed hour, the general and his staff were seen to mount their horses and with them were the redcoated English officers.

Lieut. Col. Devereux made no move except to send for the bugler. The gay cavalcade started from headquarters at a rapid gait, but when they neared the camp of the regiment they slowed down.

Suddenly the first note of ‘The Assembly’ rang out from the bugle. The men, who were playing all sorts of pranks stopped on the instant and rushed to their quarters to put on their equipments and get into line. Up to this time Lieut. Col. Devereux had not even ordered his orderly to saddle his little mare, but by the time Hancock and his companions had crossed the line of the camp the regiment was in perfect line, ready to salute them. [210]

After the intricate and interesting drill of the regiment was concluded, Gen. Hancock said to the Lieutenant Colonel: ‘I sent you that request because I had told those Britishers that I had a regiment in my command that they could not touch in all their armies all over the world. When I was riding down quickly and within a few hundred yards of your regiment and there was no sign of any movement, my heart was in my mouth and I was afraid that you had mistaken the hour. But when I heard the first note of the ‘Assembly’ from the bugle and saw your men,—a mere mob as you might call them, on the parade ground—and saw them start for the quarters to take equipments out, I understood and rejoiced. It was a magnificent spectacle of absolute obedience and it enabled me all the more to point out to these Britishers the proof that they had no regiment in their service like that, let alone your splendid drill when we reached your camp, and I made them acknowledge it.’

Lieut. Col. Devereux was away on ten day's leave of absence soon after this, leaving Maj. Rice in command of the regiment. Capt. Moncena Dunn was on detached service as A. A. Q. M. and A. A. C. S. in the artillery brigade of the Second Corps. Second Lieut. William Stone was in command of Co. B, and Second Lieut. Herman Donath, of Co. I, was at the head of Co. H. Asst. Surg. V. R. Stone had been discharged on May 11 for disability.

At this time there were about 230 enlisted men present with the regiment and only 16 commissioned officers. Seven officers were absent on detached service, five were absent sick and wounded and two on leave. There were 48 enlisted men absent on detached service, with 99 sick, out of an aggregate of 410 officers and men. This placed the regiment in such a condition that 604 recruits were required to fill its quota.

About the first of June the camp was moved to high ground back of the town and overlooking the river and quite a stretch of country beyond. It was pleasantly situated and as there was no more provost or picket duty to perform, the time was given over to drills.

Sergeants Merrill and Stone, of Co. C, returned from general hospitals, having recovered from wounds, and were [211] commissioned lieutenants, subsequently being transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps. Capt. Dodge was transferred to Co. D, and Lieut. Wm. L. Palmer, having returned from the hospital, was promoted to Captain and assigned to Co. C.

The balloon which had been stationed near the old camp was moved up stream and the signal corps officers used it for the purpose of looking into the rebel camps, a proceeding to which the latter objected by sending over a few shells which burst near but did not hit it. They scared the observers so much, however, that they withdrew further from the river.

The camps were visited every few days by an aged negro who came creeping down the dusty road from the country up the river. He was a character, jovial and witty, dressed in many colored rags and with his head covered by an ancient stove-pipe hat. He leaned his tottering frame on a cane and carried a large basket of pies and other eatables on his arm. As he neared the camp he would call out ‘Here's your pies and cakes and apples. Pay me today and I'll trust you to-morrow.’ He had no trouble in disposing of his load and would trudge off homeward, contented and happy. The pies and cakes were much better than were usually found in the South.

About this time Gen. Hooker introduced the badge of designation into the army. The flag of the Second Corps was a trefoil or clover leaf. Red or scarlet designated the first division, white the second and blue the third. The division flags were rectangular, the color of the first being white with red trefoil; second, blue with white trefoil; third, white with blue trefoil. Brigade flags were triangular. In the division to which the Nineteenth Massachusetts was assigned (second) the flags were blue with white trefoil in the centre. The first brigade had a red stripe or border on one side; second, red on two sides; third, red all around. These flags made it much easier for men to hunt up their regiments.

The Second Corps headquarters flag was rectangular, color blue, with a large clover leaf in the centre. The rebels called it ‘The Ace of Clubs’ from the shape of the badges.

For several weeks after Chancellorsville, both armies lay quiet, watching each other. Hooker finally received information [212] of the massing of the Confederate cavalry between Kelley's Ford and Brandy Station and it proved to be one of the most important of the operations connected with the Gettysburg campaign.

Lee had begun to move for the purpose of invading the Northern lines a second time and compelling Hooker to leave the Southern lines and recross the Potomac. Stewart and his cavalry was massed for the purpose of protecting Lee's right on his march up the valley, to furnish information, to harass the Union army and to frighten Washington.

Pleasanton, with all the Union cavalry, was sent to attack Stewart. They met and one of the grandest cavalry fights known to history occurred, the consequences of which were all important. Final victory crowned the Union army, though equally claimed by the Confederates. Stewart, however, was compelled to leave the field in haste, hotly pursued by Pleasanton, thus bringing about the condition that both armies were without cavalry and consequently without the information of each other's position until they ran across each other by accident at Gettysburg.

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