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Chapter 36: return of the regiment to Massachusetts. Back again to the front.

On February 3 the order to prepare for the journey home was received and on the following day, when they broke camp it was a jolly occasion for every one. The two miles between the camp and the depot was quickly covered and no one fell out. Those of the Nineteenth regiment who did not or could not re-enlist were turned over to the Twentieth Massachusetts for duty during the absence of the regiment.

At the depot the usual delay incident to army railroading occurred, but finally the train was ready and the regiment started. Box cars were furnished for the men and they ‘let themselves out,’—dancing, singing and shouting until they were hoarse.

The officers who returned with the regiment to Boston were:

Colonel Devereux.

Lieut. Col. Wass.

Major Edmund Rice.

Acting Adjt. William M. Curtis.

Quartermaster Thos. F. Winthrop.

Surgeon J. F. Dyer.

Asst. Surgeon C. P. Pratt.

Capt. Moncena Dunn.

Capt. Wm. L. Palmer.

Capt. D. C. Mumford.

Capt. L. J. Hume.

Feb. 4, 1864. Started for home at 2.30 o'clock. Arrived at Alexandria, Va., at 9 o'clock. Had supper and turned in in one of the old tobacco houses.

Feb. 5, 1864. Left for Washington this forenoon and took the cars for Baltimore, arriving at night. Got supper and turned in. [296]

Feb. 6, 1864. Started for Philadelphia this morning, arriving a little before dark, got supper and rested awhile, then started for New York, riding all night.

Feb. 7, 1864. Arrived in New York at 6 o'clock in the morning. Left at 6 P. M. for Boston.

The journey to Boston was made without incident. The regiment arrived at 4 A. M. on February 8th, and breakfast was served in the Beach Street barracks. At 11 o'clock line was formed and the regiment marched to Fanueil Hall Square, through crowds of people which filled all the streets, giving the men hardly space in which to walk. When the men were conducted into the hall a sight greeted them which at once put them into the best of humor. Their poor breakfast was forgotten as the tables at which they halted were loaded with good things. The escort of the regiment were the Home Guards from Fort Warren. These halted near the platform and ‘Ordered Arms,’ their muskets coming down, as one of the Nineteenth said, ‘All together, one after the other.’

When the command ‘Order Arms’ was given to the Nineteenth there was one tremendous thump as the butt of every musket struck the floor at once. There was not one of them out of time and then a smile of satisfaction wrinkled the colonel's face and a cheer of approval went up from the audience, which packed the hall, that made the walls shake. It was one of the proudest moments in the history of the Nineteenth, and of Col. Devereux, too, as it had been through his untiring efforts that the regiment had reached such perfection in the manual of arms.

Governor Andrew was unable to be present, but Adjutant General Schouler welcomed the boys home in his behalf. Mayor Lincoln made a speech brim full of praise, saying among other things: ‘You have sustained the old flag with unflinching bravery and our hearts have beat with pride as we have heard of your exploits. You are to go again into the field, to gain new laurels and perform still more brilliant achievements.’ General Edward W. Hinks, who had been appointed by Governor Andrew as a special aide on his staff at the reception to the Nineteenth Massachusetts, and Colonel Devereux also spoke. [297]

At two o'clock the regiment started for Salem, via the Eastern Railroad. At every station on the road, booming guns, ringing bells cheering, and joyous shouts greeted the train. It stopped just outside the city of Salem and the men alighted, formed line and marched into the city from the South Fields amid the firing of cannon, the ringing of bells and the cheering of a great crowd of people. After a short parade through the principal streets, the regiment was taken to Essex Hall, where another bountiful spread was served by the ladies of Salem; but, having eaten so much in Boston, the men did not eat heartily here.

There was a ‘Welcome Home’ speech from the mayor of Salem, another from General Sutton of the Cadets, brilliant music and an outpouring of love and warm greetings. From the hall the regiment marched to the common where it exhibited its perfect discipline and matchless skill in a drill and dress parade.

The regiment came near losing its colors here. They were only ragged remnants, clinging to the staves, but the women grabbed them and began to tear off little pieces as souvenirs. The officers rescued them from their hands, however, and finally came the order to ‘Stack arms.’ Then.—‘For thirty days, break ranks, march!’ and with a wild cheer the men scattered without ceremony for their homes.

The thirty days were passed in a round of pleasure, the men were warmly greeted, received everywhere and banquetted, and in a number of places ‘Veterans' Balls’ were given in their honor,—one at Rowley being especially notable. Several of the officers were presented with swords by their townsmen and the brief stay at home was in every way made pleasant.

Colonel Devereux resigned during this period and the command of the Nineteenth fell upon Major Edmund Rice,—Lieutenant Colonel Wass being on recruiting duty in Boston. To the honor of the regiment it should be mentioned that during the time it was on furlough in Massachusetts, no one of its members was under restraint by the civil authorities and the command reported in the field with every veteran originally furloughed. There were with it, also, a number of deserters who had been apprehended by the officers. [298]

The regiment re-assembled in the state camp at Wenham and at 2.30 P. M. on the 15th of March, 1864, under the command of Major Rice, took the cars for Boston,—without a man missing. Boston was reached at 3.45 P. M. and the men marched to the depot of the Boston and Providence Railroad where they again took the cars for the front. At Groton, Conn., they left the cars and embarked upon the boat for Jersey City. At Philadelphia a stop of 24 hours was made and again were the men subjects of that splendid charity of the sons and daughters of Philadelphia,—the old Cooper Shop. The single gun which always saluted the arriving regiments gathered at once from their homes the noblest of her citizens to give aid to the tired soldiers.

At Alexandria a day and a half were spent, and the men made the most of the time. A circus was showing there that day and in the afternoon nearly the entire regiment visited it, many also spending the evening at the theatre.

When the regiment arrived at its old camp on Cole's Hill on March 20, the men found that it was occupied by the Seventh Michigan which had returned from its furlough some time before. They were obliged, therefore, to bivouack on top of the hill in the open air and found when they awoke on the following morning that there had been a snow storm and they were covered with several inches of it. For a few days, until the regiment could prepare a suitable camp, the men were divided among the camps of the Fifteenth Massachusetts and the Seventh Michigan, while some were quartered in the meeting tent of the Christian Commission.

Work on the new camp was begun on the morning after arrival. The snow on the hill to the left of the old camp was scraped off and logs were brought to the spot. Soon the men had their tents logged up and were quite comfortable. The men who had been placed temporarily with the Twentieth Massachusetts and Seventh Michigan were returned to the Nineteenth and a number of recruits were received, bringing the regimental total up to 300 men.

The weather changed very quickly and the ground was soon in condition for drills, which were at once begun by Major Rice. Skirmish drill was given great attention and one or two drill [299] masters from each company were appointed to look after the recruits. Their task was not always pleasant, as many of the recruits were of foreign birth and could not speak or understand a word of English.

The appointment of General Grant to the command of the Army was received with general approval and all awaited his expected visit to the various corps.

The regimental roster, dated March 31, 1864, shows the following record:

Lieut. Col. Ansel D. Wass, on detached service. recruiting in Massachusetts.

Regt. Quartermaster Wm. M. Curtis, appointed from Co. C. March 13th, vice Hill appointed Captain, March 12th.

Co. C.First Lieut. Elisha A. Hinks in command Co. C.
Second Lieut. Joseph W. Snellen, in command Co. B.—First Lieut. Hale and Lieut. Barrows on detached service.
Co. D.First Lieut. Moncena Dunn on detached service, recruiting in Massachusetts.
Second Lieut. David T. Chubbuck in command of company.
Co. E.Capt. Wm. L. Palmer on detached service.
Second Lieut. E. Ia. Hall, Jr. in command of company.
Co. F.Capt. C. M. Merritt, on detached service.
First Lieut. John J. Ferris, in command of company.
Co. G.Captain Dudley C. Mumford, on detached service, recruiting in Massachusetts.
First Lieut. John B. Thompson, in command of Co. K.
Co. H.Capt. J. G. C. Dodge, on detached service at volunteer camp, Readville, Mass.
Co. I.Capt. William A. Hill, on detached service in Massachusetts.
First Lieut. J. G. B. Adams in command of company.
Co. K.Captain Lysander J. Hume, absent.
First Lieut. William R. Driver, on detached service,
A. A. A. G. draft rendezvous, Grand Rapids, Mich.



Colonel A. F. Devereux, discharged by resignation, March 4th, 1864.


Recruits from depot, March 23 to March 27,—26.

As the time for opening the spring campaign approached the re-organization of the Army of the Potomac into three corps caused many changes in divisions and brigades. In the case of Gibbon's Division, which retained its number as Second Division, Second Corps,—the Third Brigade, of which the Nineteenth Massachusetts formed a part, was consolidated with the First, under General Alexander A. Webb, who had previously commanded the Second Brigade.

And thus made up, the brigade consisted of the Fifteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts, Nineteenth Maine, Forty Second, Fifty Ninth and Eighty Second New York and Seventh Michigan regiments, with the Andrew Sharpshooters.

Colonel Devereux having resigned, in regular order, Lieut. Col. Wass, Major Rice and Capt. Moncena Dunn, were promoted, dating from February 2nd. Second Lieut. Wm. A. McGinnis was made First Lieutenant in Company K, vice Hill promoted Captain.

The month of April was spent in perfecting the discipline of the regiment and preparing it for the sterner duties of the campaign Recruits to the number of 52 were received during the month, and Horace Hastings, musician in Co. E re-enlisted.

The stern duties of war were vividly exemplified on April 14th when a member of the Nineteenth Massachusetts, but who was transferred to the Twentieth Massachusetts when the others re-enlisted, was hanged for assault upon an aged woman while he was drunk. It had been shown that he left his post while on picket duty and he was sentenced by courtmartial to be hanged. The officers and men of the regiment did everything possible, even to petitioning to the President, for his reprieve, but the example was needed and the request was refused.

The Second Division of the Second Corps was formed in [301] a hollow square, facing inward. The man was placed in an open wagon, seated on his coffin and accompanied by a provost marshal and chaplain. The band which led the way played the Dead March, while files of soldiers, with arms reversed, marched on each flank and in front and rear of the wagon. The man smiled and bowed to those of the Nineteenth whom he recognized as he passed, and when he reached the scaffold in the centre of the square, alighted from the wagon and ran up the steps. Before the black cap was pulled down, he said: ‘Good bye, comrades, officers and men of the Nineteenth. May you live long and die a happy death. I die an innocent man.’

The next event was on April 22, when Lieutenant General Grant, with other general officers, reviewed the Second Army Corps. After the general review, the Nineteenth Massachusetts, under Lieut. Col. Rice, and the Twentieth Massachusetts under Major H. L. Abbott, were selected by Major General Hancock to drill at Headquarters, Second Division, in the presence of the commander-in-chief. The many generals present, including Lieut. Gen. Grant, and Generals Meade, Hancock, Humphreys, Warren, Sedgwick, Gibbon and Sheridan, expressed much satisfaction with the admirable discipline and perfect construction of both regiments.

After the Nineteenth Massachusetts had been drilled in the manual, the Twentieth Massachusetts gave an exhibition drill in fancy batallion movements in heavy marching order. General Meade said that in all the years of his service in the regular army he had never seen the proficiency of the Nineteenth Massachusetts regiment in the manual of arms equalled. After the drill General Grant dined with General Gibbon, the division commander. The day had been perfect, but the parade ground was very rough.

After these events the monotonous life of the camp was not broken until May 1, when orders were given to prepare to march. Five days rations were to be carried in the haversacks and ten days in the teams. Each man was to carry 60 rounds of ammunition. [302]

May 2, 1864. Tore our huts down and were ordered to build with only one log and cover with shelter tents. This afternoon we were visited by a terrible whirlwind. For a long time the air was so full of dust that we could not keep our eyes open and were compelled to go into our tents. After the whirlwind we had a heavy thunder shower.

On the first of May the regiment numbered 350, with two field and ten line officers. During the month of April Captain Hume of Co. K. was on detached service in Philadelphia.

In response to the order to prepare to march, nearly every soldier wrote a letter home and also sent home such little money as he had on hand, through Captain Pearl, the sutler.

None of the ‘Boys’ will ever forget ‘Ed. Pearl.’ Originally a captain in the First Massachusetts, he had become the sutler of the Nineteenth Massachusetts and loved the regiment dearly Generous to a fault, he was never known to refuse officer or man an article he needed, whatever the state of his account. He devoted his time and his means, outside of business, to the interest of the regiment and its members. He was one of the most popular men in the command, and justly so. The sutlers, as a rule, were described as a swindling, hard-fisted and grinding race, but Pearl was not one of these.

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