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The Tenth Massachusets Battery

Chapter 1:

August 12 to October 14, 1862.

  • Origin of the Battery
  • -- going into camp -- incidents and experiences of life in home camp.

It was mid summer of 1862.

The disastrous failure of the Peninsular Campaign had shrouded the country in gloom. Thousands of the flower of the nation's youth who, burning with the most ardent and unselfish patriotism had been marshalled in the ranks of the magnificent Army of the Potomac, had crossed another river never to return. It was one of the darkest periods in the history of the Civil War. A triumphant enemy was likely to be an aggressive one. The disaster must be repaired and that right speedily. Then it was that President Lincoln, cast down but not destroyed, issued his call for 300,000 more volunteers and under this call the following special order was issued from the State House in Boston:

Special order no. 614.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Headquarters, Boston, Aug. 12, 1862.
Henry H. Granger is hereby authorized to raise a Battery of Light Artillery under U. S. Order No. 75, Battery to be full by 16th inst.

The Captain will be designated hereafter.

By command of His Excellency John A. Andrew, Governor and Commander-in-Chief.


Wm. Brown, Asst. Adjt. Gen'l.


The foregoing is a correct copy of the original order by which authority was given to recruit the Company afterwards known as the Tenth Massachusetts Battery.

In the Boston Journal of August 13, 1862, appeared the following notice:—

Henry H. Granger has been authorized to raise a battery of light artillery to be filled by the 16th inst. As this is a popular arm of the service, there is no doubt of his ability to raise a company by the time specified.

So far as can be ascertained this is the first public notice of the company. In subsequent issues of the same paper occurred these notices:—

Tenth Massachusetts Battery.

[Aug. 14, 1862.]
50 more men wanted for the Tenth massachusetts Battery. Apply immediately to 17 Old State House or 16 Howard Street.

H. H. Granger, Recruiting Officer.

[Aug. 18, 1862.]
The 10th Massachusetts Battery recruiting by Lieut. H. H. Granger, is rapidly filling up, over 125 men having already enlisted. A splendid opportunity is here offered to those who wish to enlist in this popular arm of the service for three years.

Tenth Massachusetts Battery.

[Aug. 23, 1862.]
The 10th Battery, H. H. Granger commanding, is full, and has been ordered into camp at Lynnfield to-day. They will leave Boston at 12 o'clock on the Boston and Maine R. R. J. Webb Adams of this city has been appointed Junior 1st Lieutenant.

[Aug. 23, 1862.]
The 10th Battery for three years service, recruited by Capt. Granger, left Boston for Camp Stanton at Lynnfield via Boston and Maine R. R., in the noon train to-day

As the above notices show, a recruiting office was opened at the Old State House, and also at 16 Howard [19] Street, and but few days elapsed before the Company was recruited to the required standard of one hundred and fifty-six men. The readiness with which men rallied was undoubtedly due in large measure to the gentlemanly bearing and personal magnetism of the recruiting officer, Mr. Granger, whose many estimable qualities as a man won the affection of all who came in contact with him; and this regard, implanted thus early in the hearts of the men, continued unabated to the day of his death.

About thirty members of the Battery came from Worcester County, the home of Mr. Granger, thirty more from Charlestown, and the same number from Marblehead. The remainder were furnished by Boston and towns lying within a radius of twenty miles of it.

August 23 was the day fixed upon for the Company to go into camp. On the morning of that day, about a hundred men assembled at the Eastern Railway Station in Boston. At the command, ‘Fall in, Tenth!’ we formed line and went on board a train standing near to receive us, bound for Lynnfield, at that time one of the rendezvouses established for the reception of regiments and companies prior to their departure for the seat of war. This assemblage of men constituted the first tangible evidence that there existed such an organization as the Tenth Massachusetts Battery.

While sZZZ [20] ers and seamen, blacksmiths and tailors, carpenters and teamsters, clerks fresh from the pen or yardstick, teachers, hard-handed laborers, policemen and restaurant keepers. All these, with men of various other callings, combined to make up a motley collection of tastes, interests and prejudices, such as war always assembles. But all these differences of calling and taste were to be sunk in a common unity of purpose and interest. Henceforth we should know each other as soldiers and soldiers only. While we were getting, acquainted the train moved on and in due time arrived at Lynnfield.

Here those whose duty it was to provide accommodations had nothing ready, thus giving us our first lesson in patient waiting, a lesson which soldiers have to learn early and practise long. There was the camp, it is true; but it was surrounded by sentries, armed with rusty muskets, whose valor we did not care to test by trespassing on their beat. While waiting outside the lines, a heavy shower came up, and we concluded, while hugging the lee side of contiguous buildings and becoming drenched to the skin, that we were having a fair initiation into the experiences of a soldier's life. Sunshine again appearing, our prospects brightened materially. A company of one of the regiments in camp, going away on furlough, vacated its quarters for us. These consisted of two rows of tents, known interchangeably by the names of Sibley and Bell Tents; the former derived from the name of the inventor, the latter given from their resemblance to huge bells. They were pitched in two rows of six each, with a park between about four rods wide, at the head of which stood two wall tents occupied by the officers.

These tents, located by themselves near a pleasant [21] piece of woods, formed a more inviting camp than had been anticipated, and we were not long in accommodating ourselves to them. Those who had been familiar with the culinary art took possession of the cook-house that stood near by, and in due time were dealing out tin dippers of black coffee and slices of bread, thus introducing us to the simple fare of army life.

Supper disposed of, we examined the interior of the tents. They were found to be supported by a central pole resting on an iron tripod. A plentiful supply of straw covered the ground. On this a dozen men in each stretched themselves, feet to the centre, and passed the first night, not in slumber, but in telling stories and shivering in the chill night air. The next day was the Sabbath, and camp life began in earnest. The guard, hemming us in on all sides, was at first rather chafing to free American citizens, but we accepted it as an annoyance inseparable from the service into which we had voluntarily entered. Some of us were detailed for guard around our own camp, while others went as supernumeraries to relieve the regular sentries at the central guard-house, and whiled away the hours in watching over certain wayward and drunken soldiers from the infantry near us, whose ambitious propensities to beat the guard over the head with a club, bite off the fingers of the corporal who remonstrated, and divers other offences against law and decency, had consigned them to confinement in the stall of an old stable, now dignified by the name of guard-house. So, in one way and another, we were inducted to our new employment. During the week our uniforms arrived, and with many jokes on the good clothes furnished us, we doffed the garb of civil life, and donning the uniform of light artillerymen, [22] became genuine soldiers in appearance so far as uniformity of dress could make us so.

This pleasant camp, however, was not destined to be our home long. In a few days a portion of the troops encamped with us were ordered to the seat of war, and those remaining were to be removed to Boxford. So, packing up our effects and getting down to the station promptly at nine o'clock in the morning, according to orders, we were fairly seated in the cars by five o'clock in the afternoon, and under way at sundown. After several hours ride, during which the train had the singular faculty of going backwards as much as forwards, and standing still more than it did either, we were landed in Boxford about ten o'clock at night, to find the ground soaked with rain, and the beans that had been stewed for our supper by an advance guard, sour as vinegar. While some of the men were striving to make themselves comfortable for the remainder of the night in the cars, which had been left standing near the camp-ground, a voice came ringing through the train: ‘Any of Captain Garlic's men here?’1 Again and yet again was it repeated in anxious tones at every door, although greeted with the jeers and execrations of the would-be slumberers within; but the captain with the fragrant name seemed to think his reputation as a soldier depended on immediately gathering all his flock under his sheltering care, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings; for when some of us left the cars for fresh air without, before we had fairly touched the ground, the same inquiry concerning the whereabouts of Captain Garlic's flock assailed us. We sought boxes and boards on which to sleep raised from the wet ground, and were just dropping off into dreamland [23] when a gentle touch on the shoulder drove us well-nigh frantic, followed as it was by the same disgusting inquiry, and we then and there wished the whole Garlic clan and all its satellites, present or prospective, were in the sunny South. Some even gave him and his men direct marching orders to the fervid heats of a less favored clime. At last the interrogatory ceased, and we passed what little remained of the night in comparative quiet; but whether the indefatigable captain ever succeeded in collecting his truant flock, or found any end to his restless search, we never knew.

In the morning Camp Stanton was established at Boxford. Here we pitched our tents and remained about six weeks, changing our location once during our stay. On the 9th of September we were mustered into the service of the United States by Lieut. M. Elder of the regular army, and received one month's pay in advance.

During September the Boston Journal made the following notes regarding us:

[Friday, Sept. 5, 1862.
An order was promulgated yesterday that the 10th Mass. Battery, Lieut. H. H. Granger acting commander, should be mustered into the service Tuesday next, and that they should proceed to Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 10. The Battery is full and the boys are anxious to go; and such of them as are on furlough are requested to note the above arrangement and govern themselves accordingly.

Marriage in camp.

[Sept. 11, 1862.]
On the evening of the 9th inst. Mr. Tobinas Beck of Charlestown was married at Camp Stanton, Boxford, to Miss Sarah Kilgore of Hampden, Me., by Benj. S. Barnes, Esq., J. P. The occasion brought together a great many of the ladies of Boxford and of the friends of the bridegroom and bride.

The officers of the 10th Mass. Battery, of which the bridegroom [24] is a member, were also interested spectators of the ceremony. Bond's Band volunteered their services and the whole party, military included, having formed a square, the ceremony was performed under the bright, shining moon. The happy pair afterwards received the congratulations of all present and then proceeded under escort to the house of the officiating magistrate where they were well entertained. The occasion was one of much enjoyment and interest.

Tenth Massachusetts Battery.

[Thursday, Sept. 11, 1862.]
The 10th Mass. Battery was mustered into the United States service on Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 9) by Lieut. M. Elder, U. S. Mustering Officer.

While encamped here that disposition of the company to hang together which afterwards became proverbial, cropped out quite conspicuously; whether in rescuing a comrade from the Philistines of the Forty-first Regiment, among whom he was receiving a rough handling, or in taking one from the hands of the camp guard into whose power he had fallen for running in or out of camp without a pass, there was the same tendency displayed to stand by one another. Affairs finally came to such a pass that ‘Battery Boys’ were allowed to go and come at will, with none to molest or make afraid. Passes to leave camp soon became an obsolete formality. It is true that trains could not always be taken with safety at the camp-ground without them, owing to the presence of provost guards; but there was another station about two miles away, and some of the more wary walked as far as Topsfield, a distance of six miles, in order not to be summarily cut off from their semi-weekly or tri-weekly visits to home and loved ones.

Daily drill was inaugurated and carried on, all things considered, with a fair measure of success. One day we received the compliments of the officer [25]

J. Henry Sleeper

[26] [27] of the day for proficiency, and the next, drew down upon our defenceless heads the wrath of Col. Jones, the unpopular post commander, for setting his authority at defiance.

Oct. 1, J. Henry Sleeper, the newly appointed Captain of the Company, arrived. He had been pronoted to this position from a first lieutenancy in the First Massachusetts Battery. By his interference we were relieved from camp guard,— a change which we heartily appreciated, having never taken kindly to it.

Capt. Jacob Henry Sleeper was a Bostonian by birth, son of the Hon. Jacob Sleeper of the Governor's Council. He was twenty-three years of age and entered the army at the beginning of the war as 1st Lieutenant in the Fifth Massachusetts Infantry, where he won praise from his superiors for coolness and bravery in the first battle of Bull Run. Almost immediately after his time was out he joined Captain Porter's First Massachusetts Light Battery as Lieutenant and gained much credit for dashing bravery, coolness under fire and skill as an artillerist. Thus highly recommended he was appointed commander of the Tenth.

The following letters are self-explanatory:

Headquarters Artillery Brigade, 1st Div. 6th Army Corps, Camp near Harrison's Landing, Aug. 4, 1862.
Lieut. J. H. Sleeper of Porter's Battery ‘A,’ Mass. Vol. Art'y has been under my command some months. During that time I have observed him in the camp, on the march and on the battlefield, and it gives me pleasure to state that on all occasions and in all situations he has acquitted himself as a soldier should. He is an excellent officer and a good artillerist.


E. R. Platt, Captain 2d Artillery, Comd'g Artillery Brigade.


Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Adjutant General's office.

Boston, Sept. 9, 1862.
Lieut. J. Henry Sleeper, Porter's Battery, Mass. Vols.
Lieut.,—I am directed by His Excellency the Governor to inform you that you have been appointed and commissioned as Capt. of a new Battery now organized in this Commonwealth known and designated as the 10th Battery of Mass. Volunteers, and you are requested to get leave from your — superior Officers and to report at once to these Head Quarters, where you will be ordered to take command of the new Battery.

Respectfully Yours,


Wm. Schouler, Adjt. General of Mass.

The non-commissioned officers, with the exception of the second corporals, were now appointed; and our daily drill was carried on with two six-pounders, with which we waked the echoes of the camp and neighborhood at sunrise every day. But this peaceful state of affairs could not be expected to last forever, and, with the early days of October, there came rumors of orders to leave for the South.

Morning reports.


Sept. 11. Charles I.. Bisbee, Henry B. Winslow, Moses K. Davis, William Buckman, George H. Strickland, John A. Stearns, Peter Savory, Jr., Henry L. Wheelock, eight recruits over maximum, transferred to Col. Jones, Com—by order of Lieut. M. Elder, Mustering Officer.

Sept. 14. The above eight recruits return to the care of the commander of the Tenth Massachusetts Battery.

Sept. 23. George H. Strickland, one of the recruits, discharged on account of disability. [29]

Oct. 1. Capt. J. Henry Sleeper came into camp and took command.

Oct. 3. Charles H. Bisbee, Henry B. Winslow, John A. Stearns, Moses K. Davis, Peter Savory, Jr., William Buckman and Henry L. Wheelock, seven recruits, transferred to Fifth Massachusetts Battery.

Oct. 4. Samuel Abell received a surgeon's furlough Sept. 27, and it was extended to Oct. 4. Not being able he did not return to camp.

1 A captain in the 40th Massachusetts infantry.

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