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Chapter 2:

October 14 to 17, 1862.

  • The journey to Washington
  • -- incidents by the way

    -- Philadelphia Union Refreshment Saloon.

The time spent in our own State may be regarded as the infancy of our organization. Song and sport prevailed, and from the appearance of the camp one would hardly have supposed it occupied by a body of men assembled with the serious purpose of devoting themselves to the deadly earnestness of battle. But when, at last, positive orders to depart for the seat of war came, the spirit of the scene changed. Men had run guard and taken furloughs for the last time, and all felt that the play of the past few weeks must now give place to the stern work and discipline of active service. Several false alarms were at last followed by positive marching orders; and October 14, 1862, saw us with well-stuffed knapsacks fairly under way. Our march through Boston called forth quite enthusiastic demonstrations from the citizens, which were continued until our arrival at the Old Colony Railway station, where we were to take the cars.

These notices appeared successively in the Boston Journal:—

Marching orders.

[Saturday, Oct. 4, 1862.]
The 10th Massachusetts Battery in camp at Boxford have received marching orders for Monday, Oct. 6, and will probably reach this city about 1 o'clock. The following is a list of the [31] officers:—Capt., J. Henry Sleeper; Senior 1st Lieut., Henry H. Granger; Junior 1st Lieut., J. Webb Adams; Senior 2nd Lieut., Asa Smith; Junior 2nd Lieut. Thomas R. Armitage; First Sergeant, Otis N. Harrington; Quartermaster Sergeant, S. Augustus Alden; chiefs of Pieces with rank of sergeants, George H. Putnam; Philip T. Woodfin; Charles E. Pierce; Samuel J. Bradlee; Chandler Gould; George F. Gould. Gunners with the rank of Corporals; Andrew B. Shattuck. Charles W. Doe, John H. Stevens, George M. Townsend, Joseph H. Currant, Benjamin F. Parker; Guidon, William H. Fitzpatrick; Artificer. Amasa D. Bacon; Buglers, Joshua T. Reed, John E. Mugford; Company Clerk, Benjamin E. Corlew.

The departure of Sleeper's Battery.

[Monday Oct. 13, 1862.]
The 10th Mass. Battery, Captain Sleeper, now at Boxford will certainly leave for the seat of war at 10 o'clock tomorrow forenoon. The horses for the battery have all been inspected and placed on board the car. The field pieces will be supplied the company on their arrival at Washington.

Departure of the 10th Massachusetts Battery.

[Oct. 14, 1862.]
The Tenth Massachusetts Battery, Captain J. Henry Sleeper, arrived in the city at 1 o'clock this afternoon from Camp Stanton, Boxford, and marched up State and Washington Street en route for the Old Colony and Fall River Railroad Depot. The company is composed of fine looking men who are thoroughly uniformed and provided with all the equipment necessary until they arrive in Washington. The Company received a cheering reception and hearty Godspeed from the citizens along the route.

The Tenth Battery.

(Special despatch to the Boston Journal.)

[Wednesday, Oct. 15, 1862.] Jersey City, N. J. Oct. 15, 1862.
The Tenth Mass. Battery arrived here safely at 8 o'clock this morning and left on the New Jersey R. R. at 9.45.

At the Old Colony station occurred the final leave-takings from a few of the wives, parents, and [32] friends who had succeeded in eluding the vigilance which would have denied them this last privilege. There were brave struggles made to appear calm, but the tears would come, and as the train moved away, the last view of a wife or mother to some, was a frantic gesture of the hand and streaming eyes that told how great the sacrifice to those who must stay at home and wait.

We arrived at Fall River about dark, and found the steamer ‘State of Maine’ in readiness to receive us. After unloading our one hundred and ten horses from the forward cars, in which they had been shipped at Boston, and getting them unwillingly aboard and safely stored on deck, we took possession of the ample accommodations of the boat and made ourselves as comfortable as circumstances would permit. There was little sleep to be had that night, and many of us, though ordered to remain below, spent much time on deck, enjoying the brilliant starlight and weird phosphorescence of the dark waters until morning broke, and the attractions of New York harbor, which we were then entering, charmed our gaze.

It has been remembered of this voyage, by some of the comrades, that we drank water from a large ice-tank, in which, some, who professed to know whereof they spoke, declared that deceased soldiers had been packed and brought from Fortress Monroe early in the war. It is so much easier, removed from the event by a lapse of seventeen years, to vouch for the truthfulness of this statement than to prove its falsity that we shall pass it by unquestioned, leaving each comrade of the Battery whose eye meets the above to supplement the statement for himself with any facts in his possession.

In passing up New York harbor we sailed near [33] the steamer Great Eastern, then anchored there, and obtained a very good view of her gigantic proportions.

We were not destined, however, to land at New York, but were headed directly for the opposite shore, and disembarked at Jersey City, amidst a perfect Babel of apple, peach, and pie women. Here, after stowing away the horses so closely that they could do but little at kicking and biting, we again took cars, bound for Philadelphia. All day long we rolled on through New Jersey, with its brick-red soil, its extensive level fields now mostly harvested, its fruited orchards ripening in the October sun, and its patriotic inhabitants greeting us as we rode along with hearty tokens of good-will. Tired, hungry and thirsty, we reached Camden late in the afternoon, and, crossing the ferry, entered Philadelphia, fittingly named the City of Brotherly Love. Nowhere else on the route were such ample preparations made for our comfort as here. Ushered first to a long row of basins with an abundance of water to wash off the grime of travel, we were then shown into a hall filled with tables laden, not with luxuries, but what was far more to our taste, plenty of plain, wholesome food, and overflowing dippers of hot tea and coffee.

Waiters were on every hand as obliging and assiduous in their attentions as at a hotel; and all this the Volunteer Relief Association, composed of citizens of Philadelphia, furnished from their own pockets to every regiment and battery that passed through their city during the entire war, whether they came at morning, evening, or the midnight hours. Warm were the praises on the tongue of many an old veteran at the front for the noble-souled people of Philadelphia, as he called to mind [34] the cheering spot in his experience at the Philadelphia Union Refreshment Saloon.1

When supper was ended, we began our march across the city, with such a hand-shaking with old and young of both sexes, and such a God-speed from all the population, as came from no other city or town through which we passed, and this was continued until our arrival at the Baltimore depot. Could the wives and sweethearts left behind have seen the affectionate leave-takings at this place, it might have aroused other than patriotic emotions in their breasts. We recall at this moment the slight figure of Company Tailor Barker as it appeared extended on the pavement full-length, the result of a misstep while making an ambitious attempt to salute a young lady standing near the procession; and the sad picture that he presented in camp for some weeks afterwards as he tenderly dressed his nose, which had been wounded by contact with an unfriendly paving-stone at the ‘Fall of Man,’ rendered him the mark for frequent jests from those conversant with the facts.

By midnight we were under way, the cars containing the horses having been drawn across the [35] city without change. The dim gray of morning found us at Havre-de-Grace, where, in the black remnants of the old bridge burned while the mob held sway in Baltimore, and in the fires of the picket guards stationed along the road, we began to recognize the first indications of war. Near this place we saw our first persimmon tree loaded with its golden fruit, so beautiful to the eye, but so execrable to the taste at this season of the year. Later when the fruit had become fully ripened by the frosts, we formed better opinions of it.

Having arrived at Baltimore, we were greeted by waving handkerchiefs and other tokens of welcome, and could but contrast the peaceful and apparently loyal attitude of the city at this time with its state of wild tumult when the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment passed through a year and a half before. The elements of rebellion here reduced to such thorough subjection, we accepted as an augury of what would ultimately be accomplished throughout the entire South. Each car containing a portion of the company was drawn across the city by eleven horses in tandem, the driver, from the front platform, with blast of horn and crack of whip urging his ponderous team to livelier gait. Having breakfasted at a saloon something like that at Philadelphia, we waited till long past noon for the Washington train. When at last it was provided, we no longer found luxurious passenger-cars, but common box-cars, ventilated by knocking out alternate boards in the sides, and furnished with rude plank seats. An engine drew us a mile or two out of the city, and then left us to our fate. Three or four hours afterwards just as the sun was setting, a nondescript object came puffing and wheezing along the track and attached itself to our train. It was apparently a machine [36] of three stories. The first of these consisted of four driving-wheels, about three feet in diameter, upon which the whole rested. The second contained the boiler; and the third, directly over this, comprised the pilot-house and tender. The driving-wheels were moved by pistons which worked vertically, and the whole structure rattled as if in momentary danger of flying apart into its original atoms. It maintained its cohesion, however, and we began to move along. Dodging his way as best he might, and waiting at nearly every station for any trains likely to arrive within an hour, our engineer finally succeeded in rolling us into Washing-

‘Soldiers rest.’ picture taken about 1896.

[37] ton about two o'clock Friday morning. Having disembarked in pitchy darkness and a pouring rain, we were ushered into a commodious barn-like building, known as the ‘Soldiers' Rest,’ and throwing ourselves on the floor, were soon sound asleep.

Morning reports.


Oct. 14. Started from Boxford at 11.30 o'clock en route for Washington, D. C., with orders to report to the Adjutant General. At Boston we took a special train in which there were 111 horses turned over to us by Capt. McKim.

Oct. 17. Arrived in Washington and encamped near Bladensburg Tollgate about 6 o'clock P. M.

1 The above institution was organized shortly after the ‘Cooper Shop’ was opened. This movement of relieving the hunger and hardship of the soldiers originated with the women of Philadelphia, who, as early as the latter part of April, 1861, when the troops began to pass through that city, formed themselves into a committee and collected and distributed refreshments among them. They were aided in the work by the gentlemen, and as the troops increased in numbers the necessity of better accommodations was felt. It was then that William M. Cooper (firm of Cooper and Pearce), whose wife was one of the pioneers in the movement, gave up first a part, then nearly all of his establishment, for four years to the purpose of assisting the soldiers.

The ‘Union Saloon’ was established later, but the two worked in perfect harmony to the end of the war. They were located near each other, and a committee from each worked without friction in arranging for the reception of troops.

See History of the Cooper Shop Volunteer Refreshment Saloon, by James Moore, M. D.

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