Letter from A.R. Hendry, formerly of Del. Co. and now a resident of Harrisonburg, Southern Confederacy, Louisiana April 30, 1861
Southern Confederacy, Louisiana
Harrisonburg, April 30th, 1861
Mr. Mirror---Dear Sir: As my time of subscription has near expired, I wish to renew the same for another year. You will perceive that the direction of my paper will be in a manner changed from a former residence in the U.S.A. The division that has occurred, has left your correspondent and subscriber, in the Southern Confederacy, but as to the extent of that continuance it is as uncertain as the description of a writer in your (reflectory?) Mirror, describing the cultivating of Cotton; that the stalks of Cotton were left as far a part as currant bushes. Not having ever seen a current bush for a good many years, his description is probably accurate. The current bush story might do for a local community as for instance had he climbed to the pinicle of the High Hill near Delhi, he could cast his eyes in space to comprehend his description, had he (stated?) that they were from 10 to 12 inches in rows or drills, it would not be to the surmise of the reader, one or two miles. Permit me to say that there are but few travelers, that have given as good and accurate a description as he has done of the country, but the green he saw in the waters, is a weed that grows and prospers there. The candid conclusion of the error waged by the North on the institutions of the South of the servants who according to Scripture phrase, obey their masters. 1st Timothy, sixth chapter and others.
Had the course he suggested been pursued, the "Irrepressible Conflict" would not now be on hand (nor?) Southern Rights. A Black Republican President would not have been elected to the U.S.A., whose cry is Death and extermination to the institution of slavery, guaranteed by the Constitution. As open war is declared, the South, true to her rights, her gallant sons, will undoubtably defend their mothers and daughters and when those (institution?) are destroyed, it will be over the lifeless forms of thousands and thousands unless a peaceful division is made with the free Slave States; if they cannot live with us on account of the sin then let us go and live by ourselves.
It may be true that the North numbers more men but not a true number. He that fights for his family, his fireside, has an interest at stake. When his wife or daughter or friends at home are in the Home Guard, accustomed to see their orders obeyed and their faithful servants to assist, they can maintain peace at home, when the soldiers are in the tented field every John Brown would find his deserts among the negros and guard, should he get so far from home.
The writer of this, although a native of Delaware, comes under the correct description of the "Mirror Correspondence," of the difference between a Southern Union man for Southern rights respected, and not a Northern Union man and no Southern rights to be respected, as the north will say; but that they shall be returned that we can perpetrate and complete the course pursued for years and extinguish the system of servitude; for should they get away from us, we will be unable to consummate our long cherished hopes. I am a southern Union man, and not liable to military duty shall act as a home guard, and to prevent the slaves from joining any of that class that have the Bible in one hand and the precept "thou shall not steal," and with the other, stealing from the rightful owner, property he has received by inheritance. Nothing is to be heard but war and rumors of war; the southern resistance to the Abolition President and principles, bring them in contact with their former friends who have stood by the south in former times, but whilst the south is resisting the President of that class that swear vengeance to a part of the institutions, the force of circumstances force them to combat all that join to sustain the creed, you may say what is the Southern Confederacy going to do? I will say to you, as Northern men, they have published their wrongs and the amendments they require and have left a door open for all to come in and subscribe to the same. That part in regard to (slaves?) will not required to be explained to the Supreme Court. A convention of all the states to adopt it, might get a return to the former station. But I hear that with some it is only the hobby horse to ride to power, which they could not get should they not set up for themselves. Most of the young men of the country are already gone to the wars, but where the first battle after Sumter, were Anderson in two days fight killed our men, but got his quarters burned down, but what with from bombs or torches, time will have to determine.
Green peas, and cucumbers were eaten here on the 18th of April 1861, which compares well with you snow storm.
Your Ob't Servant,
A. H. Hendry
Source: The Bloomville Mirror May 28, 1861 page 2 column 3
Letter to Bloomville Mirror abt. Margaretville Anti-war Meeting dated July 4, 1861
Margaretville, July 4, 1861
At a spontaneous meeting of the inhabitants of Margaretville, Del. Co., and vicinity, attracted by the disturbed and alarming condition of the country, and assembled without previous call or notice at Akerly's Hall, Jeremiah Birdsall was called to the chair, and I.T. Moseman appointed Secretary. The Hall was filled to overflowing, and many unable to find seats within, assembled about the building to listen to the proceedings.
After prayer by the Rev. Charles Gorse, a committee on resolutions was appointed, and the Declaration of Independence was read by Dr. S. W. Reed. O.M. Allaben, of Margaretville, being present, was called upon to address the meeting, to which he responded, and for more than an hour discussed the principles upon which our Government is founded, denying the Constitutional right of the Government to carry civil war into the bosom of any State, charging upon the present Adminstration, the double intention of overslaughtering the rights of the States, and inaugurating the federal principles of 1798, and of carrying the abolition of slavery into the States where it now exists, and reviewing the repeated and alarming usurpations of the present Executive.
The committee on resolutions reported the following which were unanimously adopted.
Resolved, That we view with alarm, the present attitude of the Republican party, in their refusal to entertain any propositions to restore peace to our distracted country.
Resolved, That of all wars, a civil war is the most repulsive and inhuman, and that we regard it as the worst of all possible means to be used in the settlement of our present troubles.
Resolved, That a peacful separation of the States, though much to be deplored, is far preferable to a forcible Union, where harmony and fraternal feelings cannot be maintained.
Resolved, That we are in favor of the Union as it once existed, and believe the present war, if prolonged, will lead to its destruction; we therefore trust that Congress will devise a peaceful compromise by which may be brought about a speedy settlement of all our difficulties.
Resolved, That we believe it to be our duty to support the Government in every emergency, and are willing so to do, yet we declare to the world that we cannot be dragooned into the support of abolitionism or federalism in any form.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror, July 30, 1861 page 1 column 3
John W. Gibbs' Aug. 5th, 1861 Response to Letter abt. the July 4th Margaretville Anti-war Meeting
Stamford, August 5th, 1861
To Dr. O.M. Allaben---Dear sir: Your communication to the public through the columns of the Mirror of July 30th, seems to deserve a notice. You say a spontaneous meeting assembled without previous call or notice. Would not the word miraculous be a better description. You state that O.M. Allaben "was called on to address the meeting, to which he responded and for more than an hour discussed the principles on which our government is founded, denying the Constitutional right of the government to carry civil war into the bosom of any State, charging upon the present administration, the double intention of overslaughtering the rights of the States, and inaugurating the federal principles of 1798, and of carrying the abolition of Slavery into the States where it now exists, &c."
All this is very modest of the Speaker, but an intelligent hearer would probably better judge how convincing were the arguments.
The present adminsitration was constitutionally elected on principles recognized in whole or in part, by every President from Washington to Polk. "To wit:" The Constitutional protection of slavery in the States where it exists, and the equally constitutional exclusion of slavery in the Territories where it does not exist.
The articles of Confederation were to form a "perpetual Union, " and the Constitution was framed and adopted to make that Union more perfect. This covers the right of Secession.
Section 10, Article 1 of the Constitution, prohibits the States from entering into any treaty, alliance or confederation, granting letters of marque or reprisal, keeping troops or ships of war, of entering into a compact with any other state or power, or engage in war unless invaded, with other prohibitions.
Several of the states claim to have seceded and have entered into alliance and confederation, levied war and issued letters of Marque and reprisals on the United States. The seceding states have asked and offered and no compromise, except an acknowledgement of their right to do so, and you now condemn the President for refusing the compromise, and for sustaining the government against an armed rebellion. The Crittenden compromise, and the offers of compromise to the peace Convention, by unauthorized agents, were very modest. Let us examine them. A portion of a defeated minority propose, that if the majority will abandon the principles on which they have elected their rulers, and alter the Constitution to meet their wishes, they will try to prevail on the said minority, to abstain from deposing the present administration. A similar compromise, though not near so repulsive or offensive, was offered at the Charleston Convention, to secure the harmony of the Democratic party, which the friends of Mr. Douglas indignantly spurned, and surely the Republicans may be excused for refusing terms which the Northern Democrats rejected. The truth is and you know it, the President has no alternative. He must fight to sustain the Constitution and government he has sworn to protect and preserve, in the war they have brought against it. No state boundary can or should protect an insurrection within its borders. The rebellion must be crushed, where ever it exists or the government itself must fall; and this is the opinion of the trusted leaders of the Democratic party, among whom we may name Buchanan, Holt and Dix, of the late Administration, together with Dickinson, Tremain, Sprague, Butler and the lamented Douglass, with a vast majority of the party. Your article plainly shows on which side lie your sympathies. I now quote the last resolution of your meeting:
"Resolved, that we believe it our duty to support the government in every emergency, and are willing to do so; yet we declare to the world that we cannot be dragooned into the support of abolitionism or federalism in any form."
The Federal party came into power at the organization of our government, in 1787, and under Washington, its leaders was a great and respectable party. Several obnoxious acts under the elder Adams rendered it unpopular and brought it into the minority, where it was found at the commencement of, and during the war of 1812. During said war they made themselves conspicuous, by their professions of "duty to support the government in every emergency," and of their willingness to do so. Coupled always with condemnation of the administration by whom the government was conducted, misrepresenting its motives and objects, embarassing its action, thwarting its purposes, conveying intelligence to the enemy by means of signal lights characteristically blue. Thus giving aid and comfort to the enemy; in short, no means were left untried, to cripple and prostrate the government they professed themselves bound in duty and willingness to support. By these means, the once powerful federal party became so odious that it soon became extinct. Did its mantle drop at Margaretsville? Names may change but principles never.
This civil war was forced on us by the Southern leaders, to strengthen the institution of slavery, and make it the dominant power in the nation, well knowing the dangerous element in their midst. On the part of the administration, it is a war of self-defense and for that purpose it is necessary to put down the rebellion at any cost. It is not intended to interfere with slavery, and the action of government is embarrased by it. But should the contest be prolonged? Should our gallant army meet many serious reverses, emancipation may become a military necessity. For the rebellion will be crushed though every slave shackle breaks in the struggle. This is what the abolitionists hope for. This is why Wendell Philips exclaimed, "Long life to Jefferson Davis and something of an army." This may be the effect of the meeting whose action you report, should its opinions become epidemic. By looking into the Mirror, you will see both Federalism and Abolitionism reflected. You wear the breeches of the one, to accomplish the purpose of the other, and the dragooning process is wholly unnecessary. Yours with all possible respect,
John W. Gibbs
Source: The Bloomville Mirror. August 10, 1861 page 1 columns 2&3
O.M. Allaben Reply to John W. Gibbs' August 5th, 1861 Letter abt. the Margaretville Anti-war Meeting
Margaretville, Aug. 23d, 1861
Mr. John W. Gibbs---SIR: I believe you are a stranger, and known to me only through your communication, in the Bloomville Mirror of Aug. 20th, inst; but the familiar and direct manner in which you address nme, seems to call for a reply to your "notice" of what you are pleased to call my "communication" in the Mirror of July 30th ult., and a moment's attention to a few of the vagaries and assumptions with which that notice is filled.
I was probably as much surprised as you were shocked, to see my name attached to the article in question, it being nothing more, as you very properly say, than a "report of the action of a meeting;" and nothing for which I hold myself any more responsible, than might any other member of the meeting. The "report" was made and forwarded to the Mirror Office for publication by request of the officers of the meeting, and my name was attached to it, simply as a voucher for its authenticity. It was also forwarded to another democratic paper by the same authority and with the same voucher, and published without any subscribing name, as I supposed it would be in the Mirror. I make this explanation without intending to dissent from anything contained in the article, but simply to relieve your sense of "modesty" from the blow it has received.
I have no desire to bring my name before the public as a newspaper champion, in defence of any particular party, or set of principles, but am very well satisfied at being allowed in these pining times of "free speech," to utter my opinions on passing events, fearlessly, and freely, on all fitting occasions; and I sincerely trust, that I shall hereafter be able to withstand all the bandying and badgering which you or other men may see fit to inflict upon me, without again being dragged into the papers in self defense.
In your attempts to show, "on which side lie my sympathies," I am charged with "denying the Constitutional right of the government to carry civil war into the bosom of any state." I do most emphatically deny that any such power has been delegated in the Constitution of the United States, and I think you could not have done your country better service than to have laid such authority before your readers if it could be found. The states existed, as such, for nearly thirteen years before the present government was inaugurated; General Washington having first assumed the duties of the President on the 4th of March, 1789. The government was formed by a Convention of the states, and received only such rights as were delegated to it by the states, in the Constitution, and, so jealous were the states of their rights reserved, and so anxious to prevent misconstruction and abuse of the powers of the general government, that, at the first session of the first Congress, the following amendment, among others, was proposed and subsequently adopted.
"Article 10. The power not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people."
The Constitution authorizes and requires Congress to protect the states from external or internal violence, but it is entirely silent on the subject of invading, or coercing a state, or of the right of a state to secede from the union.
Article 1st, section 8th, authorizes Congress (not the President,) "to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions," and it further provides more particularly, for the support of the government, and protection of the people of the several states, in the 4th section of the 4th articles which says, "The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive, (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence." This section clearly shows that the duty of the general government is not to invade states, but to repel any invasion of them; and that its duty to suppress an insurrection within its borders, and calls upon it for aid. This is all the Constitution contains bearing upon the subject, and is sufficient. To contain more, and provide for invading, overrunning, or conquering a state, would be to provide for its own destruction, and the very evils it sought to avoid. Hear what Mr. Hamilton, the only degate from the state of New York in the convention that framed the constitution, said, in the state convention that ratified it. "It has been observed, to coerce the state was one of the maddest projects that was ever devised. A failure of compliance will never be confined to a single state. This being the case can we suppose it wise to hazard a civil war? Suppose Massachusetts, or any large state, should refuse, and Congress should attempt to compel them, would they nor have influence to procure assistance, especially from those states which are in the same situation as themselves? What picture does this idea present to our view? A complying state at war with a non-complying state; Congress marching the troops of one state into the bosom of another; this state collecting auxiliaries, and forming perhaps, a majority against its federal head. Here is a nation at war with itself. Can any reasonable man be well disposed towards a government which makes war and carnage the only means of supporting itself---a government that can only exist by the sword? Every such war must involve the innocent with the guilty. This single consideration should be sufficient to dispose every peaceable citizen against such a government. But can we believe that one state will ever suffer itself to be used as an instrument of coercion? The thing is a dream; it is impossible."
Mr. Hamilton's dream has become a sad reality; and if he were standing upon the walls of the capitol to day, he could not proclaim to the world the present political aspect of our country in words more true or thrilling. But his dream, though prophetic, did not reveal to him all the bitter fruits of coercion. A sectional president, elected upon a sectional issue, calling upon a sectional Congress, for power to subjugate a section of his common country! and when those powers were refused him, in disregard of a constitution he had sworn to "preserve and protect and defend," assuming the powers of Congress, by raising an army, increasing the navy, and leving war; suspending the writ of habeas corpus, overawing the freedom of speech, and the liberty of the press; preventing people from petitioning congress for a redress of grievances; and through his organs, branding as traitors those who labor to restore peace to their bleeding country.
You say, "The articles of Confederation were to form a perpetual Union," and the Constitution was framed and adopted to make that Union more perfect. This (say you) covers the right of secession. It covers nothing, Mr. Gibbs. Who can see the integrity or connection of such an argument? The articles of confederation were abrogated, and the Constitution was formed, as itself declares, " to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and posterity." Can any of these things be accomplished by civil war? or can civil war be appeased by any other spirit than that of compromise? It was in that spirit that the meeting reported assembled, and the resolutions you complain of were adopted. Add, beside, the article you notice claimed nothing for seccession. It neither admitted the right nor defended the policy. Although nearly every state in the union has at some time during its existence declared through its legislature, or convention, the right of a state to secede, and although President Lincoln, and the New York Tribune, the leader, and the Jupiter Tonans of the republican party, have both advocated the right, and supported the policy, it has never met my approbation. I warned my friends of the danger to the union when I first saw the mad career the republicans were running, and, now, when we are reaping the bitter fruits of their policy, I still urge them to join me in a course which I fondly hope may restore to us all we have lost; and I cordially invite you, Mr. Gibbs, and all who represent your principles, to aid us to rear once more the olive branch over our disunited country, and if possible, bring to an honorable close this terrible war, which the Douglas you so triumphantly quote, declared was "eternal disunion."
Your communication represents me as charging upon the administration the double design of abolishing slavery in the slave states, and of making an onslaught upon the rights of the states, themselves.
"Coming events cast their shadows before."
What we at first supected, is fast becoming history. President Lincoln, in his recent message to Congress, says the object of the government is, "to lift artificial weights from all shoulders," and Congress, in obedience to this sentiment, has already abolished slavery in eleven slave states, so far as the government has the power to do it, by confiscating the property of the slaveholders, and thus declaring forfeited their right to their slaves.
A bill was also introduced into the last Congress, by a leading republican, to abolish slavery by proclamation of the President; which idea finds a response in almost every leading republican journal, and even you declare that, "emancipation may become a military necessity."
The policy of the federal party of 1798 was to strengthen the general government, by a consolidation of the states, or abolition of state lines; by frittering away the constitution in latitudinarian constructions; and by overawing the press, and public opinion, by the operation of sedition laws. How will this compare with the avowed policy and public acts of the republican party of 1861? The President devotes a large part of his late message to prove, that the states have no rights except such as are derived from the general government and says, "Much is said about the sovereignty of the states, but the word even is not in the constitution, nor as is believed in any of the state constitutions. What is a sovereignty in the political sense of the word? Would it be far wrong to define it as a political community without a political superior? Tested by this no one of the states except Texas was a sovereignty, and even Texas gave up the character on coming into the Union." "The states have their statute in the Union and they have no other legal statue". This idea is more plainly communicated by Mr. Cameron, Lincoln's Secretary of State, who recently declared in a public speech, that when this war ends we shall hear no more of the states but that we shall then all be Americans. The New York Courier and Enquirer, which has recently been merged into the government organ, and whose editor is the President Minister to Brazil, says, that when this war is over state lines will be abolished and no more heard of; and even you sir, declare in your notice, that state lines are not always to be respected. The republican papers generally speak of the doctrine of states rights as a dangerous dogma, and one of the more pious ones recently in closing up a patriotic song announces the startling intelligence, that,
"The Union is the only state."
These declaration are sufficient to convince us into what channel republican politics is verging, and point directly to the old landmarks of the federal party. But the federal party of the present day, flushed by success, is more bold than its predecessors, and instead of stopping to explain away the constitution by loose construction, or abridge the liberty of the press, and the freedom of speech by the enactment of laws, it aims by one grand stride to reach the point desired, and by virtue of military edicts, and martial proceedings, to abolish presses and crush out public sentiment, with as little remorse as the northern abolitionist gloats over the spoliation of the southern slaveholders.
The similitude is quite perfect, and it was entirely unnecessary that you called my attention to its reflection from the Bloomville Mirror; I saw it plainly in your article under date of Aug. 5th, and not if in the same "breeches" which your ardor painted to your vivid imagination, yet, with all the deformities and repulsiveness which characterized its paternal progenitor. Ah, Mr. Gibbs,
"Names may change but principles never."
Source: Bloomville Mirror September 10, 1861 page 1 columns 3&4 and page 2 column 1.
Letter from Occasional at Ft. Corcoran VA, Dec. 14, 1861
Fort Corcoran, Virginia, Dec. 14, 1861
Mr. Mirror---The weather for the last week has been extremely fine---warm, pleasant days and cool nights, with occasionally a frost. There has been no military movements of the army of the Potomac of importance, since writing last. Gen. McClellan crosses over the river into Virginia almost every day; he is seen but little in Washington.
The ground now occupied by the Federal forces is laid out in the form of a half moon: the widest place which is directly opposite the Capitol is twelve miles; in length twenty-five miles, from Great Falls on the right, to Accotink Creek on the left. The army is divided into eight divisions; each division have a place in front. Gen. McCall is stationed at Great Falls; on his left is Gen. W. Smith; next is the division of Brig. Gen. Fitz John Porter; he stood eight in the class at West Point, 1845, and served with distinction in the Mexican war. His division is composed of thirteen Regiments Infantry, two of Cavalry, three of Artillery. On his left is Gen. McDowell. Gen. Blenker comes next; he commanded the first Brigade in the fifth division in the Bull Run disaster. The sixth division is commanded by Gen. Wm. B. Franklin, a gentleman and soldier. Gen. Heintzelman commands the next division. The extreme left, near Accotink Creek, is under the command of Gen. Sumner. The total force is estimated to be 135,000 men.
Yesterday I went to see a man shot. He was a member of the Lincoln Cavalry, and has been in the employ of the United States, for the last fifteen years, in the Navy yards. He has, until quite lately, been called a loyal citizen. Two weeks ago Thursday, he told his Capt. that he had seen enough of this Abolition war, and was bound to see the other side. Accordingly, one bright morning, he left camp, taking with him his sabre and Revolver, and started for the lines. He passed many pickets until he came to the last post; there was a Col. in command of the pickets, one Sergeant, two Corporals and ten men. Says he "Col., I have got tired of fighting for niggers, and I have left them cussed Yankees, and now I want to join your army." "You have a nice sabre, says the Col., let me see it." He took and looked at it, then said, "you have a splendid pistol, let me look at it." He gave him that also. The Col. then called the Sergeant; "Sergeant Peters, take this man to Gen. Blenker's headquarters." Until this time the man thought he was with the Rebels. He was tried and sentenced to be shot on Wednesday, Dec. 11th, but for some cause unknown to me, he was not shot till yesterday. The whole division was called into line at four o'clock, his sentence read, and the prisoner brought forth into the center. Five Orderly Sergeants and four privates were detailed to shoot him. At first fire he fell across the coffin on which he was kneeling, wounded but not dangerously; he was propped up, and they shot another round, which put an end to his life. I had seen some hard scenes in the battles of the 18th and 21st of July last, but they were nothing in comparison to this; it was an awful but a just death. In any other case I could not shoot a comrade.
Next Wednesday there will be a resolution offered in the Senate, granting $30 bounty to three month volunteers. Yours &c.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror December 24, 1861 page 1 column 2
Letter from G. Ceas at Annapolis MD, Dec. 10, 1861
Annapolis, Md., Dec. 10, 1861
Mr. Mirror---I thought perhaps the Delaware boys would like to hear a little about camp life. I enlisted about the first of October, and left the next day, with the rest of the company, for West Hoboken, New Jersey, where we went into camp. As soon as we got the houses picked out that we were going to live in, our Captain took us over to the city of New York to have us inspected, where the boys had considerable sport. The Captain then marched us back to camp, trying to keep iu in as good shape as possible, while on our way there, but some of the boys had the Captain's step, and some had steps of their own. After reaching camp, the boys went to furnishing their rooms, but as their rooms were small, it did not take but a short time to fit them up. We did not live there but a few days before we left for Palace Garden, New York, and from there to Annapolis Md., where we went into camp again, which is known by the name of camp Burnside, where we still remain. The boys have got so they have no trouble in keeping the Captain's step. We have company drill in the forenoon, and in the afternoon we have battallion drill, which goes off pretty good.
Yesterday the companies all had two rounds of cartridges apiece, to fire at a target. Some of them thought they would like to practice shooting at old Jeff, so they pictured him out on a board, and put it up one hundred yards off; then the names were called off to fire at him.
To-day the Colonel took us down to the Chesapeake Bay to take a bathe and have a little fun, which went off very well. Gen. Burnside and Gen. Foster visits us frequently.
The boys are all quite anxious to go down to Dixie, and have a little fight. We all like camp life first rate. There has not been but one death in our company since we have been in camp, and there is but one sick in the hospital. Our Captain is a good man, and so are all our officers. We live well, and have plenty of good clothes to wear. The boys do not get homesick; they say they like warm weather better than wading in snow. There are some few secesh here, but they dare not say so. Yours,
Source: The Bloomville Mirror December 24, 1861 page 1 column 2
Letter from M. Baker at Hilton Head, Nov. 28, 1861
Hilton Head, Nov. 28, 1861
Mr. Mirror---There has just been an excitement in the round head; some soldiers were playing with bomb shells, when one bursted, taking off one man's arms and legs, and made a hole in his right side, so that when he breathed, the wind came through the wound.
The soil is so light and sandy here, that when the wind blows the sand flies as the snow does up there when it drifts.
There has been two frosts here this week, for the first. Yours &c.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror December 24, 1861 page 1 column 3
Letter from War of 1812 Vet to a young man in the Sickles' Brigade
We copy the following from an old Captain, 77 years old, to a young man in Sickle's Brigade. He is a good Union man in California, has a son that is a secessionist, and it got so hot for him at his son's that he seceded, and is staying with a friend at Ranch, Cal:
"You are now just going through what I did in 1812, and at a later date in New Mexico. If your Captain understands his duty and you do yours, you will find everything go right. I was born and reared in old Virginia in 1784, but that can never make me forsake the Stars and Stripes. The Government must be supported, at all hazards not minding cost, nor sacrifice. I was anxious to enter the army, here again; but Gen. Sumner, rejected an old Capt. who was with me in the Mexican War, because he was 69, although, he had raised a company of Cavalry; so I did not apply; but if brother Abe would send me an appointment as Capt. of Cavalry or mounted Riflemen, I would soon have a company of the right kind of sharp shooters, and if opportunity offered, teach those insane rebels a lesson they would never forget. If I knew where Col. Hooker of the U.S.A. was stationed, I would write to him requesting him to see the President, and procure for me an appointment in the army, that I might do some good yet for my country. Although I am old, I have as good a constitution as any man, and as capable of rendering Military Service now, as I did in 1812, at Richmond in Virginia with Scott who was there with us, all young men then. I will say to you, if you get into and engagement, try and keep as cool as you possibly can, never fire without deliberate aim: if 200 yards, not higher than the waistband, if you have Minie Rifles. Be sure to keep good hours, lose as little sleep as you can, be temperate in all things, and may God bless you and lead you to victory, and a safe return to your home and friends. Your friend,
Source: The Bloomville Mirror December 24, 1861 page 1 column 3
Letter from Occasionally abt. Civil War Military Hospital
Seminary Hospital, Fortress Monroe, Va.
April 24, 1862
Mr. Mirror-- Having a little spare time, I will give you a description of this Hospital and some of its inmates. This building is two hundred feet long, by fifty wide; it is five stories high, and is situated in the mouth of Hampton creek, which empties into Chesapeake Bay two miles below the fortress. It was built for a Female College, was founded June 1854, incorporated 1859, as the Chesapeake Female College. The fair ladies of which most of them were strong secesh, left this college one year ago, in something of a hurry, leaving books, letters, and other personal property in utter confusion around the rooms. They also left a fine Library of over twelve hundred volumes, a laboratory well stocked with splendid instruments; also, five good piano fortes. The building is now used for a hospital for the reception of the sick and wounded, under Gen. McClellan's command. At the present moment there is four hundred and seventy-two sick within the building, besides one hundred and thirty convalescent patients, outside, in tents. Dr. R.B. McCay, has charge of the hospital, assisted by Drs. Ware, O'Neil; Coolidge, Hall, Huntington, McKee, Sprague, and Merrill, all able Surgeons. Among the diseases, the typhoid fever is prevalent, raging fearfully through the different wards. It takes many forms. Although it is not generally considered contagious at the north, it is so here. Sometimes, a patient will be brought in here from camp with a very high fever, parched lips, skin dry and hot, and tongue "furred." He will have every care that can be bestowed on a sick person away from home by both Doctors and nurses; still he will grow worse and worse each day, and at the end of five or six days, will be perfectly helpless, and perhaps unconscious; then their tongues will commence to swell and finally, they will become speechless and stupid; at the end of ten or twelve days they will die. Inflamatory Rheumatism is quite common among patients here, as is also inflamation of the lungs. Many are restored to health and sent to their Reg'ts but their places are soon filled up again with others. I remember one case, in particular, that came under my immediate notice and of which I will leave it to an abler pen to form a story and give it the coloring.
There was the case of a young man by the name of Wallace L. M---e, of N.Y. city. He had married without the consent or knowledge of his father who is a heavy wholesale Merchant in this city, and had joined the 12th Militia about the first of Jan. 1862. He expected to return in three months, as there is an old law to the effect that Militia can be called out and serve three months during each year. But when their term of three months was expired, they were turned over for two years by Gov. Morgan, and placed in the 12th N.Y. Vol. Reg't, filling that Reg. up to twelve hundred. He was taken sick in camp the 1st of April, and the 3d day of April, he was brought here. He had been before this sickness, very healthy. He began to grow better in three days, under skillful treatment, and on the 7th he could walk around a little, but at night he was worse and continued to fail each day, until the 17th when he revived enough to tell me his circumstances and that he wished his father to know he was here and sick; during all this time he had received quite a number of letters from home, from his wife and father. They did not know of his being sick and wondered at his not writing. Mr. Rogers, the Clerk of the hospital, wrote that same day to his father. After this he became unconscious of everything. On the 21st Dr. McCay, received a Telegraph Dispatch from M---e's father saying he had come as far as Baltimore but could not come any farther on account of the order lately issued prohibiting any citizen from going to Fortress Monroe, and that he was going on to Washington to see Sec. Stanton, in regard to it. Wallace continued unconscious. Drs. McCay and O'Neil done all they could to keep him alive until his father came for they knew he must die, for he had that terrible disease typhoid fever; but all to no purpose, for on the night of April 22d, at 12 o'clock he breathed his last, while laying in my arms. His father, it seems had left Baltimore that same morning with a pass from Sec. Stanton, for Fortress Monroe, but the boat was detained on account of rough weather and did not arrive here until the morning of the 23rd. Mr. M---e came on, and arrived here at six o'clock A.M., just six hours after his son had died. I cannot descibe his grief but will leave you to imagine his feelings. Grief like his, cannot be described, but only can be felt. He left here today, with the body for home. Imagine again the feelings of the young wife, who has not yet, even heard that her husband is sick, and when the body of the one she loves best on earth, is brought to her, and is laid beneath the green sod, will not her grief to be past describing?
Many such cases are daily occuring in the Military Hospitals here, and elsewhere, but I may be wearing your patience, and will close.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror May 6, 1862 page 1 column 3
Letter from a member of Capt. Johnson's Co., 72nd Regt. NY Vols.
[We are allowed to publish the following private letter from a member of Capt. Johnson's company, 72nd Reg.]
Camp Scott, Near Yorktown,
April 22d, 1862
Friend S----: I thought you would like to hear what is going on here, and it being a rainy day, I thought I would improve my time in writing you a few lines.
We are in less than two miles of the main body of the rebel army, on the plantation of Gen. Magruder. It is the best cultivated land I have seen in my travels. It looks like living; he has a large orchard, of every kind of fruit, all in full blossom and a field of nice wheat; I should think nearly a 100 acres; but it will all be destroyed if we have a battle. You that are at home can sit around the bar-rooms and stores and talk about how this war could be managed and may think there is nothing to do before a battle is commenced; you have no idea how much labor is required to mount cannon, erect breast-works, and various other things, too numerous to mention, before an action. Gen. McClellan is making every preparation that can possibly benefit his army from being defeated; he expects a heavy battle and he means to win it. We put every confidence in him, that men can put in an other. We have skirmishers out every day and night, besides our batteries and gunboats, throwing shell in their camps. The skirmishing they do not like very well, for our sharpshooters pick off their pickets, and a great many of their gunners. There is a fellow by the name of California Joe, that killed 27 men; he has a rifle that weighs 30lbs, and every time a gunner comes up to load, he pops him. Jeff Davis sent in a flag of truce to McClellan, requesting him to stop shooting pickets and gunners, and he sent back word to Jeff the he had shot the first gun, and he meant to shoot the last one. There has been some fighting done since we came in this camp. We cannot see it, but we can hear the firing and see the wounded pass by in ambulance wagons. I cannot tell how many we have lost. I should not be surprised if it would reach 300 killed and wounded. Before we get to Yorktown, we will lose more than we have in any other battle that has been fought. The rebels are determined to make a desperate stand. This is their last hope, if they loose this all is gone. They have drafted every man that can bear arms, even boys not over 16, and some not more than 15 years old. The women here and old men, say we cannot take Yorktown more than we could take Fort Donelson, and those other large places that we have taken. It seem that they keep their soldiers and citizens in ignorance of our victories.
I have just finished my dinner, such it may be called. We had a tin cup of poor bean soup, not more than two beans to a cup and a chunk of fat bacon and hard crackers. By the way, Charles H. Thurber, has just come in our camp to see us; he is only half a mile from us when he is in his camp; his regiment is doing guard duty for Gen. McClellan. He looks fine. We have had pretty hard fare since we left camp Wool. I though it was hard there, but we lived like kings to what we do now. We have to sleep on the ground, with a rubber blanket and our overcoats under, and tow poeces of canvass, about 6 feet square, buttoned together for a shelter over our heads, with both ends open. You can imagine to take two boards and set them up edgeways on the ground, and mud shoe deep, the wind a blowing like the d---l and the rain leaking through, then you can tell something about soldiering; this is to shelter four men. Some would find a better shelter for their hogs, but we are willing to put up with this for the sake of our glorious country! but I think if I was home I would not enlist, but there is no use of grumbling here. All we have to do is obey orders.
We are mounting some of the largest guns that were ever made, to bear on Yorktown; they are 600 pounders. When we get ready, we expect to throw 300 shots a minute. The nigger worshipers are very scarce in the army, only now and then one, and they mere boys. I saw the Merrimac that morning she took those brigs and schooner. I do not know the reason why we went down to Fortress Monroe. I should think that we were anchored there about an hour and a half or two hours. We expected to see the Monitor have a fight with her, but she only fired the signal gun, and then pulled towards her. I could not see distinctly for the fog, what was done between the two vessels.
This afternoon we were detailed to carry gabions to complete a battery. It rained all the afternoon, and we had not a dry thread on us; we came in at 6 o'clock and found our tents full of water and mud; our blankets were wet. In this condition we crawled in to rest ourselves. You can bet we lost some of our patriotism. We did not care whether school kept or not. Then, to make things more agreeable, the whole regiment was called up at 3 o'clock A.M. to go out on picket duty about a mile from here. This was not a pleasant duty to perform, but such is the lot of a soldier, or I might say the misfortunes. We were stationed in a piece of woods about three-fourths of a mile from the main fortifications of the rebels. We could see them WORKING on their forts, and mounting their guns; they have made very strong fortifications of earth work from the York to the James rivers. They have not finished it, for I could hear them WORKING all night. They seem to be very bold; I could hear them sing and call names distinctly, and hear bands of music playing. Our company did not have any shooting to do, but the companies on the left of the regiment exchanged a few shots, with their pickets. Our boys think they killed some of the rebels, but none of our boys were hurt. Some two or three scattering balls came whistling over our heads. Capt. Johnson, 'Trump,' and some six others of our boys were together, and a ball passed about two feet over their heads. During the afternoon, one of our Majors of another regiment had a horse break loose and go over to the rebels, and they gave us a salute of ten shells, all at once, but they did no harm, although they bursted very near us. They have an idea that we cannot take the place; may be we cannot; if we do, it will take some hard fighting, but we have better guns than they have. You have no idea what guns we have, and I know they do not; but they will know when we come to cut down a large piece of woods and open on them. Gen. McClellan intends to have things all ready before he open the ball, and if the abolitionists don't like it, they can do the other thing. He does not intend to have another abolition, or I might say, "Greeley's onward to Richmond." I think some of those nigger-loving abolitionists would like to get McClellan in just such a scrape as the "Bull Run" affair, but he is not to be fooled by them. He knows that he has got to make large preparations, and he is making them as fast as labor can do it, and when it is done, and everything ready, Yorktown is ours, and it will take more than one day to take it.
This is the 24th of April. I have not had time to finish this, for I have been busy since I helped carry those gabions. Ed Sheldon was up to see us, but we were away on picket. I am well, and so are all the boys. Jim Cormack is here, waiting for the Paymaster to pay the boys, so he can get his pay. He will probably have to stay till afer the battle is fought. Yours, F.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror May 6, 1862 page 1 columns 3&4 and page 2 column 1.
Letter from J.H. Champion, 8th Independent N.Y. Battery, May 14, 1862
Head Qrs., 8th Indt. N.Y. Battery
Kent Co. Court House, 27 miles from Richmond, May 14th, 1862
Friend Champ---The mighty army of the Potomac is slowly, and I trust, surely wending its
way along to Richmond. It is a great affair. It is almost impossible to supply the men and horses with comfortable food if it must be all transported. Our 119 horses have seen hard service, and sometimes for 30 hours not a mouthful of food. They begin to look hard and a number have died. This need not be. I have seen a thousand bushels of corn a number of times in planters corncribs, but this must not be touched. These rascals who have stirred up this wicked rebellion, and whose property goes freely to sustain it, must be very gently dealt with. We must soothe them---Ah! soothe the tiger while his teeth is at your throat! It would be as consistent as to talk of soothing these blood-thirsty rebels. When I can have my way, and our men and horses are hungry, I make them turn out feed. And if our government would do this all through, it would be no more than justice
We see pretty hard times, but we are bound to suffer and fight on. Last night at 10 o'clock we stopped, the roads being so crowded that we could not advance another rod. We sent back and at midnight got a few bags of oats, fed our horses and at 2 o'clock started on. Encamped on this ground right beside the Court House, just about daylight. It is now raining and we shall probably lie here until tomorrow and perhaps longer.
Yesterday the cavalry had a fight about a mile and a half from here. We lost one killed and a number of wounded. The rebels had a masked battery. We took one Colonel and quite a number of other prisoners. Our cavalry are now making a thorough reconnisanse in every direction and bringing in prisoners constantly.
I get a paper usually about once a week. They are a scarce article here. The last I saw was the Philadelphia Inquirer of the 9th inst. A boy may start with a wagon load at any depot, and they will all be sold at 10 cents, a piece long before he gets to us, unless he keeps them out of sight.
The news of the destruction of the Merrimac, and other rebel crafts, and our occupation of Norfolk, gave great joy throughout the army. We hope the rebellion is being surely wound up. But we sometimes very strangely get news in advance. The Merrimac was not destroyed and Norfolk occupied until Sunday, while we received on Friday news of the whole affair; just as it was afterward turned out. The men of the Delaware Battery look dusty and jaded, and we have some sick, but every one bears up nobly. Capt. Fitch looks thin and tired. He and some of the other officers miss their tender mother's pantries, but they eat their hard bread and salt junk cheerfully, and go on in the line of duty.
Now Champ, I don't want you to endorse, or be responsible for any of my views. I will stand or fall for myself, and no one need attribute anything to your paper for my sentiments.
I see that many of our editors are everlastingly hammering away at the abolitionists. Now in the years gone by, I have been a very conservative man. My record is clear from any allusions to abolitionism. But here in Virginia, every northern man becomes an abolitionist. I have been here six weeks and conversed with hundreds, and have not met with an exception. Men who were radical old hunkers become enthusiastic. They damn the institution most vehemently. It is not from any sympathy with the negro; they dislike him and many of them think he will not be improved by freedom. But sympathy for the whites make them hate this institution which so curses them.
We are passing through one of the finest countries God every made. But O! how neglected.---It shows no signs of any progress for a century. The churches where rich planters worship, would be a disgrace to any hamlet in Delaware Co. Not a district school house anywhere; buildings of the rich entirely without taste. Land, that in Delaware Co. would be worth one hundred dollars per acre, so miserably cultivated that it does not pay the interest on ten. And this, too, with the best market facilities. Right between two rivers, either of which would afford all the advantages of our own glorious Hudson. Men who look upon the thing, as it is, say "it is the lamentable ignorance of the Southern masses that has allowed themselves to be led by demagogues into this unnatural rebellion, and it is slavery that degrades and keeps them ignorant. Slavery is at the bottom of it, and it must be killed if our glorious government remains."
I hope to write you soon from Richmond.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror May 27, 1862 p.1 c.2
This letter from "Wm. H." dated April 22, 1862 from the 89th is presumably written by William Hitchcock. There were only two Wm. H's in Co. I of the 89th (the company raised in Delaware County, NY), but one unfortunately lay dying in hospital, while his regiment was fighting at Camden, the subject of the April 22nd letter, and so was not its author. And, the Wm. H. who lay dying, William Halstead, was the subject of another letter that Linda transcribed, dated April 24, 1862 and written by my great, great grandfather William A. Robinson. It tells of the sad death and military burial of his friend (and sometimes tent-mate), the late William Halstead. --Robert J. Taylor
Letter from Wm. H., 89th Regt. NY Vols., April 22, 1862
Roanoke Island, April 22, 1862
Friend W.---I have not heard from you in some time, so I thought I would write to you and let you know that I am very well at present, with the exception of being lame, stiff and sore, after a march of sixty miles in 48 hours, and a big fight in the bargain. We made the greatest march, and did the hardest fighting of any regiment in the Burnside expedition. We took a rebel battery of five cannon, and took some prisoners. When we left our camp, we went to destroy a canal that the rebels were in possession of. They were building gun boats, and we thought we would go over there and route them and take their boats, and destroy their canal. But the rebels had heard of our intention, and were fully prepared for us. They built a masked battery of five cannon, commanding the road where we had to pass, within two miles of the canal. We were marching along all quietly, Hawkin's Zouaves were ahead of our regiment next and the R. Island 6th next in order. The first thing we heard was firing by the Zouaves; they drove in the rebel pickets, and the next thing they opened their batterys on us. But their range was to high and they shot over. We had three cannon with us and some shell, we brought to bear upon them.---We had some experienced gunners with us; a whole company of marines. These marines loaded and shot five times to the rebels once. But the rebels had the advantage, they had pits to crawl into, so our shells could not hurt them much, so we were ordered to charge on it. The Zouaves made the first charge and were repulsed with considerable loss. Then our turn came and we made a charge, and at the same time the New Hampshire 6th poured in a volley of musketry on them, and then the rebels began to retreat. They ran in every direction. So we gave them the hardest thrashing that they ever had.
They were two thousand strong. We had about 3,000. But they fought desperate. Their loss about 150; our loss, killed and wounded, 75. The name of the place where the battle occurred was Camden, sixty miles from Roanoke. Our men, after that long march and fight, were greatly exhausted. I am so lame to-day that I can hardly walk.
When I first got into the fight, I trembled all over. But I soon got over that. I found I might just as well sail in. But when I got to camp and thinking it over, I made up my mind that I did not want to get into another fight. But we have got to go in a few days somewhere in another direction. We are ordered to cook up four days rations.
Give my respects to all enquiring friends. You must tell my old friend George Frisbee, that I have had the pleasure of facing the enemy once, and that I don't know but I shall again very soon. I think I would as soon fight rebels as to fight panthers on the Beaverkill. I don't consider there is much pleasure in either.
I don't see any prospects of getting home this summer. If McClellan and the other generals were doing as much as Burnside, I should have some hope. But now I think I am stuck for one year at least. You must write and send me some papers. Your, &c.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror May 27, 1862 page 1 colum 2 and 3.
Letter from J.B.T. abt. the 101st Regt. Leadership, 1862
Clovesville, May 21st, 1862
Mr. Mirror---As there has been so much said concerning the 101st Regiment N.Y.V. by those who know nothing about it, I will relate the truth. I was once a member of the same Reg., and I pretend to know full as much about it as those that never saw it. I left the Regt. on the 4th of May, and this morning finds me with my family, and free from Italian bondage. While we were at Hancock we were used like volunteer soldiers---. But now I have said all concerning our good usage. When we arrived at Washington our good usage was not to be found, and I think it must have been left at Hancock, for we never saw it after we started for Washington. We was treated worse than the Ohio drovers treat their cattle. We were not fed or watered but two or three days, and that we found at Philadelphia and Baltimore. Quite a distance between meals. But this we did not mind. It was the brutality of our Colonel that filled our hearts with malice. I called him Col. but he is not worthy of the name. So we will call him the money seeker of Italy, or Garibaldi the 2d. He would like to show some great experience, but is "played out." I have seen men when not able to do duty compelled to drill with their knapsacks full of brick or stone for two hours, and then tied hand and foot and left out on the parade ground overnight. Some of them with nothing on by shirt and drawers, and the weather cold and rainy. Now I ask you, is this the way to use volunteer soldiers when sick? Perhaps some will say it is not so. But let them ask Mr. H. Dowie, of Andes; he will tell them the same, for he saw it as well as others, and what I tell is truth.'
Some of my Co. ran away on account of ill-treatment, and I dont blame them for so doing. We had some kind officers and some mean ones. What I call mean officers are those that think more of the whiskey flask than they do of their men. It is hard to say, but it is the truth. But what more can we expect of the New York click, or the runaway of Italy. If you could see the 1st Lieutenant of Co. G., you would think that Gov. Morgan took delight in giving commissions to old women and children. The name of this Lieut. is T.A. Dodge. He has seen the whole length of nineteen years, and during that time he has accumulated strength enough to carry a fine pair of spectacles, a sword, and a pair of long legged boots. I would like to know which got the commission, Dodge, or his equipments.
Now don't you think that America can furnish her officers as well as her privates. Or must we go to Italy, Spain or France after men, that cannot think a single word of English, let alone speaking it. Now to make a long story short, I will tell you our Colonel, Chaplain and 1st Surgeon, and several others are not fit subjects to feed swine. And the privates that have served 5 or 6 months in this Regt. will look out for the imported colonels, and the New York band of black-legs and a chaplain who has not preached a sermon in the District of Columbia up to May 1st, and very seldom found in camp.
Those men are good for carrying a load, but they want it inside. This load consists of best brandy, or whatever is handy.
I can tell you, Johnny Bull would have to invade our land of liberty with a great force, before I would shoulder a rifle under such a band of no hearted, lying brutes as some of the 101st officers are. They will long be remembered by me and others. I will tell you more at some other time.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror May 27, 1962 page 1 column 4
Letter from Geo. Eveland abt. 101st Regt. Leadership June 9, 1862
West Amboy, June 9, 1862
Mr. Mirror---I noticed a communication in one of the issues of you paper from a former member of Co.G., 101st Regt. N.Y. V., in which he uses rather disrespectful expressions in attempting to demonstrate the truth of his assertion that the officers of that Regiment were mostly worthless characters and incompetent to perform the duties assigned to them as military commanders. I will not here attempt to say that the gentleman's asssertions are erroneous, and designed to degrade the character of that organization, but I must say that his assertions have been timed and again controverted by competent judges---by those who are intimately acquainted with the officers in command of the 101st Regt. The New York Herald says that the regiment is commanded by able officers and that the men comprising that regiment will equal or surpass many of our oldest in the field. The Albany Journal proffesses to be initmately acquainted with the Colonel, and many of its leading officers, and confirms the assertion made by the Herald that they are thorough bred soldiers and true patriots.
And furthermore, let me say, that I have a brother in the same regiment who has written me often, is well satisfied with his situation, and speaks highly of officers and men, but says that he, in common with every soldier in the field, is subject to strict military discipline. This he says is necessary. Pre-requisite to ultimate success, and therefore renders cheerfull obedience to his superiors.
Again your correspondent comes to the conclusion that Americans should officer our hosts in this strugle for Constitutional Union and liberty. But I will leave that for the decision of that grand body of freemen who are now again sprinkling the fertile fields of the fair heritage freedom with the unadulterated blood of patriots from every land and clime.
I address you at this time not for the purpose of gratifying myself, but speak in vindication of the honor of old Delaware, and the brave boys who have gone forth to defend and re-establish the laws of "the offended majesty of the United States." My only desire is to hear that the men of the 101st, have confidence in their officers, skill in discipline and courage, and achieve victory, the glorious object of their present toils. When this war shall have terminated, and peace be again restored to our troubled land, I desire to realize the fact that the home of my childhood, and the associates of my youthful days have been honorably represented in the present contest.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror June 17, 1962 page 1 column 2
Letter by Alex. Shaw Jr. abt. The Delaware Battery in the May 31, 1862 Battle of Fair Oaks
The following is an extract from a letter from Alexander Shaw, Jr., of Andes, to his father-in-law, John P. Benjamin, Esq.:
Headquarters Casey's Division,
Near Richmond, June 2, 1862
Father-Since I wrote you last we have seen some of the realities of war. On Saturday the 31st ult. the rebels drove in and fired upon the pickets of our division, when a general engagement took place. I had been sick for a couple of days so that I was not out of my tent; but when the firing commenced I put on my boots and took my position at my gun. We immediately commenced shelling the woods where the rebels were coming through, and after we had fired about a half hour, the right section, (that is the first two guns,) was ordered forward by Col. G.D. Bailey, he was chief of the artillery, into the road. At this time the rebels were advancing with three or four divisions; they came across a large field a little to the right, and were advancing in a solid column directly up the road in front of our guns, with a Palmetto flag at their head. We opened upon them with canister, and the way we mowed them down was terrible. Their bullets in the meantime flew frightfully thick and fast about our heads. I shall never forget our situation in that road as long as I live. But we stood our ground, every one stood up to his post til the rebels advanced to within forty or fifty yards of us and we were still mowing them down. As fast as they fell, they immediately closed up the breach we made in their columns. When at last Col. Bailey rode from a brass battery that was situated a little on our left, I suppose to order us to fall back, but when within a few feet of our gun he was killed, being shot through the head; and about the same time our sergeant of the gun that was with us was shot through the neck, and fell from his horse, but not killed. He was at the time urging a man whose name is E-----, to carry ammunition from thelimber to the guns. When we first got into the road this courageous E----squatted down by one of the wheels of the limber and would not stir from that position, till the sergeant fell, when he sprang from his hiding place, and mounted the sergeant's horse and "dug out," and I never saw him again till this morning. I tell you Capt. Finch gave this small E----a lecture what was a lecture. Another one of our men "dug out' at the first fire.
About the same time that the sergeant fell, Gen. Neaglry rode up and said, "Boys, in God's name fall back, or you will lose your guns!" But we gave them two more rounds of canister from each gun. Then we limbered up and picked up our respected Colonel and sergeant, and fell (back in?) good order, with no infantry to support us, about a half a mile, when we met Genl's Couch, Kearney and Heintzleman's divisions coming up to our support. We returned back with them again almost up to our camp. By that time the rebels had got possession of our camp. We soon got into position and silenced their guns that they had placed in our camp. We cut up their cavalry awfully. They tried to flank us on our left. When we discovered the situation that we were in, we fell back together with Heintzleman's artillery, about one half mile, and then night came on and closed the scene of strife, and all was quiet till next morning.
Next day, (Sunday) about 7 o'clock, the rebels commenced to drive in our pickets, but we had received more reinforcements during the night---. After a hard fight we drove the enemy back, and before night our pickets were on our old ground which the enemy occupied the night before. They took all our blankets, and we had to lie all night on the mother earth, with nothing but the canopy of Heaven for a covering.
I never felt so much exhausted in all my life; and you can see by my writing that my had is very unsteady. I presume you will see the report of this battle before you recieve this, but thank Heaven, the Andes boys are all safe. It is a miracle that we all escaped as well as we did. Darius Hadley from Bovina was wounded in the foot. There was but five in the whole battery that were wounded. The sight that our camp presented was awful to look upon. The dead rebels lying around as thick as bees.
Eugene and John Sanford are well. Steve Seacord is sick in the hospital. I do not feel like having another such a battle ver soon. Give my best wishes to all my friends, and assure them of my highest regard. Write soon and give me all the news. Yours respectfully,
Source: The Bloomville Mirror June 17, 1862 p.2 c.3
Official Report of Capt. Fitch, 8th NY Battery abt. May 31, 1862 abt. Battle of Fair Oaks
Headquarters 8th N.Y. Battery
June 1, 1862
Capt. P.C. Regan---Dear Sir: Our respected Colonel, Major and Adjutant being killed in the engagement, yesterday, I report to you as Senior Captain our movements &c. My Battery opened fire about 1 o'clock, under the direction of Col. Bailey, using such ammunition, fuse and elevation as he directed. Our position was immediately in rear of Gen. Casey's Headquarters. The elevation, range and direction were changed as the enemy advanced, and our infantry and supports retired. By order of the Major, the right section was thrown forward to the road, in the face of a galling fire from the enemy, and maintained that position until ordered to retire---all our infantry having fallen in their rear. While the drivers were bringing their teams around the gunners fired canister with terrible effect until it was all exhausted; They then picked up their wounded Sergeant; placed him on the limber chest, and retired. I maintained my position with the other two sections until the enemy came close on my left when I retired. The left piece of the left section fixed prolonge and fired with good effect, greatly checking the advance of the enemy and covering our retreat. The Battery retired and took position in the place it now occupies. After being in Battery about 15 minutes and getting our front ammunition chests filled up, Capt. Thompson, Commanding Kearney's Division Artillery, called for a battery to go forward. I volunteered, and went forward into the field where the last fighting of the day took place. Taking position under a most galling fire from the enemy, we opened fire from the whole Battery, and kept it up until the Battery was, in imminent danger of being taken, there being no support on our left. I retired in good orders. During the day I had six men wounded---two supposed mortally---all of whom we brought off the field. We had about 30 horses wounded, some of which have since died, and many are unserviceable. Many of my men by privations and exposure are sick and unfit for service, leaving me very light handed.
Captain Commanding 8th NY Battery.
A correspondent of the Delhi Republican gives the following list of casualties in the Delaware Battery at the battle of Fair Oaks:
James R. Gemmel, Seargent, shot through the neck, recovery very doubtful; Wm. W. Kelly, Private, shot through the hips, recovery doubtful; Privates Orrin B. Maynard, shot through the thigh; Rudolf Smith, before coming into action, shot through the thigh; Darius Hadley, shot through foot; Wm. Carr shot across the breast. The wounds of the last named four not considered dangerous.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror June 17, 1862 page 2 columns 3&4
Letter from Col. James Lewis, 144th Regt. NY Vols. to father abt. engagement Feb. 10th, 1865
The following letter from Col. Lewis to his father has been kindly handed us for publication:
Folly Island, S.C., Feb. 11th, 1865
Dear Fataer---The expeditionary force consisting of parts of the 54th and 144th N.Y. Vols., the 32d and 33d U.S.C.T., and the 55th Mass. Vols., (colored) crossed on to Cole's Island, and moved to the upper end of it during the night of the ninth. About daylight yesterday, the 10th, we crossed to James Island without opposition and moved up the Island until we drove the enemy's pickets into a line of earthworks. We remained quiet until about 3 P.M., when our skirmishers were advanced and engaged the enemy for a short time and then fell back. At 4:30 P.M., the 32d U.S.C.T. and our Regiment advanced---a part of the 54th N.Y. skirmishing---on the enemy's works, with the 54th N.Y. Vols and 55th Mass. Vols. as supports. We had a sharp little fight of about 10 minutes, charged over the enemy's works, drove them out, killing and wounding quite a number, and taking about 20 prisioners, including the Major in command and one Lieutenant. The 144th took the most of the prisoners. We only numbered about 225 muskets, and for the time we were engaged our loss was heavy. Both officers and men acted gallantly.
The following is a list of our casualties:
Company A--wounded---Corp. Edward Hathaway, thigh, severe; Julius Evans, abdomen, mortal; Geo. Huyck, both legs, severe; J. McClaughlin, leg, silght; S. Wheeler, head, slight; J. Thompson, hand, slight.
Company B--wounded---Lieut. Jas. Nutt, commanding Co.H., ankle, severe; William H. Sawyer.
Company C--wounded---Sergt. Thos. M. Scott, head, not dangerous; Corp. D.B. Grant, hand, slight; Nelson Clark, leg, severe.
Company F--wounded---Capt. Witter H. Johnston, ankle, severe; Joseph B. Gillmore, ankle severe; Henry Price, leg, severe.
Company H--killed---John Johnston. Wounded---1st. Sergt. D.C. Hager, leg, severe; James Fitch, body, dangerous; G.W. McMullin, leg, severe; Johnson, arm, severe; George Cuile, groin, severe; W.W. Sanford, leg, severe; Walter Grant, leg, slight; R.D. Stockley, hand slight; E. Dibble, foot, slight; John Thorn, hand slight.
Company I--wounded--1st Sergt. J. Harvey McKee, Act-Sergt. Major, leg, slight; Dexter Ward, leg, severe; Jesse Harlow, hand, severe; Joesph Sixsmith, leg, slight.
It is a great loss to the Regiment to be deprived of so gallant and efficient officers as Capt. Johnston and Lieut. Nutt.
We returned to the lower end of Cole's Island last night, are expecting to embark to take part in another expedition. I hear that we are going to Bull's Bay. Gen. Gillmore has resumed command of the Department. The weather is delightful, and thos of us who are not wounded are in the best of health and spirits.
Your affectionate Son,
[Del. Rep. James Lewis
Source: The Bloomville Mirror, February 28, 1864 page 2 column 4
Letter abt. return of Delhi 3d Excelsior Regt., Sickles Bridge Survivors to Del. Co. July 1864
Delhi, July 9th, 1864
Mr. Mirror---The surviving "veterans" of Capt. R.T. Johnson's Company, who enlisted from this town three years ago in the "3d Excelsior Regt," Sickles Brigade, arrived home yesterday. They return few in number, still are a band of "brave bold boys." We would ask why are they permitted to return to their homes without the usual public reception? Can it be that the deeds of valor and bravery of these war worn veterans, on countless bloody battle fields for the past three years are so soon to be forgotten? We hope not. It has been suggested that their bronzed faces are not of that all sufficient dark hue to entitle them to proper regard! And then again, it is hinted that their political sentiments are not muddy enough to suit the major part of our loyal voters, be that as it may, one point no one can doubt! but what they are individually and collectively McClellan veterans, ready to battle at all times for the honor of "Little Mac," or for the cause he so nobly defended. There is a class of soldiers, or, "shoulder strappers," who may generally calculate on a warm reception, at the hands of a certain class in Delhi. They are the fine "Blue coated, and brass buttoned warriors," of recent manufacture, whose principal merit consists not in any fighting they have done "down in Dixie" but in their "chin exercise" at home trying to show up the incapacity of McClellan as a Gen. and the immediate necessity of wiping out northern traitors, and doing other things too numerous to mention, We trust that one of these days honor will be given to those who are entitled to it, and less awarded to the undeserving.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror July 12, 1864 page 2 column 3
Letter from W.B. at Seminary Hospital, Williamsburgh about casualties in Co. I., Excelsior Brigade, May 6th 1862 engagement
Williamsburgh, May 15th, 1862
Mr. Mirror---Being now one of the occupants of the Female Seminary Hospital in the captured village of Williamsburgh, to-day is the first that I have been able to sit up to write any one in your land since the great battle of the 6th inst., in which Delaware Co. was represented by R.T. Johnson's company.
I see that the N.Y. papers does not make much mention of Gen. Hooker's division, and still less of the Sickles Brigade, that stood the brunt of the battle from 9 o'clock A.M. till 4 o'clock P.M. ---They had all learned the duties of a soldier was to obey the command. They all knew that
it was the duty of a soldier to march up to a cannon's mouth and be shot down; and nobly they did do that thing. Our Brigade that we prided ourselves was the Excelsior, is nothing now but a skeleton of a Brigade.
There has been so much wrote since the battle, I shall not attempt at this late day to give much details. As the Government does not give the losses of our brigade to the public, I have no means by which to give them to you very accurately. As near as I can gather it from soldiers of the different regiments in our brigade, the figures foot up to near 1,000 killed, wounded and prisoners. It will be remembered that the other brigades attached to Hooker's Division were also engaged in the fight; but I think our fate was worse than either of the other ten. Below I send you a list of the killed and wounded of company I, from Delaware county.
Corporal Francis B. Cormack, Delhi.
Private, Timothy Warren, Delhi.
" Joseph Goodrich, Walton.
Cap. R.T. Johnson, slightly, Delhi.
Orderly Serg't, N.A. Packard, severely, Delhi.
Wm. H. Husted, Pepacton, severely.
Henry W. Bell, Meredith, "
Daniel Hughes, Hobart, "
John French, Delhi, "
Valentine Le Valley, Delhi, enroute for Richmond prison.
John L. Waldie, Delhi, wounded in wrist, since died at Delhi.
As a company, we have come off best of any in our regiment. I wish to notice here, that our loss all took place before Gen. McClellan came on the field with the reinforcements, which was about 4 o'clock P.M. 10,000 troops, that is Hooker's Division, held 60,000 rebels in check for 8 hours, through a drenching rain, without breakfast or dinner, and mud knee deep to a horse. We were driven three times and twice the enemy driven in turn by us. Batteries captured and re-captured. The battle was a bloody one. Late in the afternoon the enemy were driven from the ground that the most of our dead and wounded lay on, but to late to recover them that night. They robbed our dead and wounded in the afternoon, when they held the ground; and the wounded that was able to hobble along, they took with them.
The incidents of the battle and the ground have been so ably pictured by Harper, Leslie, Herald, Times and Tribune correspondents, who were not on the ground until Gen. McClellan came up with reinforcements, 4 o'clock P.M. By that time the enemy was in check; and then Gen. Hancock made his celebrated charge. Fifteen minutes in the fight. A "big thing" for Hancock's Brigade. The enemy seeing our reinforcements come up began to retreat before the charge was made.
The 8th N.Y. or Delaware Battery was some 4 miles in the rear; they could not fetch up in time and artillery could not be got in position to render us much service.
I have been walking out some to-day. This is the finest country town I have seen since we came south of Mason and Dixon's line. The stores are all closed, hardly o white man to be seen, as they all left on the night of the 6th inst., with Joe Johnson and Magruder. But they could not take their lovely wives and beautiful daughters with the ; they too, fell into the hands of the Yankees with Sambo.
The village is laid out something like Princeton New Jersey, and the houses built more after the style of Princeton, and the village will compare with Princeton very well. It contains from 1800 to 2000 inhabitants. It has many public buildings in it. The great Williamsburgh College has been very long known as one of Virginia's noble institution for learning. The boys are all about 10 mile ahead of us.
Col. Taylor has been ordered to take command of the 3d Regt. again, as he is relieved from command of this Brigade, and Gen. A. Comby takes command. Gen. Sickles not here.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror May 27, 1862 page1 columns 3&4
SOURCE: The Bloomville Mirror November 10, 1863 p.1 c.2&3
Camp of the 144th Regiment, Co. I Folly Island, S.C., Oct. 23d, 1863
To the bereaved Mrs. Decker, wife and companion of the late deceased Levi Decker:
It become my duty from request made by your husband previous to his departure from this life, to inform you of the sad and heart-trying news; and though it be melancholy in the extreme to you and your dear family, yet I hope in the first place that you will stop and consider, and remember the hand that dealt the blow. I know that it will shock you for a time, and 'tis with mingled emotions of joy and deep sorrow that I now attempt to inform you of this sad and painful bereavement. And yet it is a pleasure to me to inform you of so peaceful and happy an exit as we believe your dear husband experienced. He fell asleep in the arms of Jesus, giving him glory, glory, glory, throwing back his arms in death, uttering lastly with a whisper, glory. Thus died your youthful companion and christian soldier husband, this morning, the 23rd inst. between the hours of 7 and 8 o'clock A.M. When I wrote to you for him one week ago to-morrow night, he was not considered dangerous, but little did we think him so near the end of his race. I know that he felt cheerful, and thought that he would soon get along. But no one fully realized, not even the surgeon, the depth and fatality of the strife within. But he has gone to his rest, his work is done, his toils are o'er, his soldier's sufferings, deep privations, and earthly sorrows are all past, and he is now mingling his happy spirit with the blest, far from human strife and mortal woe. He has received his honorable discharge from the war. His armor is laid by--he needs no more the war-harness; his musket and straps are given over to others; the roll calls are past, until judgement day, when all must obey its call. His military dress enshrouds his motionless body. No more tiring drills nor withering marches for him to undergo; but he now rests from his labor, and his works will follow him. He was a good soldier, willing and obedient, and always done his duty. He loved his country, and died in its service and long will he be remembered, and his examples cherished; and his habits and disposition cultivated by all his friends at home and in the army. His last sickness was of short duration, as he had been off duty two weeks, and in the hospital only one week; but he never has been entirely well since his sickness last spring, and never was left behind but once, and only for a short time. Has been sick in hospital three times in all, yet has done as much duty as any man in Co. I-- and I think that I should say the truth in saying that as much as any man in the Regiment. He never seemed to fear danger, and death was not terror--he met it with a smile. I had been in to see him every day since he was brought into the hospital. I was on duty and took care of him the last hours of his life, except a few moments before he expired. J.N. McLaury sat by him, and heard his last words of glory. O, happy man in death, and may my last end be as peaceful as his--let me die the death of the righteous. He wanted me to tell you all about him. He did not seem to realize much of anything for the last two days, did not complain, was easy and quite stupid, and in fact said but little during the last two or three days. He had good care, fare, and bed. Thomas M. Walter took care of him a part of the time. I know not what ailed him before the diarrhoea, which was of a very severe character. But such is life. Death must be met by all, and like other men, the soldier, too, must die; but many a one far from home, wife and friends. Though his dear wife saw not his smile in death, though she kissed not his cheek, and dropped not a tear on his couch, and though her kinds hands ministered not to his wants, yet kind soldier friends rendered him all possible aid; and the angels hovered round, and waited his spirit home to dwell forevermore. And you may meet him there in New Jerusalem, and live with him above.
In conclusion, I will say, in this dispensation you are called to make the greatest human sacrafice that earth can give. You gave your husband to the perils and fortunes of war over one year ago, and it has pleased Almighty God to call him home Himself; though when you gave him to his country's call, you gave him in hopes of a future earthly re-union, and domestic joys; but you in that have met with disappointment. But such is life. We are all subject to losses, crosses and disappointment. Death is certain, and on it we may rely. All these are common to man-- And now as you yield him up to Him who gave his life, I am happy to learn that you will not mourn as they who have no hope. And as you hope to meet him in heaven, in this you need not be disappointed. Only trust in Jesus, his mercy and grace, and God will bring it to pass. In this your affliction, don't forget to lay your troubles at Jesus' feet. He is the widow's God, and the orphan's Father. He is too good to be unkind, and to wise to err. He afflicts not willingly but for our own good. And though his place is vacant, and now your heart mourns, and though your children call for him in vain, yet may his call from on high lead you all safe to heaven at last. His coffin has come, and to-morrow his remains will be consigned to its narrow house, with respect and in good military order, on Folly Island. S.C. God bless you, his dear bereaved wife and children, and lead you to the fountain of consolation. And now to God and the word of his grace, do I commend you in this your trial. I will close this by subscribing myself the friend and soldier brother of Levi Decker,
The following letter was read at the recent session of the Methodist Conference in New York:---
SOURCE: The Bloomville Mirror April 22, 1863 page 2 column 3
Headquarters 8th Independent New York Battery, Yorktown Va., April 1.To the Bishop and Members of the New York Annual Conference, 1863
Dear Father and Brothers: When something over a year and a quarter ago I enlisted in the service of our beloved country, I hoped and expected that, ere this time, if I was spared to live, I should see the cause that called me from my family and you, removed; and that I would be permitted to resume my labor on some humble circuit or station among you, but Rebels in front and Rebels in rear, still threaten to destroy everything that is dear to Christians and patriots, and I cannot see it to be right at this, the season for activity, to leave my post long enough to supply the much desired priviledge of a re-union with you at your annual gathering. After having enjoyed this priviledge for ten years, without interruption, the deprivation is keenly felt.
I am endeavoring to serve God and our country in all that I can. I serve as Chaplain of my own and three other batteries, and a regiment of infantry. By request of a number of officers I preach Sabbath evenings in the Episcopal Church---the only one in the village.
I edit a weekly newspaper with a local circulation of 2,500 copies. I am also at present commanding the 8th Independent Battery. Capt. Fitch, with whom I came out, being in command of reserve artillery, Fourth Corps. As Spring opens, we expect earnest service, and are ready for it. I hope never to disgrace the church of my choice or the trusty sword given to me by my brother ministers. I trust no member of the Conference will have fellowship with those who sympathize with Southern Rebels. (Loud and general cries of "Amen" followed ther reading of the later sentence.) You at home can do much to help or hinder our armies in the field. Let your influence all be exerted for the right. I bespeak an interest in your prayers, and invoking the blessing of Heaven upon you, your families and the church committed to your charge, I subscribe myself, Your brother in Christ,
1st Lieut. and Chaplain 8 Independent Art.
SOURCE: The Bloomville Mirror, March 7, 1863 page 1 columns 3&4
Washington D.C., March 5, 1863
Mr. Mirror-- Some months have passed since I have penned a line to you or for publication; and though I am not in much of a mood for such another undertaking to-day, yet I feel anxious to let the people of old Delaware know that I am still among the living, though I have suffered much over six months from the effects of a wound which I received in a bayonet charge, while leading Capt. Elwood's Co. at Bristow Station, VA. on the 27th of August, 1862, the Captain being sick in Alexandria. I lost 16 wounded and two killed, out of 25, the number which went with me to the fight. I was hit with two balls, one hitting me on my left side, going through my coat and lodging in a heavy cased silver watch, which I had bought just before the fight, and which probably saved my life. The other ball is supposed to be a minnie ball. It entered my right arm at the elbow, and ranging upwards, hitting and fracturing the shoulder joint, passing on, lodging under the shoulder blade or in my back somewhere, shoving a fragment of bone out under the collar bone, and over the right breast, leaving my shoulder stiff and my arm at the elbow crooked. The arm has much shrunk away remaining very lame.
Surgeon Alimer of U.S.A. of this city, operated upon my shoulder on the 12th of February for the ball, which he did not find, but succeeded in extracting a piece of bone. I am much better to-day.
Since I came from home last January to this city, I have been promoted from 2d Lieut. to the Captaincy of Co. K. of my regiment, and now as I have a company, I am anxious to command and lead it. I expect to be able to return to the field the last of this month, and I hope I shall not be disappointed.
The sun shines upon the city of Washington to-day with all its splendor, making joyous the hearts of the people by its smiling countenance and beautiful rays, though at other times they may feel sad by recollections of fond and dear ones who have fallen on the fields of battle during this inhuman war and cused rebellion. But I trust we shall soon be blessed by the Great King Peace, who shall shine upon us once more as a combined Nation as one people, and as a land of Liberty.
I visited a hospital a few days ago where I saw a poor Union soldier who, almost exhaused by a fever. On Inquiry, I found that he was a Vermonter. There was a little flag of the stripes and stars posted up by his bedside, which had been given him by his mother when he left his home to battle in the wars for his country. It seemed to be much worn, for he carried it ever since. And then, when he could carry it no more, he had it placed so that his dying eyes could rest upon it. That flag which he had cherished and fought for in life, he clung to in death.
O that we might all, like the dying soldier, with the flag of his country, so fight the battles of our Christian warfare with the emblem of our Saviour so emblazoned upon our hearts that we may cling to it in death.
I have written with a trembling hand, and now must close. I remain as ever, a Union man, and in the Union army.
Capt. James Ira Webb
85 4 1/2 Street, Washington, D.C.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror September 23, 1862 page 2 column 4
Camp Delaware, Sept. 15, 1862
Mr. Mirror--I find a good many inquiring why I enlisted. Some say you gave up your son and that is enough.
Over twenty years ago I solemnly swore I would support the Constitution of the United States---And I meant it. And when our flag trailed in the dust of Sumter, if I could leave my family I would go. Now the people of Meredith and of the State of New York say go and we will help to take care of your family. And I am reminded that liberty is as dear to my children and a coming generation as it ever was, and I am resolved to stand or fall by that Constitution.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror July 15, 1862 page 3 column 2
Near Richmond, Va., June 24th, 1862
Friend Champ--With respect I communicate to you the following
James Ira Webb, a Lieutenant of the 2d Reg. Excelsior Brigade, who has become noted for his bravery, at and since the battle of Fair Oaks, and who has been engaged with Lieut. Col. Potter of the same Reg., for some time past in scouting the woods in front of our pickets, and obtaining much important knowledge of the rebels position from time to time, went out with the Lt. Colonel this morning in front of our pickets to look after the movements of the enemy, who were reported to be evacuating their forts and entrenchments in our front, where they have been very quiet since June 21st. They reached the place where they were to execute their plans in safety. Webb then climbed a big oak tree which entirely exposed the rebels to his view, and where he could see, by the aid of an eye glass, the whole operations of the rebel camp. And as I learn, the rebels had moved their force to our left, apparently for the purpose of flanking any advance that might be made by our troops.
When the Lieut. had accomplished all he wished and made a move to dismount the tree, a distance of 50 feet, he was fired upon by the picket of the 1st Reg.Excelsior Brigade, who was deployed just in the rear. Six shots were fired in quick succession. One ball cutting a small branch from the tree just over his head; one passing his left side; one fairly grazing his chest, and two lodging in the tree, the other going some feet below him. The pickets mistook him for a rebel, as their sharpshooters are in the habit of climbing trees and firing on our pickets.
Webb came down the tree in one time and two motions, unhurt, and appeared angry when he heard that he had been fired upon by his own men, saying he expected to be shot by rebels if shot, not by members of his own brigade.
Webb is a resident of Delaware county. He enlisted as a private in Capt. Elwood's Co., one year ago, where, by his soldierly conduct and promptness on duty, he has been promoted to 2nd Lieut. of the same company. Thus may new honors be heaped upon the brave volunteer of Old Delaware.
Very respectfully I remain a soldier in the Union Army.
SOURCE: The Bloomville Mirror September 15, 1863 page 2 columns 1&2
FROM THE 144TH REGIMENT
Mr. Champion---I send to you, for publication, extracts from a private letter I have just received from Lt. Francis Heimer, of Co. E, 144th Reg't, N.Y.S.V. I deem it of great interest as it contains the full particulars of the death, under fire, of the first of the 144th.
Morris Island, S.C., Aug. 27th, 1863
Friend D--- I promised a year ago that I would write to you when the 144th Reg't first came under fire. To be faithful to my promise, I now seat myself on the burning sand of this barren Island, (except two palmetto trees,) to write to you.
No doubt you have heard already that we landed at Folly Island Aug. 12th, 829 miles from New York City, which brings us very near a thousand miles from good old Delaware County. We, the 144th Regiment, acted as reserve of picket that night on the north eastern part of the Island, and the next morning marched to our present camp. At noon on Saturday, the 15th inst., we received orders to "fall in" at 2 1/2 o'clock, with three day's rations in our haversacks, to go to the front, our most advanced works on Morris Island. The 40th Mass, the 25th and 75th Ohio, and the 157th N.Y. had the same orders, and all formed on the beach at the hour appointed. The command forward was given, and as we were marching along, a distance of six miles from Lighthouse Inlet, we heard the artillery duel going on very vigorously between our forces and the rebels. Loaded on board a steamer, we crossed the Inlet and landed on Morris Island about 7 1/2 o'clock. We had not marched over two miles along the beach, when Fort Wagner began to throw shells along our line, which would burst on or rather side off us, but doing no harm. One bursted about two rods from me in the water, but nothing more than a fountain about twenty feet high, which lasted but a few seconds, was seen of it. It being dark by this time, as it took some time to load and unload four Regiments on and off the steamer, the rebels could not see us, but they knew that at about that time the troops in the trenches would be relieved, and would march along the beach. The sand being ankle deep, and still deeper on the Island, the beach with its wet, solid sand being the best road, they threw the shells by us. We entered the works at about 8 o'clock P.M. As we marched along single file, shells would burst every two or three minutes, above and on both sides of us.--We finally halted about 300 yards from Fort Wagner, stationed close against the sand-bag breastworks. We were to remin watchful all night.
So far we were protected from the shells of Fort Wagner. Sumter was still all night, but at about 10 o'clock Fort Jonston, on James Island, began to throw its shells along our breastworks with great accuracy, causing us to be exposed to a crossfire, all shells from Fort Jonston coming toward our flank with their fiery tails, appeared almost sure to burst among our Delaware boys. But Providence kept us from danger until about 11 o'clock, when Wagner began to throw its "rifle lightning shots" (as they are called by some,) against and in the rear of our works in quick succession, the most furious missiles of any I ever saw or heard of, the flash of the gun and the screeching noise, perhaps no more than two feet over our heads, appeared to be one. At the same time Jonston seemed to double the number of its shells. Company E, (Andes and Bovina) was stationed near battery Rozencrans, three 100-pounders, Capt. John Clark in command; next to the right came Company D (Franklin,) 2nd Lieut. Griffith in command; next Company H, (Roxbury,) of which I had command, Capt. Smith, the only officer of that Company, being sick at camp, I was detailed for that purpose. As the shore mortar shells form Jonston bursted near us, pieces would fly within a few feet of us; at about 12 o'clock a shell burst directly in front of Company H; a large piece with its screeming noise came down within 10 feet or less of myself, and killed U.S. GOODENOUGH, to whom I was speaking only a minute before; a smaller pierce wounded A. Van Buren on both hands and both knees, he being in a sitting position at the time, with both hands in this lap. When I saw Goodenough fall, I sprang towards him for aid if possible, but he was dead, no doubt killed instantly, as part of his ribs on the left side, and heart had been torn out. I report to the General in command, from whom I received orders to take in my charge the effects of Goodenough, which consisted of a silver watch, pocket book,--containing $20, 3 cents in coin, 14 postage stamps and his brother's likeness--and an army knife. I then detailed a Sergeant and six men to bury him as quick as possible, as the rebel sharpshooters would not let us do it by daylight. Sergeant R. Craft had charge of the squad. In the morning I took a piece of pineboard, cut Goodenough's name, Company, Regiment and when killed, on it, and at night had it placed at the head of his grave. It was all we could do.-- U.S. Goodenough was 21 years and 9 months old, and was unmarried. He has parents and one brother living near the Head of the River, in the town of Harpersfield. As far as I was acquainted with him, I took him to be a good soldier, and he is well spoken of by his comrades. He, the first of the 144th Regiment fallen by the hands of the enemy, may he rest in peace. The 40th Mass. lost one man and two wounded, and the 75th Ohio lost one man killed by a sharpshooter. We were relieved at 8 o'clock at night, and arrived at our camp on Folly Island between 1 and 2 o'clock early in the morning. I would remark here that the 89th, with its gallant Lieut. Col. T. L. England, is also encamped on this Island.
--Scarely rested we were again ordered to be ready at 2 1/2 P.M., to be ready to march to Morris Island an act as support to battery No. 2, mounted with a 300 pounder and 4 200 pounders. We arrived at the spot at 8 o'clock. The next day we dug trenches for our protection, which we have occupied for the last four nights. We march to the rear of the works by daylight, and enter by dark at night.
During the last four days the bombardment on Sumter has been kept up, and twice have I seen the flag of old Sumter disappear, but it is still waving to the breeze. During the night the rebels patch up the holes which are caused by our guns, with sand bags and cotton bales. But the miserable flag has got to come down, and will come down. You need not expect a sudden fall of the city, but you may rest assured it will fall. During daytime we have to lay in the hot, parching sun without any shelter, and the sand will burn our feet through our shoes. We have a very good view of all the rebel fortifications, and part of Charleston city.
The health of our company at present is not very good, as we muster only 26 effective men.--Capt. Clark is unwell and left at camp, and as Lieut. J.D. penett has not joined us yet, I have command of Company E. I am very well yet, and in good spirits, although we all have seen pretty hard service for the last six weeks; please inform all inquiring friends to that effect.
Afternoon---We have just learned that this day or to-morrow, our tents will be brought here, and Captain Clark and the few which had been left behind will all join our company. I hope so. It is difficult to write or think, as the fine sand is flying in our eyes
Source: The Bloomville Mirror May 20, 1862 page 1 columns 2 and 3
Roanoke Island, April 24, 1862
To The Friends of W.C. Halsted:
It now becomes my painful duty to give you an account of the sickness and death of your beloved friend. We all thought at first that it was no more than a bad cold; and as he got worse, and it became necessary that he should go to the hospital, the Doctor told me that he was not dangerous, but he thought that he had the typhoid fever. After he had been there two days, I heard he was getting along finely. I do not remember the dates, but one week ago last Sunday I saw him he was then very sick. I got three letters for him and I was not able to read them; they remain unopened. I should have written right away, but we were ordered to get ready for an expected battle, and was kept in a whirl of excitement till we got back from the battle, and found him dead. I saw him the day before we left, and he looked better than he did Sunday. The Doctor thought he was getting better, but said he was not out of danger.---He died about 8 o'clock Sunday morning---Cormack and I went to the hospital Monday morning and found him laid out in good order. We then went to the landing and got a coffin and put him in, and took him to camp. He was buried by the side of A.B. Bronson, at 10 o'clock Tuesday, in military order; which was a corporal and 8 men as an escort, under arms; then followed Co. I, the Captain, Lieutenant and Chaplain of the regiment, in the rear. The regimental music followed the escort and corps, playing the dead march with muffled drums. When the body was let down, the religious services were gone through with by the chaplain; then 9 volleys were fired over the grave and we started for camp. He lays in a beautiful grove of evergreen, and a fence shall be put around the grave.
I have been told by those that have been sick in the hospital, that they have the best of care, and all is done for the sick that could be were they at home. But, O, how much rather would any be to be with their friends in the hour of sickness. But such is the will of God, whose ways is past finding out. And He has said that "all things shall work together for the good of such as put their trust in him." And though our friend is stricken down in his youth we have a full assurance that what is our loss is his gain, for he died in full assurance that his Redeemer lived and that in Him he should live also. And when we think of him we can think that he now is with Christ, and there to remain in the sunshine of God's love forever and ever. And may each one of you so live as to meet him there, is the earnest prayer of your friend and well wisher.
Wm. A. Robinson
Source: The Bloomville Mirror, May 20, 1862 page 1 c column 2
[We are permitted to copy the following letter from William Cormack to his father in Delhi, announcing the death of his brother (Frank B. Cormack,) who was the corporal in Co. I, 72d Regt., N.Y.S.V., and who fell in the battle at Williamsburg.]
Williamsburgh Valley, May 5th, 1862
My dear Father---I have very bad news to write you. Yesterday we had a battle with the rebels, and Frank was killed. I was not near him when he fell, but he must have been killed early in the battle. I did not see him till this morning. We found him in the field. I think, by all appearances, he was killed instantly. He was shot through the bowels. There was nothing taken from him except his gun. I got everything that was in his pockets and his knapsack; he had a little over six dollars in his pocket, which I will send you in my next letter.
We buried him in a grave by himself, and put up a head board, with his name on it. There was but one beside Frank killed in our company.--That was T. Warren of Delhi. Capt. R.T. Johnson was wounded in his right hand. The names of the wounded are N.A. Packard, of Delhi; J.S. Waldie, Delhi; J. French, Delhi; D. Hughes, Hobart; H.W. Bell, Meredith; W.H. Hustand, Colchester; J.H. Goodrich, Walton, who has since died of his wounds. V. LeValey of Delhi, missing.
When we attacted the rebels, they drove us back a little, but we held them to it until our reserve came up, when we drove them into their breastwork. When the rebels retreated, they robbed our killed and wounded of everything they had. All the rest of our company I have not mentioned are well. The rebels retreated in the night leaving all of their dead and wounded on the field, and our boys are in hot pursuit of them. I am well and unhurt--I will write to you soon. No more at present.
From your son.
J.H. Champion 7/11/62
Source: The Bloomville Mirror July 29, 1862 page 2 column 2
Headquarters 8th Ind't N.Y. Battery
Camp Lincoln, Harrison's Landing Va.,
July 11, 1862
Mr. Mirror---It is sometime since I wrote to you, and my excuses for the delay is, 1st, That some of the time I have hardly been able to write, being worn out with hard labor. 2d., Have been so pressed with duties that I had not a leisure moment.
Since I wrote you I have been 20 hours in the saddle at a time. We have had the harness on our horses for 9 days and nights without taking off anything but just the bits a few moments to let them eat. We have been on picket and in battles, and marched in rain storms through mud that, for meaness, language cannot describe. We have gone hungry and pretty dirty. It is a stern reality to be a soldier in such a time as this. Most of the white-gloved, gold-laced, powdered, red-taped officials who used to cut such a swell in Washington in the days when "the army rested quietly on the banks of the Potomac," are played out and have fallen off. Those who are left are generally hardy and show signs of formerly knowing what labor meant. All look jaded. Our present position is pleasant and I think healthy, and all seem to be recruiting their energies and getting ready for further hardships. No doubt we shall have them.
Of the movements of the army for the past 4 weeks and the prospect ahead, I can tell you and your readers nothing more than you learn from the papers. In regard to our battery I know that it has always been just where it has been ordered, and done just the services directed. We know that we have done our parts, and so long as life and health are ours we mean to. We don't want a foot of our territory yielded to internal traitors or foreign despots, no matter what reverses we meet with. Whatever the sacrifice of treasure or blood, the integrity of our government must be preserved. We feel that the man who would, on any consideration, yield an inch, is unworthy to be a descendant of Revolutionary sires. Can we suffer the heritage they left us to be tarnished? Every freeman should bestir himself to sustain the noble Constitution and the noble old Flag. We hope to hear that Delaware Co. is coming up nobly to the work.
P.S. It may be gratifying to the many friends of our Battery to know that during the 7 days fighting, when we guarded bridges and covered the retreat and were exposed to every danger, we did not lose a single man. Some of us had some pretty close calls from rebel missiles, but the old motto "an inch as good as a mile, applies here.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror July 29, 1862 page 2 column 4
Kortright, July 22, 1862
Mr. Mirror---I send you a short account of the last days of Hugh Black, a native of Armagh, Ireland, and a member of the Del. Battery, which if agreeable to you, I desire may be published in an early number of you paper:
He enlisted last fall as a private in the Delaware Battery, Capt. Fitch, and passed the inclement winter in the army, but he became ill, as was thought, with pulmanory consumption, and having received an honorable discharge, he came home to the residence of his brother-in-law, Mr. William Adair, in Kortright. After resting for a few weeks he became so much recruited, that he was desirous to return to his duties, and did return, but from some cause was not received again into his company. However he remained and was with them at the battle of Seven Pines, when one of the gunners having fallen, severely wounded, he took his place and fought with persevering bravery till the end of the battle. Indeed so determined was he, that he discharged his gun once after they were ordered to retreat, although badly wounded himself by a bullet in the shoulder.--He contracted the typhoid fever in the swamps before Richmond, and again returned home to Kortright about the 1st of July very ill, but so confident was he of recovery that he had set the day on which to return. But Venit Suprema dies et ineluctable tempus, but that last and inevitable day which stands grim sentinel at the close of life, warned him that he must prepare for a longer journey and engage in a still more desperate struggle, and having taken farewell of his friends, he calmly yielded up his spirit to him who gave it on the 14th of July, at about 10 o'clock A.M., in 34th year of his age, and was committed to the grave on the second day following, by a large concourse of sorrowing relations and friends, there to rest we trust and hope till the final great day of account.
He, the patriot soldier, laid down his life for his adopted country, and from his grave he calls upon us to go to her assistance. Beaten down and wounded by parricidal hands, her banner, the glorious emblem of our freedom, trailed in the dust, while she, pointing to the thousands slain in battle and wasting away in hospitals, to the myriads held in hopeless bondage, adjures us by all we hold near and dear, to hasten to her aid and reinstate her, if possible, in more than her pristine glory, that she may be, in all time to come as in ages past, the refuge of the oppressed of every clime. We will not grieve sore for him, but rather rejoice that he has so early attained the end of his course, in a glorious death. No more shall bitter grief or cares of this world assail him, for
"He sleeps his last sleep, he has fought his last battle,
No sound shall awake him him to glory again."
He gave his all, his time, his health, his life, to his country. His whole heart was in her cause. He has died the most enviable of all deaths that of the soldier who has deserved well of his country. He has left us the example of his unspotted patriotism.
"He is our country's now and fame's, ,
One of the few immortal names, ,
That are not born to die."
He is one of that innumerable band of heros who have laid down their lives in defense of constitutional liberty. He died a soldier's death. He sleeps in an honored grave.
"How sleep the brave who sink to rest, ,
By all their country's wishes blest, ,
When Spring with dewy fingers cold, ,
Returns to deck their hallowed mold, ,
She there shall dress a sweeter sod,
Than Fancy's feet have ever trod.
"By fairy hands their knell is rung, ,
By forms unseen their dirge is sung, ,
There Honor comes, a pilgrim gray, ,
To bless the turf that wraps their clay--,
And Freedom shall awhile repair, ,
To dwell a weeping hermit there." ,
Yours Truly, ,
Source: The Bloomville Mirror Feb. 23, 1862 page 1 column 2
Folly Island, S.C., Feb. 6th, 1864
Mr. Mirror--- All is quiet in camp to-day, except the too common and free camp rumors of leaving and changing from one thing to another, but all these things are common among soldiers. There is something new hatched up every day for excitement, and to keep the spirit of the soldier well animated. But then it is what we are expecting ere long, as we are nearing the time and season for army operations. As a Regiment, we are in good health, and spirits, and whatever the signal is given we'll just pack up our knapsacks and away we go, wherever our leader bids.
This is Saturday, and of course it's the soldier's rest day in part, and it is a fine morning, and quite warm again. For a few days and nights past it has seemed quite wintry, as the northern gale came whistling along. But then its only a breath compared to your Delaware hills. We know nothing of your white, icy gloves down here, but we occasionally get a pair of shiny fellows that leaves us with the rising sun---its only a mist from your snow hills. And just now as I am writing, I hear a robin sing, the first that I have noticed since we have been here.
Well, as to the sick now in Hospital, we have 10, and they are all doing well except two, and they are not very low. Our sick report is small, and this is encouraging.
Well, the greenbacks made us a call last Wednesday, the 3d, and we were most happy to entertain those siry chaps, and by the appearance of some they soon had othe visitors, and more than they could politely attend to; and they got so excited thay they made a very awkward appearance, and they over done the matter, and got some sick I reckon, and what is more, so long as greenback stays with them, they will keep other company. This is one of the evils of war as well as in times of peace. Oh, when will men learn to keep sober? Soldier's families need their money, and it is but just that they should have it, so far as can be spared. And no doubt that by means of the check, many a soldier's money has been saved to his family. We have but little drunkenness going on in the Regiment, compared to last winter; and may the ungentlemanly and unchristian like habit soon be among the things of the past, and be learned no more.
I have been out and counted the graves near our camp that have died since we have been in the camp. Out of four different Regiments there are 79 in all, and nearly half of them are of our Regiment. In one yard neatly fenced by our boys are 59. The rest lay in four different places and there are head-boards to nearly all of them with their names, age, death, Company and Regiment. But the ground is very low and wet, and the graves are shallow dug; but the boys are sodding them over, and it makes a great improvement; and we all are interested for the friends of the departed, and as they cannot visit the graves to perform this tribute of respect, it is cheerfully done by the soldiers, as opportunity is afforded to them. An effort was made to take up and rebury the scattering ones, and have them all in one yard, but on trial it was proven presumptous. Let this suffice. As the warm weather approaches our fears of sickness are revived, but I hope we may be happily disappointed; certainly we have got pretty well seasoned to the climate and ought to stand it as well as other regiments.
As to promotions among non-commissioned officers, that is almost a daily occurence. And that is not all. We are informed that we have a new Colonel, a regular of the 16th U.S. Infantry, Slydell, I think is his name. He has not made his appearance yet.
(Likely E. Burroughs --L.R.).
Source: The Bloomville Mirror April 22, 1862 page 1 column 3
The following is a letter sent to us by G.W. Bookhout, written by his brother, who is a member of Captain Johnson's Company, Excelsior Brigade:---
Camp Wool, Maryland, April 5th, 1862
Dear Brother---I have taken the opportunity to write a few hurried lines to you as I have a few leisure moments. I am happy to inform you that I am well, and trying to do well for myself and country. The weather is quite warm here at present; we have not seen any snow in some time; the grass and grain are growing finely; it looks like a May month.
We are all up side down here now, part of our Reg't. crossed the river the other day; there were 1,500 that crossed; Gen. Sickles was along with us; we went down the river some ways, how far I do not know, as it was night. We landed at last, and took up our line of march. We went near a small town, (the name of which I have just forgotten) and there we found business plenty. We were fired upon by the rebel pickets before we got within a mile of the town, but we routed them and made them take to their heels. When we came in sight of their camps we found them all in a blaze, together with all of their stores, which they set fire to as we approached them. Beyond the town on a hill the rebel cavalry drew up in a line of battle. We sent a French Co. of Zouaves around the hill, to take them in the rear, which was done in an instant by the nimble-footed French; they were deployed as skirmishers and came up in the rear of the cavalry unobserved, they then poured in a volley of musketry scattering them in all directions. We were then ordered on by the General in double quick time to charge on the rebels which we had nearly surrounded. With yells of triumph we made for them; they might have thought that all the fiends of the lower regions were after them, as the yells seemed to increase every moment. On we went after them, but soon we had to give up the chase, for we came upon a regiment of infantry and another cavalry. We took 7 prisoners, 15 horses, pistols, sabres and some valuable papers, &c. We stove things up finely; one large piano we found we smashed in a thousand pieces; we care for nothing in secessia. We came back after a march of two days and one night, satisfied that we got off well. There were three of our men wounded; one fellow had three balls shot in one leg; he belonged to the First Regiment.
We leave this camp this afternoon; the transports are at the dock waiting for us; we sail for Fortress Monroe. We think they are trying to make another Expedition to join Burnside. I think we will soon find ourselves in business if they take us down there, and that is just what we want, if we have got to fight we may as well do it first as last. I would like to wade in secession blood for one week, then I think I would be satisfied. How may we killed and wounded the other day is more than we can tell, as the rebels left for the woods in short order; they will not fight us by fair means we can see that plainly.
Things are very high here; we cannot look at anything fit to eat short of a quarter of a dollar. I think we will leave this time for certain, as our tents have gone, and we are ordered to be ready to march at one o'clock. I will have to close, fearing I may weary you patience. Remember me to mother, brothers and sisters.
I still remain your affectionate brother,
Source: The Bloomville Mirror, may 20, 1862 page 1 column 4
Died--In Andes on the 9th inst., George Seath, aged 24 years and 2 days.
"When the bright guardians of a country die
The grateful tear in tenderness will start
And the keen anguish of a redding eye
Disclose the deep afflictions of the heart."
At the nations call the subject of this notice, enrolled himself under the banner of his country, to go forth and fight in its defence against the hordes of rebelllion and treason. He was a member of the Delaware Battery and endured with that company the hardships and privations incident to an inclement winter's life in tents and cold barracks. From exposure he contracted disease of a dropsical nature and for three weeks before the order was recieved for the Battery to join McClellan's division, he had been confined in the hospital at Washington. He had an idea that his disease was of a temporary nature, and when the order came, so anxious was he to join in the active service of the camp and field that he sent for Captain Fitch to come to the hospital and made him promise that he would not march without taking him along, assuring the Captain that in a few days he would be able to take his place by his gun. The time to leave arrived and young Seath true to his purpose left the hospital and joined his company in the march. He lay out with his regiment all night at Alexandria during that fearful and merciless storm of which so much has been written and read, without anything by his drenched clothes to shield him from that fearful tempest accompanied with snow sleet and rain. He was admonished of the danger he was incurring and was entreated to return to Washington and the hospital, but with that faith which prompted one of old to exclaim, "whither thou goest I will go." He determined that the destiny of the Battery should be his; he continued to with his company until it reached Fortress Monroe; but the ravages of disease were again upon him, nature succumbed, "the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak." It was impossible for him to follow them to the field, and here reluctantly he bade them a last sad farewell, and in company with Sergeant Bulkley, took his departure for his home in the north to die and be buried among his kindred.
Soldier rest! thy warfare o'er
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking;
Dream of battle-fields no more,
Morn of toil, nor night of waking.
No rude sound shall reach thine ear,
Armor clang or war-steed champing,
Trump nor clarion summon here
Mustering clan, or squadron tramping.
In the private walks of life he was exemplary. In his habits were beautifully blended those elements of success, honesty, industry, perserverance and economy. He had few of the follies and none of the vices so often incident to youth. In his social relations, he was reserved, diffident candid and confiding---he would not tell a lie or suspect another of doing it, he never believed it was possible for one man to impose on another. To the beauty of his moral character he added the luster of the christian. His weapons were these, the sword of the Lord and of Gideon. He lived, "A soldier of the Legion," and died "a soldier of the cross."
Such was George Seath. No wonder that his funeral was attended by the largest concourse of citizens that ever assembled in the town, to accompany mortal remains to their final resting place. This was undoubtably attributable as well to the respect which he commanded in life, as to the glorious cause for which he suffered in death. Every citizen felt that he had honored the cause in which he had enlisted, and had brought no reproach upon himself, or disgrace upon the town which he represented.
Thou first martyr of the town in the second war of Independence! Thy name shall go down the vista of time, side by side with the names of heroes of the first Revolution, guarded by the flame of liberty, and embalmed in the affections of thy countrymen.
"We tell thy tale without a sigh,
For thou art freedom's now and fames,
One of the true immoral names
That were not born to die."
The obseques were of a solemn and imposing nature. Colonel Oliver of the 27th Regt., and his staff together with Co. C., all mounted on horseback, met the procession about 5 miles from the village, and accompanied the remains as a military escort and guard of honor, to the church thence to their final resting place. The hearse that bore the remains, also bore the furled flag, under which the deceased had gone forth to fight.
After the corpse had been placed in the church, and as Col. Oliver unfurled the flag and enveloped the coffin in its folds, many an unbidden tear started from its fountain and bedewed the cheek of numbers of the audience.
Rev. John E. Taylor of Cabin Hill church was the officiating clergyman. He preached an appropriate sermon from Micah 2, 19, "Arise ye and depart, for this is not your rest." At the close of the service, the immense audience followed his remains to the soldiers grave.
A.B.D. , Andes, May 12, 1862
Source: The Bloomville Mirror July 5, 1864 page 1 column 2
Bermuda Hundred, Va.
June 20, 1864
On the night of the 16th, we were ordered to our old skirmish line, and formed in line of battle, advancing to the road near the fort captured on the 15th. Here we were kept marching and countermarching until midnight along the line, when we were ordered on picket. We were relieved the next day about noon by the 5th Ohio (Colored) Infantry, and marched back to where the remainder of our Division were lying. On the next morning we were ordered to the front again. We marched over the old ground again, the rebels throwing shells at us as we advanced, but doing little damage. We formed our line, and as our skirmishers drove the rebels, we advanced to their support. About 4 P.M. were were ordered to make a charge through an open field and over a rise of ground. We had scarcely shown our heads when the bullets came thick and fast, but though losing men at every step, we crossed the field and established our line, which we held. On the charge we lost 55 killed and wounded from the regiment. There are none killed from Co. I, but the following men were wounded.
Serg't Dixon, shot through the arm
Serg't Feibig, shot in the mouth, very badly
William Stott, shot in the side,
John Thompson, shot in the arm, just above the old wound he received at Suffolk.
Feibig and Thompson are from Delhi. Dixon is from Hobart; and Stott from Washington D.C.
Deeply do I regret to announce the death of our beloved Lieutenant Colonel, T.L. England.-- He was shot after we had gained our position on the 18th inst, while seated in front of his old company (I) conversing with a wounded rebel prisoner. He was shot through the head, the ball (minnie) entering from behind the ear. I was standing but a few feet from him at the time. He did not utter a word after he was shot. I with four others carried his body from the field. It will be embalmed and sent home.
We took our bayonets and coffee cups and commenced throwing up a pit; and after dark we got spades, and soon had up a good rifle pit. We were relieved last night by the 6th Corps, and fell back to the rear, where we bivouacked for the night. This morning we recrossed the Appomatox on pontoons, and are now at Bermuda Hundred, nearly worn out by fatigue, poor rations, &c. It is reported that we are going to North Carolina. I sincerely hope it may be so. We have got our shelter tents up today for the first time in two weeks. How long our army can last at the rate the soldiers are now going it is hard to say; fatigue and bullets are thinning us out fearfully. But we can only do our duty and hope for the best.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror September 6, 1864 page 2 column 3
Hd. Qr.'s 4th N.Y. Heavy Art'y
August 8, 1864
Mr. Mirror---The 4th N.Y. H. Artillery was in the engagement of the 25th inst., at Reams Station on the R.R. It is not my intention to attempt a detail of the affair, I will leave that for the regular newspaper correspondents to perform. I merely desire to give you a list of casualties in Co. B, and our field officers, that anxious relatives and friends may gain some information. Our loss was mostly in prisoners; no doubt some that we consider missing are either killed or wounded; but we hope for the best, and have reason to believe that but few were hurt.
I will state the rebels came down upon us with at least five times our number of men. Three times we repulsed their charge with horrible slaughter to them, but the fourth time they were successful and broke through on our right and left; then they had us in a regular slaughter pen, and it is a miracle that so many of our men escaped, but the rebels paid dearly for all they gained, there loss was fearful. The following is my list of casualties, almost a good sized company but Co. B, has a good many members yet, and we can still make a pretty good front. The Company number on the 3rd of May last, one hundred eighty-five men. With my sympathies for the friends and relatives of the unfortunate ones, I remin,
Wm. C. Furrey
Lieut. Comd'g, Co.B., 4th N.Y. Artillery
WOUNDED FIELD OFFICERS
Lt. Col. Thos Allcock, neck, severe
Major Wm. A. Arthur, face, neck, severe
Major Frank Williams, supposed dead
Liuet. George Chichester
Lieut. Frank L. Burdick, leg shot off, supposed dead
Sergt. John H. Stark
" John N. Wright
" William Clair
Corp. Edward St. John
" L.S. Babbitt
" Jacob Rhodes
" James Daiule
" John Bennett
" Jacob Shuefelt
" George W. Wright
" George W. Lemily
" Earl S. Erickson
James L. Van Loan; Geo. E. Lloyd; Peter V. Bennett; Hen. Monroe; A. Brandow; Jas. Monroe; A.H. Bowman; B.Mangan; J.L. Bailey; M. Nolan; R. Bear; R. Pringle; J. O'Callaghan; A.M. Peck; W.E. Distin; G.W. Pierce; A. Fetherslon; Wm. Roche; J. Gallagher; H. Schermerhorn; Jas. Hanlon; H. Stillwell; A.M. Hay; P. Smith; John L. Jenkins; E. Thorp; Chas. Kelly; J. Thompson; R. Lake; T. Warren; T. Layman; T. White; Wm. A. Young; Isaac McKeever; Jas. Banker; John Meagher; Geo. Freeze; M. Murphy; Jas. D. Ryan; A. Wecker; L. Haddon; J.H. Williams; G. Kennedy; George Ford
WOUNDED PRIVATES WITHIN OUR LINES
H.H. Blake, abdomen, severe
R. Brown, arm, sligh
Jacob Snyder, leg, amputated
Source: The Bloomville Mirror July 26, 1864 page 2 colum 2
Result of the Expedition
Hilton Head, July 12th, 1864
It resulted in quite a severe fight, and considerable skirmishing, and it is believed that the "Johnnies," lost heavily. The main fight was on John's Island; commenced just before daylight Friday morning, the 8th; our regiment, the 157th, the 26th, N.Y. and the 104th, Pa., in part and a position of Col. Montgomery's U.S.C. All performed nobly their part. We also had 2 sections of the 3rd Rhode Island Battery, which done most timely and saving execution for they were charged on 3 times by heavy columns, four deep and three bodies. The 144th stood firm, and poured volley after volley into the face of these merciless and foolhardy wretches; heaps upon heaps of "Rebels" were piled in the road. They closed up, but to be mowed down by the trible shoted Union guns, of grape and canister pills. This wound up the fight of 2 hours and a half duration.
Casualites in the 144th killed, wounded and missing, 12.
Killed--Private Fred Ames, Co. C; Private John Cunningham, and Robert Littlejohn, Co. E. .
Wounded--Private Thomas Howland, Co.A, side and leg. Sergeant G. Crawley, Co.B., piece of shell in Bowels; Private E. Sherman, Co. D., ball in Arm; Sergt. William Clark, Co. H., ball in Neck; E. McPherson, ball in Shoulder; C. Craft, slightly; E.B. Martin, Co. G. is wounded in Shoulder by Rifle Ball; Jesse Baxter, Co.F. wounded in Thumb; Colonel Davis 104th Pa., Vol. lost three fingers by a piece of shell.
Providently, our loss is small in full, and is partially owing to the Rebs firing very high, and then our boys were behind breast works. The Rebs deceived our boys; first they deceived the pickets. Our pickets fell back on to our men as they all lay unstripped or most of them, and fast asleep. But they were aroused quickly in their right mind, with a cool and firm commander in his place, but still they were yet deceived taking the rebs to be our men as they were clad partly in our uniform and they said, "dont shoot your own men," and until close upon our boys and even one Rebel stuck his gun over the pits into Fred Ames face and shot him dead on the spot. Then they let have right and left, and the rebel that shot Fred Ames was killed at the same instant by one of the new recruits John Booth of Co. C. As all the other regiments had fell back to the Battery, our boys were overpowered, and were being flanked, the Col. saw it, and ordered left repeal, and back in good order without loss except knapsacks rations and rubbers. Again the line was formed in conjunction with the battery and our position was held. The rebs were badly whipped. Finally as Gen. B--could not perform the part assigned him with his colored troops, without explanation, I close this, and our part of the expedition, and now in camp and at their posts of duty, arrived Sunday evening at 6. The wounded are most of them at the Head Gen. Hospitals and are doing well, though little hope is estimated at the recovery of Sergeant Crawley, Co. E. and of Ezra Martin, of Co. G. There were few cases of sun stroke though five deaths. Col. Davis acting Brigadier-Gen. Had his fingers all cut off by a shell. Our entire loss in killed and wonlded and missing is 82. I am indebted to Sergeant T.I. Holloway of Co. F, now sick in our Regiment hospital for this. These are the facts as near as I can learn.
Source: The Bloomville Mirror August 2, 1865 page 2 column 4
Camp 144th, N.Y.V., Hilton Head, S.C.
July 22d, 1864
Mr. Mirror-- As two years has almost rolled away since the 144th left the old sterling county of Delaware, I thought perhap you would like to hear something from us. We are yet at Hilton Head, S.C., and ocassionally making raids through the rebel country. It all looks different to us now from what it did when we first came into service.
Well do I remember, when my mind reflects back on our military career, when we first landed at Upton Hill, Va., and well do I remember the first coffin I brought from Washington, to bury the first man we lost in our regiment. How strange it looked to us to see our friend bourne to his last resting place, without a single mourner to weep or shed one tear o'er the departed; it looked hard to us, unaccustomed to military life as we were.
And as we follow on our march to Cloud's Mills, and thence down the Potomac to Suffolk, from there to West Point, when sickness again made inroads upon us. From there up the Peninsula to the White House and then a forced march back to Yorktown. Then taking the transports for Washington and then hard and tiresome marches through Maryland, and from thence we were ordered to report at Folly Island, when sickness again laid its heavy hand upon us, and thinned our ranks to an alarming degree. Men who were in the bloom of youth and health yesterday were soon laid in their sandy bed. How often we wept for our departed friends, although the eyes were dry, yet the heart was full of grief. And yet we were called upon to mourn with deeper anguish the death of two more in Co. E., who were taken from us by the creul fate of battle---Robert Littlejohn and John Cunningham, who were killed on John's Island, July 9th, 1864. These two young companions were cut down in the prime of life, while in the discharge of their duties in defending that Flag that was presented to us by friends at home, and which we have sworn to return its already shattered fragments to its generous and long remembered donors.
I am crediably informed that John Cunningham was inspired with undaunted courage perhaps not knowing the real danger he was in. Twice he raised his gun and taking deliberate aim caused two of the "Grey backs" to bite the dust, but the third time in making too sure of his mark, it cost him his life. Although he discharged his piece the third time, before his gun was removed from his face, he was struck in the neck and fell a corpse. It seemed to our men in the entrenchments that the lower regions of the rebel hell had broke loose and sent its myriads of Grey-Backs upon us, shouting and yelling like fiends from the lower regions, sending their volumes of smoke and fire in our faces; for our regiment was on one side of the entrenchments and the rebels on the other and as soon as a man showed his head above the earthworks on either side, the little leaden tell tale of death did its work. But not a man flinched from his task, although we fell back to our stronger position to give the artillery a chance, for we were in advance of it and in range of our guns. But inspired with thoughts of sure success, the rebels followed and charged upon our gun, stationed in the road, when a volley of musketry together with grape and canister from our field pieces, thinned their crowded ranks and laid them in heaps upon the road, but not satisfied with this first attempt, they rallied, and with reinforcements came, the second and third time but meeting a sadder and worse fate at each charge, they abandoned the attempt of any further demonstration, but they were seen the remainder of the day busy in carrying their dead and wounded from the field. Our company has deep sympathy with the widowed mother, in weeping o'er the loss of her son.
We feel that it has severed the last tie of the already lacerated and bleeding heart of a fond and loving mother, and we hope this long and cruel war will soon be over, that we may return to friends and home.
Letter from Solomon B. Smith at Camp Schofield, Springfield MO, 37 Regt. IL Vols. Co. E. July 16, 1862
(Source: The Bloomville Mirror, August 5, 1862 page 2 column 2)
Camp Schofield, Springfield Mo.
37 Regt., Ill. Vol., Co. E. Camp Rafe
Mr. Mirror-Full many a long day has passed away since I have had a friendly chat with you and as my mind wafts its way in fancies's visions to the old hills of Delaware, I think today (how my mouth waters,) what would be more cheering to the soldier than some of that sweet butter you have, whilst we, poor soldiers, have not a mouthful to put on our bread. I think also, of the many scenes of days past by, of pleasures and joys which I have shared in that old county; and today, could I be there, would there not be some familiar face which I would recognize? But I pass along and come back again to our camp.
Well here we are in Springfield, the place from which we drove Price, when we went through here before. We remained here only a few days after the battle of Wilson Creek, where we had no honor in fighting for our country. To give the details of our chasing the enemy from the time we started him from his camp, would be uselessness. But suffice it to say, we gave them the strongest demonstration that fight them we would, if he would us a chance. Three times we routed the enemy in Missouri, and when we crossed the lines into the State of Arkansas, I had not calculated we would be under the necessity of pursuing the enemy thus far to get a fight out of him, but suffice it to say, we done the thing; and to all those who dispute the question, I have only to say the battle -field showed the work of soldiers contending for Liberty, Freedom and the Union. Many are the incidents of the first day's battle that would be interesting to many an one to read, and in some future day I may sketch them for your paper. I was in the first engagement and had the best opportunity to see many things which those engaged would not, and the next morning whilst I was looking over the field which showed the awful destruction which man can make with his fellow man, I was forcibly impressed with the truth that no man or soldier can be more eager to fight than for his freedom. But pass over this and let us survey the field of battle.
Here lies one who only a short time since stood up on his feet and called aloud for Jeff. Davis, when a ball from one of our men sent him into the other world! I was to him in a few moments but he was dead. Passing on, I found them from 1 to 10, being in a small space of ground, sleeping their last sleep of death. Occasionally I would see one of the red men of the forest, and among these, I would find here and there a soldier of our Regiment. Here lies a noble fellow; I look at him a moment and recognize him as one of our cooks, a noble young man, gone to the Spirit world in the prime of life---here another of our Company E. boys---here I found a secesh who had lived through the night and begs to be killed; to him I say, "You shall be cared for." And when the sights became to hateful to view, I retraced my steps to camp to administer to the wants of those who needed attention.
Here is one poor fellow, a ball had passed through his mouth and out of his cheek; to him some warm coffee was kindly given---here one lies with a ball in his head. Who is he? Our first Lieutenant, a noble fellow indeed. Started out on the voyage of life full of hope, life and activity; he reaches me his hand, and with the grasp of a dying man says, "I am done for this world, I have my mortal wound."
Thus I pass along from one to another where duty calls, regardless of the bullets whizzing all around me, and with thanks to Him whose guardian care was over me, I passed from one to another with a canteen of cool, refreshing water, which I had taken from the spring, and I paid no more attention to the carnage of the battle-field , than I would should I have been seated in the Crystal Palace. I had made up my mind to go where duty called me whatever my fate should be, I came into the war to be a soldier, and if I did not fight, I could administer to the wants of those who needed aid. Long was the night to me besides an old log I had carried to the soldier, and with a lavishing hand I piled on the fire the rebel rails and kept a cheerful fire all the night long; and many the time during the night I gave the boys warm coffee to warm and cheer them up. Among the number I found a young Louisanian, deadly shot and to him I lent my aid til morning light dawned again with cheerfulness on us; I told him I must take him to the rebel hospital, and he wept like a child and said, "no, I have had enough of secesh." But duty called me to my regiment and after carrying him on a litter to the hospital, I bid adieu to this department and returned to my regiment. Sunday I returned to the battle-field and aided in burying our first Lieutenant and several more of our boys. I cut head-boards for all our boys and placed them at the head of each grave and bid adieu to the place.
Since then I have been wandering from place to place. Stayed at Cassville, Barry County, Mo., some weeks, when orderer(ordered?) to this place were we now are, hoping soon to have an order to move into Virginia, where I may have a chance in manifesting my desire to end this war and return home to the domestic duties of life, under a firm belief that my country is saved from rebellion, and Liberty, Freedom and Union, reigns forever.
With these few hasty lines I bid you adieu, hoping to receive a paper from you in due season and soon as we are settled I shall have you send me the paper regular. With sentiments of respect, I am, most cordially, you dear friend.
Solomon B. Smith