Camp at Sharpsburg
September 18th - October 26th, 1862
- Narrative; Aftermath of the Battle
- Letter of Lieutenant William Cary
- Sam Webster's Diary; September 18th - October 16th, 1862
- Letters of Private John B. Noyes, September 30, & October 13, 1862
- Matthew's Battery, 1st PA Light Artillery, Company F
- Letter of Lieutenant Charles B. Fox
- John S. Fay's Memoirs
- Philadelphi Inquirer, List of Wounded
- Westboro Transcript; A talk by George L. Crosby
- Dedham Gazette; Funeral of Corporal Bigelow
- Narrative, continued
- Major-General George Lucas Hartsuff; A Biography
- Corporal 'Bob' Armstrong, Company B
At Antietam the opposing armies fought to a draw. But General Lee’s smaller, battered army retreated across the Potomac River to Virginia and General McClellan declared victory. President Lincoln used this opportunity to announce his carefully considered Emancipation Proclamation, which was signed into law on January 1st 1863. In the summer months, the President changed his mind about how to manage the war. He came to the conclusion that the South must pay a price for waging a bloody rebellion, and that slavery must end.
Reaction to the September 22nd announcement was as varied as the political factions of the time. Moderate Republicans, who supported the war effort to uphold the Union, and Northern “War Democrats,” who felt likewise, feared emancipation would cause massive resignations among the volunteer officers fighting in the Federal Army, followed by a refusal of ordinary soldiers to fight an ‘abolitionist war.”
The abolitionists in the Republican party, (considered radical) were mostly pleased, although some felt the proclamation didn’t go far enough to eradicate slavery in all the states.
Southern Democrats and Northern “Peace Democrats,” swore the President was on the side of the radical abolitionists all the time, and had only showed his true colors with the announcement. The latter, dubbed “Copperheads” proposed settling affairs with the South and granting them independence.Political opponents shouted Lincoln had “sold out” to the influence of the abolitionists. Uglier and bloodier battles, huge Federal debt, ineffectual commanders in the east, (many would say mis-management by the administration) all provided fodder to Lincoln’s political opposition and the Union war effort.
Harsh actions, deemed necessary, by the Lincoln administration added fuel to the fire of political contention. The most criticized of these was the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus on April 27, 1861. Written into the constitution, this rule forbids arbitrary imprisonment of citizens. Its suspension in Maryland, was requested by the President during the heat of panic in the early days of the rebellion, and congress grudgingly approved it. Little objection was raised due to the passions of the day, so President Lincoln gradually extended the geography of his decree. Disloyal citizens were arrested and thrown into military prisons without charge. By 1862, his political enemies made good use of the issue.
"The 13th Mass."
I have few materials that glean the impressions of the men of the regiment towards President Lincoln's preliminary announcement of his Emmancipation Proclamation. But, coming from towns like Natick, and Marlboro, the men were used to abolitionism. Massachusetts men in general were branded abolitionists, (and worse) by Southern sympathizers.
Gregarius Chaplain Noah Gaylord might bean interesting character study. A 'Davis Democrat' this liberal preacher supported the President's policies and went so far as to stump speech against the 'Peace Democrats.'
With camp in Sharpsburg, Md., the 13th Mass. were on familiar ground. Sharpsburg was the first town they encamped upon arriving in Western Maryland exactly one year earlier at the beginning of their service. The local people were well acquainted with the regiment. It was a sort of homecoming.
In the meantime, wounded continued to pour into the hospitals.
Charles E. Davis, Jr., the author of the 13th Regiment's history, sums up the aftermath of the battle extremely well in his book, "Three Years in the Army," so I present an abridged transcription here. I have omitted a description of the Dunker Religious sect, correspondence from the Official Records, excerpts from McClellan's memoirs, and some negative comments by Davis about McClellan because hindsight is 20/20. When the history was written in 1893, McClellan's shortcomings as a leader were well known.
McClellan was still popular with the Army of the Potomac following the battle of Antietam, yet the '13th Mass,' had no great affection or attachment to McClellan. They did not participate in McClellan's Peninsula Campaign, and had only been under his command since September 2nd.
Following the battles of 2nd Bull Run, and Antietam, many of the 13th's soldiers were in hospitals, which is where some of the soldiers' correspondence on this page originated.
Picture credits: All of the images on this page come from the Library of Congress Digital Collection with the folllowing exceptions: The Three Cary brothers furnished by Peggy Moss, descendant; their sister Annie Louise Cary, and 'wreck of the Lady Elgin' illustration, from Wikimedia; Charles Reed's illustration, "Apportioning Suger and Coffee" is from "Hard Tack & Coffee" accessed via Google Books; Lt. William Cary, Capt. Augustine Harlow, Col. Leonard, Lt. Charles B. Fox, Capt. George E. Craig, General Hartsuff's headquarters at Petersburg, from Carlisle Army Heritage Education Center MOLLUS MASS Collection. Privater Silas B. Crane and Harry S. Sanborn, Corporal Loring Bigelow, Corporal Robert Armstrong, courtesy of Scott Hann; Edwin Forbes Illustration, "A Tough Pull" from "Thirty Years After"; Photo of re-enactors firing a 10 lb parrott, by Colleen McGrath, staff photographer at Heraldmail.com; Walter Humphries image was downloaded from the internet; Westboro Townhall from the author's private collection; Illustration of tattered uniform from "Gone for a Soldier" by Private Alfred Bellard; The Boston Globe Theatre courtesy of cardcow.com; The steamer 'Lady Elgin' from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, September 22, 1860, accessed via the L.A. Public Library; General George Lucas Hartsuff from the web archive www.old-picture.com. His tombstone from "findagrave.com" photo by Steve Dunn. General M. D. Manson from the "Photograpic History of the Civil War" 10 vols. 1911. The photo of the sheep was downloaded from the internet, original source not known. ALL IMAGES have been edited in photoshop.
"Three Years in the Army" by Charles E. Davis, Jr. Estes & Lauriat, Boston, 1894. (p. 139 -151, abridged)
Army of the
Sharpsburg, September 19, 1862.
Maj.-Gen. H. W. Halleck, Commanding U. S. Army :
I have the honor to report that Maryland is entirely freed from the presence of the enemy, who have been driven across the Potomac. No fears need now be entertained for the safety of Pennsylvania. I shall at once occupy Harper’s Ferry.
The rebel army having voluntarily returned to the "sacred soil" of Virginia, without let or hindrance from our forces, it would seem that the word "driven" which appears in the dispatch was not an exact statement of fact, while General McClellan omitted to say that the opportunity of destroying Lee's army was lost.The following statement by General McClellan, concerning the battle of Antietam, we quote from his book:
The spectacle yesterday was the grandest I could conceive of;
nothing could be more sublime. Those in whose judgment I
rely, tell me that I fought the battle splendidly, and that it was a
masterpiece of art.
“ ‘But what good came of it
Quoth little Peterkin.
‘Why, that I cannot tell,’ said he;
‘But twas a famous victory.’”
With respect to renewing the attack on the 18th, General McClellan makes the following statement:
After a night of anxious deliberation and a full and careful survey of our army, the strength and position of the enemy, I concluded that the success of an attack on the 18th was not certain. I am aware of the fact that, under ordinary circumstances, a general is expected to risk a battle if he has a reasonable prospect of success; but at this critical juncture I should have had a narrow view of the condition of the country had I been willing to hazard another battle with less than an absolute assurance of success.
As an additional reason for not following up the advantage gained on the 17th, General McClellan says that
The troops were greatly overcome by the fatigue and exhaustion attendant upon the long-continued and severely contested battle of the 17th, together with the long day-and-night marches to which they had been subjected during the previous three days.
To us of the Thirteenth it seemed just possible that the enemy might be equally tired and a good deal more discomfited, and the time had come when we might efface the disagreeable recollection of Manassas ; and the wonder was why we were not allowed to follow up our advantage. When men are stimulated by success in battle they forget everything but pushing their good fortune to a complete triumph. As it was, we remained in idleness until the 25th of October, allowing the enemy to find their way back across the river at their leisure. There was one man, however, who appreciated that instinct in human nature which prompts us all to “sail in” when the other fellow weakens, and that was “Old Abe.” Day after day telegrams from Washington were sent to McClellan asking him to explain his delay, and urging the importance of his present advantage, until he (General McClellan) was prompted to return to General Halleck an answer, in which is the following paragraph:
I regret that you find it necessary to couch every dispatch I have the honor to receive from you in a spirit of fault-finding, and that you have not yet found leisure to say one word in commendation of recent achievements of the army, or even to allude to them.
By an order dated Sept. 29,
General Reynolds assumed temporary command of the First Corps, (Hooker
was wounded) and in the same communication General Meade was ordered to
reassume the command of the third division of the same corps.
General Reynolds remained in command of the First Corps, however, until
he lost his life at Gettysburg.
On the 6th of October General Halleck was instructed by the President to telegraph General McClellan as follows :
“The President directs that you cross the Potomac and give battle to the enemy or drive him south.”
This however, did not move McClellan.
On the 10th of October the rebel general, Stuart, crossed the Potomac at McCoy’s ford, between Williamsport and Hancock, penetrated as far as Chambersburg, which he occupied for a time, destroyed public property, made the entire circuit of the Federal army, and recrossed the Potomac near the mouth of the Monocacy, without any loss worth mentioning, and to the mortification of the Union army, which was doing nothing. Both of these fords were within the sphere of our duty during the year 1861 and the first two months of 1862.
[I've always admired this 1900 painting by Henry Alexander Ogden depicting Rebel General J.E.B. Stuart's Ride around General McClellan's Army on the Peninsula in June, 1862. Stuart did it again while McClellan was in Maryland. Artist H. A. Ogden (1856-1936) is well known for his album of American Military Uniforms. - B.F.]
The following extracts are taken
from his report of the affair to General Lee :
“Unoffending persons were treated with civility, and the inhabitants were generous in proffers of provision on the march. We seized and brought over a large number of horses, the property of citizens of the United States. The valuable information obtained in this reconnaissance, as to the distribution of the enemy’s force, was communicated orally to the commanding general, and need not be here repeated. A number of the public functionaries and prominent citizens were taken captives, and brought over as hostages for our own unoffending citizens, whom the enemy has torn from their homes and confined in dungeons in the North. One or two of my men lost their way, and are probably in the hands of the enemy.
Believing that the hand of God was clearly manifested in the signal deliverance of my command from danger, and the crowning success attending it, I ascribe to Him the praise, the honor, and the glory.”
If it was true, as General Stuart asserted, that he was under Divine protection and guidance, perhaps it was just as well for us that we didn’t interfere with his progress.
We notice in the War Records that the hand of God was not recognized when armies met with defeat.The following communications of General Lee, giving his interpretation of the battle of Antietam, are interesting reading :
Sept. 18, 1862, 6.30 A.M.
Mr. President: On the afternoon of the 16th instant the enemy, who you were informed that day was in our front, opended a light fire of artillery upon our line. Early the next morning it was renewed in earnest, and large masses of the Federal troops that had crossed the Antietam above our position assembled on our left and threatened to overwhelm us. . . .
In the afternoon the enemy advanced on our right, where General Jones; division was posted, who handsomely maintained his position. General Toombs' brigade, guarding the bridge over Antietam Creek, gallantly resisted the approach of the enemy; but his superior numbers enabling him to extend his left, he crossed below the bridge, and asssumed a threatening attitude on our right, which fell back in confusion. By this time, between 3 and 4 P.M., General Hill, with five of his brigades, reached the scene of action, drove the enemy immediately from the position they had taken, and continued the contest until dark, restoring our right and maintaining our ground. . . .
His excellency President Davis, Richmond, Va.
Sept. 29, 1862.
Sir: Since my last letter to you of the 18th, finding the enemy indisposed to make an attack on that day, and our position being a bad one to hold with the river in the rear, I determined to cross the army to the Virginia side. This was done at night successfully, nothing being left behind, unless it may have been some disabled guns or broken-down wagons, and the morning of the 19th found us satisfactorily over on the south bank of the Potomac, near Shepherdstown, when the army was immediately put in motion toward Williamsport. Before crossing the river, in order to threaten the enemy on his right and rear and make him apprehensive for his communications, I sent the cavalry forward to Williamsport, which they successfully occupied. At night the infantry sharpshooters left in conjunction with General Pendleton’s artillery, to hold the ford below Shepherdstown, gave back, and the enemy’s cavalry took possession of that town, and, from General Pendleton’s report after midnight, I fear much of his reserve artillery has been captured. I am now obliged to return to Shepherdstown with the intention of driving the enemy back, if not in position with his whole army; but if in full force, I think an attack would be inadvisable, and I shall make other dispositions. I am, with high respect, your obedient servant,
His Excellency Jefferson Davis, Richmond, Va.
General Hartsuff was dangerously wounded at the battle of Antietam, and before his recovery was promoted to major-general of volunteers for gallant and meritorious conduct.
We were sorry to part with General Hartsuff, to whom we had become warmly attached. He was a graduate from West Point in the Class of 1852. When he took command of our brigade he was in the thirty-second year of his age, tall and commanding in appearance, with a fine soldierly presence. He soon learned that we needed training, and the cords were at once tightened, and no excuse for breach of discipline was accepted. Little by little the men realized that while he required prompt obedience, he was watchful of the comfort and health of his men, and before a month had elapsed we began to feel a pride in the new order of things. As week followed week our attachment strengthened, until he became the idol of his brigade. He succeeded in establishing so high a degree of discipline that the brigade received the enthusiastic praise of General Hooker. On the night of the battle of Cedar Mountain, on a knoll exposed to the enemy’s fire, he was a conspicuous figure in the moonlight, in plain sight of his brigade, an example to every man of the bravery that becomes a solder. By his coolness on that night he inspired in his men a self-reliance that was of great service to them in the scenes that followed. There was no general officer under whom we served that excited in us so deep an affection as that which we felt for Gen. Geo. L. Hartsuff.
We were in camp near Sharpsburg, where opportunity was afforded us of renewing an acquaintance with the people of that town, whom we met in August, 1861. Visits were made to the battlefield and to the Dunkards’ church, in the vicinity of which has occurred such terrible fighting.
We cannot forbear mentioning the generosity shown by the people of the surrounding towns, who came on to the field the day following the battle, with food and supplies from their homes, not only for the wounded, but for the men who had escaped that misfortune. The people form Middletown, Sharpsburg, Hagerstown, and even Hancock, forty miles away, were inquiring for the Thirteenth Massachusetts Regiment. Hancock sent a four-horse team loaded with food and delicacies for the wounded. The greatest pleasure of all was to see the faces of our friends of the previous winter, and to feel that our service among them had left no unpleasant impression.
Guard-mounting, inspection, drilling, and reviews took up most of our time. When not so occupied, we were sleeping, cooking, or swapping stories round the camp-fire. As every man did his own cooking, he could devote as much of his spare hours as he wished in the preparation of choice dishes for the gratification of his palate. Some of the boys showed great skill, and in concocting a dish of “braxy-hash” cold make Delmonico turn green with envy.The three Cary brothers spent their formative years in Wayne, Maine, the children of Nelson Howard Cary and Maria Stockbridge. All three were officers in the "13th Mass." Sam, Joe, and William, respectively, are pictured at left.
Joseph StockbridgeCary, age 29 (b. May, 1832) mustered in as Captain of Company B, and served until his muster out February 28, 1863. Of stocky build, he became a quite popular captain with his company. It was Joe's suggestion at Darnestown for the boys to plant trees in front of company streets and beautify camp. Theirs became a model camp, which impressed General N.P. Banks, then commanding the Department of the Shenandoah. Joe was in command of the regiment directly following the battle of Antietam. Col Leonard, away sick, returned October 16th.
Older brother William Howard, age 31, (b. Aug. 24, 1830) (pictured below) mustered in as 2nd Lieutenant of Company D. He was 1st Lietenant when he wrote this letter. At years end he was promoted captain. He was with the regiment through its term of service and listed the following battles as part of his service: Falling Waters, Cedar Mountain, Rappahannock, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Bethesda Church, Jericho Ford and Petersburg.
Sam Edwin Cary, age 21,(b. Dec. 25, 1839) began as sergeant of Company B. In February of 1863 he was promoted 2nd Lieutenant of Company F. Sam would make the rank of 1st Lieutenant before his muster out. Sam was captured at the battle of Gettysburg, and sent to Libby Prison in Richmond. From Libby he was sent to Salisbury Prison, Charlotte, Augusta, Macon, Savanna, Charleston, Columbia, Florence and Raleigh. He wasn't released until, March 1st 1865, seven and 1/2 months after his regiment mustered out. It is a wonder he survived.
Annie Louise Cary, the youngest sister, just graduated from the female seminary in Gorham, Maine in 1862. Her natural singing ability brought her to Europe in 1866 to study voice and song. From 1877 - 1882 she was the most popular singer in America. [Pictured at right, Annie Louse Cary.]Biographical information and the following letter was provided by Peggy Moss, descendant of Ellen Maria Cary, the boys sister and recipient of this letter. Sadly, I only have four of William's letters, and a bit of Correspondence from Capt. Sam to the Boston newspapers following the 2nd Battle of Bull Run.
,’7.9. Indiana Avenue
Washington Sept 24.
Your kind letter mailed at Gorham was duly received and I was very glad to hear from you – I have been sick a second time and find myself worn out and broken down. I now begin to eat a little and hope to gain strength rapidly so to join my regiment soon. We have only about one hundred and forty effective men left. The slaughter has been terrible.
There are now over 15000 sick and wounded in the hospitals in this city while thousand on thousand have been sent elsewhere. The victories of last week have given us new vigor. All we have needed for the last three months to make our movement successful has been good generals.
Wind bags like Pope and scoundrels like McDowell never can make successful generals. Give us McClellan, Burnside Banks Siegel Mitchell and those kind of men and things will go well.
I rode out to see Sunny yesterday afternoon. He had been quite sick since I had seen him with chills and fever. He is now better but will need some time to regain his strength.
I was not surprised to hear of little Billie’s death – Poor little fellow has been sick ever since he was born and had he live for years would never had health. Sorry to hear that John was no better. My best regards to him. Joseph’s health is good and he has com out of all the battles unharmed. My love to Marcia and her babies and lots to you.
On September 19, 1862, Drummer Sam Webster, of Martinsburg, VA, turned 17 years old. His post war memoir is interesting reading for this period. It gives a daily look at one soldier's experiences and an inside look at the condition of Company D, '13th Mass.' following the battle of Antietam.
Thursday, September 18th, 1862
Managed to find the commissary and raised some rations for my charge. Also saw Capt. Hovey. Visited the Regiment. 139 of the regt. reported killed and wounded.
Friday, Sept. 19th, 1862
My 17th birthday. Boys all doing well. Visit from Chaplain Gaylord. Brother Ike and Fred Libby arrive from the knapsacks.
Saturday, September 20th, 1862
All my boys, with those from about the house across the street, start for Hagerstown. Divide my four dollars with Ike Dana giving him half. He has several buckshot in his legs. Go to Sharpsburg. While standing on the corner opposite "Knodes Tavern," waiting for Maynard to pilot me to camp, along comes Keener Shriver, from Westminster, whom I take with me. Take a view of part of the field with him, and then find the regiment in a woods, between the road and the river, 1 1/2 miles from Sharpsburg and near a brick house.
Sunday, September 21st
Keener and I used his saddle for a pillow, last night; slept on my 18 inch piece of rubber and had his overcoat for a blanket. He left early this morning. Company D, now muster 18 men, under Sergeant Washburn. He and Lyford are the only "non-coms" here. All are sick or wounded. Joe Kelly has a fine sword given him by a rebel Lieutenant he captured. Joe was on picquet, and advanced with the skirmish line when it was found the rebels were gone.
Monday, September 22nd, 1862
Visited battlefield, but could not find Thurber's grave. Knapsacks were brought up and mine proved to be all right - a tent and a blanket.
Tuesday, September 23rd, '62
Rations - Sugar and coffee - every man his own cook. (Illustration by Charles W. Reed from Hardtack & Coffee by John Billings.)
Friday, September 26th, 1862
Move camp yesterday. Move again today. Visit Sharpsburg. Met a German from Martinsburg and pointed out Gen. McClellan as he passed. He thought I saluted, when I raised my hand - I was only picking a tooth - and saluted me.
Monday, September 29th, 1862
Move came 1/4 mile, to a woods nearer the river. River water the best to be had.
Tuesday, September 30th
Have been feverish for several days. Went to the Doctor and got some medicine, which made me worse. Am messing with Lyford, and have been since the night after Keener Shriver stayed with me - the 21st. He said "Here's room on this side the tree" - all the boys had laid their trapping at the toots of trees, having no tents - and he made room for mine. My partner, Dana, had gone, so had his, and we came together quite naturally again. Bob is acting "Orderly Sergeant." Capt. Carey commands the regiment and Colonel Dick Coulter of the 11th Pa., the brigade.
Wednesday, October 1st, 1862
Went to the river and gave my clothes blankets, etc., a boiling. They needed it. (boiling kills lice-noted in similar diary entry on 10/20/'62.)
Thursday, October 2nd, 1862
Tried to get a pass to Williamsport to see Uncle Geo. Webster, Captain, Company A, 6th Md. but failed. Expected review by the President didn't come off, and the boys had a march for nothing.
Regiment out early. President came along late, and they got back tired. Not well and didn't go.
Sunday, October 5th
Told that there is to be preaching in camp of 12th who cares or wants to go - no one.
Wednesday, October 8th, 1862
Get a new brigade commader : Gen. Taylor, formerly of Sickles Division.
October 9th, 1862
Review of the brigade by Gen. Taylor. The 16th Maine (which came up after the fight, having been left at Ridgville) having the only drum corp in the Brigade, it did the playing. Instead of the conventional "Hail to the Chief" ordinarily played on such an occasion, they treated the new General to "Massa's in the Cold, Cold Ground." This seemed all the more pointed from the fact that Gen. Hartsuff lies dangerously wounded at Frederick City, Md. where President Lincoln took him acommission as Brevet Major General. Gen. Taylor is about 45 or 50 years old, and a not bad looking man; said to have commanded Excelsior Brigade in 6 battles.
Saturday, October 11th, 1862
Captain Hovey returned from Hagerstown.
Thursday, October 16th
Colonel Leonard and Captain Harlow returned - the latter quite solicitious as to my welfare. Hard rain.
Captain Augustine Harlow of Company D, (pictured) seemed to be one of those men, disinterested in personal gain. He was always solicitus of young drummer Sam Webster, who had a penchant for getting into trouble. John Noyes mentions in a letter below, Col. Leonard's visit, with Capt. Harlow, to the the hospital in Harrisburg where he was recovering. They were on their way to rejoin the regiment at Sharpsburg.
"My wound is in what is called the middle third of the right thigh. The ball enterd on the inside of the leg and passed out almost directly underneath it, making merely a flesh wound, and not affecting the bone. Indeed almost all the leg wounds in our Reg't are flesh wounds, only. ...I can walk dragging my right leg slowly. A cane helps me along, but with crutches I can make more progress. I go on to the street almost daily. My head and stomack are not affected by the wound. My locomotion only is snail-like. It may be two or three months before I can walk."
Noyes was recovering in Harrisburgh, PA, at the German Reform Church Hospital. With him were comrades James H. Lowell, Willliam Soule, Eugene A. Fiske, and James Lascelle Forbes of Company A. Also, Corporal Alfred Brigham, Corporal Robert Armstrong, James Dammers, and Private Levi L. Dorr of Company B. He mentions Captain Ezra Matthews of the 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery, Battery F. I have added that batteries history to this page. Paragraph breaks were added to these letters to make them easier to read.
Ms Am 2332 (86) "By permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University."German Reform Church Hospital
Harrisburgh, Pa. Sept. 30, 1862
The last letter I received from you was dated the day of the great battle of Antietam. You had little idea of the terrible work going on, the live-long day. I was wounded very early in the fight, although late as compared with most of the men who were wounded in our Regiment. Probably before nine o’clock our brigade was off the field. The slaughter was tremendous. Bull Run was nothing to it. There were many hospitals near the field, but ours alone seemed to hold enough wounded to give a memorable name to any battle. I had scarcely found a resting place when Gen’l Mansfield commanding Bank’s Corps was borne by me on a stretcher, his snow white hair and beard showing him to be a veteran in the science of war. All day long the battle continued and at about 4 or 5 P.m. It seemed as though the enemy were gaining on us, and would soon take the hospital. All the wounded who could walk were sent immediately to Keedysville. The cannonading was terrific, almost equaling in volume of sound that at Bull Run just before the stampede and disgraceful defeat. The enemy however were repulsed and driven back further even than before. The battlefield with its dead and wounded, with its countless arms and equipments, was in our possession. I have not yet been able to ascertain the loss on our side on that day.
One thing at least is certain. The enemy’s loss could have been no less than ours. Their dead vastly exceeded ours, whole lines of the slain showing their line of battle. I think our fire is more deadly than theirs. They may wound more of us, but we kill more of them. This may be for the reason that we aim at the breast rather than the lower limbs. They generally fire low. One of their captains delivered himself up to our adjt. with the remark that he alone was left of the company; he might do with him as he pleased. We were at very close range with the rebels during the whole time we were upon the field. I do not know that this is the reason that so few of us received dangerous wounds, or not. It would seem though that a ball that has lost much of its force would give the most dangerous wound. The case I give may or may not be in point. A Penn. 11th boy, occupying the bed to my left was in the front rank in his regiment. He was wounded in the arm, the wound not large; the ball leaving him entered the breast & right lung of his rear rank man, who is also in this hospital. The hole made by the ball was quite large & he will probably die.
The N.Y. Herald states the number of our regiment engaged as 301. It certainly was not over that number. We lost 15 killed, and 129 wounded in all 144. This is according to Lieut. Fox’ list who has been careful in its preparation. Probably some of the slightly wounded are not counted. We have now but two non commissioned officers left in the company, one of these slightly wounded in the head. The other had 4 bullet holes in his clothes. The one is a sergeant, the other a corporal.
Capt Matthews of the battery (our battery) called on us again yesterday, and I had quite a long talk with him. He lost almost all his horses, and a number of his men. Had we not held the field he would have lost his Pieces, as he could not take them off. The next day he had them brought off. His fine sorrel mare was shot under him, a ball passing through her skull. He said he had no idea until then of the force and swiftness of the minnie ball. His Lieutenants are all gone, one wounded at the Rappahannock, one taken at Bull Run, one sick and the last recruiting. He himself is now about to recruit. Matthews is a lucky fellow, about 5 feet 10 in height, light haired, and fair handsome sunny countenance, but very strict to his men.
I sent you a lot of sesesh stamps shortly after the battle of South Mountain, or Turner’s Gap as it is sometimes called. I found them in a testament which had been thrown out of a sesesh Knapsack. There were two kinds of 5 cent stamps I think. Most of the stamps were unused. Have you received them? I also sent two or three letters; they were poor things when placed beside that Cedar Mountain letter with its tirade against the Yankeys, dice, and gambling. I have one or two more left, one of which is pretty good. In it his “effexanet Mother” tells her “Soun Geo. L. Belk” that on May 4th “tha ask 60(?) Dolers about hear for salt, and every thing els is hi but work and them that has to hirer don’t want to pay anything for it” “the rich people wants all of the poor people to go to the Army and get kild, but I hope tha wont, tha Can take sick and Di at home” God has no respect of persons he Can kil hear as Weel as the yankes Can ther”
We are still treated very well here. The Director has put a stop to the ladies coming here in bevies as formerly, but they slip in now and then. They catch us when we go out to take the air with the help of our crutches, and we must go home with them and then take dinner. They still continue to bring us the choicest of fruits. We all have crutches now, that is all four of us, and the ladies have padded the top of them so they shant hurt our shoulders. Quite a lot of visitors called yesterday among them Mrs. Schenck who has friends in Williamsport. One lady brought me a beautiful boquet; she said she thought I liked flowers, and is going to keep me supplied with them. Poor, suffering soldiers, we say when we are under their care, indulging in ice cream, jelly, peaches, grapes &c. things reminding us of home “Are you acquainted with any of those Mass soldiers” said a lady to our nurse, a Co. A. boy the other day, as he was on the platform, “they have such excellent conversational powers.” “O yes, said he, I am a Mass. man, and I came with them from the battlefield.” Enough for the present of the hospital. I am confident we shall not die here. Perhaps Mr. Stimpson may have sufficient influence to obtain for us a furlough. We hope so at any rate. Let me know all the home news, and send Boston papers with list of casualties in all the Mass. Regiments. With love to Mother, Aunt Rebecca and the rest, I am as ever,
John B. Noyes
Oct. 1st while at breakfast this A.m., I received your letter of the 25th, George’s of the 27th, and father’s of the 27th. As there seems to be some doubt whether I have received all your letters, or you mine, I give a list of both. George’s of Sept 9th reached me Sept 15th, Pollard brought a letter from father dated Sept 10th. Two letters from Charles of Sept 9th reached me on the 14th. Father’s of Sept 10th, on the 15th. Father’s & Mother’s of the 9th yours of the 17th on the 22d. Father’s of the 25th on the 27th. Also letter by Mr. Stimpson. A letter from father containing some bank bills may not be enumerated above. I have sent letters dated Sept 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th, 16th, 18th to father, of the 20th to mother, 23d to Charles & Martha, 25th to father, on the 26th also I think, but am not certain, and on the 28th. Your paper case has not yet come to hand. Silas P. Crane was a very honest man, and of good moral character. He did not swear, a failing very common in the army. He was wounded in the leg and is probably in Washington, but I cannot say for certain. You do not acknowledge the receipt of sesesh stamps. Is the letter containing them written on the 16th ult. lost? They were enclosed in an envelope doubled up. There does not seem to be much in father’s letter requiring answer that is not answered here. I am willing to wait to see how Mr. Stimpson succeeds at the war department, before trying other means. If he fails, and I hope he will not, then it will do to look to some of the Washington dignitaries. If every thing fails then leg bail is left.
I am sorry to hear of Charles’ accident. It is very unfortunate just at this time. If it lays him up till I get home, I hope to dissuade him from going to war. Our Chaplain has called on us once or twice since we came here. He says he shan’t preach to the Reg’t for a long time to come, till the campaign is over. He is going to stump Ohio against Vallandingham. Tell Charles that Sanborn, one of the most intelligent men in our company, known to be wounded but of whom nothing had been heard by our Company, or his friends since Bull Run most probably died on the field. I saw a letter from a parolled prisoner at Columbus, Ohio which would point to this. He must have had a lingering death, and one of great agony.
John B. Noyes.
Notes: (Harry S. Sanborn; age 22 born Wakefield, NH.; shipper; mustered in as priv. Co. B, July 16, 1861; killed Aug. 30, 1862. Lt. Fox is Charles Barnard Fox; age 28, born, Newburyport, Mass.; freight agent; mustered in as 2d lieut., Co. K, July 16, 1861 mustered out as 1st lieut., Dec., ’62; Captain Ezra Matthews, commanded the 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery, Battery F.
Ms Am 2332 (92) "By permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University."
October 13th 3 P.M.
Since writing my letter yours of the 11th and Martha’s in the same envelope came to hand, also the pocket-handkerchief I sent for. Col. Leonard walked into the Hospital a few moments ago with his senior Captain Harlow. He is on a visit to the Regiment. He is still unfit for duty I should judge as he is still lame from rheumatism. Our Regiment is full to overflowing he says, so that we can have no more recruits; yet there are only 300 men fit for duty present with the Regiment. He told us he did’nt know but that he should have to go with the majority. I spoke to him of what you saw in the paper about Surgeons granting Leave of absence for 30 days. He said he had read it, and appeared to consider it as emanating from the War Department. He thought our Surgeon would receive the order officially shortly. In that case we would go home without expense to ourselves. He thought there was no doubt we should soon see our homes. He gained a pound a day while at home, and hoped that we would do the same.
Still I don’t know as it would be well to relinquish efforts to obtain a furlough, for if I get one I go home certainly. If we should not go home by the order of the war Department, then I should be at sea again.
Tell Martha I want her to state explicitly whether she received the Jeff Davis stamps. If there is a good chance for getting home I sha’nt want to have any money letters left here, so you had better send the $5.00 by the next mail. J.B.N
Noyes mentions Captain Ezra Matthews of the 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery, Company F. Here is a partial record of their service up until the battle of Antietam. It mirrors that of the '13th Mass.'
Battery F was furnished during the month of August, 1861, with horses and equipments, and four smooth-bore pieces, and was transferred shortly after to the camp of the Reserve Corps at Tenallytown. On the 12th of September, it was ordered to join General Bank's command at Darnestown, Maryland, and was never afterwards in any way connected with the regiment or with the Reserves. On the 8th of October, the battery was enlarged by the addition of two Parrott steel rifled, ten-pounder guns, and immediately thereafter orders were received to move with the new section to Williamsport, Captain Matthews in command. Soon afterwards Sergeant Charles B. Brockway was elected Second Lieutenant and placed in command of the detached section, and was sent to oppose the enemy making demonstrations at Hancock, Maryland. A slight skirmish ensued, in which the great accuracy of the rifled pieces was demonstrated, several men and horses being killed and wounded by the first shell discharged. A few days later it was reported that the enemy were destroying the railroad in that vicinity, and Lieutenant Brockway was ordered to mask one of his pieces and open upon the party. The first shot struck the engine employed, and the second burst among the men, killing five and wounding twelve others.On the 20th of December, the day on which was fought the battle of Dranesville, Lieutenant Rickett's section had an engagement with a body of the enemy's artillery and cavalry, which was attempting the destruction of Dam No. 5, on the Upper Potomac. After having one of his guns dismounted, and several of his men killed and wounded, he retired. Early in January, 1862, Ricketts, with his section, after a wearysome night march, joined General Lander, near Hancock, in time to participate in the engagement with Jackson in his attack upon the town, and in effecting his complete repulse. Jackson's column consisted of twenty thousand men, and twenty-six pieces of artillery. To oppose him, General Lander had two thousand infantry, and a battery of four guns. Jackson's pieces were of smooth bore and short range, whereas Rickett's section consisted of two rifled, ten-pounder, Parrott guns. He could therefore take position out of range of the enemy, and easily reach him with his missiles. Jackson was consequently forced to withdraw.
Until February, 1862, the guns were kept in motion singly and in sections between Edwards' Ferry and Hancock, occasionally engaging detachments of the enemy. On the 20th, the sections were united at Hagerstown, where new equipments were received, and the guns furnished by the State were exchanged for six regulation, three-inch, rifled guns, together with new carriages and Sibley tents. The morning report of the 1st of March showed its effective strength to be one hundred and nineteen officers and men, with one hundred and five horses. On the same day, the battery moved to Williamsport, where it crossed the river with Banks' advance, and moved on up the Shenandoah Valley. Near Bunker Hill a sharp skirmish ensued, in which the entire battery was brought into position, and the rebels were scattered with considerable loss. As the column approached Winchester, the enemy, eight thousand strong, retreated, and a detachment, consisting of cavalry, infantry and two sections of the battery, was sent out on a reconnaissance towards Strasburg. At Newtown the enemy under Ashby was encountered and soon routed, the artillery proving particularly effective. On the 21st of March, it was ordered to join Abercrombie's Brigade, and move towards Centreville, and finally encamped at Warrenton Junction. On the 7th of April, Lieutenant Ricketts was ordered on a reconnaissance to Rappahannock Station, in connection with a, portion of McDowell's Corps. Ten days later another reconnaissance was made by a force of cavalry and infantry and Godbald's and Brockway's sections of artillery, all under command of Colonel Bryan, of the Twelfth Massachusetts. A spirited engagement with the artillery ensued, the enemy sustaining considerable loss, several of his pieces being silenced and disabled. His force consisted of five to seven thousand infantry, a regiment of cavalry, three full batteries and two siege guns, the whole force well posted and entrenched. Finding that he could not bring his infantry into action without great exposure, Colonel Bryan withdrew, having attained the object of the expedition.
On the 1st of May, General Abercrombie was relieved by General Hartsuff, and the brigade moved to Falmouth, where McDowell's Corps was concentrated in expectation of moving to the Peninsula. The sudden appearance of Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley caused a change of plan, and the battery was ordered to make a forced march across the country to Front Royal, with the design of cutting off the retreat of Jackson. The roads were very heavy, and the weather bad; but in six days the guns were taken through, and on the evening of the 31st, after a day's march of twenty-five miles, arrived at Front Royal. The whole corps was here concentrated, but failing to connect with Fremont in time, Jackson escaped without material harm, and it moved back to Warrenton.
On the 8th of August, Jackson, who had returned from the discomfiture of McClellan in the seven days' fight on the Peninsula, again made his appearance on the Rapidan. On the 9th, he advanced to Cedar Mountain, where, with greatly superior numbers and with great advantage of position, he engaged and defeated Banks. On the following day McDowell's Corps was pushed forward and was early engaged, the battery being posted on a commanding knoll. Jackson's guns were silenced, and during the following night he withdrew. Waiting until he was assured that McClellan would evacuate the Peninsula, the enemy again appeared in force, and began to assume the offensive. Pope withdrew his forces across the Rappahannock, and at the crossing Hartsuff's Brigade, with Battery F, was posted upon a wooded knoll upon the south bank, where it completely covered the crossing, and the entire plain beyond. Here a severe engagement between the artillery ensued; but the enemy was successfully held at bay until our forces were secure from attack, and the covering party was ordered to retire. The battery had two guns disabled, and several horses were killed, but the guns were brought off. Lieutenant Godbald, in command of the left section, was struck by a percussion shell, loosing a leg from the effects of the wound, and soon after died. He was a valuable officer and his loss was severely felt.Jackson being isolated from the rest of the rebel army by the Bull Run Mountains, Hartsuff's Brigade was dispatched to Thoroughfare Gap to prevent the passage of Longstreet, now hurrying to the relief of Jackson's threatened corps. Brockway's section was pushed by hand into position in the gap, and after riddling a stone mill, and some houses, in which the enemy's sharp-shooters were posted, the infantry advanced and took them, and established their lines so as to insure the safety of the battery, and to hold the enemy at bay. The guns held complete command of the gap until dark, when the brigade fell back to join the main body.
The command moved by Bristoe Station and Manassas Junction, and on the 30th the battery was placed in position on the left of the battle line at Bull Run, near the Henry House, the artillery holding a commanding position. At four o'clock in the afternoon, Lieutenant Case was sent with his section to the right to report to General Stevens, leaving Brockway alone-the section disabled at Rappahannock Station not having been repaired. To the left of Brockway was commanding ground, where the enemy had posted fifty pieces of his artillery. At a concerted signal his guns opened, and his infantry moved forward in heavy masses. A fierce cannonade was opened in reply, and his infantry were driven back. The troops in support of our artillery soon disappeared, and the battery was withdrawn to a new position; but here it was discovered that the enemy had possession of the Sudley Spring Road, the only avenue of escape, and the guns were lost. Of the thirty-five men with the battery in the morning, only three remained, and they succeeded in making their way to a point where an effort was being made to stay the advancing tide of the enemy. Another gun, with a fresh detachment of men, was placed under Lieutenant Brockway, with orders to fill the chest full of ammunition."
A slow fire was kept up until dusk upon groups of the enemy wherever seen, when directions were received from General Gentleman, to hold the position until further orders, and to keep up a steady fire in the direction of the enemy. Supposing he was to be supported, Lieutenant Brockway continued his fire, until suddenly he found himself charged upon by the enemy, who were swarming on all sides. The fruits of the rebel charge were one gun and caisson, and eight men, much to the chagrin of the rebel commander. Our troops," says Lieutenant Brockway, "had safely re-crossed Bull Run, and I then understood that it was intended that we should hold the hill until killed or captured, while the balance of the army retreated behind Bull Run. It was some consolation to know that the ruse had succeeded, and as I afterwards learned, while our solitary gun was booming from the Henry House, the Bucktails were cutting down the bridge across Bull Run."'
Only one gun was saved; and with the remnant of the company remaining marched all night, and on the following day encamped near Centreville. Here the guns and horses of an Indiana battery were turned over to Captain Matthews, and with them the battery was partially re-fitted. In the engagement at Chantilly, it was in line but not engaged. In the series of engagements in Pope's Virginia campaign, the battery lost eight men killed, fifteen wounded and five taken prisoners. The prisoners, including Lieutenant Brockway, were marched away to Richmond. Shortly afterwards, Lieutenant Case was obliged to leave on account of sickness, and never afterwards returned.
At South Mountain the battery was not engaged. On the night of the 15th of September, it encamped on Antietam Creek. On the following day it crossed the stream and moved to the right, where it was in line with Ricketts' Division. At daylight on the 17th, it opened the battle. The position at first was just in rear of the cornfield which has become historic, the Dunkard Church being just beyond. Soon the enemy's fire was concentrated upon it, and it was advanced across the inclosed field to the edge of the cornfield. The enemy several times charged this position, but he was as often repulsed by the storm of canister poured into his ranks. Towards the close of the engagement, Captain Matthews had his horse killed under him. Most of the battery horses were either killed or wounded. Four men were killed and fifteen wounded.
On the 23d, Lieutenant Ricketts re-joined the battery from recruiting service, and Captain Matthews left it on account of sickness, and never afterwards resumed command. The battery at this time, from severe service in the field, was in a sad state. It had been reduced from a six to a two-gun battery; the men were greatly reduced in numbers, and worn down with constant marching and fighting; the horses and equipments were in the most pitiable condition; Lieutenant Godbald was dead, Lieutenant Brockway a prisoner, Captain Matthews and Lieutenant Case absent, prostrated by disease, and the men largely scattered by wounds, sickness and desertion. On the 1st of September, while encamped at Brook's Station, on the Acquia Creek Railroad, Lieutenant Ricketts was ordered to Washington for an additional battery, and obtained two guns, fourteen men, and twenty-nine horses. On the 10th, the battery moved to Falmouth, and reported to Captain De Russy, at Burnside's Headquarters, and was by him posted on the left bank of the river to cover the laying of the lower pontoons, and the crossing of the troops. On the 11th, the cannonading opened, and towards evening the battery was engaged-with the enemy on the opposite side. During the 13th, the batteries posted on the left bank performed very important services, driving away the enemy who had posted his guns so as to enfilade the Union column as it advanced to the attack. They were even more exposed to the enemy's fire than those upon the right bank, being obliged to take position quite close to the river, on low, flat ground, the bluffs, at this point being some distance back from the river. On the two following days, while the troops remained on the right bank, the batteries were of great aid in enabling them to hold their position, and in covering their withdrawal.
John B. Noyes wrote to his sister Martha, on September 22nd,
"Lieutenant Fox, who was wounded in the hand, bone broken has been incessant in his attentions upon us. When such conduct is contrasted with the rank cowardice and poltroonery of such men as Capt Jackson, Fiske and adjt. Bradley, that blatant puffer of himself, you cannont help being indignant."
Charles Barnard Fox to Rev. Thomas Bayley Fox, letterbook, 25 October, 1862, Fox Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society; used with permission.
Sharpsburg Md Oct. 25 1862
I reached here yesterday
afternoon having delayed two days at
Harrisburg and Chambersburg Pa. to look after the wounded men
I left there. This delay caused me to be reported two days
“absent without leave” as I said that I should be if I overstaid my
time one minute. However, I took the precaution to report to Capt. Lane
U.S.A. Comd’g. at Harrisburg, and in consequence, do not anticipate any
trouble. I found Walter
sick but not dangerously
so. Horace Shepard had just been sent to Funkstown(?)
four miles distant sick with a bilious fever. To-day I rode
over to see him taking his package and letters from home. I
found him quite sick in a hospital tent laid on a straw bed
on the ground. I talked with him the few moments I had to
spare, and, after speaking of him to the Surgeon in Charge, returned to
the regiment and had Lockwood detailed to go down as nurse.
He will go to-morrow morning and by him I will send some
brandy. As soon as possible I shall go down again, I think
Horace severely but not dangerously sick. I had quite a talk
with the Major to-day. He is much dis-satisfied with the
state of things in the regiment, and I don’t wonder. It would
not surprise me if both he and the Colonel were to resign. I
don’t think the Major would serve under our second in
command. The Major told me one thing in strict confidence,
that he had recommended me as worthy of promotion for good conduct at
the battle of Antietam. I sincerely hope that through Gen.
Wadsorth or Gen. Banks, you may be able to open the way for some staff
appointment. I am convinced that I can be very much more
useful in some other position, so that I should prefer it, even I
think, at greater danger and less pay. Our Division Surgeon
thinks my hand may be very troublesome, as the bone has not united and
artificial means will have to be used to induce inflammation – The
regulations here however, are so strict in regard to the sick and
wounded in general and officers in particular, that it is very doubtful
if I can get ordered even to Washington. I prefer not going
home again, but shall make the attempt if I can get the requisite
papers, to reach Washington for Medical advice. If I fail in this
endeavor I shall at once report for duty, and do the best I can, hand
or no hand, and trust Providence with the result. You will
see at once this letter is necessarily confidential. I don’t
want mother to know that my hand is any more troublesome, and worry
when there is no occasion.
John S. Fay was a corporal, then a sergeant in Company F. His post-war handwritten memoirs were donated to Fredericksburg National Park in 1995, by Mr. Peter Bolan, a descendant.My Company went into the fight with twenty seven (27) men, and we had one (1) killed and ten (10) wounded.
We lay on our arms that night and the next day waiting for ammunition, about noon some of our regiment obtained permission to go out on the battlefield and bury those of our regiment that had been killed. Everything was quiet except occasional shots between picketts. We did not receive ammunition untill about midnight of the 18th.
Early on the morning of the 19th we commence to advanced in line-of-battle but found no enemy except stragglers and rebel wounded. Lee had retreated across the Potomac with all of his army leaving most of his wounded in our hands. As we advanced we found nearly every house and barn full of them, amounting to thousands, and suffering terribly for want [of] care and proper medical treatment.
Our Surgeons was in the rear taking care of our own wounded, immediately went to work to alleviate there sufferings as mush as possable. We had captured several hundred prisioners that had straggled behind their army and some of them was detailed as nurse to take care of their own wounded.
We bivouacked that night about a mile from Sharpsburg near the spot where we had our camp a little more than a year before when we first arrived in Maryland, then the town was a neat pretty little place, somewhat old fashioned compaired with our New England towns, but the inhabitance was loyal, and they was recruiting a company for the fedrel army.
Now it was nearly all destroyed, most of the inhabitances had to flee for safty. Lee formed his line-of-battle, with the town in his rear his line in nearly half circle around it and from one half to three quarters of a mile from it, and nearly all of the shells from our batterys that passed over Lee’s army lodged in the town. Most every house in the place was more or less injured, some of them was entirely destroyed while others was but slightly injured
I for one began to doubt Gen McClellan’s ability in[?] honesty as commander of the army for I then thought and still believe that he might have destroyed Lee’s army or at least given him such a crushing defeat that it would have taken him a long time to recover from it. Our regiment was well acquainted with the country about Sharpsburg and the fords across the river, and we all knew how difficult it was for an army to retreat in the face of an enemy.
McClellan had Fitz John Porters corpse of twenty five or thirty thousand troops, that had not been in a fight since Malvern Hill, and they did not fire a gun in Antetam, that he might have attacted Lee with when he was retreating. He knew that he was retreating for Gen Burnside and other corpse commanders discovered it and informed McClellan and begged leave to attack Lee, but he would not give his consent.
Our knapsacks was brought to us on the 20th, we had not had them since we left them at South Mountain. We needed our blankets for it was so cold that we could not sleep without them.
All of us was in great need of clothing, not more that one half of the men had shirts or stockings, and many were without shoes, and but few had coats.
We pitched our camp on the 21st and remained near Sharpsburg until October 26.
Many citsens from the north, came down to see their friends in the army and to visit the battlefield. Among the visitors to our regiment were Messrs Wm Trowbridge C C Randall and Elbridge Carter from Feltonville, they arrived Sept 26 and stayed with us three days, the day they left us Mr. H. O. Russell arrived from Marlboro he came out to see his brothers one of whom was wounded in our late battle.*
Mr Russell stayed with us two days. The next that came were Messrs Lambert Bigelow and Wm Morse from Marlboro, they stayed with us three days.
Oct 3rd we was revewed by President Lincoln making the second time that we had been revewed by him.
There was much sickness in our corpse at this time caused by not having sufficient clothing to protect us from the weather. We did not draw any clothes untill about the 20th when we received every thing that we needed. We had fixed up comfortable quarters and began to entertain hopes that we should stay here all winter, but such pleasant thoughts was suddenly disturbed by receiving orders to march on the 26th of October.
*Benjamin F. Russell, age 23 eventually died of his wounds although it was a year later in October, 1863. His brother John was killed at Gettysburg, July 1st 1863.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the names of wounded transported to city hospitals. I have transcribed some of the lists, indicating soldiers of the 13th Mass., in red. The others are included to give an idea of the magnitude of the lists, and to give an idea of how people back home searched for news of their loved ones. I have added an estimate of the age of the soldier listed, by adding one year to the age given at enlistment time, July 1861, unless they were a recruit in April, '62; in which case I left the soldier's age the same as listed in the roster.
September 27, 1862 pg. 3
Arrival of wounded Soldiers. – Four hundred and fifty soldiers, wounded in the late battles in Maryland, arrived in this city from Frederick at noon yesterday, in charge of Dr. Fisher. About sixty of them were seriously wounded, the rest being able to walk. Lieutenant G. S. Coleman, smallcaps, Adjustant Sixth Pennsylvania Reserves, also accompanied them. They were promptly taken to the hospitals by the firemen, in their new ambulances.
[Among the long list of men]:
John H. Crocker, A, 13 Mass.
October 1, 1862 (pg. 2)
List of Patients at Chambersburg, Pa.
Wm. E. Mason, Co. A, 2d U.S.S.S.
Hiram H. Luflur, Co. G, 13th Mass., right leg. [age 22]
James Dougherty, Co. G, 72d Penna., left thigh.
Robt. B. Henderson, Co. A, 13th Mass., right thigh. [pictured]
J. L. French, Co. E, 5th N.H., head.
Nathan H. Randlett, Co. E, 5th N.H., left thigh.
Chas. W. Bean, Co. H, 5th N.H., right thigh.
Samuel B. Little, Co. G, 5th N.H., right thigh.
O’Neil R. Twitchel, Co. D, 5th N.H., right thigh.
Uriah O’Neil, Co. B, 59th N.Y., right leg.
Israel Loughner, Co. I, 11th Penna., left knee.
J. Conner, Co. G, 6th Wisconsin, right arm and leg.
Daniel Matthews, Co. C, 11th Penna., right groin.
Alth. Chamberlin, Co. K, 13th Mass., left thigh. [age 25]
Elbridge L. Dexter, Co. B, 13th Mass., right leg.
Henry Fick, Co. G, 21st N.Y., right leg.
Henry D. Weller, Co. B, 11th Pa., left thigh.
Thomas O’Connor, Co. H, 18th Md., left knee.
David Chenery, Co. A, 13th Mass., both thighs.* [age 24]
Cornelius McKinnon, Co. E, 6th Wis., left knee.
Wm. H. Hoover, Co. B, 11th Pa., right thigh.
Henry M. Foss, Co. G, 13th Mass, left thigh. [age 20]
John Lane, Co. G, 6th Wis., right leg.
Geo. P. Robertson, Co. A, 1st N.Y. Cav., right leg.
Alfred McPharren, Co. C, 125th Pa., left thigh.
I. Williams, Co. H, 11th Pa., lost right hand, and wounded in thigh.
Geo. W. Davis, Co. C, 88th Pa., right leg.
David Medler, Co. H, 128th Pa., left foot.
Samuel Houck, Co. D, 128th Pa., right knee.
Benj. Litchfield, Co. D, 13th Mass., left side and chest. [age 25]
James Cody, Co. B, 13th Mass., right thigh. [age33, pictured]
Alphonso W. Prouty, Co. F, 13th Mass., right thigh. [roster lists 'Elphonzo,' age 25]
Philip Prenzel, Co. F, 42nd New York, left thigh.
Mich. A. Fitzgerald, Co. A, 13th Mass., left hip.[Michael, age 21]
John O. Perkin Co. G, 13th Mass., right leg. [Perkins, age 23]
Wm. Murphy, Co. K, 15th Mass., right foot.
John Maute, Co. C, 59th New York, right groin.
Jacob L. Kunkel, Co. I, 11th Pa., left hip.
Joseph Maguire, Co. B, 5th Md., left leg.
Jas. Murphy, Co. K, 71st Pa. left shoulder.
Chas. W. Barnes, Co. D, 8th Ohio, head.
Robert Talifero, Co. I, 4th Md., thigh.
Charles Getzandaner, Co. I, 4th Md., head.
L.E. Cornerman, Co. A, 13th Pa., both thighs.
Geo. W. Gale, Co. H, 13th Mass., back; died Sept. 28 [age 25]
John Conley, Co. A, 106th Pa., left hand.
Jos. W. Patterson, Co. C, 11th Pa., both ankles.
Geo. E. Clark, Co. B, 137th Pa., general debility.
Stephen S. Ellis, Co. H, 137th Pa., weakness.
…the list continues.
C.S.M. Fisher, Co. E, 132d Pa., left shoulder.
W.M. Darlington, Co. G, 132d Pa., head.
N.J. Spencer, Co. C, 132d Pa.
John McGovers, Co. G, 132d Pa., right arm.
Millard E. Bullock, Co. B, 132d Pa., neck.
Martin West, Co. D, 132d Pa., rheumatism.
Isaac Van Horn, Co. A, 95th New York.
Abner R. Greenwood, Co. K, 13th Mass., shoulder. [age 21]
W. Howlet, Co. F, 106th Pa., right leg.
Francis L. Gray, Co. I, 60th N.Y., right thigh.
Henry Stroble, Co. I, 11th Pa., chest.
P.H. Collins, Co. B, 6th Wisconsin, right knee.
J.C. Monnet, Co. A, 27th Indiana, shoulder.
Thomas O.Conner, Co. C, 95th N.Y., hamoptysis.
School House Hospital
J. P. Haws, Co. A, 6th Pa., neck.
S. G. Gertsam,[?] Co. E, 6th Pa., arm.
E.R. White,[?] Co. F, 8th Pa., arm.
Timothy L. Pratt, Co. G, 27th Indiana, leg.
Corp. B. Beckwith, Co. G, 7th Michigan, leg.
John Covy Co. G, 60th N.Y., leg.
E. Wilson, Co. G, 78th N.Y., knee.
H. Austin Collier (?)[Illegible] Co. A, 124th Pa., leg.
F.B. Ripply, Co. D, 18th Mass., side.
Jas. Dammers, Co. A, 13th Mass., lungs and breast. [age 32]
John C. Rutherford, Co. I, 88th Pa., leg.
… the list continues
NOTE: the list continues but the newsprint is jumbled. The following 13th Mass. names could be deciphered from the list:
Edward Smith, Co. G, 13th Mass., left knee. [age 25]
Nathan R. Wheeler, Co. F, right thigh. [age 26]
Theodore P. Bouker, Co. A, leg. [Bowker, age 21]
Corp. M. A. Davenport, Co. H, left leg. [Melvin A., age 22]
*David Chenery was one of the Color
Bearers in the battle of Antietam. Sadly I have little
description of his efforts.
October 22, 1862
The Town Hall was well filled on Tuesday evening last by attentive listeners to hear the report of Rev. Mr. Wakefield upon his late visit to Washington and the camps of several of our Massachusetts regiments. Mr. Geo. L. Crosby, lately discharged from the 13th, and who has within a few days returned to Marlborough, was called upon, and related his war experience. He has been for some months unable to perform the duties of a soldier, his health failing, and without prospect of being able again to take the field, was discharged. The audience were kept in profound attention throughout the evening. The account of the speakers was anything but encouraging as to the condition of those in the hospitals, the stories of severe treatment which we have all heard being fully corroborated. There can be no doubt, that in too many instances the inmates of those asylums, are subjected to the neglect and caprice of unfeeling heartless surgeons, who disgrace the uniforms which cover them, yet it may be that there is no remedy in the present system, and no change for the better can be looked for during the war, which it is to be hoped may be speedily terminated, by the advance of our armies.
Pictured is the old town hall building of Westboro, Mass. The words Town Hall can be seen over the center doorway if you look closely. (Author's Collection)
The following is from the now defunct website, "Letters of the Civil War" which was maintained by Tom Hayes.
November 1, 1862, [page 2, column 3].
Funeral of Corporal Bigelow.
Funeral services over the remains of Corporal Loring W. Bigelow, Co. B, 13th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, took place Sunday afternoon in the Unitarian Church in Quincy. The deceased had been in the employ of C. F. Hovey & Co., the members of which firm, together with some sixty of their clerks, attended the funeral in a body. Capt. J. G. Hovey, of Co. E., 13th Regiment, and Lieut. A. N. Sampson of Co. D, 13th Regiment, were also in attendance. The services at the church were conducted by the pastor, Rev. Mr. Wells, Asst. by Rev. N. D. Gaylord, the Chaplain of the 13th Regiment. The speaker referred to the integrity of the deceased, his affectionate disposition and his sense of duty to his country, which caused him to forsake the comforts of a good home and bright prospects for the trials, privations and fatigues of the soldier. Corporal Bigelow died at Fairfax Seminary Hospital, on the 18th inst., from the effects of wounds received in the battle of Bull Run, on the 30th of August last. His remains were interred in the old burial ground opposite the stone church. He was twenty-three years and ten months old.
"Three Years in the Army" by Charles E. Davis, Jr. Estes & Lauriat, Boston, 1894. (p. 139 -151, abridged)
The morning report of the Army of the Potomac on September 30
showed present and absent, including Banks’ command in Washington
303,959. Of this number, 100,000 were reported absent, 28,000
special duty, and 73,000 present for duty under Banks: leaving about
100,000 present for duty in McClellan’s immediate command.
Saturday, October 25. The discrepancy that occurred between the number of troops sent to reinforce the Army of the Potomac, and the number reported to have arrived, so annoyed the President, that he one day remarked, according to his biographers, that “sending men to that army was like shoveling fleas across a barnyard : not more that half of them got there.”
At last the patience of Mr. Lincoln was exhausted at the interminable excuses given in explanation of McClellan’s delay, and he sent the following dispatch, dated at Washington, October 25, 4:50 P.M.:
To Major-General McClellan:
I have just received your dispatch about sore-tongued and fatigued horses. Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietam that fatigues anything.
After which the army moved.
January 23, 1856
"Lieut. Hartsuff.—The War Department have - advices from Fort Myers, Tampa Bay, Florida, saying that First Lieut. George L. Hartsuff, Second Artillery, reported killed in the late engagement with the Florida Indians has come into Fort Simon Drum. His wounds which were very bad caused his delay in getting in and the consequent belief that he had been killed. Four men were killed and three wounded in the engagement in question."
From 13th Mass Regiment Association Circular #2;
December 4, 1889:
To those of the Thirteenth regiment who were in service from April to September, 1862, the name of George L. Hartsuff is still held with affectionate regard and esteem. For the purpose of testifying our appreciation of the estimable qualities he possessed, as a man, and as a soldier, the following brief account of his service is printed. I am indebted for the facts related to a monograph published for private circulation shortly after the general's death by Captain George E. Craig, our quartermaster. (pictured right) The information it contained was furnished him by General James B. Fry.
C. E. Davis, Jr.,
GEORGE L. HARTSUFF.
Gen. George L. Hartsuff was born in Tyre, N.Y., on the 28th of May, 1830. With his parents he moved to Michigan when he was twelve years of age, and there became a resident.
Through his own personal efforts, he secured an appointment as cadet at West Point in 1848, graduating No. 19 in the class of 1853, and was appointed Brevet Second Lieutenant Fourth Artillery, which regiment was then stationed at Fort Brown, Tex. From Texas he was transferred to Florida, at that time infested with Indians. Though in command of his company, he was assigned to the additional duty of topographical engineer for the particular purpose of establishing a military road through the Big Cypress swamp, at that time an almost inaccessible region. The maps prepared by him at this time became of great value in subsequent operations. It is difficult to realize at this date how arduous and dangerous this duty was. The district known as the Everglades was a low, marshy territory, inundated with water, and interspersed with patches covered with high grass.
While prosecuting his surveys, with a party of only ten men and two wagons, he was attacked at daylight on the morning of Sept. 20, 1855, by a party of forty Indians, with whom there existed a treaty of peace. At the first fire all his little band was killed, wounded, or scattered, except two. With these two, under cover of the wagons, he fought until so badly crippled he was un-able to do more, having been twice wounded, one ball remaining in his chest until his dying day. Dragging himself through the high grass to a pond, he miraculously escaped by sinking his body out of sight in the water until driven out by the alligators, who were attracted by his blood. Refreshed by a three hours' immersion, he sought the bank and began what turned out to be one of the most wonderful feats on record. The Indians having fled with their plunder, he was at liberty to pursue his way to the nearest fort, forty-five miles distant. It was Thursday morning when he began his terrible journey. In the blistering rays of the sun, his body lacerated with thorns and briars, he was compelled to lie on his back while he bound and rebound his wounds. Until Saturday night, without food or water, he dragged his suffering body inch by inch for fifteen miles, when he was found by the troops sent out in search of him, completely exhausted, his name and a brief account of the disaster written with his own blood on a piece of paper pinned on his coat. Though a bullet remained in his breast he thought himself sufficiently recovered to join the expedition sent out the following spring.
Sept. 29, 1856, he was assigned for duty as assistant instructor of artillery tactics at West Point, at which post he remained until June 14, 1859, when, at his own request, he joined his company at Fort Mackinac. While at this post he encountered an adventure which in all his eventful life left the most painful memories. Upon his return from a tour of duty he became a passenger on the steamer "Lady Elgin," which was filled with an excursion party of three hundred or more persons. During a dark and stormy autumn night the steamer collided with a schooner, [the Augusta-webmaster.] and very soon sank to the bottom. During the brief time at hand, Hartsuft's heroism was cospicuous. Without thinking of himself, he did all he could in providing the women with life-preservers, besides affording encouragement and advice wherever it could be useful. When all had been done for others that could be, he, with the few remaining, leaped into the dark waves, swam until he found a piece of the wreck, to which he clung until rescued, having spent eleven hours in the water. The scenes of agony which he witnessed that terrible night were never effaced from his memory.* The immediate shock of the disaster had hardly passed away when he was ordered, with his company, to Washington, where he was soon to take his part in the great conflict.
NOTE: The picture above shows the Lady Elgin at dock in Chicago, the day before the wreck, in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Saturday, September 22, 1860; engraved from a photo.
He was appointed Assistant Adjutant-General in March, 1861, and sent in that capacity to Fort Pickens, one of the first military enterprises of the war. From thence he was transferred to West Virginia as Adjutant-General for General Rosecrans, where he rendered most valuable services in organizing, instructing, and disciplining the raw levies that were then taking the field.
In April, 1862, he was appointed Brigadier-General of volunteers, and took charge of the brigade in which we served and which was then commanded by General Abercrombie.
Of his services in the disastrous campaign of 1862 in Virginia, we have the testimony of General McDowell, in the form of evidence, under oath, which is as follows; —
"Whilst I was in command of the department of the Rappahannock, General Hartsuff joined me, in command of a brigade. He served under me at Warrenton-Junction, at Fredericksburg,on the trying march to and from Front Royal, and after I was placed in the Army of Virginia, in command of the Third Army Corps, he continued with me in command of a brigade in Rickett's division. He was in the battle of Cedar Mountain, and contributed with the rest of the division, in saving the Second Corps, which had been defeated, from destruction. He continued with his command during General Pope's retreat from Cedar Mountain, and held the advanced post at Rappahannock river. He was posted on the enemy's side of the river, and held them in check until he was withdrawn on account of the flood in the river, which destroyed our communications. He then went with his command to Warrenton, and out on the road to Waterloo Bridge, where he was relieved by order and went to Alexandria. During these battles, these severe forced marches on the retreat, and the trying service he performed whilst our small force was holding the whole army of General Lee in check, General Hartsuff was so ill from some disease of the stomach, that, as I was informed by his brigade surgeon, he was unable to retain any food ; yet he never asked to be excused from any duty, and as our position was one calling for the exertion of every one, he was excused from no duty, but remained constantly in the field at the head of his brigade. I had frequent occasion to see him and speak to him, and knew him to be suffering from illness which kept him a large part of the time on his back, and which would have broken down any ordinary constitution. His medical officer at last, when we had fallen back to Warrenton, came to me of his own accord, and represented that he could not keep up General Hartsuff any longer ; that he had been many days without any food, and would soon sink under the disease if he could not be sent from the exposures of the field , that the general would not ask to be relieved, and would die at his post. The surgeon implored me to interfere, and order that he (General Hartsuff) should go to the rear, as he was no longer able to do any duty, and was sacrificing himself to a point of honor. I gave the order for his relief."
General Hartsuff was absent on account of this sickness one week, when, being just able to ride, he rejoined his command and led it in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam. At the latter battle he was severely wounded, and for a time it was thought mortally; but within three months he threw aside his crutches and applied for light duty, whereupon he was appointed member of a board to perform the important labor of revising the Rules and Articles of War, and establishing a code for the government of armies in the field. As soon as he could dispense with his cane, though his wound was not closed, he applied for active service in the field ; whereupon he was appointed Major-General of volunteers, and assigned to the command of the Twenty-Third Army Corps, then in East Tennessee. His great strength and endurance had been overtaxed, and his open wound growing worse, he was compelled by his medical director to seek the rest which alone would save his life. Hoping that after a little repose he could fight on to the end, he was surprised and mortified to find himself ordered before a retiring board. Notwithstanding the annoyance to him, it was this board that brought to light, in the form of testimony, the facts which his modesty had prevented him from relating or making known, as it also showed the truth of a character that will stand as a worthy model in the profession of arms. He was not at that time retired, however. The board divided, as they expressed it, "the danger of doing injustice to a gallant officer or hurt to the service by the loss to the active list of one who has heretofore advanced it in a remarkable degree, and who may have at an early day the opportunity to add to the valuable service he has already rendered." After the lapse of three months he again appeared before the board, but he was found still unfit for the duty he was too anxious to perform. His place at the head of the Twenty-Third Army Corps, in the mean time, was filled. He persisted in his efforts, as will be seen by the following letter, dated from New York City, June 18, 1864, and addressed to the Adjutant-General U.S.A., Washington, D.C.:—
SIR,—On the 23d of April last I reported myself able to perform active duty. On the same day an order was issued for my re-examination by the retiring board at Wilmington, Del. The board found me not incapacited for active service, which finding being approved by the Secretary of War, I again asked for an immediate assignment to duty. Pending action on these applications, I have the honor to request permission to proceed to the Army of the Potomac for the purpose of witnessing the operations now taking place there, as I am unwilling voluntarily to lose the experience I might gain thereby. I might besides make myself of service as an aid-de-camp to General Grant, or in some other useful capacity, which I would be very willing to do.
Your obedient servant,
(Signed) George L. Hartsuff,
He succeeded at last, and a suitable place was found for him. He was assigned to the command of the Bermuda Hundred, in front of the line about Petersburg, where he showed his accustomed gallantry and ability. After Lee's surrender he was placed in command of the district of Nottaway. Subsequently he resumed his duties in the Adjutant-General's department of the regular army, and performed them with marked ability and fidelity.Pictured at left, is General Hartsuff's headquarters, Petersburg, Virginia. That is probably General Hartsuff seated on the front porch, center.
Borne down by suffering which
he successfully resisted while the war
was in progress, having been brought to the verge of death five times,
with many scars, and with two bulets in his body received in battle, a
reputation free from spot or blemish, he was placed, June 29, 1871,
"with the full rank of Major-General, upon the retired list of officers
of that class in which the disability results from long and faithful
service, or from wounds received in the line of
He died in New York, May 16, 1874, from inflammation of the cicatrix containing the bullet he received in the Everglades, which inflammation spread to his lungs and caused his death. [General Hartsuff's Grave at West Point Military Academy Cemetery]
In order to emphasize the qualities possessed by General Hartsuff, a few words should be said about his predecessor.
General Abercrombie graduated from West Point in 1821 and had, therefore, at the date of his connection with us, seen forty-one years of active service. Upon leaving us he was assigned to duty under General McClellan, where he did excellent service before his retirement, which soon followed. Those who were closely associated with him as staff-officers, say that though he was a strict disciplinarian he was kind and just to his subordinates, whom he held to a strict performance of their duties, allowing no interference from others. For obvious reasons these good qualities escaped the attention of men who served in the ranks. As we saw him, he seemed possessed of an irascible temper, for when excited he was accustomed to use rather violent and, to our notion, unreasonable language. We must admit his temper was sadly tried, as we were often caught violating his orders about fence-rails, frequently forgetting to pay the respect due his rank or his age. We were too fond of exciting his wrath by acts unbecoming in us ; but we were young and thoughtless, while he was old and impatient from a long and faithful service. For one reason or another he failed to command our respect, and so didn't get it. We misunderstood him, as no doubt he did us. We made no allowance for a man who had been twenty years in the service of his country before many of us were born, for we were unacquainted with the fact; but as we look back to this youthful period of our lives, the thought will suggest itself that perhaps a good deal of the misunderstanding was due to ourselves. At any rate, the testimony of those who knew him best is that he was a fine old fellow. It is not to be denied, however, that we needed discipline when General Hartsuff made his appearance.
When General Hartsuff took command of our brigade he was in the thirty-second year of his age, tall and commaniding in appearance, with a fine, soldierly presence, his countenance giving evidence that he would require prompt and respectful obedience. The cords were at once tightened and no excuse for breach of discipline was accepted. Little by little the men realized that while he required prompt obedience, he was watchful of the comfort and health of his men, and before a month had elapsed we began to feel a pride in the new order of things. As week followed week our attachment strengthened until he became the idol of his brigade. He succeeded in establishing so high a degree of discipline that at the battle of Antietam the brigade did such excellent service under his guidance that it received the enthusiastic praise of General Hooker. At Antietam he was severely wounded, as already stated, and upon his recovery was transferred by promotion to other fields, and his old brigade saw no more of him as its commander.
In July, 1864, the remnant of more than fourteen hundred men reached Boston to be mustered out by expiration of service. This little band was received upon its arrival by its friends and escorted to Boylston Hall to prepare for the breakfast which was soon to follow at the United States Hotel. While the men were busily engaged in friendly greetings or preparations for the expected meal, there walked into the hall General Hartsuff.
He was at that time staying near Boston, awaiting recovery from wounds; and, hearing of the expected arrival of the regiment, came into town to "see his boys," as he fondly expressed it. No intimation of his coming having been received, his entrance was a surprise, the delight of which has rarely been equalled. Without a word of command the men formed in a ring about him and expressed their joy in such enthusiastic cheering that it was many minutes before he could respond. It was a scene long to be remembered.
The last time he met the regiment was at our reunion at the American House, in this city, in December, 1868. He met the same enthusiastic demonstration, and those who were fortunate enough to be present will remember the feeling with which he spoke the following words : —
"Mr. COMMANDER, AND COMRADES,— Following the example of our most distinguished military commander, I shall not, because I cannot, make you a speech ; and if I am unable to do so with such inspiring influences and surroundings as these, what stronger proof can be obtained that I will never make one. But I can, and I do, thank you most heartily for the evidences you have given of kind feelings toward me, and it is a pleasure to me to say that I feel a personal interest in, and friendship for, every member of my old brigade. Of course I can remember the names and faces of comparatively few among them, but I am always delighted when any one of them recalls himself to my recollection ; that man who says to me, 'I belong to your old brigade,' opens my heart and finds in me an interested friend at once.
One week ago to-night I was present in Chicago at the banquet given at the recent reunion of the Western armies in that city. In one of them I had commanded an army corps consisting at one time of more than forty thousand men. Of course I met a great many of my old friends and associates, and the time passed very pleasantly. On my return, while journeying through Pittsburg, I met, and was cordially greeted by, Chaplain Locke, of the Eleventh Pennsylvania, belonging to the old brigade. He gave me assurances of the affectionate regard of those true and tried soldiers, —Dick Coulter and his' Mountain Boys.'
On my arrival at New York I found your kind invitation awaiting me, and also an invitation from the old Ninth New York to attend their annual reunion and ball at the Academy of Music in that city, on the fifth of next month. The effect upon my feelings of these evidences of remembrance and regard proved, if proof could be needed, that, notwithstanding the greater size and importance of my western command, my old brigade, which was my first love, was the strongest and the truest. I only hope that I may receive a great many such invitations from you, and be always able to accept them.
I will now conclude by giving 'The glorious old Thirteenth Massachusetts; in its true soldierly skill and efficiency as a regiment, and in the intelligence and high standing of its individual members, it was equalled by few and surpassed by none. Long life, prosperity, and happiness to those who live, and the heaven we all hope to attain for each of its gallant dead."
The eventful record of his life as a soldier is so eloquent, and his service so wonderful, that anything we can say seems tame in comparison. To have served with and been loved by such a man is an honor we delight to cherish. His modesty was such that he took command of us without flourish of trumpets, preferring to win our respect and affection by simply showing his willingness to do his duty, as he expected us to do ours. He succeeded so well that his transfer to other fields of usefulness was regretted by all.
*Over 300 people died in the wreck, making it one of the worst disasters on Lake Michigan.
GEN. MANSON & GEN. HARTSUFF.
General Hartsuff, who at one time commanded the Army of the Ohio, used to tell a good one on General Manson. When they were down at the front General Hartsuff secured ten gallons of fine old whiskey. The morning after its arrival General Manson rode up to Hartsuff’s tent on official business.
“Good morning, General; dismount,” said Hartsuff.
“Can’t do it,” said Manson; “I have to ride my lines.”
“But I have a pint of fine old whiskey, and-“
“Hold my horse, orderly,” interrupted Manson, who was in the tent before the sentence could be finished. Manson drank about half the contents of the flask, and, handing it back, said: “Put that away carefully; it is precious stuff, and the army cannot afford to have it wasted.”
“All right, General; but you must come back every day until the whole pint is gone.”
“Count on my presence,” said Manson as he mounted his horse, and he kept his word for the next five or six days. At the end of six days the pint flask was still full; and when it was passed to the General, he held it up and said: “Hartsuff, I have never been much of a Christian, but this almost persuades me, because it is like the widow’s cruse; it is fine whiskey, but great heavens! How it does hold out for a pint.” - Indianapolis Times.
I conclude this page with a character sketch of Corporal Robert Armstrong, Company B. Wounded at Antietam, Armstrong was recovering with comrade John B. Noyes, at the German Reform Church Hospital in Harrisburgh, PA. Noyes mentions Armstrong in several letters home, to be included later on this site. The article by Charles E. Davis, Jr. appeared in 13th Regiment Association Circular #19, December, 1906.
A NARROW ESCAPE.
BY C. E. DAVIS, JR.
We wonder how many men of the Thirteenth Regiment alive to-day remember "Chuck it," the handsome and fascinating beggar of our regiment, whom we think had no equal in any other regiment. It is natural we should feel proud of his achievements; the most thrifty have been allured into giving, and the meanest have succumbed to his persuasive tongue. It was an intellectual pleasure to him to tackle a hard subject and watch the effect as he spun his web about the victim. We once witnessed the operation as we sat at a camp-fire. The victim was the only man in the company who had any tobacco. It was one of the occasions when forced marches had taken us away from the sutler and when a small piece of tobacco, - say a pipe-full, - was worth its weight in gold. Those who chewed saved the quid to be dried and smoked afterwards-
Now " Percy" C--- was this tobacco plutocrat, [probably 1st Lieutenant, Perry Chamberlain, Co. H - webmaster] and no one could induce him to give any of it away, except for money. As we sat about the fire after dress parade, "Chuck it" came and squatted down beside us, making himself agreeable by pleasant chat and gossip. Suddenly he burst out with "Percy, you ought to quit supplying the boys with tobacco. You have to pay for it and have to lug it. Let them buy their own tobacco. A generous fellow will always be imposed upon," etc. It pleased "Percy" to think there might be a spark of generosity somewhere embedded in his hide, though he had been called "stingy" a good many times. Having planted the seed in this sterile soil, "Bob" proceeded to fertilize it by flattery and pleasant words, watching the growth with interest until the proper moment, when he boldly said to Percy, "Let me see your tobacco !" With a face as sad as grim-visaged war Percy hesitated, but finally pulled out a piece of goodly size. "Chuck it," says Bob, "but look out for the fire." He borrowed of us a knife and cut off a chunk large enough to last for several days, and threw the remainder back to "Percy," who caught it- "Bob" gave him no time to contemplate the loss, but went on with a running talk of camp gossip, borrowed a pipe of another comrade, and while filling it continued talking pleasantly, taking no notice of the tears in Percy's eyes. When the pipe was filled, he borrowed a match and began to smoke, not having supplied one of the things necessary to his pleasure. The pipe lighted, he thought of something he was to do and left us to talk with "Percy," who was as moody and silent as a clam.
This year we were told on good authority that "Chuck-it" was dead. He was a corporal in one of the companies and therefore nourished and cared for in that hot-house for the propagation of officers called the "Non-com.'s" tent. The "Non-coms." of the company in which "Chuck it" was planted were, with one or two exceptions, good men, and some of them distinguished themselves later on in the service. We are not likely to forget, however, one exception. Sergeant B--, whose appetite far exceeded his physical requirements. He used to meander from the cook-house with an enormous plate of beans upon which the rest of us gazed with jealous eye, while he remarked "This is me with my regular beans!" He was no soldier in appearance or disposition, though kindly by nature. He soon left us to obtain his "regular beans" where the quietude of his fireside was undisturbed by the roar of battle. "Chuck it" was so called only in the " Non-com.'s " tent. Outside, among the men, he was called "Bob." He was no ordinary every-day character, but a genius in persuasive power.He was the youngest of several children whose father was a man of considerable means, able to provide his children with a liberal education and to supply many of the luxuries of life. "Bob," being the youngest in the family, received from his mother a greater demonstration of affection than the others, so that when his father's property disappeared, she made every sacrifice that he might not have to work, and as that harmonized with " Bob's " ideas of life he continued to enjoy himself as a gentleman of leisure. He was a believer in trusts, and was a "high muck-a-muck " in that greatest of all trusts, "Trust in the Lord," He was attractive in appearance, his complexion florid, and hair raven black. He was acquainted with several languages, was a fine singer, could play the piano and had read and traveled much. His favorite character among the novels he had read was " Skimpole" of the "Bleak house," and curiously enough he possessed many of the traits of that personage. He was not only attractive physically and mentally, but so genial and so free from the slightest tincture of malice, that he was never known to say a hard word against any man. He was so agreeable as a companion that to be in his company was a delight. He never earned a dollar in his life, and like Elijah, the prophet, trusted in the Lord or his agents.
Our acquaintance with him began at Fort Independence and, as a starter, it cost us five dollars, and we have never regretted its loss nor any of the subsequent sums we have given to keep him from earning a living. We were not alone in our contributions, for a good many others have contributed. When we were at Fort Independence, he borrowed five dollars of Henry S---, who made it a principle in life not to lose a dollar by loan. As H. S. declined to be mustered in with his company, he stayed at home depressed with the fear that his money was wasted. Some years after the war, we were arranging for a reunion of the regiment at Framingham, and to insure success in case of rain, felt the importance of selling as many tickets in advance of the day as possible. Unexpectedly "Bob " appeared, to seek an additional loan, whereupon we employed and paid him to sell tickets, knowing his popularity with the boys. How much money he borrowed we never knew. As H. S. was very anxious to see "Bob" that he might recover his loan, we ventured to send him to H. S. to buy some tickets, and, incidentally, to give H. S. a chance to try his skill at collecting. A few months afterwards we saw H. S. and inquired how he came on. "D-n him, he borrowed five dollars more." It was simply impossible for any man to resist him, his manner was so charming.
He was a good fighter and before the regiment's return had been commissioned a lieutenant, but that seemed to make no difference in his pecuniary affairs. As a corporal he was paid $15 per month. As a lieutenant he was paid, monthly, the munificent sum of 10,500 cents. Yet with a monthly stipend reaching into the thousands, he continued to dull the edge of husbandry by borrowing. In battle he believed in that grand old Hebrew war cry, "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." At Antietam as the regiment was falling back, to reform the line, a most laughable incident happened to mar his generally philosophic temper. He was crawling over a rail fence, and just as he was balancing on the top, he was struck in the leg with a bullet which found its exit at the upper part of his thigh.
His movements were so accelerated as to land him in a heap on the ground. As he gathered himself together he burst out in language as ornate and beautiful as that of a pirate captain, to the very great surprise of his comrades who had never heard an expression of wrath from his lips. Once on his feet he took careful aim and shot the rebel skirmisher, who threw up both hands and dropped to the earth, and presumably his soul, like that of J. Brown, went marching on. "Bob's" fighting on that day ceased when the skirmisher was shot, and very soon he was in the hospital and later taken to Harrisburg, where he became a great attraction with the ladies, his handsome face and his conversational powers being a passport to the best society. While at Harrisburg he became engaged to the daughter of a prominent gentleman holding a high official position, and "Bob's" path seemed strewn with roses. He was taken to ride daily, and was envied by his comrades. One sad day for "Bob" the hospital was visited by some of the boys of the regiment, who had but recently seen the paymaster, and the exhilarating effects of this visit told on "Bob " to such an extent that he showed it in his manner when the hour arrived for him to make his call, and he was fired from the house with a very distinct warning not to be seen about the premises again, and thus poor "Bob's " unfortunate lapse from his usual sobriety cost him dearly.
Some time after the war, "Bob" discovered that the primrose path of idleness was infested with more thorns than he had hitherto found. His old comrades were finding other uses for their money than lending it without interest or collateral. He pondered on this tightening of the money bags. Were his powers of persuasion diminishing or had there been a slump in the money market? He was up against a new problem and he feared his intellectual powers were giving way; that he needed a rest. So in 1873 he made an effort to procure a position in the custom house. It was a time when the "Young Christian Soldier," "Bill" Simmons, was appointed collector of the port. At this time "Bob" had reached the seedy period of his life. The indication of riches that hitherto had marked his palm, seemed to have disappeared, and carried with it a good deal of hope, though the lines showing "willingness to be supported " were still strong.
He came to us one morning, unshaven, with open-work shoes tied with white cotton strings and his clothes shabby for one of his gentility. He had fasted for twenty-four hours and needed only fifty dollars to put him on his feet again. Fifty dollars! We asked "Bob" if he thought we owned a gold mine? Our wildest dreams of avarice never reached a sum so great as that. Of course we were pleased at the compliment conveyed by his request. Our refusal cost him no apparent pang of regret, and he begged us not to be disturbed. He would let us off for a drink, a breakfast and a pair of shoes. We took him to Young's, gave him a cocktail and a breakfast. The first he thought he needed and the second he really needed. While he ate, we listened to his talk, and watched the expansion of his mind under the influence of good food. How he was going to turn over a new leaf, pay his debts with interest, and what he was going to do after he got his appointment. Old times were talked over until we discovered it was noon and we must return to work, while he went down to see the "Young Christian Soldier." Where his next meal was to be had he did not know, any more than he knew where he was to sleep. The Lord, or one of his representatives, would provide, and as his golden rule was "Take no thought for the morrow" he didn't in this case, but went his way happy and content. In the afternoon, with Charley Morse and George Worcester, we visited the Globe theatre, and being men of economy, we were satisfied with admission tickets. As we looked the audience over we saw " Bob," the genial "Bob," occupying a $2.50 seat, in company with some friend who had invited him to share the pleasure.
About 1876 he was possessed with the idea of joining a squad of G.A.R. men who were going to the Black Hills to establish a colony. This required the payment of $200, to be paid when the party left Boston. His enthusiasm in this undertaking was contagious and each person to whom he applied for help to enable him to go felt grieved that such a golden opportunity could not be shared with him.
"What will you do when you reach the hills? " said we.
"The first year I'm going to put a fence around my three hundred and sixty acres."
"Well, Bob, we shall think of you during the cold winter nights cutting down trees and chopping them into fence rails." For a man who never did any work, his statement seemed like a tale from fairy land.
"We'll imagine. Bob, that you have got your fence built, your hut built and furnished, and you sitting in front of a log fire thinking of the boys you left behind, but what will you do after all this is accomplished?"
"The next year I'm going to put in two thousand sheep."
"Where are the sheep to come from? "
"Why, there is no trouble about sheep, you can always get all the sheep you want. You'll see one of the finest sheep farms in the west. You'll be surprised when you see what I can do. I've loafed long enough and I owe the boys a good bit of money, but I'll wipe out that. As soon as I get started I'll send back a check to you and I want you to pay off every dollar I owe, with interest. In a few years I shall come back to Boston and we'll have such a reunion of the old company as will make Rome howl."
"I was just thinking, ' Bob,' that since I subscribed ten dollars for your undertaking I have had hard luck and can't pay but five."
"For God's sake, Charley, don't let me put you down among the five-dollar men."
It occurred to us that he might be indulging in a bit of pleasantry, but the earnest expression of solicitude on his face dispelled any idea of levity. Such an appeal was irresistible. To be disparaged in "Bob's" esteem just as he was going into a country infested with Indians, possibly to be scalped or burned at the stake, his mind torn to pieces with grief that an old comrade had fallen so low in his estimation as to be classed among a lot of cheap five-dollar skinflints, was too much and we yielded to his bewitchery. What a narrow escape from humiliation and disgrace!
He secured his $200 and went with the party to the Black Hills. There he loafed and lived on others, while they worked, until their patience gave out, when they drove him away, and eventually he reached San Francisco, where he worked, others. One of the boys saw him in that city some time after, and to him he expressed a wish that we would send money to take him back to Boston, but there was no anxiety hereabouts to send money for any such costly pleasure as seeing "Bob" — and now it is too late, for he is in the realm of eternal bliss, the greatest loafing place we have read about, singing praises to the Lord and humbugging the angels out of their pin-money.
© Bradley M. Forbush, 2012
Page Updated January 11, 2012.