New Commanders, New Men, New Hope
August 31st - September 10th 1862
Table of Contents
- Letter of Warren H. Freeman
- Aftermath of 2nd Bull Run
- Generals Pope & McDowell Relieved, General McClellan Assumes Command.
- Austin Stearns' Memoirs
- The Diary of Samuel Derrick Webster; Aug. 31st - Sept. 9th, 1861.
- The Band Musters Out
- Letter of John B. Noyes
- THE STRAGGLER. BY CHARLES H. BINGHAM.
- PRESIDENT LINCOLN
- Walter Swan's Reminiscence
- List of Wounded Soldiers in Washington Hospitals
Epilogue - Battle of Chantilly, September 1st 1862.
I've taken for the title of this page, "New Commanders, New Men, New Hope," the title of the corresponding chapter of Sergeant Austin Steans memoirs, "Three Years With Company K."
At Centreville on August 31st, General John Pope's demoralized and defeated army regrouped. He still had 62,000 effective men. But the general was shaken by his defeat at Bull Run, and lost his ability to make command decisions. His cavalry still lacked fresh horses, and couldn't monitor Lee's army. In a morning meeting his generals urged a retreat to the outer defenses of Washington. During the meeting Pope received a message from General-in-Chief Henry Halleck. From Washington Halleck, for political reasons, urged Pope to hold his ground and promised to send forth reserves. Could he not renew the attack? General Pope chose to yield to General Halleck, although Halleck had no real grasp of the army's condition. His generals were "dumbfounded."
General Lee in contrast, with careful thought, ordered his fatigued army to move around Pope's right flank, and strike another blow if possible. Lee's objective was to clear Pope's army from northern Virginia, or destroy it. Jackson's exhausted Corps began the march about noon. Longstreet's corps would follow 1/2 day behind. For once, Jackson let his worn out men march at a slow pace. They covered 10 miles and bivouaced on the Little River Turnpike. General J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry screened Jackson's march.
Pope learned of the presence of Stuart's cavalry on the Little River Turnpike and suspected a turning movement by the rebels. He wrote General Halleck as much. Lee's move made Pope's position at Centreville pointless. He would have to retreat or fight. He sent out two brigades to Fairfax to protect his line of retreat.
Pope's morning note to General Halleck on September 1st betrayed his depression. He began suddenly to write in detail of low morale and intrigue within his army. Finally he advised Halleck to drawback the army to the defences of Washington. Halleck's swift reply suggested Pope attack Jackson. If a decisive victory was not to be had, then the army could slowly retreat to Washington.
Meanwhile Jackson encountered Yankee troopers on his flank when he resumed his move toward Fairfax that morning. He halted at Chantilly mid-morning so Longstreet, ten miles behind, could close up with him. Lee had warned Jackson not to bring on a battle unless the terms were advantageous. Preserving the army had priority. By 11 a.m. Pope knew of Jackson's flank march and planned to thwart it. Most of his troops were sent to block Jackson's advance at Germantown. At 1 p.m. General Isaac Ingalls Stevens, now commanding the 9th Corps for ailing General Reno, was dispatched cross country to the Little River Turnpike to attack and delay Jackson while a Union defense was set up at Germantown. Jackson resumed his advance at noon with Longstreet only two miles behind. He connected with Stuart's cavalry at Ox Hill with Union forces in his front. Jackson consulted with Stuart. They found the Federal position strong and decided to wait for General Lee to arrive rather than engage the enemy. Just then General Stevens arrived, full of fight, and slammed into Jackson's flank about 5 p.m. A violent thunderstorm broke loose as the two hour battle commenced. General Stevens (pictured) was killed early in the attack leading his former regiment forward. General Phil Kearny was killed at the end of the fight. The loss of two aggressive Union Generals was severe. The fight like Brawner's Farm ended at dark with no gain on either side. Jackson's loss is estimated at 500 men. At night Pope finally ordered the remaining troops at Centreville to retreat to Fairfax.
General Lee's skillfull leadership and his army's hard work accomplished his objective. Pope's army was shattered and retreating to the defenses of Washington. The way to Maryland was clear.
General McDowell's Report (Sept. 1-2). (13th Mass. is with Ricketts)
On the 1st of September I received our order, herewith, to move immediately to Germantown to intecept the march of the enemy, then moving down the Little River (or Aldie) turnpike to Fairfax Court-House. This was complied with within a few minutes after its receipt, and the corps was in positon at Germantown in time to receive the enemy at the crossing of the Difficult. Here Ricketts' division was drawn up, under the direction of Major-General Hooker, with a battalion thrown across the valley of the stream, and opening on the enemy's advance, held it in check at the time Reno's corps attacked him in flank and repulsed him.
September 2, in compliance with general orders, the corps fell back to Hall's Hills, in front of Washington.
Here the campaign ended. If it had been short it had been severe.
Despair in Washington
General Pope's collapse and defeat threw the North into despair. Two months earlier McClellan's huge army was on the outskirts of Richmond and the end of the war seemed nigh. Now Lee's victorious army was poised outside Washington. Many of Lincoln's supporters lost faith in him and said he should resign.
Lincoln was in a jam. He needed a new commander to rally the defeated, but still in-tact Federal Army, and the only man capable was General George McClellan. For a month McClellan was slow to respond to Halleck's order to assist General Pope. At Alexandria on August 26, McClellan refused Halleck's urgent requests to forward his two remaining corps to re-inforce Pope at Manassas. McClellan telegramed the President on August 29, "I am clear that one of two courses should be adopted - 1st To concentrate all our available forces to open communication with Pope - 2nd To leave Pope to get out of his scrape & at once use all our means to make the Capital perfectly safe. No middle course will now answer." This attitude suggested treason to many, especially Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, McClellan's foremost enemy in Washington.
Stanton petitioned members of the President's cabinet twice, at this time, to have Lincoln remove McClellan from power. Several cabinet members signed the petitions, but Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles refused to go along. With the present crisis, the despondent President, and worn out General-in-Chief Halleck, asked McClellan on September 2nd, to resume command of the Army of the Potomac.From McClellan's headquarters, Lincoln returned to the White House and explained the decision to his cabinet. He knew McClellan had the "slows" but McClellan knows the whole ground; his specialty is to defend; he is a good engineer, all admit; there is no better organizer; and he can be trusted to act on the defensive." And, "He had beyond any officer the confidence of the army. Though deficient in the positive qualities which are necessary for an energetic commander, his organizing powers could be made temporarily available till the troops were rallied." Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles wrote in his diary, "there was a more disturbed and desponding feeling than I have ever witnessed in council; the President was greatly distressed." Postmaster Montgomery Blair wrote, "The bitterness of Stanton on the reinstatement of McClellan you can scarcely conceive." And Attorney General Edward Bates recorded, the President "seemed wrung by the bitterest anguish- said he felt ready to hang himself."
The Thirteenth Mass.
The close of the campaign ended the 13th's service under the 'despised' General Irvin McDowell. The regimental history written in 1894, expounds at length on the reasons for their dislike of the loyal commander and tries to make up for their youthful disrespect. The campaign ruined McDowell's reputation and he demanded a Court of Inquiry to clear his name. The testimonies of Brigade Commander Hartsuff and Division Commander Ricketts are quoted liberally in the history in support of McDowell's conduct. I have only included a small portion of this chapter on this page. Charles Davis begins to concludes this portion of the history with this:
"What we have quoted is sufficient to show how unjust we were to a gallant officer, and we freely confess ourselves in the wrong. It would have been much better on our part to have made this avowal during his lifetime ; but the opportunity never seemed at hand when we could do it gracefully, and now the time is past when it can afford him any gratification, but, neverthelsess, we owe it to his memory, as well as to ourselves, to make this acknowledgement."
SOURCES: "Return to Bull Run," John J. Hennessy, Univ. of Oklahoma Press 1999; "The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln," Larry Tagg, Savas Beatie, 2009.
PICTURE CREDITS: All images are from the Library of Congress Image Collection with the following exceptions: General Isaac Stevens from "The Photographic History of the Civil War," Francis Trevelyan Miller, N.Y., Review of Reviews Co., 1911, vol X; Abraham Lincoln from "Mathew Brady, Historian with a Camera", James D. Horan, 1955; Crown Publishers; Edwin Rice, his horn, & "13th Mass. Band" from "The Civil War Letters of Edwin Rice," ed. by Ted Perry, 1975, private publication; Walter Swan's image downloaded from the internet; Melvin Walker from "Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Mass.," vol. IV, by Ellery Bicknell Crane, Lewis Publishing Co., 1907; (found on google books); Lincoln, illustrated by Frank Schoonover from "Lincoln" by Lucy Foster Madison, 1928, Penn Publishing; William Henry Forbush from the Westborough Historical Society, Columbia College Hospital from AHEC, Carlisle, MOLLUS collection. ALL IMAGES HAVE BEEN CROPPED OR RE-TOUCHED IN PHOTOSHOP.
Hall's Hill, Va., September 4, 1862.
Dear Father, - There are some Boston gentlemen in our camp, and they have offered to take letters home, so I have borrowed a piece of paper and will give you a very brief account of what has transpired within the past week, using, in part, the ngallslanguage of one of our wounded boys; but I intend writing you in detail an account of the late battles when I feel more composed and time will permit.
"On Tuesday, August 28th, McDowell was ordered to drive Longstreet back through Thoroughfare Gap, and prevent his effecting a junction with Jackson. Hartsuff's Brigade, composed of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Massachusetts, Eleventh Pennsylvania, and the Ninth New York, were in the advance. They marched from Warrenton to Haymarket, and from thence to the Gap. There they found Longstreet's forces posted. Driving in his pickets, the Eleventh Pennsylvania was deployed as skirmishers, the Twelfth Massachusetts was on the left, and the Thirteenth Massachusetts in the centre, with the Ninth New York as support for either. Afterwards the Pennsylvania regiment and the Thirteenth advanced in column to enter from both sides. As they approached the buildings, amongst which was a stone mill, a heavy fire of musketry was opened upon them from all sides, and a battery commenced firing from the woods. They were ordered to act as skirmishes, as the effect of the fire was too plainly visible in their ranks. In this way they advanced up the road, the rebels keeping up a continuous fire. The Thirty-Fourth New York, from Tower's brigade, was now ordered to their support, and Mathews's and Thompson's batteries were got into position and commenced shelling the woods.
"The rough nature of the country, and the great quantity of underbrush, rendered military operations extremely difficult; and after more fighting, it being found impossible to dislodge the enemy, the troops were ordered to fall back toward Manassas.
"On Saturday Hartsuff's Brigade marched out from Manassas to the old battle-field of Bull Run, where McDowell's Corps had the centre. About three o'clock P.M. they received an order to charge the enemy, who were strongly posted in front, and who were disposed to make trouble upon the left of the centre.
"The troops advanced in the form of a wedge, Hartsuff's Brigade having the advance. They charged upon the rebel infantry in face of deadly fire from both infantry and artillery, and succeeded in diving the rebels back. As our troops retired, fresh batteries opened upon them, and the rebels rallied. Another charge was made with similar result, but as our troops retired this time, a column which had succeeded in flanking the left centre, gave them a cross-fire, and then charged, thus routing our troops, who were forced to give way. At this juncture, McDowell ordered the Ninth New York into the woods to form and check the rebels. After they had entered, and while forming, the woods seemed suddenly alive with rebels, and volley after volley was poured in upon them from behind tees and bushes. The whole division then retreated, and the rebels held possession fo the field. Colonel Leonard commanded the Thirteenth on Thursday, [Aug.28] but was ill and in an ambulance on Saturday [Aug. 30]. Major Gould was in command. The officers and men behaved admirably; there was no flinching, and some of the wounded fought through the contest."
The above was written for the press - and is a simple narrative of our disasters in the battles of Thoroughfare Gap. We left our knapsacks in the woods before going into the fight, and they were lost; so I have saved nothing but what was on my back, and that was precious little.
Major Gould has made an official report of the loss in our regiment. The whole number of killed, wounded, and missing is 189 men.
Hall's Hill, where we are encamped, is in sight of the Capitol. We shall remain here just long enough to recruit and refit a little, when we shall move on the rebels again. I am in good health. I bid farewell to all.
From "Three Years in the Army," by Charles E. Davis, jr.; Boston, Estes & Lauriet, 1884.
An idea of the excitement that prevailed in Boston and elsewhere may be obtained from the papers of that date. A report of the disaster was received as the people were on the way to church. (Sunday Aug. 31). The feeling occasioned by the startling news of the battle was so intense that thoughts of worship were forgotten in the excitement. The following graphic account of what was done is taken from one of the daily papers:
"The grace of God seemed to be in the hearts of all the people yesterday. With the news of the bloody battles around Centreville, came the request for hospital stores. Every household, it appeared, immediately engaged in preparing lint, towels, sheets bandages, or in packing brandy, wines, jellies, and other articles required by the wounded and sick. Intimation was given at the church doors of what was needed, and pews were deserted for vestries, where good was being done on the Sabbath day. By 3 o'clock in the afternoon all the express wagons in the city were loaded with barrels, boxes, baskets, filled with articles, and it seemd as though enough left the city to answer the emergency of one hundred thousand dollars . . .
The money offered at the sanitary headquarters in Tremont street amounted to a large sum in the aggregate, - every one was anxious to do something to mitigate the sufferings of the disabled, and if ever a whole communtiy was deeply, intensely moved by heartfelt sympathy, it was the people of Boston, yesterday. Let not the heavenly sentiment slumber, but be quickened by constant deeds of love, duty, patriotism, until the Angel of Peace shall spread his wings over our whole land.
To properly picture Tremont Temple (pictured) as it appeared yesterday afternoon would require the pen of the poet, the eye of the artist, and the spirit of the philosopher. Not less than 1,000 women were busily, earnestly at work in the manufacture of bandages and lint. Innumerable sheets, garments, towels, and other articles and fabrics were torn into strips, sewed together, and then rolled up in the best manner. Upstairs and down, in the gallery, upon the platform, in the doorways, in the aisles, on the stairways, from top to bottom, were these ministering angels laboring with an industry and zeal worthy of the ennobling cause. It was a glorious, a beautiful, and a rare spectacle. From cutting and tearing fabrics, women sewing and rolling them, boys and girls were suppling needles and thread - bandages by the thousands, lint by the cart-load, were in this manner made ready. What more appropriate labor for the Sabbath; and in what place more fit than the sanctuary ?"
Sunday, August 31.
We remained in Centreville all day in line-of-battle. During the day, the men who were unable to keep up with the regiment, when we marched to the rear, rejoined us.
Monday, September 1.
Band mustered out. Something has already been said in these pages to show how much we enjoyed the presence of our band. It was one of the best in the service, and afforded us daily entertainment that was highly appreciated. Its departure left a vacancy that nothing could fill.
The first time I saw General Hooker to know him was as we lay along the Centreville road on the way to Chantilly, two days after the disaster at Bull Run. The battle was then raging just ahead of us, and we halted, being held in reserve and waiting for orders. We had heard of poor McDoweIl's downfall, and that Hooker had been assigned to command the corps in his place. The latter's fame was then well known, and we were naturally anxious to see our new commander, both on that account and because he was also a native of the Old Bay State.
Suddenly there were heard shouting and cheering along the road to the rear, and soon a general officer and his staff were seen approaching. As the cavalcade drew nearer we distinguished amid the shouts the name of the personage whom the boys were applauding, and learned that it was Hooker.
It so happened that, as he came opposite to where I lay on the grassy bank of the road, the general halted and beckoned to an orderly who was carrying a roll enveloped in an enamelled cloth cover, which, as he removed the latter, appeared to be a campaign map. This, as some of his staff officers gathered about him, he proceeded to consult, an animated discussion going on meanwhile among the group.
The incident probably did not cover the period of more than five minutes, but it sufficed to enable me to get an excellent view of "Fighting Joe" and to mentally fix a lasting impression of his handsome and mobile face and erect military figure. He seemed every inch a soldier and a man to all of us who then beheld him for the first time.
As the brief conference ended and the party were about to proceed on their way, some of the boys gathered around the general for a parting good word, and one of them called out: "Hope we'll lick 'em out of their boots this time, general!"
The latter turned to him, nodded his head jocosely and replied: "At any rate, you've got another man to lead you to-day, boys," and rode off, with the cheers of the men following him till he had passed from sight.
Ball's Cross-Roads, September 2, 1862 - 7:10 p.m.
General-in-Chief, Washington :
From "Three Years in the Army," by Charles E. Davis, jr. 1894.
Tuesday, September 2.
Marched to Hall's Hill, about five miles from Washington, and went into camp on elevated ground, from which could be seen the Capitol.
On this day General McClellan was put in command of the fortifications of Washington and all the troops for the defence of the capital.
In "McClellan's Own Story" appears the following account of what occurred on his arrival at Upton's Hill :
A regiment of cavalry, marching by twos, and sandwiched in the midst of which were Pope and McDowell with their staff officers. I never saw a more helpless-looking headquarters. When these generals rode up to me and the ordinary salutations had passed, I inquired what that artillery firing was. Pope replied that it was no doubt that of the enemy against Sumner, who formed the rear guard, and was to march by the Vienna and Langley road. He also intimated that Sumner was probably in a dilemma. He could give no information of any importance in relations to the wherabouts of the different corps, except in a most indefinite way; had evidently not troubled his head in the slightest about the movements of his army in retreat, and had coolly preceded the troops, leaving them to get out of the scrape as best they could.
He and McDowell both asked my permission to got to Washington, to which I assented, remarking at the same time that I was going to that artillery firing.
He further says that
Nothing but a desire to do my duty could have induced me to accept the command under such circumstances. Not feeling sure that I could do anything, I felt that under the circumstance, no one else could save the country, and I have not shrunk from the terrible task. McDowell's own men would have killed him had he made his appearance among them; even his own staff did not dare to go among his men. I can afford to forgive and forget him. I have not seen them since; I hope never to lay eyes on them again. Between them they are responsible for the lives of many of my best and bravest men. They have done all they could (unintentionally, I hope) to ruin and destroy the country.
A good deal was said during the war about soldiers shooting their officers. Such kind of talk was unknown in our regiment. So far as our brigade is concerned General McDowell would have been as safe within its lines as in his own home. During the entire war there was not another instance of an officer being more thoroughly disliked by his men than was McDowell by his corps. The mere mention of his name generally excited the strongest execrations, and yet it has been proven that he was one of the best officers in the army. It is doubtful if any officer who served during those four years could have shown a finer record of exemplary conduct or subordination as an officer. It is difficult after thirty years to recall an excuse for our feelings toward him. We were as thoughtless in our dislike of him as we were in our admiration of McClellan.
The last part of our service under McDowell was very hard, and the rapidity and frequency of our movements made it difficult for wagons to reach us with rations, so that we often were very short. Every time a disagreeable order was received it was placed to his credit. If rations were scanty, or marches long, McDowell was the cause, and so, little by little, we came to hate the sight of him. To transfer our loyalty and affection from Banks, with whom we had been since our entry into service, to McDowell, was not an easy thing to do, particularly as our admiration for General Banks was very strong. McDowell had a fiery temper that occasionally found utterance. His exhibitions of irritablility were related by the observers, and in passing from mouth to mouth received the customary exaggeration and polish that such stories generally get, and no doubt furnished a ground-work for the superstructure of ill-will that we reared to his credit. Since his death the Government has published the War Records, and the story of this campaign with the orders and dispatches sent at the time are open to us for our inspection and information. It is impossible to read these records, even with our prejudices excited as they were in 1862, without feeling a pang of regret that we should have been so unreasonable.
The following is from "Three Years with Company K" by Sergeant Austin C. Stearns; edited by Arthur Kent; Fairleigh Dickenson University Press, 1976. (p. 115-119) Used with permission.
When we reached Centreville we found the brigade all ready to march and, greeting the boys, we were soon marching towards Washington. After marching about two miles, we halted for the remainder of the day, and night; the orders were to make ourselves as comfortable as we could, it had ceased to rain but the weather was cloudy. We had lost our blankets and knapsacks, and all that pertained to them, and I doubt if there was a blanket or piece of tent in the regiment, consequently our preparations for the night were soon made. As usual we drew rations, and amongst other things we drew some molasses; we had nothing to put it in but our cup, or canteens, and if we put it in our cup we had nothing to make coffee in, and if in our canteens we could bring no water. I drew mine on my plate; we laboured under some disadvantage, but for all that, it was good. How we licked it down on our hard bread [!] Some of the boys were always satisfied with what they received and went and ate it; others were so happy that they danced for joy, while others were never satisfied, never received what they ought, what in their own eyes belonged to them; if they had received the whole then they would not have been any more satisfied.
Our stay here was short for we were making history fast in these days. So moving on we tramped towards the defenses of Washington. We hadn't gone far when we heard firing on our left, and we were turned down a road and marched towards it. Seated there on a white horse and quietly looking us over as we passed along, was an officer that would have attracted our attentions anywhere, but more so now, for rumor had it that we had a new Corps Commander, and this officer was the man and his name was "Joe Hooker," more familiarly known as "Fighting Joe Hooker." McDowell had been relieved and he was appointed to fill his place. Look out now, boys, for more fighting, for Hooker is always ready when there is rebs around. Going on a short distance, we turned off to the left and formed a line of battle and awaited events. There was sharp fighting directly in our front by the way the musketry rattled, but our line there was strong and we were only needed for supports. What the results might have been, had there not come up suddenly one of those terrific storms where the elements seem to be at war with themselves, where the wind blows, and therein is turned to hail, and the cold cuts even to the bones! For about an half hour the elements did war, and rage fearfully, completely putting to shame mans feeble attempt at warfare. The Almighty did by His vivid and constant flashing of lightning and terrible peal on peal of thunder, show His displeasure at the utter waste of life going on here below.
It stopped the fight, save only an occasional shot during the night. We were wet through to the skin, and as no fire was allowed, we huddled together and tried to keep ourselves warm; at length a hay-stack was discovered and it was soon confiscated to make bedding for soldiers. The morning dawned bright but cold, and we were allowed to build fires and cook our food and dry ourselves, which we were not long in doing.
The army was falling back, for we had heard the rumbling of teams and artillery all the morning; about noon the order came for us to join in the moving mass. We marched along through Fairfax C. H., and late at night, hungry, tired, and very cross, we drew our weary selves up on to what some of the boys called Halls Hill, one of the slight elevations out-lying the fortifications of Washington. The next week was one of the most disagreeable weeks of all my army life. Sorely smarting under our recent defeat, tired, hungry and cold, and lying on the site of one of McClellan's old camps but, added to our discomfort, without tents, or blankets, [and] some of the boys without coats, made it indeed a week long to be remembered, and one that tried our patience to the utmost.
Looking over the field towards Washington, we could see the great dome of the capitol rising above everything. Somewhere about the 10th of September just at night orders were received to march. I was out on picket at the time about a mile away, and as we had nothing to pack up were soon ready. We marched immediately towards the great dome, but as night soon came on it was hid from our sight. We crossed the Potomac on the long bridge and through a portion of the city, going out and up from the river. It was a long and weary march; they gave us no rest. I was not feeling well, being obliged to stop several times. At last, when well into the small hours of the morning, I fell out for good and lay down besides a wall and slept till daylight. I started on feeling much better after my rest, and soon found my brother John, Tom, and Henry Gassett and the Duke Wellington, who had also fallen out and been asleep. We started on in company and went perhaps a mile when we thought it time for breakfast, and coming to a farm house where there was all the conveniencies for the same, we halted. A good well of water, a woodpile, and a large field of potatoes were not to be passed by, even if we were in Maryland; while one brought the water, another built a fire, and I over the wall dug some potatoes, which were soon boiling in our cups. We fried our pork, and had a good square meal of fried pork and potatoes with a pot of coffee to wash the whole down. Other soldiers coming up and seeing our fare, fell to, and when we came away there was at least fifty there cooking and eating their breakfast.
Again on the march we soon came up with Cap't Hovey with a small portion of his company, and soon after with the remnant of the brigade. We lay here two days and nights. We drew knapsacks in place of those lost at Bull Run, also blankets and tents. I remember the blankets we drew were so short that when we covered our feet our heads were bare, and if we covered heads our feet were exposed, and let me here say that a soldier wants his head covered as well as his feet.
Here we received another installment of recruits, those companies receiving them that had none at Cedar Mountain.
Also Mr. Marshall and B. B. Nourse visited us, looking after the interests of the Westboro boys. On the morning of the 12th of Sep't. after we had fallen in and were ready to move, Cap't Hovey ordered Privates Willard Wheeler, A. C. Stearns, and Charles Drayton to step one pace to the front and then and there made us Corporals, "to be obeyed and respected accordingly," again ordering us to our places. We filed off to the right and took our place in the line, and commenced our march up throughout the pleasant land of "Maryland, My Maryland."
Excerpts of this diary (HM 48531) are used with permission from The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.
August 31st, Sunday
We waited last night until all the wagons of the train were across stone bridge, and then followed toward Centreville. After getting across Cub Run and another stream, I pulled up at the side of the road and laid down but couldn't sleep much, so I followed on to Centreville just before day, and lay down at some of Porter's fires, the nearest I believe it has been to the fight.* At daylight this morning found some of the regiment. Ike Dana coming up we pitched a tent to keep off the rain and Ike went for something to eat. I had got some beef (fresh) off some bones that had been trimmed and left. Ike returned with some bread and pork that he had got by representing himself as in charge of a half dozen of his Company, etc. etc., to an officer who was dolling out such rations to make them go as far as he could. Find Peck and others to be killed, among them some of the late recruits. Quite a number are missing. Spooner, whom I saw knocked over, seems only to have had a whack with a spent ball, which was rising in its flight, and struck him in the upper part of the forehead and went over his head. We fear Morris and Jack Dowling have gone up, but can't tell. The whole army is completely done up, scattered, and played out. Moved back this afternoon on the Fairfax road about a mile and camped in a woods to south end of road. Water bad. Pitched tent and prepared for a good snooze. (Note after. Total loss of Regt. supposed to be 193 killed, wounded and missing.)
Monday, September 1st, 1862
Had a good rest last night. Band was mustered out this morning. Took the Fairfax road, passing numbers of ambulances and hacks that have come out from Washington for wounded. Turned across to Aldie pike, and then toward Chantilly, supporting Kearney's Division. Gen. Jo. Hooker gave some artillery a "cussing" for leaving their caissons standing beside the road, where there was danger to them if the rebs threw shot down the road. Regt took position in woods to right of road (pike). Feeling sick I went to Fairfax C.H. and got into a shed for the night. Rain all night.
Tuesday, September 2nd, 1862
As the regiment came back on road to Alexandria I had eight or ten loaves of bread for them, which I raised for them during the morning. Gen. Kearney was killed yesterday at Chantilly. Our division not much engaged, but was made rather uncomfortable by a pelting rain all night. Get to Hall's Hill just after dark and camp for the night.
Wednesday, September 3rd, 1862
The Capitol at Washington is quite plainly seen from here. Stragglers are getting in. Went away off across the R.R. to the front and got corn, potatoes, tomatoes, apples, peaches and pears. Had a bully dinner. Four Boston policemen arrive with delicacies for the Hospital Department.
Saturday, September 6th, 1862
Weather very hot yesterday and day before. Picquet yesterday. March tonight at eight o'clock.
Sunday, September 7th
Crossed the Potomac at Georgetown last night, passed through Washington, and out the Brookville road. Fell out three miles or more from Washington, as we hadn't had a halt, and turned in at roadside. Had a fine breakfast of potatoes - got in Georgetown. Catch up to the "organization" on the march, and go into camp with only three stacks of arms. The day almost intolerably hot.
Drew knapsack, canteen, and pair of socks. March at noon. Halt at Mechanicsville after dark. Road here branches to Federick. New regiment, the 16th Maine, arrived and joined 3rd Brigade. Some recruits, left behind by the other lot, join us.
*This is probably the part of Porter's corps that took the wrong road and ended up in Centreville when ordered to the battlefield on the evening of August 30th.
The Band mustered out of service on Monday, September 1st, 1862. Charles Davis, jr. wrote in the regimental history, "Something has already been said in these pages to show how much we enjoyed the presence of our band. It was one of the best in the service, and afforded us daily entertainment that was hightly appreciated. Its departure left a vacancy that nothing could fill."This website has followed the fortunes of the Band through the letters of Edwin Rice, published privately in 1975, by Ted Perry, grand-nephew of Rice. His introduction to the letters states in part,
"Edwin Rice lived in Marlboro, Massachusetts. He was born December 6, 1839. The Band of which he was a member had been started about 1858. The volunteer period was one year.
"My first recollection of Edwin Rice was at Eagle Camp, South Hero, Vermont. This was a summer camp started by George W. Perry, Mary Alice's husband. (Rice's youngest sister) It was a camp for families and is still operating in the same manner as it was 84 years ago. Its location is on the east shore of Vermont's Grand Island in Lake Champlain, facing Plattsburg and the Adirondack Mountains.
"Edwin Rice and Viola Rice used to sit on the front stoop of Comfort Cottage (now called the Eagle's Nest) conversing often by pencil notes. Viola usually had her ear trumpet which made an impression on my memory."
Pictured is Edwin Rice, post war years, and the horn he played while in the 13th Mass. Band.
The following newsclip was found on the website of the Acton Memorial Library, Civil War Archives. A picture of Francis Knapp was included with the article but the image was too poor to include here.
BOSTON GLOBE, March 14, 1915
FOR 58 YEARS:
Frank W. Knapp of Revere Still has the Cornet He Bought 68 Years Ago—One of the Two Original Members of the Marlboro Band
Fifty-eight years ago F.W. Knapp of 41 Library st., Revere, joined the Marlboro, Mass, Band. Fifty-four years ago, when the band marched at the head of the famous 13th Massachusetts Regiment on the way to Southern battlefields, Mr. Knapp was its leader. He is still a member of the organization and at all of the reunions he has taken his post of honor in the band and with his cornet has rendered the popular regimental airs that start the feet of the grizzled veterans going.
Mr. Knapp is 80 years old, enjoys excellent health, reads without glasses and looks as young as some men do at 60. He lives with one of his four daughters, Mrs. J.W. French, in Revere. The other three daughters are Mrs. A.J. Rikeman, 36 Library st., Revere; Mrs. H. Dunnells, 34 School st., Revere, and Mrs. C.F. Crafts, 15 Curtis st., Somerville.
The Marlboro band is said to be the oldest in Massachusetts. It was organized in 1857 under the direction of Frank W. Knapp. Mr. Knapp marched with the band at the 250th celebration of the founding of the town of Marlboro, playing the old air of “Woodup” on his cornet from the bandstand, 50 years before he also appeared with tht same band on the occasion of the 200th anniversary celebration of the settlement of Marlboro.
He remembers Boston’s famous bandmaster, Patrick S. Gilmore, and he played in Gilmore’s band at the peace jubilee in this city in 1873. All his life he has been a bandsman. In his 80th year he rides a bicycle and runs an automobile.
The only other original member of the band surviving is Edwin Rice of Marlboro. Speaking of his war experiences, Mr. Knapp said: “We left Boston with the 13th Regiment July 29th after the first battle of Bull Run. We were at the second Bull Run battle, where the regiment got pretty badly cut up. Out troops fell back to Centreville and the next day we were ordered to headquarters and were mustered out, through no fault of ours. Congress had decided to dismiss all regimental bands and whittled the music for the boys down to one band to a brigade.
“We were marched back to Washington, a distance of 25 miles. Some of us succeeded in boarding a hospital train from the front bound for Washington filled with wounded.
“When the band got back to Boston we kept up our organization and maintained it ever since, taking in new members as the old ones dropped out. In 1903 we formed our association of all the members present and past. Our annual meeting takes place at Lake Boon the third Sunday in September, where we have a concert, speeches, and a dinner.
Mr. Knapp is a charter member of William B. Eaton Post 199, G.A.R., of Revere. He bought his first musical instrument, a cornet, at the age of 12, when he lived in West Acton. He still has it and says it is the best investment he ever made.
Besides his four daughters, Mr. Knapp has five granddaughters, two great-granddaughters, two grandsons and three great-grandsons. The oldest of the latter is 10 years old.
MS Am2332 (78) By permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University. I have added paragraph breaks to make the letter easier to read.
About 6 miles from the District of Columbia Line on the Rockville turnpike, Montgomery Co., Md.
September 8th 1862
Day before yesterday I wrote my last letter to you on Virginia soil at Hall’s Hill. About 8 P.M. we received orders to march and were soon on the road to Washington. Many of our men were unwell used up by the fatigue of the past month. Others were entirely destitute of shoes. Some barefoot, others with parts of shoes, striving to hide their blistered feet. That day my shoes were in very poor condition, the soles almost worn out, and the tops cracked. Fortunately I received that day from Boston, through Currier of Co. C, a splendid pair of bootes, the soles covered with iron nails. I had had them scarcely an hour when I was marching. Many men might have supplied themselves with discarded shoes, had we remained in camp till the next day, who were obliged to march barefoot. We marched through Georgetown and Washington. It was bright moonlight and I had an opportunity of seeing the splendid equestrian statue of Washington. Our brigade was demoralized enough when we started, but it was left for an acting Brig. Gen’l. to complete what Bull Run and the retreat from the Rapidan had commenced. Col. Styles actually marched our Brigade over ten miles, at night, without a halt, giving now as an excuse that Gen’l Ricketts, ordered him not to halt till he had marched ten miles. Doubtless Ricketts intended to march the brigade ten miles, but not without short halts occasionally, certainly. The exhausted men of course fell out. Not till I was 4 miles out of Washington did I drop out. There were then but 24 men in the whole regiment and the same number in the N.Y. 9th. The 12th was in no better condition. The next morning our Major continued his march at the head of 30 men, all that was left of the 13th Mass. Regiment. But ten men came in with the Major the night previous, one of whom was from my company. The brigade halted about half a mile from when I fell out. Thus in a march of 10 miles was our brigade split up and demoralized. I don’t believe all the men will ever get up again. Although what was left of our brigade came into camp about ten miles from Washington at 10 A.M., yet at six P.M., but about half a dozen of my company had come in. The regiment is gradually re-forming.
This morning 22 men were present at the roll call of our company. But what an opportunity to leave for those disposed to desert! Even now several of my company have been absent for over a week, who will not desert, but turn up at some less dangerous time than this. If Hartsuff does not speedily rejoin his brigade, it will become greatly reduced. Things are managed badly. None so blind as not to see it. The officers might remedy the evil to a certain extent, if they had the fitness to command. But very few of the officers indeed are equal to the occasion. They fall in with the average opinion of the men, and act like them. Col. Leonard is gone, who would change the thing were he here. Our adjutant is absent from his post at the time of danger, shamming sickness, I am willing to believe, in Washington. He was perfectly well up to Saturday’s fight when he left with Col. Leonard, for Washington, who is down with rheumatism. About an officer a company is left us, many having been wounded at Bull Run. The state of things is shameful. Our Major, who has always been unpopular, but who is a brave man, and well educated, if he has the energy, does not exercise it at this moment to bring order out of chaos. The Brigade that marched under Hartsuff 20 miles in one day from beyond Culpepper to the Rappahannock, without a straggler is such as it is with granny Styles for its leader. (Colonel John Stiles, pictured).
Can it be that our grand army is weakened like our brigade? I cannot and do not believe it. But if well disciplined and tried troops can fall so low, what can be done with raw troops. If a battle were to be fought to day 250 men could not be brought into action from our regiment, and even now I hear the sound of heavy cannonading. Immense bodies of troops passed on the Rockville Pike yesterday, a part taking the road to Frederick. I saw Gen’l Hooker on the road. In the afternoon Burnside coming up, drove along the stragglers, charging on each side of the road with his cavalry. Many men were thus forced to join their commands, who would otherwise have taken their time in doing so. Among the troops that passed along the road were the 35th Mass, & Collis’s Zouaves. The 35th Mass. looked like a good regiment, but are its officers up to the mark? I saw two lingering along the road, having left their commands to themselves. One afterwards mounted a heavily laden baggage wagon to facilitate his movements. No excuse for these men. They had marched but a short distance and were splendidly shod. It is a crying disgrace to the service, this straggling. All the time I was in Virginia, our regiment with others making up a large army, marched long distances, and the straggling was inconsiderable. The road for miles is now thronged with stragglers. Four fifths if not nine tenths of many regiments were yesterday straggling. No wonder we are defeated. Unless this demoralization is checked what hope is left for us! Give us Generals, give us officers who will do their duty or we shall be undone. Oh for an hour of Hartsuff ! Pope and McDowell x x x x x
You will recollect the tone of my letters respecting the first acts of the former general. The latter has always been extremely unpopular.
Sept. 9 1862. Same camp as yesterday at Leesburgh Hotel. probably about 15 miles from Washington;
Most of our reg’t who are able to walk have at last arrived in camp. It is said our brigade drew rations for but 900 men yesterday. Among the multiplicity of which I might write I do not know what first to say and my sheet is nearly filled. While we were marching from Hall’s Hill to Washington, a long train of perhaps 200 ambulances passed us going towards Bull Run. I learn from Fisher who saw the adjutant of the 18th Mass. who visited the field on Friday after the battle to search for a friend, that even at that time our dead were unburied, and a large number of starving wounded were still on the field. Nay more, Spurr(?)( possibly Augustus W. Spurr, Co. B) one of our teamsters who just arrived from Washington says that yesterday ambulances went from Washington with a regiment of men to take away the wounded and bury the dead. The carnage on Friday and Saturday must have been awful. Many wounded men must have actually died from starvation and want of water; I have not yet spoken, I think of the battle of Monday night, Sept 1st in which action Generals Kearny and Stevens and the rebel Gen’l Ewell were killed.
On Monday P.M. about 4 % (o’clock) we left our camp at Chantilly about midway between Centreville and Fairfax Station, and marched to near Fairfax to the scene of battle. Our brigade was formed in line of battle across the road running at right angles with the Fairfax road and but a quarter of a mile from Fairfax, on the line of the woods fronting an open piece of ground. In the woods beyond this open field was the fighting. The contest waged with great fury for perhaps two hours after we reached the field. During the thickest of the infantry fighting we had orders to wait for our forces in front to retire over the field in our front to our lines, before we fired upon the enemy should they victoriously advance; and every moment we expected to see our troops come out of the woods in retreat. It seems however that our forces repulsed the enemy, and drove them back. At about 7 o’clock P.M. as we lay by the fence in line, expecting every moment the ball to open, a most terrific storm arose which drenched us to the very skin, the artillery of the heavens putting to shame our mundane cannonading. The storm almost checked the progress of the battle though at every lull x x x heavy firing was heard.
On our arms we lay that night, a night of misery to our men exceeding even the worst night in our campaigns of the Shenandoah; a cold gale blowing after the rain had ceased. But think of the wounded in the woods in front, of whom we tired and suffering soldiers had opportunity to think. The next morning we marched [through] Fairfax to Hall’s Hill which place we reached at about 8 % (o’clock) at night. Our men have suffered a good deal from cold since Aug. 30th, when we lost our knapsacks. But very few have woolen blankets most of them only a rubber one. Most of the tents were also lost. We soon expect to get a partial outfit. More fortunate than most of our men, I secured a nice woolen blanket the day we fell back from Centreville; and still retain my rubber poncho and tent piece. I have also secured that indispensable article, a knapsack. But of clothing all I have is on my back. We have not suffered for want of food since we left the Rappahannock. Rations have been issued almost daily we have food better than ever. The sutler is also with us. We are not allowed to forage now, and for the present farewell, to green corn, potatoes, and apples.
I wrote to you on the 5th & 6th inst. Have the letters arrived safely? Please let me know also whether my letters of Aug 21, 25, & 27th have reached home. I wish definitely to know their fate. Your letters of Aug 26 & Sept. 3rd have come to hand also a newspaper, with pepper in it. I have yet heard nothing of that gold you sent me. The mail is by far the safest mode of conveyance. I am hard up. I wish Martha to send me a money purse made out of very soft wash leather; say six inches deep, an inch and a half wide, shaped like this – U. She can send it by letter or newspaper. I want some stamps too. When is Hide coming? Albert Stickney is coming it seems. John Hudson H.U. 1856, 2d Lieut 35th Mass. called on me to day, x x x x x x . You don’t hear any one saying now that the 13th will never be in a fight, or see any one who wants to be in another. Still recruit our men a little, and with Hartsuff at our head I think our men will do well another time. The overthrow of Pope & McDowell and the re-instatement of McClellan are hailed with joy by every soldier in this command. The men must have confidence in their Generals. Government is beginning to find this out.
On the road to Fairfax – Halls Hill I saw my messmate Chandler, a parolled prisoner. I am the only one left of my old mess, but luckily have found an excellent chum in a new recruit who understands himself, and does not need to be told everything. How do Mary & the baby do? x x x x . Captains are at a discount in the army now. I haven’t seen ours for some time. We have consequently been saved a variety of startling rumours in which he is so want to indulge. Every one is an alarmist now, their king, Chaplain Gaylord may then well be excused. How are the porter apples? I should like to have a haversack full of them just at this moment. I suppose you have made quantities of currant jelly so that at a convenient season you can send me some. Now that Wallace Hinckley has ceased to send me papers I wish you to send me more than ever. By the way if Martha sees him let her excuse me for not writing lately as I have had no opportunity to write, nor indeed paper, most of the time. When things get a little to rights let him know I will be as good a correspondent as ever.
With love to all, Your aff. Son
John B. Noyes.
Notes: Currier of Co. C is probably Samuel Currier, wounded at Antietam. The Major is Jacob Parker Gould; Hartsuff is brigade commander General George Lucas Hartsuff, Colonel. J.W. Styles is commander of the ‘9th NY’ Militia, (83rd NY Vols); Noyes’s Captain (Co. B) is Joseph Cary. Confederate General Richard Ewell was not dead, but wounded in the fight at Brawner's Farm Aug. 28. His left leg was amputated below the knee.
Of all the varied army experiences that I have read or have heard related by veterans of the Civil War, I do not recall any that described or even mentioned the borrowed freedom enjoyed by the straggler.
Whether from an assumed modesty or from a conscientious realization of the violation of an army regulation he has failed to give any account of his experience, I leave to conjecture. Having had some such experience during the summer campaign of 1862, I am going to waive my natural ( ?) modesty and relate a few incidents that happened at that time.
My first digression occurred August 27, near Warrenton. At one o'clock we packed up and after a two-mile march halted in a rocky road where we remained for over an hour; continued our march till about nine P.M. when, with two or three companions, I left the column and with them bivouacked in the edge of a grove. The novelty of the situation, combined with the incessant assertion by a small insect that "Katy did," prevented sound sleeping.
I confess that I was conscious of a sense of guiltiness and, in the language of the Dutchman, who, under somewhat different circumstances, felt "so damn shame like a sheep mit a thief on his pack."
Our slumbers here were of short duration, for at about one o'clock A.M. we were aroused by the rear guard who, with the report of rebel cavalry within a mile of us, caused a hasty "skedaddling" on the part of the squad of stragglers. We pushed on over the dark and rough road and reached the regiment, then "en bivouac," at about four A.M.
Sept. 6, 1862. While we were heartily enjoying our suppers to-night, orders came to "pack up." We left Hall's Hill at about eight o'clock, marching over Aqueduct Bridge and through Georgetown and Washington.
It was a tiresome night march, for "tired nature" demanded sleep and a troublesome attack of indigestion induced me to again violate orders and leave the ranks. After leaving the city, some two or three miles out on the road I turned in at a stony field and, making as comfortable a bed as possible, sought the rest that my tired limbs required. I had no lack of company, for the "bummers" were plentiful and there was quite a good sized "camp" in the stony field.
After an indifferent wash and a pint of hot coffee (made under difficulties), I took up the line of march with others. On the road I fell in with Roland Morris, Morton Tower, and others of the Thirteenth, making long halts and short marches. At noon we halted in a shady grove and after a much needed (?) rest cooked our dinners, which were somewhat varied from the customary bill-of-fare and included sweet potatoes, boiled or roasted, tomato sauce, and corn-starch pudding, the latter made in the same vessel in which we boiled coffee, made soup, etc. Our production was not of that purity and delicacy in taste which characterizes the article made at home, but it furnished an acceptable and palatable dessert to our Sunday dinner.
After dinner we stretched ourselves on the leaves reading Washington newspapers, while to the natural fragrance of the grove was added the pungent aroma of " Killickinick," or the more powerful "Navy" tobacco.
Under these narcotic influences the drowsy god soon lured us to his embrace and the remainder of the afternoon was passed, mostly, in refreshing sleep. At sunset we took tea under our leafy bower in peaceful and quiet enjoyment. As the shades of evening closed about us and thoughts of home and friends and the great and solemn duty in which we were engaged came upon us, and when we recalled that another Sabbath had gone forever with its idle words recorded in the Book of Time, our thoughts turned in silent thanksgiving to the beneficent being who had spared our own lives through all the dangers we had passed and brought us to a realization of our constant dependence upon Him for all the blessings we enjoy.
Remembering that "the groves were God's first temples," we informally inaugurated a "vesper service" with Roland Morris as "clergyman." Morris, who was an Episcopalian, produced a ritual from which he read an appropriate service; this was followed by some familiar hymns of home and childhood. One hymn, however, which comrade Morris sang and which I then learned, was very impressive and to recall the pleasant memory of that memorable occasion I repeat the words;
Beautiful Zion, built above.
Beautiful City that I love,
Beautiful Gates of pearly white,
Beautiful Temple - God its light.
He who was slain on Calvary
Opens those pearly gates to me.
I recall, too, the true picture of soldier life as we lay around our cheerful camp fire, stretched out on the velvet carpet of the grove, or sitting in such attitudes as best suited our convenience or inclination, while the ever glowing pipe wafted its sweet fragrance over our heads, soothing us to that peaceful, dreamy slumber where care is unknown.
We arose at daybreak, made our coffee at sunrise and, after a partial wash, packed up our kits and started on our march. After an hour's good marching we turned off and into an inviting wood for another rest, where we found another squad of "Thirteenth" boys laying off. The meeting was a happy one and was made the occasion of a slight "jubilee" in which the exuberance of our own spirits was aided by the libations of another, even more ardent.
"Under the leafy greenwood tree
The merry, merry 'bummers' roam.
Jovial and bold ( ?) and ever free
Beneath their woodland home."
After "moistening (and cooling) our clay," the squad pushed on for about a mile, when we again sought shelter from the burning rays of "old Sol " in a grove on the brow of a hill where the cooling breezes fanned us most agreeably. Here we smoked, joked, sang and snoozed for two or three hours and late in the afternoon started once more, but had proceeded not more than another mile when weary with our long (!) marches we resolved to tarry by the wayside until morning.
We camped in a rather desolate grove, dark and decaying, its verdure scanty and its tone repulsive. We noted the difference in the atmosphere of the different woods and groves we had visited; how unlike the bright and cheerful spot where we rested yesterday compared with this dismal, dreary decay which sent its gloom and shadow to our very souls.
Its dreariness was soon partly dispelled when the cheerful light of our camp-fire darted its rays through the gloomy shadows and our "shouts of revelry" disturbed the awful stillness.
Awoke at daybreak next morning, struck camp and left the woods. After a march of about half a mile only we found the camp of the "Thirteenth," where we hunted up our chums and proceeded to refresh the inner man.
These occasional diversions added no little to the variety and enjoyment of army life, and although they partook of the quality of "stolen fruit" there were no qualms of conscience on the part of such stragglers as I was associated with, from the thought that they were shirking, for whenever an engagement was imminent the occasional straggler would be found on duty.
In the remarks by comrade Melvin H. Walker he made the following very interesting statement about Mr, Lincoln, which is well worth preserving:
It was my ill fortune to suffer from a serious illness in the late summer and fall of 1862.
After being carried over the country roads of Virginia in a one-horse-ambulance for three days, I was brought to Fairfax Court House, where with hundreds of other sick and wounded I spent the night under the care of Miss Clara Barton and her helpers.
In the early morning we were put into freight cars and carried to Washington.
I was taken to a large brick church, which is still standing, on the corner of 3d and C streets, not far from the Capitol, then used as a hospital. Here I remained for two months or more before I sufficiently recovered to return to my regiment.
One morning, not long after my arrival at the hospital, President Lincoln appeared at the door dressed in a black suit holding in one hand a rusty black silk stove-pipe hat and followed by a negro servant carrying a large basket filled with buttonhole bouquets made from flowers from the White House conservatories, one of which he left at each cot.
Stopping near the entrance the President called out in a high clear voice, "Well, how are my boys this morning?"
As he moved down the ward he stopped at a cot here and there to shake hands or speak with some poor fellow in a more serious condition than others. Coming down near where I lay he turned to the bedside of a young boy from a Pennsylvania regiment, only sixteen years old, terribly wounded and even then in the very agonies of death.
Standing a moment and looking down on him he took his feeble hand in his, and, with a touch as tender as that of any woman, he laid his other great hand upon the head of the dying soldier and in a voice choked with emotion said, "My brave boy; my brave boy." and as I looked across from my cot I saw the tears running down his rugged face as though he was his very own, as indeed he was and every other of all the countless thousands who responded to his call.
For a man, bowed down under the crushing weight of burdens and responsibilities almost impossible to be borne in the very crisis of the Union's life, to find time to visit the hospitals to see that the sick and wounded received the needed care and attention, tells what a heart he had. Not for naught did we call him Father Abraham and he us, "his boys,"
Well did our ex-President on Lincoln's last birthday say of him, "There may have been other men as great and other men as good but no other at once as great and as good as he has ever lived."
Walter Swan of Co. A, wrote the following for Circular #33 in Sept. 1920.
It was my lot after being wounded, to be sent with hundreds of others from the Bull Run battle field, first to Washington, where I spent a couple of days at the Carver hospital, and then to Philadelphia. When we arrived at the latter city we were conveyed to the different hospitals in ambulances belonging to the Fire Department which in those days were very handsome being painted in an elaborate manner. I happened to be taken to a hospital at the corner of Fifth and Buttonwood Streets, a large six-story building formerly Dunlap's carriage factory. This hospital accomodated some four hundred patients and was filled to the maximum. Each ward had from sixty to seventy single cots so near together that one could reach out on either side and touch his neighbor's cot. The nurses were all men and while they were not always over careful in handling wounded patients, still they took fairly good care of them.
As I had the use of my legs and was in good health I spent very little time in the hospital excepting nights. I would get a pass each day after having my wound dressed, which allowed me to be out until 8 o'clock p.m. As I was only a kid of eighteen years (?) and very boyish looking, with my right arm in a sling, I seemed to attract a great deal of attention from the many kind ladies whom I would meet on the streets and I was flooded with invitations every day to visit their homes. I therefore made many delightful acquaintances and spent many happy hours with some of the best families in that city. My Yankee manner of talkign always seemed to please them, and likewise some of their peculiar accents and exprssions in conversation were very pleasing to me.
I received my discharge on the 24th of November, 1862, and reached my home in Dorchester, Mass., on a Thanksgiving morning. In March, 1864, I again enlisted as a recruit in the Eleventh Mass. Battery, but was rejected at the Long Island rendezvous in Boston Harbor on account of my former wound. Perhaps it was all for the best as I might have got it worse a second time, though I was mightily disappointed when rejected.
Report to William J. Dale, Massachusetts Surgeon General, October, 1862.
The above named report collected information on wounded Massachusetts soldiers in the hospitals around Washington D.C. For reference purposes, I have included excerpts from this report.
Several physicians traveled from Boston to Washington to visit the sick and wounded and report on hospital conditions. They brought with them many packages donated by the citizens of Boston to distribute to the needy. The Mayor of Boston detailed a group of Boston Policeman to see the packages safely through to the front. (Sam Webster mentions the arrival of some of the packages in his diary entry for Sept. 3rd above.) "There were 1,739 cases ...making some 100 tons besides others directed to the Sanitary Commisson, at Washington,..." Members of the delegation also visited the Massachusetts regiments in the field to see what was wanted of the men. Supplies were subsequently distributed to them. Two surgeons upon request visited a portion of the battlefield near Centreville on Sept. 6, to help with care for some badly neglected soldiers.
The report states, "We have reason to believe that every Massachusetts soldier in hospital in Washington and Georgetown at the date of these Reports - namely, Sept. 4 and 5 - was seen and conversed with, his condition and wants ascertained, and the offer made of any personal service that they might wish rendered." No report is made of the Alexandria hospitals, the surgeons detailed there were denied the necessary pass to visit the city.
On a personal note, I find it amusing that my Great Great Grandfather, William Henry Forbush (pictured) is listed twice, at Ascension Hospital, and at Eighth Street Hospital. No further statement on his condition is given. Like Charles E. Swan, he was at this time already sent to a hospital in Philadelphia. William received a gunshot wound in the left hand. He was treated at the Eighth Street Hospital in Washington, then entered the Broad & Cherry Street Hospital in Philadelphia on Sept. 3rd. Others I found listed in Philadelphia papers include, H.C. Lord,* Co. C; D. Lorring, Co. H; Lt. Henry J. Little, wounded in cheek, leg and arm and Sergt. Arthur T. Rice, Co. K, wounded leg.
*Lord is listed at Carver Hospital in the following report.
Notes are recorded by J.S. Blatchford, Secretary of the delegation.
ARMORY HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON.
Osgood W. Waitt, Co. D, Typhoid fever. Enter’d Aug. 22.
Frank H. Mann, Co. C, Flesh wound in thigh- Bull Run. Condition: Doing well.
Edward Fletcher, Co. D, Remittent fever. Condition: Removed.
William Waitt, Co. H, Typhoid fever. Condition: Quite sick.
J. L. Thompson, Co. D, Typhoid fever. Admit’d Aug. 22.
Charles O. Demeritt, Co. D, Gunshot wound of right leg. Condition: Doing well.
Daniel E. Knox, Co. C, Gunshot wound in hand and side.
Charles C. Ward, Co. C, Slight flesh wound in left shoulder. Condition: Doing well.
William Barnes Co. I, Amputation left leg, above knee. Condition: Quite sick and feverish.
Armory Hospital is composed of a succession of barracks about – feet long, in Armory yard, opposite Smithsonian Institute. The hospital is in the best condition – the beds comfortable – the atmosphere sweet, and the treatment such as I should approve of, as far as I could judge from a hurried visit. Though the patients that I saw expressed but few wants, I think they may require supplies of underclothing when convalescent.
Sept. 5, 1862. (Signed,) T. E. Francis, M.D., Visitor.
EMORY HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON.
Spencer Smith, Co. F, Gunshot wound in finger. Index finger amputated. Condition: Comfortable – wants paper, pens, and ink.
Silas E. Cooledge, Co. F, Rheumatism. Condition: Convalescent – no wants.
Emory Hospital is situated on a level plain, about two miles east of the Capitol. It consists of 12 or 15 long buildings, formerly used as barracks. It contains nearly 500 patients, at present, and can accommodate 1,500. The buildings are neatly whitewashed inside and out, and everything about the hospital is neat and orderly. Most of the cases are gunshot wounds, a few of typhoid fever, and a few of exhaustion. The patients are well cared for. I found 31 Massachusetts soldiers. Their wants were few – principally handkerchiefs and towels. A majority of the wounds were in the extremities.
Sept. 5, 1862. Dr. Aten, Visitor.NOTE. – The following additional soldiers, belonging to Massachusetts regiments, were reported at this hospital as absent. it. They were probably convalescents, and out for exercise. – J. S. B.
H. Martin, Co. G.
C. M. Choate, Co. F.
T.E. Wheeler, Co. G.
CASPARIS HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON.
William R. Buckman, Co. D. Typhoid fever. Condition: Convalescent – no wants.
The Casparis Hospital is situated just south of the Capitol, on high ground – a fine airy situation. The building was formerly occupied as a hotel, and is admirably adapted for hospital use, the rooms being large and well ventilated.
The nurses seemed to understand the condition of each patient, and were in constant attendance – the medical assistants appeared to be prompt and efficient. There were but three Massachusetts soldiers in this hospital; tow being convalescent, and Donahoe, (25th Mass) with gunshot wound in chest in a precarious condition. The Massachusetts Relief Association for Soldiers had supplied their wants. Everything about the hospital had the air of neatness and order, and it seemed a very desirable place for the sick and wounded.
Sept. 5, 1862. (Signed) G.J. Arnold, Visitor.
COLUMBIA-COLLEGE HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON.
Silas P. Crane, Co. B, Musket ball through leg. Condition: Doing well.
William F. Blanchard, Co. B, Wound in left shoulder from a spent ball.
H. Pomeroy, Co. B, Sun stroke. Condition: Doing well.
George F. Simpson, Co. B, Gunshot wound in arm. Aug. 29. Condition: Doing well – wants under clothes.
Rolla Nicholas, Co. F, Gunshot wound in back. Aug. 30. Condition: Doing well- wants socks.
Columbia-College Hospital is situated about two miles from Washington, on West-Fourteenth Street, upon a hill. The main hospital building was the late college, accommodating, in three stories divided into six wards, about 300 patients. In the rear of this, one of the houses, formerly occupied by a professor of the college, is also occupied for hospital purposes, and contains beds for about 75 patients. There are also in front of the main building, 20 double tents, occupied chiefly by convalescent patients. Altogether, I should think the hospital accommodates at least 600 patients, and in case of emergency, 1,000 can be cared for. The arrangements of the hospital are admirable, due, no doubt, in some measure, to the nature of the building and the object for which it was formerly used. The surgeons’ quarters are under tents in front of the main building, and I was most courteously treated by the surgeon-in-chief and his assistants, one of whom accompanied me through the hospital, and pointed out, in each ward, the Massachusetts soldiers, and the most interesting cases. Each ward is under the direction of a separate assistant-surgeon and a nurse, for the good management of which they are responsible to the surgeon-in-chief. Neatness and cleanliness are to be observed everywhere. The men are doing well, and recovering from recent injuries from gunshot wounds. With the exception of three cases of debility, the patients are all suffering from surgical diseases received in the battles of Friday and Saturday, Aug. 29 and 30., and Monday, Sept. 1. I found no cases especially worthy of note. The patients are contented and happy. Two of the nurses are from Massachusetts. The hospital is exhausted of supplies, owing to the many new arrivals. I am requested by the matron-in-chief to request the following supplies, which will be most gratefully received, and will benefit not only Massachusetts soldiers, of whom there are 21 in the hospital, but also others to come, as well as soldiers from other States : 200 shirts, 200 pairs of drawers, 200 sheets, 200 pillow-cases, 100 pairs of woolen socks, 200 pairs of slippers, 50 dressing-gowns, handkerchiefs, towels, wines, jellies, fruits, &c.
Sept. 5, 1862. (Signed,) C. Ruppaner, M.D., Visitor
STONE HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON.
Montgomery Olmstead, Co. E, Wound of right foot-will loose a toe. Condition: Doing well- wants clothing.
Henry Exley, Co. F, Rheumatism. Condition: Recovering – wants shirts and shoes.
[The Stone Hospital is on Fourteenth Street, near Columbia-College Hospital, and under charge of Dr. Chas. A. McCall, U.S.A. No report. – J.S.B.]
Dr. Haddock, Visitor.
DOUGLAS HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON.
J. Machon, Co. B, Gunshot wound of hip. Condition: Doing well – wants under clothes and books.
W. S. Frost, Co. A, Gunshot wound of face. Condition: Doing well – wants books.
The Douglas Hospital consists of the three large brick dwelling-houses , formerly occupied by Senators Douglas, Breckenridge, and Corwin, pleasantly situated on High Street, between Second and Third Streets. It has accommodation for between three and four hundred, and contains, at present, about 300 patients. Dr. Webster, of the regular army, is in charge as principal medical officer, with four assistant-surgeons. The accommodations for the care, comfort, and convenience of the patients are not excelled by any hospital in the country, either civic or military. Everything is clean and neat, and the patients expressed themselves as very well pealed with the attentions received from the medical officers and attendants. The nurses employed in this hospital are sisters of charity. There are here twenty-one solders belonging to Massachusetts regiments, the larger number suffering from gunshot injuries, and a few cases of remittent fever and diarrhea. There are two cases of phthisis, both of which will probably terminate fatally before long. With this exception the patients are all doing well; quite a number oar convalescent, and expect soon to return to duty. The wants of the patients are chiefly flannel undershirts, drawers, and socks – the majority, however, expressing no want of any-thing. Three wanted books, magazines, or illustrated papers, the hospital library not affording much variety. Irving’s, Cooper’s, and Dickens’s works would be very acceptable.
Sept. 5, 1862. (Signed,) John G. Blake, M.D., Visitor.
ASCENSION HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON.
Robert Choate, Co. I, Wound of finger, left hand. Condition: Not severe.
W.H. P. Christopher, Co. I, Gunshot wound in thigh. Condition: Very severe – no wants.
J.E. Heath, Co. C, Gunshot wound in thigh. Condition: Very severe – no wants.
G. F. Paine, Co. A, Slight gunshot wound in leg. Condition: Doing well – no wants.
William H. Forbush, Co. K
The Ascension Hospital consists of three churches, situated on high ground, in an apparently healthy portion of the city. There were about 300 patients, among whom were 28 from Massachusetts regiment. Fourteen were recent inmates, having been admitted since the 1st inst. They looked as comfortable as could be expected; were cheerful and hopeful, and seemed to feel that everything possible was being done for their comfort.
Of the recent injuries most were slight. There were some severe cases of wounds in the extremities, necessitating amputation, and a few cases of convalescent typhoid – a few recovered patients were on duty as hospital assistants. The patients were generally well supplied – indeed the needy ones were only those who had just entered; and in vie of the fact that the hospital had been emptied and filled three times within a week, it is matter of surprise that they could so speedily be made comfortable
The general appearance of the hospital was excellent – the rooms quiet, clearly, ad airy. The care and attention of the nurse was excellent. Dr. Dorr, the surgeon in charge, a native of Massachusetts – seems to have the welfare of his patients at hard, as their good condition and honest praise amply testify. Should a friend of mine be under the necessity, through the casualties of war, of going into hospital, I could wish him as happily placed as patients I saw in Ascension.
Sept. 5, 1862. (Signed,) G.J. Arnold, M.D., Visitor.
CARVER-BARRACKS HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON.
Henry C. Lord, Co. C, Flesh wound in hip. Condition: Doing well.
Walter P. Beaumont, Co. B, Ball through both arms. Condition: Doing well.
George A. Tainter, Co. A, Right humerus broken by ball.
George S. Wise, Co. D, Bruise in back.
A.J. Warren, Co. H, Slight injury in side. Condition: Acts as ward-master.
E.F. Rollins, Co. D, Diarrhoea (slight). Condition: Wants entire outfit.
Samuel W. Gilman, Co. H. Gunshot wound of thigh.
George Wire, Co. D, Contusion, Condition: Wants entire outfit.
NOTES BY SECRETARY. – A number of Massachusetts soldiers, in this hospital, were absent, and not seen by the visitors, nor could their names, or number of their regiments, be ascertained. They were convalescents, however, and able to report their own condition to their friends.One of the patients (name not given, unfortunately,) wished it recorded, that William Sweetzer, of North Reading, died in his arms, in what is called “Heintzleman’s affair.” He was of the 16th regiment – J.S.Blatchford, sec..
The Carver-Barracks Hospital consists of fifty sheds, of usual size and construction for army hospital use, each shed being termed a ward, and capable of accommodating about forty patients. Each ward is under the charge of a male nurse, or ward-tender; these men, for the most part, seem well fitted for their duty, and kind to the patients.
The situation of the hospital is good, on level, but elevated ground, the sheds being built on all sides of a large quadrangle. The ventilation is good, the beds clean, and the air free form offensive effluvia. The professional care of the patients is good, though, to a civil italics surgeon, it would seem that the dressings of the slight wounds and operations are hardly sufficient, or frequent enough. The severer cases are most assiduously tended, and all [italics] were doing well, taking into consideration the great severity of some (not many) of the wounds. Most of the cases, in this hospital, were of wounds received in the disasters of last week. A majority of those examined by the reporters were almost entirely destitute of underclothing, and such, also, was probably the condition of most of the patients. Every one lost everything in that miserable retreat.
The number of Massachusetts soldiers seen here was about seventy. They all expressed satisfaction with care and attendance they received- were all glad to see the visitors, and would all be much benefited by liberal supplies of under clothing.
Sept. 6, 1862. (Signed,) Henry A. Martin, M.D., for self and Dr. Ingalls, Visitors.
CLIFFBURNE HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON.
Thos. Downey, Co. E, Condition: Recovered – acting as ward-master.
Thos. Berry, Co. B, Condition: Recovered – acting as hospital-clerk.
This hospital is situated on high land, and consists of several long sheds, capable of accommodation about 40 patients each, and also of 40 tents. Perfect ventilation is secured, and the whole establishment is in admirable order. The inmates seemed cheerful and happy, and I saw but one of whose recovery I had any doubt. This was a case of consumption, apparently, in a youth of only 17. The hospital is capable of containing about 1,000; its present number is only about 550. Of this number, 25 were Massachusetts solders. Every day brings changes- some leaving, and other entering. All necessary supplies seemed to be abundantly furnished. The principal wants of the patients were clothing, &c.
Sept. 5, 1862. Dr. Flint, Visitor.
FINLEY HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON.
S.B. Morse, Co. D, Diarrhoea following typhoid. Condition much recovered – needs wine, brandy, and underclothes.
The Finley Hospital is located on a southerly slope, upon high ground, about town and one-half miles south of the Capital. It consists of eight building, one story high, constructed of wood, about 25 feet in width, and 200 feet in length, altogether containing about 500 beds, and at the present time about 425 patients. The general conduct of the institution seemed to me to be very perfect indeed. The principal wants among the patients seemed to be woolens shirts, drawers, socks, and pants, and some stimulants, which I am informed by the attending surgeon cannot be obtained either from the Government of the Sanitary Commission. Sept. 5, 1852. Dr. Cady, Visitor.
NOTE. - The statement of the attending surgeon, as given above, to the effect that stimulants cannot be obtained for hospital; use, is manifestly incorrect and unfounded. Such supplies are freely furnished, upon requisition, to every hospital. – J.S.B.
EIGHTH-STREET METHODIST-CHURCH HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON.
Wm. H. Forbush* Co. K,
Dr. Carney, the visitor, furnishes no report upon this hospital. – J.S.B.
ST. ELIZABETH HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON.Frank B. Hastings, Co. D, Slow fever, Condition: Convalescent.
St. Elizabeth Hospital is in the unfinished wing of the Insane Asylum, about four miles from the city, on the banks of the Potomac. The situation is elevated and healthy, and all the surroundings delightful. There are at present 140 patients, 14 of which are Massachusetts soldiers. Many of the cases are chronic diarrhoea, caused by physical debility and exposure, one of typhoid, and the remainder gunshot wounds. With two or three exceptions, all the cases are hopeful, and promise recovery. The surgeons and assistants are kind and attentive, the patients cheerful and contented, and the entire conduct and condition f the establishment satisfactory.
Sept. 5, 1862. Dr. Morse, Visitor.
*Forbush was sent to the Broad and Cherry Street Hospital, Philadelphia, Sept. 3rd.
TRINITY HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON.
George Sawyer, Co. C,
George F. Morse, Co. A, Condition: Removed to Philadelphia.
George H. Harris, Co. F, Run over by troops, at Bull Run – bruised in shoulder. Condition: Doing well – wants shoes.
George F. Manson, Co. F, Fractured clavicle. Condition: Recovering.
George E. Rockwood, Co. H, Dysentery followed by diarrhoea. Condition: Improving
George H. Bowen, Co. B. Ball through leg, below knee. Condition: Doing well wants pants and shirt.
John Woodman, Co. A, Condition: Recovered – acting master.
Charles A. McLaughlan, Co. E, Ball through muscles of thigh. Condition: Getting well.
This hospital is in a church building, of large dimensions, situated in a pleasant at of the city, and capable of accommodating about 200 patients. The names of 29 Massachusetts soldiers were found on the hospital register, but only 15 were to be seen. The discharge of the others had not been recorded, though they had been removed to other hospitals, or sent of as recovered.
All those seen were in an improving condition, and, for the most part, seemed contented and happy. There were few wants expressed by any. One, Harris, needs shoes; another, Curby, wants pantaloons and his pay, which has been withheld four months; Lawton wants a blouse and his pay; Greaton wants a cane; Wiggins wants pants shirts, and tobacco and Bowen wants thick pants and a shirt.
The hospital is attended by three surgeons; viz., Drs. Hatch, Williams, and Wing, and a sufficient number of devoted nurses.
Sept. 5, 1862. (Signed,) C.H. Stedman, M.D., Visitor.
ODD-FELLOWS HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON.
Samuel A. Coombs, Co. D, Remittent fever. Condition: Convalescent – wants clothing.
Odd-Fellows Hospital is situated near the Navy Yard, and contains about 125 patients, the most of whom are New-York Volunteers. The Medical Director afforded every facility for obtaining the desired information. The hospital was opened in August But few deaths have occurred. Everything seems to be conducted with propriety. The supply o f stores is ample. It is visited daily by the sisters of charity, who bring delicacies and administer that sympathy for which they are peculiarly fitted. The principal want is under clothing. A daily record of the progress of cases should be kept. I found none.
The ventilation is good, and thought h buildings are old, they are kept in good order.
Sept. 5, 1862. Dr. Goodwin, Visitor.
ECKINGTON HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON.
Albert V. Johnston, Co. B, Gunshot wound in arm – ball not extracted. Condition: Arm much swollen – doing pretty well – wants pants and shoes.
Jabez A. Blackmer, Co. K, Ball thro’ palm of hand. Condition: Wants stationery & stamps.
William E. Foster, Co. G, Finger shot off. Condition: Doing well – wants stationery.
L. Jones, Co. G, Typhoid, Condition: Doing well.
George F. Washburne, Co. I, Lame ankle. Condition: Doing well.
Dr. Shaw, the visitor, furnishes no Report of condition of this hospital. It was visited Sept. 5. – J.S.B.
UNION-HOTEL HOSPITAL, GEORGETOWN.
S. W. Sargeant, Co. I, Slight contusion on right shoulder, Aug. 30, Bull Run. Condition: Doing well – wants shirts, socks, drawers, and shoes.
G. M. Cuthbert, Co. I, Flesh wound in head, Aug. 30, Bull Run. Condition: Doing well – wants shirts and socks.
The Union- Hospital occupies the Union-Hotel Building, Georgetown, which is large, and well adapted to hospital use. The impression received of its condition and management was favorable. The patients were uniformly contented and cheerful, and seemed to feel that everything possible was done for their comfort.
Sept. 5, 1862. Dr. Bowditch, Dr. Dix, and J.S. Blatchford, Visitors.
© Bradley M. Forbush, 2011
Page Updated May 12, 2011.