Year End, 1862

Log Huts near White Oak Church

Log Huts Near White Oak Church, Virginia

This page is dedicated to Nancy Chapin and the many descendants of Private George E. Bigelow.

Table of Contents

 Introduction - Whats On This Page

This new 3 page section of the website, formally brings the eventful year of 1862 to a close. Page 1 offers stories from the soldiers.  Page 2 presents the hard data in the form of charts culled from Massachusetts Adjutant General William Schouler's 1862 annual summary report on the 13th Regiment, complete with rosters of officers promoted, discharged, transferred, died, deserted, missing, & dropped.  Page 3 contains a few "loose ends."  I am fortunate to have copies of original documents from the Company I books, courtesy of Mr. Richard Humphrey, and I have posted transcriptions of Surgeons' letters of  discharge for several men in that company on page 3.  A few select biographies of discharged 2nd Lieutenants begin that page.  Photos of about 40 men not previously posted on the website have been added to these pages.

The new material posted here on page 1, includes the affecting story of George E. Bigelow, Company C, a recruit of 1862,  who was killed at the Battle of Fredericksburg; one of only four deaths suffered in the regiment at that engagement.   His descendant, Nancy Chapin, has shared 4 remarkable letters that outline George's brief military service, and the tragic impact his death had on surviving family members.  The first two letters are written by George.  He describes the difficult marches and lack of food he imediately encountered upon entering the service.  The third letter was written by Lt. Oliver C. Livermore, to George's brother-in-law.  Lt. Livermore tells him in a matter-of-fact style that George is dead.  In the fourth letter, George's sister Annie laments her brother's  death and the impact it will have on his young widow and infant child.

A letter from Charles Leland, Company B, recapping the regiment's experiences at the Battle of Fredericksburg follows the Bigelow story.  This letter was previously posted on the Battle of Fredericksburg page but has been moved here.

Next, a letter from another 1862 recruit, Charles Adams, follows the Leland letter.  In his usual light hearted banter, Charles Adams, who made a living as a humorist after the war, orders a box from home to be sent to camp.  He directs his brother, to go shopping for an assortment of items desired by Charles and his tent-mate Walter Fowler.   Check out the custom built box illustration that accompanies this letter !

The section titled "Christmas in Camp," follows Adam's request for a box from home.  (It wasn't much of a Christmas.)  Charles Leland again writes home to family with the news from camp.  The soldiers are anxious to build cabins for the winter.  A brief entry from Sam Webster's journal accompanies the Leland letter.  As he builds a winter cabin, (twice) Sam reflects on his past tent-mates, who all seem to get “punched.”

Warren Freeman's letters that end this page were previously posted on the “Battle of Fredericksburg” page.  I have removed them and placed them here, to make room for Private Bourne Spooner's detailed recollections of the battle on the former page.

A brief excerpt from Private Spooner's memoir opens this narrative.  Spooner's passage is followed up with an entertaining letter written by Private Charles Andrews, Company I.  — I recently discoverd four of Andrew's letters in the files of the Gettysburg National Battlefield Park Library.  The December 17, letter posted here, recounts the amusing manner in which the regiment's isolated picket post, (the last to leave the battle-field of Fredericksburg,) received the orders to fall back across the Rappahannock River the night of December 15th.

I hope you will enjoy reading the material posted here.  Comments are always welcome via the "Contact Us" page.

PICTURE CREDITS:   All images are from the Library of Congress digital images collection, with the following exceptions:    Pictures of the Chapin family were provided by Ms. Nancy Chapin, George Bigelow's descendant;   Lt. Oliver C. Livermore, & Charles Leland were shared with me by Mr. Scott Hann; Moses Palmer's portrait is from the Mass. State Archives Digital Image Collection, [];  Capt. James A. Hall, from  Army Heritage Education Center, Digital Image database, Mass. MOLLUS Collection;   Warren H. Freeman, (post-war) from Tim Sewell, a descendant of James H. Lowell; The Theodore Davis illustration of the Federal Army re-crossing the Rappahannock river, is from "The Civil War" the complete collection of Harper's Weekly during the war, at;  "Union Soldiers in Combat" by William T. Trego, from James A. Michener Art Museum.  Collection of Syd and Sharon Martin; Pictures of the log huts were taken by the author at the White Oak Civil War Museum, Va.;  ALL IMAGES HAVE BEEN EDITED IN PHOTOSHOP.

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Setting Up Winter Camp After The Battle of Fredericksburg

Bourne Spooner's Memoir, In the Ranks

When the army moved back from the river, the First Corps took a southeasterly direction and moved somewhere, I think, into King George County.  I can recall nothing of the march except its closing day.  The regiment halted during the afternoon in a sort of hollow and during the halt I went in pursuit of wood or water.  Upon returning to the command I learned that we were to encamp in that locality and that during my brief absence a detail had been tolled off to guard houses and private property in that neighborhood.  My name had been proposed for one, but on account of my absence another was taken in my place.  This was something of a disappointment to me as this post would have given me comfortable housing, comparatively better food than I should obtain in camp, and a relief from drills and camp duties.  In this as in all other instances during the war I failed to get any of the “soft places,” which were so much desired on the part of us soldiers.

Our brigade turned from the road, ascended a wooded ridge which bent around in a sort of arc, or more correctly an elbow, from the road, and along this ridge we fixed our camps.  The first night was raw and chilly, but rousing log fires of slow-burning green wood kept us in comparative comfort.  The next day we commenced the construction of our winter quarters.  Our habitations this season were not so elaborate as those of the winter of 1861-1862 at Williamsport, Maryland.  The ridge  on which we were posted had a comparatively light and dry soil, and instead of building up log domiciles above the ground we burrowed into the soil like a colony of prairie dogs.  A square excavation was dug in the side hill, above this was a foot or so of logs notched a the corners, and upon this our light canvas shelter roof.  A hole was dug in the side of the excavation for a fireplace.  These were the most primitive winter quarters we had during the war, but still I don’t recollect of having suffered greatly from cold this season though there was at times a good deal of discomfort to be endured.

I don’t recollect of anything important occurring the first month or so we were there.  About the middle of January the famous “Mud March” occurred and we were called out with the rest of the army when a heavy storm of rain set in.

Letter of Charles Andrews, Company I

An interesting letter of Charles W. Andrews, Company I, came up for auction some years ago and I was able to obtain good scan and make a transcription of it.  Its dated April 14, 1863, and is posted on my website.  Charles was one of the recruits of 1862.  Since finding that letter, I have discovered four more letters of Charles in the Gettysburg National Battlefield Archives.  Another letter exists in the miscellaneous collection of soldiers' letters at Carlisle Army Heritage Center.

It is always great to add another voice from the regiment to the website, and I am grateful to add more of  Charles eloquent writings.  He was killed at Gettysburg, July first.

Near Falmouth Dec. 17th 1862

Dear Father and Mother,

                    Once more through the loved medium (the pen) I am allowed to address you.  I am enjoying the best of health and hope that this will find you enjoying the same.  Great things have happened (though all unexpected by me) since I penned my last.  That night at about 8 o’clock I went to bed on the ground wrapt in my warm blankets.  I lay thinking of you all and did not go to sleep for an hour when The order came to get up wrap up our blankets and be ready to move at a minutes notice.  We got up, packed up all our things and got ready to move in a moments notice.  We soon got the order to sling knapsacks and fall in which we did and started. We had no idea where we were agoing or what was in the wind.  But thought that something was going to be did.

The left wing had gone out on pickets about an hour before.  We marched down to the pontoon bridges and we found that the whole army was crossing the river.  We hardly knew what to make of it.  Whether it was a grand skedaddle or not.  We crossed the bridge on a double quick and marched about half a mile then camped for the night.  It was quite warm.

Towards morning I awoke; the rain was beginning to come down in torrents.  I spread my rubber blanket over my wollen ones, cuddled up under and went to sleep.  You may think it strange that I could sleep under such circumstances, but one can hardly realize how much one can go through until they try.  We awoke  and got up at day brake and receaved orders to pack up immediately and be ready to march at a moments notice.  We packed up, fell in line and started in a gentle rain.  We marched in the mud about two miles to where we are now.  It soon cleared off and we had a verry plesant day.

I got the paper you sent me last yesterday.  Was glad to get them for I had been very short of reading matter except my testiment for some time past.  The whole army crossed the night before last and the rebels knew nothing of it until daylight.  What must have been their surprise when they found it out.  The wing of our regiment that was on picket was the last to cross.  they were out there and knew nothing that the army was moveing and would have stayed there until it was to late to get off had not a man rode up to them about two o’clock in the morning and says he to one of our captains in our regiment

Surprised Officer illustration

Did you know that the whole army is crossing the river ?

No ! says he  what does that mean.

Well it is so says he and what is more you pickets  are the only ones that have not crossed.

Is that so says the captain then it is time of us to be agoing.

They then rallied as silently as they could and fell back expecting every moment that the rebels would find it out and attack them.  But all went off well and they crossed the river at 4 o’clock in the morning  And are now with us here.

There was some cannonadeing between us and the enemy yesterday but not of any amount to speak of.  Our pickets are now stationed on the banks of the river the rebels on the other they have some talks between each other.  I do not know what to make of this move only I know that We found we could not do anything there that the rebels were to strong for us so we fell back.  Some think that we fell back while a movement was made on Richmond wich would oblige the rebels to withdraw part of their force from this point   then that we were going to make a strike here. But they (the enemy) have got the strongest position that they have got this side of Richmond here.   It is a very strong point   a ridge of hills in this form [diagram]  which are covered with intrenchments.  Within the curve is our forces (or was) wich is a great deal of it plains and we can get no good position for our guns.  they are in woods and we can’t drive them out.  I do not think we will cross at this point, at least not at present.   The boys were glad enough to get back acrost the river.

I am once more living in a tent wich seems good I can ashure you that.  The army is all around us.  The pontoon Bridges I hear are taken up.  If this move against the rebels is a failure then I think General Burnside will get a daming.  I suspose if such is the case that they will stick in Fremont next.  I think we will never conker the south by fighting.  It must be settled otherwise and before long.  But let us hope that all will come out right in the end.  Wich I think is not far off.

You must excuse the bad writing.   I hope that you will be able to make it all out.  It was written in great haste.   I send my love to you all, the box I think I shall get before long.  But I must close

Good by
                Hope for the best —

From your absent son Charlie.

Charles W. Andrews

Artillery Covering the Retreat From Fredericksburg

Sketch by Theodore R. Davis,  of Federal Artillery Covering the Retreat of Franklin's Division at Fredericksburg.

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The Legacy of Private George E. Bigelow, Killed at Fredericksburg


Private George E. Bigelow, age 22, was one of the 70 or so recruits of 1862, who joined the 13th Mass. Regiment in the field, in camp near Mitchell's Station on the afternoon of August 18.  George took his assigned place with Company C.  That night at 11 p.m. the regiment formed in column to march.  They stood in line in the road all night until 9 a.m., when the march finally got moving.  Twenty miles was covered in a hurry, with the enemy close on their heels.  They crossed the north side of the Rappahannock River to safety at 8 p.m. on the 19th. This was George Bigelow's initiation into military service with the 13th Massachusetts Infantry.  He wrote the following letter to his sister Annie, [Ann Maria Bigelow Pollard] from Sharpsburg, Maryland after the battles of 2nd Bull Run and Antietam.  He tells her about his new life in the army.

Letter, October 18, 1862

Camp May Sharpsburg
Sunday Oct 18th 1862

    My Dear Sister
                       Having a little spare time, I thought I would write you a letter.

    In the first place a soldier sees a great deal of hardship as well as fighting. We have a knapsack containing all our trinkets, such as thread &c + &c,  one over coat, one woolen blanket, one rubber blanket, weighing in all thirty five pounds.  next our haversack with five days rations in that, then sixty  rounds of ammunition + a gun weighing 12 lbs which makes a heavy load + we have made several marches of  23 + 25 miles per day. 1

Reduced opacity William Trego painting of battle

    + such a sight as a battle field no person can imagine, until they have really seen it.  To see your own friends, as I have, drop in front + upon all sides of you is horrible [or horrid], the wounded crying for water, + no person take any notice of them, but step on them in the excitement.  To see brave young fellows with their legs + arms shot clean off by shell + every man for himself.   I got behind a big tree, + there fired 40 rounds, + did not get a scratch.  The officers have no mercy, nor do they seem to care how many get killed.   Our Captain told me + one other fellow to come out from behind the tree. I told him (I did not see it) the other fellow, my chum,  started + had not gone two yards before a bullet struck him near the temple + took both eyes out + went clear through. 2   I carried him a little way back + he died in my arms.  I then dropped him + was ordered back as our Regt. was retreating.  Captain Moses PalmerI saw Moses Palmer shot at Bull Run, he was shot in the face + mouth.  [Moses Palmer, pictured]  He is a brave fellow.  He is in our Regt. + has been acting as Captain.  Out of 44 men that our Company went into battle with but 19 remain, bullets + shell were just as thick as rain. Three bullets came against my tree, tap tap tap all the time. I had no idea of getting out alive, + don’t see how I did.

    I have not had my clothes off of my back since I left home with the exception of a clean shirt when I came across a river to wash out + the worst of it all is there are a great many who have no shoes or stockings + have to carry there [load bare foot ?] or [load with bare feet ?] 3 …. My boots got very bad + I looked over all of the dead rebels until I found a “bully” pair of high legged boots + then pulled them off + washed the blood out of them where it had run from a wound in the leg. I am now wearing them, they are worth $1,000.  We receive rations once in five days. We get coffee + sugar + hard bread + sometimes a piece of raw salt pork + when we get hold of a dro [drove?] of oxen we get fresh meat. I have got so I can catch a pig + kill + dress + eat him very well.

    Half of the time we sleep beside the road + on the mountains exposed to the rain + heavy dews + for all that my health is grand with the exception of the rheumatism.  Some of the soldiers look like old men after they have been out here one year.   I have altered considerably in this short time.  I am tanned + more fleshy than ever. + do look rugged enough.  Have been in three hard fights + all I can say is, have been fortunate indeed. I receive letters regularly from my wife, who at last account was well, also the Baby.   Let mother read this letter + ask her to write me a letter. Give my love to all of our folks and tell them I am getting along as well as can be expected.

    Tell Luther, if he gets drafted, he had better pay $500.00 than to come.  In our whole Regt. we cannot muster two hundred men. I should like to hear from you if you write direct to

    George E. Bigelow
             Company C
             13th Regt. Mass Vol.
              Washington D.C.

+ remember me to be your affect.

It is impossible for me to get postage stamps out here + the soldiers all mark their letters, Soldiers letter, + it goes.

Excuse this writing + all mistakes, for I am in a hurry + the facilities for writing are very bad

NOTES:  1.  Forty rounds of ammunition was standard issue and weighed 10 pounds. Sixty rounds was piling on.
2.  It is difficult to identify George's chum who was shot through the eyes and died.  There were no KIA's at Antietam in his Company, Company C.
3.  The writing here is very faded.  My wife and I tried several photoshop techniques to try and decipher what it says.  There isn’t much there so I took a guess at what I think it reads. — B.F.

The Story Continues...

Things were briefly better for the soldier's of the 13th Mass., under General McClellan.  He let the army rest for a long spell after the vicious battle of Antietam, even while President Lincoln repeatedly urged him to pursue General Lee's Army into Virginia.  Finally after 5 1/2 weeks of laying about camp at Sharpsburg in pleasant weather, McClellan began to move south.  And the weather turned cold.

By late November, when George Bigelow wrote this next letter to his sister, things were bad again.  President Lincoln relieved the slow moving General McClellan on November 7, and General Ambrose Burnside reluctantly took command of the Army.  A bold new military plan was decided upon, requiring a quick march to Fredericksburg. During the advance the men of the 13th regiment were starved once again, while enduring fatiguing marches and picket duty in the snow and mud.

Letter, November 23rd, 1862

                        On The March Sunday 23rd

My Dear Sister Annie,
                    I received a letter from you last night. And as it is two o’clock they have given us half an hour to cook our dinner consisting of Coffee + hard bread  we have nearly starved for five days the roads are so bad that the supply wagons cannot get to us. The other day we expected some hard bread all day + none came     at night the whole Brigade had to get out on Picket nothing to eat    we were there until morning + then had to walk seven miles before we could get any bread + after all only got six crackers to last the next day.

People in Massachusetts  think it is warm out here in the first place we have had one severe snow storm + were brought into camp at one o’clock at night + so dark we could not find any woods   we laid down on the wet snow until morning + I slept well until the rheumatism awoke me near morning.  The roads here are ankle deep in mud everywhere + we read in the papers where people at home are crying out for a winters campaign + say over their dinner tables no winter quarters for the soldiers    On to Richmond.   If they could only see a soldier’s life as it is they would alter their minds I think.

    Only think ever since I have been out here I have not got one cent of pay yet but then it is good.

    I do hope this war will be finished up soon. There have a good many died here since the cold weather came on.   My wife bought me a nice pair of mittens + sent me by mail + the mail was lost.   I felt badly about it.   There are a good many thieves out here they stole my boots + one of my shirts and now in all this mud + cold weather my left foot is flat + bare on the ground but do not tell my wife for she would worry all the time.  I am not alone in being bare foot either.  But I live in hopes of seeing this unholy war ended.

    If I looked on the worst side of this thing I should blow out my own brains but I keep up a good heart + a stiff upper lip + am bound to live through it + come out all right.  But still there are some pleasant things about going[?] out[?] with the army thank God for those + also for giving me a constitution to endure these hardships. The soldiers are all heart sick of this work + war + only long to get home once more.  I must finish by returning you a thousand thanks for the present which was a godsend + remember me as ever your

Affect Bro George
             Write soon + oblige     Geo
        Give my love to Luther + all the folks. You can send this to mother if you think best.

George Never Made It Home

The present referred to, may be a gift of cash that Annie says she sent to George about a month before he died. Captain James Abram Hall This is the last we hear of George in his own words.  He was severely wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg and died of his wounds on December 19, 1862.  The regiment had only 4 fatalities in that deadly battle, and to make matters worse, George was killed by “friendly fire.” The regimental history says it came from Capt. James Abram Hall's battery, (2nd Light Maine) posted directly behind the 13th Mass. skirmishers.  Capt. Hall pictured.

Regimental Historian Charles E. Davis describes the incident in the following excerpt from his book, “Three Years in the Army.”

“Our batteries were speedily brought into position, and began shelling the woods, while the enemy’s guns, in turn, opened upon us.  We were between two fires, and the greatest caution was necessary to prevent a needless loss of life. Very soon we were ordered to lie down as close as possible to the earth in the soft clay, rolling over on our backs to load our guns.

We were now engaged in the very important service of preventing the enemy from picking off the men of Hall’s Second Maine Battery, then engaged in shelling the enemy, from a position slightly elevated in our rear.  In order that this battery might do as effective work as  possible, it was ordered to point its guns so as to clear us by one foot.  This was a terrible position to be in.  An earnest protest was sent back to Captain Hall, asking him to elevate his pieces, or every man of us would be killed,  Suddenly a shell or solid shot from this battery struck the cartridge-box of one of the boys while he laid on his stomach.  Some of our number crawled out to where he lay and dragged him in.  He lived about six days, having been injured in the hip.  It was bad enough to be killed or wounded by the enemy, but to be killed by our own guns excited a great deal of righteous indignation.”

The man described is George E. Bigelow.

1st Lieutenant Oliver Cromwell Livermore

Lieutenant Livermore's Letter

First Lieutenant Oliver C. Livermore, [pictured, right] wrote the following letter to George Bigelow's brother-in-law, Reverend Heman Timlow, on New Year's day, January 1, 1863.

Heman Timlow was married to George's sister Martha.  Lieutenant Livermore had apparently sent a similar letter to George's young wife.

In the following letter, the few words in brackets are guessed at somewhat, as the surviving letter is torn around the upper and lower edges.

Letter of Lieutenant O.C. Livermore, Adjutant; 13th Mass; January 1st 1863

Camp 13th Mass
Near Pratts Point Landing
Jan’y 1st 1863

Dear Sir :

                I am just in receipt of your letter to Geo. E. Bigelow, late of my Command —  I took the liberty to open the same, thinking that it came from some Enquiring friend, and that I could answer —

    Am sorry to write that George E. Bigelow, departed this life, December 19th 1862 —

    He received a serious wound in his hip and back — he was struck by a Shell, first in the hip and then passing up his back to near the shoulder blades — tearing his clothes and knapsack from his back — scattering them in all directions

    I at once had him taken to [the] rear on a stretcher.   [Then?]  he was conveyed to this [side]

p. 2.

of the river, and placed in a hospital where he received every attention that was possible for a “field hospital”  — (it was at the White House Hospital, below Falmouth, on banks Rappahannock river) —  We recrossed the river on the night of the 15th [inst?]  and as soon as we arrived in Camp, I sent a member of the Company to nurse & comfort him —

    He remained until Bigelow, died and saw him decently interred, and the grave properly marked —

    During his sufferings he was calm and resigned, and perfectly conscious as to his situation —

    Was informed by the Surgeon, that had it not been for his rugged or strong constitution, the blow would have killed him instantly —  Since his Enlistment last August, had ever found him a good & faithful Soldier —

                    I remain yours Respectfully                    
O.C. Livermore                     
Lieut Comdg Co. C.            
13th Mass. Vols —   

P.S. Mrs. Geo E. Bigelow —
             Resides at
              No. 8 Fruit Street Court
                       Boston Mass —

    Rev. H. R. Timlow

Sister Annie's Response to Her Brother's Death

It seems the above letter or similar one, made its way to George Bigelow's young wife, who shared it with George's sister Annie.  As remarkable as it is to read Lt. Livermore's letter, its powerful contents reverberate through  the following poignant communication.  George's sister Annie, writes her brother-in-law Heman about the effect the sad news brought to the family.

Letter from Sister Annie, January 1, 1863

Jan. 1st  1863         

Dear Heman, 1

                I take upon myself the sad office of informing you what I have heard of the circumstances and death of our poor George. I  thought it best to write you just so that you will break the sad news to Mackey as gently as possible. You probably read that at the battle of Fredericksburg Geo. E. Bigelow was slightly wounded.   I saw it three different times.  And I realy felt that I could hardly regret it as he would be in the Hospital and receive care and attention.   But O What a shock it was to read about four days afterward that he was wounded severely in the hip.   But I would not believe it, thinking that perhaps the first

p. 2.

“returns” might be correct, and that he might be only slightly injured.   But I saw it in another paper in the morning, And feared it was too true.   I have been anxiously awaiting some letter or word from him when his wife came in, and saying that she had a letter from the Lieut. of the company, announcing, O how sad to write it, “the death of dear George.”   He said that he was wounded in the hip + back by a shell in the first  of the battle at Fredericksburg.  He says that immediately he had him taken him taken to the rear to the Hospital, and dispatched his Messmate to take care of him, and render every attention to him.  After they recrossed the river he was taken to the White Hospital where he lingered six days in much suffering and died.

Poor Fellow;  he adds, he was a true

p. 3.

and loyal soldier, always at his post of duty.  His wife is greatly distressed for she perfectly idolized him.   I felt as if I could not have it so.  I was much more shocked than when we lost our poor Father, for I have him upon my mind a great deal of the time since he has been away.  I sent him some money about a month ago and he wrote me thanking me; and said he needed some mittens, and I sent him some with a small sum of money which I fear the poor fellow never received, for I never heard from him afterward.   But I have never prayed more earnestly than I did have for his conversion.   I did not  covet  any worldly good for him   only that his heart might be changed and that he might become a christian.  And I trust that God heard and answered.  His wife

p. 4.

has written to the Lieut', and enclosed a letter to his messmate, to tell her what he said during those six days.   O I hope we shall hear something to comfort us.  I will write you as soon as we get any information.  I think we may have his body brought on.  Although it will not be so easy to get it as if he had died at or near Washington.  I do not know exactly where it is.  The letter was written from at the White Hospital and he says that he was interred near the Hospital and the grave properly marked.  I think it must be near the river opposite Fredericksburgh.  It is about 40 miles below Washington I believe —

Dear Mackey I have not time or space to say much to her. 2   Hatty says she found her very happy and comfortable with her little chickens around her. 3  Tell her not to grieve over poor George for God whose

p. 5.*

ways are high above ours so the Heavens are above the earth.  And He has done it — Let us not grieve or sorrow over His providence.  Aola is quite feeble still.  I dread the effect of this news upon her.

    Your affect sister,

Geo died on the 19th and his wife did not receive the letter until day before yesterday.

NOTES:  *This text is actually written cross ways over the text on page 1 of the letter.  A common practice when paper was scarce.
1. Heman Timlow is George & Annie's brother in law, married to their sister Martha.
2. Mackey may be Martha.  She had 3 daughters in 1863; ages 7, 4, and an infant.   They may be the “little chickens” referred to.
3. Hattie is probably George and Annie's sister Harriet.


Alice Bigelow Chapin

If there is a silver lining to this sad tale it is that George’s infant daughter Alice, survived the uncertainties of 19th century childhood and thrived as an adult.  Her many descendants are living today.

Alice, was born to George and his wife Ruth Ellen “Nelly” Bigelow in October 1861, just weeks after their marriage, and six months before he enlisted in the Massachusetts 13th Regiment.  Alice was not quite 15 months old when her father died at Fredericksburg.  Her mother Ruth died of tuberculosis in March, 1873, when Alice was 11 years old.  Now orphaned, young Alice moved from Boston to Montclair, NJ to live with an uncle and aunt; Albert and Lucy Bigelow.

At age 19, in March of 1881, she married Cyrus Smith Chapin whom she met in Lincoln, Mass., while visiting her father’s aunt.  The couple had 5 children; — George Bigelow’s grandchildren.

    1). Robert Bigelow Chapin (1884 - 1943)
    2). Raymond George Chapin (1888 - 1898)
    3). Helen Gertrude Chapin (1890 - 1987)
    4). Elliot Adams Chapin (1896 - 1918)
    5). Eleanor Alice Chapin (1903 - 1966)

Of the five children, three lived to marry and have children of their own, Robert, Helen, and Eleanor.  Alice Chapin pictured, above.

Raymond, the 2nd born, died at age 10.  He fell through the ice and drowned while skating on Crystal Lake in Newton Center, MA, near the family home.

The 4th child Elliot became a bomber pilot with the British Royal Airforce in World War I.  His plane was shot down near Thionville, France on June 27, 1918.  A brief memorial biography of Elliot is posted below.

Robert the eldest child, graduated from Harvard University, 1908.  He married Elizabeth Dunbar and had 4 children, who in turn, have families of their own today.

Robert Helen and Elliot Chapin

George's grand-daughter Helen married Robert Crins Chapin,  had 3 sons, all who served in the U.S. military in the 1950’s.  Helen's sons had children making 10 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grand-child, for her.

Pictured at right, are Alice Bigelow Chapin's chidren, (George Bigelow's grandchildren) Robert, Helen and Elliot Chapin.

Eleanor married Scott Hunter Wells and had a daughter and 2 granddaughters.

In all, George E. Bigelow, killed in action with the 13th Massachusetts at Fredericksburg, had at least 15 Great-Great-Great Grandchildren, probably more depending on how many offspring followed from Robert's four children.

So George’s E. Bigelow’s legacy lives on today, and his descendants honor his brief service by remembering his great sacrifice.  A note card accompanies the small collection presented on this page.  Written in Alice’s hand, it states:

“Letters from my dear father, written during the war, 1862.”

Elliot Adams Chapin, 1896 - 1918

Elliot Adams Chapin, British Royal Flying Corps

One of George’s grandsons,  Elliot Adams Chapin, was born in Somerville, Mass. May 10, 1895.  Elliot had a rare engaging personality and is remembered at Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass., where he spent only 1 year, “as a boy of unusual personal charm.”

In 1914 he entered Harvard College, class of 1918.  He left the school in April, 1917, near the end of his junior year, to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard.  He had wanted to be a pilot, but a  minor defect in one eye prevented him from joining the U.S. Aviation Service.  Eager to do more than the Coast Guard allowed, Elliot obtained an honorable discharge on August 24, and immediately enlisted in the British Royal Flying Corps to train as a pilot.

In four months time he was commissioned 2d Lieutenant.  Between late January and early February, 1918,  he sailed to England.  After further intensive training he was promoted 1st Lieutenant and assigned to fly a large, slow, De Haviland bomber plane.  In early May, seven months from the time of his enlistment he was ordered to France.  On June 27, while returning from a successful bombing mission ( a railroad near Thionville, France)  his squadron was attacked by German Fokker scouts.  A bullet passed through the fuel tank of Elliot’s plane which caused an explosion.  Chapin’s plane went down in flames at 1300 feet.

“Lieutenant Walker of Chapin’s squadron, flying at the time only fifty feet away, bore witness to the scene:  “When he saw death staring him in the face, I saw him turn around to his observer, reach out his hand and shake hands with him.”

Information about Elliot Chapin is from "Memoirs of the Harvard Dead in the War Against Germany"; by Mark Antony DeWolfe Howe, Vol. 3, p. 293.  Which can be accessed on-line at GOOGLE BOOKS.

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Letter of Charles E. Leland, Co. B

This letter was previously posted on the Battle of Fredericksburg Page.

Camp opposite Fredericksburg, Va., Dec. 17th 1862

Dear Father,

       Charles E. Leland, Co. B After several days of excitement we are at last resting on this side of the Rappahannock with about as much gained as you could put into a nut shell.

In fact we met the enemy and after a hard fight we came back across the river. Our Division crossed the river on Friday, our brigade being on the right of the Division and our regiment the right of the brigade. We advanced to the left and took our position and our regiment deployed as skirmishers and advanced about half a mile or a mile when we met the enemy's skirmishers or pickets rather.

    We advanced to within about 500 yards of the rebs when we halted.  During the afternoon we conversed with them at this distance and one of our Co. Blanchard by name got permission and went and met one of their men half way and gave him some coffee and he gave Blanchard a biscuit  such as they have for rations.  They talked as familiar as could be. Such is this war.

    We did picket duty that night and the next AM. Meade's Division came and formed for an advance.  They advanced over us and we went to the rear under a very heavy fire.  The regiment was then ordered to join the  brigade which was in front and as soon as they arrived were thrown out as skirmishers in front.

    We then advanced under a heavy fire but most of the bullets went over and hit in the regiments advancing in line of battle behind.

    As soon as the rebs showed themselves in heavy force our brigade advanced over our regiment and the regiment fell to the rear.  We got ammunition and then advanced again.

    It begun to be dark and our regiment was put in front for picket duty.  We were relieved the night that we crossed the river back again and here we are in camp again.

    Two of our men were wounded Blanchard and Young.  Co. D lost two men killed besides several wounded.  Our regiment did not suffer so bad as if they had advanced in line.  Our brigade suffered badly.  The 11th Pennsylvania and 9th New York suffered badly.

    You must excuse bad writing as my fingers are cold owing to the weather.  When is George Worcester coming?  The box sent by the chaplain came all safe and everything was safe and sound.  The minced pie were very nice as also the cake and cheese.

    My other box came safely by Chase and everything had kept well.  You must write me soon and I will answer.  With love to all I am your affect. son. 

    Chas. E. Leland.

    Kisses to little Ada and tell her that her letter was appreciated.

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Christmas in Camp, 1862

 From the very sad story of George Bigelow above, it seems almost disrespectful to transition to the light-hearted scribblings of Charles Follen Adams. But The soldiers confronted tragedy routinely.  Maintaining a normal and cheerful attitude with loved ones back home, surely provided some relief.  Adams made a post-war career writing humorous verses.

It's just before Christmas and recruit Charles Adams and his tent-mate Walter T. Fowler are writing home to have a box sent to camp.  The last shipment of boxes to the regiment arrived weeks late, after the chartered boat that was arranged to deliver them, was commandered by military authorities and sailed to North Carolina and back,  before delivering the much anticipated cargo.  By then most of the items lovingly packed by family and friends back home, had mostly spoiled.

Letter of Private Charles Follen Adams, Company A, December 23, 1862

Camp about 4 miles from Bell plain landing Dec 23d /62

Brother George:
          As Walter is writing home to his mother I thought I would [write] a few lines as he + I have a little business to transact with you.  He had a letter from home tonight + his mother spoke about sending him a box if he were in winter quarters  + as the prospect is fair for winter camp here, + as he + I need several little  articles   he wrote telling her to send what  she had to you  + you would put them in a box with the other things + send them to us.  We have been rather unlucky about our other boxes + we want to see if we cant have one come on in good shape + if one is sent directly I think we shall get it in good season.   In the first place we want a right smart box as the people say + darn the expense.  I will give you a list of what we want + I guess you had better draw $10. for that last box of mine to get these articles  with + then if you will send the bill of these last things I will settle for

p. 2.

my share, as Walter says he has sent more for his mother to send you some money for his.  In the first place Walter wants a pair of boots just like mine No 8s. with steel nails in the heels + toes (Plummers Last $4.)

lb. black pepper         2 lbs brown sugar
1/8 “ ground cinnamon  /      1  “ lozenges
3 “  dates, 1 lb raisons     1 “ assorted candy
2 “ figs            1 ps. lentile soup
Dz lemons            2 large sticks black licorice
2 qts pea-nutze – ( put them in loose as we want room)   
2 quires letter paper   {   you can get Cliff Phipps to select these, The diary
1 diary | 1863 |             {  Common size to carry in my pocket.
      1 Ea White + buff
2 packages envelopes
1 bottle ink   A bottle small sized painkiller
1 flask bottle cherry brandy (for diarrhoea)
1 good pocket knife for me (also Walters if not sent)
A few nails of different sizes.
Latest Dime Novel (Walter says this)
2 lbs  C  h  e  e  s  e
1 three cornered file.  Magnesia for heartburn
1 Box condensed milk
A fine tooth comb (get this of John Clapp if you can)
            See him at Whiskeys + tell him
            he can send any letters from the store folks in the box

p. 3.

We can’t seem to think of anything more for you to buy for us.  I guess you think it is about enough.  Walter says you can send the prices of all the items, + can use the whole of the money that he sends as far as it goes + I will send the balance + make it right with him as some of the articles  are for me + some for him.  The black pepper that you sent in the last box all sifted out that is the reason I send for more.  It is something that we use a good deal of.  Anything else in the eatable line that you have a mind to send will be very acceptable.  A great many of the boys have their eatables spoil by their being put in when warm, they had ought to be perfectly cool before you pack them.  A few good apples would go about as good as anything I can think of as they are not to be had here for love or money + if you can put in some to fill up the chinks We will be greatly obliged.  Bell Lindsey wanted me to let her know when I was going to have a box sent as she would have something to put in if you can get word to her  I should like to

p. 4.

have you.  You need not be afraid of the thing spoiling as I think they will be put right through this time + if you pack them carefully  will arrive O.K.  There is one thing more that I left out that our mouths Water for this is a mince pie.  You can buy one at Mrs Havens[?] School St if you don’t happen to have any made + charge it with the other things.  Walter is O.K. + sends his love he says he is sorry to trouble you so much but will make it right  in good time.  We have just been making a house, partly of logs + we can stand up inside, which makes it Very bully.  I sent some cotton the other day which I picked in a field near our camp did you get it ?  I received the bags which you sent  for which I am very much obliged as they are very handy to have about the house.  Give my love to Father + Mother + all the rest of the folks and tell John that I will answer his last letter when there is some news to write.

From Your Bro.

            Charles F.

Please send the box by Adams Ex
Direct Charles F Adams + W. S. Fowler
        Co A 13th Regmt Mass Vols
Washington D. C.
Care of Chase + Brown

If his brother, or Santa, couldn't get Charles & Walter their box, I did my best to fulfill their request.  (Items on the list not shown reside beneath the straw and have not yet been unpacked.)

A photo mossaic of the box from home with the items Charles requested.

General Orders No 12

The hand written orders below are found in Gilder-Lehrman's Collection of Colonel Leonard's Papers,
GLC 3393 #55.

Hd Qr Left Grand Div.
Near White Oak Church Va
Dec 24th 1862

General Orders
                No 12

                                        2.  Tomorrow being Christmas day the Maj Genl Comdg. directs that all drills or other Military excercises not of necessity be omited and that as far as the condition of each Command will permit, the troops be allowed to enjoy a day of rest and relaxation.

By Command of Maj Genl Franklin
Signed M.McMahon
Maj & A.A.A. G.

Hd Qrs 1st Army Corps
            Dec 24th 1862

                Signed W. Riddle, A.D.C.
                   Hd Qrs 2d Div 1st Army Corps
                                                Dec 25th 1862

Jas W Powell Jr   
Lt A.D.C. & A.A.A.G.

Diary of Sam Webster, Company D

Thursday, December 25th, 1862

Am hard at work on a new house.  Built one and had to tear it up, as the “line” was straightened.  All my messmates seem unfortunate.  Bacon, Reed, Dana, Demerritt, Lyford, one and all, have been “punched” more or less, and are gone. Five of us now have agreed to build together;  Kelly and Tom Prince, Watts and Cushing, and myself.  The cover will be three tents — about 17 feet — long, arranged something like the one at Brooks Station, except that the earth is all thrown out, and beds built of poles and crotches, covered with pine boughs.  Fire place ; an oven dug into the bank — chimney outside of crossed sticks plastered — draws bully — when it don’t smoke.  The upper part of the sides of tent is made of logs crossed and notched at the ends. Taken altogether it is quite comfortable.  Our Christmas Dinner is half broiled beef and hard bread.

Friday, December 26th, 1862.

Finish the house.

Sam's previous unfortunate tent mates were:

HENRY BACON; age, 21; born, Haverhill, Mass.; artist; mustered in as Corp., Co. D, July 16, '61; mustered out, Dec. 19, '62, on account of wounds received at second Bull Run.

JAMES K. P. REED; age, 20; born, Bangor, Me.; clerk; mustered in as sergt., Co. D, July 16, '61; mustered out, Nov. 14, '62, on account of wounds.

ISAAC D. DANA ; age, 27; born, Brighton, Mass.; clerk; mustered in as Corp., Co. D, July 16, '61; mustered out, Dec. 2, '62, on account of wounds received at Antietam.

CHARLES O. DEMERITT; age, 22; born, Ossipee, N.H.; machinist; mustered in as sergt., Co. D, July 16, '61 mustered out, March 25, '63: wounded, Aug. 30, '62, at Manassas.

GEORGE A. LYFORD; age, 23; born, Boston; carpenter; mustered in as priv Co D July 16 '61 mustered out as Corp., for wounds received at Fredericksburg.

His current tent mates would fare a little better with the exception of Joseph K. Kelley, who died of fever in September, 1863.

Letter of Charles E. Leland, Christmas Day

The Mr. Chase mentioned in the letter below, is the sutler of the "13th Mass."

Cabin Tents Winter Camp

Camp near Bell Plain Landing, Dec. 25th 1862

     Dear Father and Mother,

    Having some leisure time to day I thought I could not improve it better than by writing to you.  To day is beautiful for Christmas, and I hope that it is as pleasant and warm at home. We are living very comfortable in our tents.

    All of the Co. have fixed up their tents, as if we were going into Winter Quarters.  Four of us have managed to fix up a very good place to live in.  We dug down about 2 1/2 feet in the ground just the size of our tent and we then raised the height by putting two logs high around the top.  We then made a fire place in the centre, and built a chimney on the out side (see my sketch of the tent.)

    We have got a first rate fire place, and it heats the tent up first rate.  Our fare is about the same as ever hard tack, coffee and a little sugar (five spoon fulls for three days.)  We have fresh beef about once every three days.  I hope that you send that box of that I wrote for when we were near Stafford Court House as if you did I shall get it tomorrow night Mr. Chase having got down to Acquia Creek and sent after them.

    There is no news here of any consequence now, and every thing looks quiet. Gen. Gibbons being wounded, Gen. Taylor took command of this division and Col. Leonard command of the brigade.  Lieut. Col. Batchelder is appointed acting Col. of the 11th Penn. regiment, they having lost all their line officers.  And Major Gould commands this regiment at present.

    We have between three and four hundred men in our regiment.  Co. B has twenty men for duty.  Capt. Cary started for home a day of two ago and I presume you have seen him ere this.  He can tell you more than I can about the Company and regiment.

    Two or three paroled and exchanged prisoners came into camp to day. They belong to Co. E.  By them I hear that George Worcester is in Washington besides two or three other men belonging to this Co.   I hope that we will stop here for some time and I think that we will.

    We are in a very good place to obtain a few luxuries from the landing provided we have money.  We are not likely to be paid off for some time and I wish you would send me five dollars in your next letter and then I can get me cheese bread or any thing by sending down by one of the teamsters (Bigelow of our Co.).  One gets tired of pork and hard tack all the time.

    I suppose that you are having a good time as usual on Christmas.  I have not received a letter from you for some time but hope to soon.  Have you heard anything of Clark?  I was sorry to hear by Mother's letter that Aunt Mary was sick but hope that this will find her better. Remember me to Grandfather and Grandmother also to all the folks that I know in So. Walpole.  How does Uncle Henry's trout pond get along?  I would give a good deal to be set down at Grandfather's this afternoon.  I suppose that old Grif still survives.

    Give my love to Uncle Henry and Aunt Kate.  When you send any thing in the shape of a box again please put in a small Worcester County cheese weight about ten pounds. We are troubled a good deal with diarrhea and that is a good thing to eat with food.  I will now close by wishing you all a Merry Christmas.  Kiss Ada for me.  Give my love to brother Henry. Hoping that this will find you well.  I am your affectionate son. 

    Chas. E. Leland. Co. B

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The Suffering of the Wounded

    Warren hid the truth about his suffering in his letters home at the time it occurred.  But in 1864, at the end of his service, when it was clear he would come home un-harmed, he described his ordeal at Fredericksburg.   The post-war image of Warren H. Freeman is from the scrapbook of Company A comrade, James H. Lowell of Holton, Kansas. It was shared with me by Lowell's descendants.

Letter of Warren Freeman, Christmas Day

                   Near Bell Plain, December 25, 1862

Warren Hapgood Freeman, Co. A     Dear Father, - You must excuse this long delay; I should have written had I been well.  I was sick some days before we left Brooks’s Station, but marched with the regiment the first day, and on the second day rode in an ambulance on account of the swelling of my lower limbs.  When we arrived at Fredericksburg the sick were put in a barn near the river; here we found some corn-stalks and made ourselves tolerably comfortable on them, with the addition of our blankets; but about midnight, after the battle, we were turned out of the barn into the field, as the barn was wanted for the badly wounded.  We kept our cornstalks, however, and lay on the frozen ground two nights and one day. The field was covered all over with wounded men groaning and calling for water; some attempted to crawl on their bellies to the river side for a drop of water to relieve their thirst.  In the course of two days these wounded men were carried away and we were put in the barn again; here we suffered terribly from the cold, as we had no way to warm ourselves.  After about ten days we were carried to the hospital of the regiment, and I feel some better, and have quite a good appetite.  I think my lameness was brought on by marching in the mud so long with army shoes with very thin soles. I wish you would send me a pair of thick boots and two pair of wool socks – put them in a box with a can of condensed milk, some butter, sugar, etc.  I received two boxes from home while at Brooks’s Station; everything was in good order but two or three of the apples, which had rotted.

     I give you many thanks for these acceptable presents; will write again soon.

     From our affectionate son,


Letter, December 30, 1862

Bell Plain, December 30, 1862.

     Dear Father, - My feet are a good deal better ; the doctor says he thinks it is crysipelas.

     I bathe them every day in warm mustard water ; I have got so that I can walk quite comfortably.  I do not find any fault with the quality of our food, it is only the quantity, which is rather small for a man with a good appetite ;  we hope Chase* will be along soon with plenty of good things for New Year.

     Our regiment was very fortunate in the late battle at Fredericksburg.  They acted as skirmishers all day, and their loss was small; no one killed in my company.

     I got a brief note from Eugene last week, dated Aquia Creek;  he is quite well.

     January 11, 1863, - Yours of the 2d inst. came to had a few days since.  I regret you were so much worried about me while I lay in that old barn and on the field with the wounded; but although my physical pains were severe, still they would not compare in any degree with thte poor fellows all around me - to the number of perhaps 1,200 - with all manner of gunshot wounds, and to be compelled to listen to groans, their cries for help, and not to be able to lift a hand to administer to their wants.  O !  it is worse than any battle I was ever in ; but I presume there was no one to blame in the matter.  Our losses were said to be very great, and wll men could not be taken from the ranks to care for all the wounded.

     Chase has not arrived yet; nothing for sale but a few small apples - price five for a quarter, such as you get at home for a cent apiece ; I am anticipationg a feast off those you say are on the way here in my box.

     I have heard nothing more from brother Eugene.

     With love to mother, brother and sister, and a kind remembrance to all who inquire, I remain

Your Affectionate son,

*Chase is the sutler of  the 13th Mass. Regiment

     Warren suffered terribly during the Fredericksburg campaign but would not speak of his suffering until he was free of military service once and for all.  In a letter dated Sept. 15, 1864 he wrote the following to his father.

Post war image of Warren H. Freeman     On mother's account, principally, I have forborne to say much about the horrible scenes I have participated in during the past three years ; it would only have increased her anxiety in regard to my safety.  Even if I had the ability to describe a battle I don't think I should attempt it.  But brother Eugene is of a  different turn from me in this respect ; he is quite imaginative in describing some of the scenes of suffering that have fallen under his notice.  As opportunities offered, Eugene has gone among the dead and wounded of the Potomac army, thinking it possible he might find me among the number.  There is an instnce in point that occurs to me now, for, singularly enough, he happened, while at Acquia Creek, to meet with some of the wounded men that lay on the field with me at Fredericksburg on those December nights that I have written you about.  Eugene wrote to some one an account of the affair, - I don't know whom, but I have now a scrap of the letter, and as I have time enough, I will copy the part that may interest you, simply remarking that our loss in that battle as very large, and many days were required in removing our wounded to places where they could be cared for.

     "During a recent trip to Acquia Creek we were forcibly reminded of the horrors of war.  It was a few days after the battle of Fredericksburg, on a cold, sleety afternoon.  A train of box cars came in here loaded with wounded men ; they lay on some hay in the bottom of the cars.  Very calm and quiet they were, an occasional groan, perhaps, being heard as a rude touch or jar caused suffering to some poor fellow beyond what he could bear in silence.  There were no hospital accommodations here for them, and all the steamers had gone to Washington with the wounded ; so these poor fellows had to be left on the frozen ground with a little hay under them, and nought but their blankets and the lowering dripping clouds to cover them.  Cold, wet, and nearly dead, there they lay all through the December night.  In the morning I found there were many whose rigid forms and distorted faces, upturned to the still weeping skies, told the story of the work of death.  This seemed to me more horrible than the battle-field even.  But I suppose that it cannot be helped ; there must be times, especially after great battles, when the wounded cannot be taken care of, but must be left to their fate.  The nature of our business here was such that we could render them but little relief, and reluctantly I turned from these poor fellows with a heavy heart."

    Acquia Creek Landing

 The Army Supply Base at Acquia Creek Landing

    I am thankful Eugene did not know of my situation when he wrote the above, and that you and dear mother were not aware of my terrible sufferings for fifteen days and nights while lying on the frozen ground, and in that old barn, with the thermometer far below the freezing point.  But I will not weary you any more with such details, though I cannot keep them from my own mind.

NOTE: Warren's brother Eugene was an engineer in the transport service.  He served on various steamships during the war.

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Next up:  Massachusetts Adjt. General William Schouler's Annual Report, 1862.

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Page Updated July 30, 2018.

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“such a sight as a battle field no person can imagine, until they have really seen it.”  — George E. Bigelow.