History of the 13th Massachusetts Volunteers


1861     |     1862     |     1863     |     1864     |     After


1863

Summary of Service

Major-General A. E. Burnside’s 'Mud March' of late January started things off on in a bad way. His resignation a short time later, and Major-General Joseph Hooker’s assuming command of the Army of the Potomac improved morale, as well as rations & sanitation.  The '13th Mass' remained in winter quarters near Fletcher's Chapel until late April. Then, during the Chancellorsville Campaign, the 6th Corps & the 1st Corps led a feigned attack at Fredericksburg while the rest of Hooker’s army snuck across the Rappahannock River farther away to the west. The 13th was with the First Corps on April 30th 1863 at Fitzhugh crossing, when an enemy shell fell into their midst & struck and killed two officers and severely wounded John S. Fay.  Careful surgery by Dr. Allston Whitney saved Fay’'s life but he lost an arm and a leg, becoming the most severely maimed man in the regiment.  Both Dr. Whitney and John Fay were shortly thereafter captured by the advancing rebel army and sent to Richmond’s Libby prison for a spell.

The regiment was lucky at the battle of Chancellorsville, spending most of their time in rifle pits and not actively engaged.  Four companies from the 12th & 13th went out on reconnaissance May 4th.   Two men of the 13th were killed, and 7 wounded. Things were different at the battle of Gettysburg.

The 13th held the extreme right of the 1st Corps line on the Mummasburg Road, July 1st 1863. On their right was a regiment of skirmishers belonging to the 11th Corps, but for all they knew the 11th Corps lines were 1/2 mile away.  The boys fought hard all afternoon & when the 1st Corps line broke, they had to make a run through the town to make their way to the army's fall back position at Cemetery Hill.  Ninety men were captured trying to get there. About seventy made it, and spent the next two days supporting the Union lines wherever needed. Twenty five men of the regiment are listed in the revised roster* as killed at Gettysburg. *(13th Regiment Association Circular #8).

On August 14th new men joined the regiment at Rappahannock Station, Va. Of these drafted men, two hundred started from Boston, and 12 were shot or drowned trying to escape en route to the front. Some had taken part in the NY draft riots in early July. Forty deserted the first night with the regiment. These conscripts brought tears to the eyes of the original members and recruits of the old 13th. Of the 186 men received, 115 deserted, 26 transferred to the Navy, 6 were discharged with disability and 1 was killed in battle.  While they remained with the regiment most of them caused nothing but trouble.

In October the regiment followed the rebel army north, taking part in the Bristoe Campaign when General Lee attempted a flanking manoeuvre around General Meade.  They heard the cavalry skirmishes all along the way but never were engaged with the enemy themselves.

In November, during the Mine Run Campaign, the regiment was placed in the 2nd line of battle for a scheduled assault that would have sent them across a flooded meadow in front of strongly fortified heights beyond.  Many thought they wouldn’t live through it, but after a restless night waiting for the order to advance the attack was called off. The year closed with the regiment spending winter quarters in an advanced position; doing picket duty and guarding the Orange & Alexandria railroad between Cedar Mountain and Mitchell’s’ Station.



SPECIAL PAGES

Three special pages have been added to this website which tell stories that do not fit into the regiment's chronology.  It is the story of specific soldiers confined in and around the city of Washington between September, 1862 and October 1863.  They are self-contained narratives of soldiers, Albert Liscom, Company C, James Ramsey, Company E, George S. Cheney, Company E, and William H. H. Rideout, Company B.  Many other soldiers of the regiment are featured.  To view these special pages click this link:  Around Washington, 1862 - 1863.


Winter Camp at Fletcher's Chapel

Jan. 1st - The regiment musters slightly less than 350 men.  Alpheus Montgomery is commissioned 2nd-Lieutenant.

Jan. 7th - President Lincoln approves General Burnside's plans to re-cross the river and attack General Lee.

Jan. 9th - First-Lieutenant Loring S. Richardson, Co. G, is discharged.

Jan. 10th - Second-Lieutenant Jacob A. Howe, Co. A, is promoted First-Lieutenant. Sergeant Robert Bruce Henderson is commissioned Second-Lieutenant.

Jan. 12th - Sutlers Chase and Brown arrive in camp.  "Chief amusement in camp is playing cards.  Chief drawbacks, drills, inspections and storms; all very plentiful." - Sam Webster.

Jan. 15th - Captain Charles H. Hovey is appointed Brigade Inspector.

Jan. 19th - Regiment on picket duty coming off late at night.

Burnside's Mud March, January 20th -  23rd

An advance is ordered but the entire army gets stuck in the mud due to heavy rains.

Jan. 20th - Orders received to march.  Plans called for the army to cross the Rappahannock River once more, to try to turn the enemy's right wing. They start out at noon and march west 10 miles to Stoneman's Switch and halt for the night.  They get cut off from the rest of the brigade during the move and didn't find them until night when it was raining hard. There was no wood to be found for building fires so, no coffee.

Jan. 21st - Hard rain at daylight.  The rain created mud making the roads impassable.  They start again at noon but make only 4 1/2 miles after six hours.  The enemy on the opposite side of the river hold up signs reading "Burnside's army stuck in the mud."  Orders were given to halt for the night.  Half rations are issued.

Jan. 22nd - Staid in camp, muddily.  The mud is so deep the wagons can't move.

Jan. 23rd - The morning dawned upon another day of rain and storm.  They marched back to camp 14 miles, starting at 8 a.m.  The roads were abandoned for the woods and fields.  The mud was so deep the artillery was double teamed and left half their guns behind to be brought back later.  

“It is not an exaggeration to say, that before or after, there was seen no such state of demoralization as possessed a large part of the Army of the Potomac at the end of this foolish undertaking.” Charles E. Davis, Jr., "Three Years in the Army."

On Duty at Falmouth and Belle Plain until April 27th

Jan. 26th - Major-General Ambrose Burnside resigns, replaced by Major-General Joseph Hooker, who takes command of the Army of the Potomac to the great satisfaction of the troops.

Jan. 29th - Snow storm.

Jan.30th - Assistant Surgeon James L. Harriman is discharged.

Feb. 1st - Captain Samuel Neat resigned.

Feb. 2nd - First-Lieutenant Charles F. Morse of the Commissary department is discharged. First-Lieutenant Joseph Colburn is promoted Captain, probably Co. E, which he helped to organize in Roxbury.  Second-Lieutenant Oscar F. Morse is promoted First-Lieutenant.  Michael J. Dagney is commissioned Second-Lieutenant.

Feb. 3rd - Second-Lieutenant Morton F. Tower is promoted First-Lieutenant.

Feb. 5th - Stormy and cold.

Feb. 8th - Sigourney Wales declined a commission as Second-Lieutenant. Co. C.  He eventually enlists as an officer in the 59th Mass Vols, a veteran regiment commanded by Colonel J. P. Gould. (Major Gould of the 13th Mass).

Feb. 13th - First-Lieutenant Charles B. Fox resigns for a commission in the 2nd Mass. Cavalry. He later joins the 55th Mass as Lieutenant-Colonel.

Feb. 14th - Second-Lieutenant David Whiston is promoted First-Lieutenant.  William Cordwell, Co. K is commissioned Second-Lieutenant.   He is killed April 30 at Fitzhugh Crossing.

Feb 17th - Col. Leonard called the brigade out for guard mounting in a snow storm.

Feb. 22nd - Snow storm.

Feb. 26th - Captain Joseph Cary, Co. B, is discharged due to disability.

Feb. 27th - First-Lieutenant George N. Bush is promoted Captain, assigned to Company F.  He is killed April 30th at Fitzhugh Crossing.   Second-Lieutenant William B. Kimball, Co. K, is promoted First-Lieutenant.  Samuel E. Cary is commissioned Second-Lieutenant.

March 2nd - Lloyd W. Hixon joins the regiment as Assistant Surgeon.

March 5th - Captain William H. Jackson, Co. C, is discharged.

March 6th - First-Lieutenant David L. Brown, Co. I, is promoted Captain. Second-Lietenant Thomas R. Wells, is promoted First-Lieutenant.  William S. Damrell is commissioned Second-Lieutenant.

March 12th - Chaplain Noah M. Gaylord is discharged.

March 13th - Edgar Parker joins the regiment as Assistant Surgeon.  He is later wounded at Gettysburg on the steps of Christ Church.

March 19th - Division Review by General Robinson. News of the 13th's 'prinking' for review reached Col. Coulter of the 11th Pa.  He dressed his dog 'Sallie' with a white paper collar around her neck labeled "13," and a white glove on each paw, to make fun of the '13th Mass.', nicknamed 'the Band-box guard.'  Sallie had the run of the field during the entire event to the amusement of all.

(Note: This is erroneously recorded in the regimental history for the date April 13.  The actual review took place March 19 as corraborated by soldiers' diaries and letters.)

March 20th - Snow storm.  Review by Corps Commander, General John F. Reynolds cancelled.

March 21st - The order for Corps-badges is issued.  First-Lieutenant Thomas J. Little is discharged.

March 22nd - Seond-Lieutenant Henry N. Washburn is promoted First-Lieutenant.  Josiah (Joe) H. Stewart is commissioned Second-Lieutenant.

March 23rd - Regiment on picket.

March 25th - Regiment returns from picket.  It begins to snow and rain.  Dress parade.

March 26th - Rain all day clearing off in afternoon.  Dress parade.

March 27th - Morning Battalion drill.  Afternoon Brigade drill with Col. Leonard.

March 28th - Heavy rain all day.

March 29th - First-Lieutenant John Foley is discharged. He later joins the 2nd Mass. Heavy Artillery.

March 30th - Regimental inspection. Dress parade in the evening.  Second-Lieutenant Charles W. Whitcomb is promoted First-Lieutenant.  William A. Alley is commissioned Second-Lieutenant, Co. I.

March 31st - Snow storm in the morning, hail and rain at noon.  Cleared off pleasant.

Read more about the regiment in Winter Camp, January - March

April 1st - Battalion drilll in the afternoon by Captain Moses Palmer.  Sergeant James Gibson is promoted Second-Lieutenant.

April 2nd - The Division is reviewed by General Hooker.   He pays the '13th Mass' a compliment.

April 3rd - Brigade inspection and drill. Dress parade in the evening.

April 6th - Company drill in the morning.  Dress parade in the evening.  Rain at night.

April 7th - Brigade Guard mounting in the morning.Company drills with Lieutenant Henderson.

April 8th - Company drill in the morning.  Battalion drill with Major J. P. Gould.  Dress parade in the evening.

April 9th - March 5 miles to Pratt's Landing.  The First Army Corps is reviewed by President Lincoln and Secretary Stanton.  The '13th Mass' had the right of the line, and was the first regiment to march by the President.   The precision of the 12th and 13th Mass Regiments at this review was written up in the newspapers.  Get back to camp at 4 p.m.   Go out on picket at 5:30 p.m.

April 12th - Picket relieved at 8 a.m. and came back to camp.

April 13th - Bayonet and skirmishing drill in the morning.  Battalion drill in the afternoon with Captain Augustine Harlow.  A large force of cavalry leaves the vicinity this morning.

April 14th - Orders received to prepare to march.  Corps Badges received in the regiment.  The 13th's badge is a white piece of cotton the size of a half dollar to be worn on the top of the cap.  It denotes 2nd Division, First Army Corps.  Rain at night.

April 15th - Rain all day.  Captain George Bush and Lieutenant-Colonel N. W. Batchelder return from furloughs.

April 17th - Company drill in the morning.  Battalion drill in the afternoon by Lt.-Col. Batchelder.  Dress parade in the evening.

April 18th - Company drill in the morning.  No drill in the afternoon.  Evening dress parade.

April 19th - Very warm.  Brigade Guard Mounting in the morning.  Regimental inspection by Captain Moses Palmer.  Dress parade in the evening.

April 20th - Regimental inspecton.  Afternoon heavy rain.

April 21st - Orders to be ready to march at a moments notice.  Evening Dress parade.

April 22nd - Company drill in the morning.  Brigade drill in the afternoon by Colonel Leonard.  Paymaster arrives in camp.  Rain all night.

April 23rd - Signed pay rolls.

April 24th - Rain in the morning and most of the day.  Regiment paid up to March 1st.

April 25th - Company drill in the morning.  Evening Dress parade.

April 26th - Very warm day.  Regiment sent out on picket in the morning, arriving at 10 a.m.

April 27th - While on picket orders received to march in the morning.

Chancellorsville Campaign, April 28th - May 7th

April 28th - The Regiment breaks camp and marches toward the Rappahannock River carrying eight days rations.

April 29th - Left camp in the woods at 3 a.m. and stacked arms in a large field after going a short distance.  General Wadsworth's Division went across the river on pontoon bridges toward Fredericksburg and the 13th's 2nd Divison moved down to the river bank and remained in position all afternoon, the Rebs in plain sight on the other side.  Thunder shower towards the evening.  All quiet.

April 30th - After a quiet morning with the fog hugging the river until 9 a.m., a sudden shelling by the enemy begins between 1 & 2 o’clock in the afternoon.  A shell suddenly strikes Captain George N. Bush and Second-Lieutenant William Cordwell killing them instantly.  The same shell strikes John S. Fay severely wounding him.  Orderly Sgt. Enoch C. Pierce quickly ties up John’s wounds to stop the bleeding and with comrade Andrew Mann, carries him to the Fitzhugh House field hospital where Dr. Allston Whitney saves his life by amputating an arm and a leg.  Whitney and Fay are captured by the advancing Rebel army several weeks later and sent to Libby Prison in Richmond.  Both survive.  Fay is held 33 days, and Whitney is released after five months.

May 1st - Up at 4 a.m.  Nothing occured during the morning.  Heavy firing on the right.  Artillery duel in the afternoon.  First-Lieutenant Oliver C. Livermore is promoted Captain assigned to Co. A, served on Col. Leonard's staff while he was Brigade Commander.   Second-Lieutenant Samuel C. Whitney, Co. G, is promoted First-Lieutenant.  Charles E. Horne, Co. G, is commissioned Second-Lieutenant.  William R. Warner, Co. K, is commissioned Second-Lieutenant.

May 2nd - Up at 4 a.m.  After a long march to United States Ford they start to make camp at 8 p.m. when orders are received to rush forward with great haste.  Stonewall Jackson’s surprise attack on the right flank of General Hooker's lines panicked the 11th Corps.  The regiment hurries to Chancellorsville past the wreckage of a confused army and finally halts on the right of the Union lines at 2 a.m.  They begin digging earthworks. They traveled 30 miles this day.

May 3rd - The First Corps strengthens its positions.   Major-General John Sedgwick's 6th Corps does the heavy fighting this day, at Fredericksburg and Salem Church.

May 4th - Heavy picket firing at 3 a.m.  Every man is in the trenches and ready for action.   At 12 noon, the 12th and 13th Mass., with the 2nd Maine Battery, advance mile and do a reconnaissance.  Four companies are sent forward as skirmishers.  Six or seven men from Company D are wounded.  One man, Samuel S. Carleton, is wounded and captured.   He was treated at various hospitals after his parole but his wounds never healed.  He suffered in agony until his eventual death in January, 1867.  At night it commenced to rain.

May 5th - In the trenches.  It is excessively hot until 3 p.m. when a torrential thunderstorm soaks the soldiers through and through.  They are ordered to retreat about 8 p.m. but the river is too swollen to cross, so they return to their trenches.  They spend what they called their most miserable night, waiting in the cold rain for the order to move.

May 6th - The order to move finally comes at 3 a.m.  They fall back to the river crossing at United States Ford with the Rebels closely following them up.  At daylight they arrive and re-cross on pontoons.  They continue the march 10 miles toward Falmouth and camp on an open plain.

May 7th - At 11 a.m. they march to White Oak Church, arriving at 6 p.m. and make camp.  They are within 1 mile of their Fletcher's Chapel winter camp site.

Back in Camp Near White Oak Church, May 15th -  June 11th

May 15th - Orders to march given at 3:30 a.m.; Countermanded at 6 a.m.

May 18th - Moved camp 1/4 mile.

May 20th - General John C. Robinson's Divison is consolidated into two brigades from three.  The '13th Mass' go into the First Brigade, Col. Leonard commanding.

May 27th - Orders to be ready to march given at noon.  Countermanded at 1 p.m.

May 29th - Edwin F. Rollins is commissioned Second-Lieutenant.

May 30th - Review by Corps Commander Major-General John F. Reynolds.

May 31st - Paymaster arrives, regiment paid off.

June 3rd - Orders to march given, then countermanded again.

June 4th - Orders to march at daylight; up at 4 a.m. but orders countermanded.

June 5th - Orders to march in the morning.

June 6th - Up at 2 a.m. but marching orders never arrived. Laid in camp all day.

June 11th - Orders to march the next morning.

Read More about Hooker & Chancellorsville.

March North in Response to the Rebel Army, June 12th -  30th

June 12th - They break camp at 4 a.m. and march 25 miles along the Rappahannock River to Deep Run.

June 13th - Marched 10 miles to Bealton Station on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad.

June 14th - Start at 8 a.m. and march until sunset; cook supper and resume the march to Manassas Junction arriving at 3:30 a.m.; distance 23 miles.

June 15th - March 8 miles to Centreville, Va., and stay a couple days.

June 16th - They were able to buy supplies from the regimental sutler.  The band of the 33rd Mass gave them a concert.

June 17th - The new brigade commander is General Gabriel R. Paul, whom they dub 'the Apostle.'  They march 16 miles; it is so hot sixty men in the corps get sunstroke.

June 19th - March 3 miles to Guilford Station on the Leesburg Railroad.  Half the regiment are placed on picket.  Violent storm at night.  They remain here until the 25th.

June 25th - They cross the Potomac River into Maryland at Edward's Ferry and march to Poolesville and then to Barnesville, about 20 miles.

June 26th - At 6 a.m. they marched over the Catoctin mountain to Adamstown, through Greenfield's Mill, across the Monocacy River to Jefferson, a distance of 18 miles.  A change in direction given on the march made the route circuitous.

June 27th - March 8 miles to one mile beyond Middletown.  Gen'l. Hooker resigns.

June 28th - Col. Leonard announces the appointment of Major-General George G. Meade to the command of the Army of the Potomac in place of Gen'l. Hooker, removed; adding, "that we needn't be discouraged, as we all might yet receive the same honor."

June 29th - March 26 miles to Emmitsburg, Maryland, camping a mile beyond the town.  The Maryland people have been greeting them with offerings of food and good wishes for success.

June 30th - Gen'l. Meade’s Circular angers the men.  “Corps commanders are authorized to order the instant death of any soldier who fails in his duty at this hour.”  They march back through Emmitsburg then north on the Gettysburg Road, to Marsh Creek where they make camp.

Read More about the Hard March North

Battle of Gettysburg, July 1st -  3rd

July 1st - They are the last of the First Corps Divisions (Gen. John C. Robinson’s two brigades) to arrive on the battlefield this morning.  They set to work building earthworks in front of the Seminary during enemy shelling from Oak Ridge.  About noon they advance to Oak Ridge and form on the extreme right of the 1st Corps lines.  They are very heavily engaged for several hours, and capture many prisoners.  Popular Color Sgt. Roland Morris is among those killed.  Nearly out of ammunition and out-flanked, the line retreats about 4 p.m.  Many are captured while making their way to Cemetery Hill.

“Of the 184 men and officers we took into the fight, only ninety-nine now remained for duty, the casualties being seven killed and eighty wounded, a total of eighty–seven.  In addition to this number ninety-eight men were taken prisoners on their way back through the town.”

They spend the night guarding a battery.  The First Corps is decimated during the first day's fight.

July 2nd - They are held in reserve this day, to be moved to any part of the line that needs assistance. In the afternoon they march south toward the Peach Orchard to re-enforce Gen. Sickles but the crisis is over by the time they arrive.  During their absence they miss the hard fighting at Cemetery Hill.  In the early evening they return to Cemetery Hill where the Louisiana Tigers are attacking, but again, by the time they arrive the fighting has subsided.

July 3rd - Still guarding a battery in the morning they scramble behind the guns to escape the fire of enemy sharpshooters.  A massive cannonading begins in the afternoon so they take shelter along the line as best they can.  They are sent toward the center of the line during 'Picket’s Charge' and arrive just as the attack is breaking up and cheers begin ringing out along the Union line.

Read More about the Battle of Gettysburg.

July 4th - Gettysburg; They wonder why General Lee's army has been allowed to slip away, but still recognize the great victory they’ve taken part in.

July 5th - Gettysburg;  The regiment moved to the left of the line to a position lately occupied by the Third Corps.  Burying parties were sent out to bury the dead.

Read More about the Aftermath of the Battle.

Read the Official Reports for the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division

The men captured at Gettysburg suffered fates as varied as their numbers.  Read more here about 'The Fate of the Prisoners."

Pursuit of Lee's Army, July 6th -  28th

They march to Boonesboro, Funkstown, and toward Williamsport, Maryland, but Lee slips across the river July 14th.  Someone comments “We act like a lot of scared monkeys.”

July 6th - March 6 miles south toward Emmitsburg.

July 7th – On the march south (20 miles) they are serenaded by some young Pennsylvania school girls, dressed in red, white and blue singing, ‘Battle Cry of Freedom.’  It is the first time they hear the song and they are deeply moved by the gesture.

July 8th - March in a drenching rain to Middletown where they rest 4 hours then continue through South Mountain Gap; 14 miles.  They build earthworks until about midnight.

July 9th - Remained in position all day.

July 10th - They march down the mountain to Boonsboro where it is remarked that the regimental strength is only 78 men.  Old friends of the regiment met them with supplies of milk, bread, pies and cakes.  They march to a spot near Funkstown, Md., just outside Hagerstown where they landed two years earlier.

July 11th - On picket.

July 12th - Rain.  They move across Antietam Creek and build earthworks facing Hagerstown.  Senator Wilson of Natick, Massachusetts calls on them during the day.

July 13th - Skirmish fire is heard all day long.  Although recognizing that few men really want to fight, the troops are impatient to make an attack in hopes of finishing off the Rebels before they can escape.  Lee however, has a strong defensive position.

July 14th - They learn Lee's army has crossed the river.  They move to within one mile of Williamsport but are too dejected to look up old friends they had made in the Winter of 1861 - '62.  Some townspeople still came out to see them to bring news of the '13th Mass' boys that had been spotted amongst the Union prisoners with Lee's Army.

July 15th - March 20 miles in a south-easterly direction to Crampton's Gap and camp.

July 16th - The second anniversary of their muster in at Fort Independence.  One more year of service.  They march 8 miles through Burkitsville to near Berlin.  The sutler arrived with many luxuries to be bought.

July 18th - They cross the Potomac on a pontoon bridge to Waterford, Virginia, and march 8 miles.

July 19th - A Lieutenant and squad of 6 men leave for Boston to get the drafted conscripts, volunteers and bounty - jumpers assigned to the regiment.

July 20th - Marched at 4 a.m. to Middleburg, Va., 16 miles.  Mosby's guerrillas capture 2 of General Newton's staff. (Commander; 1st Corps, who replaced General Reynolds, KIA, Gettysburg).

July 22nd - At 10 p.m. they start as rear guard to the wagon train marching until 3 a.m; 10 miles.

July 23rd - March at 10 a.m., arriving at Warrenton at 4 p.m.; 12 miles.

July 25th - Up at 3 A.M.; start marching at 5 a.m. to Warrenton Junction arriving at noon; 12 miles.  After a couple hours rest they march 3 miles to Catlett's Station, but are called back to the Junction.  At nightfall it began to rain.  They were summoned up and marched 8 miles until midnight, soaked through to the skin.

July 26th - Change camp to higher ground.

July 27th - Marched to Rappahannock Station, taking position in the old fortifications above the bridge.  They can see the rebel pickets across the river.

Read More About the Pursuit of Lee's Army.

On picket duty at the Rhappahannock River, July 29th -  September 16th

The regiment is back at Rappahannock Station.  “All campaigns lead to Rapp Station.”  Col. P. Stearns Davis of the 39th Mass., joins the brigade and earns their disrespect for criticizing their unsoldierly like appearance.  They tell him to go somewhere.  He calls them an armed mob.  They have not had this much fun with an officer since General Abercrombie, or, 'Old Crummy.'  Colonel Davis earns the nickname ‘Old Bowels.’

July 29th - The 2nd anniversary of their departure from home.

Aug. 1st - Called up at 3 a.m. to protect men re-building the bridge across the river.  At noon they crossed the river, advanced to a hill and dug rifle pits.  Work completed about midnight.  Some of Buford's cavalry returned from an expedition chasing the enemy toward Culpeper.  First-Lieutenant Jacob A. Howe, Co. A, receives his captain's commission.  Howe saved the National Colors of the regiment at Gettysburg.

Aug. 2nd - Warm day.  They continued to strengthen their fortifications.

Aug. 3rd - Intolerable Heat.  Staid in fortifications.  Workmen finish repairing the Railroad bridge. Captain Augustine Harlow, Co. D, resigned. He is one of the last of the original captains.

Aug. 4th - Part of the regiment on picket.  Buford's cavalry is having a scrap with the Rebs just in front and it looks like they might see action, but the enemy falls back.  First-Lieutenant William B. Kimball, Co. K, receives his captain's commission. Second-Lieutenant Robert Bruce Henderson is promoted First-Lieutenant.

Aug. 8th - They re-cross the Rappahannock River to the north side.

Aug. 9th - Sutler arrives in camp.

Read More About The Arrival At Rappahannock Station  (On the Rappahannock, part 1).

Aug. 14th - "One hundred eighty-six recruits arrived in camp. Substitutes, bounty-jumpers and one unfortunate conscript.  Most of this number were thieves and ruffians who were engaged in the draft riots of early July, and were obliged to leave New York and Boston in self-defense. Strong men, particularly soldiers, are not easily moved to tears, yet the cheeks of a good many men were wet as they gazed on these ruffians drawn up in line for assignment to companies.  The pride which we felt in the membership of the Thirteenth turned to bitterness at sight of these fellows." - Charles E. Davis, Jr., "Three Years in the Army."

Aug. 15th- At night 40 of the new 'recruits' deserted. (Of the 186 new men, 115 deserted). Several men captured at Gettysburg, and paroled returned to the regiment this day. The parole was declared null & void by government agents.

Read More About The Conscripts  (On the Rappahannock, part 2).

Read More About Camp Life at Rappahannock Station, August - September, 1863.  (On the Rappahannock, part 3).

Advance To The Line Of The Rapidan River

Sept. 13th & 14th - The Cavalry Corps clears the way for a possible Infantry advance into Culpeper County.  Only Confederate Cavalry opposes the advance, but Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart does not yield the ground without an obstinate fight.  The Union troopers establish a new front along the Rapidan River and test the strength of General Lee's defenses there.  General Newton's First Corps is assigned to the support of the Cavalry advance, but this order is countermanded and General G. K. Warren's Second Corps advances in instead.  This ruffled the feathers of General Newton, who complained to General Meade. 

Read more about the Cavalry Advance.

Sept. 16th - A general alarm at 3 a.m. has them cross the Rappahannock River and march to the foot of Pony Mountain near Culpeper; 12 miles.

Sept. 18th - Assistant Surgeon Edgar Parker, wounded at Gettysburg, is discharged.

Sept. 24th - At 1 p.m., with 8 days rations they march round the mountain to Raccoon Ford; 5 miles.

Read more about the advance into Culpeper County.

On Picket Duty Near Mitchell's Station, September 27th -  October 9th

Sept. 27th - Move camp about 3 miles up river toward Mitchell's Station.

Sept. 28th - Move camp another mile toward Mitchell's Station.

Oct. 2nd - Regiment called out to witness the execution of a 90 PA Deserter.

Oct. 3rd - Captain Abel H. Pope, wounded at Antietam is discharged.

Oct. 4th - Second-Lieutenant Michael J. Dagney is promoted First-Lieutenant.

Read more about picket duty on the Rapidan river.

Bristoe Campaign, October 9th -  19th

General Lee tries to flank General Meade.  The Army of the Potomac hurriedly marches north to Centreville. The soldiers of the 13th MA hear the cavalry skirmishing with the enemy the whole way.

They called one of the recruits ‘Frenchy.’ He had a beautiful singing voice and was often called upon to treat the men and officers to a song. As they marched away from Bristoe, Frenchy’s gun and knapsack were there, but no Frenchy.  He deserted.

Oct. 10th - In line at 1 a.m. and march at 3 a.m., to a place on the Rapidan River opposite Morton's Ford, arriving at 2 p.m., distance about 5 miles.  The 1st Corps was poised to cross the river and advance to Orange Court-House in support of John Buford's 1st Cavalry Division.  But General Kilpatrick's 3rd Cavalry discovered the Rebels were making a flanking march from Madison to get around General Meade's right,  so the regiment, with its division, marched to the rear and camped near Stevensburg.

Oct. 11th - Up at 3 a.m. to march but delayed until 9 a.m., by the passing of other divisions.  They wade the Rappahannock River at Kelly's Ford about 3 p.m. then camp on the heights. (10 miles).  Fighting heard near Stevensburg.

Oct. 12th - They move with another regiment (39th MA) down the river a short distance and occupy some rifle pits.  Leave the trenches and march at midnight.  Second-Lieutenant William A. Alley is discharged.

Oct. 13th - March from midnight until 10 a.m., arriving at Warrenton Junction.  After a pause, they continue north along the railroad to  Catlett's Station and then to Bristoe Station.

Oct. 14th - March to Centreville as 'flankers' for the corps; 10 miles.  They form in line of battle on the heights but are not engaged. They could see the 2nd Corps fighting at Bristoe Station from their position on the hill.

Read more about the march and the Battle of Bristoe Station.

Oct 15th - Move back across Cub Run to a hill near Centreville and remain until the 19th.

Oct. 19th - March at 8 a.m. to Hay Market with several slight skirmishes on the way, 12 miles.  They crossed the Bull Run battlefield where they fought in August, 1862.  Going into camp J.E.B. Stuart made a dash on their picket line, capturing some, so they stay under arms all night.

Oct. 20th - About 4 p.m. march through Thoroughfare Gap, camping about midnight in the hills on the west side.

Oct. 23rd - First-Lieutenant Morton F. Tower, Co. B, receives his captain's commission.  Second-Lieutenant Samuel E. Cary is promoted First-Lieutenant. Co. G.

Oct. 24th - Rain.  At 7 a.m. march back through the gap to Hay Market, then south to Gainesville, fording Broad Run, then on to Bristoe Station, camping on the recent battlefield; 15 mles.

Oct. 31st - Moved camp about a mile to a pine grove near Kettle Run.

Nov. 5th - Marched at 4 p.m. to Catlett's Station and bivouacked; 10 miles.

Nov. 6th - Changed camp to high ground on the east side of the station.

Read more about the end of the Bristoe Campaign

Advance to the Line of the Rappahannock, November 7th -  8th

General Meade divides his army in an attempt to threaten General Lee in Culpeper County.  Nov. 7th the 5th & 6th Corps attack Rappahannock Station.  The 3rd Corps crosses the river at Kelly's Ford driving away Confederate pickets there in a short bloody skirmish for the Confederates.  On November 8, the First Corps crosses the Rappahannock at Kelly's Ford as part of the army's left-wing.  General Meade advanced too cautiously to attack Lee who is in a vulnerable position.  General Lee retreats, across the Rapidan river at night and the advance ends, ––for the time being.   The next afternoon, the 13th MA re-cross the river and march to Licking Run, north of Bealeton Station on the Orange & Alexandria railroad.  They  spend the next couple weeks repairing the O&A, General Meade's  supply line.

Nov. 7th –– Reveille at 4 a.m.  March at 8.    The whole army is in motion.  They halt at Morrisville, about three miles from the river.  The woods were on fire so the air was full of smoke and cinders making the atmosphere stifling.

Nov. 8th - Crossing The Rappahannock River at Kelly's Ford, at daylight, they marched to Brandy Station.  "There seemed to be no reason but stupidity in the way of capturing a force of rebel artillery and a wagon train. When the enemy position was discovered, a detachment was sent out to flank them. But before the move was complete, the remainder of troops were ordered to advance out of the woods, thereby giving away their position to the enemy, who immediately withdrew to Culpeper."

Nov. 9th - At 4 p.m. they turned northward and re-crossed the river at Rappahannock Station, then moved on to Bealeton and then Licking Run in a snow storm.  They halt at 1 a.m., not far from Warrenton Junction.  They got to bed at 2 a.m.

Repairing the Orange and Alexandria Railroad

Nov. 10th - The Corps was now spread out a distance of 25 miles from Manassas to Rappahannock Station.  They were kept busy re-building the Orange and Alexandria Railroad.  Picket duty filled the gaps.  Wild game was abundant at this camping ground which had formerly been a wagon park.  Broiled partridge became an occasional dish.

Nov. 14th - The boys begin to build huts for winter.

Nov. 15th - Pay Day in camp.

Nov. 16th - Captain John G. Hovey returns to duty from recruiting service in Massachusetts.

Nov. 19th - Dedication of the new National Cemetery at Gettysburg.  Honorable Edward Everett is the featured speeker and  delivers the keynote address.  President Lincoln offers a few words afterwards.

Read more about the return to the Rappahannock.

Nov. 23rd - Pulled up stakes at daylight and marched two miles from Rappahannock Station.

Nov. 25th - The Sutler arrived with a large amount of goods which were purchased in preparation for Thanksgiving, the next day.  The new 'recruits' cause a great deal of precaution regarding personal valuables, which must be stored away or chained.  Theft is rampant as long as they remeined with the regiment.

Mine Run Campaign, November 26th -  December 2nd

Nov. 26th - Their Thanksgiving feast is cancelled when they receive orders to march. They marched to the Rappahannock River as the sun rose, and crossed it.  They continued to Mountain Run and crossed it on a pontoon bridge about 9 a.m.  They march to the Rapidan River and cross it at 10 p.m. at Culpeper Mine Ford.  Then they climbed the heights and halted for the night about 4 miles from Chancellorsville.  Distance marched, 17 miles.  A large part of the regiment was then sent out on picket.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Nov. 27th - Turned out at 4 a.m. and at 5 o'clock were on the Plank-road leading to Fredericksurg.  After following it a few miles they turned and took a cart-path to Yellow Tavern, and thence to Orange Court House Turnpike, which they reached about 10:30 p.m. and halted for the night.  The regiment was then sent out on piket and cautioned by General Robinson about firing their muskets, for the 5th Corps was somewhere in front, and the 2nd Corps on the left.  Guerillas are active in the area and murdered the drivers of a small wagon train that was on the move just ahead of them.  Distance marched was 20 miles.

Nov. 28th - Move at 5 a.m. through the woods to a clearing where the rebel infantry was found in force.  The Corps formed in line of battle and skirmishers were thrown out.   When pickets pushed the enemy across Mine Run just over the hill from their position, an artillery duel began.  The soldiers kept out of sight behind hills.  Later, the '13th Mass' was sent out on picket.  The concentration of the Army of the Potomac at this point continued all day.

Nov. 29th – Hard rain in the morning.  They lay all day in line of battle.  The forenoon was spent making preparations for an attack.  Early before dawn the next day, they are scheduled to make a frontal attack across a flooded meadow and up the heavily fortified heights beyond. They form in the second line of battle which was five lines deep. They know that many will be killed in this charge. Most men pinned pieces of paper to their coats with their names written on them for identification of bodies. They wait in silence for the order to advance.

Nov. 30th - By daylight the order had still not come. At 4 a.m. a move is made, but not the one expected. They mass with the 5th Corps in an open field for an attack.  It was now daylight. An artillery duel opened.  The attack force halted behind a hill for safety.  Time dragged on.   To relieve the stress the 13th engage in a game of baseball.  Gen. Warren and General Meade eventually suspend the charge upon realizing the strength of the enemy’s positions.

Dec. 1st - Shortly before daylight they moved back to the position held Nov. 27th. At dusk they march back to the Rapidan River taking a position at Germanna Ford at daylight.

Dec. 2nd - The whole army moves north back across the river.  They march to Stevensburg, 10 miles arriving about 4 p.m. when they halted for the night.

Dec. 3rd - March to a point between Paoli Mills on Mountain Run and Kelly's Ford.  They take posession of some Rebel huts built for winter quarters.  They remained here until December 24th.  The 'recruits' of August, 1863, continue to desert during this period.

Read more about the Mine Run Campaign.

Camp At "Kelly's Ford," Dec. 4th –– Christmas Eve, 1863

Camp at Mitchell's Station, December 25th –– December 31st 1863

Dec. 24th - March at 8 o'clock to Brandy Station and on to Culpeper Court House and along the railroad to within a mile of Mitchell's Station; snow on the ground and cold.  Distance marched was 17 miles with no rest.

Dec. 25th - Christmas Day.  Had to break ice in the swamp nearby for water which was brown.  Rebel pickets could be seen on the opposite side of Cedar Run.  Merritt's Division of Cavalry were in camp nearby.

Dec. 26th - About 3 p.m. camp is moved down the hill to Mitchell's Station in a field to the west of the station.  They were less than a mile away from the spot they camped August 17th and 18th, 1862 near Cedar Mountain.   They see little progress being made in the war. They spend the winter here.

Dec. 29th - They form in line of battle to meet an enemy advance, which doesn't come.

Dec. 31st - Change camp to high ground half a mile to the westward, and build huts for winter.  Six months and sixteen days more to serve.

Read More about the End of the Year, 1863.

Copyright 2008 by Brad Forbush.   All rights reserved.


Return to Top   |    Continue History


13th mass.org logo

Home | About Us | History | Contact Us | Reciprocal Links | Search | Site Map