Return to the Line of the Rappahannock

“I've Been Working on the Rail Road”

November 6 –– 19, 1863

Workers Repairing the O & A Railroad, 1863

“Workers Repairing the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, near Catlett's Station after the Confederates tore up the  tracks in October, 1863.”

Table of Contents

Introduction; What's On This Page

This page picks up the narrative where the previous page left off.  General Meade’s hand has been forced by the Lincoln Administration to pursue the enemy’s army across the Rappahannock River.  His strategy and the events following are summarized in the first essay, “Re-taking Old Ground.”  Meade’s daring plan was fulfilled.  It was a brilliant success, which Charles Wainwright comments upon in his journal entries that follow the essay.  There was much celebrating at Head Quarters the night of November 7th when the collapse of Lee’s bridge-head at Rappahanock Station was reported.

Unfortunately General Meade failed to capitalize on his success, and led a timid advance to Brandy Station the next day.  It is Wainwright's assessment, and others who study the campaign,  that an aggressive advance to Culpeper would have caught General Lee’s army in a tight spot.  But Meade’s intent was for Lee to attack him. So he took time to organize his lines, and get everything in place just right before advancing.  Unfortunately, the enemy never obliged in doing what General Meade wanted them to do.  After all, Lee wasn’t going to attack from a position of weakness just because his opponents wanted it to happen.  An opportunity was missed.  And the Army of the Potomac settled in for a spell, while repairs to the O & A railroad continued. Washington would soon apply more pressure for General Meade to advance again.

When the marching and forming lines of battle was over and done, the two divisions of the  First Corps that accompanied the army’s advance to Brandy Station, re-crossed to the north side of the Rappahannock and stretched out along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad to help with repairs.  General John Robinson’s Division was camped where the railroad crossed Licking Run, north of Bealeton Station.  It was a camp in the pines.  On the march they encountered the first good snow flurries of the approaching winter season.  Accordingly they built huts in hopes the campaigning was at an end. Many wished it to be so.  Some knew better.

Railtroad just south of Licking Run

Next on the page, Austin Stearns memoirs take center stage with  amusing anecdotes for the work detail he accompanied to hurry along the railroad repairs. The boys felled trees for railroad ties, thus helping to hurry the necessary repairs to the supply line.

I try to add a little humor to each detail page of this website when the subject matter permits, usually in the form of illustrations.  Charles E. Davis, Jr.'s witty narrative of the regiment's history usually provides plenty of opportunities to do this.  So does Sam Webster with his impish attitude.  And, Austin Stearns' descriptions of the bad character of some of his comrades are just plain funny. There are several opportunities for smiles on this page.

The page ends with a newspaper report of the dedication ceremonies for the new National Cemetery at Gettysburg.  President Lincoln gave a short speech there that would soon become world famous.


Reference sources for the essays, narration, and footnotes found on this page are listed here.

War of the Rebellion Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Vol. 29, Part 1, & Part 2.  (Accessed on-line at Cornell University).

The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Volume 2;  Charles Scribners & Son, 1913. (accessed on-line at the web-archive).

Meade and Lee at Rappahannock Station, Jeffrey William Hunt, Savas-Beatie, 2021.

A Want of Vigilance, The Bristoe Campaign, October 9 –– 19, 1863, Bill Backus and Robert Orrison, Savas-Beatie, 2015.

Miserable, Miserable Management, The Battle of Rappahannock Station and Kelly’s Ford;  Michael Block, Appendix C, from “A Want of Vigilance” cited above.

The Maps of the Bristoe Station and Mine Run Campaigns, Bradley M. Gottfried, Savas-Beatie, 2013.

Lincoln, Speeches and Writing, 1859-1865.  Volume 2.  The Library of America.

With Malice Toward None,  A Life of Abraham Lincoln, Stephen B. Oates, Harper Perennial, 1977.

Grant, Jean Edward Smith, Touchstone, 2001.

Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy under Lincoln and Johnson,  Vol. I, (1861 –– March 1864);  Houghton Miflin, Boston, 1911.  [Accessed on the web archive.]

PICTURE CREDITS:  All  images are from the Library of Congress [LOC] Digital Collections with the following exceptions:  “Kelly's Mill”, by Robert Knox Sneden from “Eye of the Storm” edited by Charles F. Bryan, Jr. and Nelson D. Lankford, The Free Press, New York, 2000;   Photograph of the crowd at Gettysurg, Nov. 19, 1863, is scanned from American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War, by Bruce Catton, 1960;   Portrait of  Adjutant David Bradlee, and Quatermaster George Craig; from Army Heritage Education Center, Digital Image database, Mass. MOLLUS Collection;  The greaat likeness of Quartermaster Melvin Smith is provided by Bryan Gashlin; Captain John G. Hovey, 13th MA; and  Brigadier-General David A. Russell from Digitial [];   All other 13th MA portraits are from various dealer and auction house sites, accessed digitally;  The Frederick Ray illustration that accompanies C. Barber's letter is found in Civil War Times Illustrated. The Charles Reed illustrations of soldiers fighting (The Campfire After the Jonah Appears, [cropped]), is from, “Hardtack and Coffee”, by John D. Billings, Ilustrated by Charles W. Reed, Boston, George Smith & Co. 1892, accesssed digitally at the web archive;   The painting of Union soldiers storming Confederate earthworks was un-credited, (it may be Winslow Homer) but found on p. 223 of The Illustrated History of the Civil War, by Richard Humble, Gallery Books, an imprint of W. H. Smith Publishers Inc., NY: 1986.;  The Harpers Weekly picture accompanying Sam Webster's Nov. 7 journal entry is a composit  image, manipulated in Photoshop by the webmaster; so is the image of a soldier capturing a calf;   “Bivouac of the Seventh Regiment, Arlingtonton Heights,” by Sanford Robinson Gilford, 1861, New York State Military Museum, [Detail shown in "Bivouac in the Pines" section] found in:  The Civil War and American Art, edited by Eleanor Jones Harvy, Smithsonian Art Museum in association with Yale Universtiy Press:  New Haven, Connecticut, 2012.  (p. 121).  Illustration of little kids fighting is by artist J. C. Leyendecker, dowloaded from pinterest;  The photograph of Loggers is from “Looking back at WV's Logging Camps of yesteryear,” accessed on-line at [];  That's all for now.  Maps, panoramic views and other photographs of contemporary Virginia were taken by the author/webmaster, Bradley M. Forbush.    ALL IMAGES have been EDITED in PHOTOSHOP.

Return to Table of Contents

Re-Taking Old Ground; The Battles of Kelly's Ford and Rappahannock Station; November 7, 1863

“Lee has retired across the Rappahannock, after completely destroying the railroad on which I depend for my supplies.  His object is to prevent my advance, and in the meantime send more troops to Bragg.  This was a deep game, and I am free to admit that in the playing of it he has got the advantage of me.” ––General Meade to his wife, October 21, 1863.

Excerpt of General Meade's Summary Report of the Campaign

On the 20th, the army occupied Warrenton without opposition, the enemy retiring to the south bank of the Rappahannock.  It was then ascertained the enemy had completely destroyed the Orange and Alexandria Railroad from Bristoe Station to the Rappahannock.  Through the energy and skill of Colonel McCallum, Superintendent of Military Railroads, the road was put in order to Warrenton Junction by the 2d of November.

At this period I submitted to the General-in-Chief the project of seizing by a prompt movement the heights of Fredericksburg, and transferring the base of operations to the Fredericksburg Railroad.  This not meeting the approval of the General-in-Chief, on the 7th of November the army was put in motion to force the passage of the Rappahannock.  Major-General Sedgwick, in command of the Sixth and Fifth Corps, advanced to Rappahannock Station, where the enemy was entrenched on the north bank of the river.  Major-General Sedgwick attacked and carried the enemy’s works on the north bank, capturing 4 pieces of artillery and some 1,600 prisoners.

Major-General French, commanding the Third, Second, and First Corps, marched to Kelly's Ford, where the advance of the Third Corps gallantly forced the passage at the ford, taking the enemy's works on the other side, and captuing some 400 prisoners.  Finding himself surprised and the passage of the river secured, the enemy withdrew during the night.

Report of Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, U.S. Army, commanding Army of the Potomac, of operations July 31-December 7, 1863.  O.R. Series I, Vol. 29, Part 1.

The Battles of Kelly's Ford & Rappahannock Station, November 7, 1863

Major-General George G. Meade

By November 2nd, after weighing his options, General Meade presented his plan of action to General Halleck.  Meade took the time in his message to explain his three options with the merits and objections to each choice:  to attack Lee's army head-on, or to move by the flank, either right or left, around Lee’s army.   Using Lee’s recent flank march, the Bristoe Campaign, as proof that the line of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad was a poor supply line for the Union army, precisely because it required too many troops to guard nearly 50 miles of its length from Alexandria to the front lines, General Meade proposed a move of the army to the left,  ––shifting his base to Fredericksburg.   The supply line there was largely by water route, with a much shorter rail line, (15 miles) to protect. General Grant also made use of Fredericksburg in the Spring campaigns of 1864.  It was also the same strategy General Burnside took precisely a year earlier in 1862.  Meade’s proposal stated:

 “The success of this movement will depend on its celerity, and its being kept from the enemy.  From my latest present information, he had no force below the junction of the two rivers.  My present position, and repairing the railroad, has doubtless induced him to believe I shall adhere to this line, and if my movement can be started before he is apprised of it, I have every reason to believe it will be successful, so far as effecting a lodgment on the heights in advance of him;  and if he follows and gives me battle, my object will be accomplished.”

General Meade’s reasoning was militarily sound.

Doubtless, because the connotation of a move to Fredericksburg conjured up memories of Burnside’s disastrous 1862 campaign, Lincoln outright rejected the plan. General Meade received the news by telegram the following morning, Nov. 3d at 10 a.m.

War Department          
Washington, November 3, 1863––10 a.m.

Major-General Meade,

Your dispatch of 12 m. yesterday, received about 1 o’clock this morning, was submitted to the President at the earliest moment practicable.  He does not see that the proposed change of base is likely to produce any favorable result, while its disadvantages are manifest.  I have fully concurred in the views he has heretofore communicated on this subject.  Any tactical movement to turn a flank or threaten a communication is left to your own judgment; but an entire change of base under existing circumstances, I can neither advise nor approve.

H.W. HALLECK,      

Meade was crestfallen, and confided to his wife in a private letter:

“There is no doubt my failure to engage Lee in battle during his recent advance created great disappointment, in which feeling I fully shared.  I have seen and heard of no indications of absolute dissatisfaction, though this  may have existed without its being manifested.  The General in Chief did telegraph me I had better fight instead of running away, but as he did not explain how I could fight to advantage, I paid not attention to the very rough manner in which he expressed his views, except to inform him that, if my judgement was not approved, I ought to be and deserved to be relieved;  to which I received no reply beyond  disclaiming of any intention to give offence.  Now I have clearly indicated what I thought feasible and practicable and my plan is disapproved.   I think under these circumstances justice to me and the true interests of the country justify their selecting some one else to command.” [Nov. 3, 1863.]

After some quick deliberation General Meade decided to attack Lee’s army head-on.  Marching orders were issued to the various army corps on November 5th at 1 p.m.

The Plan

To get at General Lee's army, the Army of the Potomac must cross the Rappahannock River.  General Lee had established a fortified bridge-head on the north side of the river at Rappahannock Station, along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. The Union army had to cross to the river to the west of the bridge-head where the river runs into mountainous terrain at the foot of the Blue Ridge, or to the east of it, at Kelly’s Ford, which was more accessible and thus an easier choice to maneuver large divisions of troops.  So the left wing of the army was sent there.  Still, the bridge-head had to be confronted.  General Meade divided his army.

This is precisely what General Lee wanted.

If a small force confronted the redoubts at Rappahannock Station, Lee could throw a large force across and drive them away, and threaten the Northern Army's supply line.  If a large force confronted the redoubts, while another half of the Army of the Potomac crossed at Kelly’s Ford to the east, the Confederates could concentrate and attack en masse, one portion of the divided army before the two wings could re-unite.   It was a bold plan.  But it didn’t work out that way.

General Meade sent the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Corps, (29,000 men), commanded by Major-General William French, to cross the Rappanannock river at Kelly’s Ford.  The ford was lightly defended by one regiment of Confederate pickets, with one regiment close by in reserve for support.  The one regiment of pickets purpose was to sound the alarm that the Yankees were present.   The 5th and 6th Corps, 26,000 men commanded by Major-General John Sedgwick, confronted General Lee’s fortified bridge-head at Rappahannock Station head-on.  Elements of the 5th Corps, under General Sykes established a link on the north side of the river to connect the two wings of the divided army.

Kelly's Ford

Battle of Kelly's Ford by A. R. Waud

Artist A. R. Waud sketched the Union batteries shelling Kelly's Ford from Mount Holly Ridge, November 7, 1863  Note the village of Kellysville, and the large mill at the right edge of the drawing.  Soldiers of the 30th North Carolina moved in to support the pickets of the 2nd North Carolina, and became trapped in the town buildings.  Click here to view larger.

         Both wings marched November 7th, having been delayed one day by a heavy Virginia rain. General French placed the 1st Corps at Morrisville to guard his supply train and protect the rear of his line, while the 3rd Corps crossed at Kelly’s Ford with the 2nd Corps in support.  French placed artillery batteries in 3 distinct positions along the ridges overlooking Kelly’s Ford.  The 1st U.S. Sharpshooters in the advance, pushed Confederate pickets across the river to the south side.  Only 322 men of the 2nd North Carolina infantry were patrolling the ford.  Sketch of Kelly's Mill, KellysvilleThey took position in rifle pits on the south side when driven back.  The 30th North Carolina regiment, camped 1/4 mile back, from Kellysville, came forward to their support.  But the soldiers of the 30th North Carolina were pounded by heavy artillery fire and never got into position to help.  Many took refuge in the buildings of Kellysville.  The U.S. sharpshooters were ordered across the river with the 20th Indiana and 40th New York Infantry.

“…We soon had them in a tight place.  We took 480 prisoners… and drove the others flying right over the open plain to the woods.  The loss in this skirmish was 10 killed and 60 wounded by our division, and not a gun was fired by any other troops.”*

It was all over in 2 hours, 40 minutes.  Confederate division commander Major-General Robert Rodes reported he lost 309 men in the skirmish.   A high number considering the purpose of the pickets was only to sound an alarm that the enemy was near.

[Pictured above, Artist Robert Knox Sneden sketched Kelly's Mill, in the village of Kellysville.  Sneden exaggerated the height and width of the mill.  A photograph shows a lower, and longer facade.]

General French reported:

Miller’s Hill, Near Brandy Station,     
November 13, 1863.  

My Dear General:   I inclose you a reliable sketch of the positions at Kelly’s Ford, and as a reference add that the head of my column was at Mount Holly Church at 12 m., 7th instant, having marched from Licking Run, via Morrisville, a distance of 17 miles, starting at 5 a.m.

The enemy were on the south side and taken by surprise. They re-enforced their rifle-pits at 12.15.  My batteries opened fire at 12.30.  A brigade effected a lodgment on the opposite side at 1.30, capturing the prisoners in the front rifle-pits and village, and at 3.30 a division was crosssed, and then the bridges were commenced to be laid.  The wter was waist-deep for these troops.  The rest of the left wing passed over on the bridge, the Third Corps the same evening, the others early the next morning.

My head of column was at Brandy Station at 12.30 p.m., 8th instant.

Very truly, yours,  

Major-General of Volunteers.

[Maj. Gen. H. W. Halleck.]

P.S. ––The terrific fire of my batteries ran down to the river bank (old style) and the 4½ inch paralyzed the enemy.  There were 40 of their dead buried by one division.

The copy of the map General French enclosed is pretty good so I present it here.  I colorized it because the original is a very stark black & white.  Click here to view it larger.

Official Map (colorized) of the skirmish at  Kelly's Ford, November 7, 1863

          It was unfortunate the Confederates lost so heavily in this skirmish, for their job was simply to sound the alarm of the presence of enemy troops to their superiors.   The Union attack was not unexpected, it just came sooner than expected.  Lee’s plan was still in place, if he could attack Meade’s divided forces at Kelly’s on the morrow.

General Robert Rodes brought up the rest of his division, [5 brigades total]  to hold French’s Corps in place until more re-enforcements from General Ewell arrived.  It was too late to attack but nonetheless they formed an opposing line to monitor the Union 3rd Corps.

The easier part of Meade's two-pronged plan of attack was successful.  But the danger of Lee striking the exposed 3rd Corps was now a real threat.   He had to re-unite the army quickly.

The Battle at Rappahannock Station

Battle of Rappahannock Station, November 7, 1863

Artist Edwin Forbes sketched the Battle of Rappahannock Station November 7th 1863. The picture shows 5th Corps skirmishers attacking the Rebel earthworks east of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad tracks; (the raised bed in the middle).  The smaller of the two Confederate redoubts on the west side of the railroad is to the left.  To the right soldiers of the 6th Maine attack the larger Confederate fort.  Click here to view larger.

General Sedgwick’s wing of 26,000 men, (5th & 6th Corps) arrived in front of the Confederate fortified position at Rappahannock Station about noon, and paused about 1¼ miles out, to form his lines. He took his time.

At 3 p.m. Sedgwick advanced two divisions, one from each corps and one on each side of the railroad embankment, with a line of skirmishers out front, about a mile forward.  The opposing skirmishers fell back into their rifle pits.   Sedgwick wrote:

“The enemy’s skirmishers were driven to their rifle-pits.  These extended from the railroad a distance of 1,000 yards up the river upon a slope of excellent command.  Near the railroad and upon the crowning points of this slope redoubts had been erected, which covered all approaches from the front.”

Had the two Federal divisions kept moving forward they would have easily swept the 900 Confederate defenders in the forts back across the river.   But General Sedgwick first tried to blast the enemy out of their works with artillery.  Six batteries came forward to the shelter of a ridge and shelled the forts for about two hours.  They did little damage.  The guns had no influence on driving the Confederates away. Confederate artillery in the forts answered the Union battery fire. An additional two Confederate batteries on the south side of the river proved ineffective at counter-battery fire, and General Lee, (who came upon the scene with General Jubal Early about 3.30 to observe), ordered those two batteries to cease fire.

General Early took the opportunity of Sedgwick's dilatory advance  to re-enforce the redoubt north of the river with 3 North Carolina regiments shortly after the battery fire opened.  This brought Confederate strength in the forts  to 2,221 men.  As daylight waned General Lee felt secure the Federals would not attempt an attack and returned to his headquarters at Brandy Station.  General Early described some of this in his report:

“About 4 o’clock, General Hays arrived and took command of his brigade, [in the works] and in a short time after the advance of my column, Hoke’s brigade, under Col. Godwin, arrived and I sent Col. Godwin with the brigade [3 North Carolina Regt's.] across the river to report to General Hays, and to occupy that part of the trenches which Hays’ brigade could not occupy.  This plan met with the approval of General Lee, and he directed me to send no more troops across the river, but retain the other brigades on the south side.”

“…About this time the enemy opened another battery in front of our left, on the road from the direction of Warrenton, and very shortly afterward another battery was opened on the right from the edge of a woods.  The fire from these batteries crossed, and in a great measure enfiladed our position and rendered the brigade quite unsafe.  The battery on the hill in front also continued to fire, and the fire from all of them was continued until near dusk. The fire from Dance’s and Graham’s batteries was stopped (by order of Gen. Lee, I believe), as it was manifestly producing  little or no effect and resulted in a mere waste of  ammunition.

“…During all this time the wind was blowing very hard toward the enemy, so that it was impossible to hear the report of the guns even at a very short distance.   …about dark the artillery fire ceased, and some movements of the enemy took place which we could not well distinguish.

“…After this firing had continued for some minutes it slackened somewhat, and not hearing from it we were of opinion that it was from and at the enemy skirmishers, and General Lee, expressing the opinion that the movement by the enemy on this part of the line was intended merely as a reconnaissance or feint, and that it was too late for the enemy to attempt anything serious that night, concluded to retire.  It was then nearly or quite dark…”

Daylight faded as Generals Lee and Ewell peered into the darkness of late afternoon.  They concluded the massive enemy army across the river was not going to attack.  It was too late in the day.  They heard scattered gun fire but the wind blew north and with the darkness, these two factors concealed the enemy and prevented them from understanding the dramatic events unfolding across the Rappahannock.  They decided to return to their respective headquarters.  They rode away unaware of the impending fall of the bridge-head north of the river.

If Sedgwick’s two advanced divisions had kept moving they would have swept right over the rifle pits and captured the position.  But hindsight is 20/20 and the fortifications looked strong.

Brigadier-General David A. Russell

If the decision had been left solely to Generals Sedgwick, Wright or Sykes, the 26,000 federals would not have attacked.  General Lee would have been correct in his assumptions.

But the Rebel fortifications didn’t scare one officer.  Brigadier-General David A. Russell (pictured) rode forward with the skirmishers of his brigade posted 200 yards in front of the forts and observed the ramparts.  To Russell they appeared to be lightly manned, resembling a heavy skirmish line,  perhaps.   Russell was used to storming formidable positions.   His troops took Marye’s Heights at the 2nd Battle of Fredericksburg during the Chancellorsville campaign.  Russell proposed a plan of attack to his superior officer, General Horatio Wright, commanding the 6th Corps, who agreed to launch the assault ––after some convincing.  The plan required a storming column along a narrow front to penetrate the works.  Two supporting columns would follow the first line. The plan was solid, but Russell underestimated the number of men needed to carry the works.  The 6th Maine and 5th Wisconsin comprised the first and 2nd line.

Russell reported:

“they advanced to the foot of a hill, distant from the river about 1,500 yards.  Here the order was given to deploy the remaining 5 companies of the 6th Maine to double the skirmish line and with that formation and the 5th Wisconsin as a support, to make a charge upon the enemy’s works.”

The How & Why

A stealth charge was imperative for Gen. Russell’s attack to succeed.  Experience  demonstrated that soldiers in a charge over open ground tended to stall if they stopped to return enemy fire, which they definitely would receive.  To induce speed,  Russell ordered his first two assault lines to uncap their muskets, rendering the guns useless except for the bayonet, which they were instructed to use upon breaching the fort.   The 6th Maine in the first line, followed these instructions ––reluctantly.  The 2nd line, 5th Wisconsin, refused to, and en-route stopped to cap their muskets delaying them 5 minutes.  The delay was nearly fatal to the success of the  first wave of attack, as the 6th Maine soldiers had to fight hand to hand against a superior force for an extra five minutes until re-enforcements arrived.

Russell describes the difficult ground the charge covered to get to the forts.

“Across the way as they advanced, the storming column encountered a formidable ditch, 12 or 14 feet wide, some 6 feet deep, and filled with mud and water to an average depth of 3 feet.  Crossing this they came to a plain broken with stumps and underbrush, while before the skirmish line in the advance could be reached, a dry moat or ditch had to be crossed, nearly as formidable as the obstacles already passed.”

Major George Fuller of the 6th Maine wrote:

“at the command, “forward, double-quick,” the regiment rushed upon the works, under a heavy fire of musketry and artillery.  The fire grew heavier as the line neared the works, and the men were struck down with fearful rapidity;  but unwavering, with wild cheers, the survivors reached the “fortifications,” and springing over them engaged the enemy in a hand-to-hand conflict.  The enemy, astonished and bewildered, quickly gave way and fled, many of them toward the river, but by far the greater part to their left, which was as yet unassailed leaving in our hands 350 prisoners….

“The works along the whole length of our line were now in our possession.  And now the enemy, strong in their rifle-pits farther their left, commenced a raking fire down the length of our line, which proved very destructive, and perceiving the weakness of our force advanced heavily upon our right, compelling that part of the line to abandon the works;  but disputing every foot of the ground, the men fell back upon our center and left, which still retained possession of the fortifications and turning sharply upon the enemy kept them at bay until the opportune arrival of the Fifth Wisconsin, which came up upon the run, and with its usual impetuosity rushed into the conflict.”

Storming Earthworks, unknown

As noted by Major Fuller, fierce resistance stopped the initial success of the 6th Maine attack before the 5th Wisconsin arrived. After the first shock wave that thrust them back from the works, the Confederates returned and engaged the Maine boys in hand-to-hand combat, throwing some back of the Down-Easters over the parapet.  To their right, the 6th Maine received some unexpected help.  The skirmishers of the 121st New York went forward with them, quite by accident.  They were not intended to take part in the charge, but their presence helped considerably.  These men encountered less obstacles during their advance, and  leaped over the Rebel earthworks in their front and demanded surrender.   Surprised at the sudden appearance of the enemy, 127 Rebels conceded.   Then, Rebel soldiers in the works to the west, beyond the perimeter of this assault, turned in their rifle-pits  and opened fire on the right flank of the attackers.   Like the Maine boys the New York soldiers also scrambled back over the works to seek shelter from the storm.  Those that remained struggled hand to hand with their backs to the wall.  Things were not going well.  It was then that the 5th Wisconsin showed up.  As they charged forward in the dimming light, they could see  shadows of their men fighting and falling at the edge of the enemy fortifications; ––and with a yell they came on with a rage.1   A small cluster battled for a rebel cannon, seized it, but lost it again.  The struggle was chilling.  General Hays' men, initially driven from the fort, rallied for a counter-attack, and Confederates beyond the assault lines to the east and west fired into the Federal ranks.  It was still anybody’s game.

It was time for the third wave to enter the fray.

General Russell wrote:

“Those of the rebels in the redoubts who had not been captured and many from their right  …were beginning to rally around their battle-flags planted upon the brink of the rifle-pits.  Furious, but as yet futile, endeavors were made from the rifle-pits to retake the larger redoubt, and I saw it was necessary to order forward at once the remaining two regiments of the Third Brigade.”

Two more regiments of the 3rd Brigade charged the forts; the 49th and 119th Pennsylvania Volunteers.  By the time these men reached the dirt walls, they were blown out from the hurried advance over difficult terrain, (while carrying 8 days rations in their knapsacks).  They did little more than hug the north side of the Rebel breastworks to catch their breath.  In a few minutes more and they would act.

To the west of the redoubt,  Colonel Archibald Godwin pulled two regiments from the works and organized a line between the rifle-pits and the river to fire into the flanks of the enemy storming parties.

  The flank fire from Godwin’s line grew heavier and pressured the winded Pennsylvanians to take action. When they caught their breath they surged over the works and fired into Godwin’s line.   Confederate resistance inside the rifle pits dissolved and those men broke to the river and made for the pontoon bridge, which was their means of escape.  Elements of the storming party pursued them   Some ran across the bridge and got shot up.  Others surrendered.  In the darkness they could not tell that they outnumbered their captors.   But the fight was not over.  Godwin had more troops available to draw from in the works to the west.  And, whoever got more men in the fight first would prevail.2

General Russell described the attack of the Pennsylvanians:

“These two regiments arrived most opportunely.  Their advance was as gallant as timely, and settled decisively the possession of the redoubts.  Yet so great had been the loss of the regiments thus far engaged, that they were not strong enough to carry the rifle-pits and stay the fire from them, which still greatly annoyed our men.”

Russell discerned the Pennsylvanians would not be strong enough to carry the works themselves.  He hadn’t calculated correctly the number of troops necessary for success.  He needed more troops.  Even as he ordered the Pennsylvanians forward, he sent word to 2nd Brigade commander Emory Upton to bring in two of his regiments immediately.

Opposing the attackers was Col. Godwin whose line stil remained in tact.  Darkness blinded them but they knew the enemy was present from the earthworks to the pontoon bridge to the east.   To the west,  were a quarter mile of earthworks, manned by 1200 men from which Col. Godwin could draw re-inforcements.  Unfortunately for Godwin, Emory Upton's attack overran these rifle-pits before he could alert them.

Upton’s dramatic report is quoted at length:

“The Third Brigade still holding possession of the works they had captured, General Russell directed me to dislodge the enemy from a rifle-pit  to our right of the redoubt, and from which he maintained an enfilading fire.  Under cover of darkness the two regiments formed within 100 yards of the enemy (who still continued his fire), unslung knapsacks and fixed bayonets.  Strict orders were given not to fire.  Everything being ready, the line advanced at quick time to within 30 yards of the works, when the order to charge was given.  The work was carried at the point of the bayonet, and without firing a shot. The enemy fought stubbornly over their colors, but being overpowered soon surrendered.

“…. The regiments were immediately reformed inside of the rifle-pits. Word was brought me the enemy holding the rifle-pits still to our right were in confusion.  He could also be seen moving to his rear.  Major Mather, of the 121st NY, was directed to take a portion of his regiment and intercept his retreat.

“A portion of the 5th Maine and 121st NY were ordered to charge the enemy at double-quick, without firing.  The remainder of the force was held in reserve, in case of an emergency.

“Major Mather soon found the bridge, and disposing his force so as to hold it, sent the remainder up the river bank to capture those who might make the effort to swim the river.”

It was this move up river by Major Mather, (121st NY)  that cut off Col. Godwin from any potential re-enforcements.  His line of two regiments was now surrounded and some of his officers urged him to attempt an assault on the pontoon bridge to escape while there was still a chance.   Godwin stubbornly refused and rougly 600 of his men were forced to surrender.

Colonel Emory Upton's Report, concludes:

“The enemy supposing a vastly superior force was advancing upon him, and also aware that his retreat was intercepted, laid down his arms.  The entire Louisiana brigade of “Stonewall” Jackson’s old division was captured behind their rifle-pits.

“…The movement ordered by General Russell resulted in capturing 6 colors, 1 color lance, 103 commissioned officers, 1,200 enlisted men, and 1,225 stand of arms.

“The fifth Maine took into action 233 men and 21 officers, the One hundred and twenty-first New York 299 men and 15 officers.”

Edwin Forbes November 8 Sketch of Captured Flags

Artist Correspondent Alfred Waud sketched Federal troops in front of the larger of the two defensive forts,  examining the Confederate flags captured during the battle at Rappahannock Station, November 8.


With little initiative to his credit, General Sedgwick successfully captured General Lee’s bridge-head across the Rappahannock river, and ruined the enemy's plans.

News reached commanding General Meade around 8 p.m., that the enemy position at Rappahannock Station was captured.  But night-time conditions were too uncertain for Sedgwick's Corps to cross the river.  Still worried about an attack upon his divided army, General Meade issued orders at 11.30 p.m. for General Sykes 5th Corps, to march to Kellys ford at 4 am. and cross the river to link with General French’s wing of the army.

          1.  Jeffrey Hunt, Meade and Lee at Rappahannock Station, p. 137.
          2.  Jeffrey Hunt,  p. 147.

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The Advance

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Map of First Corps March, November 7, 1863

The 13th Mass.

The third division of the First Corps, was left behind at Catlett's Station to guard the raiload.  The other two divisions marched to Morrisville on November 7.

Our regiment, as part of the First Corps, was in reserve at Morrisville guarding the supply trains on November 7, and only suffered a march of 12 miles in this exciting campaign.  Reading their history gives very little indication of the daring feat of General Russell at Rappahannock Station.  Or much about the action at Kelly's Ford where they would cross the next day.   The regiment advanced across  Kelly's Ford on the 8th and joined Meade's army in a mild pursuit of General Lee and the enemy.   Meade was still hoping the enemy would attack him.

Pictured at right is a map of the march the First Corps tramped from Catlett's Station to Morrisville, on November 7th.  The Third Corps took a similar route.  The Second Corps marched by way of Bealeton Station to ease the traffic on the roads.

Click here to view larger.

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Orders of March

Here are General Meade's marching orders that set this risky military gambit into motion.

Circular.]   Headquarters Army of the Potomac,   
November 6, 1863.   

The following movements are ordered for to-morrow, the 7th instant:

1.  The Sixth Corps, Major-General Sedgwick commanding, will move at early daylight to-morrow, and take position at Rappahannock Station, the left resting upon the railroad, the right toward Beverly Ford.  The corps will move by way of Fayetteville, and so contract its march as not to interfere with the route of the Fifth Corps.

2.  The Fifth Corps, General Sykes commanding, will move at early daylight and take position on the left of the Sixth Corps; it will move by way of Germantown and Bealeton, and will leave the route along the Warrenton Branch Railroad clear for the Second Corps.

3.  Major-General Sedgwick will command the Sixth and Fifth Corps, which will compose the right column.  He will relieve the cavalry pickets on his front.  On reaching his position, his pickets will connect with those of the column at Kelly’’s Ford.

4.  The Third Corps, Major-General French commanding, will move at early daylight to Kelly’s Ford, by way of Elk Run and Morrisville.

5.  The Second Corps, Major-General Warren commanding, will move at early daylight to Kelly’s Ford, taking the route along the Warrenton Branch Railroad and the railroad to Bealeton, and thence by the Morrisville road, diverging so as to pass by Bowen’s, former headquarters of the Twelfth Corps.

6.  The First Corps, Major-General Newton commanding, leaving a division to guard the railroad, as already directed, will move to Morrisville by way of Elk Run, following the Third Corps, and be prepared to proceed to Kelly’s Ford.

7.  Major-General French will command the Third, Second, and First Corps, which will compose the left column.  He will relieve the cavalry pickets on his front, and connect with the picket line of the column at Rappahannock Station.

8.  The chief engineer will assign an officer of Engineers to General Sedgwick and General French.  He will assign likewise two bridges to the column at Rappahannock Station and two bridges to the column at Kelly’s Ford. The remainder of the bridge train will be held at Warrenton Junction and Bealeton.

9.  The chief of artillery will assign ten of the siege guns to Major-General Sedgwick’s column, and the remaining four to General French’s column.  The remainder of the Reserve Artillery, with its train, will be equally distributed at Bealeton and Morrisville, and held ready to be sent to the columns.

10.  Each corps will take with it so much of its small-arms ammunition trains as will give 40 rounds to the troops, its intrenching tools, ambulance trains, and hospital wagons.  None of these trains, however will cross the river, excepting ambulance trains, until specially directed to do so.  All other wagons will be left in the rear––those of the Fifth and Sixth Corps parked at Bealeton, those of the Third, Second, and First at Morrisville.  The pioneers will accompany the troops.

11.  Buford’s division of cavalry will move on the right flank, cross on the upper fords, and force the passage of Hazel River at Rixeyville.  The chief of cavalry will direct General Buford to communicate and co-operate with General Sedgwick, commanding right column.

General Kilpatrick’s division of cavalry will operate on the left flank, crossing at Ellis’ or Kemper’s Ford.  He will communicate and co-operate with General French, commanding left column.

General Gregg’s division of cavalry will be held in reserve, guarding the trains at Bealeton and Morrisville, and keeping open the roads communicating between the columns at Rappahannock Station and Kelly’s Ford, and between Bealeton and Morrisville.  General Buford will leave a sufficient force to protect the signal officer on Watery Mountain.

12.  Headquarters will be in the vicinity of the toll-gate near Payne’s house.

By command of Major-General Meade:

S. WILLIAMS,         
Assistant Adjutant-General

From the Regiment

These brief entries chronicle the small part the 13th Mass played in the army's advance.  After missing a chance to get at General Lee, the regiment returned to guarding and repairing the Orange & Alexandria Railroad on November 9th.  The weather shifted and it snowed during their march to Licking Run, along the tracks.

From “Three Years in the Army, The Story of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteers” by Charles E. Davis, Jr. (Boston, Estes & Lauriat, 1894).

Saturday, Nov. 7.  Reveille at 4 A.M.  Started on the march at eight o’clock.  The whole army in motion, the First, Second, and Third Corps taking roads leading to Kelly’s Ford, and the Fifth and Sixth advancing on Rappahannock Station.  The Third corps had the lead, and became engaged at the ford at the same time the sixth was fighting at the station.

We halted at Morrisville, about three miles from the river. The woods being on fire, the air was full of smoke and cinders making the atmosphere stifling.

Diary of Sam Webster:
       Saturday, November 7th, 1863
        Marched at daylight by way of Catlett’s, across to Morrisville, and camp for the night in a woods.  (Remember that at the house just back of this place, either on this visit or passing it previously, one of our officers brought the woman of the house her child, which he had found off in woods, along the road.  She went to howling as soon as she had time to think she might have lost it.)

Harpers Illus. Officer with woman and child, (composit)

Camp to the right of road.  Have marched in all sorts of directions, and been too close to fire for comfort several times.  The woods are burning beautifully.  Great deal of heavy firing in direction of Rappahannock station about 2 p.m.  [Sam's field diary entry is interesting:  Reveille at 4 a.m., march at daylight.  Saw Hawkie of 88th Pa. who had note of Wm Fringer at Fort McHenry.  ...Camp for night near the house on Falmouth road where the woman lost her child.  (The Falmouth road would be today's route 17).  Since he mentioned reveille, and he is the drummer, he probably is referencing that he beat the drum for reveille this morning. ––B.F.]

Sunday, November 8th 1863.
        On the road at 6 oclock.  Crossed the road going to the left and coming out at a little brick chapel below Kelly’s Ford.  [probably Mount Holly Church––B.F.]  Went up and crossed at the Ford.  Saw a number of Russell’s cavalry.  [1st Maryland Cavalry; Major Charles H. Russell.] Marched up the river, and across to Brandy Station, where we formed in line of battle and camped for the night.

Diary of Calvin Conant, Company G:
        November, Saturday, 7.
         Marched at day light   went through Catletts  Warranton Junct. and down near to Kelleys ford   Can hear heavy firing    We have probably –– Marched 12 miles   Now in Camp

November, Sunday, 8.  Packed up and marched to the river   Crossed at Kelleys ford   on Pontoons and marched to near Brandy Station   Went in to camp  made about 12 miles to day.

Letter of Albert C. Brown, Conscript, 16th Maine

Here is a second letter from 16th Maine recruit Albert C. Brown. Brown, age 20, was mustered into Company C, 16th Maine Infantry on August 15, 1863.  He reached his regiment on October 10th.  The letter marks his first month in the field.  It is addressed to Miss Mary P. Brown, Hallowell, Maine.  Albert would survive his war-time service, and live until 1922.

Camp of the 16th Me. Regt,  Nov. 9th 1863
Near Brandy Station, Va.

Dear Aunt,

                I received your letter night before last, Nov. 7th.  I received one from home night before last and yours the night before that and I have been so busy following up the Rebs that I haven’t had time to answer either of them till now.  As I got yours first, I will answer it first—that is, if I have time.

I believe the last time I wrote to you we were at Thoroughfare Gap. On the 24th of October we struck our tents and went to Bristoe Station and camped near the battle ground of the 14th.  The railroad track which the Rebs tore up had been newly laid when we got there and almost the only thing that marked the ground was the number of newly made graves.    We remained in the vicinity until last Thursday when we started about 4 P. M. and marched to Catlett Station.  Stopped there over Friday and Saturday morning started again.  Marched all that day and all day yesterday.

The part of the army before us have had one or two engagements with the enemy whom they are driving back.  We crossed the Rappahannock yesterday forenoon & you will be likely to hear all about it before this letter reaches you. We are now near Brandy Station.  Have not pitched our tents and are liable to start again at any moment.  I stand the marches first rate. My health is good.

The weather here is very pleasant now.  I wish the girls could have as good a chance to get acorns as we have out here. The principle growth here is oak and pine. I could get any amount of acorns if I had any place to put them. When we go into winter quarters, if it is not too late, I mean to gather a lot to eat this winter. I would like to have that paper very well after you read it.  I get more time to read than I get reading to do. I am going to have them send some from home once in awhile. I guess I won’t write much more this time as I want to try and get time to write home today.  I have got out of ink so I have written this with the pencil that you gave me. The folks at home were all well. Give my love to Aunt Patience & Hannah & the girls & accept a good share yourself.

From your nephew,

— Albert C. Brown

Journal Entries of Colonel Charles Wainwright, Chief of 1st Corps Artillery

Colonel Wainwright, closer to the high command, provides a few glimpses into the emotions at Meade's Headquarters during the campaigning November 7th.  He also wrote extensively about the march. As Chief of Artillery he had a much more difficult task than the infantrymen.  He had to move his guns and equipments through rough country over bad roads.  This ever-present obstacle of bad Virginia Roads made such advances gruelling rather than just tiresome.

Kelly’s Ford; Saturday, Nov 7th.––
        We started in due time this morning and reached our present position, about a mile in rear of the ford, by four p.m.   The Second and Third Corps were ahead of us, which was the cause of our being so late.  French led his column with the Third Corps;  he did not wait to put a bridge down but so soon as he got his batteries planted and his men forward, Birney’s whole division waded the stream, and attacked the heights on the other side, carrying them with the loss of only thirty-five men killed and wounded.  The rebels were not in strong force at this point, nor much entrenched; so the resistance was not great.  French reports having captured 254 prisoners. Bridges are now being laid, and the rest of this wing of the army are to cross early tomorrow morning.

A.R. Waud sketch of Birney's men crossing Kelly's Ford, November 7

Artist Alfred Waud was present during the assault at Kelly's Ford and made this sketch.  The caption is, “Charge of General Ward's troops through Kelly's Ford upon the Rifle Pits.”

General Meade has his headquarters near us tonight;  I have just returned from there where I learned from Hunt [Henry Hunt, Army of the Potomac Chief Artillery Officer] and  Patrick [Brig-Gen. Marsena Patrick, Provost Guard] all about the doings of the other wing at Rappahannock Station, which resulted in a most brilliant little success.  Sedgwick had command of the column, his own corps coming within sight of the rebel works about noon.  Their tête-du-pont was found to be quite extended, and strongly manned.  On the knoll to our right of the railroad bridge, they had made a good work and mounted four guns in it;  from there a rifle pit ran around on the little rise to the wood, west of where our better pontoon bridge was, their bridge being laid at the same point.  Early in the afternoon Sedgwick put a goodly number of batteries into position along the edge of the woods, which I should say was from 12,000 to 15,000 yards from the rebel works. At the same time half of Russell’s brigade was pushed forward as skirmishers as near as it was possible to get them:  the artillery keeping up a steady fire.  The skirmish line thus thrown out was of nearly double the ordinary force.  Having got up as near as they well could, the skirmishers lay down, and kept quiet until about sundown, when another line, composed of the other half brigade, was sent out as if to relieve them.  So quietly and naturally was the whole thing done that the rebels were completely taken in.  On the joining of the two lines, they formed a tolerable line of battle.  The charge was immediately ordered, and they went in right over the rebel works.  The rebs fought hard but they were surprised, and their fate was sealed by Colonel Upton, who had crept around meantime to their flank, and charging over the end of the work at the same time that Russell attacked in front, he got possession of the bridge.  Sedwick’s whole loss as now reported is not much over 300, while Patrick tells me he received 1.344 prisoners from him.  Four guns are captured in the works.

They were all feeling very jolly at headquarters over this success, and well they may, considering how cheaply it was bought.  It seems to have been admirably planned and perfectly executed.  I do not know with whom the idea originated;  but “Uncle John,” Russell, and Upton all desire great credit. Tomorrow we shall doubtless push ahead again, and may calculate on a fight;  in which, if it does come I trust this Corps may do as well, as the 6th did today:–– yet we have not seen a shot fired.

November 8, 1863; Meade Prepares for Battle

The soldiers of the 13th Mass., only recorded the marching experienced on November 9, without much commentary on the strategy of the move.  For them, the result of all the maneuvering on November 9, is that they ended up back in the rear of the army guarding the Orange and Alexandria Railroad.  But there was some real intent on General Meade's part, for the move to Brandy Station on the 9th.  Charles E. Davis touches upon the timidity, or rather stupidity of the commanding officers during this advance, and that gives an inkling of the criticism more plainly expressed by Col. Wainwright in his journal.

From “Three Years in the Army, The Story of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteers” by Charles E. Davis, Jr. (Boston, Estes & Lauriat, 1894).

Major General William H. French

The regiment gives its customary assesment of the commanding general's abilities.  In this instance it is  Major-General William H. French, who came under their scrutiny.  General French's sobriquet was  “Old Blinky.”

Sunday, Nov. 8.  At daylight we crossed the Rappahannock River at Kelly’s Ford, and marched on to Brandy Station.  We saw nothing about the place that suggested so alcoholic a name.

There was a painful lack of intelligence on the part of the commander of the First, Second, and Third Corps to-day, for there seemed to be no reason but stupidity in the way of our capturing a force of rebel artillery and a wagon-train.

It seems that when the enemy was discovered a detachment was sent out on a flank movement.  Before it was completed the remainder of our troops, which included the Thirteenth, was advanced out of the woods in their front, thereby disclosing to the enemy our approach, and he immediately withdrew to Culpeper.

We had been long enough in the service to understand what this simple movement meant, and took a good deal of interest in its development.  It was exactly the movement that Stonewall Jackson attempted to play on us the day we went to Newtown from Winchester, March 13, 1862, and the lessons that Jackson taught us we were not likely to forget.

If the honorable major-general commanding this movement had been standing about some of our campfires that night he would have heard a pretty free discussion of his qualifications as a major-general.

Wainwright Journal, Continued

Brandy Station; Sunday, Nov 8th. ––
        For the first time I feel inclined to find fault with General Meade today.  I have always taken the ground that no one but the General himself and his immediate advisers know what information he has at the time of coming to a decision, and consequently we should be very careful in finding fault.  Perhaps I am wrong in doing so now, but I do feel most decidedly that he has been over-cautions today.  Our men were not used up, as at Falling Waters, but on the contrary were very fresh, and full of ardor in consequence of yesterday’s success.  The country too is, or at least ought to be, perfectly known to Meade and his corps commanders.   Lee was undoubtedly unprepared for the extent of our move last night, and had made preparations to go into winter quarters hereabouts.

General Meade and his Corps Commanders, September 1863

Portrait of Major-General Meade and his Corps Commanders.  Left to right are:  Major-General Gouverneur K. Warren, (2nd Corps), Major-General William H. French, (3rd Corps),  General Meade, Brigadier-General Henry J. Hunt, (Chief of Artillery), Major-General Andrew A. Humphreys, (Chief of Staff), and Major-General George Sykes, (5th Corps), September, 1863.

When we commenced moving this morning I supposed that the General himself, with these three corps, would push direct for Culpeper, while Sedgwick advanced by the railroad with the Fifth and Sixth. It would, to be sure, have separated the army into two columns until we got near the Court House, but there was not much danger of Lee’s trying to cut between them, if we pushed on rapidly and boldly.  As it was, this corps pushed up immediately on the river, with  Second and Third swinging around on our left; and so much time was lost in keeping the different parts of the line straight that it was near sundown when we got here.  There was no opposition to this wing of the army:  a few stragglers picked up and an occasional shot at some venturesome scout was all we saw of the enemy.  They skirmished with the Sixth Corps in its advance, all the way, but did not show a line of battle anywhere;  yet that corps reached here some time before we did.  Lee was doubtless with his main force at Culpeper if he was not making for the south of the Rapidan. I fear that our chance, whatever it may have been, is now gone; a whole day and two nights are quite enough to enable Lee’s army to entrench themselves thoroughly if they mean to fight, or to get safely across the Rapidan if they do not.

On the road up today we had abundant proof that the rebels expected to winter here, in the extensive and elaborate huts they were erecting. Whole villages of quite sizable houses were half finished, and thousands of shingles split out for  roofing.

The 2d Corps, on our left at least Webb’s Division of it, had open country all the way up, & marches in line of battle, with skirmishers in front, & a couple of batteries in rear of their flanks.  It was a beautiful & inspiring sight:  could this be done oftener it would tend greatly to increase true military pride among our officers & men;   & have no doubt that they would fight better for it.  One body of men, seeing their companions marching so gallantly on, is inspired to generous rivalry;  & labours not only to equal but to out do them.  In this horrible wood country on the other hand, we are obliged always to move by the flank & deploy our line in a forest so dense that the colonel of a half regiment cannot see both flanks at the same time.

The day has been cold & windy, tonight it is horrible.  We have our head quarters among a lot of scrub stuff, & are about as uncomfortable as we can well be;  all the waggons being left on the other side of Kelly’s Ford, & the chief Quarter Master's having got some queer notions into their heads, it was very late before we got our tents up, or supper for ourselves or horses.

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Bivouac in the Pines

painting detail of soldiers camping in woods

“Bivouac of the Seventh Regiment, Arlington Heights,” [detail] by Sanford Robinson Gilford, 1861.  The regiment returned to camp life, hoping to set up winter quarters and end the campaigning of this difficult year.

From “Three Years in the Army, The Story of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteers” by Charles E. Davis, Jr. (Boston, Estes & Lauriat, 1894).

winter bivouac

Monday, Nov. 9.  Instead of pushing on to Richmond we took another step back.  At 4 p.m. we again turned our faces northward, crossing the river at Rappahannock Station, through Bealton to Licking Run, in a snow-storm, halting at 1 A.M. not far from Warrenton Junction.  The weather was cold, except in the fire, which was pretty nearly covered by coffee-dippers.  We got to bed about 2 A.M., which is altogether too late for boys away from home.

“D—n the service!” says some one, the other side, as his coffee upset, very nearly putting out the fire.  Then a chorus of  “Oh, h—l!”  was shouted.

Diary of Sam Webster:
        Monday, November 9th, 1863.
        Went to the front through the woods, a short distance, and found the 6th Maryland, in the 3rd Corps.*  Saw Captain Billingslea, Mitten, Brown, Grogg, and others.  Had quite a pleasant visit.  There was a fight at Rappahannock Station on Saturday and a great number of rebels captured.  They were on the north side of the river, and were cut off from the bridges.

Had tent pitched and was going to make another call, but saw an Aid flying around Division headquarters.  In a few minutes the “General” sounded.  Hurried up my supper, having a rabbit I had knocked over with my hatchet.  In twenty minutes were on the road back to Rappahannock station;  crossed;  passed Bealton, and went into woods at Licking Run west of Railroad.  Snowed considerably.  Sawyer and I got under the pines, built a fire and ate what supper we had, coffee mostly, and at quarter of 2:00 were ready to turn in.  A. L. insisted on making it the even two hours, but I rolled up in the blankets and he followed.  Booted Rodgers on the road for coming up into the drum corps, when shouldn’t, and found my temper wonderfully improved. [NOTE:  There are 3 candidates for "Rogers" and I can't distinguish whom it might be.  One of them was a conscript who would soon desert.  One of the 3 is in Sam's company, but there is no way to tell.  A. L. is Appleton L. Sawyer.   Sam's field diary mentions that there were 3 rests on the march this day, and that they covered about 15 miles.]

Tuesday, November 10th, 1863.
        Pitch’d tent and went rabbit hunting.  Boys successful, getting also some partridges — quail.  They took no weapons but clubs and stones.

*NOTE:  The 6th Maryland Infantry (U.S.) had the second highest casualty losses of any Maryland units in Union service. See William F. Fox, Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, 1861-1865  (Albany, 1889), p. 308-309, 455, 489-90.

Circular From Headquarters, (excerpt)

Orders were issued for each of the corps in the army in this circular.  I have separated out the orders for General John Newton's 1st Corps, which was spread out over 25 miles of railroad.

Headquarters Army of the Potomac,      
Nov. 9, 1863, 12 m.    

The First Corps, Major-General Newton, will be placed as follows:  One division at Rappahannock Station, with a brigade at Beverly Ford; the three brigades of another division will be:  One at Bealeton, one at Liberty, and one near the railroad crossing Licking Run.  These two divisions will picket so as to cover the supply, the trains passing along the route of the railroad, and the working parties on the road.

The division of the First Corps now guading the railroad from Manassas to Warrenton Junction will remain as now posted.  The protection of the railroad is assigned to Major-General Newton.

By command of Major-General Meade,
                        S. WILLIAMS,
                                    Assistant Adjutant-General

Charles E. Davis, Jr., continued:

Tuesday, Nov. 10.  Our corps was now strung along the railroad from Manassas to Rappahannock Station a distance of twenty-five miles.

Details were made daily to work on the railroad, which was being rebuilt as rapidly as possible.  This work, with picket duty, completely occupied our time.


The ground about us had been so often used as a parking-place for wagon-trains artillery, and cavalry, that it had become strewn with oats and corn, scattered by the horses and mules  After their departure, it was taken possession of by quail, partridge, and other birds, as a feeding-ground, so that upon our arrival we found an abundance of game.  As we were not allowed to fire our guns, except at the enemy, we were forced to substitute clubs, stones, etc., in order to supply our larder.  Broiled partridge and an occasional noggin of “commissary” smoothed off the ragged edge of our service a good deal.

If it hadn’t been for guerrillas that infested the neighborhood, we might have had a peaceful time, as the enemy in font of the picket line were less demonstrative than usual.

Diary of Calvin Conant, Company G:
        November, Monday, 9.  Cloudy cool Morning  We are near Brandee Station  cool and a little fall of Snow     packed up at 5 and marched to Rappahannock Station  Crossed the river and marched to the Rail Road Bridge near to Warrenton Junct. and went in the pine woods for camp  Snow.

Tuesday, 10.  Cold day  went out on Picket the Reg changed their Camp.

Wednesday, 11.    I am on Picket –– cool day come in from Picket this afternoon all of our boys are gone on the Rail Road.

Diary of Sam Webster:
        Wednesday, November 11th, 1863.
        Libby* has picked up an “old plug of a horse,” and so, to not lose on him, I went after material for a house.  Crossed the Railroad and went a mile or more to an old artillery camp, vacated by them, when we moved forward.  Sketch of an old plug horseGathered a great lot of “hardtack” boxes, and broke them to pieces, saving sides and bottom pieces.  (They are of pine about 2 1/2 feet long.)  Made two large bundles, wrapped around with old grain bags.  As I could only lift one at a time, and had no saddle, I had to use my genius to load, so I got two pork barrels, some old bags and some old straps.  Passed the straps around each bundle; mounted one bundle on a barrel, and brought the horse beside it.  I then placed the other barrel on his other side, and mounted the other bundle, taking care to have the flat side — and no nails — next the horse.  Made a saddle of the old bags and joined the straps over them, drawing them as tight as possible so as to get the bundles well up on his back.  When I kicked the barrels from under, the old horse fairly staggered, as he did all the way to camp.  I feared he couldn’t get across the Railroad but he did, and I got in all right.  Knocked the nails out and fitted frame to build shanty.

*Libby is FREDERICK A. LIBBEY ; age, 18; born. South Boston; machinist: mustered in as priv., Co. E, July 16, '61; mustered out as drummer, Aug. 1, '64; appointed drummer, Co. E, Oct. 20, '61; residence, [1893]  88 Banks street, Cambridge, Mass.

Boston Evening Transcript; Correspondence of CLARENCE.

 Once again, its great to have the letters from 13th Mass. newspaper correspondent Clarence, filling us in with "on the spot" reporting from the regiment in the field.

Boston Evening Transcript November 17, 1863.

1st Brigade, 2d Division, 1st Corps,
Licking Run, Va., Nov. 11th

From the Thirteenth Regiment.  About five o’clock, on the 5th inst., we received marching orders, but after traveling about six miles, the night being very dark, and the roads in some places blocked up with fallen trees, we went into camp at Catlett’s Station, where we remained till the morning of the 7th.  We once more made a start, going as far as Morrisville, where we encamped for the night, having effected a distance of sixteen miles.  During the afternoon we heard the cannonading at Rappahannock Station and Kelly’s Ford, and at night received the good news from those places.

The road was very dusty, and the wind being high, the countenances of the soldiers resembled the Malay in color, rather than the Caucasian.  Water was scarce, and hard to be obtained.  The woods at the sides of the road were covered with a thick, dry brush, which, during the noonday halt, accidentally caught fire, so that the afternoon march was through clouds of smoke, and almost through flame.  At daylight we moved on toward the river, which we crossed at Kelly’s Ford, and then marched to Brandy Station, a distance of twelve miles.

Colonel Samuel Haven Leonard, 13th MA Vols.

During the day several squads of rebel prisoners passed us, many being comfortably clothed, and having on new state-colored overcoats.  In the woods at the ford the rebels had commenced building log cabins, showing their intention to remain all winter if unmolested.  The force at Kelly’s Ford, however, could not have been very large, as the quarters erected could not have accommodated a thousand men.*  We lay in line of battle at Brandy Station till four in the afternoon of the 9th inst., when we took the back track, marching to this place, a distance of fourteen miles.

The Second Division is now engaged in the occupation of rebuilding and guarding the railroad, which is completed to within a mile of Bealton.  We shall probably remain along the line of the railroad for some time to come, as our recent advance was to put us in an available position should our services be required;  but being no longer necessary, we have resumed our former position of guarding the line of communication.  Col. Leonard commands the brigade, and has the respect of all under him.  [Col. Samuel H. Leonard, pictured].


*The prisoners were from the 2nd and 30th North Carolina infantry, captured by the 3rd Corps during the fight at Kelly's Ford, November 7th.  The small number of huts, were probably accomodations for the 2nd NC, picketing the ford. ––B.F.

Letter of 2nd Lieutenant Charles E. Horne, Company G.

Charles is in the same company as Corporal Calvin Conant.  He was promoted from sergeant to 2nd Lieutenant on July 1st, the same day William R. Warner of Company K was promoted.  Charles Horne was wounded at Gettyburg later that same day, July 1st.  He would be wounded again at Spotsylvania in 1864, where  he would lose an arm.  I have copies/transcripts of 3 of his letters which sometimes appear at auction.   Charles picture accompanies his letter of November 18th, posted below.  The fact that Charles doesn't yet know much about General John Newton, commanding First Corps, suggests he only recently returned to the regiment after recovering from his wounds at Gettysburg.

Camp 13th Massachusetts Volunteers   
November 11th 1863

                    Dear Parents,

                                Our Regiment, with most of the 1st Brigade, are encamped on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad about one mile south of Warrenton Junction doing guard duty along the line. There is nothing to fear save an occasional raid from guerrillas who infest this region of the country. We left Bristoe Station, where I wrote you last about one week ago, and marched to Kelly’s Ford where we crossed the Rappahannock. We went from there direct to Brandy Station where we lay one night and nearly one day when we were ordered back here on the road. Our Regiment is scattered from Rappahannock Station to the Junction. It will be first rate for us if we can only have the job a month or so. Gilbert Gaul painting, soldier studyThe 1st Corps seldom gets any easy job to do.

They always had a General who claimed the front.  One who was proud of his men and anxious to do his part of the fighting. I don’t know much about this stick Newton that we have now, although he has the reputation of being a fighting man.  The weather is really getting cold. We had a smart snow squall while on the march night before last.

I should like you to send me a couple pairs of stockings. You can do them up in a close package and send by mail.

I had a letter from Harvey the other day. I sent for him to send me some gloves. He sent some but they don’t suit me at all.

Thanksgiving will soon be at hand. I should like to be with you on that wonderful day next year if nothing happens. I hope to be where I can dine with whom I please.  I have been placed temporarily in command of Company G.  Captain Cary is Acting Field Officer.  I am well and hearty.  I can’t think of any more to write this morning.  Please answer soon. My love to all.

                Love your affectionate son,
                                                    Charles E. Horne

Adjutant David Bradlee, Quartermaster Melvin Smith, Quartermaster George Craig

David BradleeMelvin Smith, close upGeorge E. Craig

Letter of Col. Leonard to the Massachusetts Adjutant General's Office.

This bit of correspondence regarding promotions, between Col. Samuel H. Leonard and Major William Rogers of the Massachusetts Adjutant General's Office is found in the Executive Collection of the Massachusetts State Archives. Col. Leonard says that Adjutant Bradlee, Quartermaster Melvin Smith & George Craig, pictured above, all turned down the opportunity for promotion when their turn came.

Head Quarters 13th Regt. Mass Vols
November 12th 1863.  

Major William Rogers
                                A A Gen’l,

                                            Your communications in reference to the nominations made by me Oct 27th came to hand while I was busy with the late advance movement of the army, and I take the first chance to answer it.

I will say, that those names were sent, with the consent of all interested.

Lieuts Bradlee, Craig and Smith have always declined to accept any offer of promotion.  Lieut Kimball when a 2nd Lieut. declined his regular promotion, and was senior to all. except of that grade.   The reason of it, was, his expectation of an appointment in another department, which he has failed to get.  he now desires to obtain in the reg’t what he declined in favor of others.  he would have been a captain senior to Livermore in regular order of seniority.  As I understand it but one officer can be superseded and he the one who would by the regular line of promotion succeed to the place.

Hoping that the above explanations will be satisfactory to his Excellency, and the recommendations be approved.

I am sir
                                Your Obt Servant
                                                S H Leonard

Diary of Calvin Conant, Company G:
        Thursday, 12.     Bright Clear cold morning  I am in Camp    Stay with Co'l  Jones   I started to go as orderly at Regiment Head Quarters.

Friday, 13,  Clear warm day  am at Head Quarters yesterday & wrote home for a scarf.

[Corporal Jones is probably, DAVID L. JONES; age, 18; born, Boston; shoemaker; mustered in as priv., Co. G, July 16, '61; reenlisted, Jan. 4, '64; transferred as sergt. to 39th Mass.; residence, [1893] Boston, Mass. ––B.F.]

Letter of Warren H. Freeman, Company A

Warren comments on the death of a soldier in another regiment, whom he knew since childhood.

Warrenton Junction, Va.,  November 13, 1863.

    Yours of the 10th was received yesterday while on picket, –– announcing the death of Joseph P. Burrage.  This is sad news indeed, and must cause great sorrow among his numerous friends, for he was truly a noble, generous, and brave soldier, –– yielding up college honors, a luxurious and cultivated home circle, to meet death upon the battle-field that his country might live.  He was certainly a pure-hearted boy, and I shall always cherish his memory and his friendship.  I think we have never been encamped near together, but I have casually met him several times while on the march.  You will recollect that in a previous letter I spoke of our last meeting and of his appearing rather reserved or taciturn, for which I could not account.  Now it may be that it brought up thoughts of home, the church and Sabbath-school where we had always met, and the possibility that we might never meet again on earth; such thoughts may have produced such results, which is the only way I can account for the want of that cordiality manifested at previous meetings.  His corps was associated with our corps in the battles of Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg, but we did not meet personally on those occasions.

Silhouette of a picket in winter, from an Edwin Forbes sketch

We left Bristow Station on the same afternoon I wrote you last;  we marched to Catlett’s Station and remained there till the morning of the 7th, then marched to within about three miles of Kelly’s Ford, making a very hard march, as we went a roundabout way.  We were nearly suffocated by smoke part of the way, as the woods were all on fire; I suppose the fire was set by the rebs to prevent our advance;  there was some cannonading in front and on the right of us that day.  The first, division of the Third Corps had the advance on Kelly’s Ford, where they had quite a brisk fight and took 400 prisoners;  while the Sixth Corps, which had the advance on Rappahannock Station, took 1,500 prisoners and four guns  We crossed the river at Kelly’s Ford on the right and went to within a mile of Brandy Station. We lay here twenty-four hours, and were then ordered to fall in and take the back track;  the night was cold and we had frequent flurries of snow;  add to this a sharp wind, and you may imagine it was rather an uncomfortable march;  we came back to guard the railroad.

I do not know how long we shall stay here, but I think you may venture to send my box.  Love to all.


Building Log Hut Cabins for Winter Quarters

Diary of Sam Webster:
        November 14th, 1863.        Rebuilt my house;  two tents long; sides about 3 feet high;  bed to be across the back end, and door in front end beside the chimney, which to be be built of logs, crossed and plastered in regular log cabin style, tho not quite so large.  Got into it just in time to escape a rain.  [Sam's field diary says he drew a pair of shirts and blanket straps on November 13, as well as a new tent.  The new tent may be the impetus for re-building his house.––B.F.]

Sam's House

Sam liked to add little sketches to his journal.  Pictured is his sketch of this house.

Captain John G. Hovey

Diary of Calvin Conant, Company G:
        Saturday, 14.   pleasant this morning    I am on at Head Quarters as orderly [he spells it ordly––B.F.]  My Company is to do all the duty there while we stay here.

Sunday, 15.  Rained this morning & am relieved from being orderly this morning.  we get our pay to day  I receive  $26.00

Monday, 16.  clear day rather cool   I am on orderly  over at Regt Hd Qts there was a Brigade Inspection by Capt. Livermore    built me a house.

Diary of Sam Webster:
        Monday, November 16th, 1863.
        Inspection by Captain Livermore.  Captain Hovey returned to duty. [Pictured is Captain John G. Hovey, who returned to the regiment from recruiting duty in Boston.]

Diary of Calvin Conant, Company G:
        Tuesday, 17.      Clear day I am off guard to day  am the work detail ordly for the boys  sent home 20 dollars by mail

Letter of Warren Freeman, Company A

Warren correctly speculates there will be one more campaign for the year once the railroad work is finished.

On a more personal note, I find the fondness of the soldiers for baked beans particularly interesting.  My grandfather used to tell me stories of his grandfather, a tuba playing blacksmith who lived in Westborough, MA; where Company K was organized.  Grandpa Brigham was a veteran of Company C, 34th Massachusetts Volunteers.  He had baked beans for breakfast every Sunday morning.

In Camp Near Warrenton Junction,  November 17, 1863.   

Dear Father and Mother, –– There is no news whatever since I last wrote; everything is quiet in the “Army of the Potomac,” I believe.  I do not think it will remain so long, however, as they have got the railroad about finished, and I presume it is intended to offer battle to the rebs once more before we settle down in winter-quarters.  I suppose you have sent my box.  If we do not move before Thanksgiving there will be no trouble in getting it, as they will try to get our boxes though by that time.

We have a very comfortable place for a camp, being in a pine wood where the wind does not reach us; and we have got our huts fixed up so they are quite warm.  We have drawn soft bread and potatoes and beans several times lately.

Kettle of Baked Beans

We had a kettle of baked beans recently.  The way we bake them is this:  we dig a round hole in the ground about two and a half feet in depth by two in diameter, then make a fire of hard wood in the hole and keep it up till the hole is nearly full of coals and very hot.  In the mean time we parboil the beans in a large iron camp kettle, put in the pork, and get them all ready;   then shovel the coals out of the hole and put the kettle in;  put a piece of paper and a board over the top of the kettle and then fill in with the coals all around the pot;  next, cover the whole with earth.   In about ten hours they will be about equal to those we could get at home.

We were paid off the other day.  I will inclose twenty-five dollars; please take care of it for me.

But I will close, as I can think of nothing to interest you.


Letter of Charles Barber, 104th New York Vols., November 16, 1863.

Charles is on the same work detail repairing the railroad as Austin Stearns of the 13th MA.   Stearns goes into more about the work in the section that follows Charles Barber's letter.

The letter comes from, “The Civil War Letters of Charles Barber, Private, 104th New York Volunteer Infantry,” Edited by Raymond G. Barber & Gary E. Swinson; Torrence, California, 1991.  My copies were received from the Fredericksburg National Military Park.

Bealton Station, Va.,   
Nov. 16, 1863  

Dear wife and children

I am well.  This is the first opportunity I have had to write to you in a long time as we have been on a campaign.   We marched back across the Rappahannock and on most to the Rapidan in hot pursuit of the rebs.  Our advance had a fight;  drove them south.  Took 1500 rebel prisoners with a good many killed and wounded on both sides.  Our regt was three mile from the fight.  We marched on but the rebels had retreated across the river before we got there.   We passed on by the killed and wounded in pursuit of the rebs but they did not stop till they crossed the Rapidan.  Our corps was then ordered back here to work on the rail road so we marched back and recrossed the Rappahannock and camped here near Bealton. 

We have been to work six days on the road cutting tithes and shoveling dirt.  We worked Sunday in the rain and mud for the road must be done immediately to carry supplies to the army or they would all have to retreat back this side of the river.  Our corps is in the rear now but we are under orders to be ready to march any minute.

Frederic Ray illustration, Guerillas attacking a picket

I do not know where we shall go to.  Some think shall stay round here to guard the rail road against the gurillies.  They are thick around here.  One man in our brigade was shot dead while on picket in the night.  This road has got to be guarded the whole length.  Our corps is now guarding it.  We are strung along 25 mile on the road in the rear of the main army but we don’t know how long we shall remain here. 

We expect to be paid this week.  I shall send home 20 dollars.  I shall not enlist again till my time is up this term and I have a rest at home for a while.  Then I will see about it and see where duty calls me.

Where does Smith Ring live now?  Get Ben to see Persons about Georges money.

I got a letter and paper from you to day.  How does aunt B and Mary get along?  I saw Lysander Wiley a few days ago.  He is well and hearty.  I mean to write to you more regular when I can.  We expect to go into winter quarters before long.  I do not think our regt will be in a fight this fall.  Well let us be patient and still hope on.  I have only about ten months longer to serve at most.   I may be home on a furlow after we get into winter quarters but I don’t know.

Oh that Nunda paper is hardly worth taking but if I find any thing in it that will interest you I will send it to you.   Kiss the babies and talk to them about me.  From your affectionate husband

                Charles Barber

NOTES:  Mary is probably Mary Wiley.  Sergeant Lysander Wiley of Java Village, NY, enlisted August 12, 1862, in Company C, 1st N.Y. Dragoons.  He was wounded May 8, 1864, at the Battle of Spotsylvania, Va.;  discharged June 26, 1865. [Raymond G. Barber]  Lysander Wiley was probably a nephew of Charles Barber’s sister, Tryphena Barber, who married Alonzo Wiley.  [Gary E. Swinson]

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I've Been Working on the Railroad

This story comes from the memoirs of Sergeant Austin C. Stearns, “Three Years in Company K” edited by Arthur Kent, Associated University Presses, 1976; (p. 225-234).

Trouble Around the Camp Fire

illustration of soldiers around a campfire at night

Our corps was sent back towards Rappahannock Station, [and] after a hard march we bivouacked at night in a shrub oak lot.  As it was growing cold fast, some half dozen of us started off for rails before it got dark, preferring to get rails before we made coffee.  Others made their coffee first and trust to luck for a fire.

A few picked out a good place and scraped a few twigs and sticks, built a small fire, and taking the best places, waited our coming.  The first to arrive with his back load did not like the way they had planned, so he picked out another place about two rods off, where he threw down his rails and was building a fire when I came in.  He invited me to his place and I threw my wood with his;  another came in and threw his wood with ours, [and] we were getting quite a pile, and if a soldier likes anything on a cold night it is a prospect of a good fire, and ours was good indeed while the others was decidedly bad.

Dorkham [was] coming in just now and if they could prevail on him to stop with them, they might get through the night quite comfortably, so they pressed him quite hard to stop with them.  Dorkham looked for their rail pile but could see nothing. While their fire was fading out, our fire was blazing brightly in the growing darkness.  He threw his wood with ours [though] we had said nothing to him, being busy with our suppers.   Dorkham got his cup and was soon making coffee, as busy as any of us, when over came a lump of earth striking dangerously near his cup.  He looked up and told them to be careful, but they were not pleased and soon over came another without doing any damage.  Dorkham made a remark and some of the boys warned them that possibly they might throw one too many if they kept on.

Winslow Homer illustration, "Upset HIs Coffee"

My coffee was just on the point of boiling and I had it suspended on a stick when over came a root, striking my cup and spilling a little.  I was mad, and setting my cup down I told them that was played out and if there was anything over here they wanted they could have it pretty quick.  Sanborn, who threw the stick, was mad and he said he could lick any two of us, and if I did not shut up he would lick me now.  I told him he had better try it on, for braggin had never licked anybody yet, and I felt to have him try.  He started for me and I would have met him half way for I would have fought him then with the certain knowledge of getting whipped, [but] the boys of Sanborns fire caught him and those of my party me, and the whole thing was soon forgotten.  Before morning they were all up around our fire, glad to sit or lay on the smoky side.

Three or four of us had chipped in and bought a hatchet, and we used to take turns in carrying it.  The one that carried it today used it first at night to pitch his tent, after which it went the rounds.  Dorkham and I were tenting together and I sent him to get the hatchet of Vining, who had his tent pitched.  He came back and said he could not get it.  I started for Vining and wanted to know why Dorkham could not get the hatchet.  He said he did not know that we were pitching together so had let it to Rawson, Sanborn & Company.  He got it quickly for us though.

Those men always wanted the first and the best, without giving anything in return.

Al Sanborn's antics are peppered through out Sgt. Stearns memoir, usually making fun or causing a ruckus.  Sanborn was the son of Greenleaf C. Sanborn, a Selectman of the town of Westboro, Mass., where Company K was organized.  He was quite a character and will continue to figure prominently in Stearns' remembrances, up to the very day the regiment left the front for home.  Sanborn was 28 in 1863.  He would die shortly after the war in 1866.

Fighting Among the Substitutes

A note on the Conscripts:  On August 19, 1863, just five days after they arrived to join the 13th MA Regiment in  the field, two conscripts in Company K deserted from camp.  Both were named John Wilson.  The younger John was 21, and his occupation was listed as a Caulker, from Billerica, Mass.  He was arrested for desertion and sentenced to hard labor on Government Fortifications for one year.  In July, 1864, he was transferred to Company C of the 39th Mass. Vols., and later transferred again to the 32nd MA Vols, Company H, on June 2nd, 1865.  There his record in the rosters ends.  The elder John Wilson, was age 23, from England, occupation:  Sailor.  This John Wilson, nicknamed Nig, was arrested and returned to duty, as Austin Stearns relates here.

“Three Years in Company K,” continued:
        We recrossed the Rappahannock and went up the railroad to a place called Licking Run, where we pitched a camp in a thick pine grove.  The subs of our company had almost all left us.   I think there was no more than a half a dozen left.  The weather was cold and we done nothing but eat and keep warm.

Nig Wilson, one of the subs who had deserted and was captured and brought back, had by some hocus pocus arrangement escaped punishment and [was] sent to the company for duty.  One morning after roll call, instead of making his coffee with the others, he went back to sleep where he lay till about nine o’clock, then coming out of his tent and finding the fires all out in our street, looked over and saw one in Company G’s where Old Bluler* was cooking a pot of soup.

Illustration of kids fighting

Nig walked over and put his pot on where Bluler had taken his off for a moment.  When Bluler was ready to put his on again there was no room.  He sat his pot down and was going to enlarge the fire when Nig told him to stop.   Bluler then wanted to know whose fire it was when Nig up and knocked him down, kicking his pot away and stomping him in the face.  Nig then ran back to his tent and Bluler cried murder and the boys were out from every quarter.

Bluler knew him and told who it was and the Officer of the day came over to arrest him. Nig denied all knowledge of the affair, said he had not been out of his tent since roll call, and that Old Bluler was mistaken, when an officer of Co. G, who had been standing at the head of the street [and] saw it all confirmed Bluler’s story.  Nig was taken up before the colonel, who immediately called a drum head court martial to try him.  It was such an unprovoked one that he was sentenced to be tied up by the thumbs unless he owned up.

With the most fearful oaths he stoutly denied all knowledge of the affair.  He was taken to a large pine tree in rear of Colonel’s tent where he was tied, his feet standing firmly on the ground with his arms up and thumbs tied to a limb.  It was about noon when his sentence commenced.  His chum made hm a pot of coffee and stole up there and thought to feed it to him but the Colonel saw him and ordered him away, saying he would serve him in the same way if he caught him there again trying to feed him without orders.  Nig stood it all afternoon and when taken down and allowed to come to his quarters was as ugly and defiant as ever, swearing with fearful oaths that he would never give in.  The next morning it was cold and the wind sighed throughout the branches of those pine trees and made us shiver clear through.

He was allowed to cook his breakfast, after which he was taken up to the Colonel and a chance was given him to acknowledge his guilt, but he was still defiant and he was again tied up in the old place;  he was ugly and defiant and determined not to give up.  The Colonel asked once or twice during the forenoon if he was not ready to give in, but still a surly no.  About noon the weather growing colder and the wind coming down through the trees pierced to the bone.  Nig could stand it no longer, completely broke down and begged to be released.  He was willing to own up that he knocked Bluler down and kicked him [and] after he was down he cried like a  baby.  He was released and, after being cautioned about his future behavior, sent to his quarters.

*The man Stearns refers to as “Old Bluler" is John J. Bleuler, Company E, not G as state in the story.  He was from Switzerland and did good service with the regiment according to Stearns' memoir.  His record from the roser:  JOHN J. BLEULER; age, 28; born, Switzerland; clerk; mustered in as priv., Co. E, July 28, '63; transferred to 39th Mass., July 14, '63; wounded.

Repairing the Railroad

photo of Contraband working on the Railroad

“Three Years in Company K,” continued:
        The Orange and Alexandria railroad was now undergoing repairs, and a large force of contrabands were employed in cutting sleepers and laying the tracks.  We used to have to repair the roads every time we advanced, and every time we retreated it was torn up, bridges were burned, and for miles the track would be destroyed.  If on a fill the whole track would be taken up bodily and thrown down;  another way was to pile the sleepers up in a pile, place the rails on them and set fire, [then] when red hot, take the rails by the ends and twist them around a telegraph pole. These were called Jeff Davis necktie. 

If the time was too short, pile stones or other sleepers on the ends and when hot they would bend ––anything to make them of no use. 

As the contrabands were not doing it fast enough, a detail was made from the brigade.  I was one of the detail with six others from the company and over  two hundred from the brigade.  We started in the morning and marched about four miles down the tracks and halted and waited for the axes.  After they came we hung them and marched two miles further to the woods  where we made a camp and prepared to chop.

We were to cut down trees of a certain size and cut them off a certain length and hew one side.  Some of the boys had never cut a tree in their life and knew nothing of falling down a tree.  Some would chop all round and let it fall whichever way it would;  one hardly knew when he was safe, but there was one good thing, the trees did not fall very fast.

Old Heath was taken from the guard house and was one of our number.  The boys all chopped first-rate the first day and were tired when night came.

Lumberjacks atop a large fallen tree

Old Heath

Heath couldn’t sleep any more than an Owl so he was up prowling around to see what he could find.

Sometime in the middle of the night I was awakened by Heath saying in a half whispered tone, “Haskell, Haskell, get up and come with me.  I’ve found calf,”  but Haskell was tired and told him to go away.  Heath urged but Haskell still refused, until at last Heath took his axe and went away.  man chasing a calfWhen I awoke in the morning Heath had the hind quarters of a calf all dressed and was distributing it out to the boys.  I had a generous slice for breakfast.  Heath came to me while eating and said if I would excuse him [from] chopping he would get a kettle and make a veal soup for dinner.  I told him to go ahead for I thought more of the dinner than I did of his work, and if he made a success I would excuse him all day.  We all chipped in of our hardtack and went for the woods.

Not having the fullest confidence in Heath, about ten I sent a man to help him. He found him fast asleep on our blankets and no preparations for dinner save a pot which he had before we went out.  He woke him and they both went at it, and when we came in at noon it was nearly done.

I have forgot to mention that the hard bread at this time was very wormy––a large white worm, and when eating the bread, if not very careful, they would get in your mouth, and the juice flying up in the roof would cause you to to spit immediately.  In the top of the soup floating around were several of these not very palatable articles of food;  they had at first, when breaking up the bread, tried to pick them out but as the time was short and there was so many of them they had turned the whole in and were now dipping them out with a spoon.

Krazy Kat cartoon by George Herriman

We ate our dinner and Heath was allowed to sleep all the afternoon.  At night there was every indication of rain, so four of us pitched a tent and fixed up around to keep the water out.  Four in a tent made it crowded so we had to lay spoon fashion;  as I lay on the outside it was no easy matter to keep dry.  We drew a ration of whiskey that night and saved some for the morning.  It rained in the night hard and those of the boys that could keep dry were in no hurry to get up.  [It Rained the night of the 14th, November––B.F.]

Heath who was never sleepy in the night time was up and away telling Jack Hall before he went what a good breakfast he would have, that he had saved four of five pounds of the best of veal and had it in his knapsack.  After he had gone Hall opened it and found it, also his whiskey.  He took out the meat, drinking the whiskey, and when we got up gave us the steak.  We cooked and ate it, not knowing but it was all right.  We were sitting around the fire smoking when Heath came back. He had been out prowling around to see what he could find and not being successful was hungry and tired.  He went to his tent when he came in, and stayed a few moments, when he came to the fire and tried to hire Haskell to cook his breakfast, offering to share in as good a one as could be found, there at least.  Charles Reed Illusltration, soldiers fightingHaskell declined and then he tried Hall, but he refused also.  Heath was mad and went to his tent growling about what he had done for us being up all night and then we were so d--n mean we would not cook a breakfast.

  He soon came out boiling with rage and swore that Haskell had stolen his meat.  Haskell denied, but Heath was positive;  he declared that no one but Haskell had been to his tent.  He swore revenge and tore around like mad man, he started for an axe, saying he would chop Haskell to pieces.  The rumpus was attracting the attention of the rest of the detail, so I though it time to interfere.

I went  to Heath and asked him what he had lost and the circumstances attending it.  He said he had saved a little piece of the meat, enough for his breakfast and laid it away in his knapsack, and that when he came in a few moments ago he saw the meat, but when he looked just now it was gone.  I asked him if he was sure he saw it, and he said he was just as sure as he stood there talking.  I told him if this was the truth, and I could back it up by every man there, that Haskell could not by any possible means have taken his meat.  And I told him more, that if he didn’t want to be put under arrest he had better keep a little quiet, for there was an enquiry going around of who had killed a calf, and that a new axe had been found and that a search was going to be made of the detail as soon as it stopped raining to see who was short an axe, and that instead of quarreling with this friends about a little meat he had better be looking up his axe.  A.R. Waud sketch, soldier with an axeThis calmed him, for he had a great horror of being put under arrest again.

The joke was that we, all of us, had eaten every morsel of his meat an hour before he said he saw it.  Heath soon had an axe.  An order was issued to search, but as it continued to rain and the men were so badly provided with shelter, it was deferred until we turned in our axes the next day.  My men all had an axe. Heath and Haskell were on the best of terms before night.  Some of the boys went over to the house where the calf was owned and saw the place where it was killed;  there was safe guard there and how anyone could kill and get away without noise no one knew, only Old Heath.

The next night we were ordered back to camp. The rain had softened up the ground and those six miles were hard ones to march.

We arrived in camp about nine P. M., all but Heath and Haskell, and had eaten our supper and were sleeping soundly when I was awakened by Heath calling out “Orderly, Orderly, for the love of God get up and get Haskell and I some soft bread for we are nearly famished.” the Orderly told him to go away or he would put him in the guard house, and I heard no more from him that night.

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Dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg

Letter of 2nd Lieutenant Charles Horne, Company G.

Charles, pictured below, writes of a map of the Battle of Gettysburg he sent home to his parents and mentions the fact that the new National Cemetery is to be dedicated on the morrow. The event as it was covered in the newspaper, including President Lincoln's now famous remarks follow.

Camp 13th Massachusetts Volunteers      
November 18th 1863  

Dear Parents,

Charles Horne, Company G

I send you a map of the Gettysburg Battlefield. It is as you will perceive a map of the line taken the second day and does not show where the 1st Corps fought so desperately. I have marked the point where we left the Emmitsburg Pike. Then you will notice on the Shippensburg Road, where I marked with a pencil, that was where our Division fought and charged across that road. On the right along the small stream was the 11th Corps, who ran like whipped dogs. You will see our position (marked Robinson) on Cemetery Hill, although we were moved from right to left almost every hour.

I do not call it a very good map, although it will give a general idea of the line and its formation. I can’t think of anymore now to write this morning.

I am well. General Meade will be present tomorrow at Gettysburg to dedicate the soldiers burying ground. No news here at all.

Charles E. Horne

The Dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, November 19, 1863

Crowd at Gettysburg

November 20, 1863.

The President and Cabinet at Gettysburg

Gettysburg, Pa., 19th.  The President’s party arrived last evening;  but the train which conveyed the Governors was delayed by a slight accident until nearly midnight, so that they were not able to participate in the proceedings of the night, which were of a marked character.

The President, Secretary Seward and Col. Forney were serenaded, and each replied to the compliment.

President Lincoln said he was happy to see so many of his friends present to participate in the ceremonies, but he would make no speech, as he had nothing particular to say.  (Laughter and applause.)

Secretary Seward was loudly called for.  He said he was sixty years of age, and had been forty years in public life.  This, however, was the first time he had ever dared to address people residing upon the border of Maryland.  He anticipated forty years ago that the battle of freedom would be fought upon this ground, and that slavery would die.  (Loud cheering.)  There had been a great issue between the people of the country, North and South, and it was now being determined in this contest.  He had been anxious to see slavery die by peaceful means and moral means, if possible, and now he was determined to see it die by the fates of war.  (Applause.)  This Pennsylvania ––beautiful, capacious, rich and fertile ––was an evidence of what the spirit of freedom had done for the Union.  He would not abandon the contest until he had one hope, one country, one destiny, and one nationality.  (Loud applause.)

Col. Forney made a brief speech, in which he referred to Douglas’s services to the Union.  He eulogized the President, and spoke of him as one who would live in history as the savior of his country.


The Dedication of the National Cemetery.    The telegraph furnishes a glimpse of the interesting proceedings at the consecration of the national cemetery, containing the remains of the slain at Gettysburg.  President Lincoln’s brief remarks will be admired as a terse statement of the thoughts naturally inspired by the solemn and patriotic occasion.    The address of the Hon. Edward Everett contains a graphic portraiture of the battle of the three days, and clearly describes the precedent events which led to this glorious but bloody struggle  The disastrous result which would have followed a defeat at Gettysburg, and the immense debt of gratitude the country owes the victors, are stated by Mr. Everett with all his power of vigorous, pointed and fervid expression. The good service rendered by Gen. Hooker, in marching the Potomac army from the Rappahannock to Frederick, Md., watched by one of the ablest rebel generals, finds fitting commemoration in Mr. Everett’s masterly paragraphs.  His address will be regarded as the best literary monument that could be reared to the memory of the Gettysburg martyrs and heroes.



We have not space for this brilliant production entire, but give all the extracts therefrom our limits will allow.  After referring to ancient customs with regard to the slain in battle, Mr. Everett describes the importance of the victory of Gettysburg as follows.

We have assembled, friends, fellow-citizens, at the invitation of the Executive of the great Central State of Pennsylvania, seconded by the Governors of eighteen other loyal States of the Union, to pay the last tribute of respect to the brave men, who in the hard fought battles of the 1st, 2d and 3d days of July last, laid down their lives for the country on these hill-sides and the plains spread out before us, and whose remains have been gathered into the cemetery which we consecrate this day.  As my eye ranges over the fields whose sods were so lately moistened by the blood of gallant and loyal men, I feel as never before, how truly it was said of old that it is sweet and becoming to die for one’s country.  I feel as never before, how justly, from the dawn of history to the present time, men have paid the homage of their gratitude and admiration to the memory of those, who nobly sacrifice their lives, that their fellow-men may live in safety.  And if this tribute were ever due, when ––to whom ––could it be more justly paid, than to those whose last resting place we this day commend to the blessing of Heaven and of men.

For consider, my friends, what would have been the consequences to the country, to yourselves, and to all you hold dear, if those who sleep beneath our feet, and their gallant comrades, who survive to serve their country on other fields of danger, had failed in their duty on those memorable days.  Consider what, at this moment, would be the condition of the United States, if that noble Army of the Potomac, instead of gallantly, and for the second time beating back the tide of invasion from Maryland and Pennsylvania, had been itself driven from these well-contested heights;  thrown back in confusion on Baltimore; or trampled down, discomfited, scattered to the four winds.  What, under the circumstances, would not have been the fate of the Monumental City, of Harrisburg, of Philadelphia, of Washington, ––the Capital of the Union, each and every one of which would have lain at the mercy of the enemy, accordingly as it might have pleased him, spurred only by passion, flushed with victory, and confident of continued success, to direct his course ?

 * * * * * * * *

Photo of Edward Everett between 1860 - 1865

Who that hears me has forgotten the thrill of joy that ran through the country on the 4th of July ––auspicious day for the glorious tidings, and rendered still more so by the simultaneous fall of Vicksburg ––when the telegraph flashed through the land the assurance from the President of the United Staes, that the Army of the Potomac, under General Meade, had again smitten the invader?  Sure I am that, with the ascriptions of praise that rose to Heaven from twenty millions of freemen, with the acknowledgements that breathed from patriotic lips throughout the length and breadth of America to the surviving officers and men who had rendered the country this inestimable service, there beat in every loyal bosom a throb of tender and sorrowful gratitude to the martyrs who had fallen on the sternly contested field.  Let a nations’ fervent thanks make some amends for the toils and sufferings of those who survive.  Would that the heartfelt tribute could penetrate these honored graves!

Mr. Everett then graphically portrayed the train of events which culminated in the battles of the 1st, 2d and 3d of July, and also the battles themselves.  We can only publish the first cited description:

In conformity with these designs on the City of Washington, and notwithstanding the disastrous results of the invasion of 1862, it was determined by the rebel government last summer to resume the offensive.  Unable to force the passage of the Rappahannock, where General Hooker, notwithstanding the reverse at Chancellorsville in May, was strongly posted, the Confederate General resorted to strategy.  He had two objects in view.  The first was, by a rapid movement northward, and by maneuvering with a portion of his army on the East side of Blue Ridge, to tempt Hooker from his base of operations, thus leading him to uncover the approaches to Washington, to throw it open to a raid by Stuart’s cavalry, and enable Lee himself to cross the Potomac in the neighborhood of Poolesville, and thus fall upon the capital.  This plan of operations was wholly frustrated.

The design of the rebel general was promptly discovered by General Hooker, and moving himself with great rapidity from Fredericksburg, he preserved unbroken the inner line, and stationed the various corps of his army at all the points protecting the approach to Washington, from Centerville up to Leesburg.  From this vantage ground the rebel general in vain attempted to draw him.  In the meantime, by the vigourous operations of Pleasanton‘s cavalry, the cavalry of Stuart, though greatly superior in numbers, was so crippled as to be disabled from performing the part assigned it in the campaign.  In this manner, General Lee’s first object, viz the defeat of Hooker’s army on the south of the Potomac and a direct march on Washington, was baffled.

The second part of the Confederate plan, and which is supposed to have been undertaken in opposition to the views of General Lee, was to turn the demonstration Northward into a real invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania, in the hope, that, in this way, General Hooker would be drawn to a distance from the capital;  [and] that some opportunity would occur of taking him at disadvantage, and, after defeating his army, of making a descent upon Baltimore and Washington.  This part of General Lee’s plan, which was substantially the repetition of that of 1862, was not less signally defeated, with what honor to the arms of the Union the heights on which we are this day assembled will forever attest.

 Much time had been uselessly consumed by the rebel general in his unavailing attempts to out-maneuver General Hooker.  Although General Lee broke up from Fredericksburg on the 3d of June, it was not till the 24th that the main body of his army entered Maryland, and instead of crossing the Potomac, as he had intended, east of the Blue Ridge, he was compelled to do it at Shepherdstown and Williamsport, thus materially deranging his entire plan of campaign north of the river.  Stuart, who had been sent with his cavalry to the east of the Blue Ridge, to guard the passes of the mountains, to mask the movements of Lee, and to harass the Union general in crossing the river, having been very severely handled by Pleasanton at Beverly Ford, Aldie, and Upperville, instead of being able to retard Gen. Hooker’s advance, was driven himself away from his connection with the army of Lee, and cut off for a fortnight from all communication with it;  a circumstance to which General Lee, in his report, alludes more than once, with evident displeasure.  Let us now rapidly glance at the incidents of the eventful campaign.

A detachment from Ewell’s Corps under Jenkins had penetrated on the 15th of June as far as Chambersburg.  This movement was intended at first merely as a demonstration, and as a marauding expedition for supples.  It had, however, the salutary effect of alarming the country, and vigorous preparations here in Pennsylvania and in sister States, were made to repel the inroad.  After two days passed at Chambersburg, Jenkins, anxious for his communications with Ewell, fell back with his plunder to Hagerstown.  Here he remained for several days, and having swept the recesses of Cumberland Valley, came down upon the Eastern flank of the South Mountain, and pushed his marauding parties as far as Waynesboro’.  On the 22d, the remainder of Ewell’s Corps crossed the river and moved up the valley. They were followed on the 24th by Longstreet and Hill, who crossed at Williamsport and Shepherdstown, and pushing up the valley encamped at Chambersburg on the 27th.  In this way the whole rebel army, estimated at 90,000 infantry, upwards of 10,000 cavalry, and 4000 or 5000 artillery, making  a total of 105,000 of all arms, was concentrated in Pennsylvania.

Up to this time no report of Hooker’s movements had been received by Gen. Lee, who having been deprived of his cavalry had no means of obtaining information.  Rightly judging, however, that no time would be lost by the Union army in the pursuit, in order to detain it on the Eastern side of the mountains in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and thus preserve his communications by the way of Williamsport, he had, before his own arrival at Chambersburg, directed Ewell to send detachments from his corps to Carlisle and York.  The latter detachment under Early passed through this place on the 26th of June.  You need not, fellow citizens of Gettysburg, that I should recall to you those moments of alarm and distress, precursors as they were of the more trying scenes which were soon to follow.

As soon as General Hooker perceived that the advance of the Confederates into the Cumberland valley was not a mere feint to draw him away from Washington, he moved himself rapidly in pursuit.  Attempts, as we have seen, were made to harass, and retard his passage across the Potomac. These attempts were not only altogether unsuccessful, but so unskillfully made as to place the entire Federal army between the cavalry of Stuart and the army of Lee.  While the latter was massed in the Cumberland valley, Stuart was east of the mountains, with Hooker’s army between, and Gregg’s cavalry in close pursuit.  Stuart was accordingly compelled to force a march northward, which was destitute of all strategical character, and which deprived his chief of all means of obtaining intelligence.

No time, as we have seen, had been lost by General Hooker in the pursuit of Lee.  The day after the rebel army entered Maryland, the Union army crossed the Potomac at Edward’s Ferry, and by the 28th lay between Harper’s Ferry and Frederick. The force of the enemy on that day was partly at Chambersburg, and partly moving on the Cashtown road, in the direction of Gettysburg, while the detachments from Ewell’s corps, of which mention has been made, had reached the Susquehanna opposite Harrisburg and Columbia.  That a great battle must soon be fought, no one could doubt, but in the apparent and perhaps real absence of plan on the part of Lee, it was impossible to foretell the precise scene of the encounter.  Wherever fought, consequences the most momentous hung upon the result.

In this critical and anxious state of affairs, General Hooker was relieved, and General Meade was summoned to the chief command of the army, and it appears to my unmilitary judgment to reflect the highest credit upon him, upon his predecessor and upon the corps commanders of the Army of the Potomac, that a change could take place in the chief command of so large a force on the eve of a general battle, ––the various corps necessarily moving on lines somewhat divergent and all in ignorance of the enemy’s intended point of concentration, –and not an hour’s hesitation should ensue in the advance of any portion of the entire army.

Referring to the result of the Gettysburg battle, Mr. Everett remarks:

All hope of defeating our army, and securing what General Lee calls “the valuable results” of such an achievement, having vanished, he thought only of rescuing from destruction the remains of his shattered forces.  In killed, wounded and missing, he had, as far as can be ascertained, suffered a loss of about 37,000 men, rather more than a third of the army which he is supposed to have brought with him into Pennsylvania.  Perceiving that his only safety was in rapid retreat, he commenced withdrawing his troops at daybreak on the 4th, throwing up fieldworks in front of our left, which, assuming the appearance of a new position, were intended probably to protect the rear of his army in their retreat.  That day, ––sad celebration of the 4th of July for an army of Americans, ––was passed by him in hurrying off his trains.  The main army was in full retreat on the Cashtown and Fairfield roads at nightfall, and moved with such precipitation that short as the nights were, by daylight the following morning, notwith-standing a heavy rain, the rear guard had left its position.  The struggle of the two last days resembled in many respects the battle of Waterloo, and if in the evening of the third day General Meade, like the Duke of Wellington, had had the assistance of a powerful auxiliary army to take up the pursuit, the rout of the rebels would have been as complete as that of Napoleon.

Owing to the circumstance above named, the intentions of the enemy were not apparent on the 4th.  The moment his retreat was discovered the following morning, he was pursued by our cavalry on the Cashtown road and in the Emmettsburg and Monterey passes, and by Sedgwick’s corps on the Fairfield road.  His rear guard was briskly attacked at Fairfield, a great number of wagons and ambulances were captured in the passes of the mountains;  the country swarmed with his stragglers and his wounded were literally emptied from the vehicles containing them, into the farm-houses on the road.  General Lee, in his report, makes repeated mention  of the Union prisoners whom he conveyed into Virginia, somewhat overstating their number.  He states also that “such of his wounded as were in a condition to be removed,”  were forwarded to Williamsport.  He does not mention that the number of his wounded not removed and left to the Christian care of the victors was 7540, not one of whom failed of any attention which it was possible, under the circumstances of the case, to afford them;  not one of whom certainly has been put upon Libby prison fare ––lingering death by starvation.  Heaven forbid, however, that we should claim any merit for the exercise of common humanity.

Under the protection of the mountain ridge, whose narrow passes are easily held even by  a retreating army, Gen. Lee reached Williamsport in safety, and took up a strong position opposite to that place.  Gen. Meade necessarily pursued with the main army by a flank movement through Middletown, Turner’s pass having been secured by general French.  Passing through the South Mountain, the Union army came up with that of the rebels on the 12th, and found it securely posted on the heights of Marsh’s run.  His position was reconnoitered, and preparations made for an attack on the 13th.  The depth of the river, swollen by the recent rains, authorized the expectation that he would be brought to a general engagement the following day.

An advance was accordingly made by Gen. Meade on the morning of the 14th, but it was soon found that the rebels had escaped in the night, with such haste that Ewell’s corps forded the river where the water was breast high.  The cavalry which had rendered the most important services during the three days, and in harassing the enemy’s retreat, was now sent in pursuit, and captured two guns and a large number of prisoners.  In an action which took place at Falling Waters, General Pettigrew was mortally wounded.  General Meade, in further pursuit of the enemy, crossed the Potomac at Berlin.  Thus again covering the approaches to Washington, he compelled the enemy to pass the Blue Ridge at one of the upper gaps, and in about six weeks from the commencement of the campaign, Gen. Lee found himself again on the south side of the Rappahannock, with the loss of about a third of his army.

Following the account of the battle is an allusion to the elements which have entered into the contest, upon which Mr. Everett observes:

If there are any present who believe that, in addition to the effect of the military operations of the war, the confiscation acts and emancipation proclamations have embittered the rebels beyond the possibility of reconciliation, I would request them to reflect, that the tone of the rebel leaders and rebel press was just as bitter in the first months of the war, nay, before a gun was fired, as it is now. There were speeches made in Congress in the very last session before the rebellion, so ferocious, as to show that  their authors were under the influence of a real frenzy.  At the present day, if there is any discrimination made by the Confederate press in the affected scorn, hatred and contumely, with which every shade of opinion and sentiment in the loyal States is treated, the bitterest contempt is bestowed upon those at the North, who still speak the language of compromise, and who condemning those measures of the Administration, which are alleged to have rendered the return of peace hopeless.

The prospect of a pacification of the country subsequent to the war is discussed by Mr. Everett in the light of history.  We adduce one of his illustrations:

  The great rebellion in England of the seventeenth century, after long and angry premonitions, may be said to have begun with the calling of the long parliament in 1640, ––and to have ended with the return of Charles II in 1660, ––twenty years of discord, conflict, and civil war; of confiscation, plunder, havoc;  a proud, hereditary peerage trampled in the dust, a national church overturned.  Its clergy beggared, its most eminent prelate put to death, a military despotism established on the ruins of a monarchy which had subsisted seven hundred years, and the legitimate sovereign brought to the block;  the great families which adhered to the king proscribed, impoverished, ruined; prisoners of war sold to slavery in the West Indies; ––in a word, everything that can embitter and madden contending factions.  Such was the state of things for twenty years, and yet, by no gentle transition, but suddenly, and “when the restoration of affairs appeared most hopeless,” the son of the beheaded sovereign was brought back to his father’s blood-stained throne, with such “unexpressible and universal joy,” as led the merry monarch to exclaim “he doubted it had been his own fault he had been absent so long, for he saw nobody who did not protest, he had ever wished for his return.”  “In this wonderful manner,” says Clarendon, “and with this incredible expedition, did God put an end to a rebellion that had raged nearly twenty years, and had been carried on with all the horrid circumstances of murder, devastation and parricide that fire and sword, in the hands of the most wicked men in the world [it is a loyalist that is speaking], could be instruments of, almost to the desolation of two kingdoms, and the exceeding defacing and deforming of the third.  By these remarkable steps, did the merciful hand of God, in this short space of time, not only bind up and heal all these wounds, but even made the scar as undiscernible as, in respect of the deepness, was possible, which was a glorious addition to the deliverance.”

The conclusion of the address is as follows:

The people of Loyal America will never take to their confidence or admit again to a share in their Government the hard hearted men, whose cruel lust of power has brought this desolating war upon the land, but there is no personal bitterness felt even against them.  They may live, if they can bear to live after wantonly causing the death of so many thousand fellow-men;  they may live in safe obscurity beneath the shelter of the Government they have sought to overthrow, or they may fly to the protection of the governments of Europe, some of them are already there, seeking, happily in vain, to obtain the aid of foreign powers in furtherance of their own treason.  There let them stay. The humblest dead soldier, that lies cold and stiff, in his grave before us, is an object of envy beneath the clods that cover him, in comparison with the living man, who is willing to grovel at the foot of a foreign throne, for assistance in compassing the ruin of his country.

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the power of the leaders of the rebellion to delude and inflame must cease. There is no bitterness on the part of the masses. The people of the South are not going to wage an eternal war, for the wretched pretexts by which this rebellion is sought to be justified. The bonds that unite us as one people, a substantial community of origin, language, belief and law, (the four great ties that hold the societies of men together), common national and political interests;  a common history;  a common pride in a glorious ancestry;  a common interest in this great heritage of blessings;  the very geographical features of the country;  the mighty rivers that cross the lines of climate, and thus facilitate the interchange of natural and industrial products;  while the wonder-working arm of the engineer has leveled the mountain walls which separate the East and West, compelling your own Alleghenies, my Maryland and Pennsylvania friends, to open wide their everlasting doors to the chariot wheels of traffic and travel;  these bonds of union are of perennial force and energy, while the causes of alienation  are imaginary, factitious and transient.

The heart of the people, North and South, is for the Union.  Indications, too plain to be mistaken, announce the fact, both in the East and the West of the States in rebellion.  In North Carolina and Arkansas the fatal charm at length is broken.  At Raleigh and Little Rock, the lips of honest and brave men are unsealed, and an independent press is unlimbering its artillery. The weary masses of the people are yearning to see the dear old flag floating again upon the capitols and they sigh for the return of the peace, prosperity and happiness which they enjoyed under a government whose power was felt only in its blessings.

And now, friends, fellow citizens of Gettysburg and Pennsylvania, and you from remoter States, let me again invoke your benediction, as we part, on these honored graves. You feel, though the occasion is mournful, that it is good to be here. You feel that it was greatly auspicious for the cause of the country, that the men of the East, and the men of the West, the men of nineteen sister States, stood side by side, on the perilous ridges of the battle.  You now feel it a new bond of union, that they shall lie side by side till a clarion, louder than that which marshaled them to the combat, shall awake their slumbers.  God bless the Union; ––it is dearer to us for the blood of these brave men shed in its defense. The spots on which they stood and fell;  these pleasant heights, the fertile plain beneath them, the thriving village whose streets so lately rang with the strange din of war; the fields beyond the ridge, where the noble Reynolds held the advancing foe at bay, and while he gave up his own life, assured by his forethought and self-sacrifice, the triumph of the two succeeding days, the little streams which wind through the hills, on whose banks in after times, the wondering plough-man will turn up, with the rude weapons of savage warfare, the fearful missiles of modern artillery, the Seminary ridge, the peach orchard, Cemetery, Culp, and Wolf Hill, Round Top, Little Round Top ––humble names, henceforward dear and famous;  no lapse of time, no distance of space shall cause you to be forgotten. “The whole earth,” said Pericles, as he stood over the remains of his fellow citizens, who had fallen in the first year of the Peloponnesian war, “the whole earth is the sepulcher of illustrious men.”  All time, he might have added, is the millennium of their glory.  Surely, I would do no injustice to the other noble achievements of the war, which have reflected such honor on both arms of the service, and have entitled the armies and the navy of the United States ––their officers and men ––to the warmest thanks and the richest  rewards which a grateful people can pay.  But they, I am sure, will join us in saying, as we bid farewell to the dust of these martyr heroes, that wheresoever, throughout the civilized world, the accounts of this great warfare are read, and down to the latest period of recorded time, in the glorious annals of our common country, there will be no brighter page than that which relates to THE BATTLES OF GETTYSBURG.


Dedication of the National Cemetery.

Gettysburg, Pa, 19th.   The ceremonies attending the dedication of the National Cemetery commenced this forenoon by a grand military and civic display, under command of Major General Couch.

The line of march was taken up at 10 o’clock, and the procession moved through the principal streets to the Cemetery, where the military formed in line and saluted the President.  At a quarter past eleven the head of the procession arrived at the main stand.  The President and members of the Cabinet, together with the chief military and civic dignitaries, took position on the stand.

The President seated himself between Mr. Seward and Mr. Everett, after a reception, with the respect and perfect silence during the solemnity of the occasion, every man in the immense gathering uncovering on his appearance.

The military then formed in a line extending around the stand, the area between the stand and the military being occupied by civilians, comprising about 150,000 people, and including men, women and children.  The attendance was quite large.

The military escort comprised one squadron of cavalry and two batteries of artillery and a  regiment of infantry, which constituted the regular funeral escort of honor for the highest officer in the service.

After the performance of a funeral dirge by the band an eloquent prayer was delivered by Rev. Mr. Stockton.

Hon. Edward Everett then delivered an oration, which was listened to with marked attention.

The President then delivered the following dedicating speech:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.  (Applause.)  Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war; we are met to dedicate a portion of it as a final resting place of those who have given their lives that that nation might live.

Illustration of Lincoln with the Gettysburg Address

It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this, but in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.  The brave men living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our power to add or detract. (Applause.)  The world will  note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.  (Applause).

It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work that they have thus far so nobly carried on.  (Applause).

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us;  that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain (applause);  that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom, and that government of people by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”  (Long continued applause.)

Three cheers were here given for the President and the Governors of the States.

After the delivery of this address the dirge and the benediction closed the exercises, and the immense assemblage departed about 2 o’clock.

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"We here highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall under God, have a new birth of freedom."