We All Might Yet Receive The Same Honor

June 25th - June 30th 1863

Soldiers Marching North to Gettysburg by Charles Copeland

"On The March To Gettysburg," by artist Charles Copeland from "The Boys of '61" by Charles Carleton Coffin.

Table of Contents


Allen C. Redwood, "Confederates March to Gettysburg"

    By June 23rd and 24th General Joseph Hooker who had been waiting “until the enemy develops his intention or force” understood his adversary, General Robert E. Lee planned a 2nd invasion of the north.  But now Hooker needed to develop a plan of action..

    Confederate General A. P. Hill’s three Divisions crossed the Potomac River at Shepherdstown June 24th.  Confederate General James Longstreet’s Divisions approached Williamsport, Md., on the 24th and crossed the river on the 25th and 26th.  General Richard Ewell’s Corps had been in Maryland and Pennsylvania gathering up supplies for the planned invasion since June 23rd.  It was too late for Hooker to cut off General Ewell, something he initially considered until he discovered it was too late;  the entire Confederate army was across the river.

     Fortunately for Hooker, General Henry Slocum, commanding the 12th Corps at Leesburg, secured a river crossing for the Union army at Edward's Ferry.  Two bridges there, were ready for use on June 25th.

      By then General Hooker was ready - to a point.  He would concentrate his army around Frederick, Maryland.  A second series of long difficult marches was ordered to the various corps commanders to make up for lost time and catch up to the Rebels.  To facilitate progress Major General John Reynolds was assigned command of the advance wing of the Army of the Potomac, consisting of the 1st, 3rd, & 11th Corps.  Reynolds personally supervised the river crossings at Edward's Ferry on June 25th.  His force moved to secure the mountain passes of South Mountain.  This protected the rest of the army as it crossed the Potomac, in the event Lee might try to move east from the Cumberland Valley.  The rest of the Army followed Reynolds across the Potomac toward Frederick on the 26th.  By the night of the 27th both armies were north of the river. General Hooker skillfully shifted his base of operations 45 miles in 2 days.

The Quarrel with General Halleck

General Joe Hooker

      Then he got into a quarrel with General-in-Chief Henry Halleck. The argument was over the use of Federal troops at Harper’s Ferry.

     Author Edwin B. Coddington* argues that it was Hooker’s confrontational tone with General Halleck, and the Lincoln administration, that cost him his job.   

     Hooker never really accepted Halleck as his superior officer or fully explained his plans to General Halleck.  For a long time Hooker had an arrangement with President Lincoln to report exclusively to him, but Lincoln ended this arrangement on June 16th, ordering Hooker to discuss strategy with General Halleck, which was the proper chain of command.   The two men disliked each other from pre-war days but Halleck tried to be accommodating while Hooker maintained a bad tone with his superior.

    General Hooker wanted the 10,000 troops at  the Harper’s Ferry Garrison  for his counter move against General Lee.  Hooker suggested to General Halleck the strategic Maryland Heights position opposite Harper's Ferry no longer served a useful purpose with Lee’s army already in Maryland.  Being outnumbered, Hooker reasoned, the garrison force should be incorporated into the Army of the Potomac. He asked Halleck if there was any reason for holding the position.  General Halleck replied that the Harper’s Ferry position had always been regarded as important, and he would not approve abandonment unless absolutely necessary. 

    Hooker sent an angry response to Halleck, listing all the reasons he could find to back his point of view, and he simultaneously requested the matter be presented to President Lincoln and Secretary of War Edward Stanton for consideration.   Without waiting for a reply he then sent in his resignation on grounds that with the military means at his disposal he could not comply with original instructions to cover both Harpers Ferry and Washington, D.C.General Henry Halleck

    Author Coddington sites evidence that Hooker used his resignation as a club to bully Halleck into giving him a free hand with strategy.  At this stage of the current crisis Hooker probably didn’t suspect Halleck would take him so seriously as to refer the matter of his resignation to President Lincoln.  The timing of his resignation, concurrent with his July 27th orders to General Slocum to pick up two brigades from Harper's Ferry and move the 12th Corps to Williamsport, and Halleck’s response to the resignation, suggest this explanation.   Hooker was uncompromising and unwilling to discuss the matter.  He wanted the Harper’s Ferry troops to bolster the strength of his army.   He left Halleck 2 choices; accept this proposal without question or accept my resignation.

    Lincoln and Secretart of War Edwin Stanton did have doubts about Hooker’s ability to confront Lee in battle, ever since the disastrous Battle of Chancellorsville, and some evidence seems to substantiate the popularly accepted belief that the administration maneuvered to get rid of a man in whom it had lost confidence.

    But General Halleck, somewhat in the dark never refused Hooker's request, and only asked for convincing arguments for the abandonment of the Harper's Ferry garrison.

      In contrast, Hooker's successor, General George Gordon Meade also requested permission to withdraw a large portion of the Harper’s Ferry troops when he took over command on June 28th..  He had better use for the men elsewhere with Lee north of the Potomac.  Halleck responded Meade could “diminish or increase” the garrison as he saw fit.   Meade informed Halleck the next day that he had to abandon Harper's Ferry outright and carefully and tactfully explained his reasons for doing so.  The whole affair illustrates the difference in tone between Halleck and the 2 generals.  Meade reluctantly abandoned Harper's Ferry.  Hooker's reasons were less clear.

    General Halleck forwarded Hooker’s letter of resignation to President Lincoln who accepted it.  With their faith already shattered as to whether Hooker would confront Lee, the President and General Halleck decided to appoint General George Gordon Meade to command the Army of the Potomac.

    To those familiar with Meade’s military record, the administration made the right choice.  Many commanders had lost faith in General Hooker’s leadership capabilities.

    At 3 a.m. the morning of June 28th,  a messenger on General Halleck’s staff delivered  in person to General Meade, the orders placing him in command of the Army of the Potomac.  It was not a request, due to the emergency of the situation.  A letter from Halleck was included, (posted on this page below), explaining the specific powers granted him.  Just before daylight General Meade arrived at General Hooker's head-quarters along with Colonel James A. Hardie, Halleck’s messenger.  With good grace, Hooker accepted the notice relieving him of command and then spent some time briefing his replacement on the present situation.  After the interview, at 7 a.m., Meade wired General Halleck in Washington D.C., formally accepting the command and laying out his plans.

Frederick, Md., June 28, 1863 - 7 a.m.
(Received 10 a.m.)

General H. W. Halleck,

    The order placing me in command of this army is received.  As a soldier, I obey it, and to the utmost of my ability will execute it.  Totally  unexpected as it has been, and in ignorance of the exact condition of the troops and position of the enemy, I can only now say that it appears to me I must move toward the Susquehanna, keeping Washington and Baltimore well covered, and if the enemy is checked in his attempt to cross the Susquehanna, or if he turns toward Baltimore, to give him battle.  I would say that I trust every available man that can be spared will be sent to me, as from all accounts the enemy is in strong force.  So soon as I can post myself up, I will communicate more in detail.

Geo. G. Meade,       

*"The Gettysburg Campaign, A Study in Command," by Edward B. Coddington, First Touchstone Edition, 1997.

Whats on this Page  

    The narrative continues through June 30th, 1863, the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg. Charles Davis, Jr, Austin Stearns, Sam Webster and John Boudwin narrate the difficult marches north, in rainy weather for the most part.   A short overview of the various Corps commanders assembled by General Hooker and inherited by General Meade is presented.  Also included on the page are the last letters of  Charles Leland, Company B, and a  short tribute to popular color Sergeant Roland B. Morris, Company C.  Both Leland and Morris were killed in action the first day at Gettysburg.  An independent article, "Emmitsburg Before the Battle of Gettysburg," by historian John A. Miller, gives a peak into the lives of the citizens of Emmitsburg, Maryland, as the huge army of the Potomac rambled through.

Editorial cartoon by William Newman, Feb. 1863

The cartoon, "Lincoln's Dream, or There is a Good Time Coming," appeared in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, on February 14, 1863.    Mr. Lincoln is asleep on a couch decorated with stars and stripes, and dreams of the generals whom he has beheaded for their shortcomings - McDowell, McClellan and Burnside - and of the members of his cabinet, Seward, Welles and Stanton, and of Halleck, Commander-in-Chief, who with bowed heads now await the axe.  The artist was William Newman.

PICTURE CREDITS:    All images & Maps are from the Library of Congress digital images collection, with the following exceptions:  "Confederates Marching North,"  from American Heritage "Century Collection of Civil War Art," New York, 1974;  Colonel Samuel H. Leonard,  from Carlisle Amry Heritage Education Center [AHEC], Mass MOLLUS collection; George Worcester, Charles Leland, David Sloss, Edward Robinson & Joe Cary,  from private collector and Antietam Expert Scott Hann; General Hartsuff at Petersburg, is from the digital collections of the Huntington Library, San Marino, Ca, specifically  artist correspondent "James E. Taylor's scrapbooks.";  Color Sergeant Roland Morris, from Tim Sewell;  Appleton Sawyer was sent to me by Mr. Joe Stahl; pictures of the city of Emmitsburg, St. Mary's College and St. Joseph's  are from the "Emmitsburg Area Historical Society" website,  www.emmitsburg.net;  Illustrations by artist Charles Copeland were accessed digitally via Googlebooks, from "The Boys of '61" by Charles Carleton Coffin and other works by the same author.  The thumbnail illustration of the drenched soldier & the illustration,  "Moontide & Evening"  are from artist Edwin Forbes book, "Thirty Years After" LSU Press, Reprint, 1993; The beautiful French Illustration that accompanies "You Have Insulted Ze Gener-al" was done by artist Par H. De Sta, from "L'Alphabet Militaire" accessed digitally;  ALL  IMAGES have been edited in photoshop.

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We Are Veterans

Map, troop positions on June 24th 1863

MAP - Situation June 24, 1863.
     This  map from the Library of Congress, initially published in "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War," shows Union and Confederate troop positions on June 24th, 1863.  I have tinted the Confederate blocks red, and the Union blocks blue.   The map shows General Richard Ewell's Corps (designated with an 'E')  in Pennsylvania at McConellsburg, Chambersburg and Greenwood.  General Peter Longstreet's Corps, (designated with an 'L')  is at Hagerstown, Md., and General A. P. Hill's Corps, (designated with an 'H') at Boonsboro, Maryland. General J.E.B. Stuart's Cavalry, (designated with an 'S')  is at Salem, Va., Ashby's Gap and Snicker's Gap in the Loudoun Valley, and at Martinsburg, Virginia..

    The Union Corps are designated with corresponding numbers.  The 1st Corps is at Herndon Station, the 2nd Corps is at Gainesville and Thoroughfare Gap, the 3rd Corps is at Gum Springs, the 5th Corps is at Aldie, the 6th Corps is at Centreville, the 11th Corps is at Edward's Ferry, holding a river crossing, and the 12th Corps is at Leesburg, Virginia.  Union home-guard militia, emergency troops, were being organized at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

From "Three Years in the Army", by Charles E. Davis, Jr.

Thursday, June 25.
    Information reached General Hooker that General Lee had crossed the Potomac at Williamsport and Shepherdstown, whereupon the First Corps was put in motion, and we crossed the river into Maryland at Edward’s Ferry.  Thence we marched through Poolesville, where we spent a rainy night on Sept. 6, 1861, and then to Barnesville, where we halted for the night, having marched about twenty miles.

    We were about the first troops of the Army of the Potomac to cross the river.  Some idea of the situation of the two armies, with relation to Gettysburg, may be obtained by bearing in mind that Shepherdstown was twenty-four miles in an airline north-west from our camp-ground of last night, and Williamsport thirty-six miles in the same direction, as may be seen on referring to the map accompanying this chapter.*  Williamsport was thirty-five miles from Gettysburg, while Shepherdstown was forty-one miles.  Our camp-ground at Guilford Station was sixty-five miles from Gettysburg, thirty miles father away than Williamsport, where Lee was reported to be.  From Fredericksburg to the Potomac River the rebel army had marched a greater distance than ours.  Charles Copeland "Union Forever"They had an unobstructed road, with a purpose in view; while we were constantly delayed, not only from our uncertainty of their movement, but the constant hindrance of our wagon trains, which blocked the roads for hours.  It was impossible to move faster than the wagon train could go, as it would not do to leave our supplies behind to be captured by Mosby or Stuart.    They had, while in Virginia, a great advantage over us in this respect, as they could depend on the friendly hospitality of the country, while we were obliged not only to carry our supplies, but to protect them.  When moving in the opposite direction, toward Richmond, we were leaving our base of supplies while they were returning to theirs.

    We were now back in Maryland among the people we met in the summer of 1861.   It seemed pleasant once more to see smiling faces and to be greeted with friendly words.  The Union people of Maryland were very much disturbed as to what might happen if Lee was successful in his invasion of the Northern states.  As we marched northward, the feeling took possession of us that we were now about to fight for our homes, and the impending battle would be one of intensity, though we were all in the dark as to where it might be fought.   These people, whose friendly hospitality we had enjoyed two years before, were now in danger, and they looked to the Union army for protection, and without doubt this feeling had an influence in the events that followed.

*I have substituted the more accurate map above for the map in Charles Davis, Jr.'s regimental History.

We Are Veterans

From "Three Years with Company K," by Sergeant Austin Stearns, Edited by Arthur Kent, Fairleigh Dickenson Press; 1976.  Used with Permission.  (p 172 - 173).

    How well I remember those long June days, the sun pouring down his hottest rays, through an unclouded sky upon us.

    Brett and PeteHow hot and dry the earth; huge clouds of dust could be seen far away to tell where the army was marching.  Dust was upon everything; we sweat, and the dust settling on our faces encased them as though in a mold.

    How glad we were when the order was given “to rest,” and, throwing off our traps, we stretched our  weary selves on the grass and drank the delicious water of that cool spring in that little clump of trees.  We had covered over ninety miles in three days.

    The boys did not speculate much about what was going to be done, or the way to do it – that with many other things did not thrive after the first year.  We were willing to let the events turn up without anticipating them; we were veterans, and as such were willing to do our duty, go when ordered, and obey even the minutest detail.  We knew that Lee was marching his army through Virginia towards Maryland, and here from our elevated position could hear the guns and see the clouds of dust of his army.  We knew that a collision was inevitable, but whether on Virginia or Maryland soil we could not tell; whether few or many days should intervene was a veiled picture to us.  We had confidence in our officers and the whole spirit of the army was changed from one year ago, then we were boys, led by boyish men.  Now we were men, tired men, and led by those who had been tried in many a battle and had not failed.  Men and their officers worked together (that is those that were in the field), and the “old army of the Potomac,” from Hooker down to the little drummer boy, was working together; it was a Unit, and in unity there is strength.  So the old army though small in numbers, was strong in the strength to win.

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General Hooker Relieved; General Meade Takes Command

Map of the marches to Middletown, Md.

    John Boudwin, Company A,  starts off the narrative of this very long and very wet march to Middletown, Maryland from Guilford Station, Virginia.

Diary of Sergeant John Boudwin

June, Thursday, 25. 1863
   Came in pleasant. Left camp at Guilford Station at 9 A.M. and halted in road a short distance from camp for 1 hour and started again and crossed the river at Edwards Ferry and marched through Poolesville, Md and camped for the night at Barnestown Maryland. Went on Picket - rained all night - distance Marched - l7 miles.- a very hard march.

June, Friday, 26.  l863
   Left camp at Barnestown, Md. at 4 A.M. Raining very hard Marched all day - Crossed the Monocacy River Sugar Loaf Mountain and camped for the night at Jefferson Md...distance marched l7 miles  feel used up every thing Wet.  Dried blanket and went down Town my self and Sergt Cunningham and had a good supper felt first rate - after it - had a good nights rest.

June, Saturday, 27.  l863
   Came in pleasant. Left camp at Jefferson and marched to Middletown distance 7 miles. going through town several of the Women were crying.   arrived at Middletown at noon and went in to camp - mail arrived and received a letter from Tom- Went to bed early and had a good rest.

Edwin Forbes Sketch of soldier marching in the rain

Charles Davis, Jr.'s  narrative continues; from "Three Years in the Army."

Friday, June 26.
    At 6 A.M. we marched over the Catoctin mountains to Adamstown, through Greenfield’s Mill, across Monocacy River, and thence to Jefferson, a distance of eighteen miles, through the rain and mud.  The route was circuitous, owing to a change made in the direction of our march, by orders from headquarters.

 Saturday, June 27.
    Marched to a mile beyond Middletown, a distance of eight miles for the day.  As we passed through Middletown we were greeted with the same kindly hospitality we met with on our previous marches through this town.

    The resignation of General Hooker, which is quoted in full, was accepted by the President:

Sandy Hook, June 27, 1 P.M.

Maj.-Gen H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief:
    My original instructions require me to cover Harper’s Ferry and Washington.  I have now imposed upon me, in addition, an enemy in my front of more than my number.  I beg to be understood, respectfully and firmly, that I am unable to comply with this condition with the means at my disposal, and earnestly request that I may at once be relieved from the position I occupy.

Joseph Hooker,

    In accordance with the terms of the following communication, General Meade was placed at the head of the Army of the Potomac:

Headquarters of the Army,
Washington, D.C., June 27, 1863.

Maj.-Gen. George G. Meade, Army of the Potomac:

    General:   You will receive with this the order of the President placing you in command of the Army of the Potomac.  Considering the circumstances, no one ever received a more important command, and I cannot doubt that you will fully justify the confidence which the Government has reposed in you.

    You will not be hampered by any minute instruction from these headquarters.  Your army is free to act as you may deem proper under the circumstances as they arise. You will, however, keep in view the important fact that the Army of the Potomac is the covering army of Washington, as well as the army of operation against the invading forces of the rebels.  You will, therefore, maneuver and fight in such a manner as to cover the capital and also Baltimore, as far as circumstance will admit.  Should General Lee move upon either of these places, it is expected that you will either anticipate him or arrive with him so as to give him battle.

    All forces within the sphere of your operations will be held subject to your orders.

    Harper’s Ferry and its garrison are under your direct orders.

    Your are authorized to remove from your command, and to send from your army, any officer or other person you may deem proper, and to appoint to command as you may deem expedient.

    In fine, General, you are intrusted with all the power and authority which the President, secretary of War, or the General-in-Chief can confer on you, and you may rely upon our full support.

    You will keep me fully informed of all your movements, and the position of your own troops and those of the enemy, so far as you know.

    I shall always be ready to advise and assist you to the utmost of my ability.

Very respectfully,  your obedient servant,

H.W. Halleck,       

   An Announcement from Colonel LeonardColonel Leonard

    General Meade was the 4th change of command in the Army of the Potomac within the previous 8 months.  Some of the Army fought at Gettysburg without knowing of this change.

Sunday, June 28.
    Marched over the mountain to Frederick City, a distance of ten miles.  These familiar scenes raised the spirits of the regiment very high, and the old war songs were sung with a fervor we hadn’t  felt for a long time.

    The colonel announced to the regiment that General Meade was to take command of the Army of the Potomac in place of General Hooker, removed;  adding, jocosely,   “that we needn’t be discouraged, as we all might yet receive the same honor.”

General Hooker's Team

    At the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, noted historian Ethan Rafuse, gave a talk covered by C-Span.  The history of each corps, and corps commanders assembled by General Hooker, inherited by General Meade when he assumed command, was discussed.  Politics was king in the Army of the Potomac.  The following is created from the notes I took while watching.

    General George B. McClellan organized the Army of the Potomac in the Spring of 1862.  Its 8 corps commander assignments needed to be approved by the government administration.  President Lincoln didn’t like General McClellan’s military plans (bringing the army to the Lower Chesapeake to confront the Confederates) so he appointed 4 men (of the 8 commanders) that also objected to McClellan’s plan.1      Politically this is significant.  Who is a corps commander loyal to?   Answer:  They are loyal to the person that appointed them to command.  In essence General McClellan was being watched by the Lincoln Administration, something that would obviously contribute to the break down in confidence between the commander and the president.  Politics continued to play a role in the high command throughout the war.  Here is the history of the various corps and the team General Hooker assembled when he was in command of the Army of the Potomac..

General John F. Reynolds

    First Corps.  The 1st Corps was organized in March, 1862, under General Irvin McDowell.   It became the 3rd Corps commanded by McDowell in John Pope’s little “Army of Virginia.”  It was not a part of General McClellan’s Army of the Potomac.  The loyalties of its men and officers was neutral.  The 13th Mass. were in this organization.  When General McClellan resumed command of the Army in September, 1862, the First Corps joined the rest of McClellan’s Army of the Potomac.  General Hooker was assigned its command, and it fought well under his leadership at Antietam.  Major-General John Fulton Reynolds commanded the corps after Hooker.  A graduate of West Point Military Academy, Reynolds was universally held in high regard, though Ethan said there is no direct evidence to justify this high regard.  Reynolds did little fighting at Chancellorsville.  At Fredericksburg he came up short when General Meade requested re-enforcements for his bloodied division as it was falling back.General Winfield Scott Hancock

    Second Corps.  The 2nd Corps was organized in March, 1862, under the command of General Edwin ‘Bull’ Sumner.  He had decades of service on the plains and in Kansas but was lacking the qualities needed to manage a corps.  This was one of McClellan’s prime units.  When Sumner left the army, West Point graduate, General Darious Couch stepped up to take command.  Couch had a reputation as a McClellan supporter, and was critical of Hooker’s leadership at the Battle of Chancellorsville.  After that, he refused to serve under him.  General Winfield Scott Hancock replaced Couch as commander of the 2nd Corps.  [General Hancock, pictured, right.]

    General Couch was appointed commander the Pennsylvania Militia by President Lincoln during the crisis of Lee’s  2nd Northern invasion. 

General Daniel Sickles

    Third Corps.  This corps was originally commanded by another military academy graduate, General Samuel P. Heintzleman.  This organization was  General Hooker’s original military  home.  He commanded a brigade then the 2nd Division under Heintzleman, who was critical of Hooker.  Wikipedia states Heintzleman’s popularity was eclipsed by his younger, more aggressive division commanders, Joe Hooker and Philip Kearny.  In late 1862, Heintzleman was assigned to the defense of Washington.  When General Hooker assumed command of the Army of the Potomac he appointed Major-General Daniel Sickles to command the corps.  Sickles was not a West-Pointer.  His loyalty was to General Hooker.  Sickles fought well at Chancellorsville in spite of Hooker’s poor leadership and Hooker's  decision to abandon Hazel Grove, the strategic high ground that Sickles held at Chancellorsville.  General Sickles, [pictured, left] would have friction with General Meade at Gettysburg.General George Sykes

    Fifth Corps.    Formed in May, 1862, command was given Major-General Fitz John Porter.  Porter was another graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a young protégé of General McClellan.  He was however, wrongly made the political scape-goat of General John Pope after the disastrous defeat of Pope’s army at 2nd Bull Run.  The corps was commanded by Major-General Daniel Butterfield at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.  Butterfield was not a West Pointer, and was a close ally of General Hooker, and served as Hooker’s Chief of Staff.  He staid on as Chief of Staff to serve General Meade, during the  Gettysburg Campaign.  General George Sykes [pictured] commanded the corps in the field.

General John Sedgwick


    Sixth Corps.    General McClellan organized the 6th Corps in March, 1862, with General William B. Franklin in command.  After Burnside's tenure as commander of the Army, General Franklin was replaced by General John Sedgewick, another military academy graduate.  At the battle of Antietam Sedgwick’s Division (II Corps) suffered severe casualties in a brutal fight.  Consequently he became a cautious leader.  [General John Sedgwick, pictured, left.]

General Oliver O. Howard

    Eleventh Corps.  The 11th Corps was originally a unit commanded by General John C. Fremont in 1862.  Fremont resigned when the Army of Virginia was organized under General John Pope.  The unit became the first corps of Pope’s little army with General Franz Sigel commanding.  Following Pope’s defeat at 2nd Bull Run the corps was incorporated into the Army of the Potomac as the 11th Corps.  General Sigel resigned in February, 1863, and replaced by General Oliver O. Howard.  Howard lost his right arm while brigade commander at the Battle of Fair Oaks, June, 1862, with McClellan on the Peninsula.  The corps consisted mostly of German troops who had an affinity for Sigel and were resentful of Howard.  At Chancellorsville the corps bore the brunt of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson’s famous flank attack and earned a bad reputation for breaking in battle.  Howard was a religious man, an abolitionist, a teetotaler and generally unpopular.  General Hooker did not like Howard and  blamed him for the defeat at Chancellorsville.  [General Oliver O. Howard, pictured, right.]General Henry Slocum

    Twelfth Corps.  Originally in command of Major-General N.P. Banks in the Department of the Shenandoah, the unit also became part of John Pope’s Army of Virginia (2nd Corps) in June 1862.  As it was another unit that was not originally part of the Army of the Potomac, its loyalties were independent of those politics.  General Joseph K. Mansfield briefly commanded the corps before his death in battle at Antietam.  General Henry Slocum commanded the corps in October, 1862.  Slocum came up under General William B. Franklin in the Peninsula campaign where he distinguished himself.  General Slocum [pictured, left] was vocal in calling for Hooker’s removal after the Battle of Chancellorsville. General Alfred Pleasonton


    The Cavalry Corps was commanded by General Alfred Pleasonton.  Hooker had organized the Union Cavalry into its own corps to be more effective.  Pleasonton replaced General George Stoneman after the Chancellorsville Campaign.  Under Hooker the Union Cavalry learned its job and proved itself.  The Confederate Cavalry, long unopposed now had a formidable adversary. [General Alfred Pleasonton, pictured, right.]

 NOTES:  1.  The 4 Corps Commanders Lincoln appointed were  Irvin McDowell,  Edwin Sumner, Samuel Heintzelman, and Erasmus Keyes. Keyes supported McClellan's plans “but joined those who insisted the lower Potomac be cleared first.”    From "McClellan's War, by Ethan S. Rafuse, Indiana University Press; 2005, pages 191 - 192.

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"Bread and Tears"

   Excerpts of Sam Webster's diary (HM 48531) are used with permission from The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

Appleton Sawyer

    Being in familiar territory, some of the men were tempted to drop out of line to visit friends made the previous year.   Savvy drummer Sam Webster, a native of Martinsburg, Va., was pretty good at the game as his diary attests.  The same behavior had more serious consequences for color sergeant Roland B. Morris, as the court-martial at the end of this page shows.

Friday, June 26th,
    Brigade had right of corps, and so we had a hurried march to catch it.  Through Barnesville and Adamstown (on Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road) and over the Catoctin mountains to Jefferson.  Camp.  As we came through Adamstown someone had a dinner ready for Ike and I, but we didn’t get it.  Got a lot of cherries, however.  Saw Bob Herring at a butcher shop in Jefferson.  Got out on the Burkettsville pike to Centreville, and would not have gotten back had it not been for an officer’s cook of the 1st Division, who had a pass, and got me thro the piquet with him, coming back at night.  Nice country – but have no money to buy anything.

Saturday, June 27th,
    March to and a mile or so beyond Middletown, at which place we find the 11th Corps.  The 94th N.Y. which was detached at White Oak, rejoins us; but is put in 2nd Brigade.  Went out a mile or two to a little village called Beallsville, and got some milk, soft bread, and apple sauce. Welcoming the Soldiers, by Copeland Borrowed the money, trusting to get it out of Sawyer, who promptly paid it.  [Sam's friend, drum-major Appleton Sawyer, pictured.]   He’s got a little bit left.  Joe Kelly and some more of the fellows got as far as Myersville, a mile further.  Found a man with a 50 cent sutler’s check he had had put on him for produce while we laid at Antietam last fall.  He gave it to one of them, saying he “couldn’t pass it nowheres.”

Sunday, June 28th,
    Went over the hills with Libby to Mr. Mains (90 years old.)  Chatted with his granddaughter, and ate cherries.  Returning to camp found the Brigade gone, my knapsack packed, and a note stating the route.  Caught up in a short time and marched over the mountain, by the old pike, to Frederick County Almshouse.  Had a great deal of fun about a fence that we ultimately used for firewood.

Monday, June 29th,
    Crossed to Emmitsburg pike, passing through Mechanicsville, and camping about a mile beyond Emmittsburg, on the Fairfield road.  Emmitsburg is about half burnt.  Great deal of jocosity on the part of the boys at the expense of the Principal and students of  Mount St. Mary’s College and considerable laughter at the Emmitsburg people, who greeted every mounted officer with:  “Three cheers for the General,”  even were he a 2nd Lieutenant.  Much rain in the morning.

The Last Letter of Charles Leland, Company B

   A researcher in Walpole, Mass., wrote me, that Leland, originally from Chelsea, Mass., joined the 13th., in 1861 with several school mates from his grammar school days in Chelsea, who all went into the service together.  Charles was 16 years old at the time and enlisted with his father’s permission.

    Twenty year old Edwin Field is definitely one of these friends.  Who the others were is speculation, but Charles mentions the following company B boys in letters to his father; Walter P. Beaumont, Loring Bigelow, and William L. G. Clark.

    George S. Worcester, Company BCorporal George Worcester, age 22, was friends with Leland’s father, a fellow mason, and took it upon himself to look after young Charles.  In February, 1862 George wrote to Leland's father:

    “I had been anticipating a letter from you for some time, that which you wrote concerning the commission…I hope… that I shall through your influence obtain it.  …as for your son he is better able than half the men that have received a commission the only thing that would be against him would be his age …he does not use any intoxicating drink…I have kept a  strict watch over him. “  [Feb 13, 1862.]

    In March, 1863 Sergeant Worcester wrote Charles' father:

    “Last week, I saw Lt [Morton] Tower, of Co. B… I asked as a special favor a corporals warrant for your son, which he promised to give him.  I have every confidence in Lieut. Tower, it will be a small promotion, but it gives him just one step above the privates… he will be in direct line of promotion and I hope he will be more successful than I have been.  If he wants it you could procure him a commission in one of the negro regts. Quite a number of the boys accepted such a commission… he would only have to procure a recommendation from Col Leonard and have it presented to Governor Andrew with the understanding that he wishes the commission in a colored regiment… better men than I have gone from the regiment to accept such commissions.”  [March 23, 1863.]*

    George Worcester received a Lieutenants commission in the 3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery in April, 1863.  There was not enough time for Leland to be appointed Corporal, he and his friend Edwin Field were killed at Gettysburg.

    From time to time Leland’s letters come up for auction on various websites.  Also, the Pearce museum in Navarro, Texas has several of Charles’ letters in their collection.  I obtained permission to post two of them on this website, but they preferred I only summarize the rest.   The following summary complies with this request.

Letter of Charles Leland, June 23rd, 1863, (summary)

       Charles LelandCharles wrote home to his father and presumed his family knew by now from the newspapers the details of Hooker's 'retreat' toward Washington and about the Rebel raid into Pennsylvania.  It was Leland's thought the rebs were trying to lure Hooker into Maryland so they could turn and attack Washington.

    It is interesting to note the way events appeared to contemporaries during the war.  Hooker's  move north to counter Lee's army was viewed as a 'retreat.'   There was still a great deal of importance put on ground gained or lost in a battle regardless of the strategic results as far as bringing the war to an end.  Charles wrote:

"Hooker has got his forces situated all along on the creeks from Leesburg to Aldie, and facing the Blue Ridge.  Our Corps is situated on a stream called Broad Run, about eight miles from Leesburg and three from the Potomac in Loudon County-Va.   

They had a cavalry and Infantry fight at Aldie yesterday and we drove the rebels back three or four miles."

    Like many others in the ranks, Charles believed Lee's army was bigger than Hooker's.  Directly after the battle of Chancellorsville, thousands of  '2 years' volunteers departed for home, their term of service had expired.  This greatly weakened the Army of the Potomac.   The reality however, was the opposing forces were relatively equal in strength.  But  Hooker believed he was outnumbered and that belief transmitted to the rank and file.

    Charles expressed the opinion Hooker would have to act defensively until the army was strengthened by conscripts, from the newly implemented Federal draft laws.  He then comments about the commendable  performance of negro regiments at Port Hudson.  He was echoing the newspaper opinions when the tenacious performance of the 1st and 3rd Louisiana Native Guards proved their worth.  The National Park service states on their website:

"The assault on Port Hudson offered them the first opportunity to demonstrate to all witnesses that the black race could match any white troops in prowess on the battlefield.  ...The Battle of Port Hudson marked a turning point in attitudes toward the use of black soldiers." -NPS 

    Before closing Charles tells his father, "You might send me those books  any time as I can read them now as well as at any time." 

Letter of Charles Leland, June 29th, 1863

    A private collector is carefully preserving several of Charles' letters and has generously shared them with me for use on this site.  Charles wrote the following letter the morning of June 29th, before the 26 mile march to Emmitsburg, in the rain.

In camp at Middletown, Md., June 29th 1863

             Dear Father,

                        I am well after a long and hard march, and we are at last in Maryland. Things look now as if we were going up Pennsylvania and meet the rebels somewhere in the Cumberland Valley. The main request I have to ask is for a little money as I am all out and we are in a country where if we have a little money we can live high. To get in from a long march and have something where with to get some bread is a great consolation to a hungry soldier. The prices are as low for bread as they are in Massachusetts being 25 cents for very large loaves.  I write this fast before we start in hopes I can mail it in some of the towns on the march on our way, and then you could send me some right off.

            There is to be some stirring news before long from our army.

            Please send me five or ten dollars as soon as possible in greenbacks, and oblige your affectionate son. Chas. E. Leland.

            I would write more if I had time. Love to Henry, Ada, Mother and yourself.

            I expect we have got some hard  marching to do, although we can not march harder than we have done.

      A post script at the bottom of the letter, reads, in full:    "This is the last letter Elwin ever wrote us as he met the rebels on the 1st of July and gave his life for his country."

Sergeant John Boudwin's diary records the following for the march to Emmitsburg.

June, Sunday, 28.   1863
   Left camp at Middletown at 2 P.M. - had regimental Inspection in the morning - Marched to Frederick City and camped for the night - received mail and letter from Libie and some papers from Mrs. Moriarty- arrived in Fredrick at 8 P.M. wrote letters to mother and wife.

June, Monday 29.    l863
   Came in with rain - Revillie at 3 A.M.  cooked Breakfast and started at 4 l/2.  Passed several small towns on the march.  Mechanicstown the women were crying and they treated us very kindly giving us Bread and Pies Cakes &c.  I had not seen so much crying since I left Boston - arrived at Emmittsburg  at 5 P.M. having marched us the distance of 26 miles and it was done in 12 hours - for l0 miles the mud was inches deep.  The town is quite a large one  their is a large Catholic College and a Female Seminary - we did not want for anything   had bread and cakes and plenty of cool water  camped for the night out side the Town - feel very tired and used up.  Took several prisoners as we arrived outside the town.

Charles Davis, Jr.'s narrative continues; from "Three Years in the Army."

Monday, June 29.
    We made a forced march of twenty-six miles to Emmitsburg, passing through the town and camping about a mile beyond, on the Fairfax road.  It rained all day, and many of the men were obliged to march barefoot for want of shoes.

Soldiers Cheering Woman by A. Waud

    The inhabitants brought to the roadside bread, milk, cheese, and other eatables, which they freely dispensed to us as we passed along.  To be the recipients of such kindness from the people had a great effect in enlivening the spirits of the boys.

    While halting at Mechanicsville, a farmer and his wife were seated in a wagon loaded with bread which they tossed to the hungry soldiers, his wife sobbing and bemoaning the terrible fate that awaited us.  

    “Oh boys, you don’t know what’s before you.  I’m afraid many of ye’ll be dead or mangled soon, for Lee’s whole army is ahead of ye and there’ll be terrible fighting.”  

    One of our officers jumped on to the wagon to help the farmer, shouting,  “Walk up, boys, and get your ration!  Bread and tears, tears and bread,”  while he tossed the loaves about.  “Who takes another ?”  

    The boys, undismayed by the old lady’s prophetic words, shouted their thanks, with “God bless you, old lady!”  and rousing cheers for the old gentleman.

    The people in the town of Emmitsburg were jubilant at sight of the troops, whom they greeted with great cordiality.  Without regard to rank, everybody on horseback was greeted with  “Three cheers for the ‘general’ !”  which were given with a will.

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"You Have Insulted Ze Gener-al"

    General Abercrombie called them impertinent, General Hartsuff called them saucy, General McDowell said they were a bandbox brigade, they called themselves 'spirited.'   

    Charles Davis, Jr.'s narrative continues; from "Three Years in the Army,"  pages 221-223.

    General George Lucas HartsuffThere was an irrepressible spirit of levity in the Thirteenth, and presumably in other regiments, as there is no patent on the animal spirits of young men.  If there was any fun to be had, it was soon found.  Toward the last of our service it was hard pickings, but still there was some one to excite laughter by a quaint saying, an apt nickname, or innocent joke, to relieve the strain and monotony of our daily lives.  We were just as likely to get our fun out of a major-general as we were out of ourselves.  The dignity and importance that hedged a general never affected us in the least.  Every opportunity to ridicule or criticise the doings of an officer outside the regiment was taken advantage of by the wits and the growlers, to excite mirth or ridicule.  We were never quite satisfied with ourselves if we failed in fastening a nickname on a general officer, particularly if he was a martinet, or if he presented some peculiarity of manner or dress that suggested a name.   One officer was called “Old Crummy,”  another “Butter and Cheese,”  another the “Apostle,”  and still another  “Old Bowells.”   Nicknames were so common among ourselves that few of the boys escaped without one. 

    General Abercrombie said we were “a damned impertinent lot,  fit only for the guard-house,” and from his point of view perhaps he was justified in saying so.  His temper had such a beautiful feather edge that the boys, with the thoughtlessness of youth, couldn’t resist the temptation of stirring him up just to hear him swear.  If he had been a man of calm and equable temper he would have escaped our notice.

    Pictured above, (far left) is General George Lucas Hartsuff, who liked the '13th Mass,' but claimed they were the 'sauciest' set of men he ever saw. 8-18-62 Boston Evening Transcript.

    General John C. RobinsonJust as soon as a lot of boys discover that a man takes notice of their gibes the fun begins.  You might as well stir up a hornets’ nest as to notice the remarks of young boys, as every sensible person knows.  We had no intention of being insubordinate, yet our conversation was often loud enough to be heard by a passing officer, as happened to-day  on our march to Emmitsburg, while General Robinson and his staff were sitting on a piazza taking a rest as we went by.  

    General John C. Robinson, pictured, left.

    There was no impropriety in their doing so, and really nothing to complain of.  The boys themselves were tired out with days of constant marching, and as we passed the house where these officers were so comfortably sitting, one of the boys remarked with a rather loud voice,  “How they must suffer!”  Shortly after, one of the general’s staff approached our colonel and in a very excited manner said, “Colonel, your men have insulted ze general.”illustration from the french book "alphabet militaire"

    “My men?”

    “Yes, colonel, your men have insulted ze general.”

    “In what way?”

    “Zay said, ‘How zay must suffer!’”

    “Well, don’t they suffer?” said the colonel.

    “I will go back and zay that you have insulted ze general.

    General Robinson was too sensible a man to bother with the remarks of tired solders.  So long as the men made good time in their marching, he was quite willing they should relieve their feeling, even at his expense, and we never thought any worse of General Robinson, who was an estimable officer, for taking the rest he must have needed.

    It was part of our daily life to form and express opinions about matters and persons, and woe betide the officer who was silly enough to notice them.  In dealing with children or soldiers, which is the same thing, it doesn’t pay to have your hearing or your eyesight too keen.

Note:  General John Abercrombie is 'Old Crummy,' General Rene Paul is 'The Apostle,' and General John C. Robinson was 'Old Reliable.'  I believe Colonel P. Stearns Davis of the 39th Mass. Vols. is "Old Bowells."   The identity of   'Butter and Cheese' is still unknown to me. - B.F.

David Sloss, Company B

    Letter of David Sloss -  'Nicknames'

    'Davie' Sloss carried the State Colors of the regiment for quite a while, though exact times are not known.  He carried them at Gettysburg, and still had them at Spotsylvania, May 8, 1864, when he was slightly wounded.  Sloss' descendant still treasures a small piece of the white silk state flag; a souvenir Sloss saved for himself before returning the colors to the Massachusetts State House at the end of service.  In 1908, he wrote a letter to his comrades in Boston in which he recalls several  'nicknames' the boys had given each other.  In the spirit of the narrative I offer it here. ( If only I knew the identities of his friends ! )

    From 13th Regiment Association Circular #22 Dec. 1, 1909.

Chicago, Ill., Dec. 1, 1908.

Dear Comrades of the Old Thirteenth:

    The season of the year has come when the "Old Thirteenth Mass."  nests again, and counts the fallen in the fight with "Father Time."   And not to recognize the fact on my part would be like forgetting all the eventful days I spent with some of the truest men that I have ever met in all my seventy years of life.

    Edward F. Robinson, Company B, 'Cockey'Every time the "Old Thirteenth" comes up in my mind my thoughts go back to the three years I spent with you.  Never a day off duty, and to-night I am going back to the early days of '61 and visit the Maryland towns we passed through that year :  Hagerstown, Williamsport, Middletown, Boonsboro, Maryland Heights, Darnestown, Falling Waters,  Dam No. 5, Frederick, Antietam Creek, and other places.

    These names bring up some of the pleasant memories, for were we  not the "finest" regiment the people had ever seen, and we were not forced to show our "bad side" to them.  These were our best days.  War had smoothed its wrinkled front and every day was a pleasure.

    Our overflowing animal spirits had to have an outlet or we would "bust."  Oh, such pranks!  Our weak point soon commenced to show, and then the nicknames that some of us got!  Can some of you remember "Smooth Bore,"  "Cockey Robinson,"  "Doc Square,"  "Stun," "Lively Jesus,"  "Whiskers,"  "Molasses," "The Tape Worm,"  "The Old He One,"  "Rockers," "Dip Toast," and "Old Festive."  These are a few I can remember or call up from the misty past, and some of the expressions that still stick.  You recollect "Gaylord's"  first text,  "What came ye out for to see, the reed shaken by the wind?"

    Stun's  "I kacked me piece, and then I hallered."   Joe Cary's "Oh, Tom!  Cold Tea, Cold Tea, Tom!"   Sawtelle's "Come over and have a game of cribbage."  Cockey Robinson - "I'll go to McClellan, by God I will."  Casey - "How can I shoot with my arm. Lieut.?"  Capt. Schreiber - "Doubley-quick Co. I, doubley quick."*

   Captain Joe S. Cary, Company B These are some of the expressions I recall and will perhaps freshen up some of your memories to recall others.

    In those early days every one had what we now call  "an affinity,"  but in those days it was "Buddy" or "Pard";  men who you would risk your life for.  Of course I had one going out, "Jimmy Cullen," who had a little dog called Tim.  Jimmy got sick at Maryland Heights, I tried to cure him with fried chicken, but John White caught me and he was discharged.  I had lots of  "Pards" who did not wear well.  Toppy Emerson had one, "Percy Beemis," a nice little man, quiet;  he disappeared at Rappahannock Junction;*  we hunted for him a few days, as far as Pennsylvania, but did not find him. I received a paper from home with the item in it, "A man registered at a hotel in Montreal as Percy Beemis had committed suicide."  Toppy told me the story of him, going to Boston and his sweetheart would have nothing to do with him, and his brother sent him to Canada.  This was our first deserter, although I saw another in Poughkeepsie, George Dean.

    While at Darnestown as Provo,  I was on guard at a tent one night in which was a man with ball and chain reading his beads by the light of a lantern;  his name was Lannigan, he had killed his Major in the Forty-sixth Pennsylvania and was going to be hanged the next day; we came away, however, before he was hanged.

    Now, comrades, I have jotted down some of the reminiscences of  "Old Dave Sloss," not "Old Joe Clash," as Jim Fish used to say.

    We have a bully four out here, composed of Pierce, Curtis, Prince, and myself.  We had the pleasure of a visit by W. H. H. Howe, of Boston, on the 17th of September and made a day of it at Pierce's home.

David Sloss

    NOTE:  An article in the Westboro Transcript about the suicide of Percy Bemis is on the 'Darnestown' page of this website. See site map page.

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"We Express Hope the New Commander will Show More Ability than His Predecessors"

Map of Army Positions on June 30, 1863    Situation June 30th, 1863.

    This map shows the situation on June 30th 1863.  General Lee learned the Union army was in Maryland, near Frederick on June 28th and wanted to concentrate his forces.   Richard Ewell's Corps was at Carlisle, and planning to invest the capitol city of Harrisburg on June 29th when he received Lee's orders to change direction and march toward Chambersburg.  One of Ewell's divisions was well under way on June 29th when Lee's orders were revised, instructing Ewell to march toward Heidlersburg, near Gettysburg.  Two of his divisions camped there on June 30th.  The division that had already marched arrived at Fayetteville near Chambersburg.

    General A.P. Hill's Confederate 3rd corps is at Cashtown, Pa, 8 miles west of Gettysburg.  A detachment of two Mississippi regiments with artillery support have been posted at Fairfield near Emmitsburg, (not indicated on this map.)  Two Divisions of General Longstreet's 1st corps are at Greenwood, east of Chambersburg where the wagons and reserves are located.

    General J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry has tangled up with General Kilpatrick's Division at Hanover, Pennsylvania.  Stuart is trying to return to Lee's main army and sneaks away at night.

     John Buford's Union cavalry has arrived at Gettysburg.  The Union First Corps is camped 5 miles south of Gettysburg  near the Marsh Creek Bridge.  The 11th Corps is protecting approaches to Emmitsburg, from Fairfield, Pa., and Frederick, Md.  The 3rd Corps is between Bridgeport, Md. and Emmitsburg within supporting distance of the 1st and 11th Corps.  The 5th Corps is at Littlestown, Md., the 6th Corps is at Manchester.  General Meade's Headquarters is at Taneytown, centrally located to the wings of his army.

    The Union troops at Carlisle, Harrisburg, and Columbia, are General Couch's mostly unreliable troops of the emergency militia.

  Excerpts of Sam Webster's diary (HM 48531) are used with permission from The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.     Sam Webster's comment that a number of the boys were tight is interesting....

Charles Reed sketch 'Applejack'Charles Reed sketch,  - 'Applejack.'

Tuesday, June 30th, 1863
    Marched back through Emmitsburg, and out two or more miles on the Gettysburg road.  Borrowed $5.00 of Lt. Washburn.  Posted off a couple of miles towards Fairfield road, and got some bread, butter, and milk.  Found a number of the boys tight owing to the nearness of a distillery.  Pitch tent just in time to escape a hard shower.  Passing through Emmittsburg, some one recognized me and called out, “There goes Sam Webster."   Thought it was one of the boys, and when certain it was otherwise, went back but couldn’t find her.   (Knew, afterward, that she was from Westminster.)

Sergeant John Boudwin's diary concludes this series of difficult marches with the following entry for June 30th.

June, Tuesday, 30. 1863
   Came in with Rain Left camp at Emmittsburg and Marched out to the left of the Town and camped near Mill Brook awaiting orders to march. laid here all day went down to creek and had a Bath went to bed early- and had a good nights rest. Nothing occurred during the day or eve.

Charles Davis Jr.'s narrative continues; from "Three Years in the Army," 

Tuesday June 30.
    About 10 A.M. we marched back through Emmitsburg, meeting the Eleventh Corps on our way, which caused us a good deal of delay.  We passed through the town out upon the Gettysburg road about two miles, near Marsh Creek, where we halted and stacked arms, it being asserted that the enemy was between us and Gettysburg.

    Edwin Forbes, Union Army pursuit of Genl Lee

    It having rained every day except Sunday since we crossed the river, the roads were consequently very muddy.

    The Eleventh Corps had been keeping along with us, but the remainder of the army we had not seen.  We enjoyed the marching very much, in spite of our fatigue.  Day after day we were met on the way by women in front of their homes with pails of fresh water, milk, bread, cake, and pies, which they freely distributed among us. 

    The following order by General Meade was this day read to the army:

    The enemy are upon our soil.  The whole country now looks anxiously to this army to deliver it from the presence of the foe. Our failure to do so will leave us no such welcome as the swelling of millions of hearts with pride and joy at our success would give to every soldier of this army.  Homes, firesides, and domestic altars are involved.

    Corps commanders are authorized to order the instant death of any soldier who fails in his duty at this hour.

    General George Gordon Meade

    If there was any man in the army who remained unaffected by the words of confidence and reliance that had been showered upon us by the loyal people of Maryland, whose generous hospitality had met us at every turn of the road, perhaps the closing paragraph of this order might arouse his sluggish nature to duty.   The fact is that the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac needed no incentive of this kind; it had fought desperately before, when success would have been achieved if the skill of its commanders had been equal to the valor of the men.

    When we were dismissed, the merits of this circular were freely discussed, and the boys were pretty generally of the opinion that the sting conveyed in the closing paragraph was undeserved and  unnecessary to an army with a record for fighting such as the Army of the Potomac had won.  Later on, the boys thought it would be rather a good idea for the rank and file to issue a manifesto to the commander, expressing the hope that he would show more ability and judgment than his predecessors had shown when conducting a great battle, and above all, avoid issuing appeals or circulars reflecting the slightest doubt on the courage of the men.   “Nelson expects every man to do his duty!”  were the only words of that great commander to his men, and they did their duty and did it nobly.   It is often within the power of a commander to inspire his men to great deeds by words of confidence in their courage and ability, - not by intimidation.

    The First Corps was composed, like other corps, of three divisions;  each division taking its turn in marching at the head of the column, as brigades also do in their respective divisions.

    The First, Third, and Fifth Corps were under the immediate command of General Reynolds.   The first was at Marsh Creek, the Eleventh at Emmitsburg, and the Third at Taneytown, under orders to relieve the Eleventh Corps at Emmitsburg.

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Emmitsburg, Before the Battle of Gettysburg

    Historian John A. Miller, a cyber-friend of mine has written a series of wonderful articles, among many other wonderful articles at the Emmitsburg Area Historical Society. [www.emmitsburg.net]  I have requested permission to reprint it here.  I strongly recommend my readers visit the Emmitsburg website for more history.

Emmitsburg, 150 Years Ago, Before the Battle of Gettysburg
by John Miller
Emmitsburg Area Historical Society

Map of the route from Middletown to Emmitsburg

    This year [2013] marks the 150th Commemoration of the Battle of Gettysburg and the Pennsylvania Campaign. During the time period, 150 years ago, Emmitsburg residents saw first hand, thousands of Union soldiers enter and occupy the grounds surrounding the town. From the west to the north, thousands of Union soldiers encamped here before heading into battle. Those soldiers were veterans and accustomed to long marches in the heat of the sun, or during heavy downpours of rain. Life was not easy for the Civil War soldier. But they bore it for their cause and their beliefs, with the help of their messmates.

    Life for the average Emmitsburg resident was not easy either. Just like the Civil War soldier they endured hardships of their own. By the time the first Union soldier entered into their community, many residents were displaced from the "Great Fire" that erupted during the night of June 15th. For many of those residents, they lost everything that they had. Within a week and a half, they would endure more hardships, as thousands of Union soldiers would come to occupy the fields surrounding the town.

    On June 27th, 1863, Dr. Thomas Moore from Mt. Saint Mary’s College recalled seeing the first soldiers in blue marching pass the college and head for Emmitsburg. Among the soldiers he saw were the 5th and the 6th Michigan Cavalry. "They jogged along, four abreast, many of the weary riders leaning forward, sound asleep on the necks of their horses. Many of us sat on the fences along the road watching and listening to their sayings. We naturally looked upon the men as sheep led to the slaughter, and we were not a little surprised when we overheard two of them closing a bargain on horseback with the remark: 'Well, I will settle with you for this after the battle. Will that suit you?'  The other party readily assented.  The whole period of life is treated as a certainty, even by men going into battle."

    These riders were part of General Joseph Copeland’s Michigan Brigade that was now under the command of a young general, General George Armstrong Custer.  They encamped on the grounds of St. Joseph’s.  The young general Custer would greet his command at Emmitsburg, and hired local resident James McClough to guide his brigade.

Some of the large buildings at St. Mary's College    Pictured are some of the large buildings at St. Mary's College, Emmitsburg.  The photo is credited to Timothy O'Sullivan, 1863.

    The next day, more Union soldiers came into town on horseback. These men were part of the Keystone Rangers, Company C of Cole’s Cavalry.  Many of these men were from Emmitsburg.  They had with them several Confederate prisoners.  The next day, these men were escorted to Frederick, Maryland.

    During the evening of June 29th, General John Reynolds, commanding the left wing of the Army of the Potomac entered Emmitsburg after a hard march from Frederick. The weary soldiers of the First Corps encamped in the fields surrounding St. Joseph’s, stretching toward the Emmit House.  Following along another road was the Eleventh Corps, and they would encamp southwest of Emmitsburg, closer to Mt. Saint Mary’s College.

    As the evening went on, a practical joker quietly spread a rumor that Mother Superior had invited all of the commissioned officers to a reception, with suitable refreshments, to be held in the main building of the institution. Some of the men actually believed what they heard, and once arriving at the convent, they were quickly surprised to see that it was in total darkness.

    A.J. Brown, who recorded his experiences of seeing the Union soldiers wrote:  "We were visited by single soldiers, officers, groups, etc., to the amount of some thousands, some for the purpose of seeing old friends and companions."

    Upon seeing the St. Joseph’s convent, Corporal Adam Muenzenberger of the 26th Wisconsin recalled his experience at Emmitsburg. "We must march like dogs and now that the rainy weather has started the road is pretty bad.  We camped a few days at Middleton and then we proceeded to Frederick City.  We camped there over night and the next day we marched to Emmitsburg.  There we camped on a wet  field and this morning we marched two miles nearer the hills where the St. Joseph's convent is located.  We have our camp close beside the convent.  Should we stay here for a while - which I doubt - I will receive communion."

Old Emmitsburg Road near Mt. St. Mary's

    Many descriptions regarding the landscape surrounding Emmitsburg were noted by the Union soldiers. Isaac Hall of the 97th New York Infantry recalled:  "The broad and smooth road along which they were marching led through a grove, with noble overhanging trees, fresh with large foliage of early summer, and looking through this vista, down a gentle slope, was seen in front the neat and quiet town in the distance.  It was a little before sunset, and the weather delightfully serene and mild.  The surrounding country had felt none of the miseries of war, and the eager crowds which flocked to the roadside gave evidence in their manner, that troops on the march were a rare spectacle in that region."

    Pictured, The Old Emmitsburg Road leading to Mount Saint Mary's College, circa 1880, Emmitsburg Historical Society.  The House on the left was called 'Buena Vista.'

    Lieutenant William Ballentine of the 82nd Ohio Infantry wrote, "This institution of the Sisters of Charity (whose grounds we are now on) Farm and Buildings (especially the latter) is the finest I ever saw.  Nothing in Ohio will compare with it;  I was astonished to find such magnificence in such a place, a place I have never heard of before."

    There are several accounts of Emmitsburg as it appeared by the Union soldiers. Upon seeing the burned out buildings in Emmitsburg after the fire, William Henry Locke, the Chaplain of the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry noted, "One week ago, the finest half of the town was destroyed by fire, certainly the work of an incendiary but whether a rebel spy, or a home of a rebel sympathizer, does not yet appear."

Emmitsburg, June 1863 following the great fire

A View of Emmitsburg, June, 1863 following the great fire of June 15th;  Emmitsburg Area Historical Society

    Major Frederick Winkler served in the 26th Wisconsin Infantry and on General Schurz’s staff recalled,  "A large portion of the place is in ruins, having been destroyed by fire; expensive buildings of the Catholic Church, convents, etc., occupy very fine grounds on the limits of the place; not far from here too, at the foot of the mountains, there is Saint Mary's College, said to be the oldest college in the country."

    Lieutenant William Ballentine of the 82nd Ohio Infantry recalled  "About one half of the town was burnt about two weeks ago. The people think it was done by a resident of the town whom they now have in jail.  He is said to be a union man although the town is one of the worst secessionist towns in Maryland.  But that was not the reason it was burnt.  It was in revenge for some private wrong done by some individual of the town.   His store was set on fire and burnt the rest with it."

   The next day, June 30th, Dr. Moore recalled,  "The Army of the Potomac was truly a beautiful sight" and describes a grand but horrible passing of  "the wagons, ambulances, cannons, etc, which were coming early dawn till nightfall. ... They camped around Emmitsburg.  Their campfires, as viewed from the college windows, almost led one to imagine that this section for miles had received in one shower all the stars of the heavens."

    Pictured below, is a view of the surrounding countryside from behind St. Mary's Seminary.

View From Behind St. Marys

    General John Reynolds ordered the First Corps to march to Marsh Creek, located to the north of Emmitsburg, in Pennsylvania.  A soldier of the 121st Pennsylvania Volunteers recalled marching through town.  They were greeted by cheering townspeople who waved handkerchiefs, flags, passed out water, cakes and bread.  "The commissary wagons were unable to keep anywhere near the troops on this march, and, as a consequence the want of food induced many of the men to leave the ranks and raid on the products of the farms of this rich country."

    The young boys of Emmitsburg were excited at seeing the soldiers go marching by.  Members of the 12th Massachusetts Volunteers recorded a story about a courageous boy who wanted to be a soldier  "An instance of the bravery of a 15 year old Emmitsburg lad named J. W. (C.F.) Wheatley, as Baxter’s brigade was marching through Emmitsburg it was followed by the village boys, one of whom continued to the camp at Marsh Creek, where he offered to enlist.  His offer, however, was ridiculed, and he was sent away.  On the morning of the 1st of July he reappeared, and so earnestly entreated the Colonel of the Twelfth Massachusetts to be allowed to join his regiment, which a captain of one of the companies (Company A) was instructed to take him on trial for a day or two. When the regiment halted near the seminary, the boy was hastily dressed in a suit of blue."

    "Afterwards, during the action [at Gettysburg], he fought bravely until a bullet striking his musket split it in two pieces, one of which lodged in his left hand and the other in his left thigh.  The boy was taken to the brick church in the town to be cared for, but nothing was afterwards seen or heard of him until July 4th.  I saw him for the last time bitterly crying for his mother and sundry of other relatives.  He was never mustered into the service, therefore fought as a civilian."

    Portions of the Eleventh Corps moved closer to Emmitsburg.  During the same time, a division, under the command of General David B. Birney of the Third Corps, was marching in from the direction of Taneytown.  They were ordered to Emmitsburg and began occupying the grounds near St. Joseph’s. Colonel Philippe Régis Denis de Keredern de Trobriand wrote about his brief stay at St. Joseph’s.  "It was on the domain of St. Joseph that I had placed my brigade.  A small stream made part of the boundary line. I leave it to you to guess if the good sisters were not excited, on seeing the guns moving along under their windows and the regiments, bristling with bayonets, spreading out through their orchards.  Nothing like it had ever troubled the calm of this holy retreat.  When I arrived at a gallop in front of the principal door, the doorkeeper, who had ventured a few steps outside, completely lost her head.  In her fright, she came near being trampled under foot by the horses of my staff, which she must have taken for the horses of the Apocalypse, if, indeed, there are any horses in the Apocalypse, of which I am not sure."

St Joseph's College run by Sisters of Charity

Pictured is Saint Joseph's College and Chapel, run by the Sisters of Charity.  Photo credited to Timothy O'Sullivan, 1863.  

    As Colonel Trobriand entered into the building he noted  "We reached the belfry by a narrow and winding staircase.  I went first. At the noise of my boots sounding on the steps, a rustling of dresses and murmuring of voices were heard above my head.  There were eight or ten young nuns, who had mounted up there to enjoy the extraordinary spectacle of guns in battery, of stacked muskets, of sentinels walking back and forth with their arms in hand, of soldiers making coffee in the gardens, of horses, ready, saddled, eating their oats under the apple trees; all things of which they had not the least idea.  We had cut off their retreat, and they were crowded against the windows, like frightened birds, asking Heaven to send them wings with which to fly away."

    As those soldiers bedded down for the night, they could only imagine what was to come the next day. As dawn came on July 1st, no one in the town of Emmitsburg would imagine that a major battle was going to take place at a small country town called Gettysburg, ten miles to the north.  As the day wore on, the sounds of musketry and cannon could be heard.  As the Eleventh Corps moved out and headed toward Gettysburg, the rest of the Union Third Corps entered town.  There, General Daniel Sickles would halt his Corps for a few hours.

    After several dispatches came for General Sickles, he began to march toward Gettysburg, leaving behind one brigade of infantry and a battery of artillery.  And just like thousands of soldiers before them, they too were ordered to Gettysburg to fight one of the greatest battles of the Civil War.

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Color Sergeant Roland B. Morris

'Clasped in Loving Arms' illustration by Copeland

    The story of Color Sergeant Roland B. Morris's dramatic death at Gettysburg was another one of the significant moments in the chronicles of the '13th Mass.'   He was court-martialled just before the battle, for leaving the ranks without permission, while on the march in Maryland.  He had gone, to visit friends he made the previous year when the regiment was camped in the region.  At the time he carried the national color of the regiment, so Colonel Leonard took the privilege away from him.  On the morning of July 1st, he pleaded with Colonel to restore to him the honor of carrying the colors which was done.   He was very cheerful on the march - but then fell in battle that afternoon.  

    His comrades memorialized him in poems, post-war remembrances and the regimental monument at Gettysburg, which was done in Morris' likeness.  Roland was extremely popular, a good-natured fellow fondly remembered.   I found two or three mentions of him in the letters of Albert Liscom,*  his company C comrade, during the early months of service when the regiment was camped at Darnestown and later Williamsport, Maryland. 

Sept 5, 1861 
    "I have changed my mess and am now in mess two where I shall stay.  I like it better – as there are many more of the old happy family here – there are Bosworth, Goldsmith,  Dickinson, Seabury, D. Walker, A. Johnson, Collis, Morris, G. Ross and myself – we are all well and happy as ever.  Rowland & Charly wish to be remembered.  Rowland says tell his folks he received the box which they sent to him but no letter and has received none since – he says he shall not write until he receives one from them because he says he is mad – if you could see him you would not think so – he is a jolly boy – remember me to his folks – we heard that Bill [Morris] had been appointed Lieutenant in Wardwell’s [?] regiment, we want to know if he is coming out here – we advise him to stay at home.   The boys are all well and in good spirits."

Feb 16, 1862,
    "Mr Morris was here last Wednesday Eve. he came to see Roland and visit our camp.  I assure you we were glad to see him.  he left here Thursday Eve for Washington to visit Bill.  Roland got a furlough for five days and went with him.

    (Roland's brother Bill Morris was in the 22nd Mass. Infantry.)

    Comrade Clarence H. Bell remembered Morris in an article titled "Frills," published in Bivouac Magazine, August 1884.  Here is the excerpt about Morris.

Sergeant Roland Morris, Company C

    "Among the many regiments sent out by Massachusetts, probably none excelled the Thirteenth in State pride, or in the respectability of its members.  It took a very severe march to cure all of their chronic condition of  “frills,” and even then, they were but momentarily suppressed.  They broke out again with renewed vigor as soon as a camp was reached.  To no one did the opportunity for “fixing up” come with a greater welcome than to Sergeant Morris.  Tall, of a fine figure, and with a slightly bronzed complexion, he bore the colors as if proud of the honor of so responsible a position.  Of a genial disposition, his face wore continually a pleasant smile that brought into prominence the dimple in his chin.  His language was always refined, and no matter how weary the march, one was sure to hear some sparkling witticism or brilliant remark from his locality, while those in the ranks in his immediate vicinity did not have a chance, in the midst of their laughter, to realize the necessity for grumbling at their woes.  Graceful in manner and style, and as elegant in presence as circumstances would allow, he was a representative soldier, in a representative regiment.

    "During our tramps through Western Maryland in the summer and fall of ’61, the pretty lasses of the villages would show themselves at the windows, or on the doorsteps of their residences, wearing the national colors, either in a tie, or as an apron, while posing in the most captivating attitudes.  Of course, the vision of beauty would cause the young and ardent soldiers  to “brace up,” and march past with the most precise martial bearing, even with the heads turned to retain as long as possible a view of the fair spectators.  None took more advantage of these cheery occasions than did Sergeant Morris, and as the gentle maidens gazed after the handsome fellow, they must have experienced a fluttering about the heart that was a novelty to them.

    "One of his favorite recreations was reciting from Shakespeare, and I remember a pleasant evening in October, when the camp had settled into quiet for the night, to have been startled at the “Soliloquy from Hamlet,” breaking forth in the stillness.  How the camp was hushed as Morris recited line after line in the most dramatic manner, and we knew,  that could our eyesight but penetrate the darkness, we should see the appropriate gestures.  When he became tired, another “spouter” would retaliate with a selection from some other of the writings of the Great Poet, until vocal fatigue would permit quietness to reign again.  Beautiful in character, with an Apollo-like form, he added to these a personal courage that stamped him as one of the bravest of the sons of the Bay State, and when, on the historic field of Gettysburg, the standard dropped from his dying hands, and his life blood sank into the greedy earth, the roll of honor of that great day bore the name of no nobler patriot than that of Roland B. Morris."

    In "The 13th Regiment Association Circular  #15,"  December, 1902, George Jepson of Company A, wrote the following passage in a long article about the regiment at Gettysburg:

Louis K. Harlow Illustration, "Defence of the Colors"

     "It was during this battle that our comrade Roland Morris, color sergeant, was killed.  His death was unusually pathetic, inasmuch as the colors had been taken away from him a few days prior to the battle because of his leaving the ranks, without permission, to visit some friends he had made during our early service in Maryland.  The morning of the battle, with tears he begged the colonel to return the colors to him, and after being admonished not to repeat the offence they were returned to him.  He was a student in Heidelberg when the war broke out and hastened home to join the Thirteenth and went with it to the front.  He was an attractive young fellow, of great popularity among his comrades, so that his death made a deeper impression than ordinary."

 [Jepson's complete article will be posted on this website in the next section about the Battle of Gettysburg. -B.F.]

Colonel Leonard saved among his personal papers the record of Roland Morris'  court-martial.

GLC 3393 #8  Court Martial of Roland Morris, (The Gilder Lehrman Collection.  Not to be reproduced without written permission.)

    Charges and specifications preferred against
    Roland B. Morris, Corporal Co. C. 13th Mass. Vols.

    Charge:  Absence without leave.

    Specifications (1)  In this that Corporal Roland B. Morris Co. C. 13th Mass. Vols. did, while on the march from Jefferson Md. to Middleton Md.  Leave his Co. without permission from his commanding Officer, he being at the time Color Bearer of the Regiment.

    All this on or about the 27th day of June 1863, while on the march from Jefferson Md. To Camp of 13th Mass Vols. near Middleton, Md.

William B. Kimball   
1st Lieut Comdg Co. A.   
13th Regt Mass. Vols.   

James L. McCoy
        Sergt Co. C.
Charles A. McLauchlan
    Corporal Co. E. on Color Guard

*Letters of Albert Liscom are in the collection of the Army Heritage Education Center, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

    The August 1884 Bivouac article,"Frills' quoted above, prompted Charles Bingham to write his own remembrance of Color Sergeant Morris.  This article precedes a similar article Bingham wrote in 1911 for the 13th Regiment Association, titled "The Straggler,"   which appears on an earlier page of this website.

    From Bivouac, An Independent Military Monthly, Volume II, September, 1884;  Edward F. Rollins, George W. Powers, & George Kimball, Editors. Volume 2, p. 266-267  


    The article in the August number of  The Bivouac in which its writer pays noble tribute to the memory of Sergeant Roland B. Morris, in life a member of Company C, Thirteenth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers, recalls an incident which occurred during my own connection with that company, and which reveals another phase in the character of our highly esteemed and lamented comrade.

    In relating this incident, however, I am compelled to make confession of a slight departure from the strict observance of the military order relating to “straggling,” which practice, at that period (1862), was a source of no little annoyance to commanding officers of regiments and companies.  Having kept a brief diary while “in the field,” perhaps it will be more interesting to the readers of  The Bivouac, particularly if they be veterans, if I make a few extracts from notes “taken on  the spot,” like the sketches by our special artists.

    Sept. 2, 1862. – A bright, clear September day with a refreshing westerly breeze that put new life into every sinew, and when the order came “Forward!” most of us were in the best condition for obeying it.  We passed through Fairfax at a little after noon, but without halting.  We had a trial of endurance to-day, having been on the road three hours without a halt.  At  3 P.M., had a fifteen minutes’ rest, then pushed on at a rapid rate, passing over Munson’s Hill at about 8 o’clock, arriving at Hall’s Hill shortly after.   The latter part of the march to-day has been the cause of vexation to many of us; there was no “let up” to it, and our frequent cries of  “Halt this brigade,”  “Give us a rest,” etc., were unheeded.  After a light and hastily prepared supper we turned in, or rather turned down, at an early hour, but I passed an uncomfortable night owing to insufficient covering and the rocky bed on which I laid.  As an illustration of the change in one’s feelings produced by sufficient rest, I remarked to my companion, as we threw ourselves down on the ground to-night, that this was about as comfortable as the down-iest bed at home.  I was footsore and weary and the bosom of mother Earth did seem as easy as the most luxuriant couch, but towards morning, after I had obtained my required rest, I found my couch anything but downy.   It seemed as though the rocks had sprung up beneath me, like toad-stools, during my sleep.  Vainly I turned, the unrelenting rocks would leave their impression on my now sensitive body; then, too, with a cartridge-box for a pillow,  my ears felt doubled up like the leaves of a “dog-eared” book, and had those auricular appendages been large enough, would have received the impress of the U.S. on the brass plate.  I arose and succeeded in removing several boulders from under my bed, but even then found it unbearable and arose a second time, finding equal comfort by sitting on a log and whiffing my dhudeen.

    Sept. 6, 1862. – While we were heartily enjoying our supper to–night, orders came to “pack up.”  We left Hall’s Hill at about 8 o’clock P.M., marching over Aqueduct Bridge and through Georgetown and Washington.  Nothing of interest occurred on the route.  It was tiresome marching, however, for tired nature demanded sleep, and a troublesome attack of dyspepsia, (which poor brandy didn’t cure), induced me to violate orders by leaving the ranks.  I had no lack of company, for the “bummers” were plenty and there was quite a respectable sized “camp” where I bivouacked.  On the road next morning, I overtook Roland Morris, Morton Tower and others of the “Thirteenth” and the squad straggled along leisurely, making long halts and short marches.   Portentous rumors of rebel advances met our ears, which we received with general indifference.  At noon we halted in a shady grove, and, after a rest, cooked our dinner, which was somewhat varied from the customary bill of fare by the addition of sweet potatoes, - boiled and roasted, tomato sauce and a corn-starch pudding, the latter made in the same vessel in which we boiled coffee, soup, etc.  Our production was not of that purity which characterizes the article when made at home, yet it furnished an acceptable and palatable dessert to our Sunday dinner.  

"Moontide and Evening" by Edwin Forbes

Moontide and Evening by Artist Edwin Forbes

    After that repast, we stretched our selves out on the leaves and quietly perused Washington newspapers, while to the natural fragrance of the grove was added the pungent perfume of mild “Killickinick,” or the more powerful “Navy” tobacco.  The familiar lines of the bard, ( in Robin Hood), with a slight variation, were brought to mind on this similar occasion :

“Unlike the leafy greenwood tree
The merry, merry “bummers” roam;
Jovial and bold (?) and ever free
Beneath their woodland home.”

    Under these narcotic influences the “drowsy god” soon lured us to his embrace and the remainder of the afternoon was passed mostly in refreshing sleep.  At sunset we “took tea” under our leafy bower in peaceful enjoyment.  As the shades of evening closed about us and thoughts of home and loved ones, and of the great and solemn duty in which we were engaged came upon us, and when we remembered that another Sabbath had gone forever, with its idle words and thoughts recorded in the Book of Time, our hearts turned in silent thanksgiving to that Being who had spared our lives through all the dangers we had passed, and had again brought us to a realization of our constant dependence upon Him for all the blessings we enjoy.

    Morris, who was an Episcopalian, read a portion of the service from his Ritual, to attentive listeners; then followed the familiar hymns of home and childhood, sung in the spirit by which this sacred hour and the peculiar surrounding influenced the heart of each singer.  But one hymn, which Morris sang, and which I then learned, produced in effect upon me which years cannot efface.  The words, the beautiful tune, the solemnity of the hour, and the thought of God’s goodness to us through all the perils of war, were impressive beyond expression.  The hymn alluded to was “Beautiful Zion,” and to preserve the memory of  that pleasant, yet eventful Sunday evening of my youthful days, I recall the words:

“Beautiful Zion, built above,
Beautiful city that I love ;
Beautiful gates of pearly white,
Beautiful temple, - God its light.
He who was slain on Calvary
Opens those pearly gates to me.”

    I shall never forget, too, the picture of soldier life as we lay around our cheerful camp fire, stretched out on the velvet carpet of the grove in such attitudes as best suited our inclination or convenience, while the “ever glowing pipe” wafted its sweet fragrance over our head, soothing us to that peaceful, dreamy slumber, where “care is unknown and where joy ever dwelleth.”

Charles H. Bingham.
August 1884.

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Page Updated September 27, 2014.