On The Rappahannock

Part 1:   Digging In

Edwin Forbes sketch of Troops and wagons crossing the Rappahannock at night

Edwin Forbes sketch titled,  “The Army of the Potomac Crossing the Rappahannock River on a Pontoon Bridge at Night, Near Rappahannock Station.”  The sketch is dated October 14, 1863, but the scene may well substitute for the crossings at night in August, — with the exception of the cold weather.

Table of Contents


After the Battle of Gettysburg the Army of the Potomac followed General Robert E. Lee's defeated Confederate Army back into Virginia.  General George G. Meade’s chance to drive a wedge between Lee’s long strung-out columns  marching south up the Shenandoah Valley, came in the middle of July.  Frederic Ray Illustration of Robert E. LeeOn July 22nd Meade ordered Major General William H. French, to push his 3rd Corps through Manassas Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains to intercept Lee’s march.  The 5th and 1st Corps were nearby in support.  French’s troops occupied the gap the night of the 22nd, but his advance the next day was obstructed for hours, by a brigade of Confederates.  Meanwhile, Lee’s army quickly marched past the gap to safety. The delay of French's men allowed the Confederates to establish a defensive line to protect against further attacks, and when General French’s feeble assault finally came it was too late to accomplish anything.   For the rest of July and August, 1863, the opposing armies settled into familiar camps on opposite sides of the Rappahannock River and quietly regrouped after the severe trials of the Gettysburg Campaign.

The respective army commanders were dealing with their own personal dramas too.  General Lee was plagued by the failure of his ambitious Northern invasion, and offered his resignation to Confederate President Jeff Davis, who refused to accept it.  Meanwhile, General Meade traveled to Washington to share his perspectives on the late campaign with President Lincoln and Congress, and plot a future course of action.

While the infantry rested the cavalry of both sides were active.  Skirmishes were frequent along both sides of the Rappahannock as each side attempted to annoy their opponents and discern the next military move.

What's On This Page

The material on this page chronicles life in camp along the river in the closing Summer months of 1863.  It was a time for recuperating and rebuilding.   The several regiments of  “Paul’s Brigade” were all in the same battered condition. Captain E.D. Roath of the 107th PA, and  Chaplain F. D. Ward of the 104th NY, report on the circumstances of their respective regiments.  Correspondent ‘CLARENCE’ reports the goings on in the camp of the “13th Mass” and on a variety of other topics too numerous to mention.  Drummer Sam Webster, Sergeant Austin Stearns, and historian Charles E. Davis, Jr. contribute to the narrative in their usual way. 

The narrative is dominated with accounts of securing the positions on the south side of the river, and Brigadier-General John Buford's subsequent cavalry engagements. The next task at hand was the re-building of the railroad bridge across the river.

Edwin Forbes sketch of the RR Bridge at Rapp. Stn. Aug. 20, 1863

Artist Edwin Forbes spent some time at Rappahannock Station in August, 1863, and made this sketch of the completed railroad bridge over the river on August 20, 1863.

July 29, 1863, was the 2nd anniversary of the regiment leaving Boston for the seat of war, and the progress made since then was a topic of discussion.  But the big topic of discussion in the camps at this time, was the draft.  Army strength was greatly weakened from the many arduous campaigns.  The regiments would soon receive their allotments of drafted men, conscripts and substitutes, from the newly implemented conscription laws.  Part 2 of this section, chronicles in detail, the arrival of these new men and the consequences thereof.  Charles E. Davis, Jr. provides the background, for a look at this interesting period of the 13th Massachusetts regiment’s history with his informative insider's glimpse of the draft as it took place in the Provost Marshal Department's 3rd District of Massachusetts.  His unique article titled, “Drafting for Recruits” ends this page, with more about the conscripts to follow on page 2; — coming soon, as they say.

PICTURE CREDITS:  All images are from the Library of Congress Digital Images Collection with the following exceptions.  The close-up of Lt-Col. Batchelder is from the Massachusetts Historical Society; the illustrated "Brigadier" by artist H. De Sta is from "Armee Francaise, Nouvel Alphabet Militaire" accessed online; Colonel Phineas Stearns Davis is from the digital Mass MOLLUS collection of photographs at the Army Heritage Education Center, AHEC, Carlisle, PA.;  Porcelain figurine is English Staffordshire circa 1840 accessed at  onlinegalleries.com;  The 1860's bottle of St. Julians wine was found on ebay; Captain E. D. Roath, 107th PA was found at the blog "Lancaster at War" [lancasteratwar.com] the image is credited 'courtesy of John Mulcahy'; The Flag of the 104th NY,  and portrait of Chaplain F. D. Ward, 104th NY are from the digital collections of the New York Military Museum, [http://dmna.ny.gov/historic/mil-hist.htm]; Portrait of Rachel S. Smith is from Vince Slaugh's blog "Lancaster at War" used with permission.  The Draft Wheel illustration by Charles Reed is from Hardtack & Coffee, by Charles D. Billings, accessed digitally at the web archive [https://archive.org/details/hardtackcoffee00bill};   The Draft Cartoon is from the digital Harper's Weekly, August 23, 1862, accessed at sonofthesouth.com;  The photograph of Charles E. Davis, Jr. was shared with me by the Davis family;  All the contemporary photographs are by Bradley M. Forbush;  ALL IMAGES have been EDITED IN PHOTOSHOP.

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Digging in at Rappahannock Station

Sam Webster Sets the Stage

Young drummer Sam Webster always provides fun personal details in his journals, regarding the movements of the 13th Mass.  In this particular instance, Lt.-Col. Batchelder, commanding the regiment, disciplines Sam for his casual indifference to orders.  Sam, at this particular time, was worried about his younger brother Isaac, or Ike, whom he had last seen July 1st at Christ Church Hospital on Chambersburg Street in Gettysburg.  When Ike went missing, Sam worried for his safety, then learned he was a paroled prisoner at West Chester, PA, with others from the regiment who accepted the Confederate battle-field parole.  And, like the others, Ike took 'French leave,' from the parole camp to wander about where he wished.  Sam records the regiment's arrival at Rapp-Station.

Excerpts from Samuel Derrick Webster's Journal;  (HM48531) from the Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, used with permission.

Monday, July 27th, 1863
        Brigade was turned out last night, and sent ahead to Rappahannock Station.  I took my time and joined the Regiment this morning.  We went on to the station in afternoon, camping to the right of the R.R. behind the hill.  Rebel pickets on opposite side.  Orders read not to build fires, and not to go to top of hill.  As a matter of course, though, all the other Regiments being represented there, we, went, and I was fortunate enough to get caught with Rogers, of Co. D., two other privates and a sergeant, on my way back, by Lt. Col. Batchelder, who gave us four hours knapsack drill, each. Out of the crowd no one else was taken.  Didn’t have anything in my knapsack.  The rebels have a stovepipe mounted as a gun on the work over the river  behind the opposite hill.  That Quaker won’t fool anybody.

Tuesday, July 28th, 1863
        Same position.  Washed out by rain.  Rebels have a brass battery behind the opposite hill.

Edwin Forbes sketch of Rappahannock Station, Nov. 1863

Artist Edwin Forbes sketched this view of Rappahannock Station, November, 1863.  The buildings that once stood around the railroad a year earlier are gone.  The high ridge on the North side of the river, #1, and the two fortified hills on the South side, #4, are visible, as are the ruins of the railroad bridge, #3 (its abutments).  The bridge was repaired in August and burned again in October during the Bristoe Campaign. The railroad tracks  still occupy the same ground today.  However, the site is unrecognizable.  On July 27 - 31, the 13th camped behind the ridge to the right of the railroad, (shown in the foreground).

Thursday, July 30th, 1863
        Loan my “dipper”  to one of the boys, and it is stolen.  Trust to the same means of replacing it, — but can’t get one so good, however, as it was of heavy material.  Got it last May, in camp of 2nd Delaware.

mosquitoes illustration

Friday, July 31st, 1863
       Went for blackberries.  Found them scarce, but got some wild grapes.  Letter from brother Ike.  Is a paroled prisoner, at the camp at West Chester, Pa., but visiting in Philadelphia.  Charlie is with him.

Charlie may be his Uncle Charles, whom he referred to as being a prisoner in his July 6 journal entry. — B.F.

Saturday, August 1st, 1863
       Are turned out early to support 25 cavalry men, who were sent across the river.  Bridge is thrown across, and Buford's Cavalry Division go over and drive the rebels from Brandy Station to Culpepper, where he is repulsed by Longstreet’s Infantry.  Buford ate Stewart’s [J.E.B. Stuart] dinnermosquitoes illustration, it is said, which was prepared for him, within a couple of miles of Culpeper.  1st Brigade was over across and down the river to hill on the left.  Went to constructing an earthwork square.  Night attack expected.  Sawyer sick.  Heat intolerable; no breeze; musketos [mosquitoes] as “large as life, and twice as natural.” Bite through blanket and trousers — and sing — oh! like choirs of angels.

Sawyer is Drum-Major, Appleton L. Sawyer of Shrewsbury, Mass., Company K.

Wednesday, August 5th, 1863
        The 107 Penna. goes home, and is replaced by the 39th Mass. whose Colonel has ordered his men to have “nothing to do” with us;  we are “an armed mob” — etc.  We call him bowels, because of his size.  He has inspections, makes them keep step on the march, and is a martinet generally.  The only duty they ever saw was at Washington as Provost Guard, and the Penna Reserves “cleaned them out” there one night.

Sam was mis-informed.  The 107th PA did not leave for home, but the 39th Mass. Vols. Colonel Phineas Stearns Davis commanding, did join the brigade.

Letter of Charles S. Pratt, Company G

Five letters of Charles S. Pratt showed up for sale at an auction house, with scans of the letters provided.  From these I was able to transcribe these few letters of Charles to his sister and share them on this site.  Charles Pratt of Company G,  was detailed with the Ambulance Corps at this time, and his letter reflects this, in that he was camped at Bealeton Station,  few miles distant from the regiment.  His letter indicates that he was from Reading, Massachusetts.  He mentions two boys he knew from that town, who were killed at Gettysburg, and comments on the 2nd anniversary of the 13th Mass. leaving Boston for the seat of war when he was just 18.

Camp near Bealton Station Va. July 29th/63

Dear Sister

I rec’d two letters from you yesterday one dated the 17th the other the 21st and was much pleased to hear from you.  as we still remain here to day I thought that I would answer them while I have a chance.  I had no chance to write to you for a long time after the Battle.  I saw Deadman* writing one day and told him to put in that I was all right.  I hear Father has got home.  I supposed he was for I knew he started.  I heard that Jules Allen was killed also Peterson another Reading fellow in that Company.**  I have Seen those fellows once or twice since we started on this Campaign.  one day I came across them on the march and saw Asa John Patten.  I did not know he was there before.  I had visited the Company once before.  he did not know me.  one meets persons in the Army he little thinks of seeing.  I saw Bill Carters wifes Brother there in the Hospital and heard the conversation between him and Wallace.  he was a red hot one I tell you.

the weather here is about the same  it rains about every day.  we are makeing quite a little stop here for us.  our Brigade is four miles from here at Rappahannock Station.  the 2d Brigade is guarding the railroad between here and Warrenton Junction where the 1st and part of the 3d divisions are stopping.  the Corps appears to be sepperated now.  I expect that we are waiting for the completion of the bridge over the River at the Station. then we shall probably on to Richmond again.

I do not know where the rest of our Army is the 1st Corps appears to be by itself at this point.

I heard that Charly Pinkham did not come out with his Regt the second time. but they probably wont do anything with him more than send him to his Regt.

by the way ’twas just two years ago to day that I remember well.  we left old Boston town and the last that I saw of Father was in front of Fanuiel hall when he asked me how I stood it with my knapsack on.  I told him first rate at the same time it was half killing me, but of course I wouldn’t own any such thing then.  but no more to day.  my love to all

your affect’ brother,
Charles S. Pratt

*Deadman is most certainly Charles Pratt's Company G comrade, Henry Deadman, of South Reading.  What a name for a soldier!  Henry, a recruit of '62, survived the war and mustered out December 23, 1863.

**On the Soldiers' Monument in Reading, Massachusetts, the names Leonard Peterson and Corp. Jules R. Allen appear together, among the list of soldiers from the town killed in the war.

The following is from "Three Years in the Army, The story of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteers from July 16, 1861 to August 1, 1864."  by Charles E. Davis, Jr.,  Boston: Estes & Lauriat, 1894.

Davis picks up the narrative with the regiment at Rappahannock Station. (They arrived July 27, the day before).  He briefly describes General Buford's cavalry fights with the enemy.  More details are given in correspondent Clarence's letter further down this page.

Tuesday, July 28.  Our position was behind a hill.  The only part of our division with us was our brigade and a small cavalry force, the remainder of the division being scattered along the railroad to Warrenton Junction.

A small force of the enemy's cavalry were in sight across the river, and, as we believed, too few in number to dispute our advance.  We were completely washed out by a thunder-storm to-day.

Wednesday, July 29.  The second anniversary of our departure from home.  The railroad having been repaired to Rapphannock Station pontoons were brought along from Alexandria.

A detail of two hundred men was made from the brigade to construct a bridge across the river, which was completed about midnight.

Charles Reed sketch, Sgt. kicking sleeping soldier for duty

While some of us were watching the building of the bridge, one of the boys related an incident that happened to him the night we reached this place on our retreat, under Pope, from the Rapidan during the Manassas campaign.  It will be remembered that on that occasion we had been on the road more than nineteen hours, so that by the time we reached the Rappahannock River the men were so completely fagged out that they threw themselves on the ground without waiting for orders, and were soon fast asleep.  In a few moments orderly-sergeants could be heard vigorously calling the names of men for picket duty; but all in vain, as no response was heard.  Candles were then lighted, and the detail selected from those unfortunate beings who happened to have dumped themselves near the sergeants.  The guard being formed, it was marched back across the river and posted.  As it was reasonably certain that the enemy’s pickets would advance to as near the river as possible, great caution had to be exercised to prevent a surprise.  Our informant says that after two or three hours of watching, his eyes closed in spite of his responsibility and the fact that he might be shot if found asleep.  Suddenly he was startled by the noise, as he imagined, of some one approaching; terrified lest he had been caught napping, he thought he saw a man crouching on the ground a short distance in front of him.  It was too dark to distinguish objects, so he dropped on his hands and knees and slowly approached the figure, thinking of the glory that awaited him if he should capture a rebel picket.  When within a short distance of the object, he rushed forward and grabbed with all his might, and to his great amazement — a barrel of beans!   At daylight he rolled it into camp and divided the contents among his comrades. On being relieved from duty he proceeded to make a bean stew by means of his dipper, that being the only utensil he had.  After spending the entire day in patiently replenishing the fire and dipping out beans from his constantly overflowing cup, he found to his sorrow that they were about as hard as pills, so he emptied them into the river, where they have been soaking ever since.  Patience and profanity accomplished wonders in our army, as no doubt they did in the armies of Caesar and Hannibal; but they failed completely when applied to cooking beans in a tin dipper holding only a pint.

Saturday, August 1.  We were called up at 3 A.M, and taken to the top of the hill, where we could aid in protecting the men at work on the bridge.

the Biblical Noah

When the bridge was completed Buford’s division of cavalry and a battery crossed and drove the enemy within two miles of Culpeper, which town is about eleven miles south from where we were stationed, and where he encountered Longstreet’s corps, who attacked and repulsed our forces.  At noon we crossed the river, advancing in line of battle along the south bank, until we reached the hill where stood the “white house,” so called; and at sunset began the building of rifle-pits, which we completed about midnight, and then turned in and slept “the sleep of the just.”

Sunday, August 2.  The weather was very warm.  Last evening numbers of Buford’s cavalry came straggling in with exaggerated stories of their losses, reminding us of what David, the psalmist, said, that “all men are liars.”

Strong evidences prevailed that we were to have a fight, as we were ordered to remain constantly in our places, while workmen were busy all day repairing the railroad bridge.  So far the First Corps was the only one across the Rappahannock.

We continued the work of fortifying, building entrenchments, and felling trees for abatis.

We could plainly hear the fighting of the cavalry at Brandy Station.

Monday, August 3.  The heat continued intolerable.  The railroad bridge being completed, trains were allowed to pass with supplies.  Notwithstanding our expectations of a fight, the enemy was rather shy, so we busied ourselves fighting mosquitoes instead and abusing Noah for taking them into the Ark.

Don't Fool with Lieutenant-Colonel Batchelder

Lt-Col. N. Walter Batchelder was in command of the “13th Mass” while Colonel Leonard recovered from his Gettysburg injuries.  Sam Webster already related above, how the Lt.-Col. took him to task for disobeying orders.  Austin Stearns relates another example of Batchelder in action.

The following story is from Sergeant Austin C. Stearns memoirs, “Three Years with Company K,” edited by Arthur A. Kent,  Associated University Press, 1976.

We marched down through old and familiar places until one morning early we found ourselves down on that ridge at Rappahanock Station, the rebs holding the two little hills across the river.

Lt-Col. N. Walter Batchelder

General Buford with a brigade of Cavalry was waiting for the first streak of dawn to ford the river and charge their camp while we with our rifles were to aid.  The rebs, being on the alert and mistrusting what might be up, left on the double quick at the first sign of movement on our part.  Buford crossed, and charging across the wide plane, took a few prisoners.  We remained on the hill side for several days and, as it rained, the surgeon ordered a ration of whiskey to a man. We sent for it and when the man came back he passed near the Colonel’s tent (Colonel Batchelder).  He called to the man and asked how much he had. He showed it to him.  The Colonel thought a moment and told the man he had not enough, and stepping inside, wrote that the surgeon had ordered a full ration and he should accept nothing less.  The man went and showed the commissary the Colonel’s note and soon returned with a double amount.  When he came to our quarters and told his story, we sent him to the Colonel with a canteen full as his share.

I mention this to illustrate the way in which some commissaries filled their orders.  How easy it was to send half rations when full were ordered, and charge for full, not only in whiskey — for that was not issued, only on special occasions such as a long and weary march, exposure to the wind and rain — but in everything that was needed, short weight in coffee, sugar, pork, beef and hardtack and full weight charged to the men, the government paying and the commissary putting the money in his pocket while the poor soldier went hungry.

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Letter from Clarence; Buford's Cavalry Clears the Way

Cavalry scouts rode ahead of the Army of the Potomac in late July to report on the strength of enemy pickets along the Rappahannock River before the army advanced.  It was reported that a strong picket was posted at Rappahannock Station, and a very weak picket of perhaps five  cavalry men (who were seen)  at Kelly’s Ford, a short distance down river to the east.  With this information, General Meade ordered the 12th Corps to Kelly’s Ford on July 30, with the intent of building a bridge across the river there on the night of July 31.  The plan was to have Buford’s Cavalry Division cross at Kelly’s Ford, August 1, and sweep up the river beyond Rappahannock Station to clear away all the Rebel Cavalry pickets along that stretch of the river.  It was a good plan, but General Buford was somehow unaware of it.

Edwin Forbes sketch of pontoons brought to river, Aug., 1863

Artist Edwin Forbes dates this sketch of the 146th NY bringing pontoons to another point on the river, August 8, 1863.

Meanwhile, pontoon boats arrived at Rappahannock Station for the purpose of building a bridge there, to cross additional troops, once it was safe to do so.  The enemy was entrenched on the two small hills just across the river, and did not let all this activity go unnoticed.

General John Buford

The morning of July 31, at 6 a.m., General Buford reported to his boss, from Rappahannock Station,  “I have put 80 men across, and run off the rebs.  A bridge can be laid in perfect safety.  I cannot cross without it.”1

The next morning, August 1, at 7 a.m. commanding officer, General Alfred Pleasonton, replied to Buford, “Your orders intended you to cross at Kelly’s Ford; the bridge is all ready for you at that point.”

General Buford responded at 8:15, “Your dispatch is just received.  The command is halted.  I will cross at Rappahannock Station as soon as the bridge is laid.”

So much for army communication.

The Bridge was quickly completed.  Buford’s Division crossed and chased the Confederate Cavalry from Brandy Station all the way to Culpeper.

General Robinson's Infantry division crossed the river in support of the cavalry, with the 1st Brigade [13th Mass] moving to a hill on the left of the railroad.

Thirteenth Mass. correspondent CLARENCE, gives some interesting details about all of this in a report home.

1.  Reports are from Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Vol. 28, part 3, pages 787, and 820.


Map of Rappahannock Station with Positions of 13th MA indicated

When the Rebels vamoosed from the two small hills across the river, Henry Baxter's 2nd Brigade crossed and took possession of them.  The 1st Brigade, under Colonel Peter Lyle, marched to the left of the railroad and deployed on the ridge extending south from the river.  More information on their position is given in the section, "Colonel Wainwright's Reconnaissance."

July 31, 1863 — 11.30 a.m.

Major-General Newton,
                  Commanding First Corps:

The major-general commanding directs that you hold and picket the river from the forks near Beverly Ford to Wheatley’s Ford, one division being posted at or near Beverly Ford, and one division at or near Rappahannock Station.  The division at Bealeton Station will remain there, taking charge of the railroad from Warrenton Junction to the river.

The Third Corps holds and pickets the river above you, and the Twelfth Corps the river below you.

A.A. HUMPHREYS,         
Major-General Chief of Staff.

Letter from Clarence

Thirteenth Massachusetts correspondent “CLARENCE,” makes the cavalry clash exciting for the readers back home.  His casualty report is way out of line.  Perhaps he got them from the cavalrymen  themselves, who as Charles Davis wrote, “exaggerated stories of their losses, reminding us of what David, the psalmist, said, that “all men are liars.” ”

AUGUST 8, 1863.

[Correspondence of the Transcript]


Rappahannock Station,       
1st Brig., 2d Div., 1st Corps,
Aug. 4, 1863.

On the morning of the 1st inst. the several regiments of the First Brigade marched from their camps and deployed along the hills on the north bank of the river, behind the remains of rebel earthworks.  A company of sharpshooters, armed with telescope rifles, was stationed at the ford and railroad bridge to keep in check the rebel skirmishers, who might seriously interfere with the successful laying of the pontoon bridge by our Engineer Corps.  After a few shots, the rebels were driven from their position with a loss of three killed.  A company of infantry then crossed in the boats of the pontoon train, and landing were again deployed as skirmishers, scouring  the country in front of the railroad bridge and ford, and occupying the works erected in August, 1862, by the Massachusetts 13th regiment, and the others then comprising Hartsuff’s Brigade.  The bridge was now quickly completed, it being at a narrow part of the river, and requiring but the boats to lay the planks upon.  At 10 A.M., Buford’s cavalry, consisting of three brigades, passed over, and advanced toward Culpepper Court House.

Pleasonton's Cavalry in skirmish order

Before proceeding a great distance, the enemy’s cavalry were met, and a severe fight took place, both parties using artillery.  Although the guns were of light calibre, and the severest fighting occurred four or five miles inland, yet the atmosphere was so clear, and the land so level, that to a person a mile north of the river, it seemed as if the engagement was almost on the banks.  The rebel cavalry were steadily driven for several miles, when our troops suddenly came upon Gen. Longstreet’s corps, drawn up in line of battle; as it would be but a useless massacre of our “brave dragoons” to asault this new addition to their foes, they fell back, leaving our seriously wounded upon the ground, and in the hands of the enemy;  but to offset this, our cavalry succeeded in bringing away about a hundred prisoners, who have been sent to Washington.  Buford fell back to Brandy Station, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, where he remained till this forenoon, when he again fell back to the river.  His loss in killed and wounded amounted to four hundred.  During the cavalry fight, the first brigade crossed the river, and moved to the left, taking a position in a thick wood, and behind intrenchments, circular in form, nearly surrounding them.

This position the brigade still maintains, with the other brigade of the Second Division, in position near it, on the right.  The First Corps is the only one at this place, the remainder of the army being above and below, on both sides of the Rappahannock.  One hundred and thirty conscripts passed us today, going to the front, to reinforce a Pennsylvania regiment.  Some trouble occurred in the cars, coming out, occasioned by a substitute ( a prize fighter from New York city ) attacking the Major of the regiment to which the conscripts were assigned, and who had them in charge; but another Major, before any harm had been done, drew his revolver and shot the ruffian through the head, killing him instantly.  This squad included two rebels, who had taken the oath of allegiance.

Tuesday, August 4th, 1863.

The First Corps still remains on the South side, strongly fortified, and can easily hold the position against five times their numbers.  Along the river on both sides, the country is quite hilly, sloping off into extensive plains.  The hills on the north bank, at this point, command not only the hills on the south, but the plains toward Culpepper.  On the left of the railroad bridge the woods extend to the river’s brink, covering the hill at that point, except a small space at the top, which is occupied by a house.  This hill is the position of the first brigade, and the entrenchment's entirely surround the house.

As the woods are very dense, and there are no elevations in front, upon which artillery could be posted, the position is almost impregnable, and could not be captured except at a terrible loss to the assailants;  the density of the woods would make it  impossible for the enemy to retain its organization and it would soon become demoralized.  The position of the Second brigade is equal, if not superior to that of the First, as it occupies a hill to the right of the bridge, strongly fortified, and under the guns of the batteries in position on the north bank.  For a mile, directly in front, it is a level plain, without bush or inequality. At this distance it is broken by a ditch, which would afford shelter to sharp-shooters, but at such a distance, requiring a very expert marksman to pick off a Union soldier. To the right of the Second division the Third is in position.  The cavalry has all fallen back to the river, and it was reported last evening, that the rebels were advancing in three strong columns.  Virginia is not so much of a desert as people at the North generally imagine. The only real desolate places are the Plains of Manassas, and the country along the turnpikes over which the armies has so frequently passed.


Edwin Forbes sketch of a cavalry engagement

Edwin Forbes sketch of an un-named cavalry engagement.

General Buford's Communication

Headquarters First Cavalry Division,      
August 2, 1863.

Col. A. J. Alexander,  Chief of Staff, Cavalry Corps:

I have been compelled to move closer to the river than I wished, on account of water. The whole division is now within a mile of the bridge, on both sides of the railroad.  The rebel pickets are within 1 1/2 miles of the division.  Yesterday was a very severe day upon men and horses.  I myself am worthless.

JNO. BUFORD              
Brigadier-General of Volunteers.

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Colonel Wainwright's Reconnaissance; The Lay of the Land

Rappahannock Station,  August 2, 1863.

General Humphreys:

I telegraphed at 9.20  a.m. the condition of my front.  I have Robinson’s division and Cutler’s, minus 400 on picket, and one regiment at Beverly Ford; also two Maryland regiments of Kenly’s.  All these over the river.  Kenly has not yet come up with the remainder of his troops.  Buford is in sight, on my front.  The enemy has cavalry only to-day.  All quiet.

JOHN NEWTON,         

Charles Wainwright Journal

Colonel Charles Wainwright

Colonel Charles Wainwright's journal entries help with trying to identify the location where General Robinson's two brigades deployed for a few days on the south side of the river in August.  Wainwright was the Chief of First Corps Artillery, and on August 2nd he accompanied Corps Commander, Major-General John Newton, on a reconnaissance of the area, so as to know where best to place his batteries to defend it.

Wainwright's war journals were published in 1962 with the title “A Diary of Battle” edited by Alan Nevins.  The cuts from that publication, included here, are a result of my own examination of the original volumes, which reside at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA.  Colonel Wainwright, pictured.

Rappahannock Station, Saturday, August 1st, 1863.
       We moved up to this point to day, a distance of about 12 miles from the [Warrenton] Junction.  Bealton Station where the 2d Division, & Stewart’s Battery joined the column was the farthest point up the Railroad that I had ever been before.  The country continues about the same, mostly flat, or very slightly rolling, about one half wooded, & all very desolate.  They tell me that there used to be a dozen houses near the Railroad here, none of which are now left, or indeed anything to indicate where the station was exactly.  The road makes a thorough cut through a rocky knoll just before it crosses the river on which knoll to the right of the Railroad are the remains of some old earth works thrown up in the Pope campaign.  Here I placed Stewart & Cooper.  Bruce took position on another knoll a couple of hundred yards to the left of the Railroad;  while the two Maine Batteries were held in reserve. The infantry were massed on either side of the Railroad; while Buford’s cavalry division was drawn up on the plain to the left of the Railroad just in rear of where the engineers were throwing a pontoon bridge.

Left half of Edwin Forbes sketch of Rapp Station in August 1862.

Rappahannock Station sketched by Edwin Forbes in August, 1862 during General Pope's campaign.  A railroad engine is seen in the left third of the picture.  The buildings around the track were gone when the First Corps returned a year later.  The ridge on the far right is where Wainwright posted Stewart and Cooper's batteries. The hill in the left middleground, is the likely spot where he posted Bruce.

The river here is about 8 feet deep at this time; & some 50 feet wide with high steep banks.  On the opposite side is a large plain extending 3/4 of a mile from the river, & for several miles along its bank.  To the right of the Railroad & close to it are two small mounds, say 25 feet high, the one next the river has not more than an acre of space on its top, the other is two or three times as large.** Nearly a mile down the river a knoll or ridge of some magnitude stretches out into the plain in an irregular form for half a mile or more; on it are two houses & a good deal of wood.  The plain between these two knolls is quite clear for a mile back from the river.

The right half of Edwin Forbes 1862 sketch of Rappahannock Station

Pictured in the right half of Edwin Forbes 1862 panoramic sketch of Rappahannock Station, are the two small hills across the river, and the large plain in front of it.  Slaughter's [Cedar] Mountain is on the far left, in the background, and Thoroughfare Mountain is to its right. The Blue Ridge Mountains are in the center right background.  The tip of the irregular ridge, located a mile down river, descends into the plain on the far left of this picture, just below Cedar Mountain.  The full ridge can be seen running across the page, in the left half of the drawing, above.

So soon as the pontoon bridge was down Buford crossed his cavalry, & pushed out over the plain.  The enemy withdrew their pickets from the river bank so soon as we came in sight, & watched us from the rising ground about a mile off.  Buford pushed on as far as Brandy Station, some three miles, where the big cavalry fight was two months ago; the rebel cavalry falling back from ridge to ridge as he pushed forward.  There was no fighting beyond a little skirmish now & then & a considerable expenditure of Artillery ammunition on both sides.  It was a very pretty sight however, as we had a good view of all the maneuvering for some distance from where Stewarts Battery was.  Buford had a small number killed & wounded, & brought in about 20 prisoners.  He fell back nearly to the river at dark.

I have just learned that Buford reports having gone farther than I supposed he had; he claims to have got within one mile of Culpepper, & to have had quite a little fight with A.P. Hill’s Corps which he found stationed there.

Our Corps H’d Quarters tents are pitched in the courtyard of a large house, some distance from where the troops are, over a mile.  I do not like it; but as it is more necessary for me to be near the general than near the Batteries I have mine in the same place.  It has been a hot, but not an unpleasant day.  The infantry have not been engaged at all.

[**TRANSCRIBERS NOTE:  there were quite a few typing errors in this sentence and elsewhere in the paragraph.  I have corrected them as I thought proper, but I cannot guarantee this passage is totally accurate.  Specifically the words ‘more than an’ have been guessed; also ‘irregular form’ was initially typed ‘irregular farm.’  I changed these to what I thought made sense. — BF/ June 23, 2016.]

hot sun

August 2, SUNDAY.
       An intensely hot day, and a great deal to do.  Why is it that in every hot spell Sunday is always the hottest day in it, if there is any Sunday included?   I was out nearly the whole day with General Newton examining the lay of the land across the river, selecting sites for batteries, and explaining to the other officers to be posted over there what they are to do.  The sun came down pelting all the time, and not a breath of air; but there was no occasion to ride fast, and being dressed as light as an officer can be on duty, I did not suffer much.  My blouse I find most comfortable; it is not regulation, but is much more decidedly dress than those ordinarily worn which are just like the ones issued to privates. Mine is a real German blouse of blue flannel; the many plaits keep it loose even when  buttoned up close into the neck, so that it always looks neat and trim, and with only a thin knit silk shirt under it, it is very cool.

Robinson’s division was put across the river to day, also a part of the 3rd Corps.  Baxter’s Brigade was placed on the two knolls or mounds above the Railroad.  The outer & principle of these mounds is beautifully placed out in the open plain, into which it slopes like a regular built glacis.* There is no cover within rifle range of it, & no high ground to the front nearer than a mile off;  while the mounds themselves would afford admirable protection in falling back to the bridge, should it be necessary, while their tops could be completely swept by the two Batteries on this side of the river.

*A glacis is a gently sloping bank, in particular one that slopes down from a fort, exposing attackers to the defenders' missiles.

Pictured below is the larger of the two hills south of the Rappahannock River, where part of Henry Baxter's Brigade was deployed. [labeled #3 in the Forbes drawing above].  A farm sits atop the crest today.  Wainwright commented that this hill slopes like a regular built glacis.”

The Western most hill south of the river.

 The river flows behind the trees in the left background of the picture.  The slope on the right side of the hill is a modern cut.  Modern Highway 29 runs parallel to the road pictured just to the other side of the trees lining the access road.  This highway sometimes follows the footprint of older roads, but often diverges from them, especially where it crosses the Rappahannock river at Remington. This view looks to the Northeast, [about 1 o'clock] from true North.  The second small hill would be in the distance to the right of this view.  That hill is fenced off, heavily forested, and privately owned.  It is closely situated between the road into town and the railroad tracks, which makes it very difficult to photograph from any distance.

View of the ridge

A second bridge has been thrown over just behind the lower ridge in our front. This ridge is very much large, very irregular, & nearly all its western slope is covered with wood.  Its outer slope is very gradual in fact it looses itself in the plain; & all this end is covered by an open wood which spreads over the plain & joins into one a mile out from the river where our cavalry are stationed.  One Brigade of the 2d Div. is placed out around a farm house a third of a mile or more from the river on the crest* of this ridge, along with 4 guns of “L” 1st N.Y.  The other section (Breck has got his 6th gun at last) is posted about half way between this point & the river.  And a third Brigade hold the knoll near the river, where is another small house.  Their main front is to the east or down the river, but I explained fully to Breck exactly what he was to do in the event of an attack from either or any side; & as his caissons & traps are all left on this side the river & the ground where he is will be admirable for maneuvering, so soon as a few roads are cut, I expect him to do wonders in case of an attack; which however is not likely to come as our position is a strong one.

This view to the north looking up the ridge was taken from the spot marked 'photo' on the map below.

The plain looking southeast toward Kelly's Ford

This view looks south-east as Wainwright describes, down-river (the distant tree-line) towards Kelly's Ford.  It is taken from in front of the ridge.  The location, about /3 mile from the river,  is marked 'photo' on the map below.  I believe the 13th Mass were deployed on the ridge which rises up directly behind the viewer.  See photo above.

Wainwright, cont'd:

The 5th Maine is in position on this side [north] just above the lower bridge so as to sweep the eastern approach to it & that side of the ridge.  The 2d Maine is over half a mile still farther down the river covering a ford, called “Norman’s ford,” which however is not a ford at this time; & also commanding the plain below the large ridge. They have a beautiful location in the yard of a Dr Burroughs house away from the main body of the troops, & on a most excellent sod.  I tell them that their camp will be expected to be a model for neatness, with all these advantages, & that I shall look for a vast improvement in the Battery if we remain here any time.

Close up Map of Rapp Station, 1863

This map shows Dr. Burrough's house on the east side of the river opposite Norman's Ford, as well as several defensive works put up by the opposing armies.  The road leading to Providence Church [Newby's Shop Road today] skirts the south side of the ridge Wainwright describes where two brigades were posted.  The houses however, (shown on other maps) are not present on this one.  It was along this ridge I believe the 13th Mass. and the rest of their brigade were deployed.

I am pretty well tired tonight with the day’s labor, but feel vastly satisfied now I know our position so well, and have got everything arranged, and their special duties explained to each commander of my little brigade.  One can hardly imagine the immense advantage it is to be well acquainted with your ground before a fight.  For myself, I have entire confidence tonight in our ability to hold all Lee’s army at bay here until the rest of ours could get up.

The first batch of conscripts for this corps reached here today, 108 men for the Ninetieth Pennsylvania.  I have not seen them, but judge that they did not come willingly, as one jumped from the cars on the way down to get off, and several others have tried to desert: the jumper shot dead by the guard.

*NOTE:   The word crest  here, is a guess.  My original transcription had a typo. - B.F.

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Letter from Clarence; The Scene at the Adjutant General's Office

Thirteenth Massachusetts correspondent “CLARENCE,” gives an amazingly vivid description of the interior of the house where he clerks, and the surrounding scenes outside the building.  — By the way, St. Julien was a contemporary brand of red wine.  The bottle pictured is indeed an authentic St Julien, accessed on the internet.  The question marks, and italics contained in this text transcription are true to the original news clip.


First Brig., 2D Div., 1st Army Corps,       
Rappahannock Station, Va.,
Aug. 7.

From the Thirteenth Regiment.  The regiment still maintains its former position, no change having occurred since my last.  The army will probably remain where it is for the present, awaiting the arrival of conscripts, of which we hear that quite a number are soon to be on the way to join us.  In one of the forts, which is the position of the First Brigade, there is a house, the front room on the lower floor of which is occupied as the Adjutant General’s office.  This room is about 15 by 20, and has one door and two windows.  These latter have accommodations for eighteen panes of glass each, but contain, at the present time, about six of glass, two of paper, and as for the remainder, the least said the better.  There is no carpet on the floor, and the furniture comprises in addition to an army lounge, desk and table, two imitation mahogany canasta chairs, one mahogany table, with a centre support branching into four legs, and also a small pine table, used for a desk.  The wooden mantle-piece, painted black, and in imitation of some unknown variety of limestone mineral (likely to remain unknown), is decorated at the ends by two magnificent (?) plaster of Paris vases, a foot and a half in height, one inch in diameter at the neck and a foot at the centre.

Victorian Era porcelain of lady and lamb

Commencing at the right, as you face the mantle, and calling the vase there, as number one, the ornaments are as follows:  number two, a blacking brush, very aged  and infirm;   number three, a plaster of Paris image, representing a young feminine reclining upon a grassy slope, and clasping a misshapen lamb.  The young lady’s  hair and eyes are very black and shining, while her lips are of a ruby hue.  The eyes being represented by dots;  she has a decidedly frightened look, and she tenaciously clasps the lamb, as if fearing for its safety, among so many soldiers, who have lived on fresh beef for three or four months.  The clothing of the female is of the same color as the face white, with the exception of two streaks of yellow, and one of red, put on in the way of ornament (?).  The “ground work” on this beautiful  statue, represents grass of splendid green, such as grass never knew, and in one or two places the vegetation has grown upon the sides of the “lamb,” in  a very  improbable manner.  Number four, is a picture of three young misses dressed in a theatrical costume, and it was evidently, once the companion of a fruit box.  Number five is a plaster of Paris cradle, shaped as no cradle ever was, and painted a bright yellow color.  Number six, is another plaster statue representing a ewe and lamb, the whole being expressive of much motherly love, care and tenderness.

The ears of both “mother and child” are painted a bright vermillion, and tipped with yellow;  the same colors are used in the delineation of the mouths of the said animals.  The eyes are indicated by a dot, and, strange to say, the mother has double eyebrows, represented by two black lines above the dots.  Number seven, is the second vase, before described, and completes the list of ornaments.  antique bottle of St. JulianThe walls of this room are decorated by a plan or map of the Holy Land, betokening great age, by its dingy hue, and is probably an heir-loom of the Virginia family.  The room is otherwise ornamented by a blue, two hooped pail (containing water) near the door, and a tin mug, having no handle, standing by it. A short distance from it is a bottle, bearing  yellow paper label, marked “St. Jullien;” to the left of this is still another bottle, unlabelled, with a long white paper stopple.  A specimen of the feline race steals into the room, once every few moments, and tries its best to obtain drink from the pail, but is unsuccessful, as the human(e) occupants of the room unite in giving expression to a vigorous “scat!” or “st,” which frightens “pussy” in no inconsiderable degree, as she disappears with rapidity unparalleled in ancient or modern feline history. 

The lawn in front of the house is at all times occupied by “warlike forms” in various positions of rest; and the scene is frequently enlivened by the playful gambols of a large and small specimen of the canine tribe, and also by the presence of half a dozen shouting and jumping tow-headed and woolly-headed youngsters, all of nearly the same age, and belonging to the farm.  As to color, they are about equally divided, half being black and the others white; the latter wearing checked gingham sunbonnets, white aprons and pink dresses, while the ebony portion the infantile throng have no head covering save their matted curls, their dresses being of the same material as their companions’ bonnets.  This completes the picture, and I will draw the curtain, as necessary duties require my presence elsewhere.


What House is This?

Period Map showing Rapp Station to Wheatley's Ford

The letter from “CLARENCE,” with its oddly wonderful detail suggests the house on the south side of the river, was fairly substantial.  Pinpointing it's location is a guessing game, but there are some clues.

The properties identified on period maps, provide the best possibilities.

Henry Baxter's 2nd Brigade occupied the ridge and small hill north of the railroad shown in the top left corner of this map.  This is stated by Wainwright, who knew General Baxter, and it is confirmed by “CLARENCE.”  The 1st Brigade was on the other side of the tracks.  This map shows two houses on the long ridge Wainwright described, where he said the other brigade of the 2nd Division was deployed.

Colonel Wainwright wrote:  “One Brigade of the 2d Div. is placed out around a farm house a third of a mile or more from the river on the crest of this ridge, along with 4 guns of  “L” 1st N.Y.  The other section (Breck has got his 6th gun at last) is posted about half way between this point & the river.  And a third Brigade hold the knoll near the river, where is another small house.  Their main front is to the east or down the river...”

“CLARENCE” wrote:  “On the left of the railroad bridge the woods extend to the river’s brink, covering the hill at that point, except a small space at the top, which is occupied by a house.  This hill is the position of the first brigade, and the entrenchment's entirely surround the house.”

Although General John Newton's First Corps was responsible for covering a large territory from the river at Wheatley's Ford up to nearly Beverly Ford, these two statements cause me to believe the house “CLARENCE” writes from is identified as the “Jameson.” house on this map.  I'd have felt better about this guess if any of the correspondents had mentioned the nearby church, or, if I knew what kind of structure, large, modest, or small, the Jameson house was.

To-day Rappahannock Station is called Remington.  The railroad bridge still crosses the river in the same location but much is changed.  The Civil War era structures are gone.   Thick woods line the crest of the ridge, on the north side of the river and access is limited,  making views across nearly impossible.  This is true of the plains on the south side too, where small trees and heavy brush interrupt the landscape.  So broad was the view back in 1863 that Clarence wrote  “the severest fighting occurred four or five miles inland, yet the atmosphere was so clear, and the land so level, that to a person a mile north of the river, it seemed as if the engagement was almost on the banks.”

This view of the plain in front of the ridge is one of the few vistas in the area.  It gives some idea of what the soldiers saw.  Perhaps it would be even grander from the elevated position of the ridge behind, which might make some of the background mountains visible.  But, the landscape around Rappahannock Station as it existed in the 1860's, so often fought over, and occupied by both sides during the entirety of the war, must mostly be left to the imagination.

View south from the bottom of the ridge 

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A Season of Rest

The period of quiet that followed the Gettysburg Campaign brought a well needed rest to the infantry of both armies.  It was a time for reflection too.


From "Three Years in the Army, The story of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteers from July 16, 1861 to August 1, 1864."  by Charles E. Davis, Jr.,  Boston: Estes & Lauriat, 1894.

Charles Davis' narrative continues:

Wednesday August 5.  Part of the regiment was on picket yesterday, and remained there to-day.  Buford’s cavalry, stationed near the picket line, were fighting the enemy most of the day, and at times it looked as though there might be a general engagement;  but the “Johnnies” retired at last.

Thursday, August 6.  Notwithstanding this day had been set apart by order of the President as a “National Thanksgiving day,”  the boys were dispirited and unhappy.  We seemed to be accomplishing nothing, while the newspapers were full of the difficulties that stood in the way of getting more men by means of the draft.  devil illustration from puck magazineWe talked over these matters in camp and on picket until we were thoroughly disgusted.  We were no further advanced toward Richmond than we were a year ago.  The weather was uncomfortably warm, as was also our tempers.  It was while we were in this disconsolate mood that our thoughts were unexpectedly diverted.

There was a regiment recently assigned to our brigade whose colonel saw fit to criticize what he was pleased to call our unsoldierly appearance, whereupon he was promptly told to go somewhere.  This freedom of speech didn’t seem to harmonize with his ideas of subordination, though it was none of his business how we looked.  He was one of a class of men who labor under the astronomical error of thinking the earth cannot move in its orbit nor revolve on its axis without their consent, and who, having a feeling of responsibility for all matters that take place on the land or in the sea, become very wroth when anything happens to mar their beautiful conceit.

Instead of being pleased with our invitation to go somewhere, he became enraged, and called us an “armed mob!”  There must have been a lot of bitterness in the sap of his ancestral tree to have produced a fruit so acrid and uncomfortable as he appeared to be to the rank and file of the Thirteenth.   Since “Old Crummy”* had left us we had found no one with sufficient testiness in his composition to notice our lack of homage to officers in other regiments.  He seemed to think because he held a commission in another organization he could lecture us on our duties.  When an officer has the arrogance to fancy himself clothed with so grave a responsibility as reforming the world, he is likely to have a very unhappy time of it if he attempts his missionary work on the rank and file of another regiment than his own.  Stirring up a hornets’ nest is the supremest enjoyment in comparison to the annoyance experienced when a lot of private soldiers begin a system of retaliation.

H. Sta illustration, Etat-Major

We were told that prior to the war this officer was an inspector of the State militia, where he was in the habit of seeing troops arrayed in fine, well-fitting uniforms and equipments, all in perfect order.  Then, if a soldier was seen with cap awry, a button lacking on his coat, or a belt improperly adjusted, he was a subject for reprimand.  His service at the front had been too brief for him to appreciate the condition to which a soldier could be reduced by long marches, hard fighting, and months of picket duty.  It shocked his finical notions to see a lot of ragged, dirty soldiers, with battered canteens, caps with visors torn or removed, and trousers shrunk nearly to the knees.

An enlisted man, though an insignificant cog in the wheel of that great machine called the army, has it in his power, without overstepping the bounds where punishment begins, to make himself a very disagreeable and irritating thorn when he sets out to be.  As soon as we discovered that this officer had an excitable temper, there was fun galore, and his fondness for lecturing afforded us frequent opportunity for the exercise of biting wit. Among the things we did was to give him a name befitting his rank and physical appearance, such as “Colonel Martinet,”  “Falstaff,” and “Hudibras,” but the name which struck was “Old Bowels.” 

In the scheme of aggravation which we practised, his wrath was often stirred to his very boots, yet it was carried on with such prudence that when he made complaint to our colonel, he found it difficult to explain just what the offense was, except in terms too general for notice, and therefore no attention was or could be paid to his charges.  No officer with a particle of sense ever scolded the men of another regiment, except when they were temporarily assigned to his command, because there could be but one result.  As a general rule, the rank and file of an army never showed disrespect to officers in other regiments if they attended to their own affairs, and we might have respected him if he had minded his own business, as he ought to have done.  Shakespeare must have had a man like him in mind when he penned the following lines:

“But man, proud man,     
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven,
As make the angels weep.”

There is one thing in his favor, we are bound to say, and that is, that we never knew him to lose his temper.  He always had his temper with him;  and, so far as we could judge from appearances, it never registered, even in the shade, less than 100 Fahrenheit, and was gilt-edged.

Edwin Forbes sketch of a sutler's tent in camp

Saturday, August 8.  We recrossed the Rappahannock, camping on a hill in the bend of the river just above the spring.  The fog of melancholy which had been hovering over the camp was dispelled when we heard of the paymaster's arrival.

We still continued bathing in the river, making it mighty uncomfortable for the pediculus vestimenti, who couldn’t swim.

Sunday, August 9.  Traveling in the wake of the paymaster came the sutler, whose arrival to-day was greeted with unfeigned joy.  Though the sutler collected the mortgage he held on the installment of pay we received, yet  there was enough left to sweeten our toil with some of the good things he brought with him, and before night his stock was cleaned out as completely as were the funds of those who undertook to capture that notorious guerrilla chief called “Jack Pot,”  whose presence in the army often caused a good deal of sorrow.

*“Old Crummy” is General John J. Abercrombie, who was the regiment's brigade commander in March and April, 1862.


This informative article, with many printed numbers that were difficult to decipher, (3's looked like 8's, etc.) delineates the worth of a soldier's labor.  Charles E. Davis, Jr. wrote:  “Mr. Lincoln has been quoted as saying that he could get all the brigadier generals he needed for nothing, but toward the end of the war the price for enlisted men rose to $1,200.00.  The price of an article generally determines its value.  It will be seen therefore that our criticism of general officers had some foundation.” Untitled article, Thirteenth Regiment Association Circular # 31, September 1918.


Facts About the Army.    Mr. D. Van Notrand, No. 182 Broadway, has published a little volume entitled “Army Pay Digest and  Ready Calculator,” which furnishes much valuable information  as to the pay, emoluments, duties, privileges and rights of troops in the field.  We gather from it the following facts of interest to the public at large:

money graphic

The pay of a major-general is $2640 a year, and he is entitled to fifteen rations a day, which, commuted at thirty cents each, net the sum of 1430, making his aggregate annual emolument $4070.  A major-general is also entitled to four servants, whose rations (one each) he can also commute, and to five horses, for which he can draw forty cents each day.  When commander-in-chief, or commander of a separate army in the field or of a department, he is entitled to double rations, amounting to $1788 a year.

The pay of a brigadier-general is $1488, with twelve rations, four horses and three servants, the rations of which, commuted, amount to $2220.40.

The pay of assistant adjutant general, quarter-master, commissary of subsistence, and assistant quartermaster general, in a corps organization, (each with rank of lieutenant-colonel,) is $95 a month, with five rations, two horses and two servants.  Aides-de-camp, with rank of major, receive $80, and with rank of captain $70 a month, each with four rations and two horses.  A chief of artillery in corps organizations receives $70, and judge advocate $80 a month, each with four rations and two servants.  In a division organization (brigades) an aide-de-camp receives $24 in addition to pay of lieutenant of infantry.  In brigade organizations the pay is as follows : Aide-de-camp, with rank of lieutenant, $20 a month, in addition to lieutenant’s pay;  assistant adjutant-general, $70;  assistant quartermaster general $70;  commissary of subsistence, $70; each with four rations, two horses and one servant.

Chaplains receive $100 a month, and are entitled to two rations, one horse, but no servants.  A colonel of infantry receives, with rations, $196.40 a month (of 31 days);  a lieutenant-colonel $172.10;  a major $152.80;  a captain, $130, with $10 additional for responsibility of arms and clothing; an adjutant and quartermaster $120; a first lieutenant $110, and second lieutenant $105.  Upon this a colonel pays $4.89 tax; a lieutenant-colonel $3.66; major $2.88; captain $2.40; adjutant and quartermaster $2.10; first lieutenant $1.80; second lieutenant $1.65.

The pay of cavalry officers is slightly in advance of that of infantry officers. A colonel receives for a  month of thirty-one days, $218.10 — tax $4.90; a lieutenant colonel $189.10 — tax $4.77; a major $164.80 — tax $3.44; adjutant and quartermaster $124.18 — tax $2.23; captain $141 — tax $2.78, except where there is no responsibility for arms and clothing, when the pay is but $131; lieutenants $114.88 — tax $1.98; chaplain $118.60 — tax $2.06.  Officers of light artillery are paid the same as cavalry officers of the same rank.  Engineer and signal officers receive similar pay; surgeons are paid as majors of cavalry, and assistant surgeons as lieutenants of cavalry.

diagram of army insignia

Privates in cavalry, artillery and infantry, second-class privates in sappers miners and pontoons, corporals of heavy artillery and infantry and buglars in cavalry, receive each $13 per month.  Privates musicians, artificers and non-commissioned officers in the volunteer service are allowed $8.50 a month for clothing; servants of officers are allowed for the same $2.50.

Click image to view larger.

The pay of sergeants in engineer companies is $34 a month; of sergeant-majors, quartermaster sergeants and commissary sergeants, $21; of artificers in engineer companies, $17; of cavalry and artillery artificers, farriers and blacksmiths, $15; of cavalry and light artillery corporals and wagoners, $14; of engineer and infantry musicians, $12.

The volume from which we gather these facts as to the pay of officers and men gives full information also as to the payment of discharged soldiers, of nurses, prisoners of war, &c.  Female nurses in general hospitals are entitled to forty cents a day and one ration. One steward, ten nurses and two cooks are allowed to each regiment of infantry, and two stewards, twelve nurses and two cooks to each regiment of cavalry.  Female nurses and matrons are not allowed in regimental hospitals.

All officers who receive more than $50 a month pay three per cent. tax on the sum in excess of that amount.  In the regular army one dollar a month is retained from each enlisted man until the expiration of his term of service. This, however is not retained from  non-commissioned officers, musicians and privates.

Letter from Clarence

War weariness reveals itself, as Clarence pens a sarcastic critique of the South and an accurate assessment of recruitment in the North.  Mindful of the cost in killed and wounded so far, he is still ever hopeful for a swift Union victory based on superior manpower.


1st Brigade, 2D Division, 1st Corps,          
Rappahannock Station,
Aug. 10th 1863.

From the Thirteenth Regiment.   On the 8th inst. the First Brigade retraced its steps to the North bank of the river, and have established a camp near the ground occupied previous to the crossing.  It seems that the “rebs” have fallen back from their position, and are all South of the Rapidan, consequently it does not require so large a force to be kept on picket, and at garrisons for the forts upon the hills on the South bank.  By recent orders from Gen. Newton, commanding corps, the number of men to be kept on duty on that side is fourteen hundred, proportionately divided between the three divisions. The remainder of the troops are encamped in the rear of the hills, on the North bank together with a portion of the Fifth Corps.  It seems quite likely that the troops are to have the season of rest so much needed and desired, as they have been on the move ever since the twelfth of June, when we marched from White Oak Chapel.

King Cotton advertising card

It will be very pleasant to the men, as well as beneficial, and will do as much injury as active operations would to the “unholy rebellion;” because the force of the enemy cannot be increased by the ineffectual and nonsensical paper conscription of the traitor Jefferson Davis.  He might just as well have announced, “Whereas, everybody within the dominions of good King Cotton, capable of bearing arms, is now serving in the Confederate army or has met his righteous doom, now, therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, by the permission of his Satanic Majesty, Beelzebub, the representative of Pandemonium, to ‘Terra Firma,’ do, by virtue of the authority in me vested, order everybody, owing allegiance to my most sovereign lord and master, to take up arms in defense of his ally, King Cotton, immediately,  if not sooner.   Any person of the class stated, who does not appear forthwith, will be in danger of my fearful anger.”  Jeff might get somebody, with such a proclamation as that, for Heaven knows that the subjects of the “Great Fallen” are not scarce.

Each day of inaction to the rebel army, gives a day for each member thereof, to brood over the gloomy prospects of the rebellion, and it will convince them of the dreadful error of their ways, while each day of inaction, with the Army of the Potomac, rests the fatigued and weary veterans, inspiring them with new hopes of the future, and adds a thousand men to the army, by the arrival of deserters, convalescents and conscripts.

Jeff Davis Graphic

It is believed that ere many weeks, the returning details will bring in the conscripts at the rate of two thousand a day.  If we can have three weeks of idleness, the army can then move with a gigantic force to certain victory. It is my belief that Richmond, Charleston, and Mobile will have fallen, before the “equinox,” and the advent of the coming year will see only  the deceased experiment of a government based on human bondage.

It is hardly surprising to us, that the professed loyalists of the North should refuse to come to the aid of the armies, when the death blow is falling on the Python of Treason and they are but asked to help in killing the carcase, hideous and horrible, from the sight of the present,  as well as all future generations.

Yes, after all, it is not surprising, for each and all of us have written the most discouraging letters to friends at home, picturing the life of a soldier in its most dreary aspect, and have almost cautioned them from enlisting in the service; and by our own deeds have prevented thousands from partaking in the toils and privations.

The place which has been selected for headquarters is a beautiful knoll about a hundred yards from the river, and near the ruins of a wooden house, which has been partially destroyed to furnish firewood and to form temporary shelters for the soldiers. The weather here is uncomfortably warm, and the breezes which anon cool our burning cheeks, waft to our olfactories the odor from decayed animals and vegetables.  Oh!  This is a splendid country — for graveyards; a superb  climate — for undertakers; lovely farming land — for weeds.

It is the custom to place at the head of the graves of deceased soldiers a board bearing the name and regiment of the departed; as the boxes in which hard bread is packed are easily obtained, and as the wood composing them is very thin these headboards are usually made from them; consequently it is not an uncommon sight to see a grave with a “slab” bearing two inscriptions, viz: “John Smith, Co. G, — New York regiment,” on one side, and on the other “Union Bakery.”


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Letter of Captain E. D. Roath, 107th PA

Captain Emmanuel Roath, 107 PA

The 107th Pennsylvania Volunteers shared a lot of common experiences with the "13th Mass," going back to the Spring of 1862.  Captain Roath of the 107th, penned this letter on September 9th, to a home town newspaper.  It has some interesting details about the 1st Brigade's move to the Rappahannock River, and is worthy of inclusion here.  He also mentions the sword presentation to General Meade on August 28.  The 16th Maine history makes a brief reference of this festive occasion, and Col. Charles Wainwright, Chief of 1st Corps Artillery gives it prominence in his memoirs, but the soldiers of the "13th Mass" have nary a word to say about it.  More about the presentation is on page 2.

Captain Roath lapses into flattering prose for Pennsylvania's Republican Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin.  Curtin was a strong supporter of President Lincoln.  Captain Roath then continues with an appropriate tribute to the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster County, [he was from Lancaster County] and their devoted service to the care of Gettysburg's wounded.  I highly recommend the Blog "Lancaster at War" which has compiled a good deal of information about Captain Roath, including this photo, shared by family descendants.  The link is http://www.lancasteratwar.com/2012/07/capt-emanuel-d-roaths-civil-war.html



Head Quarters 107th Regt. P.V.
Rappahannock Station, Va.     
September, 9, 1863.

Col. F. L. Baker : — Some time has expired since I have addressed you by letter; however, if there was a long intervening space, I hope our friendship is still the same as in former days; but rest assured, Colonel, that if I had the time, from other duties devolved upon me, I would give a brief detail (such as would not be contraband to publish) of our doings in the army semi-monthly, to my friends at home, through the “Mariettian;” but as I have had command of the 107th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, since July 2d, and a regiment after such conflict for four days, as the 107th was engaged in at Gettysburg, involved duties upon me of a military character, and employed my time greatly — which I could not employ writing to my friends.  And even in this attempt, I cannot say whether I will be able to finish, or get through with my communication, as I have plenty of work on hands  to-day, for to-morrow is our grand and general inspection day; and a rigid one it will be for officers and men — any neglect will not be excused.

We are now encamped on the banks of the Rappahannock river, at the Station, a place that has become famous, and extensively made known through the press; certainly not on account of its beauty, and locality; but on account of the different actions having taken place, &c.;  and as a military point.  In the breaking out of this rebellion, the rebels made their stronghold at Manasses, but at the same time for the purpose of keeping open their line of communication, they did not neglect this place, and considered it as one of great importance, in case they had to fall back, they threw up breastworks, which we eventually used against them.   Our Division, the 2d of the 1st Army Corps, appears to have become identified with this place; though many miles away to participate in different conflicts, the movements of the military chess board brings us again and again to this point, viz. :  On the 19th day of August, 1862, by a forced march from the right of Cedar Mountain, (Slaughter’s Mountain) made this point in twelve hours, a distance of twenty-three miles, in excessive heat and dust.  Colonel Petr Lyle, 90th PAOn the 23d day the enemy attacked us ; they gained nothing, but lost severely, (we at this time used the works built by them,) and never considered their loss great, as ours was so very light; but within the last few days while on duty as brigade officer of the picket, on the other side of the river, I became more acquainted with their battle-ground and position, and from the appearance of bursted ordnance, shot and shell, of nearly every description lying around, and from information I gleaned from negroes, their loss was great.  Several skirmishes have taken place since with the enemy by our cavalry; and at last our turn came again ; we were marched here in the latter part of July after night.

On the first day of August last, according to orders, we were in line ready for a march at 3 o’clock, — the men not thinking that a crossing was to be effected that day by our brigade, the only force here at that time of infantry, with some cavalry under Buford ; the enemy’s pickets, cavalry and infantry, were close to the water on the other side.  A prominent position was assigned me for the 107th regiment, (Colonel Lyle, of the 90th Penn. Vols. commanding the brigade,) [Colonel Lyle, pictured]  I was ordered to move with the regiment under cover of woods, towards the extreme right of the line, also having a detachment of sharpshooters given me along, and as soon as I reach a certain point, I was to remain under cover until firing would commence, which was the signal for crossing;  then run out by a left flank and take possession of a rifle pit close by the river and hold it, which I did, throwing my sharpshooters on my right to a safe and important point, so that they could work with more efficiency and deadly aim. —  The enemy soon gave way, our cavalry with their artillery in pursuit, overtaking them at “Brandy Station,” and with a hand to hand conflict, paid them with Uncle Sam’s compliments, such as every traitor deserves — death;  but I presume you all had a full detail of the fight on the 1st of August; suffice it to say the enemy was badly whipped.  Our whole brigade crossed over on a pontoon bridge, located ourselves rightly, and entrenched.

On the 6th the National fast day as set apart by our noble President, was properly observed, with religious exercises in our brigade.  The 145th Psalm was read; afterwards the President’s Proclamation, which was of a truly christian character, and the clause referring to giving “honor and praise to Him whom it belongs” was principally used as a text and dwelt upon by the speakers;  the occasion was grand and imposing — lying in the face of the enemy — yet due respect was paid by our brigade to the day as set apart, and supplications offered to the “Giver of all good,” for our success, prosperity, peace of country, and a happy future. —

On the 7th, the enemy advanced and began to shell our line of pickets, but in this move they received more than they bargained for, being obliged to fall back in disorder to their base near Culpepper, not thinking our brigade was reinforced by nearly the whole 1st corps, and entrenched, and ready to receive them.  On the 9th, our brigade was ordered to re-cross, and we are now encamped on the north side of the river, but extend our picket lines on the south side, making in this move our third time for here, within one year, but the position is important.

How cheering it would be if the friends of the soldiers could pay them visits while here, occasionally.  Our camps are beautiful, and close by the railroad, and somewhat prepared to receive friends — but visits cannot be made.  The Reserves lie close by at present.

Governor Andrew Curtin of Pennsylvania

 I was to see Col. Fisher and others of my friends on last Sunday evening, showed him the Union ticket as settled in Lancaster county, and he was pleased with it:   so am I. — A ticket formed with such material gives credit to the Convention, and the delegates to show their loyalty in support of the Government, the Administration, and the Union, placed at the head of the ticket a man, the very embodiment of patriotism, the Hon. Benj. Champneys ; — where is the man whose heart beats a loyal impulse that could not vote for him ?  His colleague, Dr. J. M. Dunlap and all the rest of the men placed upon the ticket are worthy the support of all loyal men, and I hope they will all be successful ; could we vote, there is not a man from the county in our regiment but what would support the ticket; for here in the army we only know men, as loyal or disloyal; the latter are not recognized as men, but as base deceivers to the country that gave them birth.  Never was there such an intelligent army in the field, as our army for the Union ; all acquaint themselves with affairs of government at home, as well as with military tactics in the field, always well posted ; and it is generally known in the army who stands by the Government (in localities) and assists in suppressing the rebellion. Would all have risen in the North as one man, in support of the Administration, the poor soldiers at this time could be at home, enjoying the sweets of society and comforts with their families and friends. — Let the sympathizer consider that on him rests the responsibility for so much desolation, bloodshed, sorrowful grief, and so many vacant seats in the family circle.  On his forehead already rests the mark of Cain; and  a just retribution awaits him; “Sorrowful are the ways of the transgressor before a just tribunal.”

On the 28th day of August, at the sword presentation to General Meade, I had the pleasure of seeing several distinguished gentlemen from Pennsylvania:   His Excellency Gov. A. G. Curtin, [pictured, above] Adjt. Gen. Russell, Col. Wright, Morton McMichael, J. W. Forney, and others; and permit me here to add, it is remarkable how the soldier’s heart beats for Gov. Curtin ; he is their friend — they know at present no political lines — but if they could get the chance to vote, they would, like the mighty and dreadful avalanche, sweep everything before them, and with an overwhelming majority proclaim A. G. Curtin Governor.

Col., for fear of getting my letter too lengthy I will be brief as possible ; as I have a correct diary, I may at a future time take up our campaigns and doings of the Army of the Potomac in regular order for publication, for the gratification of my personal friends, in this on some points I have merely given a passing notice ; though by general order, I was obliged, as commander of the 107th, to give a full and complete history of its doings, &c., from June 28th to July 18th, 1863, to the proper department, for future reference.  In this I must not pass unnoticed the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster county — for their great efforts in doing good, and rendering efficient service in the great cause of the country.

A.B. Frost illustration; A Wagon Load of Nurse Maids

The 104th N.Y. Volunteers is attached to our brigade; they received their initiative with us at Cedar Mountain ; they have participated with us at Rappahannock, Thoroughfare Gap, Bull Run, Chantilly, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg; as soon as they crossed the Pennsylvania line, up went cheer after cheer for the Old Keystone, with a determination that the rebels must be driven from its soil;  and their conduct on the 1st, 2d, 3d and 4th days of July, in battle, confirmed their determination; the regiment suffered;  their wounded were placed in a hospital about four miles from the town ;  they were in want of the necessaries of life and comfort; fortunately that hospital and the wants of the suffering was suppled by the Patriot Daughters.  When the wounded and sick were informed that these comforts had been furnished by the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster county, tears of gratitude could be seen standing in the eyes of these bronzed veterans. Three cheers were given of God bless the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster county, for their act of kindness and help.  Dr. Ward, their Chaplain, then offered up a prayer, in which he kindly remembered the Daughters;  asking God’s blessing for them, and for Him to crown their efforts in the good work they have undertaken for the comforts of the soldier, and as a reward for their services in the righteous cause of humanity, they might enjoy a blessed immortality hereafter.  I felt that I was from Lancaster county, and such heart-felt expressions from strangers in praise of the ladies of my county, made me feel doubly proud.  The daughters’ work is developing itself; many suffering soldiers are made comfortable and buoyant with the oil and food of kindness sent by those ministering angels among them.  It is the soldier that can duly appreciate their works — and may they never be found wanting.

Our camp is not very unhealthy.  The weather is very warm and dry at present.  The boys from our town are all well and ready for any emergency.  I understand many of my personal friends made visit to the great “Battle-field of Gettysburg”  The army had moved before they arrived, and I missed the pleasure of seeing them.  I have also been informed there were from East Donegal, two or three rebel sympathizers along; those should have been in the rebel ranks, where they belong, on the third day, when the enemy tried to force through our centre. There is nothing so detestable as a rebel sympathizer ; and are only considered by the army as dastardly and cowardly dregs of society, which could not in a thousand years with lever and fulcrum be raised to the level of a villain, for their meanness in asking the protection and care from a Government which they choose to destroy.  I am also sorry to  [lines missing] ...tion of the Government, in order to weaken the Administration and carry out disloyal purposes, of political tricksters, for the present;  should their posterity be the victims of a worse fate by a dishonorable peace hereafter, I hope such will well consider the mark before too late, and become firm friends of the Union, and use for their watchword, “No peace with traitors in arms, but an unconditional surrender of all to the mighty power of Uncle Sam.”

Your friend, &c.,             
E. D. Roath      
Captain Commanding 107th P.V.

The Patriot Daughters of Lancaster County

The Patriot Daughters of Lancaster deserved Captain Roath’s high praise.  The small volunteer organization founded in 1861, tirelessly collected money and  supplies used to  succor Union soldiers throughout the war.  Their work stood equal to that of larger organizations, because of the generous aid received from the local community.Rachel S. Smith  When they raised supplies for the wounded of Gettysburg, “The Daily Evening Express supported their work by printing daily lists of donors and their gifts that filled column after column in July 1863.” 1  That charity  effort was led by Miss Rachel Smith.  Prior to the war, the farm of Miss Smith’s father Joseph, was one of the most important stops for the underground Railroad in Lancaster County. The affluent women of the county gave generously to the cause.

Rachel S. Smith; a real daughter, pictured.

The Daughters sent supplies, and a delegation to Gettysburg directly after the battle to minister to the needs of the wounded.  Getting there wasn’t easy.  The party had to wait hours with crowds of others at the Susquehanna river for a ferry to cross them over.  The bridge was destroyed.   They could not get aboard and had to seek over-night accommodations and try again the next day.  In the morning they anxiously waited 4 hours more before getting across.   They waited again to obtain accommodations when they arrived at Gettysburg.  Outsiders were flooding into the small town; some to help with the wounded, others in search of loved ones, and some came just to see a battle-field, so lodgings were getting difficult to find.

Three rooms for the Daughters were secured in a building directly across the street from Christ Church, so by default that  hospital, one of many in the town, became the focus of their attentions.  One of the delegation, Martha Ehler, 33, the mother of a five year old child, left her home and family behind for the noble mission of nursing strangers.    Her wealthy mother, Martha Leland Caldwell, was a founding member of the Daughters, “and undoubtedly encouraged her daughter’s work among the soldiers.” 3

Martha published a book,“Hospital Scenes After The Battle of Gettysburg,” as a fundraiser for the organization in 1864.  The book contains many poignant stories of individual cases she ministered to personally, most from General John C. Robinson’s 2nd Division.  Several soldiers of the 13th Mass are anonymously referred to in her account.  With some cross referencing I have tentatively identified some of them;  matching her affecting account of the death of two soldiers to the identities of private Frank A. Gould and his friend, Charles E. Sprague, both of Company K.

In her account she wrote:  “Could those at home, who contribute so kindly to our stores, have witnessed the change in appearance of these poor wounded sufferers, and have seen their gratitude, I think it would have repaid them for all the sacrifices made in their behalf.” 4

1. Direct quote from Vince Slaugh, "Donations Collected from Drumore for the Patriot Daughters," July 9, 2013; [www.lancasteratwar.com/2013/07/].
2. Same as note 1.
3. Biographical information on Martha Ehler comes from Eileen Hoover's article, "A Nurse's Story" within the booklet titled, "A Sanctuary For The Wounded," p. 55-56, published by Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, 2009.
4. Martha Ehler, Patriot Daughters of Lancaster, "Hospital Scenes After The Battle Of Gettysburg, July, 1863, p. 14-15, (Philadelphia: Henry B. Ashmead, Book and Job Printer, 1864).

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Letter of Chaplain Ferdinand D. Ward, 104th New York

Chaplain F. D. Ward's prose in the following letter is more eloquent, and more poignant, than that of Captain Roath above.  Well it should be, from this well travelled and learned spiritual advisor of a valiant regiment.  Chaplain Ward recites the soldiers' record to date, regimental losses and poor condition.  He speaks for the brigade. — The flag of the 104th New York Volunteers is pictured.

Correspondence of the Union and Advertiser.

104th N.Y. S. Volunteers.

Rappahannock, Aug. 12, 1863.       

Mr. Editor:  — Editors and correspondents of the Washington Chronicle, New York Herald, &c., inform their readers that the army of the Potomac is to do no marching and fighting for the present.  Glad intelligence if true.  But is it so?  These writers may have means of ascertaining plans and purposes which we in medias res have not.  It is to be hoped they have, and that they are not deluding us with an expectation joyous but deceptive.

The weather is very warm — too warm to allow of marching with safety to life, waiving all considerations of comfort.  The 1st corps has been sadly reduced in numbers by the late battles and needs to be reinforced before taking the field.  We have a pleasant encampment and one of practical importance as keeping watch over the railroad bridge which has been rebuilt since our arrival. We will make our lowest and most grateful obeisance to the “powers that be” if they will allow us to rest for one month.  But if they will not permit us this privilege but one thing remains, and that is to “stake our tents and march away.”  This we did a year since and can again, though not, alas! with the same persons.

Flag of the 104th NY Volunteer Infantry

Last Sabbath was the anniversary of the battle of Cedar Mountain — then followed an approach to the Rapidan and hasty retreat to the Rappahannock (where we now are;) thence to Thoroughfare Gap, and then Bull Run (2,) Chantilly, Antietam, South Mountain, Fredericksburg, winter quarters at Belle Plaine, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and our olden locality.  Let those who talk and write of the 104th N.Y. S. V. follow its footsteps during the past twelvemonth and then charge upon it idleness.  And what are the results?  First, to the army itself, Gens. Pope, McDowell, McClellan, Burnside, Hooker, have had their day, with Meade now in command, from whom much is expected, and through whom much will, we trust, be realized.  Second, to the regiment.  The 950 who passed through Washington sixteen months ago, are reduced to less than 90 !  And where are the absent ones ?  At Gettysburg 25 officers and privates were killed;  86 wounded;  94 prisoners and missing.  Total, 205.  At Bull Run, Antietam and Fredericksburg this “cruel war” found victims from among us.  A letter just in from Capt. Geo. Starr, of your city, now a prisoner at Libby Prison, Richmond, informs us that nine of the 104th are confined there — the prospect of an exchange at present not being favorable.

The regiment is at present in command of Col. Prey, Captain and Acting Adjutant Van Dresser, Lieuts. McConnell, Trembley and Richardson, who, with Quartermaster Colt and Dr. Rugg and the Chaplain, constitute the entire field, staff and line force.  Nor is this an isolate case.  The 16th Maine and 13th Massachusetts, in our brigade, are in no better condition.  If the war is to be prosecuted with any hope of success, there must be large reinforcements, and that speedily.  Major Strang and other officers of our regiment are at Elmira detailed to look after our interests when the conscripts arrive.  A better selection could not have been made.  Lieut. Col. Tuthill is at his home in Corning, wounded, as are Capts. Wylie and Fisher, and Lieut. D. W. Starks at theirs.  My amiable friend, Lieut. Thos. Johnston, of Troy, has “slept the sleep that knows no waking.”  If the 104th is not entitled to the name of a hard working and patriotic regiment, I know not where such an one is to be found.  That there have been instances of cowardice and desertion cannot be denied; but as a body they have ever manifested a spirit of obedience, activity and heroism.

The late “Thanksgiving Day,” under Proclamation of the President, was observed by the brigade in a manner similar to the Fast Day in May.  Remarks were made by Chaplains Bullen of the 16th Maine, Cook of the 94th New York, French of the 39th Massachusetts, and Ward of the 104th New York, with the timely testimony of Gen. Briggs of the 1st division (formerly Gen. Wadsworth’s).  The attendance was large of officers and privates, who gave most respectful attention throughout.  To us in the army there is much in the “signs of the times” for which to be thankful and from which to take hope.  If Charleston falls (as it will eventually), then follows Savannah, while Mobile is already being attacked by Gen. Grant.  What then?  — a grand attack upon Washington of all available Confederate forces:  victory to us and the end of the rebellion!   Oh for a righteous, honorable, permanent peace!  God grant it to us, afflicted nation.

Chaplain F. DeWitt Ward, pictured.

Chaplain F. DeWitt Ward, 104th NY

During and for two weeks after the battle of Gettysburg, I was at the White Church Hospital, where I was again called to witness scenes far more numerous and agonizing than those at Bull Run and Chancellorsville.  About four hundred wounded officers and privates — Union and Confederate — were gathered in a barn and under tents receiving surgical treatment from Drs. Chambers, Richmond, Derby and Wheeler, assisted by attendants and nurses many and faithful. To each of four Chaplains were assigned special duties, one of mine being to attend the dying and bury the dead.  I committed twenty-four to their hastily dug graves (twelve Union and twelve Confederate).  A plain board with name, company and regiment, marks the spot where lies buried, coffinless and shroudless, the form of a loved husband, son or brother.  Better this than the condition of thousands lying in piles upon the rocks where was made what is regarded the most fearful charge ever known in our national history.  I was so near as to hear the yell which attends such attacks and hear the sharp musketry.  At Chancellorsville I counted seventy booming of cannon each minute, but here they were countless.  No word more perfectly describes the scene and results than Satanic.  I visited the entire battle ground, and the trees look as if a sirocco has passed over them, their vitality departing through the perforations made by shot and shell and ball.  And the [illegible]-e graves -— fields covered with them.   H-[illegible]-e!

When speaking of peace as that which this army desires, it should not be understood as “peace on any terms” — very far from it;  but peace consistent with the claims of truth and righteousness and the constitution.  To “conquer” such a “peace” they are ready to fight while to repossess it is their hearts’ longing  desire.  “Oh that I could see a battle,” says the tarrier at home.  “I have seen one and do not wish to see another,” says the warrior.  But it is not on the battlefield alone that the soldier suffers.  It is an uninterrupted series of sacrifices from the hour he leaves home till he returns to its quiet retreat and social intercourse.  We shall welcome the conscripts, but we anticipate for them many a sad hour.  They must come or all is lost, but joyous will be to them the day when their services are no longer needed on the tented and battle field.

Many thanks for the Union.  To no one is it more welcome than to the
                                                                                                     Chaplain of the 104th.

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The following article written by Charles E. Davis, Jr. was published in Thirteenth Regiment Association, CIRCULAR #14, December, 1901.  It gives an excellent overview of the draft, and the rampant corruption it afforded to crafty functionaries of dubious character.   Many of the facts and details Davis recounts are found in the newspaper reports posted on the next page of this website.  Charles' portrait is shared here, courtesy of his many proud descendants.

Charles E. Davis, Jr.

An account of how the draft was conducted during the Civil War and something about the business of supplying men for the army during the years 1863 and 1864 may be of interest and valuable as a contribution of one phase of that period not heretofore described, at least so far as the writer is aware.

The writer was connected with the provost marshal department of the Third Massachusetts district most of the time as chief clerk, and all that is written is absolutely true so far as that district is concerned.

In the fall of 1862 the government became convinced that extraordinary steps must be taken if the army was to be replenished with recruits.  It was a dismal time.  Antietam had not added to the glory of our arms. The South still exhibited strength and generalship.  The losses to our army had been great, and recruiting stations gave no evidence of an uprising of the people as had occurred the year before.  The bounties offered as an inducement to enlist failed to encourage the hopes of the country.  Therefore when Congress met it was decided to resort to drafting as the only means by which the army could be reinforced.  Each State was thereupon divided into enrollment districts corresponding to congressional districts.  In each district a board of enrollment, composed of a provost marshal, commissioner of enrollment, and a surgeon, was appointed.  The provost marshal was the executive officer of the board and was practically in command of the district.  The commissioner had particular charge of the enrollment, while the surgeon made the physical examinations of men drafted or enlisted.  Of course many questions came before them to be decided as a board.

Immediately upon the organization of this board the enrollment of all persons between eighteen and forty-five years began and was completed with dispatch, a duplicate list of the names being sent to the provost marshal general at Washington.

About the first of July, 1863, a draft was ordered throughout the country to fill the quota assigned under this call to each State, and which quota was subdivided according to the population of each district, and in districts where there were a number of towns the number was again subdivided, so that each town furnished only the proportion its population warranted.

This matter having been settled, each district made preparations for the draft. This action brought the war home to every household.

Compulsory service in the army excited the greatest apprehension in the public mind and some there were who counselled resistance, though this disposition did not prevail to an alarming extent.  On the day of the draft a riot did take place in Boston as it did also in some of the larger cities.  It was quickly quelled in Boston and with such vigor as to serve as a warning against similar demonstrations at future drafts.

illustration of the draft wheel from Hardtack & Coffee

The names were drawn from a box by a man blindfolded and the provost marshal or an assistant announced each name as it was drawn and a clerk thereupon recorded the name. Threats were made against any person who would dare to record the names of persons so drawn.  This, however, proved an empty threat. The hall was filled with an excited crowd, including some of the roughest element of the city.  There were a sufficient number of police present to prevent an outbreak that day, and a detachment of the Boston Lancers were detailed the following day, and later a detachment of the Massachusetts Heavy Artillery replaced the Lancers and continued in this service until all apprehensions of trouble had disappeared.

It took several days to complete the draft, as a much larger number of names were required to be drawn than were actually needed to fill the quota.

The draft having been completed, the unfortunate persons whose names were drawn were notified to appear and show cause why they should not take arms in defence of their country. The law contained so many exemptions, physical and otherwise, that at the end of the first day the possibility of filling the quota appeared remote indeed.

It seemed as though all the men physically qualified were the only sons of widowed mothers, or had orphan children dependent upon them for support.

The drafted man without means to pay commutation, or to provide a substitute, having a family dependent upon him, and who knows that he has none of the instincts or qualifications that would make him useful as a soldier, is certainly deserving of charitable commiseration, and is not fairly an object of ridicule or derision.  In speaking of drafted men it should be understood, therefore, that what is here written has reference to general rather than particular cases. The man who reached the army, having been drafted, appeared, when he arrived at the front, like one who had been exiled and doomed unwillingly to participate in scenes abhorrent to his nature. He could claim no consideration because of his patriotism, for he had been, metaphorically, dragged into service by the scruff of the neck, like some criminal, and possibly feeling somewhat ashamed at being placed among men who had been voluntarily fighting for two years.  With appreciation of these facts it is not strange that he felt the embarrassment of his situation, always to be pointed at as the man who was drafted.  The substitute was not pressed into service.

Substitute Cartoon from Harpers; Aug. 1863

He was a gentleman of fortune and could take care of himself.  He asked no consideration of any one and got none.  His stay with the army, as a rule, was short, and so far as carousing could make it so his life was a happy one.

In addition to his other afflictions the drafted man was sent to the front with the substitutes, so little consideration did he receive from the government.  No wonder he was lonely.  In our regiment such a case was discovered and was so pathetic as to arouse, when found out, the sympathetic kindness of the men who took him in charge and for whom he never ceased to have a devoted fondness.*

Men who were unable to convince the examining surgeon of their physical disqualifications, or could find no other cause for exemption, were obliged to go into the army, provide a substitute, or pay a commutation fee of $300, which sum the government accepted in lieu of service.  There being some doubt whether the commutation fee would exempt a man for more than one draft, a good many preferred obtaining a substitute at an expense varying from $400 to $600, thus ensuring them from draft for three years.

All drafted men believed with General Sherman that war is hell, not having arrived at that period of life when a fire is needed to supply the rapidly diminishing vitality of the body.

It was astonishing how many men had imperfect eyesight, deafness, poor teeth, varicose veins, rheumatism, or some other of the apparently innumerable causes that were contained in the list of exemptions.  A detailed description of each man was taken before he was allowed to depart.  As the men responded to the notice to appear, they made known their physical disabilities to the surgeon or their claims for exemption under the law to the two other members of the board, who required sworn proof of the facts stated before releasing them.  A full and complete description of each man was taken by a clerk, whereupon they were allowed to depart if exempted.  Those not exempted were taken to the Beach-street barracks and held unless the commutation fee was paid or substitute furnished.

In taking the description of a man it was easy to tell whether or not he had succeeded in escaping the draft by his general air of liveliness, or his jocular remarks about his less fortunate companions.

Cartoon from Harper's Weekly

Occasionally one would have the nerve to express regret because he was not accepted for service, though physically able, but was reminded by the clerk that the opportunity of going as a substitute at $600 was still open or he could go as a volunteer.

It was often amusing to see how men rated their occupations. One man on being asked replied that he was an artist.

“Where is your studio ?”

“On Hanover street.”

“What is your line of work - paint, clay, or stone ?”

“I am a tonsorial artist.”

“We call it barber,” said the clerk.

The unpopularity of the draft was such as to excite the cities and towns of the State to offer bounties for recruits willing to serve to their credit. The bounties varied somewhat according to the liberality of the people, but as a rule the question of supply and demand had much to do with the question. The price averaged, however, about $400 for each enlisted man.  In addition the State offered $400, as did also the United States.  The State and the cities paid cash upon muster-in, but the general government paid in installments, so that a man was not likely to get the final installment until his three years had nearly expired.  The total bounty, therefore, was $1,200 and the business of recruiting was accelerated accordingly.  Recruiting agents multiplied and swindling likewise, while committees of selectmen came to the large cities, the centres of the recruiting business, and secured the services of some agent to fill the town's quota, stipulating in many cases for a personal fee of $25 (often more and seldom less) for having placed the order in the agent's hands. The town bounty was an unknown quantity to a majority of the recruits, who had no knowledge of the town to which their enlistment was credited.  Also it was in the interest of the recruiting agent to withhold all information of this fact from recruits.

a recruiting office in New York

The division of the town's bounty was, in the recruiting office of the third district, $25 to the selectmen, $50 to the agent, and $325 to the deputy provost marshal, who carried on this swindle for about eight months before the government dismissed him.  The man who worked this problem, being an employee of the government, was supposed to be honest and to have superior opportunities for filling a town's quota, and inasmuch as the selectman could not wait to see it filled he entrusted the duty to the person mentioned, who, having made a similar contract with thirty or forty other towns, was enabled to corner the market.  Hence the disparity between his share and that of the recruiting agent.  The selectman, having received his fee, was at the mercy of the deputy provost marshal, who promptly told him to “shut up” when he grumbled about the delay in procuring the men.  The town's people, during this time, being anxious about the expected draft, made it uncomfortable for the committee, who by their own action were powerless in the matter.  The quotas did get filled and the draft avoided.

This kind of work did not prevail in all the towns nor in all the provost marshal's offices.  Nor were all the men of the particular office referred to dishonest.  The dishonesty was confined to a very few persons and their profits were therefore large.  The same system was pursued by recruiting agents, whose success was in proportion to the number of towns they were able to secure, but all paid liberal tribute to the person employed at headquarters.

Shiploads of foreigners, particularly Swedes, were brought over at an expense of $13 each and sold to towns for the bounty offered.

These men were landed on Long Island, and before being accepted for muster-in, underwent a physical examination by a surgeon appointed for the purpose.  He was a thoroughly honest and conscientious man and in the performance of his duty was obliged to reject those who were unable to meet the physical requirements.  Notwithstanding the large profits made on those who were accepted, every possible effort that the ingenuity of man could devise was practised on the surgeon to confuse his mind and make him sign papers accepting the men he had rejected.

This hastily written sketch will give some idea of the atmosphere that surrounded the recruiting service during the last eighteen months of the war.


NOTE:  * This unfortunate draftee was Thomas Casey, Company B, mustered in July 10, 1863.  He was killed June 22, 1864.


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