This page follows the activities of two Company B soldiers in the 13th Massachusetts Volunteers, who worked in, or passed through, the city of Washington between January - October, 1863. The principal subject is Private William Henry Harrison Rideout.
A few years ago, a stash of W. H. H. Rideout’s letters were acquired from a Civil War artifacts dealer, by Mr. Herbert Rideout, a descendant of William. The subject matter of this correspondence didn’t fit neatly into any part of the regiment’s narrative. William wrote them in 1863, while on detached duty, working as a supervisor in the quarter-master department in Washington, D.C. I wanted to post the letters here, so this special page was planned around the collection. —But the letters proved to be enigmatic.
Most open with the salutation “Dear Sister” and close with a variation of “Your Affectionate Brother” though they are clearly not addressed to his real sisters. By examinig clues in the letters, I have decided to believe that most, if not all of the 8 letters posted here are written to 16 year old, Lydia Ann Waymouth of Braintree, Massachusetts. With this perspective the letters take on an added level of significance. They are not just newsworthy, regarding life in Washington and its environs during the war, but they reveal a developing relationship between the two correspondents, that is at times playful, and engaging, for Lydia and William married in October, 1864.
The second storyline presented here are the travels of John B. Noyes. Noyes passed through the city at least twice in 1863, and left enough impressions to compose a narrative of his experiences. Excerpts from his diary are used to compliment his letters.
His experiences passing through Washington are a nice addition to the Rideout letters. Several other soldiers from the regiment appear in both narratives. The comings and goings of the two protagonists and their respective friends, add interest and detail to the story of the volunteer soldiers.
In building this page I scratched the surface of what
the city of Washington was like during the years of the Lincoln
administration. Unveiled were the city's neighborhoods,
buildings and attractions, its theatres, and the actors and actresses
that populated the theatres. Many of the places mentioned on this
found in this cropped version of an 1898 city map. [The
frequently mentioned Grover's Theatre is labelled New National Theatre.]
The Location; “More on Murder Bay” by Kim Bender, posted March 22, 2012; thelocation.wordpress.com
Streets of Washington; Stories and images of historic Washington D.C. “The Metropolitan, aka Brown's Marble Hotel” posted December 10, 2009 & “Center Markets Chaotic Exuberance,” May 24, 2010; by John DeFerrari. And Thank you to John for his personal responses to my inquiries. http://civilwarwashingtondc1861-1865.blogspot.com/2011/10/b-railroad-station-new-jersey-avenue.html
Spared & Shared; William J. Griffing; Letters of William Henry Harrison Rideout; posted June 3, 2015. Some of Mr. Griffing's notes on the letters exceded my knowlege in a most surprising manner. I have copied verbatim some of his notes, with permision, specifically those for Nixon's Circus, Major William H. Wood & Lt. Charles Hunt Porter. https://sparedshared9.wordpress.com
Mr. Lincoln's White House; “Hotels and Other Public Buildings: Grover's Theatre.” The site was originally created a project of the Lincoln Institute under a grant from The Lehrman Institute. The text was prepared by Richard J. Behn and the website was designed by Kathleen Packard of KathodeRay Media, Inc. http://www.mrlincolnswhitehouse.org
Boothie Barn Discovering The Conspiracy; “At Lincoln's Deathbed,” September 23, 2012; “Corporal Tanner's Letter,” November 12, 2013; “Grover's Theatre & The Lincoln Assasination,” January 19, 2014; also, “Alice Gray, Successful Partnerships,” February 9, 2016; all by Dave Taylor. boothiebarn.com
The Adelphi Theatre Calendar, A Record of Dramatic Performances at a Leading Victorian Theatre; University of Massachusetts Amherst; The Adelphi Theatre Calendar revised, reconstructed and amplified. Copyright 2013 and 2016 by Alfred L. Nelson, Gilbert B. Cross, Joseph Donohue. https://www.umass.edu/AdelphiTheatreCalendar/index.htm
PICTURE CREDITS: All images are from the Library of Congress digital images collection, with the following exceptions: German Reformed Church by Mr. Peter Boon, descendant of James L. Forbes; John B. Noyes & W.H.H. Rideout, (post-war) from Massachusetts Historical Society; Metropolitan Hotel from John DeFerrari's Streets of Washington; Willard's Hotel from The White House Historical Association, www.whitehousehistory.org; Grovers Theater from Mr. Lincoln's Whitehouse (see acknowlegements); Alice Gray, from the Boothiebarn, Dave Taylor (see acknowledgements); Barney and Maria Williams from Washington University Library, [digitalcollections.lib.washington.edu];George S. Worcester & Sutler's Chase & Brown, and are from from Army Heritage Education Center, Digital Image database, Mass. MOLLUS Collection; Members of Co. B: Armstrong, Dorr, Rideout, Worcester, Robinson, Richards from authors private collection (via Scott Hann); ALL IMAGES have been edited in photoshop.
Map of Washington and some of its Environs
Return to Table of Contents
Picture: Ladies Leaving the Treasury Department
A New Englanders View of
BOSTON EVENING TRANSCRIPT
Washington City — By a Northern
There are no central places of business, but private residences, public buildings, stores, shops, boarding-houses, gambling saloons, theaters and jails are all lying round loose, subject only to the simple rule — the more important the building, the less convenient is its situation. The public buildings are generally of white marble, and, as they each cover a few acres, might properly be called magnificent structures. They are nearly all in an unfinished condition, and are undergoing the addition of either a story, wing or dome. The President’s house having attained the exact shape of a cube, is suffered to remain in that picturesque condition. When the others will be finished, depends on the financial condition and architectural ability of future generations.
Great expense has been incurred in improving its harbor, but as yet it is without shipping or commerce.
The Washington Monument, on which unknown thousands have been squandered, now stunted and dwarfed ere a third grown, only lacks age to rival in speculative curiosity the Cheops of Egypt.
The peculiar arrangement of the roads is novel and interesting. Besides the streets cutting each other at right angles, avenues radiate from the Capitol and White House in every direction, thus dividing the city into an innumerable number of scalene triangles; and so imperceptibly do the sides vanish into each other, the first lesson a stranger learns is to avoid the hypothenuse and the last effort of a resident is to determine which of the many “cuts” to any point is the least lengthy. To furnish these thoroughfares with names, resort has been had to the Arabic system of notation, the letters of the alphabet, the names of the different States and the points of the compass. You ask for a certain residence, and receive in reply a formula involving all your school studies, to solve which requires a clearness of head and power of locomotion of which New England travelers have but a faint conception. Very few of the streets are paved, and what in the winter is a slough of mud, is now a bed of dust — and such a dust! No place is free from its intrusion, and one might as well avoid the toothache or tax gatherer as to escape its presence. There is no reason to suppose it does not creep into our food, and thus will our dinners continually remind us of our origin and destiny. All the land is made up from this uncertain element, and, as a consequence, real estate tenures are very precarious. It is frequently difficult to identify unimproved lots, and many conveyances re made by quit-claim deeds only.
I board at what is “reckoned” a good boarding house; but at double the cost we get half the comforts of a New England home. The proprietors as in most others of the kind, are broken down F. F.’s of Virginia and Maryland, cursed with pride, poverty and negroes, and with a dialect which, like their tobacco, defies counterfeiting. Mingle together the volubility of a Frenchman, the brogue of an Irishman, the goblet a Hottentot, and instead of a counterfeit, you have the dialect itself. And such Ignorance! Learning I was from the North, the landlords said they had frequently had boarders from the States of Boston, new England and Massachusetts! This is perhaps excusable, for I have yet to learn of but one good public school in the city.
There seems to be no ambition for those little surroundings which give such elegance and comfort to our Eastern homes. The only elevation influence I have yet felt is exerted by the beds, which certainly offer many inducements for early rising.
The chief basis of our food is the sweet potato, which in Virginia mud is developed to an astounding size. It comes upon us in all the forms and conditions the ingenuity of woman can invent; boiled, hashed, stewed, roasted and fried. It is mashed into puddings, sandwiched into side-doses, made into pies, dressed into fresh meats, and stuffed into fowls; To avoid it, is not to eat; to exchange it —
“Tis a poor relief we gain,
Our meals come when least expected, like an Irish rebellion. The breakfast is a dubious matter, in all respects. We dine from 8 to 5, and have supper when we feel like eating; but as dinner ends and supper begins with a cup of tea, the line of demarcation is purely imaginary. Judging from the speed of a railroad train, I should say it was a hundred miles from breakfast to dinner, and only ten from three to supper; and it is hard to say which one suffers most from famine or fulness.
In a city of such discrepancies, it is to be expected considerable moral obliquity exists; and such is the fact. The war has drawn hither thousands of people — roughs, gamblers, prize-fighters, pickpockets, men who hatch eggs by steam, fast men, faster women, organ-grinders, brigadier generals, army contractors, office seekers, — in short, those too proud to beg, too lazy to work, and too mean to get a comparatively honest living by stealing. We average one murder each week, and police reports show about one hundred minor offenses daily. It is hardly safe for timid men to be out nights, or even to attend church on the Sabbath, so I carefully shun the danger by remaining at home. What we are coming to, time only can tell. The destiny of Washington depends on the fate of the Union. Within itself it has no resources. If the Government is maintained, it must continue to be the centre of some business; If it fails, this city will be a second Babylon, as which men, as they pass by, shall wag their heads.
Post-war Washington was a babylon. Kimberly Bender, at her blog, “The Location,” posted the following information:
“According to one government official interviewed in the [Washington] Post in 1902, “Washington passed through its period of lawlessness and disorder fully as bad, if not worse, than that which prevailed in Cripple Creek, Colo. or Tombstone, Ariz.”
“The war had ended, leaving stranded in this city a vast horde of enfranchised slaves, discharged soldiers, and a cloud of riffraff, bummers, and camp followers…and their arrival soon made this city one of the most disorderly places in America. Fights, murders, stabbing, and shooting scrapes were of daily occurrence…”
Hell’s Bottom is a former “contraband camp” extending
irregularly from 7th to 14th Streets NW, and from O street to the
Boundary. It was one of the most notorious sections of the city
after the war. Bloodfield was another.
Murder Bay is the area east of the White House across Pennsylvania Avenue and was known for its brothels, gambling, and crime.
One of Kimberly's readers at The Location, posted the
“In the middle of this picture are three buildings with a white facade, 1207 - 1211 C Street, known as the ‘Dutch Corral’ operated by a Swiss woman named Maria Egli from 1870 to 1888.”
A Dec. 23, 1888 Post article wrote:
“Her house, was known from one end of the country to the other, was a famously infamous place during the war. The place was a mine of wealth to its proprietress, and she is now, perhaps, one of the richest woman of her class in the city.”
The presence of the army during the war probably had a good effect to limit some of the crime, and keep some order, but it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the crime in various neighborhoods, as indicated in the Boston Correspondent’s letter above.
Private John B. Noyes was wounded at the Battle of Antietam September 17, 1862. In a letter to his father, September 18, 1862, he wrote:
“My chum Buffum & Corp. Emerson, and Sergt. Worcester fought by my side, most of the time, each one doing his utmost. …Worcester was shot while talking to me about the range of my firing; but not severely. He was borne back to a tree behind. …a round ball struck me, about 6 inches above the knee, in the fleshy part of the leg passing through it without touching the bone, giving me only a flesh wound. The bullet leaving my leg, entered my haversack and almost spent its force on my iron spoon, bending the bowl, and then passed out tearing the haversack considerably showing that the ball was completely spent. The holes in my leg were clean and smooth. I shall probably be laid up for a month or so, and shall make every effort to get home.”
He described his subsequent experience in a letter to his father September 28:
“My wound is in what is called the middle third of the right thigh. The ball entered on the inside of the leg and passed out almost directly underneath it, making merely a flesh wound, and not affecting the bone. Indeed almost all the leg wounds in our Reg’t are flesh wounds only. Three of my company are now with me, all flesh wounded in the leg, and three others similarly wounded were with us at the battle field hospital. I remained with most of the slightly wounded in our Reg’t by an immense straw-stack, till Sunday after the battle when I was taken to Hagerstown. The number of the wounded was so great that I considered my self lucky in getting to Hagerstown as early as I did. The ladies of Hagerstown treated us very kindly, supplying us with many delicacies. We remained there however but one day, taking the cars for Harrisburgh late in the afternoon of Monday. All night we traveled in the cars, the good people of Chambersburgh, Mechanicsburgh, Carlysle & Harrisburgh, supplying us with bread, butter & coffee.
“About 5 o’clock A.M Tuesday we were taken in omnibuses to a small school house where we remained till the next day when we were transferred to our present hospital. Our treatment since we have been here has been all we could desire.”
His three Company B comrades were, Corporal Bob Armstrong, Corporal Alfred Brigham, and Private Levi L. Dorr, “and some of Co. A. boys serve to make up quite a jolly company.”
They were treated at The German Reformed Church Hospital throughout the Autumn months. At times the atmosphere at the hospital was almost like a party.
“Almost at all hours the ladies are around, especially at breakfast, dinner, and supper which they bring to us. All kinds of delicacies they distribute among us, peaches, pears, apples, grapes &c. We hold a sort of reception at which instead of being arm twitched we dispense talk, information respecting the battles &c. All the pretty girls in town seem to come, and we, that is Corporals Armstrong, & Brigham, & privates Dorr & myself receive more than our share of attention. Papers and books are brought in, so that we can’t read half of them. We shall carry many pleasant memories of the place away.”
Pictured is the Church
Sunday School building used as a hospital where John Noyes and others
of the regiment passed several enjoyable weeks recuperating from battle
wounds. Photo by Mr. Peter Boone, descendant of James L. Forbes,
13th MA, Co. A, who was among the convalescents.
Private Noyes remained at the German Reformed Church Hospital with his comrades until October 18, when he was furloughed and went home to Cambridge.
Three months later he left Boston on a leisurely trip to rejoin the 13th Mass in the field. On January 15, he left Boston for Brooklyn, spent a few days with his brother, then traveled to Harrisburg to visit with his comrades and the many friends he had made when in the hospital. After a pleasant week in Pennsylvania he traveled through Washington, D.C. on his way to the front. His diary, begun in January, 1863, provides a few glimpses into the friends he saw, and adds a few details that his letters omit.
Letter, January 16, 1863; Brooklyn, N.Y.
Brooklyn N.Y. January 16. 1863.
I arrived safely in Brooklyn this morning, meeting no mishap after leaving Boston, save the breaking of a brass Knapsack button, which of course makes the Knapsack temporarily unbearable. We had a violent gale on the sound, bright starlight, which made it impossible to walk straight in the saloon, or on deck. The boat racked so that it was impossible also to sleep until near day break. Of course quite a number were sea sick. It was a splendid sight to see the ocean lashed with foam, the waves breaking and dashing by in huge gambols, the stars reflected in the white mist, and playing at hide and seek with each other in the oddest and most angular way.
At the Worcester depot I met the wife of one of our officers, and was introduced to one Harrington a Senior – Soph. bound for Washington. With him and two or three other students I whiled away the time on the cars playing French high low in the card car. Stephen [John's brother] appears to be in pretty good health and sends his love to the different members of the family. I shall leave Brooklyn, Monday by the 12% M. train for Harrisburgh, then to remain probably till the 26th inst. If you wish to write me, or have any letters for me send them to me, care of J. McCormick Jr. by Harrisburgh, Penn.
With love to all, in haste
Jan’y 20th At Hospital. [Harrisburg, PA] Saw Armstrong1 & Soule.2 Called on Mrs. Small3 & Rounfords.(?) Skating Miss Roberts,4 Briggs, & Mrs. Cornyn. Called on Miss Coverly. Letter & package from home.
Armstrong is the subject of Charles
E. Davis, Jr.'s character sketch, in his article “A Narrow
Escape,” on this website.
2. Will Soule's brother Jonathan operated a well known photography salon in Boston. After his discharge from the service, Will took up photography. He became famous for his late 1860's photographs of the Plains Indians.
3. Mrs. Small was the mother of Ella Small, who later married James L. Forbes, one of the 13th Mass, treated at the German Reform Church Hospital.
4. Kate Roberts mentioned above, was the future wife of James Lowell, Company A, who was also treated at the German Reformed Church hospital.
Harrisburgh, Penn. January 21st 1863.
I received your bundle yesterday. The dressing case and portfolio looked very much like the old ones – the hair brush decidedly like the one I bought some time ago. You must have used great diligence to get them ready so quickly. Had you not written me of your intention to send them I should have got some cloth and set the ladies to work. I left Brooklyn Monday noon. Stephen was in good health expecting to skate in the afternoon. While in Brooklyn I saw quite a number of friends. In Stephen’s “New Gymnastics” class were Raulett, class ’57, and Garrish. I exercised with them one night. Everett P. Wheeler was out of town, and Hattie Bigelow not to be found as school does not keep on Saturday. I met Frank P. Nash, Charles’ [another brother] class mate on the street. He told me his brother Ben was married. I did not have time to call at his house. George R. Noyes is looking very well indeed. Sunday Eve’g. Stephen and I called on Mrs. White. Mrs. Wheeler was there. They were very glad to see me, and enquired about the folks at home. They told me that Uncle Swift was not so well as he was a month ago, and that Cousin Sumner had taken Uncle Ben to see him. Mr. & Mrs. Richardson had left Mr. Robbins Church, and Mrs. Wheeler had advised Cousin Sumner to sever his connection with it.
The skating mania has just reached Harrisburgh, and girls and boys, young ladies and widows, married ladies and their husbands, men of war and those more peacefully inclined were on skates yesterday. Alas! A miserable, wet snow now covers ground and ice, and skaters are obliged to hang up their skates on the inner wall. I put on skates yesterday morning and found I could get along quite well. I expected to be out this afternoon, but there is many a slip twixt cup and lip. I saw Miss Coverly yesterday; she was sorry you could’nt come. Her father had an excellent pair of skates which I expected to try on this afternoon. By the way, rockers are unknown in Harrisburgh, and there are few smooth irons. My friends in Harrisburgh are all well and glad to see me.
Diary Excerpts, January 22 - 24, 1863
Janr’y 22d Called on Bob Armstrong. Miss Harris not at home. P.M. nor Miss Briggs. In Eve’g to Coverlys to stop. With them at Old folks concert. Checkers with Miss Carrie.
Janr’y 23d A.M. to State house with Carrie & Ellie. Saw Capt. DeWitt. Called on Rachel Briggs To Sandfords opera in Eve’g with Kate Roberts, Carrie, Ella & Mrs. C.
Janr’y 24th. Walk before breakfast. A.M. called on Mary Soules. Miss. Criswell called. P.M. called on Mrs. Corrigan & Mrs. Thos. Wallace. Backgammon in Eve’g. Letter from Mrs. C. Nininger, St. Pauls, Minn.
Mrs. Nininger was the sister of Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey. She met John Noyes and the others while they were recovering at the German Reform Church Hospital. He wrote of her: “...It would be impossible to mention half the ladies to whom we have so much indebted, but I ought not to pass by Mrs. Niminger, one of nature’s noblewomen, a sister of Governor Ramsay of Minnesota. She is a very large lady, handsome, and exceedingly entertaining. She has seen a great deal of Washington Society evidently, and is well acquainted with many of our generals. She says She has an especial liking for Minnesota soldiers, the 84th Penn, in which regiment she has a son & the 13th Mass. Almost daily she comes in to see us, having something brought for our comfort. Yesterday she distributed ice cream among us 13th boys, attending on us herself. She wanted us Co. B. boys come to her house to stay but the Dr. would not consent. Her father in law with whom she now lives was a soldier in the wars of Napoleon, and she wished to have us talk with him.”
Janr’y 25th. A.m. to New School Presb. Ch. With Mrs. Coverly. P.M. Saw Mr. Brown. In Eveg to N.S.P. Ch with Carrie & Mrs. Coverly. Lt. McCanley.
Janr’y 26th. Walk before breakfast. Called on Mr. McCormick. At Provost Marshal’s Lieut Case’s office. Called on Mrs. Dr. Bailey & Miss Briggs. Took 5”20’ train for Baltimore with Lt. Piper.
Letter, January 27, 1863; Washington, D.C.
Washington D.C. January 27. 1863
I left Harrisburgh yesterday afternoon and arrived at this mud hole about noon to day. I shall remain here certainly till the 30th or 31st, wandering around on my own account to see the elephant, on a Provost Marshall’s pass. I came on from Harrisburgh with Lieut. Piper of the 11th Penn. who had some deserters under his charge. I was well acquainted with Piper. I left him with his squad at the depot. I meet plenty of my regiment in Washington. Took dinner with Postmaster McClellan to day. Tomorrow I shall call on Gov. Boutwell1 and Mr. Stimpson2 at the Smithsonian Institute. Of course I had a fine time at Harrisburgh, and both my hosts were very sorry to have me leave. Tell Martha to exchange three of the photographs, I left with her for better copies of the same likeness side view. If she cant exchange let her purchase them and I will send for them when I can be sure of receiving them, as it is no use writing for one while I am on the wing. A letter written to me however, as soon as you receive this, if you have any thing important to say, and directed to the care of Geo. F. McClellan, Mass. Soldiers Relief Association, would reach me. You need not write me but once though as I may be gone.
FOOTNOTE 1: George Sewell
and a Senator from Massachusetts; Governor of Massachusetts
secretary of the State board of education 1855-1861; member of the
board of overseers of Harvard University 1850-1860; member of the peace
convention of 1861 held in Washington, D.C., in an effort to devise
means to prevent the impending war; served on the military commission
under the War Department in 1862; first Commissioner of Internal
Revenue in 1862 and 1863; elected as a Republican to the Thirty-eighth
and to the three succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1863,
to March 12, 1869, when he resigned. He was instrumental in
obtaining John Noyes fulough from the Harrisburg Hospital.
In a later letter John Noyes said he was looking for Mr. Stimpson's son
at the Smithsonian. This would be William Stimpson, (1832
- 1872.) He was a noted marine biologist. Born in
Boston to Herbert Hathorne Stimpson, a brilliant inventor, and "a
leading merchant in Boston" seller of stoves and furnaces. Mr. Stimpson
lived at the time in Cambridge, and was probably a good friend of the
family. The son William established himself as a
scholar in marine biology at a young age. He was invited to
reside at the
Smithsonian Institute and was its director of the department of
invertebrates. Young Stimpson invited his like minded friends,
enthusiastic naturalists in science to join him at the
Smithsonian. William founded the somewhat notorious Megatherium
Club, in which the hard-working by day members, would have drinking
parties at night, conduct sack races in the main hall, and serenade
Joseph Henry's daughters, the institutions live-in secretary.
Mr. Henry eventually asked the rowdy young sientists to move out.
When John Noyes came to call, Stimpson was away at New York.
Comrades Mentioned in Noyes' Diary Entries
January 27th Left Baltimore at 10”. Saw at Washington Geo. Worcester, Calender, Rideout, Dorr, Dick White, Robinson, Clapp, Davenport, Knox. Letters to Stephen & Martha. Dinner with Geo. F. McLellan. Passed night at Brown’s Hotel.
“The Metropolitan aka Brown’s Marble Hotel”
The site of Brown's Hotel had been a tavern or boarding house since Washington’s inception. It is located on the North side of Pennsylvania Avenue, about midway between the Capitol and the President's House. James Madison’s second inaugural ball in 1813 was held at the Davis Hotel, which occupied the site when opened in 1805. President James Monroe’s two inaugural balls were also held there (1817 and 1821).
In 1820 Jesse B. Brown of Alexandria bought the Davis Hotel. He remodeled it and enlarged it and opened Brown’s Indian Queen Hotel with a large brightly painted sign hung out front showing a “lurid” picture of Pocahontas. Under Brown’s management the hotel continued its importance in Washington political life.
Upon his death in 1847, his two sons took over the hotel. They remodeled it and enlarged it to a full five stories with a white marble neoclassical facade. It reopened in 1851 as Brown’s Marble Hotel. The Brown family sold the hotel in 1865, and the new operators renamed it the Metropolitan. It seems however that it went by both names during the war, as it is referred to sometimes as Brown's and sometimes as the Metropolitan in the soldiers’ letters. When the hotel closed in 1932. The Washington Post remarked at the time that it “had been in continuous operation longer than any other hotel in America.” The building was torn down in 1935.
Col Leonard stayed here when he came to Washington after the 2nd Battle of Bull Run. William Rideout and his friends frequently met for dinner at Browns. The Washington Center Market was across the street, and the rival National Hotel very close by.
Letter to Sister Martha, January 27, 1863; Washington, D.C.
Washington D.C. Tuesday Eve’g. January 27, 1863.
I wrote you from Harrisburgh last Wednesday giving you an account of my stay in Brooklyn. I did not see Hattie Bigelow. I called at the Institute Saturday morning, but the school was not in session so I was unable to see her. I should have called at her boarding house had I been able to ascertain its location. Sunday I heard for the first time Henry Ward Beecher. The hall was miserably small for so eminent a preacher, and more miserably ventilated, so that it was with great difficulty that I was able to keep awake even under his vigorous preaching. There was a fine piece of acting in his sermon which added greatly to its vivacity.
I arrived in Harrisburgh safely after a fatiguing ride of about eight hours. I did not pass through Philadelphia. Mr. McCormick met me at the depot, and walked up with me to his house. His wife whom I had not before seen was very glad to make the acquaintance of one whom she already Knew well by reputation. The little boy Hermann recollected me, as I had taken a ride with him and his father, and a boat ride on the Susquehannah while I was at the Hospital. I enjoyed my stay at Mr. McCormack’s very much, and he was very sorry to have me leave his house so quickly. I had scarcely made him a visit at all. While there I received the portfolio and dressing case, which you had made so quickly and so quickly dispatched after me. I hardly thought when I left Boston that you could make the article so quickly, and consequently told George that you need not endeavor to replace my loss. I should had bought some cloth and set the ladies a sewing had I not received your letter.
Tuesday morning I put on skates for the first time this winter, and indeed for two years. The skates were very poor grooved ones, yet I succeeded very well. The same mania that raged in Cambridge a few years ago now rages in Harrisburgh to an equal degree. Mr. Coverly lent me his fine pair of patent skates in the afternoon, but I did not have an opportunity of trying them as snow set in the next day ending in rain. The best lady skater I saw on the ice was a married lady, Mrs. Dr. Bailey, and the next best, her daughter about twelve years old.
Thursday Evening I went to the Coverlies and with them to the old folks concert, that is to say with Ella Coverly and her cousin Carrie from Boston who is now visiting them. Friday I went to hear Sandford’s troup, Mr. Coverly making one of the party. It was so muddy owing to the very warm weather we have had lately that I did not ride much while in Harrisburgh. Yesterday morning however I drove out with the young ladies, but returned in about an hour, as it was too hard drawing, and too chilly to allow of an agreeable ride! I went away rather suddenly at last, thinking till one o’clock yesterday that I might remain in H. a day or two longer, and indeed I might, as I very clearly see now, to my great regret; for, although a day or two subtracted from one account and added to another makes no great difference ten years from now, still the present difference is very perceptible.
While at the Coverlys I was treated with the greatest kindness and attention. The hours would have suited even George, as breakfast for instance at 9’ 15’ or so. I did not neglect my other friends made during my disability at the hospital, but sought them out to shake them once again by the hand. One of them Mrs. Small, perhaps, (all soldiers would say) the kindest woman in Harrisburgh had a son wounded at Fredericksburgh in the hand, a very bad place, when you consider that he played the organ of his church at the time he enlisted.
I left Harrisburgh about 5 A. M. yesterday in Company with Lieut. Piper of the 11th Pennsylvania who was in charge of a squad of men, a part of whom were deserters and handcuffed. I arrived in Baltimore between 10 & 11’ o clock and suppered at the Union Relief Ass. Rooms. As I was not one of the squad I was furnished with a good bed. At 10 A.m. we set out for Washington & reached there about noon. I have received a pass from the Provost Marshall till the 30th, when I shall probably endeavor to go on to my Regiment on my own account as I have no desire to sojurn long in the convalescent camp. I have met quite a number of my friends of the regiment here and shall probably find some more at the hospitals tomorrow or next day. I haven’t been to see the august body of the Senators and Representatives yet, nor the Smithsonian Institute. I want you to exchange three of the photographs I left with you for three excellent, not indifferent ones. If you cannot exchange them, then purchase them, only letting me know what you do. In that case I may in the course of time possibly increase the stock of photographs in your album. Do not send the photographs till I tell you when to send them.
to all, I am as ever
When John Noyes visited Washington, he usually staid at Markham's Hotel. Sometimes he called it Markham's European Hotel in his letters. John D. Ferrari, who writes about old Washington, D.C., on his site, Streets of Washington, informed me, that Markham's was next to Willard's Hotel, during the war. In response to my inquiry, he answered,
“It was located next door to the Willard on Pennsylvania Avenue. A quick glance at newspaper citations suggests that it was only in existence as Markham’s during the war years. (I presume, but don’t know for a fact, that F.P. Markham probably sold the business after the war and that the name changed. One of the Willard brothers later built the Occidental Hotel on this site).
“European” just means that the hotel was on the “European Plan,” meaning that the price of a room did not include any meals. This is in contrast to the “American Plan,” which includes meals. Some hotels offered both options. A famous restaurant, Hammack’s, was located on the ground floor of Markham’s during the war years.”
On this particular visit John Noyes lodged with his Company B friend, William Blanchard.
William F. Blanchard, Company B, had a fascinating military career, of which I have few details. His record from the regimental roster reads:
age, 23; born, Boston; tailor; mustered inas priv. Co. B, July 16, 1861; transferred to 39th Mass., July, '64 [Blanchard re-enlisted]; appointed 2d lieut. 27th U.S. Colored Troops, August 31, '64; 1st lieut. April 6, '65; brevet-captain, March 13, '65; wounded, Nov. 28, '62, Aug. 30. '63, Dec. 13, '62, Oct. 27, '64; taken prisoner, July 1, '63; recaptured, May 8, '64.
To clear up a few gaps in this statement, Blanchard was accidentally wounded in November, 1861, in camp at Williamsport, when a pistol accidentally discharged. For a time his wound was reported to be nearly fatal by his friends. Noyes was posted at Hancock, Md at the time of the incident, and wrote about it in a letter to his brother George, on December 2nd, 1861:
“One of my mess, Blanchard, is at the point of death, accidentally shot by a pistol in the hands of an Illinois soldier. He was well educated & perhaps the best informed man in the mess, had studied Virgil & was thoroughly versed in same departments of history. He was an indefatigable devourer of knowledge and had known good society. Add to this a thorough knowledge of common seamanship & extensive travel and observation. I write as though he were dead. Indeed he may be. There are conflicting reports. I was his best friend and shall endeavor to go home with him should he not recover, but I suppose my absence from Williamsport will deprive me of that opportunity.”
Obviously Blanchard recovered. The record states he was wounded at 2nd Bull Run, and at Fredericksburg. Noyes wrote Blanchard had his shin bone shattered at Fredericksburg. He was captured at Gettysburg but escaped. While serving as an officer in the 28th Mass., John Noyes ran into his friend Blanchard again in December 1863, when the 13th Mass was camped at Kelly's Ford. Knowing Blanchard had been captured at Gettysburg, Noyes asked him what he thought of Richmond? Blanchard replied,
“I did'nt go there; I gave the scamps the slip and found my way back to the lines in two or three days.” His brother escaped with him. [Brainard P. Blanchard, Company B, age 18 at muster in].
Blanchard was again captured during Grant's Overland Campaign. The information stated in the roster is misleading & incorrect when it states “recaptured May 8.” Blanchard was probably captured on May 8th. Twelve men of the regiment were captured on May 8, 1864 at Spotsylvania, but were freed on May 24, when Custer's cavalry overtook the captors. These events happened while he was with the 13th Mass, and do not take into consideration what followed with the 27th U.S. Colored troops. Blanchard was one of the few members of the original 13th Mass. who opted to re-enlist when their 3 year term of service was nearly expired. All things considered, Blanchard was a remarkable soldier, with a remarkable story.
Picture: Grover's National Theatre
Janr'y 28th Met Blanchard & With him took room at Markham’s Hotel. To Grover’s to see Mr & Mrs. Barney Williams. Saw Gov. Boutwell. Letter to Martha.
Janr'y 29th. To Senate room. To Grover's in ev'g to see Mr. & Mrs. Barney Williams. Letter to Surgeon McLaren.
Attending the theatre was a popular past-time for those visiting or living in Washington during the war. Grover's New National Theatre was one of three principal theaters in the city at that time. The building was described as “an ice vault in winter and a sweatbox in summer.” Leonard Grover, the owner, came to be friends with President Lincoln who frequented the place to gain a few hours respite from his many troubles. Tad Lincoln, would often attend with his father and became a favorite among the stage hands and theatre workers, as well as a playmate to Leonard Grover's son. Tad was at Grover's, attending the play Aladdin, the night his father was shot at the rival Ford's Theatre. Grover published a small book titled President Lincoln's Interest in the Theater, in 1866. Grover also owned Grover’s Canterbury Hall, a much seedier establishment that catered only to men. 1
The particular performers John Noyes went to see were Mr. & Mrs. Barney Williams, [pictured] a song and dance team who specialized in Irish and “Yankee” characters. In the late 1850's they are found performing several seasons at London's Adelphi Theatre, where they were received favorbly by the London public. Critics however, “praised their performances but deplored the quality of their material. ...Among their most popular offerings were Ireland As It Is, Barney the Baron, and Our Gal.” 2
Private Noyes seemed to have enjoyed the show for he attended two consecutive nights.
Diary, January 30 - February 1, 1863, Washington, D.C.
Janu’y 30th. Saw Chandler & Davenport. At Hunt’s room.3 Supper with Rideout. Passed night with Harry at the Metropolitan Hotel. Letter to Adjt. Hinckley.
Jan’y 31st. Left Washington AM. Spent day and night at Acquia Creek with Chandler & Harry Lazelle. 4 Attended to Lazelle’s Baggage.
February 1st (Sunday) Left Acquia Creek with H. Lazelle and reached Belle Plain Landing. To camp 13th Mass. Vol. Inf. In Buffum’s hut.
Letter Excerpt; February 4, 1863
“I saw but few friends outside the Regiment at Washington. Mr. Stimpson’s son whom I expected to find at the Smithsonian Institute was absent in New York. I called on Gov. Boutwell and thanked him for his kindness in procuring a furlough for me. Wednesday I met Blanchard of my company who had his shin bone shattered at Fredericksburgh, and chummed with him during the remainder of my stay in Washington. It snowed and rained during most of the time I remained in the City so that the traveling was not at all to my mind. Was ever such a muddy city as Washington? The very spaciousness of the avenues seemed a defect, so vast became the receptacle of mud. I lost myself several times in the big, unfinished Capitol, hunting for the hall of Representatives and Senate Chamber.”
“... I was very glad to have Saturday A.M. come and get out of Washington, where I believe Mr. & Mrs. Barney Williams gave me more entertainment than all other objects and places put together.”
This ends John Noyes' travels through Washington in
January, 1863. He was the first of the wounded men of Antietam to
return to the regiment. In late April, he
passed through the city again with a different purpose.
FOOTNOTE 1: Information about the Theatres found at the website Boothiebarn
FOOTNOTE 2: Information about the act
Mr. & Mrs. Barney Williams was found at the Adelphi Theatre Project
Website. The site provides a detailed program of some of the
couples acts performed at the London Theatre in the late 1850's. See
FOOTNOTE 3: Joseph Chandler, age 32,
Co. B, b. Lexington, MA, farmer, mustered in July 24, 1861, mustered
out January 17, '63. Noyes frequently wrote about Chandler in his
letters. There are two soldiers named Davenport in the 13th,
Alfred of Company A, and Melvin of Company K. Both survived the
war. There are 4 soldiers named Hunt in the roster. One of
them was librarian at Campbell Hospital in Washington.
FOOTNOTE 4: From other soldiers' letters I learned that Harry Lazelle delivered packages to the members of the 13th Mass. Perhaps he was a currier for the sutlers Brown & Chase?
Introduction to the Letters
Statistically, what is known about William Henry Harrison Rideout is that his parents were Luke Rideout, 1819 - 1884 and Caroline Totman Rideout, 1818 - 1898. She was a descendant of William and Mary Brewster. Mary Brewster was one of 18 women on the Mayflower. A year after landing she was one of 4 still living to serve the first Thanksgiving.
Luke Rideout was a quarry owner in Quincy, Mass.
He and Caroline had 10 children. This letter collection references three of them: Annie Rideout, b. 1839, William H.H. Rideout, b. March 27, 1841, and Caroline Rideout, b. 1844.
Annie married William Robinson in June, 1861, two months after William volunteered for military service. She died 3 years after the war ended in 1867, age 28. Caroline, or Carrie was a school teacher, never married, and lived until 1900, age 56.
Twenty year old William was an original recruit of Company B, 13th Mass. Volunteers; he enlisted in the 4th Battalion of Rifles, in April, 1861. For a nearly a year and a half, he followed the various fortunes of the regiment up until August 30, 1862.
The 2nd Battle of Bull Run proved the end of hard
campaigning for many of the soldiers of the 13th MA. William
was captured on the battlefield, and later paroled by the enemy.
From the letters below, we learn he landed a supervisor’s job with the
U.S. Quartermaster Department in Washington and remained there until
mustered out with the 13th Mass. on August 1, 1864. He continued
to work as an employee of the Quarter Master Department in Philadelphia
until March 31 1865.
Research at the Massachusetts Historical Society turned up a document dated October, 1863, that listed men of the First Corps, Second Division, who were detached from their regiments on special duty. W.H.H. Rideout is listed as Quarter Master at Washington.*
“What a handsome manly looking soldier he was. He could cut us all out when the girls were about, and alas, did so frequently.”
So wrote veteran Levi L. Dorr, of his Company B comrade, William H. H. Rideout. The letters presented here, seem to confirm the general consensus that William was a ladies’ man.
Seven of the following 8 letters, were purchased from a Gettysburg artifacts dealer by William’s great-grandson Art Rideout. They had been kept together for years by an unknown family member before they suddenly appeared on the market for sale. The 8th letter was found as a digitized transcription on-line. Six of the letters are addressed “Dear Sister” but certain clues within the contents suggest that most if not all were writen to 16 year old Lydia Ann Waymouth, (1847 - 1885) of Braintree.
The letters seem to have an ongoing theme running
throughout. William's sisters, Annie and Carrie are mentioned in
correspondence but the letters don't seem to be written to them.
Miss Lydia F. Steadman is the subject of discussion in four of these notes, and she seems to be causing William a bit of grief. He admits to his correspondent, whomever she may be, of exchanging letters with Miss Steadman under an assumed name; (a common practice of soldiers during the war) but now he wishes to end that relationship. In trying to sort things out it doesn't help that his main female interests both happen to be named Lydia. In any case William H.H. Rideout was juggling a lot of lady friends.
*Massachusetts Historical Society; Elliot Clark Pierce Papers; (box 2 of 5) Thayer Family Papers.
Photo: Government Storehouse Quarter Master Department
Washington D. C.
Yours of the 10th was received with much pleasure, but I was much surprised when I found You had made up, with Lydia S.1 & if I am not mistaken, You will one day regret having done so, for the regard She has for You, is for advantage, after She accomplishes what She wants, She will disdain to look at You. As far as I am concerned I do not care a snap about it & had just as leaves signed my own name to those letters as the one I did. & as for Her Photograph, You must be very foolish if You think I want it, for I do not, I have two of Her pictures at Home at present & if I felt very bad about one I could send for it most any day
I wrote to Her for mere pastime & I was much pleased to see Her so shrewd in her answers.
I suppose by this time You have told Her all the particulars, so I shall have no occasion to write to Her again.
I cannot make out what You mean by saying Carrie2 was a naughty girl & that You saw the answer to her letter. She wrote to me that You & Abbie were at the house & stopped over night and & that She enjoyed it much & said I ought to have been at Home, for She thought I could have enjoyed Myself, & I told Her I thought if Her account was correct I should rather been excused especially three in a bed. I begin to suspicion there was some thing more than a good time, or else You would not have said so much about it. I think I shall have to enquire in to the matter & find out a little more about it
to day it is raining hard & the laboring men have all gone home & the Clerks, those that have not gone to Church, are sitting around the store asleep. I begin to like my situation very much for I have made the acquaintance of a great many friends & the more I see of them the more I like it. I went to Alexandria last Monday to see Maj. W. H. Wood3 about my discharge & have every thing just as I want it. I am almost sure of my discharge & can keep the position I now hold or accept the position of a Q. Master at Fortress Monroe
There are a number of Young Ladies from Boston stopping in this City & some that are pretty Gay
I have had a number of invitations to call on them, but have made it an excuse I did not have time. I went to the Canterbury4 last evening & meet Lt. Charley Porter5 of the 39th Mass. & We passed the evening very pleasant He is here on a furlough for a few days & is anxious to have a good time. I expected He would have been down to Office before this, for He is anxious I should go out this evening to call on some friends
You must excuse the looks of this letter for Mr. Moore the Supt. has gone home & He locked up all the pens excepting this miserable thing that I am using
Hopeing You will enjoy Yourself with Your dear friend Lillie F
I remain as ever Your Brother
(PS) if You have told Lillie S. who has been writing to Her, I can never forgive You for I done it simply for a joke & thought You would take it as much.
1. A bit of research revealed that Lydia S. is Lydia F. Steadman, b. 1843, and a neighbor of Lydia Waymouth in Braintree. Lydia Steadman whomever she was, married William Mayall in 1867. In an interesting co-incidence, Mr. Mayall’s mother was Mary Forbush, (apparantly a 4th cousin of mine.)
2. Carrie is probably William's sister Caroline Rideout, (1844 - 1900). Abbie is unidentified.
3. Major William H. Wood (1821 - 1887) served as the Assistant Provost-Marshal General of the Army of the Potomac in 1862 and superintending, mustering, and forwarding to the field Convalescents, Stragglers, etc. near Alexandria, Va., from late December 1862 until May 1864.
4. The Canterbury is Grover's Canterbury Hall, a somewhat seedy establishment (perhaps a burlesque) that catered to men only. It was owned by Theatre operator Leonard Grover, who owned Grover's New National Theatre.
5. Lieutenant Charles Hunt Porter (1843 - 1911) was a 19 year old clerk from Quincy, Massachusetts, when he enlisted as a 2d Lieutenant in Co. D, 39th Massachusetts Infantry. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on January 29, 1863, (Co. A) and as a Captain (declined) in September 1864. After the war he lived in Boston.
I rec a letter from Fred this week & He tells the same old story that He is expecting His discharge papers every day. He sent me his Photograph & if it does not flatter him, He is looking much better than when He left home.
I rec a letter from Lillie F.1 this week, but I shall not answer it for I suppose by this time She knows who it is that is writing to Her. (but I hope You did not tell here.)
My Roommate Mr Worcester2 thinks He shall go back to the Regt next week & is very anxious to have me go with him but I hardly think I will, for I am very well satisfied with the position I now hold.
I went to Falls Church last Monday with a train of Forage & six men. We had quite a pleasant trip & stopped at Upton Hill & Munson Hill & arrived back at Alexandria about eight in the evening to late to go up to the City, so I took the men to the Hotel to supper & then down to the Steamer so as to be already to go up in the morning, here I left the men & went up to Nixons Circus,3 but as it was a poor affair I did not stop but a little while & then came back to the Steamer & went to bed & did not get up until the Steamer arrived in Washington
last evening there was two or three officers here from the 13th on furlough & We went to Grovers Theatre4 & passed the evening very pleasant. They all think I am very foolish if I go back to the Army.
For the past few days We have had a severe snow storm & tonight the sleigh’s are skipping along the Avenue in gay style. it reminds Me of the little sleigh ride & tip over We had the night before Thanksgiving
I wish You could be here this evening I should admire to take a little ride out to Bladensburg or some other place just for pleasure.
hopeing to hear from You soon I will close
for a letter & remain Your
(When You have some Photographs taken I hope You will not forget Your Brother for I should prize one very much especially my adopted Sister’s)
Write soon & let me know some of the particulars of Your friendship with Lillie. F.
William Henry Harrison Rideout.
Picture, Munson's Hill
1. Lydia F. Steadman, of Braintree. (b. about1843). A neighbor of Lydia Waymouth. (see Feb. 15 letter above).
2. George S. Worcester is Rideout's roomate and 13th Mass. Company B comrade. More about him will follow.
James M. Nixon's Circus performed regularly in Washington
D.C. every afternoon and evening at 7th and Pennsylvania during 1862,
up until December when Nixon divided the company and established a
theatre in Alexandria. For more about this see page 2 of this
section, when Albert Liscom mentions visiting the circus with his
friends, Nov. 1, 1862.
Grover's Theatre was a popular venue for
shows in Washington during the war. Leonard
Grover's success caused rival John T. Ford to purchase and renovate an
old church and open his more luxurious, Ford's Theatre. (see
image in John Noyes Section above).
I am sorry You entertain the idea that Lillie S.1 (as I call Her) or rather that is the way She sign’s Her name) is a friend of mine for You are sadly mistaken, She was once I suppose, but she can never be again, (not if I know myself & I think I do.
You say You thought I placed more confidence in You than to think You would tell her. I did, until I received the news that You were friends again & then I was dum founded & knew not what to think. I was never more astonished at any thing in my life & if I were with You I could explain Myself a little more definately, by saying that some day she will disdain to look at You, I know Lydia Stedman almost as well as I know Myself & I know what her opinion is of You.
I am extremely sorry to hear You think of leaving Your native land & going to so distant a country [the next letter reveals this distant land is California] as the one You named, for I hardly know what I should do if I were to part forever with one I so much love, (& especially my Sister) I am in hopes Your father will change his mind & not go, but if He does not & You must leave Me, The worst wish I have, is that You may live happy in Your new home & never meet a worse friend than Your brother W.H.H. R
You spoke in Your letter of having some idea of paying a visit to this city. I think that would be a grand idea for I should be most happy to see You when You come You had better come with Annie,1 she thinks of coming & poor company would be better than none.
My roommate Mr Worcester has gone to Boston on a little visit, to see his Parents & his intended. He thinks of going back to the army to accept a commission & is anxious to have me go with him. He is going to call on my Parents Thursday or Friday so if You are down You may see him. He is a pretty boy & a fine young man. I miss him very much, for I have had to sleep alone since He went, but to night I have a bed fellow one of Clerks named A. Supplee.2 He has been in bed for the last half hour singing like a canary Bird & He says if I don't stop writing & come to bed He will throw something (unmentionable) at me. He says if the letter I am writing is to my Sister or My Lady to throw in a kiss for Him.
since Sunday We have had delightful weather & the snow has nearly all disappeared. last evening I went to Canterbury Hall but did not stop a great length of time, for I had the blues & felt sick, so I came home & went to bed, but not to sleep, for there was a Band of Music seranading, a few doors below where I board & kept me awake for nearly two hours. I lay listening to the sweet music & thinking of the dear ones at home
You will please excuse all mistakes & the looks of the writing for I have written this under serious disadvantages My finger is so sore I can hardly write & my friend in bed has kept me talking ever since I commenced.
Hopeing to hear from You soon & as often as You can make it convenient.
I am Your most affect.
1. Annie is Ann Rideout Robinson (1839 -1867) William Rideout's sister.
2. A. Supplee - More information is needed to identify this person. A search of the National Park Service Soldiers' database revealed 11 soldiers with surname Supplee and first initial A.
I have been out this evening taking a little walk with a friend of mine & I expect him in (every moment) to sleep with me, so I think I will stay up & write untill He comes but my letter will not be very interesting for I have written twice this week & sent all the news.
My roommate Mr Worcester is to come back next tuesday & then I shall not be quite as lonesome.
you need not be surprised if You see Me drop in some evening next month for I have been thinking of coming for two or three weeks & you know when I make up my mind to go or come I most always do it.
I am in hopes You will change Your mind about going to California & come to Washington, for I think You would enjoy a trip here much better. if Washington is a miserable City it has many attractions for a stranger, any one traveling might stay in Washington a week or two & enjoy themselves very much, but to make it a home is not quite so pleasant as it might be.
I think I will stop writing to Lillie S. for if She has not already found out who it is that is corresponding with her, I fear she will & then she will be so mad with me, She will be for retaliating in some form I might not like.
You said You would not tell for You thought it was to serious a matter. I cannot see any thing very serious about it. I promised her some time ago I would write to her but I did not promise to sign my own name, this corresponding & signing a fictitious name is nothing very serious. I know of hundreds that have done it. When I was at work in Boston I carried on a correspondence with a young lady at the Ladies’ Seminary at Worcester for more than six months & neither of us ever saw each other & probably never will. I wrote for mere pleasure & she probably done the same.
You will please not inspect this letter to strong for I scratched it off in some what of a hurry & it will not bear inspection.
hopeing to hear from You soon & that You have given up all ideas of going to the land of Gold.
I am Your most Affect.
William mentions his roommate several times.
George Samuel Worcester enlisted in the Fourth Battalion
April 17, 1861 and was offered the rank of Corporal. He is listed
in the roster as a 22 year
old clerk from Boston. He mustered into Company B
with the rest of the regiment on July 16, 1861. Worcester was
promoted to Sergeant on April 1, 1862.
He was wounded at the Battle of Antietam. John Noyes wrote, “...Sergeant Worcester fought by my side... [he] was shot while talking to me about the range of my firing, though not severely.”
Worcester 's record further states he was taken
prisoner at Chambersburg, PA on October 10, 1862.
About the time Worcester is living with Rideout he acquired a discharge from the 13th Mass to accept a 2nd Lieutenants commission in the 3rd Mass. Heavy Artillery, Company C.
A few of Worcester's letters have appeared for sale at various times at on-line auction houses. I have partial transcriptions of some of these. The content reveals he was a member of the Masonic Order, and the friend of an influential fellow mason, Charles M. Leland of Walpole. Leland's eldest son Charles (though only 17 upon enlistment) was also a private in Company B, 13th MA. Many of Charles Leland's letters are posted on this site. In the following letter excerpt, Worcester is trying to help Charles get a Corporal's warrant with the 13th Mass.
[Pictured is Major George S. Worcester, 5th Mass. Heavy Artillery, formerly Sgt. Worcester, Co. B, 13th Mass.]
Letter, March 23, 1863
Washington, March 23, 1863
[to fellow Mason Charles M. Leland]
…last week, I saw Lt. [Morton] Tower, of Co. B …I asked as a special favor a corporals warrant for your son, which he promised to give him …I have every confidence in Lieut. Tower, it will be a small promotion but it gives him just one step above the privates …he will be in direct line promotion, and I hope he will be more successful than I have been …if he wants it you could procure him a commission in one of the negro regts. Quite a number of the boys accepted such a commission …he would only have to procure a recommendation from Colonel Leonard and have it presented to Governor Andrew …with the understanding that he wishes the commission in a colored regiment …better men than I have gone from the regiment to accept such commissions…
Nineteen year old Charles Leland was killed at Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, before Lt. Tower was able to help him.
Worcester was promoted Captain in the 3rd Mass. Heavy Artillery on August 11, 1863, and a year later was commissioned Major. The regiment engaged in garrison duty in the Defenses of Washington, north of the Potomac, to September, 1865. Worcester mustered out of the service with his unit, September 18, 1865.
George Worcester was a popular soldier with the Company B boys, and was very active in the post war re-unions, up until the time of his death on April 27, 1895.
Picture, Quartermaster's Wharf, Alexandria
Today has been very warm & pleasant & I have enjoyed myself much, I have been on the wharf all day with Mr. Colbert checking the different loads of Hay & Grain as they came off the Barges. There is a Boat leaves the wharf for Alexandria every hour & it is always crowded with good looking Young Ladies, so the time slips away quite pleasantly ( & so do the Ladies )
this evening it is dark & cloudy & will rain before morning, just the way it has been ever since I have been in this City, as soon as the mud dries up & it is good walking, it is always sure to rain.
I rec. a letter from Carrie, this eve. but it contained nothing of importance, said she had not seen You for long, long time. She is very anxious to know how I spend my evenings & if I have any serious intentions of selling Myself to any of the Washington Ladies. ( if I do ) says she will make me some presents, if I will only let her know.
I shall be greatly indebted to You if I rec. one of those Photographs but if those are the only terms by which I am to rec. one, I am afraid I shall never rec. it, for I am so busy at present I do get time to go & have mine taken for I never come to the Avenue only in the evening unless I come up horse back & then I am generally in such a hurry that I do not have time.
& as regards that one I took from home, I am afraid that is amongst the missing for I have looked after it a dozen times. I think I must have burnt it by accident in burning up some old letters.
but if You can look at it in the light of forgiveness & send the one of Yours, I will promise to forward one of mine as soon as I can get time to go & stand for them.
as regards the style of the Picture, I will let You use Your own judgement, for I know You are a young Lady of good taste.
You must excuse the writing spelling & every-thing else that is wrong about this letter, for My roommate & Mr Supplee & Mr Callender1 are kicking up such a time that I hardly think I could spell my own name. I have laughed so much at their jokes & performances My head spins like a top.
They say if I do not stop they will kick the table over & black my moustache with the ink so I think it best for me to close but as soon as I rec. the Photograph I will write a good long letter
From Your most affectionate
1. Walter Callendar, 13th Mass. Company C. Walter was born January 9, 1834 in Stirling, Scotland, the son of James and Christian (Reid) Callendar. [Spelling seems to vary between Callendar & Callender]. He came to the United States in 1857 and worked as a clerk for a Boston merchant. He enlisted in the 4th Battalion of Rifles in April, 1861. Like William H.H. Rideout, Callendar was detailed to the Quartermaster General's Departmet at Washington, sometime after the 2nd Battle of Bull Run. After the war he married Amy Oswald Crow, (1842-1882) of Glasgow, Scotland, on April 3, 1866 and went went into business in Providence Rhode Island, founding the dry goods store Callender, McAuslan and Troup Company. Walter had 3 sons, Walter Reid Callender, (1872-1934; Graduated Yale 1894); Robert Callender, (Graduated Yale 1898; d. 1900); and John Alexander Callender, (Graduated Yale, 1902). Walter senior died in Providence December 30, 1921. Private John B. Noyes, Company B, mentioned Callendar among the friends he met in Washington in January, 1863. (See “The Travels of John B. Noyes,” above). He is also mentioned in the letters of James Ramsey, Company F. Callendar was active in the 13th Regiment Association post-war re-unions.
Although he only attended dinners in 1894, and again with his son Walter R. in 1914, he provided liberal financial support to the organization and ocassionally served on its executive board. Incidentally, his name is always spelled "Callender" in the circulars.
Picture, Capitol Grounds July, 11, 1863
As regards Yours of the 23rd being received with unusual pleasure, there must be some mistake, for it was not received, or at least it did not afford me any more pleasure than the rest. All of the letters I receive from home & friends afford much pleasure, If I wrote You it was received with unusual pleasure it was a mistake on my part & I must have used the word unusual for usual;
The one I received this evening was received with unusual pleasure because it contained the Photograph for which, I am a thousand times obliged & I in return will send one of mine as soon as I can make it convenient to have them taken.
I was pleased at the good advice You sent (not to work to hard) for the work that I do at the Office would not injure the most delicate Lady in the world. I am obliged to be at the Office all day, but do not work some days more than ten minutes. this past week I have been very busy on account of the arrival of so many Barges & probably shall be busy untill about the middle of April, but I always manage to enjoy myself “busy or not” for when it is pleasant instead of sending the Messenger to Head Quarters with my Reports I go back and take them myself.
The past week We have had extremely pleasant weather, but last evening it commenced to snow & continued snowing nearly all day. this evening it cleared off & is quite pleasant (over head) but the walking is very sloppy.
This evening there was a large Mass meeting on the green in front of the Capitol & I should think from the crowd I have seen going that way it must have been largely attended by both Ladies and Gentlemen, while I am writing I can hear the noise & cheers of the crowd & the Music of the Bands quite plain.2
Mr. Supplee is with me in my room this evening sitting at the opposite side of the table, writing to some Young Lady in Baltimore, his intended I suppose. He keeps asking me so many foolish questions I shall get some of them down in this letter if I am not carefull.
As my steady quiet life affords me but little news of importance I think I will bring this to a close, for as You say if I write to much at once I shall have nothing to write next time.
Give my kind regards to all inquiring friends & write soon.
sorry to hear My Mother was sick & hope
it will not prove serious, I think instead of writing to
Pierce this evening I will improve the rest of it
in writing to her)
Photo: Crowd in front of the
Capitol, May, 1865
1. I have no information on the identity of C. E. Pierce.
2. There was a very large Union Meeting held in the U.S. Capitol on March 31, 1863. Both the Senate and House Chambers and the associated spaces were filled to capacity to see the President and most of his cabinet who were in attendance. Admiral Foote and Andrew Johnson of Tennessee were the featured speakers. William's letter shows the crowd must have spilled out onto the lawn in front of the Capitol despite the snowfall. April 14, 1863
Photo: Navy Yard
Washington D. C.,
I think He & John1 ought to be placed on the retired list of soldiers & receive a pension of a thousand a Year for they have suffered much for their countries good
My letter this time will necessarily be short, not for the same reason You had, because You did not feel like writing ) but because I have nothing interesting to write about, except the weather ) for the last week that has [been?] delightful & taking everything into consideration I have enjoyed it much, the out-door plants are in bloom “& everything looks as fresh & green as grass”
(but in reality everything today is not as green as one might take them to be, at a distance) I should have written Sunday but not having received any for a fortnight, I thought it best to wait for I would not intentionally tax Your patience with these cheap letters of Mine, I managed to pass the Sabbath very pleasantly, in the morning I took a ride over to the Navy-Yard & satisfied my curiosity by looking at the different articles got up expressly for destroying life & property & protecting our sea-coast.
in the afternoon I went to Alexandria just for a sail, took a stroll around the different Forts & Entrenchments & returned home early in the evening a wiser, if not a better man.
as I have an engagement this evening at Browns Hotel I shall be obliged to cut this letter short, I promised to be there at eight & it is nearly that now,
hopeing You will enjoy Fred’s short visit, & write
again soon, I am
as ever Yours, most
(Those great attractions You spoke of in Washington if I understand Your meaning correctly, I believe there is quite a number of them here, but I have never indulged in any of them as Yet, and as for enjoyment if I could not enjoy myself more in Boston in one day than I can here in one week ( I would never say so )
Picture, Washington from the Capitol looking West-Southwest
Private John B. Noyes had long sought an officer's commission since the day he determined to volunteer for the service. Finally on April 6, 1863 Governor John Andrew appointed him 2nd Lieutenant, 28th Massachusetts Volunteers. Ironically the 28th was an Irish regiment, and John Noyes would find he did not like the organization. He received notice of his appointment on April 17, while he was clerking at Headquarters for General Marsena Patrick's Office of the Provost Marshal General, and applied for a 10 day furlough to go home and purchase an officer's uniform and equipments. This brought him through Washington again, although it was more business than pleasure. He first passed through the city on his way to Boston, barely stopping, before catching an evening train to New York. When he returned a week later, after acquiring a uniform, sword, trunk, and carpet bag, (and visiting family & friends) he again passed through the city on the way to Aquia Creek Landing to pick up his discharge paper. With that in hand he returned to D.C. to get his final pay from the 13th Mass. and settle accounts. He did not stay too long, the army was on the move. Between business, he found time to see a few friends and visit the Washington Theatre.
Diary Entries, April 28 - May 1, 1863
April 28th. Arrived at Washington at 6 ½ Am. To Acquia Creek & the Army. There at 2 P.M. Saw F. W. Vaughan. Slept in the office. Found my discharge paper there. The Army on the move. Saw Dalton Of Whipple’s Staff. Letter to father.
April 29th. Dan Holbrook married to Miss Lockwood. Pleasant. Left Falmouth in 10:45 train for Washington. Cannonading heard. Stop at Markham’s Hotel. Saw Dorr, Rideout, Chase & Brown. Letter to Martha.
[Levi L. Dorr and W.H.H. Rideout are pictured elsewhere on this page.]
April 30th. Pleas. Rain P.M. Fast day, Paid Brown & Chase in full. $13.00. Rec’d from him $104.00 8mos. Pay. To Washington Theater in Eve’g with Ch. [Charles] Richards to hear J. Wilkes Booth & Alice Gray in Romeo & Juliet.
May 1st. To Patent Office. Weighed 130 lbs. Paid in full on my discharge papers $44.00 to April 11. 1863. Letter to father enclosing $130.00. Clarke of Co. D called. Percy Townsend, Corp. 39th Regt called on me at the hotel in Eve’g. Letter to Ellie Coverly.
Richards was badly wounded in the upper
lip/nose at the battle of Antietam. His comrade Levi Dorr, said
head swelled up like a balloon. In later years he grew a beard to
hide the scar. He was discharged from the service in November,
1862 and clerked in Washington during and after the war. For
fifty years he was Keeper of Stationery in the U.S. Senate. He
spoke of his experiences and the many famous personalities he
encountered at the 1914 Regiment Association re-union
Tilton Clarke of Company D, also clerked for various head-quarters in
Washington during his enlistment and afterwards. It is
interesting that his only mention in John Noyes' diary comes here the
day after Noyes has seen John Wilkes Booth perform at the Washington
Theatre. It was Clarke's apartment across the street from Ford's
Theatre, where President Lincoln was brought after being shot by Booth
two years later. Historian Ida Tarbell wrote in her book, Life of
Lincoln, that Clarke had left the theatre early,
bored with the
play, when shortly afterward he witnessed a commotion in the
street. When he learned what was happening he offered his room
for the dying President. This was disputed by other participants after
Tarbell's history was published. Dave Taylor at his Boothie
Barn Blog, has studied the story, and it appears that it was
Clarke's family that gave this story to historian Ida Tarbell about 20
after Clark had died in 1888. President Lincoln was
brought to Clarke's room, but it was another tenant,
Safford, who boarded on the 2nd floor, and saw the commotion in the
street from his window. Safford believes, Clarke may have written
letters home giving the impression he was present at the time of
Lincoln's death ...and thus caused the misunderstanding. Or,
perhaps Clarke embellished his role in one of the greatest tragedy's in
American history, when speaking of it to others.
Letter; May 1, 1863
Markham’s Hotel, Washington D.C
Dear Father :
I went last night to see the reigning star in the theatrical line, J. Wilkes Booth, brother of Edward & son of him whom you saw when many years younger than now. J. Wilkes is younger than his brother & has not quite so much mannerism. His voice is very like Edwin’s, base, though not so finely cultivated. Occasionally, unlike Edwin, he rants although perhaps the play, Romeo & Juliet, might be his excuse. He was ably supported in Mercutis, & Juliet, done by Miss Alice Gay was Excellent. The death scene was somewhat over acted, suggesting the idea that J. Wilkes and Miss Alice, were not both to act Romeo and Juliet together. Sufficient however of play acting, an amusement I do not often enjoy.
To day I visited the Patent Office, looked very
curiously over the numerous patents models there collected
together. I saw also the Sword of Washington & staff of
Franklin & many of the effects that once belonged to the father of
[The Hall of Models;
Interior of the Patent Office Building].
As I entered the Provost Marshal’s office to renew my pass I met a class mate, Percy Townsend a corporal in one of the later raised regiments, who was in charge of the guard at the office. I invited him to spend the eve’g with me & he accepted the invitation.
To day I was paid off on my discharge papers in full. I send you herewith one hundred and thirty dollars to be disposed of as you think best. You can receipt for it in a note directed to me at the 28th Mass. Vols, via Washington D.C., as tomorrow or next day I shall hunt up the Regiment which is now across the Rappahannock. Have you read Hooker’s testimony in relation to Burnside and McClellan before the investigating committee; and the editorial of the Richmond Whig on “the late Geo. B. McClellan.” Now that the rebels have nothing to gain from lauding McClellan, they seem to be very outspoken in their estimate of him as a military leader.
With love to All I am
Pictures, John Wilkes Booth & Alice Gray
On May 2nd, Lieutenant Noyes left Washington by boat and started for his new command. The Chancellorsville campaign was in full swing. He arrived at headquarters in Falmouth, ready to start for his regiment that night, but was not off until the following morning. On May 4th he bivouacked at U.S. Ford, and joined the 28th Mass. on the battlefield May 5th.
Cape Ann Light & Gloucester Telegraph, May, 1873
Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph
GLOUCESTER, MASS., SATURDAY, MAY 23, 1863. [all caps]
The Capitol building at Washington is progressing towards completion, although not so rapidly as anticipated. There are about six hundred hands employed upon it, but on account of the unusual wet weather the work on the dome has been so delayed that the statue of Liberty will not be raised on the 4th of July, as contemplated. The beautiful porticos of the wings will be finished this year.
About a week ago some of the glass roofing over the Library of the House of Representatives fell through from its over weight, and greatly endangered the life of the Assistant in the library. Thursday morning an iron panel over the Congressional Library, while a workman was walking upon it, broke away and caused the death of the workman in a very few moments.
Picture: Quarter Master's Office at 7th Street Wharf
My Own Dear Lillie
You ask why I sent that Poetry & if I thought You needed to read it. No! Lillie Dear I did not. I sent it because my letter was a short one, & as it contained more thruth than Poetry, I put it in to fill up.
I did not send it because I thought You needed it, far be it from that. I know or at least I take You to be a young Lady that is smart enough to look out for No. 1. however, a little advice will do no person any harm & I know very well there are plenty of jealous disposition’s in Quincy & Braintree that would do any thing in this world to wrong You or Me & especially You, when I am away.
When I am with You to love & protect You, I have no fears & I hope the day is not far distant when I shall be with You always. I often look back to the day of my enlistment & think what a fool I was, but then when I look at it again, I think it was not quite so foolish as some might think, for what I have seen & learned I shall never forget & I have got out of it safe & sound & for all I know as good if not a better man than when I enlisted.
I think it was a gift from God that I left them when I did, for had I been with them at Fredericksburg, Gettysburg & Antietam I should have probably been killed, or crippled for life. I enlisted on the 16th of April 1861 but was not sworn into the US. service until sometime in July, but the Col. [Leonard] told me in Browns Hotel, two or three weeks ago that the Regt. or rather the old Boys of the 13th, would be mustered out
sometime in May so You see it will be only seven or eight months at the longest. but my coming home will have nothing to do with that, for I can come most any time, the only trouble is I cannot stay any length of time after I get there. never mind Lillie Dear, when next I enlist, I will not enlist in infantry, but infancy & You know pretty well who’es Company I intend to join, [ L.A.W. ] & I am under the impression after the Co. is once started or formed, We can raise as many recruites for Home-Guard’s as We wish, about the size of that one You took Care of at the Beach for Amer [?] Presby’s Wife ( how are You young Zoozo )
I guess I have written enough of my chin music & as I have no news I will bring this to a close & go down on the wharf & see how My men are working, for they have been lounging about so much for the past few days I almost afraid
They have forgotten how to work.
hoping this will find You as gay & happy as You always seemed to
be I will bid You a most affectionate adieu
Lydia A. Waymouth
William was discharged from the 13th Massachusetts August 1, 1864. He continued clerking in the Quarter Master Department in Philadelphia until March 31, 1865.
William and Lydia married on June 5, 1864 in Philadelphia, PA. They settled in Quincy, and had 3 sons, Henry 1865-1924, William 1872-1920 and Carl 1876-1927.
The Ninety-third Anniversary of the Declaration of American Independence was celebrated in Quincy on Monday, July 5, 1869. William H H Rideout was the Chief Marshal.
Lydia lived until 1885. William would marry two more times before he passed away at age 79 January 25, 1920. During his life he was very involved in the 13th Regiment Association re-unions, and was a member of the E.W. Kinsley Post 113 of the G.A.R. His obituary in the Association circulars says for a long time up until his death he was employed at the Boston Custom House as Inspector of Cigars.
All three of his sons attended several of the 13th Mass. re-unions with their dad.
Something tells me William had a sense of humor. I think it is because I found the following record of 1873 election results for Governor in Quincy. Also, it was William Rideout’s request that the following poem be read at the Dec. 11, 1900 re-union dinner at Young’s Hotel in Boston.
A VETERAN VANQUISHED.
came back from bloody war in eighteen sixty-five,
I guess fur
most a thousand times, an’ mebbe more, I’ve sot
with Billy Sherman from Atlanta to the sea,
as veteran soldiers will, some yarns I’d of’n spin
He sets an’
laughs when I begin to boastingly recite
William H. H. Rideout,
1890, age 49.
© Bradley M. Forbush, 2018
Page Updated May 28, 2018.