Friday, January 29, 2010

Short Service

     New recruits joined the 13th Mass in the field several times during their service.  About 90  joined them in the field near Culpeper, Virginia on August 18th 1862 with another 40 or so joining the regiment September 10th outside Mechanicsville, Md. just before the battle of Antietam.*   The adjutant Generals report credits all 123 of these recruits to the month of August, 1862.   (None are listed for September).    Regimental Historian Charles Davis wrote in the regimental history, September 10th:    “We received anther lot of recruits to-day, and a fine looking set of men they were.  It is a notable fact that this batch of recruits was the last in which we had any feeling of pride.  Up to and including this time we had been fortunate in our recruits.  They were a credit to the State and reflected honor upon the regiment; they were in such marked contrast to those who followed that the fact is worth mentioning.”

     These new men came to the regiment just before several hard marches and deadly battles.  Those that arrived August 18th near Culpeper arrived just in time to endure an arduous retreat with severe actions at Thoroughfare Gap, August 28th  and 2nd Bull Run, August 30th.    Those that arrived September 10th fought at Antietam, September 17th.   Samuel Shelton Gould was one among the September group.  Warren H. Freeman of Company A wrote that Gould was with the company only a few days before his death at Antietam.   He writes,  "Samuel S. Gould stood within five feet of me when he was mortally wounded; he had been in the company but four or five days.   He was fresh from College, and I got quite well acquainted with him; he was a wide-awake, noble fellow, about as tall as I am.  He has relatives in West Cambridge. ...We had forty-one men in our company, twenty-one of whom were killed or wounded. …After I had fired forty rounds I went to Gould and got some of his cartridges; he was living, but not able to speak; he died before the battle was over.  During most of the day we were between 300 and 400 yards of the rebel lines – a good easy range for our rifles.”

     Gould’s story is exceptional; I outlined it in a previous post.   He was a Harvard student, who took to sea to see the world inbetween studies.  The following information is followed closely from “Harvard Memorial Biographies,” edited by Thomas W. Higginson; 1866.

     His father was headmaster of the Winthrop School, Boston, when Samuel Shelton Gould was born January 1, 1843.   Samuel attended Boston schools until his twelfth year, studying Latin for two of them.   When his parents moved to Dorchester he completed his preparatory studies at the Roxbury Latin School.  In 1858 at age 15 he entered Harvard College.  After a year he decided to leave school to see the world.   He went to sea as a common sailor on the ship ‘Peabody’ bound for Melbourne, Australia.  He brought along several Latin and Greek text-books and remarkably kept up his studies during his spare time.  His plan was to “re-enter College on his return with as little delay as possible.”  Samuel kept up a daily journal where he recorded his surprise at the mean tasks, drudge-work and poor food aboard the Peabody.   There was little opportunity to learn more of the “difficult parts of the work,” one of his personal goals.   The grumbling of the veteran sailors reinforced his idea that these were unusual conditions for a sailing ship.  When at Melbourne he chose not to return to America on the Peabody and instead sailed a few days later for the Peruvian port of Callao, on the American vessel ‘Commonwealth.’

     The work was harder on the Commonwealth, and the food worse, but the experience was better, because as an ordinary seaman young Samuel was now learning the more intricate parts of the job.  There was less time for study on the Commonwealth but Gould kept at it.

     At Callao the Captain revealed the true destination of the Commonwealth was up the coast to Chinca Island to harvest guano; seagull feces and urine, used as fertilizer.  Naturally, this was repulsive work for sailors.  Gould and another mate approached the Captain and requested a discharge from the vessel.   The Captain refused.  Words were exchanged and Gould demanded recourse with the American consul in Callao. The Captain struck him and the Second Mate beat him badly.   Samuel jumped ship that night.

     In a few days he joined the crew of a Boston ship, the ‘Rival,’ bound for Cork, Ireland.   He got on well with the officers and had a pleasant experience, even with 20 days severe weather sailing ‘round Cape Horn.  The rest of the voyage was pleasant and he continued his studies, and his journal:

     Tuesday, June 26th. — Forenoon below; finished the first volume of Macaulay's England.   I am glad to say that, in spite of the contrary predictions of my friends before I left home, I have not as yet neglected my reading and study, though my time has been much more limited than I expected, and consequently I have not accomplished nearly all that I could wish.  Greek and Latin I have kept at with a constancy of which, under all the circumstances, — hard work and scarcity of rest, — I think I may be justly proud.  I find that I have lost none of my ability to read them easily, but from the want of grammars I feel that my knowledge of them is not nearly as exact as it once was.  The Holy Bible, — the reading of which has been a daily duty and pleasure to me, — John Foster, De Quincy, Macaulay, Shakespeare, Tennyson, and Dickens have formed my leisure reading, if that time which I have stolen from my sleep can be called leisure.  I can fairly say that they have been my greatest pleasure ever since I left home.  I hope that a year's time, and possibly less, will see me again so situated that the bulk of my time, and not the spare minutes only, may be given up to them.  I have been like the mother in Tom Hood's ' Lost Child,' who did not know the love she felt for her child till she lost it.  I only hope that I may not, like her, forget it as soon as I find it."

     From Ireland Samuel sailed to New Orleans, and then made passage for home in a schooner.   The ship nearly wrecked in a storm off Cape Hatteras in March, but Gould arrived safely home in April, 1861 after an absence of nearly 2 years.  He followed up his desire to re-enter College and devoted the next three months catching up on the studies he had missed his sophomore year.   He re-entered Harvard as a junior in July 1861!  

     Believing he had a part to play in the great struggle now underway he promised to enlist should the President again call for troops in the future.  That opportunity came in the summer of 1862 and Samuel Gould joined the 13th Mass as a recruit.   “During that time he attended and addressed several of the war-meetings in Cambridge and Boston and the fire of his words were inspiring.”

     He joined the regiment in the field near Mechanicsburg, Md., September 10th.   At Antietam, Samuel Gould was still unarmed but assisted the stretcher-bearers removing  wounded men from the battlefield.  In short order he found a rifle and “joined his company at the front, and very soon fell, shot through the heart.”

     Samuel Gould’s story made me wonder how many others from this batch of new recruits were immediate casualties.  Charles H. Bingham of Company 'C' was one of them.  He joined the regiment in mid-August; was wounded at Antietam and received his discharge soon after.  But he survived the ordeal and wrote several interesting articles about his short war time experiences.  I counted 17 of these summer recruits who died between August and early January 1863.   I wonder what their stories were.   It would be difficult to discover something about some of these younger recruits, who served so briefly, with little time to form relationships with their comrades in arms.  Who will tell the story when the boys in blue are gone?  I offer the names of these unfortunate recruits who sacrificed everything for the cause of the Union. If anyone has information to share about any of these men please leave a comment.

Company A
William F. Barry; age 18; born Boston, clerk; KIA Sept. 17, 1862, Antietam.

Amos H. Bronsdon; age 38; born Milton, Mass., painter; died January 19, (or 20) 1863.

N. Stanley Everett; age 19, born Milton, Mass., clerk; died Sept. 21, 1862  at Alexandria, Va.

Samuel S. Gould; age 19; Boston, student; KIA Sept. 17 1862, Antietam;  
Warren H. Freeman of Company A wrote to his father “Samuel S. Gould stood within five feet of me when he was mortally wounded; he had been in the company but four or five days. He was fresh from Harvard College, and I got quite well acquainted with him; he was a wide-awake, noble fellow, about as tall as I am. He has relatives in West Cambridge. We had forty-one men in our company, twenty-one of whom were killed or wounded. My rifle was so hot that I could hardly touch the barrel with my hand, but it worked well; that was the reason I was able to fire so many rounds. Some of the boys only fired thirty times; their rifles got foul, and it took a long time to load. After I had fired forty rounds I went to Gould and got some of his cartridges; he was living, but not able to speak; he died before the battle was over. During most of the day we were between 300 and 400 yards of the rebel lines, - a good easy range for our rifles.”

Charles R. Nelson; age 29; born Brooklyn, NY, mariner; KIA Sept. 17, 1862, Antietam.

John P. Shelton; age 18; Boston, student; died of wounds Sept 18, 1862. (Shelton is pictured to the left.)

Company B
Charles T. Linfied; age 21, born South Weymouth, Mass., conductor, died of wounds Aug. 30, 1862,  2nd Bull Run.

George F. Wakefield; age 19; born Boston, machinist; KIA Sept. 17, 1862, Antietam.

Company C
George E. Bigelow; age 22; born Boston, clerk; died of wounds Dec. 19. 1862. 

Company D
Charles R. Armstrong; age 22; born Boston, clerk; Co. D, age 22, KIA Dec. 13, 1862, Fredericksburg.

Ira Bowman, age 32, born Littleton, NH, silversmith; died of wounds Oct. 6, 1862.

William D. Dorey, age 21, born Boston, stevedore; wounded at Manassas, Aug. 30, 1862, died of wounds October 2, 1862 at Philadelphia.

Albert A. Hazeltine; age 24; born Springfield, Mass., painter; died of wounds Nov. 15, 1862.

Edmond H. Kendall; age 30; born Sterling, Mass., clerk; KIA Dec. 13, 1862, Fredericksburg.

Charles A. Taylor (or Charles J.); age 30; born Boston, teacher; KIA Dec. 13, 1862, Fredericksburg.

Company H
William H. Baker; age 20, born Weymouth, Mass., student; KIA Aug. 30, 1862, 2nd Bull Run.

Company K
Hollis Holden; age 44, born Newfane, VT,  farmer; KIA Sept. 17, 1862, Antietam.

*Names of men in from the Adjt. General’s report were checked against the revised roster of the regiment in the 13th Mass Association Circulars.  I counted 123 recruits credited to Aug. 1862.  Charles Bingham, one of the recruits wrote "Aug. 13th 1862 with one hundred or more "raw recruits," I left Camp Cameron, Boston..."  John B. Noyes writes about 90 recruits joined the regt. Aug. 18.  Then later says 60 came at Culpeper and 50 came at Mechanicsville.  Sam Webster wrote about a hundred joined Aug. 18, then Sept. 9 "some recruits, left behind by the other lot, join us."  Of the 123 I counted, (perhaps with some error) a split of 90 arriving Aug. 18 and 40 on Sept. 9 would be a good estimate.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Corrections & Reflections

Well before January gets away from me I thought I should make my first post for 2010.  I did write the draft for a post on the scintillating subject of css.  (computer coding language).  It was supposed to be funny.  It wasn't.  So to kick off the new year I'll toot my own horn.  This is for those of you who are not facebook friends, or familiar with my website, or my yahoo group for 13th Mass descendants, (because I already announced this to them). The current issue of America's Civil War has my first published article within its pages; "The Three Ponies of Company B."

And, since blogging is new to me, I thought it would be a good time to make some minor corrections to past posts here at my blog; along with some thoughts for future posts.  On the "McDowell" post I wrote he ordered Colonel G. K. Warren's brigade north of the Warrenton Turnpike on August 30, 1862, thus committing one of the most egregious tactical errors of the battle of 2nd Bull Run.  That sentence itself is an egregious error.  It was Brigadier General Reynold's division that was ordered north of the turnpike.  Warren's small brigade was left behind and cut up by the attacking Confederates.  I've since corrected the mistake !

Next up; when I sited author Larry Tagg's excellent book "The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln" on the same post about McDowell, Veronica (or Kim using Veronica's email) of Savas-Beatie Publishing commented on my post and left a link to their site.  The link wasn't live.  (Blogger has a terrible html post editor). So if you want more information about the book or it's author here is the link:

Third, regarding the same post, reader Will Hickock wrote me and pointed out I had made an error regarding General McDowell's hat. (Maybe I should just remove that post) I appreciate the comment as I don't want to spread mis-information.  The correction is noted in the comments for that post, but for the record, I thought McDowell's tall kepi was the notorious 'hat' he wore, but in fact it was something quite different:

I found this reference to McDowell's hat in "Return to Bull Run" by John J. Hennessy, p.7-8:  "Some men even questioned Mcdowell's loyalty, suggesting that the prominent hat he wore, "which looked like an esqimaux canoe on his head, wrong side up," served as a covert signal to the enemy that he was present and "all was well." Such assertions were ridiculous,but the fact remained that he was disliked and largely mistrusted." A footnote adds "For debate over McDowell's obnoxious hat see the National Tribune, issues of November 12, 1891, March 31, 1892 2nd April 14, 1892.

I haven't found the National Tribune articles yet so maybe that's a post for another day.

I think that wraps up the corrections.  I have lots of new ideas for future posts, including biographies of certain members of the 13th Mass with some interesting stories, and perhaps comments on the circulars, the great resource where a lot of my material comes from. I have a "Mother's Day post in mind, one for Halloween, and posts for Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Antietam and maybe even Fredericksburg.  I also plan to talk a bit more about my particular research for the website.  If anyone has suggestions I'll accept those too if reasonable.  And of course stay tuned for the css post ! (That is if I can make it funny)  ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz...