Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blog in Real Time - May 25, 1861 - Post #21

Fort Warren
On May 25, the "Tigers" left Fort Warren.  The governor declined the offer of the Tigers for Federal Service so those men interested in going to the war front had to seek out another organization to join.  For George Kimball, the author of this reminiscence, that organization was the 12th Regiment, Mass. Vols.  For James F. Ramsey, and Dr. Alston Whitney, members of the Tigers, that organization would be 13th Regiment, Mass. Vols. 

Brig. Gen. Ebenezer W. Pierce took command of the fort on May 15, and ten days after, the battalion, finding that the Government would not accept their services as an organization, returned to the city. The Eleventh and Twelfth got square with us by “toting" our luggage to the steamer, and Companies D and E of the Twelfth, under Captains Shurtleff and Saltmarsh respectively, accompanied us to the Hub.  Marching up State street, headed by Gilmore's superb organization*, the men sang the now famous song, which created great popular enthusiasm.

It now looked as if I must hustle if I intended to get at the enemy before he surrendered, so I ran about looking for a favorable opportunity to enlist.  I finally brought up in the camp of the First Regiment in Cambridge, and spent several days there, but that organization was full.
     Finally Henry Wilson advised Secretary Cameron to send for Col Webster's regiment, and, hearing that recruits were wanted, I returned to the fort and joined Company A.

*Gilmore's superb organization is a famous Boston area Band. 

Fort Independence
From Three Years in the Army;  The Story of the 13th Massachusetts Volunteers, Charles E. Davis, jr. writes:

On the 25th of May the five companies, with knapsacks, blankets etc., marched down State Street to the wharf, where they took the steamer "Nelly Baker" for the fort, and where they arrived in due time.

It was a joyous day, though cloudy. We were puffed up with pride and importance at our new responsibility and the knowledge that we were to relieve the New England Guards, who had been garrisoning the fort for a fortnight.  The New England Guards was one of the crack organizations of Massachusetts, of which the citizens of Boston were justly proud.  It subsequently became the nucleus of the Twenty-fourth Regiment, that left Massachusetts for the seat of war December 9, 1861, and afterward made a glorious record.

As we marched into the fort, that battalion was drawn up in line to recieve us.  As we watched with admiration the precision and skill with which they performed their movements, we shed a big lot of conceit.

The duties of a soldier began immediately on their departure.  We were in possession of a fortification of the United States, and the responsibilities seemed immense. We were to guard it, and see that it was not stolen or captured by the enemy.

A detail was made from each company for guard duty, and the writer began at once the tremendous duties of a soldier.  Being placed on the extreme southern point of the island, nearest the enemy, he was cautioned to watch carefully, that he enemy might not come up the harbor without warning being given of his approach.  There seemed nothing ridiculous in all this; the caution was given and received in all earnestness.  These instruction were the first and, so far as can be recalled, the only ones he ever received, and they made a deep impression on his mind.  We often laughed afterwards as we reflected on the difference between this and the reality, though it was real enough to us then. Not a wink did some of us sleep that night.  The responsibility was too great for sleep.

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