Sunday, June 26, 2011

Blog in Real Time - June 26, 1861 - Post #22

Catching Up
I've neglected the blog in real time series for June, so I'll post a few pieces today to catch up.
The 4th Battalion of Rifles and the Roxbury Rifle Company, (Five companies that would become the nucleus of the  13th Regiment) were busy drilling at Fort Independence since arriving there in late May for garrison duty.   The rifle companies organized in the other towns,(Marlboro, Stoneham, Westboro, and Natick)  had not yet had their services accepted or been assigned.  The Westboro Rifle Company was about to disband, when orders to report to Fort Independence were received on June 25.  These companies would arrive at the fort June 29.

The following newspaper columns will serve to get us caught up with events.

The following two transcriptions were downloaded from the now defunct website, "Letters of the Civil War" which was run by Tom Hayes.  Photos of the fort are by Boston Photographer Sarah Kizina.

CHELSEA TELEGRAPH and PIONEER, June 8, 1861, (Pg. 2, Col. 5.) 

        Puff! Puff! Puff! went the little steamer, as she ploughed her way through the water that formed around her path, glancing merrily in the sunshine. A wide sheet there was, spreading all around her shinning, sparkling blue, dotted here and there with white sails, swelling in the breeze. With what a surpassing gracefulness does yonder tiny craft glide upon this summer sea. And there is another, and another, spreading its white wings as though full of life and rejoicing in strength.

    It seems but a few minutes, and we are standing on shore of this fair island. The bustling little steamer has passed on, and the waters are rippling quietly at our feet. We hear in the distance the soft dashing of oars, and around us we see row boats manned by sun-brown oarsmen.

    Behind us rise the walls of the Fort. Peaceful enough is all without, and over flowing with images of beauty; but within-we will enter.

    Here we see the bomb-proof walls, with their deep casements,-the openings for the heavy guns, the smaller apertures for the musketry,-the heaps of cannon balls, the stacks of deadly shells,-the stern preparations (if it must be) for deadly conflict. And now, through the broad gateway, we enter the area within. Here are the mustering soldiers: they fall duly into their ranks, and a hundred men are moved like one. The whole seems to be animated by one soul, swayed by one will. Now, as the word of command goes forth, the whole move onward with geometrical exactness, and again they are standing still as automatons. Again, at another word, one bearing his country's flag comes forward, and the flag-bearer is escorted with music and martial attendances as he bears it to its place. As its silken folds wave in the summer air, what heart goes not out after it in tender reverence! It embodies all of that we know of our country's history. It speaks to us of a nation's birth and a nation's growth; of past days and conflict. It tells, too, of years of peace and prosperity; of competence security enjoyed; of happy homes; where war has til now been undreamed of; of the means to sustain those homes, won by patient toil and manly enterprise. It tells to-day of that sublimest sight the world has seen, when, that banner having been draggled in the dust, millions rush to the rescue, not counting the cost of the Nation could be saved.

    We have learned much in a short time. It has been imaged that this people had out-grown war,-that the terrible science, among ourselves at least, was become an obsolete thing. The nation has been supposed to be too far advanced in Christianity and civilization, and the arts of peaceful life ever to seek the excitement of war. We have been at ease, and have followed the peaceful pursuits that distinguish a prosperous people.

    But the summons has gone forth. When did ever a nation hold back so long in moving to crush rebellion among her children? Was ever war more entirely unsought? Was ever cause, in the sight of God and man, more just? Was ever conflict more sacred in the eye of eternal truth and right?

    It is written that the time shall come when the science of war shall cease to be learned; the act shall no more be practised. There shall come such a day; but only through scenes of battle, and garments rolled in blood,-forever til the strong man learns that his strength is for the protection and safety of the weak, rather than for their oppression, will the sound of war cease from earth.

    But the visit is over, and we must go home. There is a flush of sunset upon the waters, and again, after a delicious sail of half an hour, we are landed. 


ROXBURY CITY GAZETTE; June 13, 1861; pg. 2, col. 3.) 

    It was out pleasure on last Saturday afternoon, in company with a party consisting of the members of the Old City Guard of Boston and their families, to visit the Fourth Battalion of Rifles at Fort Independence, and witnessed the presentation of a beautiful silk flag to the Battalion. The Germania Band accompanied the party.

    Though the weather wasn't the most comfortable, it being rainy, the garrison went through the review, presentation and dress parade in a creditable manner, and elicieted unqualified praise of the spectators.

    The battalion was reviewed by Gen. Tyler, Cols. Thompson and French, Capt. Bird of the "Old City Guard," Capt. Holmes of the Boston Independent Cadets. After the review, the troops being formed in close company on three sides, Major Leonard advanced, and the ensign being placed conspicuously in front of the line, read a letter of presentation from Messrs. Hogg, Brown and Taylor, in which they stated that they presented the banner, "knowing that you will nobly bear your part in the struggle, to wipe from it every stain, and again fling it to the breeze from the summit of every State."

    Major Leonard responded in behalf of the Battalion, with appropriate sentiments and eloquent words. "If," said he, "it should be our good fortune to be numbered among those of whom in future days it should be said that with that determined and unwavering bravery which vaults not myself, they breaded a wave of revolt which threatened the destruction not only of our lives and our homes, but of the grandest government which the world has ever seen, rest assured that the considerate friends who have by this presentation, inspired us with a new incentive to honorable achievement's, shall not have occasioned to feel the blush of shame for any deeds of ours."
    In conclusion the Major called for three cheers for the American flag, which were given with an enthusiasm that could not be mistaken.

    The affair was a pleasant one throughout, and all returned well satisfied with their visit. We tender out thanks to Lieuts. Pratt and Colburn for the many kind attentions bestowed upon us during our visit.

NOTE:  The flag described in the presentation here mentioned, is probably the flag now hanging in the Westborough Memorial Library.  (pictured).  Lt. William R. Warner, Sgt. Austin C. Stearns and Sgt. Melville H. Walker donated it to the library in 1903.

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