Saturday, July 16, 2011

Blog in Real Time - July 16, 1861 - Post #31

  On this date, the 10 rifle companies garrisoned at Fort Independence, in Boston Harbor, were mustered into Federal Service as the Thirteenth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, to serve a 3 year term of  enlistment.

     I'm not sure when officers were elected, but Captain Jacob Parker Gould, of the Stoneham, 'Grey Eagles' Rifle Company, (company G) was elected Major, beating out Captain James A. Fox, (company A) the favorite of the 4th Battalion of Rifles, (companies A - D).

      Some original officers from the 'country towns' were replaced with Boston men.  In his memoirs, Sgt. Austin C. Stearns of Company K, wrote:

On the 16th of July, about 10 A.M., Company K was marched up to the Fort, and there took the oath that made us Uncle Sam's soldiers.  I noticed, as we marched in, a boyish looking fellow with a tall hat on, who followed us, and also Charles B. Fox, a Sergeant of Company B, but did not think they were to be our Lieutenants, but such was the case.

Our old Lieutenants were allowed to go where they pleased.  Greenwood (Abner Greenwood) went in K as a Sergeant, Sanderson (John) as a Sergeant in C, while Winslow (Charles P.) and Bullard (Ethan) went home.

William B. Bacon (pictured) was the name of the boyish looking fellow; he was mustered in as our 1st Lieutenant.  I have nothing to say about the old Lieutenants, only this:  I think they were used as mean as men could be, and I justify them in the course they took.  I do not know who was responsible for this.  Fox was a good man and officer, and always treated the men as men.  Bacon, as far as he knew, did the same, but he was a young man, just from school, without any knowledge or experience of the great principles one should have who is called upon to command.  In fact he was a boy; boyish principles and boyish impulses governed all his acts. To put such a boy in command over men who were better qualified, as far as age, experience, and knowledge of human nature, was one of the fatal mistakes of the Executives of Mass. in the early days of the war, and I have no hesitation is saying that full one fourth of the men who marched into the Fort that morning were better qualified to be commissioned than he.
NOTE:  Sanderson is John C. Sanderson, (pictured) later promoted 1st Lt.,  and still later in the war, a Captain of the veteran 59th Mass. Vols.  Charles P. Winslow is listed as original 1st Lt. of the company, later 1st Lt. in the 51st Reg., Capt. in the Unattached Co. Infantry, and Capt. in 4th Reg. Heavy Artillery.  May have been in other regiments as well.  Ethan Bullard was original 2nd Lt. of Company.  (From Three Years With Company K, by Austin C. Stearns, (deceased) edited by Arthur Kent, Assoc. Univ. Press., 1976.)

     I do not have complete information on the origins of all the officers but Companies A-E kept their original Captains.  In Company F, from Marlboro, Captain Abel H. Pope was reduced a rank to 1st Lt.  Captain. Henry Whitcomb taking command of the company.  In Co. G, Eben Fiske  replaced Jacob Gould as Captain, Gould having been elected Major of the 13th Mass.  In Company H, William H. Clarke  of Boston  replaced Capt. Perry Chamberlain who was reduced a rank to 1st Lt.  In Co. I, Capt. R. L. Shriber would be assigned Captain on July 29.  Moses Palmer was reduced a rank to 1st Lt.  Company K retained its Captain, William Blackmer, but rec'd the two new officers mentioned in Stearns narrative above.

     Seniority is the usual means for promotion and since all officers had the same muster in date of July 16, Col. Leonard determined seniority would be established by Company, A being first, K being last.  This would create some tension within the ranks as will be seen in the future.   For an ambitious officer like Charles B. Fox, 2nd Lt. of K, it left little chance for advancement.

{There won't be many more 'real time posts' until July 25, then after that July 29.  Things should pick up in August).

Also, If you are enjoying these posts please let me know because the increased frequency of posts may become difficult to maintain in the near future. Thanks.

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