Saturday, April 30, 2011

Blog in Real Time - April 30, 1861 - Post #9

War preparations were zealously pursued by people on both sides.

Tuesday, April 30, 1861

     Two hundred ladies, with their needles and thimbles, met at the Town Hall Tuesday morning, April 30, at ten o'clock. After prayer by the Rev. Dr. Arnold, of the Baptist Church, and the singing of a hymn, the different garments, "consisting of four dozen blue-flannel shirts and four dozen pairs gray-flannel drawers," were distributed. The work progressed steadily for four or five hours, until the allotted task was completed.  This work was for the State.  Subsequent meetings for preparing uniforms for the Westborough company were frequently held until the 20th of June.  The result was the thorough equipment of the company (the town furnishing the material, and J.A. Trowbridge, who then had a tailor's shop, attending to the cutting) with uniform, fatigue-suit, havelock, thread-bag, towels, handkerchief, soap, and comb for each soldier.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Blog in Real Time - April 29, 1861 - Post #8

April 29, 1861
 From the Regimental History:
     While this work was going on(organizing companies A, B, and D ) John Kurtz and others were engaged in recruiting a third company, which was subsequently known as Company C, with an election of officers which occurred on the 29th of April, 1861 as follows:
Captain .....John Kurtz. (pictured)
First Lieutenant .....William H. Jackson.
Second Lieutenant .....William M. Chase.
Third Lieutenant .....Joseph S. Cook.
Fourth Lieutenant .....Walter H. Judson.

Natick, Mass. raised a company of rifles which became Company H, of the 13th Mass. Vol. Inf.  The town officially opposed the expansion of slavery into the new territories since the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
The following is from "The History of Middlesex County" by Duane Hamilton Hurd.

     Beginning Of The Great Rebellion Movement.— April 3, 1854, the town had adopted the following resolutions, reported by its committee, John W. Bacon, chairman :

“Whereas, the bill now before Congress for the organization of the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska proposes to repeal so much of the Act of March 6, 1820, as forever prohibiting slavery north of 36° 30' In the Louisiana purchase — Be It therefore

" Resolved, That the inhabitants of Natick in town-meeting assembled do solemnly protest against the passage of said bill because

"1st. It will violate the plighted faith of the nation.

"2d. Because it will allow African Slavery to enter into 480,000 square miles of territory, from which it has been excluded for thirty years.

"3d. Because It will tend to keep out of these territories the farmers, mechanics and workingmen of the free States and the poor men of the stave States now oppressed and degraded by African Slavery who would rear in these territories free Institutions for all.

"4th. Because it will tend to increase the influence of Slavery over the policy of the national government.

     Thus early did this town commit itself to the cause of human liberty against the encroachments of slavery, in the fearful contest which the wisest and most patriotic all over the North and West foresaw was impending.
April 29, 1861, the town appropriated $5000 to be expended under the direction of the selectmen, for the benefit of the families of such citizens of the town as may serve in the impending war.

     The selectmen at that time were Willard Drury, William Edwards and C. B. Travis.

     Leonard Winch, Deacon John Travis and John Cleland, Jr., were chosen a committee to consider "the wants of those citizens who may volunteer their services for the impending war." May 7, 1861, the town authorized the selectmen to pay for the uniforms of the Mechanic Rifle Company, of Natick, to the amount of $1000. It was also voted that each volunteer soldier should be furnished with one rubber camp blanket, and one pair of woolen stockings and each commissioned officer and musician with a revolver. Also the town appropriated $500 to furnish arms, equipments and clothing to volunteers, if called into actual service. July 17, 1861, the town voted to raise the sum of $10,000, in aid of the families of volunteers, and at the same time appropriated $1400 to meet expenses already incurred and to carry out contracts already made with volunteers.

     Westboro's Rifle Company Mustered into the federal service as Company K, 13th Mass. Vol. Inf.
From the History of Westborough, Massachusetts:

     A company was organized, known as the Westborough Rifle Company, and was chartered on April 29 as Massachusetts Volunteer Militia.  It numbered seventy-nine men.  But before the time came of going into camp, the announcement came that the Government could accept no more volunteers for three months' service.  The company was accordingly re-organized, with a view to enlisting for three years. It lost, in consequence, nearly half its members ; but recruits kept joining from day to day, and before its departure (June 29) the company contained one hundred and one men.  Of the total number, Westborough furnished fifty-six men ; Southborough, eighteen ; Upton, nine ; Shrewsbury, nine ; Hopkinton, eight ; and Northborough, one.

     Several weeks were spent in drilling and equipping the company, during which it made marches to several of the surrounding towns.  "Sumptuous dinners, patriotic speeches by town magnates, and the blessings of the fathers and mothers," in the words of one of their number, "were everywhere showered upon the volunteers."

     Calvin Chamberlain, a resident of California, but a native of Westborough, showed his interest in their welfare by presenting each man with a dagger ; and on the company's visit to Upton, each member was presented with a drinking-tube by the Hon. William Knowlton.

The following is from Sgt. Austin C. Stearns Memoirs, "Three Years with Company K." Edited by Arthur Kent, 1976,  Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. Press.

     The Spring of '61 found the South arrayed against the North.  A Confederacy was formed with Jefferson Davis for it's President. Richmond, Va. was it's capital.

     Fort Sumter had fallen and the little army of the United States was treacherously surrendered, leaving President Lincoln no other alternative than to call on the loyal people to maintain the supremacy of the laws and the integrity of the Union.

     A proclamation was issued calling for seventy five thousand men, and the loyal, regardless of party, quickly responded.   A living stream then commenced to flow from the North, which abated not, but increased in volume for four long years, till secession was conquered and peace was declared in our land.

     My native town failing to raise a company and hearing that Westboro wanted a few more men to make her company full, six of us Bear Hill boys came over and offered ourselves.  We were voted in and commenced to drill immediately. The company was already formed, with the following named officers:  for Captain, William P. Blackmer  (Methodist Minister), First Lieut., Charles P. Winslow (Expressman). 2nd Lieut., Ethan Bullard (Carpenter), 3rd Lieut., John Sanderson (Carpenter),  4th Lieut., Abner Greenwood.  The Company was known as the "Westboro Company,"  but men from Shrewsbury, Southboro, Hopkinton, and Upton were in its ranks.

Memoirs of George Kimball (12th Mass) 
     Kimball joined the Tigers, but eventually enlisted in 12th Mass., but other members of the "Tigers" including Surgeon Allston Whitney and James F. Ramsey, joined the 13th Mass.

In the early part of April, there being indications that Uncle Sam was about to awaken from his lethargy, I joined the Second Battalion of Infantry, familiarly known to Bostonians as the “Tigers.”  Our armory was in old Boylston Hall, and here, night and day, was heard the tramp of feet and the clatter of arms as the embryo soldiers learned their lessons. My captain was the late proprietor and publisher of The Boston Journal. Col. Charles O. Rogers, and a more generous, patriotic man it was never my good fortune to meet. He was a super  soldier, too, and had he found it possible to forsake the engrossing cares of his great newspaper for the tented field, he would doubt less have won a place among the foremost heroes of the age.
     The Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Regiments went to the front, and orders came for the Fourth Battalion (New England Guards), commanded by Major Thomas G. Stevenson, afterward Colonel of the Twenty-fourth and a Brigadier General, and who fell at Spottsylvania at the head of a division, to garrison Fort Independence, and for the Second Battalion ("Tigers"), commanded by Major Ralph W. Newton, to proceed to Fort Warren.  Both organizations had been stationed at Boylston Hall.
     Some delay occurred, out on the 29th of April the "Tigers" were let loose, 250 strong, and, headed by Gilmore's Band, we marched to the wharf, where we took a steamer for the fort .  All along the route we were cheered to the echo, and we were very proud to be looked upon as defenders of Old Glory.
     In time of peace garrison duty is doubtless very dull music, but with a great war opening and events daily transpiring which excited their enthusiasm to the highest pitch, the 250 men of the Second Battalion of Infantry found life at Fort Warren exceedingly pleasant. The fort was comparatively new and had never before been occupied by troops. Piles of rubbish of every kind incumbered not only the spacious parade ground, but every casemate and every nook and corner was filled with it.  So we set to work with a will to put our house in order and had manual labor galore.  Twas interesting to see professional men, merchants, clerks and others as busy as bees with shovel and wheelbarrow and broom, while song and jest and heartiest laughter rose continually as an accompaniment.

Letter of James Ramsey
James Ramsey eventually enlisted in the 13th Mass. Co. E.  But at this time he was with Private Kimball, at Fort Warren, with the 'Tigers," or 2nd Battalion.  Ramsey's letters were shared with me by his family descendants. 

Fort Warren April 29, 1861

Dear Mother  I am safe and like my quarters well    I am pressed for time and cannot write much    If it is convenient I should  like to have fathers valice with my rubber coat   I should like to have a revolver case father can buy one and send it down to morrow in the valice and any other thing you would like to send  give my love to all kiss Hugh for me      father can carry  the valice to the armory and it will get to me     I will want  my name put on it or a card glued on   from your son

                                               J.F. Ramsey,

Good by don’t worry

P.S. send my suspenders and a small blank book to keep an account, send me at towel and comb and a  lead Pensil quick.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blog in Real Time - April 26, 1861 - Post #7

April 26, 1861
The towns in Massachusetts were busy preparing for war.

From the History of Westborough:

     The work of preparing uniforms was undertaken by the women.  On April 26, the day following the town-meeting at which it was voted to raise a military company, a meeting was held in the Town Hall to organize a Soldiers' Sewing Society.  After prayer by the Rev. Mr. Cummings, of the Unitarian Church, J.F.B. Marshall explained the objects of the meeting. It was voted to organize a society, and the following officers were chosen :  president, Mrs. E.M. Phillips ; secretary, Miss M.J. Marshall; directors Mrs. J.F.B. Marshall, Mrs. S.B. Lakin, Mrs. A.N. Arnold, Mrs. J.A. Fayerweather, and Mrs. Salmon Comstock.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Blog in Real Time - April 25, 1861 - Post #6

From the History of Westborough, Massachusetts, By H.P. DeForest & E. C. Bates:

April 25, 1861

Westborough Town Meeting
     At the town meeting held April 25, T.A. Smith, C.P. Winslow, J.F.B. Marshall, Benjamin Boynton, and John Bowes were chosen a committee to consider the matter of raising a company, and to report the necessary expense.  They reported the following resolutions, which were unanimously adopted: -

Old Westboro Town Hall, 1903.  (The soldiers' monument
on the right was built after the war.)
     "Resolved, - That the town appropriate five thousand dollars, to be expended in the purchase of uniforms, pay of men while drilling, and for pay in addition to the amount paid by the Government, when called into active service.

     "Resolved, - That a committee of five be chosen, whose duty it shall be to attend to the expenditure and disbursement of all moneys hereby appropriated ; and no bills shall be contracted for or paid without the approbation and approval of said committee."

     No petty bickering marred the unanimity with which the people of Westborough responded to the call of the President.  After the unanimous adoption of the above resolutions, it was immediately voted that "the treasurer be authorized to borrow $5,000, the selectmen issuing town script therefore, to fall due $1,000 per annum after the present issues ;" and further, that the selectmen, - G.C. Sanborn, B.B. Nourse, and S.B. Howe, - with J.F.B. Marshall and Patrick Casey, be the committee called for in the second resolution.

     The Military Committee, as it was called, having organized by choosing B.B. Nourse chairman and J.F.B. Marhall secretary, immediately set about its tasks.

From Three Years in the Army, by Charles E. Davis, Jr.; Estes & Lauriat, 1894.

Company E, known as the Roxbury Rifles, was organized about the 25th of April, 1861, by the election of Dennis S. Bartlett as captain, Charles R. M. Pratt as first lieutenant, and Joseph Colburn as second lieutenant.  After its organization , the company was quartered in Bacon's Hall, Roxbury, the boys obtaining their meals at a restaurant near by.   From this time on until Sunday, the 12th of May, the company was daily drilled in citizen's clothes.  On that day the company appeared for the first time in new uniforms furnished by the State, and attended divine service at the Dudley-street Baptist church, at completion of which service each man was presented with a Testament.

Lt. Joseph Colburn (pictured) would prove a brave and capable officer.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Blog in Real Time - April 23, 1861 - Post #5

April 23, 1861.
    Washington was isolated due to the Baltimore riots which cut off communication and transportation to the capitol. Virginia voted to secede on the 17th.  The Harper's Ferry National Armory was evacuated and burned by its small garrison on the 18th, but much of the equipment was in tact.  It was seized and sent south by Virginia militia who marched on the town.  The Norfolk Navy Yard had been lost to the Confederates.  President Lincoln wondered if any more Federal troops would come to Washington, "Why don't they come?" he exclaimed.

     The people of Massachusetts were busy recruiting.

    The following is from the Regimental History, Three Years in the Army, but I have paraphrased parts of it for brevity:
     Summary of the formation of the 4th Battalion of Rifles; Boston. 

     In July, 1860 a committee consisting of James A. Fox, W.F. Davis, D. H. Bradlee, N.S. Dearborn, and A.N. Sampson were appointed to nominate a captain and third and fourth lieutenants to fill vacancies in the Boston Militia Company known as the "Boston City Greys" or, the "Boston City Guards."  A charismatic recruiter was sought after, who would inspire men to enlist under his command.  (James  A. Fox pictured).

     Samuel H. Leonard had moved from Worcester to Boston and was obliged to resign his commission as brigadier-general, as an officer could not hold a commission outside the limits of the district where he resided.  He was an officer of wide reputation as one of the most  skillful and thorough drill-masters in the State.

     The aforementioned committee offered General Leonard the captaincy of the Boston City Guards.  Leonard accepted upon condition that a second company be raised to be joined with the City Guards, forming a battalion, and changing the arms from muskets to rifles.

     This was agreed to, and General Leonard petitioned the Governor and Council to set off the City Guards from the Second Massachusetts Regiment (which included the "Boston Light Infantry (Tigers)," & the "New England Guards" for this purpose, and authority was given him to form a rifle battalion using the City Guards as a nucleus.

     The City Guard was called Company A in the new battalion.  On December 15th, 1860 they elected the following officers:

Captain ....Samuel H. Leonard.
First Lieutenant ....James A. Fox.
Second Lieutenant ....William F. Davis.
Third Lieutenant ....Charles S. Chandler.
Fourth Lieutenant .....George H. Bush.

     Immediately following this election, privates Thomas J. Little and Augustus N. Sampson, with fifty-one others, petitioned the Governor and Council to leave to form a new company, which was subsequently known as Company B.  When the company's ranks were full the following officers were elected on March 29th 1861:
Captain .....N. Walter Batchelder.
First Lieutenant  .....Joseph S. Cary.
Second Lieutenant .....David H. Bradlee.
Third Lieutenant  .....John G. Hovey.
Fourth Lieutenant  .....Augustus N. Sampson.

     On the 23d of April, Lieutenant Bradlee having been elected adjutant of the battlion, Horace T. Rockwell was elected Fourth Lieutenant and Messrs. Hovey and Sampson were each promoted. (Batchelder pictured).

(John Kurtz's company C was recruiting at this time, but will be included in post #8).    
      Company D was organized as follows:
     A military company was formed after the Mexican war composed of Massachusetts veterans, and known as the "Massachusetts Volunteers."  The company was attached to the 1st Regiment of Infantry M.V.M., Company I.  After two years the company changed its by-laws to include non-veterans so it could continue.  It was then voted to take men who had served not less than a year in the volunteer State militia.  The name of the company was changed to "National Guard."  Augustine Harlow was elected captain in the spring of 1854 and served until July 1860, when he resigned.

     April 15, 1861 he was asked to form a new company, and proceeded to do so at once.  The free use of a room in the Adams House was granted him by the  proprietors, and in a few days the required number of names was obtained for organization and the following officers were elected:

Captain .....Augustine Harlow.
First Lieutenant .....Samuel N. Chamberlain.
Second Lieutenant .....William H. Cary.
Third Lieutenant .....Charles H. Hovey.
Fourth Lieutenant .....James H. Mayo.

    It should be born in mind that in raising these companies the impetus given to enlistments by the startling events of the day, made it quite easy to obtain all the men needed to complete the organizations to the maximum number required.  As a matter of fact, so many men offered to enlist that it was decided to accept only those who were voted in and willing to pay $12.50.  This sum, added to moneys received by subscription, was expended in the purchase of uniforms, each man being measured to ensure their fitting.  The jacket was tight fitting, with a short skirt.  The shoulder knots and trimmings were red, and the uniform gray.  The cap was trimmed with scarlet and surmounted with a pompom.  It made a handsome, serviceable uniform, and gave a very effective appearance to the battalion.  Unidentified soldier in the uniform of the 4th Battalion.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Blog in Real Time - April 19, 1861 - Post #4

Friday, April 19, 1861.

From Three Years in the Army:

    The 19th of April, which is one of the days sacred to American history, on account of the battle of Lexington, this year received an additional interest from the events that were transpiring.  It was celebrated by the ringing of bells, flag-raisings and speeches, a drill on Boston Common by one of the artillery companies, and at noon by the firing of one hundred guns in honor of the day.

    While the people were thus actively engaged in celebrating the day, news was received that the Sixth Regiment had been attacked in the streets of Baltimore.  The most intense excitement followed.  Men gathered in groups about the streets, while crowds surrounded the bulletin boards of the newspapers to learn the particulars.

      If anything was needed to arouse the patriotism of the North, it had now occurred.  Public meetings were held in various parts of the city.  Merchants, Lawyers, physicians, and members of other professions met, and offers of service and money were proffered to the use of the State.  Large loans were generously offered by the Boston banks and by the banks of cities, for the State's immediate use, trusting to the honor of the Legislature to reimburse them, when it met.  Numerous offers of money were made to the Governor by private individuals, as aid to soldiers' families. Nor were women lagging behind the men in enthusiasm. Rich and poor, high and low, all offered their services for the preparation of bandages and lint, the making of garments, attendance in hospitals, or any other service compatible with their sex.

     Business seemed, for the time, to be forgotten in the excitement.  The minds of men were too much disturbed to give proper attention to other matters. Only one subject possessed the public mind, - to protect the government from the clutches of traitorous hands.

     It was under the influence of these patriotic demonstrations, as exhibited in all the cities and towns of Massachusetts during the first months  of the war, that our regiment was enrolled.  Many of the young men who left lucrative positions were guaranteed them on their return, by their employers.  The generous impulses of all were awakened by the danger that threatened the country.

From the History of Stoneham, by William Burnham Stevens, 1891.

     Twenty-five years have passed since the close of the great Rebellion. It seems hard to realize that to a large part of the people now living the events of the war are known only as matters of history or tradition ; that almost one generation has come and another gone since the opening events of 1861. Those were stirring times in Stoneham, and all who love the old town are proud to dwell upon her record. No town was more patriotic, none more prompt in hurrying to the front, or furnished more men in proportion to her population. Stoneham's company of minute-men having been engaged in the first battle of the Revolution, it was a remarkable coincidence that Captain John H. Dike's company, from the same town, on the same day of the same month, should have participated in the first skirmish of the Rebellion. At Lexington she was in the vanguard of the army which founded the Republic. At Baltimore and Washington she led the hosts that saved the Union. The conduct of Captain Dike and his men in a great emergency deserves more than a passing notice. The part they acted in the march through Baltimore has made the name of the Stoneham company historic. The Stoneham Light Infantry had been the military organization of the town for many years, and was Company C of the Seventh Regiment. The first proclamation had been issued by President Lincoln calling for seventy-five thousand volunteers. On Tuesday, April 16th, Captain Dike goes to Boston, presents himself at the State-House, and begs the privilege of calling out his company in obedience to the President's call. On his return home the men are notified to meet in the armory in the East School-house, where they assemble at 8 P. M., and unanimously vote that they are ready to start at a moment's notice. The night was dark and stormy, and Wednesday morning broke with a cold and hazy atmosphere, but the town was alive with excitement. Men were hurrying to and fro, and preparations being made for immediate departure. A messenger had been despatched from the Governor, who reached Captain Dike's at half-past two in the morning, notifying him to muster his men and report in Boston forthwith. These men were again summoned to meet in the armory at 6 A. M. New names were added to the roll, and the members dismissed to make the last arrangements, and bid their final adieux. Those who witnessed the company's departure on that morning of the 17th of April can never forget it. The company met at the Town Hall, where prayers were offered, and a little before ten, in military array, they reached Central Square.

     The people had assembled in a great multitude, wild with patriotic enthusiasm. It was an occasion such as Stoneham had never witnessed. The company departed from the square amid the ringing of bells, waving of hand kerchiefs and tumultuous cheers. After reaching Boston, they marched to the State-House, where they received over-coats and other articles. A. V. Lynde, Esq., presented to each one of the commissioned officers a revolver. The company was assigned to the Sixth Regiment, commanded by Col. Jones, and the same afternoon they were en route for Washington. The commissioned officers of the company were: Captain, John H. Dike, First Lieut., Leander F. Lynde; Second Lieutenant, Darius N. Stevens; Third Lieutenant, James F. Rowe; and Fourth Lieutenant, W. B. Blaisdell. In addition to the officers there was one musician and a full complement of sixty men. No language of the writer could give so vivid a description of what occurred during the next few days as the following letter, written by one of the chief actors, Lieut. Lynde, who was in command of the company after Captain Dike was wounded in Baltimore:


     Senate Chamber, April 26, 12 M., '61
     MR. C. C. DIKE:

      Dear sir:—Yours was received this A. M. For the first time we have got direct news from home, and I assure you it were gladly received. Last night at 7 P. M. the 7th Regt. N. Y. arrived and were quartered at the House of Representatives. That cheered us up considerably, but to-day, when the gallant 5th, 7th and 8th Massachusetts and the 1st Rhode Island arrived, the wildest enthusiasm prevailed, for it was refreshing to see familiar faces from the old Bay State. Previous to this we had been worked very hard for green soldiers, sleeping with, and at all times having with us, our equipments, but the men have done well, and have stood by each other like brothers. Now for our journey here. The papers give an account of our route to Philadelphia. From there I will try and give the particulars. Our muskets were loaded and capped before we got to Philadelphia. We left there at 2 in the morning, arriving at Baltimore at 12 M. Our company were in two covered baggage cars. We had stopped for about fifteen minutes and a crowd was gathering fast, when we discovered that the Colonel and Staff, together with seven companies, had left their cars, and gone across the city. The men whose duty it was to draw with horses our cars across, were driven off and could not, and we proceeded to get out, fall in, four companies in all, to march across, we having the colors in one of the companies. The companies were C, of Lowell on the right; Co. B, of Lowell, with the colors ; then came Co. C, of our town, Captain Dike, followed by Co. I, of Lawrence. Before we got formed we were taunted and spit upon and insulted in every way possible. After marching about ten rods, stones and brick-bats flew merrily, and the order was then given by Captain Follansbee, who commanded the regiment, to double quick march. We had not gone more than ten rods before I saw a man discharge a revolver at us from the second story of a building, and at the same time, a great many were fired from the street. We got scattered a little, and I gave the order to close up in close order, solid column. Just then, Captain Dike being ahead, two of our men fell, one by a bullet from a pistol, and one by a brick-bat. I then ordered my men to fire, which they did, and I then gave the order to load and fire as we went. We got partly through the city, when we found them tearing up a bridge, and the street blockaded up with stone and large anchors, but we scaled them and kept up our courage. I kept around the colors and stood by them till they were at the depot, then helped put them in the cars. We were scattered very much, all trying to get into the cars. About ten rods from the depot I saw Captain Dike. That was the last I saw him. He being some way ahead, I supposed he had got into the forward cars. A great many of the cars were locked, and the windows closed, but the buts of the guns soon made a passage into them. Every gun was pointed out of the window, and the rebels began to leave. While we were getting into the cars, we were showered upon with pistol balls, and they were unshackling the cars so as to leave some of us, but when we got right we soon stopped by stationing men on the platform and muzzles out of the windows. After helping put in the colors in company with the color-bearer, I got into the cars and they began to move very slow, for the rebs had gone ahead and torn up the track. The police went ahead and we fixed the track and finally moved on to Washington. One word in regard to the police. Some of them were loyal, but what could they do when we were in the thickest of the fight. As soon as we got started I looked through the train to see who was hurt and who were missing, for we were awfully mixed up. I found upon examination that our Captain, James Keenan, Horace Danforth, Andrew Robbins and Victor Lorendo were left-behind. The band did not get out of cars on the north side of Baltimore, and we did not know what had become of them till this morning when we learned that part of them had gone home, and a part of them were in New York. As soon as possible after getting to Washington, took means to find out in regard to those left behind, and found that Captain Dike was shot in the thigh, and was in good hands, but was told that they could not tell the names of the parties with whom he was stopping. James Keenan was shot in the leg, and Andrew Robbins was shot and hit with a stone, hurt very bad. Horace Danforth was hit with a stone and injured very severely, but all were in good hands, and well cared for. Communications by letter being cut off from Baltimore, I have not received news from there as well as I should had there been a mail, but have heard several times by men coming from there that they were cared for and doing well, but rumor said yesterday that A. Robbins and H. Danforth were dead. I cannot tell, for it is impossible to write and nobody goes there. I shall do the best I can to hear from them and help them in every way. We got to Washington at dark, went directly to the Capitol, and were quartered in the Senate Chamber. The Pennsylvania Regiment was quartered in the southern wing, 350 men. Monday we took the oath of allegiance to the United States. It was administered by Maj. McDowell. We have marched up to the President's house, passing in review before President Lincoln, Gen. Scott, Wm. H. Seward and Simon Cameron. To-day at 12 M. the 5th and 7th Massachusetts Regiments arrived and marched to the Patent Office, where they are quartered. The 8th Massachusetts are in the Rotunda and old Senate Chamber, very much used up with marching, and going without sleep and provisions, but our men are doing all in their power for them. Say to all our Stoneham friends that the men behaved like men as well as soldiers, and attend to their duties cheerfully, and are ready if needs be to rally at a moment's warning around the colors of 6th Regiment, and under the stars and stripes there to protect our glorious Union against any odds and at all hazards. We all unite in sending good news to all inquiring friends, and will endeavor so to act that none of them shall ever be ashamed to own that they had friends in the time of need in the Stoneham Light Infantry. Yours truly,

"L. F. LYNDE, Lieut. Commanding."

From the History of Westborough:

     On the 19th of April the news of the attack on the Sixth Regiment in the streets of Baltimore added fuel to the flames. Patriotic enthusiasm could no longer endure opposition or indifference.  The postmaster, who had spoken rather too freely, it was thought, in expressing his sympathy for the South, was its most prominent victim.  On the afternoon of the outrage in Baltimore a crowd of excited men appeared before the office, - at the corner of South and Main Streets, - and presenting him with the flag of his country, demanded that he raise it at the office door.  This he refused to do.  Fifteen minutes were given him to change his mind ; and when it was announced that the allotted time had nearly expired, a friend of the postmaster, with the excuse that "the easiest way is the best way," avoided further trouble by  nailing the flag to the door-post.  There it remained for months, until the wind and rain had reduced it to tatters, inspiring loyalty and rebuking indifference.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blog in Real Time - April 17, 1861 - Post #3

Wednesday, April 17, 1861

From the History of Westborough, Massachusetts, by H.P. DeForest and E.C. Bates:

     The attack on Sumter aroused the North as no event had done since the stirring days of 1775.  The cold and unemotional New Englander again glowed with patriotic ardor.  "The instant effect produced," says one historian, "was that of solemn silence, - that silence which in the resolute man is the precursor of irrevocable determination ; and then there arose all through the country, from the Canadian frontier to where the Ohio, rolling his waters westwardly for a thousand miles, separates the lands of freedom from those of slavery, not the yell of defiance, but the deep-toned cheer."

     The patriotism of the people of Westborough was stirred in unison with the general thrill.  Slavery and secession found little sympathy.  The sentiment of the town was shown in the election of 1860, when two votes were cast for Breckenridge, forty-four for Bell, ninety-seven for Douglas, and three hundred and one for Lincoln.  But he prompt and earnest action of the town in response to the President's appeal, and the spontaneous and vigorous protest of the people against any sign of sympathy with the seceding States, are perhaps better evidence of the loyal spirit which animated the community.  On Wednesday, April 17, - two days after the call for troops, - a warrant was issued by the selectmen, G. C. Sanborn, B.B. Nourse, and S.B. Howe, calling a town-meeting for April 25, "to see if the town will grant or appropriate any money toward raising a military company in the town, or act anything in relation to the same."  The excitement was intense, and warlike talk and preparations did not wait for the official sanction of the town.

     Stoneham Massachusetts would organize a company called the "Grey Eagles," Jacob Parker Gould, Captain.  The Grey Eagles would become the nucleus of Company G, 13th M.V.I.   But another militia company was already active in Stoneham when President Lincoln called for troops.   The Stoneham Light Infantry, commanded by Captain John H. Dyke.  On Tuesday April 16, Capt. Dyke went to Boston and offered his company's service to the President.  His men assembled that night in Stoneham and made preparations to set out at a moment's notice for Washington. 

From the History of Stoneham, Massachusetts by William Burnham Stevens & Francis Lester Whittier:

     Wednesday morning broke with a cold and hazy atmosphere, but the town was alive with excitement. Men were hurrying to and fro, and preparations being made for immediate departure. A messenger had been despatched from the Governor, who reached Captain Dike's at half-past two in the morning, notifying him to muster his men and report in Boston forthwith. These men were again summoned to meet in the armory at 6 A. M.   New names were added to the roll, and the members dismissed to make the last arrangements, and bid their final adieux.

We will hear more from Captain Dyke's company...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Blog in Real Time - April 15, 1861 - Post #2

From "The Civil War, Day by Day" by E.B. Long & Barbara Long; (Civil War Almanac) Da Capo Press 1971:

Monday, April 15, 1861
     As excitement increased among the peoples of the now warring nations, President Lincoln at Washington publicly issued a proclamation declaring that an insurrection existed, calling out seventy-five thousand militia from the various Northern states and convening Congress in special session on July 4.

From "Three Years in the Army,"  by Charles E. Davis, Jr. (1894):

     The present generation has no conception of the consternation that prevailed among the people of the North when the startling news was received that Fort Sumter had been fired upon.  It aroused the patriotic indignation of the community to the highest pitch of excitement.

     Up to this time most people were skeptical about the possibilities of a war.  Threats of secession had often been made before, by politicians of the South, without being carried into effect.  The feeling of hatred that existed toward the North was not fully appreciated except by a comparatively small number of persons.  Although the air was filled with rumors of war, they were generally believed to be nothing more than the irrepressible mutterings of disgruntled politicians.  Therefore, when the announcement was made that Fort Sumter had been fired upon, it awoke the public mind to a realization that rebellion and secession were at hand.  Public meetings were held in every town and city.  Resolves were passed condemning the outrage, coupled with an expression of determination to avenge the insult to the national flag.

     Such a display of bunting in Boston was never seen before.  Across every street, at the mastheads of vessels lying in the harbor, in the horse-cars and on express-wagons, and upon private houses could be seen the American flag floating in the breeze ; and, indeed, every opportunity was taken to give expression to the prevailing sentiment by displaying the national emblem.

     On the 14th of April Fort Sumter surrendered.  On the 15th a telegram was received by Governor Andrew to forward two regiments, and on the same day the following communication was sent to the Secretary of War :

Boston, April 15, 1861.
To Hon. Simon Cameron, Secretary of War :

SIR:  I have received telegrams from yourself and Brigadier-General Thomas, admonishing me of a coming requisition for twenty companies of sixty-four privates each; and I have caused orders to be distributed to bring the men into Boston before to-morrow night, and to await orders.  Allow me to urge the issue of an order to the Springfield (Mass.) Armory, to double the production of arms at once, and to push the work to the utmost.  If any aid by way  of money or credit is needed from Massachusetts, I hope to be at apprised.  An extra session of our General Court can be called immediately, if need be; and, if called, it will respond to any demand of patriotism.

And I beg you would permit, in addition to suggesting the utmost activity at the Springfield Armory, to urge that the armory at Harper's Ferry be discontinued, and its tools, machinery, and works be transferred elsewhere, or else that it be rigidly guarded against seizure, of the danger of which I have some premonitions.  If any more troops will certainly be needed from Massachusetts, please signify it at once, since I should prefer receiving special volunteers for active militia to detailing any more of our present active militia, especially as many most efficient gentlemen  would like to raise companies or regiments, as the case may be, and can receive enlistments of men who are very ready to serve.

Allow me also to suggest that our forts in Boston Harbor are entirely unmanned.  If authorized, I would put a regiment into the forts at any time.

Two of my staff spent last Saturday in making experiments of the most satisfactory character with Shenkle's new invention in projectiles; and so extraordinary was the firing that I have directed eighteen guns to be rifled, and projectiles to be made.  May I commend this invention to the examination of the United States Government?

I am happy to add that I find the amplest proof of a war devotion to the country's cause on every hand to-day.  Our people are alive.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blog in Real Time - Prologue - Post #1

Friday, April 12, 1861

(From the Civil War Day by Day by E.B. Long & Barbara Long)
(abridged - B.F.)

     At 11 P.M. the night of April 11 Gen. [P.G.T.] Beauregard's messengers returned to Maj. [Robert] Anderson at Fort Sumter, prompted by the telegram of Confederate Sec. of War [Leroy Pope] Walker expressing a wish to avoid firing if Anderson would state time at which, due to lack of supplies, he would have to evacuate.  They reached Fort Sumter at 12:45 A.M., April 12, and at 3:13 A.M. received Anderson's reply.  The major said he would evacuate on the fifteenth at noon if he did not receive additional supplies or further orders from his government.  Anderson added that he would not fire unless fired upon.  These terms were obviously unsatisfactory to the Confederates as it was common knowledge supplies and possibly reinforcements were coming, probably along with further orders.  The officers had to refuse Anderson's proposal and notified him in writing that Confederate batteries would open in an hour's time.  They proceeded to Fort Johnson, arriving at 4 A.M.

     At 4:30 A.M. the signal shot was fired from the post of Capt. George S. James at Fort Johnson, with other batteries opening according to previous orders.  Capt. James gave the order and, probably, one Henry S. Farley actually fired the signal shot that arched in the night sky over Charleston Harbor.

     .....For a while, until near 7 A.M. the forty-eight guns of Fort Sumter were silent, and then some of them replied, manned by eighty-five officers and men and some of the forty-three workmen employed at the fort.  Opposing the Federal garrison were well over four thousand Confederates and seventy or more guns.  ...All day the Confederate bombardment was constant and heavy.

     ...For the Confederates it was said a thrill went through the city of Charleston - the issue had been met.  Crowds of people watched from the battery and many others perched on rooftops for a better view.  ...Out at sea the vessels of the Federal relieving fleet could be seen.  Would they attempt to come in?

The Following is from "The  History of Westborough, Massachusetts," By H.P. DeForest & E.C. Bates, 1891.  From the chapter "The Civil War."  It presents the view of events from a Massachusetts perspective.  Westborough would raise a rifle company in response to President Lincoln's call for troops.  The rifle company mustered into Federal Service as Co. K, 13th M.V.I.

     The story of the growth and development of Westborough now turns from matters strictly local to her humble, though loyal and earnest, share in suppressing a great rebellion.  At the outbreak of the war the town had increased to a population of about three thousand.  Agriculture was still the main occupation of her people, though the manufacture of sleighs, and of boots and shoes, was to some extent carried on.  It was a quiet village. The busy hum of machinery was little heard, and the era of "modern improvements" in buildings, highways, sidewalks, and the rest had not yet begun.  But while the people of Westborough were quietly attentive to their various local interests, - their farms and shops, churches and schools, - stirring events were occurring in the great world outside.  The cloud of Secession, which had been lowering over the country for nearly half a century, was growing blacker and more threatening.  Slavery was the cause of the disturbance.  As long as the cherished institution of the South had been confined to its original boundaries, the indulgent North had made little protest.  But with the rapid growth of the South in industrial importance and wealth, - following Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton-gin, which made cotton "king," and slave labor profitable, -  the extension of slavery became the question of the day;  and the extension of slavery into new territory aroused vigorous opposition.  The solution of the troublesome question was delayed for a while by a series of humiliating compromises ; but the increasing power of the slaveholders made each demand more bold, and more dangerous to grant.  A sectional war was inevitable.  The pecuniary interests of the South were too great to be voluntarily surrendered, and the moral judgement of the North could never sanction the growth of slavery as a national institution.  The weak and vacillating administration of President Buchanan gave the South an opportunity to prepare for the approaching conflict.  Arms and ammunition were sent to Southern forts ; ships of war were despatched to distant parts of the world ; the army was weakened and scattered ; in fact, before the grand crisis arrived, every possible means had been taken to make secession an easier talk.

     In the Presidential election of 1860 the Republican party presented as its candidate Abraham Lincoln, and pledged itself to oppose the further encroachment of slavery.  The Democratic party, which was more friendly toward the system, became hopelessly divided. The more moderate Democrats nominated Stephen A. Douglas, while John C. Breckenridge represented the extreme slavery sentiment of the South.  In the midst of the excitement, a party favoring conciliation and compromise nominated John Bell.  On the 6th of November, Abraham Lincoln was elected President.  His election was hailed with joy in the North, and with bitterness and rage throughout the South.  The Slave States had boldly threatened that they would secede from the Union in case of Lincoln's election, and it was soon seen that their threats were more than idle bluster.  On the 20th of December South Carolina passed her ordinance of secession ; and before the inauguration of President Lincoln, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas had followed her example.

     The first act of open hostility took place on January 9, 1861, when the steamer "Star of the West," bearing supplies to the Federal garrison, was fired upon off Charleston harbor.  On April 12, Fort Sumter, which was garrisoned by eighty men under Captain Anderson, was bombarded by South Carolina troops.  Two days later - Sunday, April 14 - the fort surrendered.  The next morning came President Lincoln's famous call for seventy-five thousand men for three month's service.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Blog in Real Time - Coming Up

     Tomorrow, April 12, I plan to start my experiment, 'blog in real time.'

     This morning I prepared 9 posts which run through April.  The idea is to post a news item, from the perspective of a '13th Mass.' soldier on the date it happened, - only 150 years later.  The early posts however, will be somewhat summative of events because of the nature of the source material.

     They are culled from the regimental history, "Three Years in the Army," by Charles E. Davis, jr. (1894, Estes & Lauriat) & "The History of Westborough, Massachusetts," by H.P. DeForest and E.C. Bates, (1891), and deal with the organization of the various rifle companies that became the '13th Mass.'

    I have tried to arrange the posts close to important corresponding dates.   They provide an accurate description of the prevailing sentiments and activities in Massachusetts at the outbreak of hostilities.

     The posts will come fast and furious for the month of April, drop off noticeably for May, and then resume with regularity from June forward.  I simply don't have much material for May.

     Right now, I can't say how long I will be able to continue the experiment, due to other obligations, but let's see how it goes.

     Happy Reading !


Friday, April 8, 2011

The Circulars, Part II

    In August last year, I wrote a bit about the beginnings of the 13th Regiment Association Circulars, an annual publication issued to members of the regiment, published between the years 1888 - 1922.  There are over 1,000 pages of printed materials; a great resource on the '13th Mass.'  I'd like to continue that narrative and describe the growth of content that took place between 1895 and 1910.

     After 1895 some former soldiers became regular contributors to the Circulars.   Charles Bingham of Co. C, and Clarence Bell, of Co. D, both submitted original poems, relating to some aspect of service in the 13th during the war.  The poems were read at the re-union dinners and later published in the next year's Circular as part of the description of festivities.  The poems are very long, but here's an example of a shorter one from 1895, by Charles Bingham.

(Portrait of an unknown soldier in the gray uniform of the 4th Battalion.)


[These lines were suggested by the uniforms worn in 1861 by a military organization of Boston, known as the "Fourth Battalion of Rifles, M.V.M.," and to which they are appropriately dedicated.]

Tis a subject somewhat mouldy -
"Blue and Gray;"
But I'll give a newer version,
As I hope, for your diversion,
Though you question my assertion,
As you may.

In the days of sixty-one
We wore Gray.
We were youthful then, and slender,
And our hearts were young and tender,
And we "mashed" the female gender
Every day.

We were "dandy jim" militia
In those days;
With our uniforms so nobby,
And battalion drill our hobby,
Our behavior wasn't "snobby" -
More's the praise !

But we wore another shade
In sixty-two;
Then in uniforms so "stunning,"
With our rifles, went "a-gunning,"
And we didn't look so "cunning"
In the Blue.

Again in sixty-three we wore 
The Gray ;
And our dormant ire arouses,
For in our shirts and trousers
And in our "canvas houses"
Thick they lay !

This brought another change
To the Blue;
But now 'twas only mental,
Though the cause was accidental,
We were rather sentimental
On review.

But no more shall we appear
In war's array.
Let our children tell the story
How we fought and bled for glory,
While we now, with heads so hoary,
Wear the Gray !

     The poems appear regularly through 1901.  During this period Bingham also penned "How We Joined the Army, The Story of a Raw Recruit."  This was the story of his journey to the front in August, 1862 as one of the early batches of recruits to join the regiment in the field just after the battle of Cedar Mountain.  Clarence Bell, along with his poems, wrote two noteworthy pieces, "Some Camp Followers of the 13th," and "A Hot Time in Winchester."  These were humorous remembrances of some of the former slaves, "contraband," that attached themselves to the unit as servants for the officers and enlisted men, and silly anecdotes from the advance to Winchester in March, 1862.
     Association Secretary, and author of the Regimental History, Charles Davis, always filled things out with items of interest to the membership.  In 1896 & 1897 he printed corrections to the regimental roster. The next year he reported on the participation of the regiment's delegation at the dedication of the Massachusetts Monument at Antietam.  He told his own war story anonymously in Circular #12, "An Episode of the Civil War."  This was re-told  with added detail years later, when Davis felt less embarrassed writing about himself.  (The more detailed story, "From Manassas to Boston," is on the '2nd Bull Run' page of my website.)  In Circular 14 Davis wrote "Drafting for Recruits."  He presents a look into how the draft was conducted in 1863 & 1864, at the Third Massachusetts District where he was chief clerk.  Davis's contributions continued through the entire run of the Circulars.

     In 1902, (Circular #15) George Jepson of Co. A, became a regular contributor of articles for the next 9 years.  His articles were written for the newspapers and re-printed in the Circulars.  They are generally over-long treatments on major campaigns or key players of the war.  His subjects include, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Generals Hooker, Reynolds, Grant and Lee, and President Lincoln. The reader's reward for plowing through Jepson's ponderous prose, is getting to the priceless gems of personal reminiscences, trivial as he called them, yet fascinating for their association with great events.

     Jepson played chess with Ely Parker of General Grant's staff in 1864.  While standing sentinel at a New Year's Bash, he blurted out that he wished to shake hands with the President, as Mr. Lincoln and General Wadsworth crossed the thresh-hold.   He tells the story of '13th Mass' Color Bearer Roland Morris, who was shot dead at Gettysburg.  He tells how Lt. J. A. Howe saved the colors from capture in that same fight.  And, he describes vividly, Private N. M. Putnam's ordeal with the company wash-basin while skirmishing at Fredericksburg.  Jepson's articles are always a good reference for personal anecdotes and character sketches from the annals of the 13th.  Between Jepson and Davis the Circulars flourished between 1902 - 1911.  Others were inspired to try their hand at authorship and some of the most gripping tales from the regiment were published in this span.  These include George Henry Hill's "Reminiscences from the Sands of Time," Major Elliot Clark Pierce's humorous "Midnight Ride," and John S. Fay's, "Libby Prison."

     Hill tells of his capture at the Wilderness and internment at Andersonville. He and two comrades escaped from a Rebel train en-route to another prison.  Pierce's article relates how he imagined himself as Paul Revere, while on a midnight ride between Sharpsburg and Sandy Hook, Md. to deliver some routine dispatches to General N. P.  Banks, very early in the war.  Fay writes of his loss of two limbs when struck by a rebel shell that killed two others. He and Surgeon Allston Whitney were eventually captured at their field hospital and sent to Libby Prison in  Richmond.

     The great material would keep coming in future years, but I'll write more on that later.  For now, I leave you with Private Nathaniel M. Putnam at Fredericksburg,  as told by his Company A comrade, George Jepson.

     "The rebel sharp-shooters had ensconced themselves among the limbs of the opposite trees, and were popping away at us and picking off the officers in the line of battle behind.  Our own rifles were hot with constant firing, and every tree that sheltered a "Johnny" was made the billet of many a bullet. What execution our shooting did, as a whole, it was hard to tell.  We now and then saw a rebel slide down from his cover and limp away ; but it was at  least equally effective, if not more so, that that of the enemy, for as we lay at the regulation distance of five paces apart the intervening ground was literally peppered with hostile lead, but up to a certain period not one of us had received a scratch.

     My immediate neighbor on the left was N. M. Putnam. (pictured) "Put," as he was familiarly called, was the model of a soldier ; one of those men of sturdy New England build, morally and physically, always ready for any duty, and who could never acquire, apparently the first principles of the art of shirking, whether it was that of the most disagreeable police duty or the more dangerous one of keeping his file in the face of bursting shell and a storm of leaden hail ; presenting, moreover, the rare example of an old soldier who never drank a drop of intoxicating liquor, never smoked or chewed tobacco, was absolutely insensible to the fascinations of poker, loo, or seven-up, and was never known to indulge in even the mildest and most innocuous cuss word.

     It happened, on this of all days, to be "Put's" turn to carry the mess wash-basin, a new and glittering affair recently bought of the sutler.

     We all had our knapsacks on, and as we lay on our bellies - firing in that position, turning sideways to load - it might have been thought that such an object, slung on the back of a knapsack, would afford a first-class mark for a Southern rifleman.

     We noticed, indeed, but without divining the cause, that the shots were coming a little thicker and faster about the particular spot where we lay, until a "Bucktail" - one of the famous Pennsylvania regiment, so named because they had adopted the device of wearing a buck's tail on their caps - who was next to us on the right, sang out: 

     "Tell that cuss to take that damn tin pan off'm his back !"

     I passed the warning to "Put" just at the moment when there came the sharp pish of a bullet, accompanied by a slight tintinnabulation - I am sure that must be the right word for it - and "Put" hastily tore off the basin.  Such a comical look of stupefied consternation came over his face as he held up the bright object and exhibited a jagged hole completely through it, that we who beheld it fairly yelled with laughter.  The next instant, with a frantic gesture, "Put" threw the thing from him, and it rolled with many a grotesque gyration down the slope almost to the rebel lines.  That was close shooting, and we Northern veterans have good reason not to deny the abilities of "our friends the enemy" in that line. We all remember the characteristic story of the Northern traveler who witnessed the Kentucky lad shoot a squirrel dead with his pea-bore rifle and who began to blubber on examining his prize.  "What's the matter, my boy"  Why do you cry?"  "Pap will give me a lickin' 'cause I didn't shoot the varmint through the head!"

     But now a sudden commotion in the rear, and the sound of our bugle to fall back, told that our long, harassing, and nerve-wearing duty was finished."