Saturday, December 31, 2011

John Brown Bell Presentation

     One of the many research highlights for me this year, was corresponding with Paul Brodeur of the Marlboro,  Historical Society in Massachusetts, hometown of Companies I & F.    The sesquicentennial has brought a lot of attention to the Civil War, and communities are starting to look at how the war impacted their citizens.

     Paul put together an excellent presentation on the John Brown Bell, which members of Company I, retrieved on September 26, 1861, and which they eventually brought to Marlboro, Mass. in 1892. The bell tower in the town square is an integral part of Marlboro's history.  Paul did extensive research on abolition in Marlboro prior to the war, the local fire engine companies whose members filled the ranks of Companies I & F, and the former slaves who settled in Marlboro as a result of their association with these companies, whom they met when the regiment was in Western Maryland.  The presentation is on-line for all to view.   Its a fascinating story.  Here is the link:  John Brown Bell.

     Our correspondence led down some other interesting paths, including a better look at some of the soldiers within the ranks of Company F and their standing in the community before and after the war.

     My favorite part of the presentation, still is the story of Fannie (Geary) Stanley and her mother, Arenia Geary, former slaves, who worked at the Wager House Hotel in Harper's Ferry during John Brown's fateful raid in October 1859.  The following quotes are from the Marlboro Enterprise 1914 obituary of Fanny Geary Stanley.

     “ When the war swept over the country she was working at the same (Wager) hotel, and by dint of extra effort she and her mother accumulated enough money to take them to the north.”

      “ About that time soldiers of the 13th Mass. Regt. were stationed in that vicinity and Mrs. Stanley, making their acquaintance, came north with them. The soldiers were from Marlboro and by their advice daughter and mother came here.” 

     There is a well known image of "Contraband" in the camp of the 13th Mass. at Williamsport.  None of the subjects are identified.  The photo is probably one taken by George L. Crosby, a photographer/artist from Marlboro, and a member of Company F, who was active with his camera equipment at this time  It is very likely, that the two women on the right of the picture are  Arenia Geary and her daughter   Fanny Geary.   It is also possible their cousin, William Geary, could be in the picture.  William would make Marlboro his home too.  Check out the slide show.  

     And, A New Year's Gift to all who read this!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Harper's Ferry, 1861, Revisited

The web page at my site titled, "Nine Weeks at Harper's Ferry" has been updated with new material and css code.  There is a technical glitch in the page design that shows up in my firefox browser.  The blue column at screen left does not scroll to the bottom.  Other than that distracting problem, there is a lot of new information.

Correspondence with research volunteer Eugene Wilkins and Supervising Park Ranger David Fox, at Harper's Ferry N.P. in early 2010 clarified several key locations of the skirmishes and activities of the 13th Mass soldiers, who picketed the river in the Fall of 1861. More information came to light this summer when I corresponded with Paul Brodeur of the Marlboro, Mass. Historical Society.  Other new material cropped up during the 3 years since I built the page, so it was time for an update.

I've always been proud of this page because the period was not written about in Charles E. Davis, jr.'s regimental history, "Three Years in the Army."   Some information is given in Sgt. Austin Stearns Memoir, "Three Years With Company K," but there is not enough detail.

I have added the following information to the page:

News accounts from the Boston City Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquier and the Westboro Transcript. This includes information about the John Brown Bell, the burning of Herr's Mill, and more.  There is also a little more information on Mr. Abraham Herr, and his claim to the govt. for rent money.

A section on civil engineer Lauriman Russell, Co. I, (pictured) and his maps.

Information on the final resting place of private John L. Spencer, first man of the regiment killed by the enemy.

A photo of California 49er, private Chandler Robbins, of Co. K with a letter to the Westboro Transcript.

An excellent report of the Battle of Bolivar Heights from the Washington Star.  Also, the  report of Lt. J.W. Martin, commanding Battery K, of the 9th N.Y. artillery.

A photo of Lt. William R. Warner, Co. K with his description of the engagement at Bolivar Heights, including reference to Capt. Shriber's noteworthy command, "Company I, Run!" which is sited in Davis's history of the 13th.

A photo of Corporal George Marshall, Co. C to accompany a description of his experience at Bolivar.

A description of the "drug store" clean-out of a secessionist in town.

Two letters of Capt. Shriber were restored to Richard Humphrey's original research.  I had placed these on a different page in order to keep a strict chronology, but thought it best to include them on the Harper's Ferry page also.

And more...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Just want to wish all my readers and followers a Happy Thanksgiving.  This blog flies pretty low on the radar screens and I'm grateful for everyone who finds time to drop by and read the posts.  You are all very appreciated.

The Harper's Ferry page of my website has been updated with lots of new material, but the new page file was corrupted so I have to re-construct it.  I will be posting it soon and writing about whats new here.  I will also be posting soon about Tim Snyder's book on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal during the Civil War, and on the John Brown Bell.

Happy Thanksgiving!  -  Brad

Saturday, October 29, 2011

John H. Moore and George F. Moore; New Book

Elin Neiterman of the Sudbury Historical Society contacted me in September, 2010 seeking information on John H. Moore, Co. F, of the 13th M.V.I. Art Rideout and I sent her the materials we had. Recently, Elin wrote to notify me that the Society's new book of Civil War Correspondence is finished and awaiting orders. I'm happy to help get the word out. The following is a news article about the project, which Elin forwarded to me. - Brad

     In honor of the year of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, there will be a special book signing and selected readings of the newly released book entitled “from your loving son” CIVIL WAR CORRESPONDENCE AND DIARIES OF PRIVATE GEORGE F. MOORE AND HIS FAMILY at the First Parish Church, 327 Concord Road, Sudbury, Massachusetts, on November 6th at 2 pm.

     The year was 1862 and the nation was fighting the Civil War. Sudbury, Massachusetts, a small New England farming community, stood ready to support the cause of the Union. Uriah and Mary Moore, a local farmer and his wife, parents of ten children, sent four sons off to fight for the Union. George Frederick Moore was twenty years old when he joined the Thirty-fifth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers in 1862 along with his brother, Albert. Their oldest brother, John, had enlisted in the Thirteenth Regiment and had been serving since 1861. In 1864, a fourth and younger brother, Alfred, joined the Fifty-ninth Regiment. Four cousins also served in the war. This was not the first time this family had sent soldiers into battle. Moore ancestors fought in the Indian Wars, the Revolutionary War, and The Battle of Bunker Hill.

     George often wrote home from 1862 to 1865 of battles, travels, lack of rations, and the weariness of a soldier, while his family in turn wrote to George telling him of their love for him, the news of the family and the town, and their view of the war. These eighty-four letters which span the years from August 1862 to the end of the war survived, along with George’s personal diaries from 1863 and 1864, the diary of Sarah Jones, the girl he married, family photos, and documents of George’s life during and after the war. The letters provide an intimate glimpse of the trials, not only of the soldiers, but of the families who sent their boys off to war. The documents are a historical treasure.

     When it was decided to turn this collection into a book, the authors looked beyond the letters and diaries to the life of George Moore and his family searching through historical documents contacting libraries, cemeteries, town offices, historical societies, military museums, and Civil War battle sites. Explanatory passages of the Thirty-fifth Regiment accompany the letters. George Moore took part in the battles from South Mountain and Antietam to Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, Campbell’s Station, and the Siege of Knoxville. He participated in the Battles of the Wilderness, Cold Harbor, and the assault on Petersburg.

     The book is a story of a small New England town, a patriotic family, and the Civil War. It has been a long labor of love, and we are proud to be able to present it to Civil War enthusiasts throughout the country.

     This project was supported by The Sudbury Foundation, The Sudbury Cultural Council and The Massachusetts Cultural Council.

     To purchase a copy, send check to: Sudbury Historical Society, Attn: BOOK, 322 Concord Road, Sudbury MA 01776. Prices are soft cover ($21.95); hard cover (31.95) Plus $3.50 S & H. Tax included.

     For further information on the book, please contact us at

Excerpts of letters in the book:

Dec 18th 1862 
Dear George …the Family were all together at the Old place Thanksgiving day but George Albert and John and partook of a Thanksgiving supper but then to see those vacant seats at the table it would bring to mind those dear ones that used to fill those seats in former times that they are far away in the war perhaps nothing but hard bread and coffee for their supper but I hope that wee shall all set down to a Thanksgiving supper together next Thanksgiving at our new home up in the middle of the Town and then it is consating to think that you were engaged in a good cause 

From Your Father 

April 30th 1865 

Dear George …How dreadful it seems to think such a dear good man as President Lincoln should lose his life by the hands of an assassin. When we first heard of his death, almost every one felt as though our Country was undone, but we feel differently now. It was wrong to place so much dependence upon one man, for Mr Lincoln was only an instrument in the hands of God to carry out this great work which has been accomplished, and his death reminds us that we must look above this world for help in these days of trial. I think there are not many men, if any, who are equal in all respects to Mr. Lincoln, yet it seems as though his heart was too tender to punish treason as it deserves, and perhaps that is why he was relieved from such a painful duty, and a sterner man put in his place.

From your loving Mother 

George’s final letter describes the end of the war.

Alexandria Va
May 14/65 

Dear Brother I received your letter a few days ago and was very glad to hear from you. I meant to have answered it yesterday but Rufus wanted me to go to Mt. Vernon with him so I went. Mt. Vernon was Gen’l Washington’s place. it was worth going to see. it is about six miles from here. we walked down. I suppose it was considered a splendid place in its day an in fact it is as handsome place as there is around here now I went through the House and Gardens also to Washington’s tomb. I guess nearly the whole of our Corps has been there. I have some Magnolia leaves from the tree that Washington planted near his house. I will send one in this. tell Mother to put it with the other things we have sent home. I think she said she had a number of things that we have sent perhaps if she keeps them we may tell something interesting about them when we get home. 
     I saw one of the grandest illuminations a few nights ago that I ever saw in my life. there are two Divisions of our Corps camped here together and they all illuminated their tents by setting a candle on top of each end of the tent and there are nearly 12000 men and a candle to each man and they are in camp on a side hill so we could see the whole camp. it was a splendid sight. then the Regiment turned out with their guns with a candle stuck in the muzzle of them. they marched all around the Camp and the Regts were from different States and as they went by a Mass camp they would cheer for that Regt and Mass boys would go by their camps and give them a cheer and so with other States. it was a pleasant night and not a breath of wind stirring so the candles burned first-rate. 
     There is considerable talk of our getting home soon but I don’t know whether to think so or not. we may get home before our time is out but not for some time yet we are going to have a review today so I have not time to write much more. Yesterday was my birthday. 23 years old . think of it. shall be an old batch soon. Al comes pretty near don’t he I laugh at him about it. I will now close. give my love to all. write soon and tell me all that is going on in town 
                           From your brother

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Marlboro Rifles; 351 Years Continuous Service

This is the anniversary of John Brown's Raid at Harper's Ferry.  It is also the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Bolivar Heights  (the town above Harper's Ferry) in which Company C of the 13th Mass. charged through the town with the 3rd Wisconsin to drive back Confederate Colonel Turner Ashby's attack force.  This was considered a pretty major engagement for the boys in the regiment at this time, very early in the war.  Companies I and K were at the Ferry too, guarding Herr's Mill, on Virginius Island, the catalyst for the attack.  I wrote extensively about the engagement on my website, here:    Battle of Bolivar Heights

But to connect the past with the present, there was a ceremony today at the Massachusetts National Guard Museum in Worcester. Company F of the 13th Mass. was the Marlboro Rifle Company.  It has a continuous lineage back to 1660, and the organization still exists today as the 125th Quartermaster Company in Worcester, Mass. 

The following excerpt is from a copyrighted article in the Marlboro Enterprise, Sept. 20.  I hope they don't mind the post here, because it says everything so succinctly.

The Chief of Military History, US Army, recently approved the research by Massachusetts National Guard historians that proved that the 125th traces its history back to Dec. 3, 1660, when it was organized as a militia company in Marlborough. This makes the 125th the second oldest company in the Massachusetts National Guard and US Army.
Brig. Gen. Greg Smith, Assistant Adjutant General, will present the unit with 27 campaign streamers for service in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I and World War II. The first streamer is inscribed “Lexington” for service during the Lexington-Concord battles on April 19, 1775.
From 1822 to 1917 the unit was also called the Marlborough Rifles. The 125th, under various designations, was stationed in Marlborough until 1996 when it moved to Webster, then Worcester.

I know that members of the re-enactment group, Company F, were part of the ceremony, and I hope I can soon post a photograph of the event here.   You can visit the re-enactors site here:  Company F, 13th Mass. Infantry
If I may quote a friend who attended,

"The unit has the unique distinction of being the only existing American unit with recognized participation in the Lexington-Concord events, having been part of the militias who intercepted the British on their retreat to Boston."

This is quite a distinction indeed!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The John Brown Bell Sept. 26, 1861

Tomorrow, Monday, September 26th,  is the 150th Anniversary of the taking of the 'John Brown Bell' by members of Company I, 13th Mass. Vols. from the ruined grounds of the Federal Arsenal at Harper's Ferry.  Companies I & K were picketing the river crossings along the Potomac in September and October, 1861. Members of the Marlboro Volunteer Fire Department who had enlisted in what became Company I of the 13th Mass., wanted the bell  from the engine-house to send home for their fire dept. in Marlboro, which did not have one. The engine-house gained notoriety during John Brown's Raid when the famed abolitionist used it as his fort during the stand off with local militia and Federal troops in October, 1859.

If you live near Marlboro, Mass., Paul Brodeur, Trustee of the Marlboro Historical Society, is giving an in depth presentation on the bell Monday Night, at 7 p.m. in Marlboro.  The 150th anniversary of the first part of the long journey of the bell to Marlboro.

Here is the societies description of the event:

        Abolition, The War, and The Bell
Marlborough High School "Little Theater"
431 Bolton Street in Marlborough, MA
Drawing from Brad Forbush’s 13th Regiment website, local historian Joan Abshire’s account of the John Brown Bell, Silas Felton’s two volumes of local history, and the newspaper research of Kathy Lizotte Lynde, Civil War Re-enactor Alan Chamberlain and local historian and Historical Society Board Member Paul Brodeur will cover the fascinating period of rabid abolition in Marlboro, the formation of the fire department that helped staff and motivate Co. I of the Mass 13th, and their movements into Harpers Ferry and beyond.

In addition, the program will cover the untold story of the dramatic players in the story of the Bell.  Not only the soldiers, but the slaves of Harpers Ferry who had been neighbors to the Bell from their position at the Harpers Ferry Wager Hotel and came to Marlboro at the invitation of the Marlboro soldiers.  This account gives new meaning and substance to the Bell’s position as "The Most Important Ringing Bell in America."

Note that this is the first program this season.  Details on the other programs planned will be posted on our site and sent in a future newsletter.
I look forward to seeing you Monday, September 26, at the High School.
-- Janet Licht 

I've been corresponding with Paul this summer, and provided him a few details about the regiment and its personnel.  The exchange of information was mutually beneficial.  He knows the history of his town, and has access to materials I don't have.  The story of the bell is still controversial.

The greatest bit of information I received from Paul, was the story of  former slaves employed at the Wager House Hotel in Harper's Ferry, at the time of  John Brown's Raid, who connected with the 13th Mass. Reg't. when it was camped at Williamsport, Md. in the winter of 1861-62.   Two women and their cousin soon made their way to Marlboro, Mass. where they found a new home, settled and became prominent figures in the community.

I showed Paul the following image, taken in the camp of the 13th Mass, by  soldier/photographer George L. Crosby, (of Marlboro).  None of the people are identified, other than 'contraband.'

His response,
"Could never be certain, but the two women on the right are probably Fannie and her mother Avenia.  Wouldn't be surprised if the guy behind is cousin William Geary. "

We hope to follow up on this, but in the meantime, I hope the presentation is well attended.  He's covering in depth,  the story of the bell, its greater meaning to the community and the country.  I won't spoil it here, but I've had a preview.  I think it will be great

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Battle of Antietam

I neglected this blog to finish the latest web page at  The new page is up, posted last week September 9th, the 149th anniversary of the campaign.

Highlights include previously unpublished accounts of the action from John S. Fay, Co. F, Prince Dunton, Co. H, John B. Noyes, Co. B, and others.   Also included is Lt. Charles B. Fox's detailed casualty list prepared immediately after the battle.  I have made notes to the list with corrections applied from other sources.

The page contains biographical profiles on several soldiers wounded or killed in the fight, including James Lowell,  John L. Forbes,  Will Soule,  Bob Armstrong,  Levi L. Dorr,  Adna P. Hall and Samuel Shelton Gould.

Pictures are important and I spent a lot of time retouching some important images for the page.

Particular care was taken with this famous image of the rail fence along the Hagerstown Pike.  I wanted to use it but it is a bit rough.  My wife taught me some retouching techniques with photoshop, which were much more sophisticated than what I was used to, and I came up with a cleaner version as seen at the top of this post. (That is a lower resolution version of the image for the website, I  have a much larger file on the computer.) These images are available from the Library of Congress Digital Collections - a fabulous resource!!

Here is another sample. 

Adna P. Hall's story is compelling.  It was shared with me from family descendants along with this image of Adna.  I was a little tentative in deciding to retouch this image because the damage runs across the features of the face, but I gave it a concentrated effort.

Here is the result.

As usual, I tried to include a little humor, when possible, and the opportunity was provided for in the text, "New Recruits."

There were the usual uncanny co-incidences that happened to me while I was preparing the page this summer.  Someone wrote me requesting information on Commissary Sgt. Mel Smith.  Only a few days before he wrote I acquired an image of Smith.  Then I noticed Levi L. Dorr specifically mentioned Smith's role in helping him from the field hospital. I posted the photo with Dorr's reminiscence.

  Sorry for neglecting the blog, but I thought the new page had priority.  Comments are appreciated.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Blog in Real Time - July 31st 1861 - Post #34

From the “New York Herald,” July 31, 1861.


     The Thirteenth Regiment of Massachusetts volunteers, under command of Colonel Leonard, arrived in this city yesterday en route to the seat of war.  The regiment, which was organized in a great measure in the city of Boston, was encamped for some time at Fort Independence, in Boston harbor, where they were so well perfected in discipline that few regiments can compete with them in drilling and manoeuvering.  They struck their tents on Monday morning, and after a short parade in Boston proceeded to this city by the Norwich & Worcester route, and arrived about eleven o’clock yesterday. They were met at the steamboat wharf by a deputation of citizens, natives of Massachusetts wearing on their breasts badges with the inscription “Sons of Massachusetts.”  These badges, as also the banner carried by the “Sons,” were ornamented with the coat-of-arms of the Bay State.  The regiment then took up their line of march through Canal Street and Broadway to the City Hall Park, where the men were dismissed for dinner in the barracks and “a ramble about the city.” 

     Shortly after four o’clock the regimental line was again formed, and the procession, preceded by the escort of citizens, marched down Broadway and around Battery Place to pier No. 1, where they embarked on board the steamboat “John Potter,” for Amboy. Their reception was a most magnificent one, and the applause of the populace was expressed at every step of the route in a continued clapping of hands.

     The Thirteenth Regiment is one of which Massachusetts may well be proud. It is composed of a superior class of men.  In physical appearance, soldier-like bearing, and martial discipline, the regiment is perhaps unsurpassed. The members generally belong to a higher social position than those composing most of our regiments, and their enlistment had been a matter of pure patriotism, many having left remunerative salaries and situations to go to the war.  The uniform of the regiment consists of a dark-blue loose jacket of flannel, light-blue cloth pants, and regulation cap. They are all armed with the Enfield rifle. 

Memoirs of Charles H. Roundy, Company F

(Charles Roundy's handwritten memoirs are in the collection of the Army Heritage and Education Center (AHEC) in Carlisle Pennsylvania.
We leave Fort Independence

     Eight weeks from the time we entered the fort we were ready and anxious to get away.  We had drawn Uncle Sam’s uniforms and guns and equipments.  We were armed with Enfield Rifles – the natty battalion uniforms were discarded now and all the companies looked alike and the eight weeks of hard work showed as we marched Company front – 50 men in the front rank with the other 50- thirteen inches in the rear, and each man struggling for a straight alignment – the Companies reaching from Curb to Curb as we marched up State Street and on to the State House, where Governor John A. Andrew talked to us like a father to his sons, - gave us our Colors and bid us God Speed.

    We went to the Worcester depot and after the excitement of leave taking we left Boston and arrived at New London, Conn. At midnight- took the steamer “John Brooks” for New York and were allowed a short liberty in the city, then fell in and marched down Broadway.

This march down this famous Street – lined with thousands on thousands of people – with every window packed with people, cheering – clapping hands, - waving flags and handkerchiefs, was for me the proudest day of my life. The regiment marched as never before.

    We had got rid of many things which we had thought we could not do without, but we found we could do considerable more trimming yet, and the process was kept up at every halt.

    Marching company front down Broadway reaching from curb to curb, the band playing “John Brown’s body lies” – every man nerved to do his utmost to keep a straight line.  The multitude – singing – cheering – and waving of flags made one continuous ovation till we took train for Philadelphia – going via Havre de Grace (where the whole train was run onto the ferry boat with out our leaving the cars) and taken across the river.

    We landed in Phila. About 1 A.M midnight, and at 2 A.M. we were eating the first square meal at the afterwards famous “Old Cooper Shop” Restaurant.

    How sweet those waiters in their quaker bonnets looked to us as they helped us to sandwiches and coffee – yes and pie – real pie.

    Who of the 13th can ever forget their kindness?

July 31, 1861
At Washington street wharf, at eleven o’clock last night, the Thirteenth Massachusetts Regiment was expected en route from Boston to Washington.  It was doubtful, however, whether they would not be taken to the Kensington depot, and marched from thence to the depot at West Philadelphia, their final destination being with General Banks, in Maryland.  The regiment numbers one thousand men, well equipped for the war. They are armed with the Enfield rifled musket.  The uniform is neat and substantial, consisting of dark blue jacket and cap, and light blue pantaloons.  The men are supplied with everything needed on the field, ninety-five horses and twenty baggage wagons accompanying the regiment.  The conveniences for taking care of the wounded are unusually ample, consisting of one two-horse and eight one-horse ambulances, and two hospital wagons.  A peculiarity in connection with the horses brought by the regiment is, that they are nearly all grey – designedly chosen.  The nucleus of the regiment was the Boston City Guard – a rifle corps, consisting of four companies.  Of the remaining companies two came from Marlboro’, one from Stoneham, (nearly all shoemakers,) one from Westborough, one from Roxbury, and the other from Natick (shoemakers).  The men, it is said, as a class, are sober, intelligent, earnest and determined.  (The poster shows the Cooper Shop Volunteer Refreshment Saloon, 1862, 1009 Otsego Street, Philadelphia, where soldiers, including the 13th Mass, at this early stage of the war, could find food and refreshments.  The Cooper Shop grew and continued the service throughout the war.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Blog in Real Time - July 30, 1861 - Post #33


On July 30th 1861 the 13th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry left Boston for the war front in Western Maryland.  They would stay at the front for their entire 3 year term of enlistment, although it would be a long while before their first major battle action, but there would be lots of marching and skirmishing along the Potomac in their immediate future. 


[From the “Boston Daily Journal,” July 30, 1861.]


     The Thirteenth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, Colonel Leonard, being the eighth regiment of three years’ troops which Massachusetts has sent to the war, took its final departure for Washington this afternoon.

     The admiration and affection of a whole community has been centred upon the young men of this regiment, the nucleus of which, the Fourth Battalion of Rifles, was recruited in our midst from the families of our most respected citizens.  It is no disparagement to the members and officers of the battalion to say that the companies from the country, which have been added to the regiment, are equally meritorious and deserving of popular regard.

     No pains have been spared to make the Thirteenth equal, if not superior, to any regiment which has left the state.  They have a full, neat, and serviceable uniform, equipments which any soldier might be proud to wear, and an arm – the Enfield rifle musket – which has been pronounced by the officers of the regiment to be the most delicate, highly finished, and defensible weapon in the infantry service.

     The regiment, which has been quartered at Fort Independence, came up to the city on the steamer “Nelly Baker,” the boat making two special trips for the purpose.  She arrived at the foot of Long Wharf at a quarter before one o’clock, bringing Companies B, C, F, I, and K, under command of Major Gould, and then returned for the remainder of the regiment, which was finally landed in the city at a quarter past two.

   As each detachment of troops left the fort, bidding adieu to quarters which have been the scene of so much happiness, they were honored with a parting salute by Sergeant Parr, the United States ordnance officer in charge of the post.  The troops acknowledged the compliment with hearty cheers.

      The courtesy of escorting the regiment through the city was accepted by Colonel Leonard from the Second Battalion of Infantry, Major Ralph W. Newton, and the Old City Guard, and past members of the Fourth Battalion of Rifles under Col. Jonas H. French. The two corps paraded as a battalion, being accompanied by Gilmore’s Band, and the Old Guard by the Boston Brigade Band. The first troops which arrived remained under cover of the sheds, where they were protected from the rain until their comrades reached the wharf, when the line was formed and the regiment escorted up and down State Street, making the detour of the Old state House, through Merchants Row to Faneuil Hall.

      The hospitalities of the city were extended to the regiment by His Honor the Mayor, in the form of a collation to have been served to the men on the Common; but the storm which prevailed interrupted the programme of the march and collation, and the latter was laid on the table in the “Old Cradle of Liberty,” which the regiment reached about three o’clock. Hastily partaking of a most acceptable repast, the line was re-formed, and the regiment took up the line of

    Nothing but the storm which prevailed all day prevented this regiment from receiving an ovation surpassing any which has been given to the troops going before it.  

     The social position of the members, the reputation which they have achieved in drill and discipline, and the fact that a majority of the officers of the regiment were representative members of some of our most popular organizations, grown up and educated amongst us, - all these circumstances conspired to ensure the regiment a most generous and enthusiastic demonstration.

     The march through the city was accomplished under trying circumstances, the condition of the streets harassing the troops, encumbered as they were with overcoats and knapsacks. The route was through Merchants Row, up state and Washington Streets to the long freight depot of the Boston & Worcester Railroad, which they entered out of Harvard Street.  Instead of a “sea of heads,” an ocean of umbrellas filled the streets, surging with the increase from streams of anxious spectators which poured in from every alley and by-way; and above the beating of drums and blast of horns arose the shouts of the people, cheering the brave boys who have pledged their lives in the defence of the Union. What was lacking in numbers was made up in enthusiasm by the people who lined the way.  Bouquets were showered in profusion upon the troops by loving hands whose hearts went with floral tributes which they gave.

     At the depot scenes occurred never to be forgotten.  The fair friends of the troops were in full possession of the place, and when the regiment filed into the cars, the flying moments, which to the actors were as hours, were fraught with incidents of self-sacrifice, of womanly devotion, and manly heroism which caused the stoutest heart to quail and the sternest lip to quiver.  There was no calling back of husbands, sons, and brothers, no repining, but brave words of encouragement, pious counsels, and motherly advice to the young and inexperienced volunteer as the final good-by and “God bless you” was spoken.

      The train left the depot at precisely five o’clock, amid the cheers of thousands of people who filled the side tracks and covered the bridges under which the train passed.  The baggage-wagons and horses of the regiment were sent forward in advance of the troops. In this latter respect the regiment fared as well as those who have preceded it. The regiment carried with it two stands of color, consisting of a State and National flag, which were presented to them by the State without ceremony, just as they were leaving the city. 

Colonel Samuel H. Leonard, of Boston.
Lieutenant-Colonel  N. Walter Batchelder, of Boston.
Major  Jacob Parker Gould, of Stoneham.
Adjutant David H. Bradlee, of Boston.
Quartermaster George E. Craig, of Boston.
Surgeon Allston W. Whitney, of Boston.
Assistant Surgeon  J. Theodore Heard, of Boston.
Chaplain Noah M. Gaylord, of Boston.

The following is a list of the officers of the regiment:

Company A. – Captain, James A. Fox; First Lieutenant, Samuel N. Neat; Second Lieutenant, George Bush.
Company B. – Captain, Joseph S. Cary; First Lieutenant, John G. Hovey; Second Lieutenant, Augustus N. Sampson.
Company C. – Captain, John Kurtz; First Lieutenant, William H. Jackson; Second Lieutenant, Walter H. Judson.
Company D. – Captain, Augustine Harlow; First Lieutenant, Charles H. Hovey; Second Lieutenant, William H. Cary.
Company E. – Captain, Charles R. M. Pratt; First Lieutenant, Joseph Colburn; Second Lieutenant, Edwin R. Frost.
Company F. – Captain, Henry Whitcomb; First Lieutenant Abel H. Pope; Second Lieutenant, Charles F. Morse.
Company G. – Captain, Eben W. Fiske; First Lieutenant, Loring S. Richardson; Second Lieutenant, John Foley.
Company H.- Captain, William L. Clarke; First Lieutenant, Perry D. Chamberlain; Second Lieutenant, Francis Jenks.
Company I. – Captain, Charles H. R. Schreiber; First Lieutenant, Moses P. Palmer; Second Lieutenant, David Brown.
Company K. – Captain, William P. Blackmer; First Lieutenant, William B. Bacon; Second Lieutenant, Charles B. Fox.

     After leaving the station of the Boston & Worcester Railroad the regiment was greeted with cheers and fluttering handkerchiefs all along the route to Worcester. The citizens of the towns on the road seemed to have been on the watch for the train, and as the regiment went quickly past they improved the short time by the most energetic demonstration of good-will.  It was a considerable distance beyond the city that the members of the regiment took a last look of Boston friends.  Far out on the Back Bay lands were a considerable number of ladies and gentlemen who seemed to vie with each other in their exertions to cheer the departing soldiers.  “Good-by, boys, - keep up the reputation of the Thirteenth,” were words earnestly impressed upon the minds of the men; and they promised to do all in their power to answer the expectations of the friends of the regiment.
     Every house near the railroad was filled with ladies, as the train passed through Brighton, who flung their handkerchiefs back and forth, and seemed anxious to be counted among the well-wishers of those who got to fight for our country.  Thus it was at Newton and Natick, and at the latter place large numbers were collected at the railway station, as if desirous to have the train stop; but it whirled past, and many relations of the Natick company were probably deprived of an opportunity to say a parting word to them. The first stop of the train was at

     As the train drew near, it was greeted with the booming of cannon and ringing of bells.  There were several thousand ladies and gentlemen gathered at the station from Marlboro’, Natick, and other adjoining towns, from which several companies of the regiment came.  A tarry of ten minutes was well improved by the soldiers, many of whom were engaged in farewells to relatives; while others improved the opportunity to replenish their canteens with what had been provided for them.  Had there been a probability of longer stay, still further provision would have been made by the Framingham people for the comfort of the soldiers.  As it was, the reception was warm and enthusiastic, and the men left with a renewed feeling of sadness for those left behind. The train arrived at Framingham at six o’clock, and at ten minutes past six it was again whirling away towards Worcester.

      At Westboro’, in which town company K was organized, the speed of the train was slackened, and went through the village so slowly as to allow the citizens and the soldiers to take leave of each other. The train then hurried on. 

     The regiment arrived in Worcester at half-past seven o’clock, while preparations had been made to give the soldiers a collation. This was prompted in part by the fact that Colonel Leonard was formerly a resident of that city, and has a large number of personal and warm friends there.  The cars passed from Worcester to Norwich Railroad, and stopped just beyond the Common.  The regiment then filed out and marched round to Main Street, where an escort was waiting to receive them.
     The escort consisted of several companies from the Fifteenth and Twenty-first Regiments, as follows :  Fifteenth Regiment, Company B, Capt. J.W. Kimball; Company E, Capt. Charles H. Watson; Company E, Capt. Charles H. Watson; Company D, Capt. Charles H. Foster; Company G, Capt. Walter Forsband.  Of the Twenty-first :  Company G, Capt. Addison A. Walker; Company D, Lieut. C. S. Foster in command.  The whole was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Ward, of the Fifteenth Regiment.  The regimental band of the latter regiment headed the escort.
     The column marched up Main Street and returned to City Hall, where a collation was in waiting.  Main Street was crowded with people, but it was growing dark, and they did not have a good opportunity to see the regiment.  They were, however, disposed to praise Colonel Leonard’s command very highly.

     On account of the unfavorable weather the arrangements to prepare a collation on the Common were changed, and the City Hall was taken for that purpose. 

     There was not as much room in this building as was necessary for the whole regiment, and in consequence but five companies were entertained at a time. The collation was prepared liberally, under the supervision for a committee of the citizens, who had received aid from the city government. In the hall were major-General Morse and staff and other prominent individuals, including the mayor of the city.  Colonel Leonard and staff were made to realize that they have a host of friends in Worcester.  

     On the entrance of the colonel to the hall he was presented with a beautiful bouquet by the ladies present.  About an hour was consumed in the hall, when the soldiers left and marched back to the cars under escort.  At shortly before half-past nine o’clock the train was again in motion, and it moved away amid the drowning cheers of the multitude.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blog in Real Time - July 25, 1861 - Post #32

Following the Battle of Bull Run, July 21, both sides wondered what would come next.   President Lincoln decided to bring more men forward and strengthen forces in the Shenandoah Valley.  Major General Nathaniel P. Banks was appointed commander of the Department of the Shenandoah July 25.  The 13th Mass. meanwhile, still drilling at Fort Independence would receive orders to report to General Banks in Western Maryland.

The following is from the defunct website, "Letters of the Civil War" by Tom Hayes.

JULY 25, 1861.

Presentation. – Capt. C. R. M. Pratt, of Co., E, Thirteenth Regiment of Rifles, is to be surprised this afternoon, at the camp at Fort Independence, by the presentation of an army regulation sword, with sash, belt, shoulder-piece, and other accoutrements, all of the finest workmanship.  A number of store-keepers in the vicinity of Webster Hall, are the donors, and intend it as a mark of their esteem, to an able and efficient commander, in Col. Leonard’s famous Rifle Regiment.

The new uniforms of this regiment have been received, and 13th will be sent to join the grand army in a few days.

The following official appointments have been made in the Roxbury Rifle Company: – Captain, C. R. M. Pratt; 1st Lieut., J. Colburn; 2d Lieut., Edwin Frost; all of this city. (Roxbury City Gazette; July 25, 1861; pg. 2, col. 5.)

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.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Blog in Real Time - July 11, 1861 - Post #30

The following is from the defunct website "Letters of the Civil War" by Tom Hayes.
JULY 11, 1861.

The advent of the Roxbury Rifle Company among us on the Fourth it is said, took some of our citizens completely by surprise.  Their discipline and general appearance having exceeded the most ardent expectations, which gained for them the bestowal of many favors, and the unqualified approbation of all.  In the afternoon, the committee on celebrating the day, gave them a fine dinner at the Norfolk House, after which a few hours were spent in a convivial manner, speeches and songs forming no insignificant part of the entertainment.

Alderman Burrill, Councilman Morse, Lieut. Pratt, and others, were among the speakers.  These festive ceremonies over, they proceeded to Mt. Pleasant, for drill, where they astonished their many friends by the faultless execution of their various evolutions, especially in wheeling in double quick time.  From there they proceeded to Meeting House Hill, where they went through with similar movements, which elicited hearty applause.

At about seven o’clock, they took the Metropolitan cars for Boston, but on arriving at Long Wharf, where they were to embark for Fort Independence, received permission from the Adjutant of the battalion, to remain until morning, which they were not unwilling to do.

Too much cannot be said in praise of this company, the members of which are nearly all young and robust men, who do honor to our city and to themselves. (Roxbury City Gazette; July 11, 1861; pg. 2, col. 3.)

NOTE:  the next "blog in real time" post may not arrive until July 25.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blog in Real Time - July 5, 1861 - Post #29

The following is from the defunct website, "Letters of the Civil War" by Tom Hayes.
Excursion to Fort Independence 

     In consequence of the desire of our City Government to avoid everything that has the least tendency to a prodigality in the expenditure of the public money, they have this year concluded to forego the usual annual excursion down the harbor. On last Friday afternoon they did, however, make a trip in that direction, under circumstances that rendered the excursion highly appropriate. The military committee of the City Government having been tendered the use of the Steamer Henry Morrison, by the City Government of Boston, for the purpose of visiting Fort Independence, the offer was accepted, and His Honor the Mayor, with the other members of the City Government, proceeded thither. As is well known, the Fourth Battalion are quartered here, including the Roxbury Rifle Company. The visitors were much please with their entertainment at the Fort, and especially with the dress parade of the battalion under Major Leonard, which proved the Major to be a thoroughly competent officer, and the “right man in the right place.” During the absence of the Major, occasioned by the reception of the five new companies that have been added to complete the regiment, Capt. N. Walter Batchelder of Company B. acted in the capacity of Major, to whom, as well as to Capt. James A. Fox of Company A., the visiting party were indebted for many kind attentions.

The oldest commissioned officer in the Thirteenth Regiment is Capt. Hobart Moore of Natick, – Capt. Batchelder being the next in order. It is understood that the latter will be appointed either Lieut. Colonel or Major General. E. W. Stone, in his official capacity as Master of the ordnance department, also visited the Fort for the purpose of examining the ordnance. In this capacity he holds the rank of a Colonel, with a salary of fifteen hundred dollars.

As the boat was departing on the return trip, Lieut Col. I. H. Burrill, proposed three cheers for Major Leonard, and his battalion, and they were given in an enthusiastic manner, being responded to by three rousing cheers from the Battalion.

[Digital Transcription by James Burton]

Monday, July 4, 2011

Blog in Real Time - July 4, 1861 - Post #28

     On July 4th, the 4th Battalion of Rifles acted as escort for the city of Boston Government, in the annual 4th of July parade. In Roxbury, the "Roxbury Rifles" put on an exhibition for their hometown.

From "Three Years In The Army" by Charles E. Davis, Jr., Boston, Estes & Lariat, 1894;

     We were up early the morning of the “Fourth” brushing clothes, blacking boots, and making other preparations for the day’s jubilee.  We were well tanned by constant exposure to the sun, giving appearance of health and vigor, our uniforms fitting perfectly, with the addition of white collars, and our guns and bayonets in excellent order, so that we made a very satisfactory appearance.  As we stood in line inside the fort, we all felt how much was at stake in competing with the two battalions with whom we were to parade.  We were told to eat a hearty breakfast, for we had a hard day’s work before us; but what a breakfast that was, and what murmurs of indignation were expressed as we flung the mouldy toast and the mild dilution of coffee at the cook-room!  It was too unsavory for us, so we went without it, though the time came, months after, when we wished that we might have some of that same toast.

    We were escorted to the boat by the other companies of the regiment, who expressed their generous wishes for our success.  They were quite as anxious for our credit as we were, and the hearty cheers that were given as the boat left the wharf testified the good feeling that existed, and which continued during the whole three years of our service, and indeed has never ceased to exist.

     Upon our arrival in Boston it became known that we had come to town without a breakfast, and while halting in front of the Parker House kind friends supplied the deficiency.  All along the route of seven miles we were greeted with demonstrations of great kindness and hospitality.  It was a day never to be forgotten.  The enthusiasm of the people excited us to do our best, and we never did better.  Our two months of constant daily drilling enabled us to make a very creditable appearance.  The enthusiasm with which we were everywhere greeted was due to the fact that we were part of a regiment soon to leave for the seat of war;  for at that time the patriotic feeling was at its whitest heat.  It was a hot day, the thermometer at 104; but our daily work out of doors enabled us to make the march with the loss of only one or two men, while the other battalions suffered much more than we did from the intense heat.

     After the parade we were furloughed until the following morning, when the battalion returned to the fort to meet the kindly greeting of the companies who were already aware of the success achieved by the five companies, through the newspapers, which were extravagant in their words of praise.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Blog in Real Time - July 2, 1861 - Post #27

The following is from the defunct website "Letters of the Civil War" by Tom Hayes.

JULY 5, 1861, (p. 2, col. 5)

Quarters 13th (Rifles) Regiment,
July 2d, 1861.

MR. EDITOR. – Knowing well the deep interest that is taken in the 13th Regiment, and the especial regard paid to the several companies of which it is composed, I am prompted by a sense of duty to inform its many friends, through the columns of your luminous sheet, of its present condition, location, and future prospects, so far as known to your humble servant.

For the past few weeks we have been favored with fair weather, so that we have rarely been interrupted in our daily exercises. There has been the appearance of a storm for the past few days, and we arose this morning to find the premonition true. It rained quite hard during the night, and still continues. This will test, to a certain degree, the utility of the Sibly tents, which are pitched outside the Fort, and we think they will prove their efficiency.

These tents are occupied by the five new companies which arrived here on Saturday last. By this arrangement the 4th Battalion and the Roxbury company are not disturbed. Four of the companies are on the southerly side of the Fort, and one is located just outside the sallie port. Of the new companies, two are from Marlborough, one from Westborough and Sudbury, and one from Natick. These companies are composed of fine looking men, and their very appearance does honor to the towns from whence they came.

The 4th Battalion is to do escort duty in Boston on the coming fourth, and it is understood that company E. of Roxbury will visit that city sometime during the day. The new additional forces will be left in command.

This regiment is to be uniformed alike throughout before leaving the State. The uniform is said to be somewhat of a Zouave style, with light blue overcoats. When fully equipped we flatter ourselves we shall confer honors upon the State from whence we hail, not only before our departure, but enroute for the seat of war, and on the battle field, if we are favored with such a privilege. It will not be on account of our appearance and efficiency alone, but those enobling qualities which in every respect characterizes true manhood.

The superiority of our officers throughout, in regard to military discipline, and as gentleman, is unquestionable. They are too well known to need comment. Major Leonard is a favorite of the regiment, and we think no one could fill his place satisfactorily.

The best of feeling exists between the different companies, and a happier lot of boys is seldom seen. Camp songs are all the rage, and musical instruments of every description are in abundance. At times our boys are very operatic, but oftentimes the banjo, tamborine and bones take the place, and a regular clog dance and other negro peculiarities come off much to the amusement of the immense audiences present. A little more practice and Morris Brothers and all other minstrelsy will be altogether in the shade. We are progressing rapidly, and it is expected we shall be prepared to leave sometime during the month.

Not wishing to occupy too much space in your paper, I will close without further remark.

Yours occasionally,


Letter of John B. Noyes, Company B.
John Buttrick Noyes, (1838-1908) Civil War Letters; Houghton Library, Harvard College; used with permission.

Fort Independence, July 2d 1861
Dear Martha
I received your note this P.M. immediately after our Battalion drill.  I haven’t time to write you at any length, as I wish to have this note go by the 6 o clock boat.  I wish to have my duds washed and sent back as soon as possible, together with my boots.  The blue shirt is too large in every way & I intended to give some directions as to its alteration.  Perhaps mother can alter it to suit herself and me.  Make it so as to fit George.   You ought to go to Boston to see us.  I believe we parade at about 9 A.M., but am not certain.  I will get a furlough and talk over matters after the 4th of July.  Mother need not be depressed.  I am not obliged to go; and if I were, for my own comfort to look no further, the position of private in our Regiment is much better than that of officer in most of our Regiments.  In the First Regiment C. F. Walcott could find no decent society among the officers; the privates in our company are mostly sons of men in good circumstances thrown out of profitable employment by the crisis.  The rest of our Reg’t. has now come to the Fort.  The men are in every way superior to most volunteer soldiers.  They are farmers, and sons of farmers, and of American parentage.  The exclamations “by gosh,” “darn it” show their birth places.  One of them dipped his hands into the harbor water, licked it, and wanted to know if he had got to drink that water!  There is a rumor that Maj. Foster of Salem is to be our Colonel; if that be so, he will have no 4th Battalion as Major Leonard is our unanimous choice for that position.  But I have no fear that Leonard will be rejected.
Good by for the present.
Yours Affectionately
John B. Noyes

Letter of James Ramsey, Company E

                                           Fort Independence July 2nd 1861
Dear Mother I am well and I like it here very much, now I am aquanted  I think I will come home some day next week  The company talks of going to Roxbury next Fourth of July if they do not get our new uniforms we will come to Boston with the fourth Batallion.  We will most probably go to Roxbury.  I will not have a chance to go out of the ranks.  I went on guard this morning for 24 hours  I will get releived to morrow morning at 8 O’clock.  We commenced to draw pay Saturday  we have our regular allowance of food  we are to have no more butter and the like.  Yesterday Col Lenard received a dispatch to be ready to move from the fort at 24 hours notice if we do we will go into camp before we go south.  The whole regiment are to have a full zouave uniform.
Give my love to all
              From your son

PS I have not received a letter yet.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Blog in Real Time - July 1, 1861 - Post #26

The following is from the now defunct website "Letters of the Civil War" by Tom Hayes.

July 1, 1861 (page 2, column 2).

The Thirteenth (Rifle) Regiment at Fort Independence.

    The five companies from Marlborough, Sudbury, Natick and Westborough, which, together with the Fourth Battalion of Riflemen and the Roxbury Rifle Company, form the new Thirteenth Regiment, went down to Fort Independence Saturday afternoon in the steamer Nelly Baker. The several companies reported themselves to Major Leonard, on the Common, and under his command marched down to the boat, which left at half past two o'clock. - The Natick and Marlborough firemen, who escorted the companies from those towns into Boston, marched down to the wharf in the rear of the military, and gave their friends some parting cheers as the boat left.

    Capt. Hobart Moore, of the Natick company, resigned his commission Saturday morning on account of ill health, and 1st Lieut. Terry (Perry?)  D.  Chamberlain was in command.

    The battalion was handsomely received by the soldiers already at the Fort, and the men, soon after their arrival, set about putting their camp in order.

    All five companies are encamped outside the Fort; Co. F, of Marlborough, Capt. Pope, upon the southerly side, nearly opposite the sallyport, and the others upon the easterly side of the Fort, Co. H, of Natick, and Co. I, of Marlborough, being located upon the high plat of ground, and Co. K, of Marlborough, and Co. G, of Sudbury, upon the lower. All have the Sibley tents.

    The 4th Battalion and the Roxbury company remain in the same quarters as before, the former inside the Fort, and the latter in the building outside.

    The regiments lack about 200 men of being full. The new arrivals reported as follows: Co. F, 90 men; Co. G, 64 men; Co. H, 79 men; Co. I, 90 men; Co. K, 101 men. The Boston companies could be filled up at very short notice, and the orders for that purpose will probably be given in a few days. Major Leonard will have a splendid regiment. We all know what the Fourth Rifle Battalion is, and the new acquisition are of the right stamp. Of course they are at present lack the drill and discipline which the Boston Battalion has had an opportunity to obtain, but that they will make good advancement in military science we have no doubt.

    The rank of the commanding officers of the Regiment, according to the dates of their commissions, is as follows:- Capt. Batchelder, of Co. B; Capt. Fox, of Co. A; Capt. Pope, of Co. F; Capt. Kurtz, Co. C; Capt. Blackmer, of Co. K; Capt. Harlow, of Co. D; Capt. Palmer, of Co.   I; Capt. Jones, of Co. G; Lieut. Chamberlain, of Co. H; Lieut. Pratt, of Co. E.

    The regimental line will be subsequently formed thus:-
    The following is a roster of the five companies which arrived at the Fort Saturday:-
    Co. F, Marlborough  Captain, Abel H. Pope; 1st Lieut., John T Whittier; 2d, Charles F. Morse; 3d, Donald Ross; 4th, Rufus H. Brigham.
    Co. G, Sudbury-Captain, Abel G. Jones; 1st. Lieut., Joel Parmenter; 2d, Marshall Davis; 3d, Lenan Willey; 4th, W. H. Benham.
    Co. H, Natick-Captain (vacancy); 1st Lieutenant, Perry D. Chamberlain; 2d, A. W. Pray; 3d, Francis Jenks; 4th, Joseph Adams.
    Co. I, Marlborough-Captain, Moses P. Palmer; 1st lieutenant, David L. Brown; 2d, Alfred G. Howe; 3d, Samuel D. Witt; 4th, (vacancy).
    Co. K, Westborough -Captain, William P. Blackmer; 1st Lieutenant, Charles P. Winslow; 2d, Ethan Bullock; 3d, John Sanderson; 4th, Abner Greenwood.
    1st Lieutenant Palmer, of Co. G, has resigned, but his resignation has not been accepted.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blog in Real Time - June 29, 1861 - Post #25

     It was on this day, that the remaining five rifle companies joined the Roxbury Rifle Company, and the 4th Battalion of Rifles at Fort Independence.  The 10 rifle companies that would make up the 13th Mass. Vols. came together for the first time.  

     In the afternoon, Major Leonard met the 5 new companies on Boston Common and escorted them to the ferry dock where the steamer "Nellie Baker" took them to Fort Independence.  (The July 1 post will have more information.)  The two companies from Marlboro, with the Westboro Rifles, Natick Mechanic Rifles, and  Stoneham's Grey Eagles were enthusiastically received by the men they were joining.

     The following description of Company K, comes from the History of Westboro.

Westborough - COMPANY K

After weeks of preparation, on the 29th of June the Rifle Company departed to Fort Independence, Boston Harbor, and on the 16th of July was mustered into service for three years as Company K, Thirteenth Regiment, Mass. Vols.  The following Westborough men were in the ranks: -

William P. Blackmer, Captain.
William B. Kimball, First Sergeant.
Abner R. Greenwood, Sergeant.
William W. Fay, Sergeant.
William R. Warner, Sergeant.
Augustus Allen, Corporal.
John Jones, Corporal.
William H. Sibley, Corporal.
Alfred L. Sanborn, Corporal.
Melzar G. Turner, Corporal.
Sidney Barstow.
Isaiah H. Beals.
Charles R. Brigham.
Harrison M. Brigham.
Francis A. Brigham.
Emory Bullard.
John S. Burnap.
Thomas copeland.
John Copeland.
John H. Crowley.
Wallace H. Cushman.
Ira L. Donovan.
George R. Douglas.
Charles Drayton.
George F. Emery.
Joseph H. Fairbanks.
Hollis H. Fairbanks.
Henry A. Fairbanks.
Charles M. Fay.
John Fly.
William H. Forbush.
John Glidden.
George C. Haraden.
Frank A. Harrington.
Lyman Haskell.
Hiram G. Hodgkins.
John Lackey.
Edward Lee.
Alden Lovell.
Michael Lynch.
Chandler Robbins.
Harvey C. Ross.
John W. Sanderson.
James Slattery.
Frank L. Stone.
Melvin H. Walker.
Stephen Warren.
Charles H. Williams.

In Company C
Spencer Chamberlain.
George B. Searles.

In Company E.
John Burns.

At the time of its organization the company had made choice of the following officers, who had been duly commissioned by Governor Andrew ;   captain, William P. Blackmer, the pastor of the Methodist Church ; first lieutenant, Charles P. Winslow ; second lieutenant, Ethan Bullard ;  third lieutenant, John W. Sanderson ; fourth lieutenant, Abner R Greenwood.  As only tow lieutenants were allowed in the United states service, changes in the roll of officers soon became necessary.  Captain Blackmer retained his commission.  The positions of first and second lieutenants were given respectively to William B. Bacon, of Worcester, and Charles B. Fox, of Dorchester.  Lieutenants Winslow and Bullard withdrew temporarily from the service ; Lieutenant Sanderson enlisted in Company C of the same (thirteenth) regiment, was appointed orderly sergeant, and afterwards was promoted to first lieutentant ; and Lieutenant Greenwood remained as second sergeant in Company K.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Blog in Real Time - June 28, 1861 - Post #24

John Buttrick Noyes, (1838-1908) Civil War Letters; Houghton Library, Harvard College; used with permission.

Fort Independence, Boston Harbor June 28, 1861
Dear George,
Tomorrow the other rifle battalions which are to form with us the 13th Regt (Riflemen) of the M.V.M. come down to the fort.  The Major meets these battalions on Boston Common at 3 P.M.  So you can see them if you care to.
Wednesday Tower’s (N.A. Rev.) school came down to the fort and saw our dress parade at 5:30 P.M.  The wind blew furiously so that you could hardly keep in line, and hear but indistinctly the orders, so that the parade was not very good in a military point of view.  The girls liked it though, and the more so from the contrast between things here and at Fort Warren from which they had come here.  I found two or three Boston friends among the girls and Miss Dixwell’ (3d) of Cambridge.   It is the general remark that no objection could be made to the advent of Tower’s School on every visiting day during our stay here.  Yesterday we received fatigue pants, a blue shirt, brogans, & towel. Co. C signed 3 year enlistment papers also. I think we shall wait to see what officers we are to serve under before we sign.  We shall probably be mustered into the service in about 10 days, and start for the south within a months time.  I shall not probably go to Cambridge before Commencement day.  Let me know when that is to be. 
We are to be escort to the City Government of Boston 4th of July.  You will then have a chance of seeing us.  Our selection as escort is quite a compliment to us & our efficiency in drill.  If you know any first rate fellows who want to join our Battalion send them down here at once as we are filling up to our complement of 101 men.  We haven’t any room however for any Irishmen or unmitigated roughs.  I shall send my valise to Adams’ Express office to day or tomorrow, and I should like to have you call there and take it.  Let Mother get the duds ready as soon as possible.  I will enclose a letter with directions.
                                    With love to all,
            Yours Truly      John B. Noyes

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blog in Real Time - June 27, 1861 - Post #23


     Ramsey's stint with the 'Tigers' over at Fort Warren came to an end.  He probably had to scramble to find a new organization to join, when the Tigers services were not excepted by the Governor.  The quota of the  required number of organizations called for by the president, were filling up quickly.  Ramsey found an opening in the Roxbury Rifle Company, which became Company E, of the 13th Mass.  He arrived at Fort Independence, June 26, 1861.

 Fort Independence June 27th 1861
                       Dear Mother I am very well.  I arrived safely at the fort yesterday morning at about ten o’clock.  I was in such a hurry that I forgot my penholder.  I like the rifle drill very much we only drill four hours a day and it is a great deal easier than infantry.  I enjoy myself very much here better than I did at fort Warren because it is a great deal pleasanter.  I hope you will come down to the fort.  I signed the papers showing that I was willing to serve three years we expect to be sworn into the United States service soon.  The rest of the regiment are expected to be at the Fort this week.  It is a great deal cooler here than in the city there is a cool wind comes over the water every evening.  At night you can here (sic) the sentinels cry out the hour and say all is well they here (sic)  the clocks in the city strike.  This morning they made a mistake and cried the hour of five to (sic) soon about a half an hour.  I may come to the city in  about a week.  Give my love to all.  Kiss Hugh for me.
                                                                                                    From your son.

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.