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.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Travel Guide

--I have corrected a bit of this post regarding the Fitzhugh House.  The original post was in error. - BF 7/3/12

   A loyal reader is planning a trip back east this summer and asked me if I could suggest, a "top 10" list of  Civil War sights to see, pertinent to the 13th Mass. Volunteers.

     Since it is the Sesquicentenial, (I just wanted to say that word) perhaps more people would be interested in this idea, so I offer up a few suggestions.

Generally speaking, I think it would be easy to see several important sites by visiting just 2 major regions;  Western Maryland (from Sharpsburg to Harper's Ferry) and Central Virginia at Fredericksburg National Battlefield Park.  There are several interesting sites between the two regions, or a short distance away, but these two areas provide lots to see within a small geographical area.

     Nonetheless, I'll cover more points of interest, beginning with Gettysburg, PA.  I highly recommend contacting the parks or at least carefully planning your trip before visiting these places.  I don't know specifically how they operate, but some guides do have particular research  interests and might be more excited to share what they know about a particular aspect of a battle. You might be able to schedule a tour in advance.   [Any ranger friends reading this feel free to comment.]

Gettysburg, PA

     Gettysburg would be the northern most point of interest on this tour.  You could easily spend a couple of days here touring the town and battlefield.  The "13th Mass." fought on Oak Ridge, north of the town, in the first days battle.  They were on the extreme right of the 1st Corps line.  The regiment's monument is modeled after color sergeant Roland B. Morris who was killed in action.  Ninety men of the regiment were captured and about seventy made it to Cemetery Hill at the end of the day's fight.  The regiment was so cut up, they were held in reserve the following two days, supporting artillery on Cemetery Hill and moving to other parts of the field as re-enforcements when needed.   Several soldiers from the regt. are buried in the National Cemetery here.  The Gettysburg Battlefield sights for the 2nd and 3rd days fighting are more popular with visitors, and definitely worth seeing.   Gettysburg National Park.

     Christ Lutheran Church in the town is also connected to the history of the "13th Mass." regiment. It was established as a field hospital during the battle and many wounded men from the regiment were brought here.  One of the 13th's physicians, Surgeon Edgar Parker was wounded on the church steps during the battle.  He would recover from the wound at the home of Gettysburg resident Jenny McCreary.   In the summer months, a candlelight service is given inside the church, with presenters reading stories from several of the wounded men who were present at the church, including Sergeant Austin C. Stearns, Co. K, "13th Mass."  You can watch some great videos about the church here:     Christ Lutheran Church

     And just for the heck of it, I'd tour the free Gettysburg Museum of History,  because it has such an incredible collection of artifacts from all periods of U.S. history.  I follow them on facebook where they post pictures from their collection.

Western Maryland Region

      In 2005 my wife and I visited Western Maryland, a region rich in Civil War history, where the 13th spent a great deal of time picketing the Potomac River along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in the winter of 1861-62.   At one time, Col. Leonard was in command of all troops on the river from Harper's Ferry to Oldtown, a distance of nearly 100 miles.   I chose this area to visit because I had limited time and there are a number of interesting sites close by; some are obscure, others very famous.  We enjoyed our stay in Hagerstown and Shepherdstown when we were in the area.  A good local guide book I found in the Shepherdstown bookstore is "The Civil War in Washington County Maryland" by Charles S. Adams.  The Western Maryland Room of the Hagerstown Library might be a good place to stop into.  The staff are very knowledgeable about the area.

     Sharpsburg was the first place the regiment marched to and stayed for 2 weeks in Aug. '61, just after arriving at Hagerstown, MD from Boston.  This is also the site of Antietam National Battlefield Park, so you can see the battlefield and the area where they first arrived at the same time. 

   A year later, the battle of Antietam was fought in Sept., 1862.  The "13th Mass". were in Hooker's First Corps, Ricketts' Division, Hartsuff's Brigade.  They charged through the famous cornfield early in the morning at the start of the battle.  A trail follows the same path the regiment took into the fight. Several "13th Mass." soldiers killed in the engagement are buried in the National Cemetery here, including Harvard Graduate, Samuel S. Gould, who was with the regiment only 6 days.

     Not far off is South Mountain State Battlefield Park. The 13th participated in the fight at Turner's Gap, here on the night of September 14th, 1862.

     The cities of Williamsport and Hagerstown are closeby, where the regiment spent more than 4 months in the winter of '61-'62.  The exact spot of the winter camp is not known to me, but I think highway 81 runs through it today.  Its still a bit of a mystery.  Some simple sites that might be of interest are Mrs. Ensminger's House, Dam 5, and Antietam Village.

Driving through the town of Williamsport you can see Mrs. Ensmingers house on Church Street.  This is where the John Brown Bell was kept for 30 years before members of the regiment re-claimed it and brought it to Marlboro, Massachusetts.  The house is a private residence, not an attraction, so this would just be a 'drive by' site.

     Dam 5 of the C&O canal is up river a bit from Williamsport, a short drive in the country.  The entire C&O canal towpath is a National Park.  The 13th Mass. skirmished twice with Stonewall Jackson's troops in December, 1861.   The second time, Stonewall himself was there directing the action of the Confederate troops.  The setting is still rural.  It looks much today like it did then.  You can read about the fight here.  There is a marker designating the skirmish.  (Henry Bacon of Co. D, drew the illustration).  Good reference book for this area is "Towpath Guide to the C&O Canal" by Thomas F. Hahn.

        Hancock, MD is farther to the northwest.  Companies A, B, E, H, spent a month here in December 1861. Here's the link to my website. Company E had a skirmish with the Rebels at Sir John's Run a couple miles away, and in early January, Stonewall Jackson shelled the town.  Companies D, C, I, and K, were rushed to the scene from Williamsport as re-enforcements.  I'm not sure if there are any 'official' sites to see here, other than a drive in the country (?) but the main street of the town looks very similar to what it was in the 1860's judging from the pictures. 

   From August 24 - October 30, 1861, Companies C, I & K were detached opposite the town of Harper's Ferry.  (The rest of the regiment was camped farther away at Darnestown).  The stay was eventful for these 3 companies.  Harper's Ferry is one of the most visited National Parks. There is too much history here to mention, but the sites  unique to the 13th Mass, include John Brown's Fort, where members of Co. I commandeered the bell for their fire department back home in Marlboro, Mass.; Virginius Island, location of the ruins of Herr's Mill and Bolivar Heights.  When Major Jacob Parker Gould began evacuating 15,000 bushels of un-milled wheat from Herr's Mill, Lt. Col. Turner Ashby attacked to put a stop of it.  Ashby's force was too late, but the Battle of Bolivar Heights ensued, Oct. 16, 1861.  Visitors interested in this action might want to call the park to see if they could arrange a tour with a specific ranger interested in this more obscure battle.  A good reference book for the area is "A Walker's Guide to Harper's Ferry by David T. Gilbert."

Shenandoah Valley

     Driving a short distance south into the Shenandoah Valley will take you through Martinsburg, WVA and Winchester, VA.  These towns are rich in Civil War history, but the 13th's relation is much more esoteric.  Martinsburg was the hometown of Samuel Derrick Webster and his brother Isaac.  Two young Virginia boys with Union sentiments, not unlike others in this region with divided loyalties.  Sam and Ike enlisted as drummers in the 13th Regiment when it was camped at Williamsport.   After the war, Sam's diary was used as a major reference when Charles E. Davis, Jr. wrote the regimental history; "Three Years in the Army."  The regiment marched through both these places as part of General N.P. Banks advance in March of 1862.  In Martinsburg, members of Company D, fixed up an old steam engine from the ruined rolling stock at the Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse and took a ride up to Halltown near (Harper's Ferry)  to get supplies.  The over stressed steamer blew up on the return trip, trying to carry a heavy load up a slight grade about a mile from the town.  You can read the story here.

     The old Courthouse in Winchester is now a Civil War Museum.  Company B, bivouacked as Provost Guard during the regiments brief stay of  about 2 weeks in March, 1862.  Chaplain Noah Gaylord, probably the first Yankee Chaplain the citizens had seen, gave a sermon from these courthouse steps on the 'Evils of Secession' .  It didn't play very well with the locals.  The basement walls are covered with soldiers' graffiti. Winchester was a flash point during the war and several battles were fought here.  But the humble events described are the most interesting for fans of the "13th Mass."

    The regiment also visited Front Royal, and Culpeper, Virginia, much further to the south, where the Cedar Mountain Battlefield lies.  The regiment did see action at Cedar Mountain, but the fighting was mostly over when they took to the field as re-enforcements.  Mostly, they endured a night time shelling by the enemy artillery, but they escaped un-harmed.  The Historical Marker Database has a virtual tour of the battlefield.  This was the regiment's first participation in a battle, so they thought, but I would place more importance on seeing Manassas.

Manassas National Battlefield Park

Manassas National Battlefield Park is a definite stopping place.  Right now, the park is planning a re-enactment for the Sesquicentennial of the battle of Bull Run.  Its coming up in about 6 weeks, but if you hurry you can still get tickets.  The 13th Mass. was still at Fort Independence in Boston, when the first battle of Bull Run was fought in July, 1861. They were however actively engaged in the 2nd Battle of Bull Run a year later.  There is a trail and marker on Chinn Ridge where the regiment was heavily engaged on August 30, 1862.  This was a terrible engagement for the men and their first major battle, surrounded on three sides and outnumbered 10 to 1.  Thirty-eight men were killed and countless others wounded during their brief stand here.  Here's the brigade marker courtesy of my 'cyber friend' Craig Swain, and the Historical Marker Database.  Other relevant markers are available to view here too.

Fredericksburg National Battlefield Park

     I've been through or to some of the sites described above, but I have never been to the Fredericksburg National Park.  This park encompasses 4 significant battlefields, and other interesting campaign sites all in one place.  And of course they have special events planned for the sesquicentennial.    I would think this site would be a primary destination for those interested in the history of the regiment . The 4 battlefields at the park are Fredericksburg, Chancellorseville, Spotsylvania, and the Wilderness.  Spend some time at the site and plan accordingly.  I can provide some rudimentary information about the regiments part in these battles.

     At the Battle of Fredericksburg, the regiment acted as skirmishers for General Franklin's Left Grand Division, for two days, thereby avoiding participation in the bloody charge of Gibbon's 2nd Division that followed.  They were in the First Corps, 2nd Division, 3rd Brigade.  Col. Leonard led the brigade.  Casualties for the regt. were extremely low with four killed.
     According to the regimental history, the 13th weren't significantly involved in the important fighting at Chancellorsville.  This is rare for the 13th.  I haven't yet studied this campaign at all.  According to their history they did accomplish a 30 mile march in 22 hours  from Fredericksburg to Ely's Ford beginning May 2nd 1863.  On May 4th a reconnoissance was made in which 7 men were wounded.  Casualties for the fight were low again; 1 man listed killed.

     A significant event happened on April 30th, 1863 as part of this campaign.  It was the killing of two officers and the severe wounding of Sergeant. John S. Fay opposite Fredericksburg.  Capt. George Bush, Capt.William Cordwell and Sgt. John S. Fay were all struck by the same shell.  Cordwell and Bush were killed instantly.  Fay lost an arm and a leg.  It would be interesting to find the field hospital Fay was rushed to.  It was there that Surgeon Allston Whitney saved his life.  John S. Fay called it the Fitzhugh House,  the proper name for the estate is Sherwood Forest.  There are several blog posts on this historic house, which is for sale and needs to be saved.  The house is on private property and difficult to see from the road.

     The battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania were part of  General Grant's Overland Campaign in 1864.  Grant's advance  began 2 1/2 months before the regiment's term of enlistment was up, on July 16th of that year. General G. K. Warren, commanding the 5th Corps, personally directed the movements of the 13th in many of these engagements.

     At Spotsylvania May 8th - The 13th are among the first infantry troops to clash with Anderson's Confederate Corps at Spotsylvania.  After a tiring night march they made  three separate ½ mile long charges around 8:30 A.M. on the Alsop and Spindle Farms.  They were outflanked.  An artillery shell shattered their National Flagstaff during one of the charges.  Later, Gen. Warren seized the shattered flag staff and used the 13th's colors to rally a Maryland Brigade.  Artist Alfred Waud makes a sketch of this for the illustrated papers.  Twelve of their men die from wounds received this day, many of them have been with the regiment since the start.  Twelve more are captured.  Gen. Robinson, the Division Commander, lost a leg.

     Intrepid visitors might also want to see the area of the Mine Run campaign, included within the boundaries of this park.   In November, 1863 the regiment formed in line of battle to charge a well fortified Rebel Position.  Casualties would have been high had the attack not been called off.

Petersburg, VA

     Looking at the map, I see Petersburg is about 80 miles south of Fredericksburg. This was the last place the regiment fought at the front lines (They helped build the Fort Davis) before going home to Massachusetts and probably would be the last stop on a tour of significant sights.  For several weeks, the regiment was busy digging and fighting in the trenches before Petersburg.  Austin Stearns and Sam Webster give detailed accounts of the fighting that went on.  This was the exiting point for those few soldiers (about 70) who survived the 3 year ordeal at the front lines.  A few men re-enlisted and stayed on with other units.  Several had been detached and many had been promoted to other organizations.   The regiment was still with General G. K. Warren and the 5th Corps.  The famous battle of the Crater took place here, 2 weeks after the regiment went home.  Its noteworthy, because their original Major, Jacob Parker Gould, was mortally wounded in this engagement leading his own regiment and brigade in a charge as Colonel Gould of the 59th Mass.  Petersburg National Battlefield Park

This is a much longer post than I thought, with way too many links so thats all -  I'm tired! --Thanks Mary !!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Website's 3rd Anniversary

Yesterday was  the 3rd anniversary of  

It had a false start some years earlier, when my friend and fellow researcher Greg Dowden set up a '13thmass'  site with free web space and web authoring tools that were frequently offered with service providers back in the day.  Greg and I were both anxious to get the stories of the '13th Mass.' out there.  I was pursuing my 'book' at that time.

In 2008 with Greg's approval, I took over the reins of building the site, using the same url.   I did about 6 months of research on web authoring before choosing a service provider and building the site.  Much of this research was done here.

Susan Harnwell who maintains the website for the '15th Mass.' provided some excellent advice and encouragement too.

In late May, 2008 I purchased a plan from Futurequest, and in a couple weeks I had my basic website live on-line.

Adding the 'detail' pages is an on-going project that was planned from the start.  This is the heart of the site. Pictures and graphics are an important part of each page and care is taken to find the right images to match the text.  In search of these, I've often contacted historical societies and towns that could provide insight, images and anecdotes about the local areas the 13th Mass traveled through. Usually this leads to an exchange of information which is mutually rewarding.  It probably builds a little bit of regional interest in the site too.  (I've corresponded with people in Hagerstown, Hancock, and Williamsport,  Md.; Bluemont, Va., Front Royal, Va., and Warrenton, Va., among other places back east).

I'm finally working on the Antietam Campaign, a year and 2 months into the regiment's three year term of enlistment and three years into the slow building of the website.  Here the regiment made its mark, a lasting reputation for valor and dependability that continued through to the end of service.  It was at the front from the day it arrived in Western Maryland Aug. 1, 1861, to the day it left the trenches before Petersburg to return home, July 14, 1864.

I must add however, that the regiment was already famous back home in Massachusetts. It gained for itself the moniker of 'The Marching Regiment" in its early days, and it began skirmishing with Rebel pickets across the Potomac almost immediately from the time it arrived in W. Maryland the summer of  1861.

I have lots of good material for the Antietam page.

Antietam is also a turning point in the history of the unit.  Several of my primary sources dry up following the battles of 2nd Bull Run and Antietam, fought within 3 weeks time of each other. I've had the good fortune to use several letter collections, gathered from institutions or family, that simply end at this time with the soldiers wounding, or muster out.  There won't be as many consistent voices with which to follow the fortunes of the regiment from this point forward.  This might be a good time to appeal for source material from any that might have a collection of 13th Mass. letters they wish to share.

The website has so far fulfilled my expectations.  I hope it proves a valuable resource for others as time marches on.

And, thanks for stopping by!