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´╗┐Title: History of Company F, 1st Regiment, R.I. Volunteers, during the Spring and Summer of 1861
Author: Clarke, Charles H.
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of Company F, 1st Regiment, R.I. Volunteers, during the Spring and Summer of 1861" ***

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  During the Spring and Summer of 1861.




In the following pages I have endeavored to present a correct
description of the service performed by Company F, 1st Regiment R. I.
Volunteers, during the spring and summer of 1861. While many of my
comrades who served in that company may differ with me in some of the
statements I have made, still I think that all will agree that what I
have presented is as correct an account as can be had at this late
period of that service. Thirty years is a long time for men to
remember the particulars of any event, unless some memoranda of the
same is at hand. During that service I endeavored to keep as correct
as possible a daily journal of events, and from that journal I have
prepared this brief history of the company, and I trust that my
comrades who may read this will excuse any inaccuracies that in their
opinion may appear; for it is my desire to place before you a correct
history of Company F, the first company of volunteers that left
Newport on the 17th of April, 1861, for the defence of the Stars and
Stripes in the great war of the rebellion.





Early in the month of April, 1861, several of the Southern States
having withdrawn from the Union, forts, arsenals and navy yards
within the limits of those States were taken possession of by the
Confederate forces. On the 12th of April, Fort Sumter, at Charleston,
S. C., was fired upon, and after two days' bombardment by the rebels,
commanded by General Beauregard, the garrison, comprising seventy
United States Regulars, commanded by Major Robert Anderson,
surrendered the fort. Meanwhile the National Capital at Washington
was in danger, and on the 15th of April Abraham Lincoln issued his
proclamation, calling for seventy-five thousand troops for the
defence of the city of Washington.

Governor Sprague, of Rhode Island, tendered the services of one
regiment of Infantry, and one battery of Light Artillery, which being
accepted by the Secretary of War, the Governor at once sent a
telegram to Colonel George W. Tew, commanding the Newport Artillery
company, asking how many men of his command would go to Washington
for the defence of the Capital. Colonel Tew replied that he would go,
with fifty men. April 16th, Colonel Tew received another telegram
from the Governor, directing him to recruit his company to one
hundred, and to report at Providence, armed and equipped, upon
receipt of orders. At that time the Newport Artillery were as well
equipped as any company in the State. They were armed with the latest
improved Springfield rifles. They had just purchased, at their own
expense, fifty artillery sabres of the latest French pattern. They
had likewise, the year preceding, had made to their order new
military overcoats, which no other company in the State was at that
time provided with. These overcoats and sabres were afterwards
purchased of them by the State of Rhode Island, and were used for
equipping the 1st Battery.

On April 16th Colonel Tew called a meeting of the company, and after
reading the telegrams received from the Governor that day, made a
patriotic speech, and was followed by Mayor Cranston, who was
present. Colonel Tew then requested those of the company that would
volunteer to go to Washington, to step to the front, when
thirty-three of the thirty-nine active members of the company
responded. A call was then made for volunteers to fill up the company
to the required number of one hundred men, and in a very short time
there were more men applied than could be taken.

That evening the company paraded through the streets of the city, to
the inspiriting music of a fife and drum, and were dismissed at 10 P.
M., to meet again on the receipt of orders from Providence, to be
announced by the discharge of three guns on the Mall, and by the
ringing of the church bells.

At 7 A. M., Wednesday, April 17th, a mounted courier arrived from
Providence with orders for Colonel Tew to report that day in
Providence with his company. Colonel Tew, upon the receipt of the
order, sent word by return courier that he would be in Providence
with his company at 2 P. M.

At 8 A. M., one of the company's brass guns was dragged by hand to
the Mall and fired three times by the gun squad that had remained in
the armory all night so as to be on hand when orders came.

Never before in the known history of the city was there so much
excitement as was caused by the firing of those guns. Business of all
kinds was suspended for the time being, and the people began to
realize that the time had come for action.

When the orders came that morning, Colonel George W. Tew was at work
at his trade, a mason, on Wellington Avenue. On receiving the order
he laid down his trowel and other tools, adopted the trade of a
soldier, and for four long years he served his country with credit to
himself and to the State of Rhode Island.

First Sergeant A. P. Sherman was driving on his market wagon
attending to his morning trade when he heard the signal guns. Leaving
his team on the street, he started at once for the armory on Clarke
street, and commenced to form the company.

In less than one hour the company were in line and ready to start.
Like the minute men of Revolutionary times, they left their bench,
their desks, and farm, at the call to arms. Thames street, Washington
square and Clarke street were thronged with people. The artillery
was at that time as at present the pride of Newport and it is not
strange that so much interest was manifested, and, besides, they were
about to leave home and friends, not knowing whether they would ever
return. They went from pure patriotism and love of the Old Flag; and
it is an undisputed fact to-day that had it not been for the
promptitude with which the first troops responded to the call of the
President, the city of Washington would have been taken by the rebel
forces. At the armory there were there assembled many prominent
citizens, Mayor W. H. Cranston and several of the clergy. Speech
making and hand shaking were indulged in for some time, and at 11.30
A. M. the company marched to Sayer's Wharf by way of Clarke, Touro
and Thames streets, escorted by about fifty past members of the
company. On the wharf, Rev. Samuel Adlam, of the First Baptist
Church, offered prayer, and was followed by Mayor Cranston and Hon.
Charles C. Van Zandt, in brief addresses. Rev. Thatcher Thayer, who
had for many years been chaplain of the Artillery company, and still
holds that position, (1891) offered a touching prayer in behalf of
the company and the cause for the support and defence of which they
were now about to leave home, kindred and friends, after which the
benediction was pronounced by Rev. Henry Jackson, D. D. A brief
season was then allowed for individual leave-takings, and at 1 P. M.
the company marched on board steamer Perry for Providence to form a
part of Rhode Island's first regiment in the war of the rebellion.

Following is a correct roll of the company, as copied from the
muster-out roll of the regiment:


  Captain,--George W. Tew.

  1st Lieutenant,--William A. Steadman.

  2d     "         Benjamin L. Slocum.

  Ensign,--James H. Chappell.

  1st Sergeant,--Augustus P. Sherman.

  2d     "       Thomas S. Burdick.

  3d     "       John S. Coggeshall.

  4th    "       Edward S. Hammond.

  1st Corporal,--John D. Washburne.

  2d     "       Benedict F. Smith.

  3d     "       Ray B. Tayer.

  4th    "       Henry L. Nicolai.


  John A. Abbott.
  Charles B. Barlow.
  Albert N. Burdick.
  George C. Almy.
  John H. Bacheller.
  Christopher E. Barker.
  Charles Barker, Jr.
  Andrew P. Bashford.
  William Booth.
  Daniel Boss.
  Jeremiah Brown.
  Adelbert P. Bryant.
  Thomas Brownell.
  Henry Bull, Jr.
  Benjamin D. Carlisle.
  Robert Carlisle.
  Allen Caswell.
  Charles H. Clarke.
  Edward F. Clarke.
  Frederic A. Clarke.
  Gustavus A. Clarke.
  Joshua P. Clarke.
  David M. Coggeshall, Jr.
  Lawton Coggeshall.
  Robert D. Coggeshall.
  Robert Crane.
  Perry B. Dawley.
  Benjamin F. Davis.
  William P. Denman.
  Lance DeJongh.
  Silas D. DeBlois.
  Stephen DeBlois.
  William H. Durfee.
  Henry T. Easton.
  Benjamin Easton, Jr.
  John F. Easton.
  William J. Eldridge.
  Edmund W. Fales.
  John Fludder.
  Augustus French.
  Thomas J. Harrington.
  Joseph J. Gould.
  Rowland R. Hazard.
  William Hamilton.
  Samuel Hilton.
  Benjamin C. Hubbard.
  George A. Hudson.
  Harris Keables.
  William Keating.
  Edwin A. Kelley.
  Theodore W. King.
  William H. King.
  Israel F. Lake, Jr.
  Thomas O. Lake.
  Henry B. Landers.
  John B. Landers.
  Overton G. Langley.
  Charles E. Lawton.
  George P. Lawton.
  Thomas H. Lawton.
  David Little.
  Charles L. Littlefield.
  John B. Mason.
  James Markham.
  Daniel A. McCann.
  William M. Minkler.
  Walden H. Mason.
  Michael A. Nolan.
  George H. Palmer.
  Frederic J. Peabody.
  Edwin H. Peabody.
  John P. Peckham.
  Peyton H. Randolph.
  John Rogers.
  Benjamin H. Rogers.
  John H. Robinson.
  John F. Scott.
  Thomas Scott.
  Thomas Sharpe.
  Bartlett L. Simmons.
  John B. F. Smith.
  George B. Smith.
  Charles Southwick.
  John Stark.
  George W. Taber.
  Edward Terrell.
  William H. Thayer.
  William Towle.
  Arthur R. Tuell.
  James P. Vose.
  William H. Waldron.
  George S. Ward.
  Charles S. Weaver.
  George R. White.
  Edward Wilson.
  William H. Young.

To be added to this roll, should be the names of James H. Taylor,
John S. Engs, and James W. Lyon, members of the regimental
non-commissioned staff, who were members of the company from Newport,
but their names do not appear on the muster-out roll of the company.

On arriving at Providence, the company marched to Railroad Hall, on
Exchange Place, where they were to be quartered until such time as
the regiment could be uniformed and equipped. The organization of the
regiment commenced at once. Ambrose E. Burnside was appointed
colonel; Joseph S. Pitman, lieutenant colonel; John S. Slocum, 1st
major; Joseph P. Balch, 2d major; Charles H. Merriman, adjutant; Rev.
Augustus Woodbury, chaplain. All company officers were elected by the
company, approved and commissioned by the Governor. The position in
line of the companies and the letter by which they were to be known,
was drawn by lot by the captains. The Newport company was designated
by the letter F, and drew third position in line, which constituted
them the color company of the regiment. In the making up of the
non-commissioned staff, there were appointed James H. Taylor as
hospital steward, James W. Lyon as ordnance sergeant, and John S.
Engs as sergeant major; Edward S. Hammond was appointed as left
general guide of the regiment.

As fast as the uniforms could be made, they were issued to the
companies. These consisted of a light blue blouse, of the Garibaldi
pattern, dark grey pants, and Kossuth hat, with the brim turned up on
the right side, and fastened to the crown with a brass plate, eagle
shaped. Instead of overcoats, we were provided with red woollen
blankets, with a slit in the centre, to wear over our shoulders in
bad weather; also one grey blanket, knapsack, to contain our extra
clothing, haversack, canteen, tin plate, knife and fork, spoon, and
tin cup.



On Saturday, April 19th, the first detachment, made up of details
from all the companies, to the number of nearly six hundred men,
including the regimental band, of twenty-four men, were in readiness
to start for Washington. The regiment formed on Exchange Place at
noon, where they received a costly and beautiful regimental flag, of
silk, presented by the ladies of Providence. Colonel Burnside, on
receiving the precious gift, remarked as follows:--

     "I know that the gallant men I carry away will prove themselves
     worthy of the beautiful banner presented to them by you. We are
     fully impressed with the fact that we take with us your most
     fervent prayers, and we shall constantly feel that your eyes are
     upon us. God grant that we may yet see the Union out of danger.
     Bidding you an affectionate farewell, and thanking you in behalf
     of my command, for your kindness, I feel that I can assure you
     in the name of each and every one of them, that no act of theirs
     shall ever cause you to regret this your generous and patriotic
     contribution to the cause we mutually cherish."

The flag was then given in charge of Company F, the color company of
the regiment, Charles Becherer, of Company G, being detailed as color

A short regimental parade was made through the streets of Providence
to the wharf where steamer Empire State was lying with steam up, in
readiness to take the regiment to New York. At about 2.30 P. M. the
boat cast off her lines and steamed down the bay and through the
harbor of Newport out to sea. When the steamer was passing Long
Wharf, a salute was fired by a gun squad of the past members of the
Newport Artillery. A salute was also fired from Fort Adams, as the
steamer passed on her way out to sea.

Sunday morning, April 20th, arrived in New York. The regiment, with
its baggage, was at once transferred to the United States Government
transport Coatzacolcos, on board of which we remained all that day,
and Monday steamed away for Annapolis.

A tug boat which spoke us in the afternoon, gave us the information
that the Norfolk navy yard had been blown up and destroyed by orders
from our government. At daylight the next morning we came in sight of
Fortress Monroe, and sailing on up Chesapeake Bay, anchored for the
night, and the next day steamed up into the harbor of Annapolis and
landed. We were kindly received by the officers of the United States
Naval Academy, who furnished us with quarters in the government
building for the night.

General Benjamin F. Butler, of Massachusetts, was there in command of
the United States forces, composed mostly of New England troops.

Thursday morning we set out on the road to Annapolis Junction. We
were told by inhabitants we met that we never would reach Washington,
as the road was in the possession of Confederate troops and their
friends; but we tramped along, and overtook the 71st New York
Regiment at noon, halting an hour or two in their company, and after
having had a good rest, about 4 o'clock resumed our march for the
Junction, discovering no signs of the enemy as we proceeded, and at
about 8 P. M. halted for the night. We encamped in a field beside the
railroad, posting sentinels on all sides, as we expected an attack
at this place. Camp fires were kindled, supper prepared and eaten,
after which preparations were made for the night. The 71st New York
coming up and halting at our bivouac, we exchanged greetings with
them, furnished them with hot coffee, and informed them, as they took
their departure on the road, that it was a short march for them to
the Junction--"only nine more miles." A member of the 71st afterwards
composed a song entitled "Nine Miles to the Junction," the words of
which were as follows:

        The troops of Rhode Island were posted along
          On the road from Annapolis station,
        As the 71st Regiment, one thousand strong,
          Went on in defence of the nation:
            We'd been marching all day, in the sun's scorching rays,
              With two biscuits a day as our rations,
            When we asked Governor Sprague to show us the way,
              And "How many miles to the Junction?"

        The Rhode Island boys cheered us on out of sight,
          After giving the following injunction:
          "Just to keep up your courage--you'll get there to-night,
          For 'it's only nine miles to the Junction!'"
            They gave us hot coffee, a grasp of the hand,
              Which cheered and refreshed our exhaustion;
            We reached in six hours the long promised land,
              For 't was "only nine miles to the Junction."

        And now as we meet them in Washington's streets,
          They always salute us with unction;
        And still the old cry some one will repeat--
          "It's only nine miles to the Junction!"
            Three cheers for the warm hearted Rhode Island boys,
              May each be true to his function;
            And whene'er we meet, let us each other greet,
              With "Only nine miles to the Junction."

        Nine cheers for the flag under which we will fight,
          If the traitors should dare to assail it.
        One cheer for each mile that we made on that night,
          When 't was "Only nine miles to the Junction."
            With hearts thus united, our breasts to the foe--
              Once more with delight will we hail it;
            If duty should call us, still onward we'll go,
              If even "nine miles to the Junction."

This was set to the air, "Tother side o' Jordan," and was adopted
into the regiment, becoming one of our camp fire songs.

During the night, after the departure of the 71st, nothing transpired
to disturb us.

At about 4 o'clock A. M. April 26th, we were once more on the road to
the Junction, which we reached at about 5.30 A. M., and at once
commenced loading baggage and provisions on the cars. At 9 A. M.,
everything being in readiness and the road reported clear, we started
for Washington, where we arrived about noon, and were at once
marched to the Patent Office, on 7th street, where we were to be
quartered until a site for a camp could be selected.

Tuesday, April 30th, the second detachment of the regiment arrived,
in command of Lieutenant Colonel Pitman, and on May 1st the regiment
was paraded in front of the Patent Office, the occasion being the
raising of the Stars and Stripes on that building. The flag was
hoisted by President Lincoln, after which the regiment was drilled by
Colonel Burnside, under review by the President and members of the

Thursday, May 2d, the Light Battery arrived from Providence, in
command of Captain Charles H. Tompkins, and in the afternoon the
entire regiment marched to the Capitol grounds, and was sworn into
the United States service, by Major McDowell, of the Regular army.



Preparations were at once made to go into camp. A detail of mechanics
was made from the regiment, and under the direction of Lieutenant
Walker, of Company E, the requisite buildings were erected, and on
May 10th the regiment went into camp in their new quarters, on the
Keating farm, near the Bladensburg road, about a mile north of the
Capitol. It was named Camp Sprague, in honor of Rhode Island's

Ten rows of buildings had been constructed, parallel with each other,
for company quarters, a row for each company, with a street about
fifteen feet in width between the buildings. The quarters of each
company comprised six squad rooms, each room having accommodations
for a non-commissioned officer and eighteen men, and on three sides
of each sleeping room were bunks; there was also an outer room, or
porch, with a table extending lengthwise, for use as a dining room.
The company officers occupied a building separated from the men by a
narrow street. The regimental officers and band were very pleasantly
located in a shady grove, in cottage shaped buildings, with piazza in
front, standing in the rear of and at right angles with the company

We soon got settled in our new home at Camp Sprague, and commenced at
once the duties of soldier life. Previous to this we had been in an
unsettled condition, taking our meals at restaurants and using the
Patent office for sleeping quarters, with not much duty to perform,
except answering to roll-calls. Now, however, we knew just what was
expected of us every day. Our duties commenced soon after daylight,
ending at 9 P. M. At about 5 A. M. we were aroused from our slumbers
by the beating of the reveille, which duty was performed by Drum
Major Ben. West and his fife and drum band, when each man was
required to turn out, take his place in line in the company street,
and answer to his name. This duty was performed with a great deal of
promptitude, at first, but after a while some of the boys did not get
started out of their bunks in time to complete their toilet, and
often would appear in line thinly clad, and it was no unusual thing
to see some appear bareheaded and without shoes or stockings. One
squad of the company was particularly noted for their tardiness at
reveille. I don't think this was owing to any neglect on the part of
the sergeant in charge; for Sergeant Hammond was wont to boast that
he had "the banner squad," and he exacted of them everything in the
line of duty. But two of his men appeared to be impressed with the
notion that the nights in that latitude were too short to satisfy
their demands for sleep. They would lie in bed and wait until the
last roll of the drum, then tumbling out, they would have hardly
sufficient time to take their places in line to answer to their names
when called. One morning, during roll-call, the company were
surprised to see running from the direction of Sergeant Hammond's
quarters two men to all appearances of African descent. The First
Sergeant, not knowing who they were, ordered them to stand aside, and
then continued the calling of the roll. When the names of John B. M.
and L. DeJ. were called, two "colored gentlemen" responded. The first
sergeant, after roll-call, reprimanded them for appearing in such
condition, advising them to in future be more prompt at roll-call.
Some one or more merciless wags among their comrades had, during the
silent watches of the night, and while they slept the sleep of the
just, surreptitiously decorated their countenances with burnt cork.
Of course Hammond knew nothing of it until their appearance at
roll-call; but I do not think that afterwards there were any of
Hammond's squad tardy at roll-call.

Directly after reveille came the sick-call, when those who required
medical attention went to the hospital; breakfast at 7, guard-mount
at 8 A. M., company drills and target practise from 9 to 11 A. M.,
dinner at noon. In the afternoon, battalion drill of the entire
regiment, and at sunset dress parade, which on pleasant days was
witnessed by a large number of the citizens and notables of
Washington, including President Lincoln and members of the Cabinet.
After the parade, the regiment formed in double column, closed en
masse, when our chaplain, Rev. Augustus Woodbury, read a portion of
scripture, followed by prayer, the service closing with singing the
doxology by the entire regiment, accompanied by the band, with most
solemn and impressive effect; tattoo roll-call at 9 P. M., taps at
9.30, when lights were extinguished and every man was supposed to be
in his bunk for the night; but on many occasions there was more of
supposition than reality. Notwithstanding the circumstance that we
were United States soldiers, and as such bound to obey the army
regulations, there were in nearly every squad men who would at times
commit acts that had they realized the consequences if found out,
they would not have suffered themselves to do. To take men from civil
life, with no previous military training, and subject them to army
discipline, is a difficult task to accomplish, and is a work of time;
nor is it a matter for wonder that men forget their being soldiers
and liable to severe punishment for misdemeanors.

After taps, it was the custom of the officer of the day to make the
rounds of the camp to make sure that all lights were out and
everything quiet in the company quarters. Sometimes this officer, if
he manifested a disposition to be officious in the discharge of his
duties, came to grief. There was one who, when detailed as officer of
the day, generally had about all the business he cared to attend to,
in the vicinity of Company F quarters, after taps. A candle would be
left burning on the table in a room, to attract the officer's
attention, who on seeing it would shout at the top of his voice, "Put
out that light in Company F quarters!" Some one in bed would reply,
"Go to H--ades, you old granny!" The officer, entering, would be
deluged with a shower of tin pans and plates, placed on a shelf
purposely rigged directly over the entrance, propped up by sticks,
and at the proper time tripped by means of a string manipulated by
some person to the officer unknown, the light being at the same
instant extinguished by some one in the plot, the transaction
overwhelming the officer with impotent wrath.

May 21st, John Abbott and Thomas H. Lawton were discharged from the
company on account of disability, returning home.

May 23d, Governor Sprague left camp for home, to be inaugurated as
Governor for another year. A detail of thirty men from the regiment
was made to-day, and placed under command of Lieutenant Tower, of
Company E, to operate a ferry for transporting troops across the
river to Alexandria. They worked only nights, returning to camp at
daylight in the morning. Company F furnished five men--Sergeant
Burdick, John B. F. Smith, Andrew P. Bashford, George R. White, and
Peyton Randolph, all of whom had been sailors previous to enlistment
in the army, and consequently were familiar with that line of duty,
and to them it was mere pastime.

Although away from home and friends, we as sons of old Newport could
not permit 'Lection day to pass without notice. Nearly all of us had
sent us from home boxes containing cake and blue eggs, and with these
as a basis, we made preparations to celebrate the day. At sunrise we
flung to the breeze a beautiful American flag, from the 1st
sergeant's quarters. This flag, presented to us by Mr. William
Vernon, of Newport, is still in the possession of the Newport
Artillery company. A salute was fired by our battery, in honor of the
day, and at 9 A. M. a table was spread in the quarters, with plenty
of cake and egg pop. Private George C. Almy was deputed to call on
and invite the company and regimental officers to visit us and
partake of the good things. It was a very enjoyable occasion, Colonel
Burnside and Chaplain Woodbury making some pleasant remarks.

May 31st, David Little, Fred J. Peabody and William Waldron, of
Company F, were discharged on surgeon's certificate, for disability,
and returned home.

About the first of June there were rumors in camp of a movement of
troops; extra rations were cooked, and other preparations made for a
forward movement.

June 6th, John S. Engs, who had been company clerk, was promoted to
the position of sergeant-major of the regiment, to fill the vacancy
caused by the resignation of John P. Shaw, who had been promoted to
lieutenant in the 2d Rhode Island Regiment, and Augustus French was
appointed company clerk.




On Saturday, 8th of June, orders came for an expedition to Harper's
Ferry. The day before starting, we had issued to us new caps of the
French forage pattern, also white linen havelocks, to wear over them,
which added greatly to the appearance of the men, being likewise a
decided protection from the scorching rays of the June sun.

June 10th, the regiment broke camp, and marching to Washington took
cars for Baltimore, arriving at which place we marched across the
city to embark for Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. We had anticipated
trouble in marching through the streets of Baltimore; but the roughs
of the then rebellious city knew better than to oppose the passage of
a regiment and battery armed and equipped as was the 1st Rhode
Island. The regiment marched across the city from the depot where we
landed, without a halt, with its band playing national airs. We were
well supplied with ammunition, and the battery could have swept the
streets of any mob essaying to obstruct its progress. We soon reached
and boarded the cars, arriving at Chambersburg at noon, 11th, and
starting again by rail for Greencastle, Pennsylvania, which place we
reached at sunset the same day. After leaving the train we marched
about three miles beyond the town, where we bivouacked for the night
in a grove beside the road. We had no tents nor rations, the wagons
not having come up. The regiment formed in a hollow square, stacked
their muskets, and lay down on the ground, without covering, other
than their blankets; sentinels were posted on the road, the battery
parked in the rear of the regiment, and every precaution taken
against surprise during the night. Tents arrived the next morning at
daylight, but no rations. The tents we pitched and made preparations
for a few days' stay. Troops were all the time coming and marching.
The army to which we were at that time attached, comprised about nine
thousand men, commanded by General Patterson, and was organizing for
an attack upon Harper's Ferry.

June 12th, at noon, Governor Sprague rejoined us, having left Rhode
Island at once on learning that we had departed from Washington.

At about sunset, while many of the regiment were seated on fences
watching the passing troops, a Pennsylvania regiment came along the
road, halting a few moments for rest in front of our camp. Directly
some of our regiment discovered a man in one of the Pennsylvania
companies who had been arrested by our regiment as a spy, while we
were quartered at the Patent office in Washington. A rush was made
for him, he was dragged from his company, and but for the
intervention of some of our officers he would have been strung up on
the spot.

Saturday morning, June 13th, we once more started, our destination
being Williamsport, Maryland, distant fourteen miles. This was one of
the hardest marches that we made. The weather was hot, the roads
rough and dusty, and when we went into camp at Williamsport, there
was only one officer and fourteen men of our company with the colors,
present. The balance of the company were exhausted, and were
straggling along the road, but by sunset they had all arrived in
camp. We pitched our tents in the woods and rested the whole of

Monday morning, June 15th, broke camp at daylight, and started on the
road for Harper's Ferry. We had barely got started, when a mounted
orderly arrived from Hagerstown, Maryland, with orders for Colonel
Burnside to return with his regiment and battery to Washington, at
once. Harper's Ferry had been evacuated by the rebels, who were also
moving in the direction of Washington. Our regiment and battery set
out at once on the road for Hagerstown, arriving there at noon.
Without stopping we marched on through Funkstown, arriving at
Boonsboro, Maryland, at 3 P. M., where we halted for a rest. We found
the people of the place loyal, and disposed to show us every possible
attention. We halted on the public square, or common, and the ladies
of the town gathered in large numbers and supplied many of us with
cake and other refreshments. Here the regiment and battery rested
until 5 P. M., when the march was resumed. Entering a pass of the
South Mountain, the acclivity looming up on both sides, every
precaution was taken against any possible surprise by the enemy. The
battery was divided, one-half in the advance and the remainder in
the rear of the column.

At 9 P. M. we reached Middletown, where the people showed themselves
in large numbers, as we passed their quiet homes. We made no stop at
Middletown, but tramped along, tired and hungry, stopping about
midnight and camping on a hill on the outskirts of Frederick City,
Maryland, having marched thirty-six miles since daylight. Men from
all the companies soon collected rails and built a camp-fire,
illuminating the surrounding country and causing the ringing of a
fire alarm in Frederick City.

At 4 A. M. June 18th, we broke camp and marched into Frederick,
halting at some old barracks, said to have been built during the
Revolutionary war. We were the first Union troops that had entered
Frederick City since the commencement of hostilities, and the event
naturally caused no little stir among the inhabitants of that
semi-rebellious city. Nearly if not quite all its prominent citizens
were in sympathy with the rebel cause, and we were consequently not
regarded by them with any degree of favor. The presence, however, of
twelve hundred well drilled and disciplined troops and a battery of
six rifled guns, proved a quite potent reminder of what might be
expected should there be any undue interference. Soon after entering
Frederick, our company was marched to a restaurant and provided with
an excellent breakfast, after which we returned to the old barracks.
We were given permission by our officers to look about the city, with
orders to report in camp at noon. Many of the citizens were found to
be true Union men, by whom we were courteously received and kindly
treated, and I don't believe that during our brief stay in town any
member of the regiment, either by word or deed, left any unfavorable
impression among the inhabitants. In the afternoon, just previous to
the departure of the regiment, a deputation of Union citizens, both
men and women, waited upon us and presented to Mrs. Kady Brownell an
elegant American flag. Mrs. Brownell was the wife of Robert S.
Brownell, of Company H, and when her husband enlisted, in Providence,
she insisted on accompanying him, and was with the regiment during
its entire term of service, in all its long marches sharing its
privations and enduring its hardships. At the battle of Bull Run she
was on the skirmish line with her husband, who was at the time a
sergeant. She wore a uniform somewhat similar to that of the
regiment, and was proficient in the use of a revolver and a short,
straight sword, that she always wore suspended at her side.

At about 4 P. M., the regiment took up the line of march for the
depot, to take cars for Washington. In marching through one of the
principal streets leading to the depot, a crowd of rebel toughs
issued from a side street, and following us, volunteered insulting
remarks concerning us and the flag. Captain Tew, of our company, had
at that time a colored servant, who had been with us for some time.
This sooty individual, who was known by the name of John, had
somewhere on the march picked up an antiquated sword and belt, which
he had buckled on and felt very proud of. The sight of this negro,
thus attired, appeared to kindle the wrath of Frederick City's
chivalry to such an extent that they attempted to seize and make way
with the boy, and for a short time the excitement ran high. The color
sergeant, seeing that an attack upon us was threatened, drew his
revolver and stood on the defensive. The right wing of the regiment,
not being aware of the disturbance, continued on its march.
Lieutenant Colonel Pitman, who was in command of the left wing,
noticing the aspect of things, took prompt action, halting the
companies, most of the men of F company loading their muskets, as
they expected that the mob, which by this time had largely increased
in numbers, would make an attack. At this juncture Colonel Burnside
rode up and was about to issue some order to our officers, when a
squad of city police, or home guard, appeared upon the scene and
dispersed the mob, after which we resumed our march, soon arriving at
the depot, where we took a train for Washington, reaching that place
at daylight the next morning, June 19th.

Company F was immediately detailed to unload tents and other baggage
from the cars. The regiment marched at once to our old quarters at
Camp Sprague. While engaged on our work of unloading, our ever
thoughtful commissary sent us a barrel of Camp Sprague ginger-bread,
for lunch, and some good friend of the company, I never knew who,
furnished us with a barrel of "conversation water" to wash it down
with. We finished our work at 5 A. M., and marched out to camp, where
we found a nice breakfast awaiting us. We resumed camp duties at
once. Although we had been on a ten days' tramp, and had made one of
the longest marches that had up to that time been made, in one day,
by any troops, and had not during the whole time been over-stocked
with rations, all the boys were in good condition and in readiness
for any duty required of them.

Saturday June 22d, at 3 A. M., the camp was aroused by the beating of
drums, and for a few minutes all was excitement, until it was
announced that the occasion of the alarm was the arrival at our camp
of the 2d Rhode Island regiment, via Washington, which place they had
reached a few hours previous, and were waiting outside to allow us
time to form our regiment so as to receive them in true military
style, which was done a few minutes later, and K Company, Captain
Charles W. Turner, our company asked to breakfast with us that
morning. The 2d Regiment went into camp in tents in a shady grove
adjoining us, and as long as we remained in Washington, both
regiments mounted guard and had dress parade together every day. Many
officers of the Second had seen service in our regiment previous to
the formation of theirs, and we were intimately acquainted with many
of its men, particularly those from Newport; and the men of our
company will always look back with a great deal of pleasure to those
days in the summer of '61, when the men of the two regiments passed
so many pleasant hours in each others' society. The associations
formed at that time, and later on in the war, between soldiers, were
fraternal in their character, and to this day the same feeling exists
among members of the Grand Army of the Republic, and will continue as
long as the men that were associated with us shall live.

June 28th, the 1st and 2d Regiments, with the band of each, and the
two Rhode Island light batteries, made a parade in the city of
Washington, marching up through Pennsylvania Avenue to the White
House, and counter-marching and passing in review before the
President and other notables, among whom was the venerable General
Winfield Scott, then so aged and feeble as to be unable to stand,
sitting in a chair as the troops moved past. The parade was a grand
showing for Little Rhody, over two thousand men in line, and so
finely officered, armed and equipped. The Washington papers were
enthusiastic in their praises of our soldierly appearance. In this
parade we marched full company front, three ranks deep. The Hardee
tactics were then in use in the army, but on this occasion we
observed the three-rank formation prescribed in the Scott tactics
previous to the war. The old General was highly pleased to see troops
thus formed, as he was the originator of the three-rank formation,
and I do not think he ever before or after saw so many troops
arranged in that manner. We returned to camp at 5 P. M., and at
evening parade Colonel Burnside complimented the troops highly for
their soldierly bearing and general behaviour while in the city that

Soon after the arrival of the 2d Regiment, a change was made in the
detail for camp guard. Previous to this there were ten men and a
non-commissioned officer detailed every day from each company, for
guard duty. But owing to the increased size of the camp, it was
necessary that more men should be detailed, consequently an order was
issued that a full company from each regiment be detailed every day
for that duty. This new order of things was the occasion for
considerable argument among the members of Company F, and we had men
with us who were always ready for an argument, particularly if they
believed they would be benefited by it. Albeit, while most of the
company were ever ready and willing to obey every order emanating
from proper authority, there were yet some who always reserved the
right, as they thought, to growl. Some contended that it was contrary
to army regulations, and that Company F could not be thus detailed,
they were the color company of the regiment, and in case of an alarm,
if the entire company were detailed for extraneous duty the colors
would be without a guard. The matter was finally referred to Colonel
Burnside, who at once decided that the color guard of eight men were
exempt from general guard duty, but the balance of the company would
mount guard. It would seem as though this should have settled the
matter, but such was not the fact; in a few days Company F was
detailed for guard duty, and at the proper time we were marched upon
the parade ground, the customary evolutions pertaining to guard mount
gone through with, and the order was given to march the guard off to
the guard-house. Off we started, the band playing, but on our arrival
at the guard-house our first sergeant was not with us, and on looking
in the direction of the parade ground he was observed standing there
alone, Robinson Crusoe like, "monarch of all he surveyed." On being
requested by the adjutant to report for duty, he objected to doing
so, and went to his quarters. He was soon ordered to report at
headquarters, charged with disobedience of orders, but was allowed to
give his reasons for not complying with orders relating to guard
duty, which he readily did. They were that a 1st sergeant of a
company was not a duty sergeant, and was consequently by the
regulations exempt from such duty while in camp. The matter being
referred to Colonel Burnside, that officer promptly ruled that the
sergeant was right, and ever after the 1st sergeants of companies
were relieved from service in that direction while in camp. It was a
notable circumstance, which I wish to record here, that while Colonel
Burnside always exacted of us a strict compliance with all orders, he
was at the same time ready and willing to listen and act upon any
complaint from officers or men, and invariably his decisions were
just. He treated all alike, and was ever on the look out for the
welfare and comfort of the men. As an illustration of General
Burnside's ideas of duty, it was decided to erect a temporary
structure for the purpose of holding religious services on the
Sabbath. One day the sergeant-major made application to the captains
of companies for a detail of mechanics for this work, in response to
which details were sent from all except one of the companies, the
captain of this company stating to the sergeant-major in response
that he had no mechanics, his company being composed wholly of
business men and clerks. This circumstance being duly reported to
Colonel Burnside, he instructed the sergeant major to direct the
captain of that company to detail ten men at once, as there were some
foundation holes to dig, and he did not wish mechanics to do that
sort of work.

Fourth of July was celebrated by both regiments in camp. There was a
review of the regiments and batteries, and services held appropriate
to the day, in which were included singing, music by the bands, and
an oration by Rev. Father Quinn. In the afternoon we had sports of
all kinds; a member of the second regiment gave a tight rope
performance, and a member of the battery procured and turned loose a
pig, well greased, said porker to become the property of the one that
could catch and hold him; prizes were offered for the champion
wrestler and clog dancer, respectively, both of which were captured
by members of Company F, notwithstanding they had to compete with
picked men from both regiments. James Markham took the clog dancer
prize, and John H. Robinson laid every man on his back that presented
himself before him.

We now commenced to have early morning drill. Every morning,
directly after sick call, all the companies of the regiment moved out
of camp in different directions, for one hour's drill before
breakfast. This new order was not relished any better by the officers
than the men, there was seldom more than one officer with us on these
occasions, and often, as soon as a point outside the camp had been
reached, the order to rest was given, particularly if there was a
shady place handy; and I am of the opinion that those morning drills
did not add much to our efficiency as soldiers.

On the morning of July 9th, the battery of the 2d Regiment were
marching out for drill, and when a short distance from camp one of
the ammunition chests exploded, killing one man, and mortally
wounding the corporal of the gun, the latter dying in a few hours;
the caisson was blown to pieces, and the wheel horses fatally
injured. That afternoon funeral services were held in the camp of the
2d Regiment, and the remains of the deceased comrades were that
evening put on board the cars for transportation to Providence.

About the 10th of July, there were rumors in camp of an intended
advance into Virginia; extra rations were ordered, and new shoes
issued to the company.

July 11th Edward Wilson, of F company, who had deserted at Frederick
City, returned to camp, was placed in the guard house, and at dress
parade, July 12th, his dishonorable discharge was read to the
regiment. William H. Durfee and George S. Ward were the same day
discharged on account of disability.

July 14th, we received orders to be in readiness to march at short
notice, in light marching order, with no tents or unnecessary
baggage. The order was received by the men, generally, with much
enthusiasm, and as a decided relief from the monotonous existence
incident to camp duty. The men had come out there to assist in
putting down the rebellion and sustaining the honor of the flag, and
as their term of service drew towards a close, they felt anxious that
their journey to and sojourn in Washington and vicinity should be
productive in results.



On the morning of July 16th, came the order to move. F Company
mounted guard, that morning, in marching order, with forty rounds of
ammunition in our boxes, three days' rations in our haversacks, and
blankets strapped on our backs. Both regiments formed on the parade
ground at 10 A. M. Our company was relieved from guard and took its
position in line, with the colors.

Both regiments marched into Washington, the battery of the 2d
Regiment accompanying us. The camp was left in charge of about sixty
men of the regiment, who had been on the sick roll, but had so far
recovered as to be in condition for camp duty. Corporal Nicolai and
Private Terrell, of our company, had been on the sick roll, but
insisted on taking their place in the ranks, and marched into the
city, but were obliged to return to camp the same night, not being
sufficiently strong to endure the march.

Arrived in the city, we halted on Pennsylvania Avenue, waiting for
the other regiments of our brigade, comprising, besides our own and
the 2d, the 7th New York and 2d New Hampshire and 2d Rhode Island
Light Battery, to join us, the whole comprising the Second Brigade,
Second Division, commanded by General Hunter. It was late in the
afternoon before we were ordered to move. All day troops had been
crossing Long Bridge, and we had to wait until the whole of the First
Division of infantry, artillery and cavalry had crossed. The army
consisted of about forty-four thousand men, commanded by General
McDowell; there was also attached to the column a battalion of United
States Marines.

Our brigade crossed Long Bridge at about 4 P. M., and marched with
our entire Division as far as Anandale, where we bivouacked for the
night in the fields beside the road. Soon after halting, the boys
began to think about supper, and little fires were kindled, coffee
made, in our tin cups, and it is my opinion that the greater part of
the three days' rations issued to us that morning were consumed that
night. After supper, rolling our blankets about us, we lay down on
the ground and enjoyed a good night's rest, notwithstanding that
quite a shower of rain fell during the night.

We were on the road again soon after daylight the next morning.
Hunter's Division, to which we were attached, marched on the direct
road to Fairfax Court House. Soon after leaving Anandale, signs of
the enemy's presence began to be visible: the roads were blocked with
trees that had been felled and piled across the way, some of the
obstructions so completely filling the road, that we were obliged to
make a detour around them, through the fields. A company of sappers
and miners attached to the 71st New York, and a detail of men from
the 2d New Hampshire, with their axes cleared the road for the
artillery to pass. Earthworks were occasionally found in the rear of
these obstructions, thrown across the road; but in every instance
they had been abandoned as we approached them; in some of these there
were evidences of their having been occupied by the rebels the night

The 2d Rhode Island, which was at the head of the column, was now
ordered to send out skirmishers; also the carbineer company, Captain
Goddard, of our regiment, was detailed for skirmish duty. We advanced
cautiously, and soon a halt was ordered. Firing at the front was
heard, where our skirmishers were driving the rebels back. Colonel
Burnside, riding through our ranks, ordered us to load our muskets
and be sure and obey all orders from our officers.

It was now about 9 A. M., and we knew that we were nearing Fairfax
Court House, and knew also that the enemy were there in force and
would resist our advance, which they no doubt would have done, had it
not been that they had knowledge of the other two Divisions of our
army under Generals Tyler and Heintzelman, who were advancing rapidly
on other roads leading to Fairfax. After a halt of about fifteen
minutes, the order to advance was given, and in a short time we
marched into Fairfax Court House without having fired a gun, the
rebels having retreated in such haste as to leave their tents
standing, and in many of their camps we found clothing and baggage of
various kinds. The 2d Rhode Island Regiment pursued the retreating
enemy a short distance beyond the town. As we marched into the place
the band played Yankee Doodle, and the color sergeant of the 2d New
Hampshire mounted to the cupola and hoisted his flag.

We soon had possession of the town, and the regiments of the Division
were stationed in different localities. We captured a Southern mail
that had just arrived, and soon the ground in the vicinity of the
Post Office was covered with mail matter of all kinds. We had quite a
treat reading some of the letters that were picked up, particularly
those written by fair rebels in the sunny south, who never dreamed
that eyes other than those of their adored would scan their contents;
but in time of war things are "mighty onsartin," to which love
letters constitute no exception.

Nearly all the inhabitants had left the place on our approach,
leaving behind their household furniture and goods. About all the
residences of the so called chivalry were left in charge of one or
more colored servants of the family, and in some instances these
houses were protected from plunder through a guard placed over them
by order of our commanding officer, while many of the homes of the
poorer classes were broken into and plundered of articles of all
kinds. For the first three hours of our occupation of the place, this
state of affairs existed. The men, not being restrained of their
liberty, roamed wherever they saw fit, and everybody, officers as
well as men, appeared anxious to gobble up everything within their
reach, (the term "stealing" in connection with it appeared to have
become obsolete, there, articles looted being viewed in the light of
spoils of war.) While some hunted for relics, others were in pursuit
of something to eat, and others, still, would appropriate to
themselves anything they could lift, or that "was not nailed down,"
whether it would be of any use to them or not, and I actually saw one
man with more plunder than could be loaded into an ordinary express
wagon. One man of our company who had looted a large linen table
covering was so afraid that some one would steal it from him, that he
made a square package of it and secreted it inside his blouse, which
act of his, whether meritorious or otherwise, doubtless was the means
of saving a life at Bull Run the next Sunday, when Allen Caswell was
wounded in the stomach, the force of the shot being broken by the
aforesaid table covering.

Soon after noon matters got quieted down a little. The entire army
was at or near Fairfax; guards were posted on all the roads, and an
order was issued that any man caught looting or committing any
depredation should be committed to Alexandria jail for six months.
But I am of the opinion that if the guards had seen one-half the
stealing, or heard the dying squeals of those orphan pigs as they
were being slain for supper that night, Alexandria's jail would have
been a full house, and the fighting force of the army materially
reduced. All the companies of the regiment had one or more men that
excelled others not only in their proficiency as soldiers, but they
were "professors" in any art or device that tended to add comfort and
enjoyment to themselves, particularly when in an enemy's country, and
under the necessity of providing their own rations. Just such a man
as this we had in our company. James Markham never was known to have
an empty haversack, and always managed to procure a full supply of
rations, even at times at great personal risk. Just before dark on
the afternoon of the day of our occupation of Fairfax, and after the
before mentioned order had been given, this man Markham was on guard
on a narrow road leading out of the town; on the side of the road
where he was pacing was a tight board fence, and on the side opposite
a zig-zag, or "Virginia" rail fence. Markham's attention was called
by some one to a shoat pig that had all day escaped the "slaughter of
the innocents," and was at that moment making the best of his way
toward the maternal nest. The temptation on Markham's part to capture
this sprig of porkdom was too mighty to be overcome by any lingering
fear of Alexandria's dungeon, so instantly clapping his musket to his
shoulder he blazed away, with the result of piggy's dropping in his
tracks, without so much as an audible grunt. He sprang out, and had
barely secured his prey, when a mounted officer with a squad of
cavalry came galloping down the road. Markham proved himself equal to
the occasion; quick as thought he tucked the hind legs of the animal
underneath his waist-belt behind him, and backing up against the
fence, coolly presented arms to the provost guard as they approached,
and in reply to the officer's inquiry, "Who fired that shot?"
answered, "It was a sentry beyond, down the road." The guard rode on,
down the road, but it is presumed they never learned with any degree
of accuracy "who fired that shot."

Our company was detailed for picket guard, that night. Brigade guard
mount took place in the woods at sunset. Our regimental Band, led by
the veteran Joe Greene, played his familiar piece, "The Mocking
Bird." Our company was marched in the direction of Leesburg, and
posted in the edge of the woods, where picket guard head quarters
were established. At about 11 P. M., about one-half of our company
relieved a company of the 14th Brooklyn, the balance of the company
not going on until 1 A. M. There was occasional firing by the outer
picket, or cavalry vidette, during the night. General McDowell had
his headquarters that night in a covered carriage in the rear of an
old blacksmith shop, privates Charles E. Lawton and Silas D. DeBlois,
of F Company, being on post near the carriage.

At daylight, July 18th, we were ordered to report to the regiment.
The army now started on the road to Centreville, and marched until
about 9 A. M., when a halt was ordered. We lay in the road until
about 2 P. M., waiting for the divisions on the other roads to come
up. At about 3 P. M., firing was heard in the vicinity of
Centreville, and we started at once, for some distance going on the
double-quick. The occasion of the firing was soon ascertained to be
that some of the troops of the First Division having advanced to the
vicinity of Blackburn's Ford, were fired upon by the enemy, who were
there in force, and after an engagement of about an hour the Union
troops fell back, having lost about twenty men. We continued on our
march that afternoon, to near Centreville, where we were ordered to
camp. Hunter's entire division were encamped in the fields on both
sides of the Warrenton Road, and we were that night given to
understand that we would probably remain there a day or two;
consequently the next morning, July 19th, we commenced to construct
temporary huts of pine trees and boughs for a shelter. That afternoon
we had fresh beef sent us in the shape of live cattle, which were
distributed to the troops, two to each regiment. Sergeant Major John
S. Engs, of our company, asked the privilege of shooting one of these
animals, which being granted, he armed himself with a Burnside
carbine and fired at about twenty paces, striking the ox in the fore
shoulder; the animal started on the run, everybody after him, the
sergeant major leading the charge. The ox, after a chase of half an
hour or more, succumbed to exhaustion and was readily despatched; the
remaining ox was killed by a man who understood the business. We
broiled, fried and stewed our fresh beef that night, and made
ourselves as comfortable as possible.

Saturday, July 20th, we loafed around camp, wrote letters home, and
visited other camps. At sunset we had dress parade, when orders were
read to be in readiness to march at a moment's notice, and for no man
to leave his company during the night. Our dress parade was witnessed
by General McDowell, his staff and officers, besides officers and men
from other regiments; both the Rhode Island regiments were in line.
After dress parade the usual religious services, (which were never
omitted while in camp,) were held, followed by the singing of the
Doxology. To many who stood at parade rest, that evening, listening,
with heads uncovered, to those words of comfort and encouragement
from our chaplain, it was to be the last attended on earth, for ere
the setting of another sun, they would be lying dead on the fields of
Manassas. At tattoo roll-call we were informed by our officers that
our regiment would probably march at daylight. The boys rolled their
blankets around them, and lying down, secured what little sleep they
could, with thoughts busy with the dear ones at home and the probable
events of the morrow.

At about 2 A. M. Sunday, 21st, the call sounded, and on every side
and in all directions was heard the sound of the bugle and the drum,
calling the soldiers from their sleep; and before the echoes of those
bugle notes had ceased reverberating among the Virginia hills, our
brigade was in line on the road, and ready to move. We were fully
assured in our minds that a battle was to be fought that day; in fact
Colonel Burnside had the day before stated to our officers that,
although the period for which we enlisted had expired, he did not
purpose to turn back at such a time, in the face of the enemy, and
when the government needed our services; and it is to the credit of
the regiment, and the State of Rhode Island, that regardless of the
expiration of our term of enlistment we manfully did our duty during
that campaign.

The order to march having been given, we tramped steadily along the
Warrenton Road, no sounds being heard save the steady tread of the
soldiers, and the occasional low words of command from the officers;
the stars were still visible, and the nearly full moon was going down
behind the western hills. At about daylight we passed through
Centreville, and soon arrived at the small bridge at Cub Run. While
on the road that morning, we were quite surprised to see Theodore W.
King, of our company, join us. He had been quite sick in the
hospital at Centreville for two days, but hearing of our regiment
passing on the road, he left the hospital and started for his
company, saying that if there was any fighting to be done, his place
was with Company F. King, though only a mere boy, did his duty
manfully on that eventful day, and about noon, in the heat of the
battle, fell, mortally wounded.

Just before arriving at Cub Run, we met on the road a regiment and
light battery going to the rear. In reply to questions, they said
their time was out, and they were going home. This regiment, the 4th
Pennsylvania, and the battery of the 8th New York, were the
recipients of comments from our men not in the highest degree
complimentary to them as men and soldiers, turning back in the face
of the enemy, and that must have caused their cheeks to tingle with

The whole three divisions of the army were now in the vicinity of Cub
Run. The first division, General Tyler's, was ordered to cross, after
doing which these troops advanced along the road to near the Stone
Bridge. We crossed Cub Run bridge at 5.30 A. M., after which we
struck off to the right through the woods from the main road.

At precisely 6 A. M. the first gun was fired, by Tyler's forces, the
object being to engage the enemy's attention while the second
division could get into position on the left and rear of their lines.
Soon after entering these woods, K and F Companies of the 2d Rhode
Island, and the carbineer company of our regiment, were thrown out as
skirmishers. When we entered these woods we had with us a guide,
dressed in citizen's clothes, riding a grey horse at the head of the
brigade, but after firing began he disappeared from view.

At 10 A. M. we arrived at Sudley Ford, where we were to cross.
General McDowell and staff met us, and we were informed by them that
the enemy were moving a large force to meet us. After a short halt
for the purpose of filling our canteens, we forded the stream. The
firing of Tyler's troops could now be distinctly heard. We marched on
up the road, past Sudley Church and a number of farm houses; a female
standing at the gate of one of these latter made the remark in our
hearing that they were all ready for us, and that she hoped we would
all be killed before night.

Soon after passing these houses, the 2d Rhode Island, who were in the
advance, continued on in the main road, our regiment branching off
into and through a cornfield. Our skirmishers were now engaged with
those of the enemy, and driving them back; shells were exploding
around and above us as we again came out upon the road. Soon we
passed a soldier lying near a fence, wounded. It proved to be William
McCann, of K Company, (of Newport) of the 2d Rhode Island; he had
been struck in the head by a fragment of shell, and died soon after.
I think he was the first man wounded belonging to our brigade.

Our entire brigade was now halted in a huckleberry pasture, on the
edge of some woods. In front of us was a rising ground, of which the
enemy apparently had gained possession. Shot and shell were falling
among us on every side. The Second Rhode Island, with their battery,
were at once ordered to advance toward this rising ground, or hill,
and in doing so the enemy opened on them, and for about twenty
minutes we stood watching them, with no orders to advance to the
assistance of our sister regiment. At this time the division
commander, General Hunter, had been wounded, and Colonel Burnside
being the senior Brigadier, took command of the entire division. He
at once ordered the 71st New York to the assistance of the 2d Rhode
Island. They advanced a short distance, and then lying down, refused
to proceed further, until their two howitzers, which one of their
companies were dragging by means of ropes, arrived to their support.
Colonel Burnside then gave the command for the 1st Rhode Island to
advance. Before moving, we received orders to unsling blankets and
haversacks and lay them on the ground at our feet. We marched away
and left them, and never saw them again. We came up in line of battle
on the right of the 2d Regiment and at once commenced firing. Soon
the men of F Company that were detailed to serve in the carbineer
company joined us; they had been on the skirmish line all the
forenoon, but became somewhat mixed when the firing commenced, and
were ordered to report to their respective companies. John Rogers was
one of the detail, and he was wounded in the leg while running across
the field to join us.

Our regiment was so posted, that to preserve the line it was
necessary to divide our company by a rail fence, a portion on each
side. John P. Peckham was shot in the head and instantly killed, and
when he fell, his musket which he was using fell over the fence. Our
color sergeant, Charles Becherer, was shot in the right shoulder and
disabled. Albert N. Burdick, 1st color corporal, then took the flag,
and was soon wounded in the arm by a musket ball. At this time
Governor Sprague, who was acting as aide for Colonel Burnside, rode
through the line to go to the left, when his horse was struck by a
rifle ball and fell dead, the Governor going down with him. Captain
Tew and Sergeant Sherman went to his assistance, helping him to
regain his feet; he was considerably bruised, but not otherwise
injured. After two color bearers had been wounded, the regimental
flag was taken and held by Private Robert D. Coggeshall, until, by
order of Captain Tew, he was relieved by Private William Hamilton, of
the color guard.

Shot and shell were flying in all directions; we had lost a number of
men, and the other companies of the regiment had suffered
considerable loss. An officer now rode in front of our regiment and
gave the order to cease firing, as we were shooting our own troops.
The smoke, which had occasioned this, soon lifted in our front, when
we discovered a regiment bearing the union flag marching up the hill
in our direction. When a short distance from us, they gave us a
volley, which we returned at once, when they turned and retreated
down the hill. This regiment was the 4th Alabama, and their colonel,
Egbert Jones, was carried to our field hospital, mortally wounded.
With others of our regiment I went over the field after the firing
had ceased, and our conclusion was that they were amply repaid for
the cruel and unmanly deception practiced upon us. It was never known
who the officer was that gave the order to cease firing; he appeared
in front of our lines, mounted, with sword uplifted when he gave the
order, which was recognized by our company officers, they mistaking
him for an aide-de-camp or staff officer. It was, however, the
opinion of many of the regiment at the time that he was a rebel

Soon the firing in our front ceased. Our ammunition was all expended,
we having been under fire for nearly four hours, and had driven the
enemy from that portion of the field. This position, from which we
had forced the enemy to retire, and which we then held, is known as
Buck's Hill, and was regarded as a position of much importance for
our forces.

The Third Division had now arrived, and were coming up to our
support, and a battalion each of Regular infantry and United States
Marines now came up and occupied our position, while our brigade was
marched back into the woods for a brief rest and for a fresh supply
of ammunition. Having stacked our muskets, the roll was called by the
1st sergeant, and men detailed to look after the dead and wounded.
George C. Almy, Christopher Barker and myself were detailed to go for
water. Taking as many of the men's canteens as we could carry, we
wended our way toward a small, one-story gambrel roof farm house,
which was being used by our surgeons as a field hospital, near which
was a well of water. The grounds about the house were covered with
wounded and dying men, and it was almost like fighting, to get a
supply of water from that well. We however succeeded in filling a
portion of our canteens and returned with them to the company. Almost
immediately after our arrival back to where the company were resting,
the order was given to "fall in." Heavy firing was now again heard on
our right, and our officers informed us that the regiment was to
change position. Soon troops began to march past us in great
confusion; our regiment marched out upon the road and halted. A body
of troops passed us headed for the rear, among them two companies of
Regular cavalry, whose principal participation in the day's
engagement had been the performance of semi-aide-de-camp duty.

We were by this time satisfied in our minds that our army was
retreating. At this juncture our brigade started back on the road
along the edge of the woods, and soon reached the Warrenton road
leading to the Stone Bridge. Our regiment preserved good order until
they had nearly reached the bridge; the enemy had a battery in
position to rake the road over which the retreat was being conducted,
and on arriving in proximity to the bridge, we found it to be
completely blocked with teams; a large army wagon had, in crossing,
been struck by a shell and the horses killed. The battery of the 2d
Rhode Island Regiment were there, and four of their six guns; after
getting one of these over, they dismounted and spiked the remaining
three, the men and horses fording the stream. In our regiment it was
impossible to preserve order, and ours, like that of the others,
became a go-as-you-please march in fording the stream; Governor
Sprague strove to halt the regiment and make a stand to beat back the
enemy, whereupon Colonel Burnside very promptly informed the
Governor, in unmistakable and incontrovertible language, that
himself was in command of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment. After
crossing, the road branched off to the left, beyond the range of the
enemy's fire, and our regiment re-formed and waited until most of the
demoralized troops had passed, after which we marched in good order
back to our bush camp at Centreville that we had left in the morning,
reaching there at 9 P. M., tired, hungry, thirsty and dusty, and many
of the regiment wounded. To add to our general discomfort, a
drizzling rain had set in, and we were without blankets, having, as
before stated, left them on the field, with our haversacks, before
going into action. We, however, lay down in our bush huts, expecting
to remain until morning; but about midnight we were aroused and
ordered to start on the road to Washington. The drizzle had not
abated and the night was dark; we had been in a state of continued
and unusual activity since 2 o'clock the previous morning, and in
addition had been all day without food. Footsore and weary we started
on our march of twenty-six miles to Washington, and soon after
daylight, Monday, July 22d, reached Long Bridge, where we made a halt
and rations were served to us, and at 8 A. M. we crossed over to
Washington, and marched across the city to our old home at Camp
Sprague. The roll was called, a ration of whiskey was given us, and
all turned in for a much needed and well earned rest.


Many opinions have been given as to the causes that led to the defeat
of the Union army at Bull Run. General Sherman, who commanded a
brigade in the battle, said it was the best planned and worst fought
battle of the war. It has been said by some writers that the plans of
the commanding general were not carried out, and that each of the
three division commanders whose forces were actually engaged acted on
their own responsibility and were governed by circumstances. It is a
fact well known to-day, that the Union army, at or in the vicinity of
the battle field, were in numbers quite sufficient to have at least
held any and every position that a portion of the army had gained. On
a map now in possession of Charles E. Lawton Post, G. A. R. of this
city, of Bull Run battlefield, drawn under the direction of Generals
McDowell and Beauregard, by order of the War Department, the position
of every regiment and brigade of both armies at the commencement of
the engagement is defined, and in a note appended to the map it is
stated that the engagement was commenced by the Burnside brigade, and
it is a historical fact recognized at this time, that the battle was
fought and won by the Second Division, commanded by Burnside, General
Hunter having been wounded before the troops had been brought into
position, supported by no other troops, until noon, when a brigade of
the Third Division, which had followed us through the forest road,
came to our assistance. From 9.30 A. M. to 1 P. M., these seventeen
regiments of infantry and four light batteries, unaided by any other
troops, fought and drove the enemy from their position on Buck's
Hill; and when the two brigades of Tyler's First Division, commanded
by Generals Sherman and Schenck, crossed Bull Run river, over Stone
Bridge, at 1.30 P. M., there was not a rebel force of any description
on the north side of Warrenton road, west of Stone Bridge. At this
time victory was assured for the Union army. At the Stone Bridge was
Tyler's entire division, comprising fifteen regiments of infantry and
three batteries, the Fourth Division, General Runyon, with seven
regiments, Fifth Division, General Miles, eight regiments, and one
battery. Of these thirteen thousand men, only two brigades of the
First Division crossed the river in the afternoon, and they were
engaged only about one hour, namely, in the vicinity of the Henry
House, when they were repulsed by the enemy, whose forces were now
all concentrated at that point. Rickett's Regular battery (formerly
Magruder's stationed at Fort Adams previous to the war) was lost,
recaptured, and lost again. These two brigades of the First Division
retreated, panic stricken, and our reserve of twelve thousand men, at
Stone Bridge, retreated without firing a shot, while our Division,
the 2d, was holding the position we had gained in the morning. This
was the supreme moment, when a Sheridan or a Warren would have swept
the opposing forces from the field, or captured their entire army.
Colonel Burnside, seeing the aspect matters had assumed, formed his
troops into line and fell back to the Warrenton road, fearing he
might be cut off at Stone Bridge. Hunter's Division covered the
retreat and were the last troops that crossed the bridge, and was the
only Division of the army that occupied its former quarters, as these
did, at Centreville that night.


The day after the battle was a busy one in camp; men were straggling
in all day, some of them that we had left among the wounded at the
field hospital on our departure the evening previous, who had managed
to hobble along on the road, and after a while reached camp. Some of
these, owing to the darkness of the night, had taken the wrong road
from Fairfax and brought up at Alexandria, whence they set out anew,
reaching Long Bridge and the camp some hours later. Among these
latter was John Fludder, who did not arrive until Monday afternoon,
when he surprised us by bringing with him the regimental flag, which
we had supposed to have been lost when the regiment "straggled" at
Stone Bridge, as no one could give any information in regard to it.
Fludder found it where it had been dropped in the confusion of
retreat, and in order to save it tore it from the staff and secreting
it about his person, thus brought it in. Samuel Hilton, who had been
left on the field for dead, also came straggling in; he had been hit
in the temple by a partially spent fragment of a shell and laid out
senseless and inanimate, and was afterwards revived by the drizzling
rain, as were also quite a number belonging to other regiments.

Company F had its full share of losses in killed and wounded. The
first man of the company wounded was John B. Landers, shot through
the wrist; then followed John Rogers, shot in the leg, Charles
Becherer, color sergeant, wounded in the shoulder, Albert N. Burdick,
color corporal, wounded in the arm, John P. Peckham, shot in the head
and killed, Andrew P. Bashford, shot in the breast and taken
prisoner, Theodore W. King, shot through the groin, mortally wounded,
taken prisoner, and afterwards died in Philadelphia, when on his way
home, Thomas J. Harrington, shot in the head and killed, Allen
Caswell, shot in the stomach, Henry T. Easton, wounded in the arm,
Samuel Hilton, wounded as above stated, Bartlett L. Simmons, taken
prisoner, Robert Crane, never accounted for, but supposed to have
been killed during the retreat.

July 24th, Doctor David King and Alderman James C. Powell, of
Newport, arrived in camp. Doctor King obtained a pass through the
lines for the purpose of attending his son, wounded as above stated,
and who was a prisoner in Richmond. Alderman Powell was deputed by
the city government of Newport to look after the sick and wounded of
Company F on their way home.

Orders were received, July 24th, to make preparations for return to
Rhode Island, as our term of service had expired. Colonel Burnside
offered the services of the regiment for a longer time, as it was
expected that the rebels would make an attack on Washington; but it
was thought our services would not be needed, and preparations for
departure were accordingly made. On Thursday, July 25th, we had dress
parade for the last time in Washington. After the parade, the 2d
Regiment was formed in line directly opposite and facing us, and the
men of the two regiments exchanged muskets, each with the man
opposite him; the muskets of the Second were old, smooth bore,
altered over, while those of the First were the latest improved
Springfield rifles. During the evening, we improved the opportunity
to visit the camp of the Second, bidding them good bye, and receiving
such messages and tokens as they desired to send home to friends.



At 9 P. M., 25th, the command was given to "Fall in;" the line was
formed, we marched into the city, and at midnight bid farewell to
Washington, the cars taking us into Baltimore at daylight, where we
waited on the streets all the forenoon for the special train that was
to take us to Philadelphia. We got away from Baltimore at 2 P. M.,
arriving in Philadelphia in the evening. We had been expected, and
were entertained by the citizens with a fine collation at the New
England rooms.

We left that city at 2 A. M., July 27th, arriving in New York soon
after daylight, where the regiment embarked on board steamers Bay
State and State of Maine, for Providence. Each steamer took five
companies, ours being on the State of Maine, on board of which we
were given a nice breakfast. We steamed out of New York at about 11
A. M., July 27th, the transports proceeding slowly to avoid arriving
in Providence at a late hour in the day. At 10.30 P. M. we were off
Beaver Tail light; F Company was called and formed on the hurricane
deck, Captain Tew arranging with the steamer captain to sail through
the inner harbor of Newport. When opposite Fort Greene, a squad of
the Newport Artillery fired a salute, which was answered with
cheering by F Company, and the blowing of the steamer's whistle. Both
steamers proceeded up the bay and anchored, it being the wish to not
land before daylight.

At 6 A. M. Sunday, July 28th, landed, and, escorted by the militia of
the state, marched through the city to Railroad Hall, Exchange Place,
where a substantial breakfast awaited us. After breakfast and
speeches by Bishop Clark and others, the regimental companies
residing outside of Providence were ordered to their homes, to report
again in Providence August 2d.

F Company, escorted by the past members of the Newport Artillery,
Colonel Fludder in command, and the Old Guard, both of which
companies had that morning come from Providence to receive us, left
for Newport on steamer Perry at 11 A. M., arriving at Sayer's Wharf
in Newport, at 1 P. M.

On our arrival we found the wharf and streets of the city through
which we were to pass crowded with people of all ages and both sexes,
as though the whole of Newport had turned out to greet us. Services
were omitted by the churches, all evidently regarding it as a duty
appropriate to the Sabbath to welcome to their homes those who had
gone forth to peril their lives at their country's call. Tears
dropped from many eyes, as those were remembered who had left home
with us, but would never return.

We marched up Thames street, our sick and wounded in carriages,
through Touro street and Bellevue Avenue, to Touro Park, where we
were welcomed in addresses by Mayor Cranston and other city
officials. On invitation of Mr. William Newton, proprietor of the
Atlantic house, we partook of an excellent dinner at that hostelry,
after which a short street parade was made to the armory on Clarke
street, where we were dismissed, with orders to report again on the
2d of August.

On Friday, August 2d, we reported at the armory and proceeded to
Providence; we received our pay and were mustered out of the United
States service, by Colonel Loomis, of the 5th United States Infantry.
In the afternoon a final parade was made by the entire regiment, but
F Company were obliged to leave the line before its conclusion, in
order to take the 5 P. M. boat for home.

A few days after the arrival home of the company, a beautiful set of
flags was received by Mayor Cranston, a gift from Rhode Islanders
residing in California to the color company of the 1st Rhode Island
Regiment, and were accompanied by the following explanatory letter:

  San Francisco, Cal., Aug. 30, 1861.
  Hon. Wm. H. Cranston, Mayor City Newport:--

     _Sir_,--At a meeting of the natives and citizens of Rhode Island
     now residents of California, we, the undersigned, were appointed
     a committee to forward to your Honor a set of regimental colors
     for the First Rhode Island Regiment, to be by you presented to
     them in person as a token of our esteem and admiration for the
     prompt, noble and efficient response made by them to the
     patriotic call of our country to fight for constitutional
     liberty, and for the brave, honorable and veteran-like manner in
     which they have performed their duties.

  Very Respectfully, your obedient servants,

  C. V. S. GIBBS.

On Tuesday, October 29th, 1861, a formal presentation of the flags
to Company F took place on Touro Park. The company were present in
good numbers, and Colonel Burnside was also present by invitation.
Mayor Cranston, after reading the correspondence accompanying the
flags, remarked as follows:

     "Company F, accept this offering--our unconquered and
     unconquerable national flag--and this State standard, the emblem
     of freedom for more than two hundred years--the patriotic and
     cheerful gift of Rhode Islanders in the Eden of the Pacific to
     you, their brothers in the Eden of the Atlantic. Guard them
     sacredly and well--carefully preserve and affectionately cherish
     them; if necessary, lay down your lives in their defence against
     foreign invasion or domestic insurrection, and your reward will
     be the gratitude of honest and loyal men on earth, the
     approbation of God, and eternal felicity in that new Paradise
     where there will neither be wars nor rumors of wars, and where
     the King of Kings and the Prince of Peace will reign supreme

Colonel Burnside responded. After a few remarks acknowledging the
kindness of the patriotic Californians, he turned to the members of
Company F and addressed them as follows:

     "With you, Company F, I leave these colors. For their proper
     keeping I need give you no charge. You have been tried and have
     indeed been found not wanting. Take them; accept them as a part
     of the history of the First Rhode Island Regiment, as a part of
     the history of your own gallant state and as an emblem of the
     glory of your dearly loved country. Love the one flag and
     revere the others. Many dark hours we have already passed
     through, and many more are yet to be undergone. But let no man
     of us falter as to the success of our glorious cause. In all our
     work, however dangerous or arduous, we shall be followed by the
     prayers of loved friends at home and of the true and loyal of
     all our country, and of the good and true of every land. The
     great God above may chasten us in his wisdom, but rest assured
     He will never forsake us in His justice. To you, Mr. Mayor, I
     render my sincere thanks for your kind words of me. They are
     indeed precious to me. The words of commendation which have been
     spoken of my conduct by my approving fellow citizens are my
     highest reward. And as to Company F, I have no fears but they
     will do as they have done before--their whole duty. Better
     soldiers never trod the soil of this or any other land. Not a
     man of them failed to execute my orders to the letter. Never
     soldiers did their duty--their whole duty--more promptly or
     gallantly. Take these beautiful flags, Company F, take them and
     keep them; you have the well earned right to keep them. Twice
     was your own flag stricken down in the field of battle and then
     a third man from your ranks seized it and it was borne aloft in
     safety from the field though pierced with many bullets.

Then turning to the Mayor, he added:

     "And in conclusion allow me to thank you, sir, and all concerned
     in this presentation, for this beautiful gift to Rhode Island's
     first and gallant regiment.

Company F then made a parade through the city, displaying the flags.

At a meeting held by Company F at the armory of the Artillery
Company, November 5th, 1861, it was voted to place the flags in
charge of three members of Company F, and Corporal Tayer and Privates
DeBlois and Terrell were appointed that committee, with instructions
to place them in the Newport city hall for safe keeping. It was soon
afterwards ascertained that the place allotted to them in the city
hall was damp, and it was decided to remove them to a place where
they would be better preserved, and could be seen at any time. The
place selected was the Artillery Company's armory, where they were
suitably mounted, and will doubtless always remain.

Soon after the muster out of F Company, recruiting commenced at once
for new regiments from Rhode Island, and of 108 officers and men
composing Company F at muster out, 84 re-entered the service either
in the army or navy, many of them occupying positions of rank in both
branches of the service during the war.


Company F, 1st Rhode Island Regiment, is a thing of the past. Thirty
years have come and gone since the enactment of the stirring scenes
in which we participated; but those scenes and incidents still exist
in the minds and memories of the men composing that company. A large
portion of its members have left the city, and many have been carried
to that silent camp where they "sleep their last sleep, have fought
their last battle; no sound can awake them to glory again." But as
each succeeding 17th of April rolls around, the surviving members of
the company meet to talk over the incidents of the long ago, tell
stories of camp and field, and say a word of those who have left us
to return no more; and we shall continue these gatherings at least
once a year, until the last man of Company F shall have been mustered
out to join those who have gone before.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of Company F, 1st Regiment, R.I. Volunteers, during the Spring and Summer of 1861" ***

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