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Title: Reminiscences of service with the Twelfth Rhode Island Volunteers, and a memorial of Col. George H. Browne
Author: Tillinghast, Pardon E.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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 [Late Quartermaster Sergeant of the Twelfth Rhode Island Volunteers.]


[Edition limited to two hundred and fifty copies.]




The months of July, August, September and October of 1862, were stirring
times in Rhode Island,--and in fact throughout the entire North. The
vigorous onward movement of our army towards Richmond, which had been
long and frequently promised, was still deferred. The decisive victory
won by the Union forces over Lee's army at Malvern Hills at great cost,
which, in the judgment of every officer in the Army of the Potomac save
one, and he the chief, should have been immediately followed by a
determined advance towards the rebel stronghold, which was only about a
day's march distant, was supplemented by the now somewhat stereotyped
order to "fall back," thus presenting the not altogether inspiring
military spectacle of a victorious army running away from its defeated
and thoroughly demoralized enemy.

General Pope's campaign in Northern Virginia, inaugurated with a great
flourish of trumpets, had resulted disastrously; the rebel army was
greatly encouraged by the inactivity and the vacillating conduct of
their opponents, and had commenced a vigorous aggressive movement. The
National capital was again in imminent peril, causing a feverish
excitement throughout the country; Baltimore and Cincinnati were
seriously threatened, and a great crisis was evidently at hand. Vigorous
measures must be adopted at once, or our boasted Republic would soon be
a thing of the past.

The President, in view of the great emergency, had ordered drafts,
amounting in the aggregate to six hundred thousand men, one-half thereof
for three years, and the other half for nine months, the latter to be
drawn from the enrolled militia; and the utmost activity everywhere
prevailed in connection with the raising, equipping and forwarding of
this vast army of recruits.

Rhode Island was thoroughly alive to the occasion, determined not to be
outdone by any of her sister States in meeting this new and pressing
demand upon her loyalty and her resources; and meeting it too, if
possible, without resort to a draft, which, of course, was obnoxious to
the sentiments of the people. In order to promote enlistments, the
stores in some places were closed at 3 P. M. each day; war
meetings were held every evening, and the greatest enthusiasm was
manifested. The whole State seemed to be one vast recruiting camp, and
all the people, both male and female, to be engaged in the business. For
it should ever be remembered, to the praise of the women of Rhode
Island, that they were fully as loyal and as devoted to our country's
cause during the rebellion, as were the men; and that in very many cases
they suffered and sacrificed quite as much at home, though in different
ways, as did their husbands and sons and brothers in the field.

In such a state of public feeling what could I, a young unmarried man,
do consistent with a fair amount of self-respect but enlist? Evidently
nothing; and so I left the teacher's desk and enlisted as a private in
Company C, Eleventh Rhode Island Volunteers, under Captain Charles W.
Thrasher. I was detailed for service in the quartermaster's department
under Lieutenant John L. Clark, and shortly after was transferred with
him (I never knew why) to the Twelfth, and was appointed by Colonel
Browne to the office of Quartermaster Sergeant.

Camp Stevens, in Providence, was a lively place during the latter part
of September and the first part of October, 1862. The Eleventh and
Twelfth regiments were both encamped there together during a part of
this time, preparatory to their departure for the seat of war. The
former left on Monday, October sixth, and the latter on Tuesday, October

The Twelfth Regiment was composed mainly of good Rhode Island material,
and was officered by intelligent, patriotic and brave-hearted men. There
were representatives from nearly all of the ordinary walks and callings
of life, thus furnishing the command with facilities for almost any
emergency; and it was proverbial that whatever could be done by anybody
could be done by some one in this regiment. The officers and the
privates were well disposed towards each other; there was a prevalent
spirit of prompt obedience to orders; and in general a manifest
disposition on the part of all to make themselves useful and serviceable
both to the Government and to each other.

A journey of seventy-seven hours from Providence, partly by rail, partly
by water, and partly on foot, brought this newly-formed regiment to Camp
Chase, which was situated across the Potomac from Washington, in the
neighborhood of Arlington Heights. The work of pitching our tents was at
once commenced and rapidly pushed forward. But before it was completed,
a violent storm of wind and rain broke upon us which continued for
nearly two days without intermission. And such a storm! I think I never
saw the like before or since. It did not simply rain, but it came down
in great broad sheets of water; it poured; it came in great gusts. And
then the wind--it whirled, it roared, it got upon its giant legs, and
fairly howled with rage as the weary hours of that first night in camp
wore away.

And such a sorry sight as that camp presented the next morning was not
calculated to promote one's military enthusiasm, to say the least. Many
of the tents, all of which had been hastily erected, had been blown down
during the night, and the drenched and shivering inmates were wandering
about in search of shelter or assistance in again erecting their
uncertain habitations. Baggage and camp equipage were scattered in all
directions, and confusion held high carnival generally. As if this were
not enough for beginners, we were also treated to our first installment
of Virginia mud, which covered the entire surface of the ground to a
depth of two or three inches. No description of this unique article,
however, is necessary here. It is perhaps needless to say that our first
impressions of a soldier's life in the "Sunny South" were not altogether

But this storm, like all others, came to an end, and the bright, warm
sunshine, together with the diligence of many busy hands, soon repaired
most of the damage; so that the regiment was able to appear on brigade
review in gallant style, on Tuesday, the twenty-eighth of October, the
fourth day after our arrival, before the venerable General Casey, in
whose division it had been brigaded.

One week was the length of our stay at Camp Chase, at the end of which
brief period we folded our tents and made a "Sabbath day's journey,"
although somewhat longer than that permitted by the Jewish economy on
that sacred day, to Fairfax Seminary. (I may remark in passing that
perhaps not the most scrupulous regard was had by most of the commanders
who conducted the operations of our armies, either to the Jewish or
Christian economy concerning the Sabbath day). This proved to be a
charming location, indeed. The land was high, overlooking the broad
Potomac for a long distance; the city of Alexandria, situated two miles
to the south, was in full view, while in the distance on our left was
the magnificent dome of the capitol at Washington. The land sloped in a
broad, undulating sweep towards the Potomac in front of us; the large
and dignified brick buildings of Fairfax Seminary, then used as a
hospital, were situated just to the north, in the rear, surrounded by a
stately grove of trees (which, sad to say, speedily succumbed to the
soldier's axe); several fine country residences were scattered about in
the immediate vicinity, evidently the recent homes of affluence and
luxury, but now abandoned to the tender mercies of strangers in arms,
being used mainly by general and field officers, with their staffs, for
headquarters. And although their owners were rebels fighting against the
Government, I must, nevertheless, confess to a strong feeling of
sympathy which I then had for them, and thousands like them, in the
untold and untellable distress, privation and suffering which they and
their families must have experienced in being driven as exiles from
their homes and firesides, their property appropriated to the use of
their enemies, and what they, in the main, honestly considered their
inalienable rights, taken from them. But such is and will continue to be
the fate of war.

Regiments of soldiers were on every side of us. A few rods in front was
the Fifteenth Connecticut, Colonel Wright; in the rear was the
Thirteenth New Hampshire, Colonel Stevens; on the right the
Twenty-seventh New Jersey, Colonel Mindil; and on the left a stalwart
regiment of "six footers" from Maine; while for a mile or more in all
directions little else was visible but camps of soldiers. Truly this was
a "tented field." Everything about our new camp, which was named Camp
Casey, was soon put in the best of order, cleanliness and good order
being prime virtues with Colonel Browne, and always being strenuously
insisted on.

Our company was detailed each day at first for picket duty on the long
line at the front near Cloud's Mills, which was about five miles
distant; but subsequently the entire regiment performed this duty for
twenty-four hours at a time, alternating with the other regiments of the
brigade. The regiment was diligently perfecting itself in the manual of
arms, and a military air and bearing were everywhere apparent. We had
now commenced soldiering in good earnest. My principal duties, under the
direction of the quartermaster, were to see that the commissary
department was kept constantly supplied with everything in the way of
subsistence which the army regulations allowed. Washington and
Alexandria were the great reservoirs of these supplies, and to one or
the other of these places I went three or four times a week, accompanied
by two or more four mule teams, with which to haul the stores to camp.
The great army bakery was in the basement of the capitol building,
whither we went for our supply of bread. And I think I do not exaggerate
by saying that I have seen a line of army wagons half a mile or more in
length, each awaiting its turn to be filled with the nice brown loaves.
I need hardly say that after leaving the vicinity of Washington we bade
an enforced good-bye to soft bread.

On one of my journeys to Alexandria, after getting my teams loaded with
rations, I took a stroll about the somewhat antiquated city, visiting
places of interest, amongst which was the Marshall House, where the
brave Colonel Ellsworth met his terrible fate, and from which house the
entire banisters of the stairs which he ascended in going to the roof to
haul down a rebel flag, had been carried away piecemeal by visitors, as
mementoes of the tragic event. Other parts of the building had also been
sadly mutilated for the same purpose. But the stars and stripes had
permanently supplanted the rebel flag hauled down by the lamented
Ellsworth, and were proudly floating from that now historic building.

I also visited another place of interest, but with what different
feelings I will not attempt to relate. It was a large block which bore
the following prominent sign: "PRICE, BIRCH & CO., DEALERS IN
SLAVES." Connected with it was a huge pen to hold the slaves, and
an auction block from which thousands doubtless had been bought and
sold. But for this establishment and what it represented, neither the
tragic scene at the Marshall House nor the gigantic military operations
then going on from one end of the country to the other, would ever have
been witnessed.

I was also mail-carrier for the regiment to and from the post office in
Alexandria, and was always cheerfully received on my return with a heavy
mail; for amongst the chief delights of a soldier was a letter from
home. As there was no salary attached to this branch of the mail service
I was not accused of offensive partisanship, but permitted to hold the
office to the end of my term of enlistment.

November 27, 1862, was recognized by us as Thanksgiving day, although
the turkey, without which no Yankee can properly observe the day, was
conspicuous only by its absence. The usual amusements of the occasion,
however, including a sack race between two men, each enveloped in a
bed-sack drawn up and tied under his chin, were engaged in and greatly
enjoyed. The governor's proclamation was read by Chaplain Field, and
appropriate religious services were conducted by him in front of

As it had been currently rumored for some time that Camp Casey was to be
our winter quarters, the boys had taken great pains to make their
habitations as snug and cosy as possible for the rapidly approaching
cold weather. The non-commissioned staff, of which I was a member,
appropriated to their use a roofless negro hut in the rear of the
stately old mansion house which was occupied by the colonel and staff
for headquarters, and by using the fly of a large tent for a roof, and
otherwise improving it, we converted it into very comfortable quarters,
anticipating quite a jolly time therein during the winter. The mess
consisted of Sergeant Major Daniel R. Ballou, subsequently promoted to
the office of lieutenant for bravery at the battle of Fredericksburg;
Commissary Sergeant Amasa F. Eddy; Quartermaster's Clerk Erastus
Richardson; the Quartermaster Sergeant, and William, the colored boy.

But alas for all plans which have no firmer base than rumors in the
army. For the regiment had no more than fully settled down to
housekeeping for the winter, when, on Sunday, November thirtieth, orders
were received that Colonel Wright's brigade, of which the Twelfth Rhode
Island was a part, would move to the front the next day at twelve
o'clock. As to their destination, no one knew save Colonel Browne, if
indeed he did, and, as a matter of course, speculations and conjectures
of all sorts were freely indulged in. "Shelter tents" were issued at
once, the men were ordered to provide themselves with three days' cooked
rations and have everything in readiness to move promptly at the
appointed time. Truly, "there was hurrying to and fro, and gathering in
hot haste," each one busily making ready for his unknown journey. There
was but very little grumbling about leaving our nicely arranged camp and
beautiful situation, although we had but very recently received what
seemed to be almost a positive promise that these should be our winter

The baggage was reduced to the lowest marching standard, and the men
ordered to take nothing in their knapsacks except what they actually
needed. The consequence was that a large portion of their "traps" had to
be left behind, and judging from the number of officers' trunks which I
shipped to Rhode Island after the regiment left, I doubt not that more
dress uniforms adorned the wardrobes at home than their owners in the
field. Such things look exceedingly nice on dress parade or review, but
they are not altogether useful on a forced march or in a fight.

The hour of departure having arrived, the companies marched from their
several streets, the regimental line was formed, and all was in
readiness for a move. I must confess to an almost overwhelming feeling
of loneliness as I saw the long soldierly column moving off, led by the
splendid band of the Thirteenth New Hampshire, for amongst other things
I thought it quite probable that before I should again see them, their
ranks might be thinned by the terrible shock of battle. And so, alas!
they were. But having received orders from the colonel to remain in
charge of the camp, which remained as before, except that its occupants
were gone, the tents being all left standing, I had no alternative but
to obey. About seventy men were left in the camp, all of whom, with the
exception of the quartermaster's clerk and myself, were on the sick
list. Truly this was "a sick house with no doctor," for the surgeon and
each of his assistants had gone forward with the regiment. We were
cheered, however, just at evening by the return of our kind-hearted
assistant surgeon, Doctor Prosper K. Hutchinson, now long since gone to
his reward, who was sent back to remain with the sick ones until they
should be able to join their comrades. The clerk and myself now
appropriated the colonel's somewhat luxurious quarters to our use, and
as we had plenty of provisions and a good cook, there was no occasion
for us to complain of our fate.

The fourth day after the regiment left, winter set in in good earnest.
Snow fell to the depth of several inches, and the weather was bitterly
cold and severe. I contrasted my comfortable quarters, as I sat by a
blazing wood fire at night, with those of my comrades huddled in shelter
tents and shivering from cold, somewhere on their tedious march to the
front, and heartily pitied, while I could not alleviate, their
condition. With the aid of some of the convalescents I struck the tents,
turned over the camp stores and equipage, except a small part which was
to go forward to the quartermaster's department in Washington, settled
my accounts with the Government, and, through the kindness of the
quartermaster of the One Hundred and Eleventh New York, who loaned me
the use of his teams, hauled the balance of the baggage to Alexandria,
placed it on board a boat for Acquia Creek, and on the seventeenth of
December took leave of Camp Casey, and with thirteen men went forward to
join my regiment. It was found encamped near General Sumner's
headquarters on the heights opposite Fredericksburg, which place I
learned it reached after a week's march from Camp Casey, travelling
upwards of sixty miles--part of the time through the mud, and part
thereof through the snow and over the frozen ground. My friend, Captain
Lapham, who experienced the hardships of this never-to-be-forgotten
march, has already vividly described it to you in his admirable paper on
the Twelfth Rhode Island.

The terrible battle of Fredericksburg had been fought three days before
my arrival at Falmouth, and I knew of it only from others and from the
fearful havoc which it had made in the ranks of my comrades, upwards of
one-fifth of the entire regiment having been either killed, wounded, or
found missing at the close of that sanguinary contest. The part taken by
the gallant Twelfth has also been graphically portrayed in the paper
just referred to, by one who took an honorable part therein, and it
would be presumption in me to attempt a word in addition.

The great Army of the Potomac, now upwards of one hundred thousand
strong, was stretched along the eastern bank of the Rappahannock from
Falmouth southward to, and including, General Franklin's division, and
for miles there was but little space between the regimental camps of
this mighty host. Our picket line was on the left bank of the river,
while that of the enemy was on the right in plain sight, and for the
most part the two lines were within reach of each other's rifles. But
there was little firing done, it seeming to be tacitly understood that
their principal business was to mutually watch, instead of shoot, each
other. Anxious to see how rebels in arms looked, I rode the length of
our picket line and inspected them as best I could, from this tolerably
safe distance, and became satisfied that a nearer approach was

Our base of supplies was Acquia Creek, about fifteen miles in our rear,
towards Washington, and thither I had to frequently go for our
subsistence. The trains to this place were daily laden with the sick and
wounded on their way to the great hospitals in and around Washington.
And some of the sights that I saw in connection with the removal of our
poor, maimed, sick and dying soldiers, shortly after the terrible
battle, would be too painful to relate. I do not mean that they were not
as well treated and as kindly cared for as was practicable under the
circumstances, but that from their great numbers, the inadequate means
for handling them, and the distance over which they had to be
transported in crowded box cars and filthy steamboats before much could
be done for them, it was impossible but that their sufferings in many
cases should be of the most aggravated character.

Our situation while in front of Fredericksburg was anything but
comfortable. The men lived in all sorts of rudely constructed cabins,
bough-houses and even subterranean huts, having no tents save the
miserable misnamed shelter tents, which were used only as roofs for the
conglomerate of structures which their ingenuity had devised. The
fire-places were made of logs cemented and plastered with mud, and the
chimneys mainly with empty barrels set on top of each other, (the heads
being first knocked out,) and they also cemented together and plastered
with mud. This Virginia mud, when thoroughly dried by the fire, is
almost as hard as common brick. The water which we had to use and drink
here was simply execrable. I don't think it was so bad as that in the
Cove Basin, but it had a very similar appearance. Each little spring and
rivulet were eagerly sought and constantly used by continual streams of
soldiers, necessarily keeping them in a perturbed and more or less
filthy condition; and besides, it was impossible that some portion of
the vast amount of offal accumulating from this great army should not
find its way into these sources of our water supply. This was specially
so when, as frequently happened, several regiments were encamped on the
same little stream. Much sickness was caused during our uncomfortable
stay here by this detestable water.

On the sixteenth of January, 1863, we received marching orders, but were
directed to remain in camp, simply holding ourselves in readiness to
move at short notice. The line of march of the right grand division
commenced on January nineteenth and was continued through the twentieth.
Regiment after regiment, followed by long strings of batteries,
continued to move directly past our camp all day long, going to the
right. Another great battle was supposed to be imminent. But alas for
human plans; whether made by great generals or by persons unknown to
fame, they are exceedingly liable to be thwarted. On the afternoon of
the twentieth a cold northeast storm of wind, snow, sleet and rain came
on and continued with increasing force for more than thirty-six hours,
which necessarily put an end to the strategic movement of General
Burnside, for the roads became utterly impassable for the artillery, and
practically so for all military purposes. After floundering about in the
clayey mire for three days, the brave fellows came tramping back, weary
and thoroughly disgusted, and again took up their abode in their
wretched old quarters. Our gallant General Burnside was now relieved of
the command of the great Army of the Potomac, and General Hooker
appointed to succeed him.

On the afternoon of February ninth, we broke camp and took the cars for
Acquia Creek, en route for Fortress Monroe, as was supposed, but really
for Newport News. There was hilarious rejoicing on all hands at the
prospect of at last getting away from our abominable quarters. The huts
were set on fire; bonfires were made from the great piles of combustible
débris which had accumulated during the winter; the rude barns which had
sheltered our horses and mules added to the conflagration, and for an
hour or so before embarking we held high carnival amidst the smoking
ruins of "Camp Misery." At Acquia Creek we went on board the transport
steamers Metamora and Juniata, and the next morning steamed down the
broad Potomac.

The agreeable change of situation, together with the pleasant sail, were
very invigorating, and the men seemed almost to forget that they were
soldiers, and to imagine themselves on some holiday excursion. Arriving
off Fortress Monroe at four A. M. of the second day out, we
awaited orders from General Dix, which being received we proceeded to
Newport News and disembarked. We had at last got beyond Virginia mud,
though still in Virginia, the soil at this place being light and sandy,
and the ground for miles almost as level as Dexter Training Ground.

The schooner Elizabeth and Helen from Providence, which we had long been
expecting, arrived about the same time. She brought a little more than
three hundred boxes from friends at home for our regiment, and our
portion of the cargo of vegetables was about ninety barrels. So that,
altogether, we had a "right smart heap" of the good things from home.
The contents of the boxes being largely of a very perishable nature,
were considerably damaged on account of having been so long on the
journey. But we made the best of it, and enjoyed the unpacking of those
boxes quite as much, without doubt, as our friends at home did the
packing. Nothing could have been more beneficial to us than the generous
supply of vegetables which we received, having subsisted mainly on salt
meats and hard-tack while at Fredericksburg.

"A" tents were here issued to the companies; everything was cheerful and
tidy about the camp, and we seemed to be living in a new world. My
duties called me to Fortress Monroe nearly every day, which gave me a
delightful little sail, together with charming scenery and plenty of
work. The scene of the exciting and unequal contest between the Merrimac
and the Cumberland, in Hampton Roads in March, 1862, was immediately in
front of us; and about a mile from the shore, in the direction of
Norfolk, could be seen a portion of the masts of the latter, emerging
from the water.

After a stay of precisely six weeks at Newport News, during which time
nothing of very great importance transpired in the Ninth Army Corps,
all of which were encamped at this delightful place, the Second
Brigade, of which the Twelfth was a part, was ordered to the far-off
city of Lexington, Kentucky. Our regiment at once embarked on the
steamer Long Island for Baltimore, whence we were to go by rail to the
West. Some of the scenes on board that steamer at night were ludicrous
in the extreme. I have heard of one's "hair standing seven ways for
Sunday," of things being "at sixes and sevens," and "all heads and
points," but I must aver that the packing of the men on that boat
exceeded anything I had ever seen in the way of mixing up human beings.
They bestowed themselves in every conceivable position. It was almost an
impossibility to go three steps without causing some one to cry out,
"Keep off from me!" or, "O, my fingers!" an oath generally preceding the
expression, just for the sake of making it emphatic. The head of a
soldier might frequently be seen mixed in with the feet of two or three
of his immediate neighbors. And in one case I discovered two men lying
directly under one of the horses, fast asleep. I soon ascertained,
however, that they had been imbibing too freely of poor whiskey, and
that therefore there was probably little immediate danger from their

A sail of sixteen hours brought us to Baltimore, and a ride of three
hundred and forty miles over the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad took us to
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where we arrived at twelve o'clock on Saturday
night, March twenty-eighth, tired and hungry. To our great joy we were
immediately invited into the large and beautifully decorated hall
occupied by the Soldiers' Relief Society, where we found a splendid
supper awaiting us. There were twelve tables, each running the entire
length of the hall, each arranged to accommodate one hundred men, and
all richly laden with an abundance of delicious food and fruit.
Compliments were few and exceedingly brief, but the rattle of crockery
and knives and forks was long and continuous. The Seventh Rhode Island
was in the hall at the same time, and you may be assured that Little
Rhody showed an unbroken front here, as she had already done under more
trying circumstances elsewhere. Suspended from the front of the platform
was the following in large letters: "PITTSBURGH WELCOMES HER COUNTRY'S

After the sumptuous repast was ended, Colonel Browne stepped upon the
platform, and in a few appropriate and feeling remarks returned his
thanks to the citizens of Pittsburgh for their hospitality to the
soldiers of Rhode Island, and closed by proposing three cheers for our
benefactors, which were given with a roar that seemed almost to raise
the roof. We then marched out to make room for others that were waiting,
the remainder of our brigade being near by. One of the waiters, who, I
was informed, was the daughter of one of the first citizens of the city,
told me that this hall had not been closed night or day for more than a
week, and that every soldier who had passed through the city for a long
time had partaken of their bounty if he chose to do so. Nearly five
thousand had been fed during the past twelve hours, and still there was
an abundance.

At ten A. M. we took the cars for Cincinnati, which we reached
after a pleasant ride of about four hundred miles through the most
delightful section of country we had yet seen. We almost imagined
ourselves making one of "Perham's Grand Excursions to the West."
Everywhere along the route we met with tokens of welcome and
encouragement. White handkerchiefs fluttered from ten thousand fair
hands, while the stars and stripes were displayed "from cottage, hall
and tower," in great profusion. At Steubenville, Ohio, I should judge
the inhabitants were nearly all at the depot on our arrival, where they
greeted us with cheer upon cheer, besides innumerable expressions of
loyalty and good will. Five long trains of cars, containing the five
regiments of our brigade, kept within a short distance of each other
during this entire journey, and when the forward train stopped, the
others would come up within a few rods of each other, thus constituting
an almost unbroken train for about two miles. The impromptu foraging
parties that emerged from each of those trains whenever they came to a
brief halt, it is unnecessary to describe to veterans.

The brigade received a perfect ovation at Cincinnati. The streets were
crowded with the enthusiastic populace, many buildings were brilliantly
illuminated, and the entire conduct of the people proved most
conclusively that the Union sentiment here was dominant. While passing
along one of the streets our regiment was treated to a perfect shower of
nice white handkerchiefs, which were thrown from the windows of a large
brick block by a company of ladies. Each of these souvenirs was
delicately perfumed and bore the name of the fair donor. We were also
treated to another supper here, which, had we not fared so very
sumptuously at Pittsburgh, would have been pronounced the _ne plus
ultra_ of feasts. After eating till we could eat no more, a fresh supply
was brought on with which to fill our empty haversacks for the remainder
of the journey.

I was busily occupied all night, in company with a squad of men, in
transferring the baggage across the river to Covington in ferry-boats,
and loading it on board the train which was to convey us to Lexington,
which city we reached the following day, having been six days on the
journey from Newport News. We encamped on the State Fair Grounds, west
of the city, a spacious and charming location, adorned with elegant
shade trees, and surrounded with the stately suburban residences of some
of the chivalry of Kentucky. You may perhaps infer that we were somewhat
influenced by our aristocratic surroundings when I inform you that while
here, our fire-wood consisted mainly of black-walnut, the ordinary
fence-rails in that vicinity being composed of that material.

The Sunday following our arrival here, the regiment was visited and
briefly addressed by the venerable General Leslie Coombs, of Kentucky,
that staunch and life-long enemy of secession, who was a friend and old
acquaintance of Colonel Browne. His tall and manly form, his long,
flowing white hair, and his stately bearing, together with his stirring
and patriotic remarks in favor of the preservation of the Union and the
vigorous prosecution of the war, made an impression upon my mind that I
shall never forget.

After a week's sojourn here, our brigade turned its face southward and
commenced what subsequently proved to be a long series of marches back
and forth across the State, protecting exposed points and preparing for
a probable meeting with the rebels either under General Breckenridge or
General Morgan, who were constantly menacing the southern borders of the
State. And besides, the mountainous districts thereof were infested with
marauding bands, mainly under the general direction of Morgan, who were
carrying on a guerrilla warfare both against the Unionists of the State,
who constituted a majority of all the people, and also against the Union
forces stationed there, thus keeping the citizens in a constant state of
anxiety and trepidation. The pillaging and murdering of the peaceable
and inoffensive citizens of that would-be loyal State by these organized
bands of ruffians, constitute to my mind one of the darkest pictures of
our civil war.

Twenty-two miles over a macadamized road, through the celebrated "Blue
Grass" region, brought us to Winchester, a pleasant inland village in
Clarke county, where we were allowed to remain for the full period of
eight days. Our next stopping place was at Richmond, a very inviting
post-village of about fifteen hundred inhabitants in Madison county,
twenty miles south of Winchester. This march, which occupied two days,
took us through some of the most picturesque natural scenery to be found
in the State, including Boonesboro, the scene of Daniel Boone's famous
exploits with the Indians, at which place the entire brigade crossed the
Kentucky river in a common scow which would hold only fifty men at a
time. This delayed us for at least half a day, so that we had a good
view of the wild surroundings.

I must here relate a personal incident. After arriving at Richmond, I
was sent back to Winchester to bring forward some stores and supplies
which had been necessarily left there. Our teams had not arrived from
Covington, and I was detained for three days awaiting their appearance.
I was stopping at the house of one Mr. Bush, a well-to-do planter, whose
acquaintance I had made while the regiment was encamped there. On the
third night of my stay with him I was suddenly aroused from a sound
sleep at one o'clock by two soldiers who had entered my room, and who
immediately confronted me, one with a drawn sword, and the other with a
revolver, which he held in one hand, and a lighted candle in the other.
They said nothing, except to caution me that any attempt to move from my
present position would be at the peril of my life. One of them commenced
to search my clothes, while the other stood guard over me, holding his
glistering revolver uncomfortably near my head. I thought my hour had
probably come, taking it for granted that the men were rebel soldiers
and had taken advantage of my isolated situation to first rob and then
dispatch me. But I finally mustered courage enough to ask them their
business as politely as I knew how, and was promptly informed, greatly
to my surprise, that I was a rebel spy and their prisoner and that they
were Union soldiers sent there to arrest me. I at once felt relieved,
knowing that I could readily establish my identity, and furthermore that
I was tolerably safe anyway in the hands of Union soldiers. Mr. Bush,
who had followed them into the room in his night-clothes, immediately
assured them that I was not a rebel spy, or even a rebel, but a member
of the Twelfth Rhode Island Volunteers, and manifested considerable
indignation that he should even be suspected of harboring rebel spies.
Some papers and letters in my pockets supported the testimony of my
host, and after considerable time spent in examining them, my brave (?)
captors concluded that I was not the man they were looking for, and left
me without so much as an apology for their mistake, to ponder upon my
deceitful appearance. I learned the next day that two rebel spies had in
fact been prowling about the neighborhood for several days, and that
these officers (for such they were) had been searching for them.

A week at Richmond, three days at Paint Lick Creek, a tributary of the
Cumberland, a week at Lancaster, and on we go, still southward, till we
reach Crab Orchard, a Kentucky watering place of considerable note,
where we remained for ten days. It was not every brigade that was
allowed to spend this length of time at a fashionable southern watering
place during the sultry days of June, at the expense of the Government.

Instead of proceeding still further southward, as had been expected, we
were here suddenly ordered to execute a "right about face," and retrace
our steps to Nicholasville, a point twelve miles south of Lexington,
where it was understood we were to take the cars en route for the
far-off city of Vicksburg, where we were to assist General Grant in the
siege against that rebel stronghold. This was not encouraging news to
soldiers whose term of enlistment would expire in a little more than
thirty days. Back we went, however, through the dust and heat, making
the distance in two long days, the boys frequently rallying each other
on the march with the remarks: "It's all in the nine months, boys;" and,
"Why did you come for a soldier?"

Just as we got in sight of Nicholasville another surprise awaited us.
One of the General's aids came dashing up to Colonel Browne with orders
detaching his regiment from the brigade and directing him to report to
General Carter at Somerset, more than seventy miles away, without delay.
Half of this distance lay directly back over the route we had just
travelled. This was, indeed, provoking. But we were soldiers, and had
learned that our first and principal duty was prompt and unquestioning
obedience to orders. So we bade good-bye to the other regiments of our
brigade by giving three hearty cheers for each as they marched past us
on their long journey to the West, and immediately turned our faces
southward again and started for Somerset.

It then being nearly sunset, we bivouacked for the night as soon as we
came to a convenient place, and resumed our backward march at daylight
the next morning. The First Tennessee Battery and a regiment of mounted
infantry soon joined us, and in company with them we reached Somerset,
having gone by the way of Camp Dick Robinson and Hall's Gap, after a
four days' march. In six successive days we had marched one hundred
miles. And what was somewhat remarkable, we went into camp at the end of
this time with not a man left behind.

After a stay of ten days at Somerset, during which time our base of
supplies was at Stanford, thirty-three miles away, and could only be
reached by our mule teams, we moved down to the Cumberland river, where
we encamped on a high and precipitous bluff overlooking the river and
the rugged mountainous scenery for a long distance. A brief rest and on,
on we went again, bivouacking for a night on the battle-field of Mill
Springs, where General Zollicoffer met his fate; climbing the mountains
with our heavily laden mule teams, building bridges, constructing roads,
and making but slow progress over the roughest country that I ever saw.
Several of my teams were capsized and rolled down a steep embankment,
mules, drivers and all; others got mired in swamps, and it was with the
greatest difficulty that they were ever extricated; but we pulled
ourselves along in one way and another over a distance of thirty miles
of this sort of country, and finally reached Jamestown (popularly known
as "Jimtown"), on the southern border of Kentucky, on the twenty-third
day of June, which place proved to be the end of our journey southward.

The Thirty-second Kentucky infantry, called the "thirty two-sters,"
Colonel Wolford's famous cavalry regiment, six hundred strong,--the most
dare-devil set of fellows, probably, in the Union service,--together
with two mounted regiments of infantry, here reported to Colonel Browne
and were temporarily placed under his command, and everything made ready
for a brush with the rebels, which was daily expected, General Morgan
being reported just in front of us with a large force. On the
twenty-ninth of June our pickets were suddenly attacked and driven in by
the enemy, causing the greatest excitement in camp. The long roll was
instantly sounded; the men rushed to their companies with all possible
speed; the regiment was formed in line of battle at a double-quick by
Lieutenant Colonel Shaw, and all was ready for the fray. Company A,
Captain Alexander, and Company C, Captain Allen, had been previously
stationed about half a mile in front, on a road leading south towards
the Cumberland river, where they had felled trees and erected a sort of
rude barricade called Fort Alexander, in honor of the captain in
command, which position they continued to hold.

The battery took a position on the Columbus road, on which the enemy was
approaching; the other regiments were just in the rear, while Wolford's
cavalry went forward on a keen run, their famous commander being at
least a hundred yards in front of his men when he passed our regiment,
presenting, in connection with his headlong followers, a scene of the
wildest excitement. He speedily came in contact with the enemy,--whose
particular object at this time was the capture of our battery,--drove
them back without bringing on a general engagement, captured a score or
more of prisoners, and so thoroughly routed and scattered the enemy by
his bold and vigorous dash, that they made no further attempt to dispute
the possession of this antiquated town with our forces until the morning
of the fourth of July following.

Our quartermaster's train, however, was attacked two days later, on its
way from Green river, whither it had been for supplies, by a guerrilla
band of about fifty men; but as the train was guarded by a company of
mounted infantry from the Seventh Ohio, the attack was repulsed after a
vigorous contest, with some loss on both sides, and our provisions and
quartermaster arrived in camp unharmed the next day, to the great joy of
the regiment, who were nearly out of supplies.

On the third of July a battle was fought near Lebanon, which was a short
distance to the north of us, between a portion of General Carter's
forces and those under General Morgan, in which quite a number were
killed and several wounded.

We commenced the celebration of the glorious Fourth by forming in line
of battle with alacrity at half-past three A. M., our pickets
having been again driven in, and the rebels seeming determined to have a
bout with us before we left Kentucky. And I think our men would as soon
have fought as not on this occasion, being tired of the constant
annoyance, and ready to prove to Kentucky bushwhackers what kind of
stuff they were made of. But, fortunately for both sides doubtless, the
rebels remained outside of "Jimtown," and our forces remained inside,
resting on their arms all day, and momentarily expecting an attack,
which, however, was not made. And on the fifth of July, General Carter,
deciding doubtless that this part of the State was not worth fighting
for any longer, abandoned it to the enemy and moved his forces
northward; first to Somerset, and then to Stanford, our base of
supplies, which he continued to hold. Somerset was again reached after
three days of the most difficult marching we had ever experienced, a
heavy rain storm being in progress most of the time, rendering the
movement of the artillery and heavy-laden army wagons well nigh
impossible. With ten mules on one team, and two industrious swearers to
drive them, I was only able to make a distance of two rods through the
mire in the space of one whole hour, on one occasion during the first
day of this march, which, by the way, was on Sunday.

Of course the army could move no faster than the wagon train on this
march, as the rebels were immediately in our rear, ready to pounce upon
us if a good opportunity was offered.

Eight days of continuous marching, most of the time over the same route
we had travelled twice, and some of it three times before, and we were
again at Nicholasville, where our regiment took the cars for Cincinnati
by the way of Lexington. Our term of service had expired, but at the
request of our greatly beloved General Burnside, we remained at
Cincinnati for a week to assist in protecting that much frightened city
from the raids of the somewhat ubiquitous General Morgan, who had
preceded us from "Jimtown" to that more populous and inviting
community. Another journey of a thousand miles--not, however, on
foot--and the Twelfth Regiment was again at home.


[Late Colonel of the Twelfth Regiment.]

Colonel George H. Browne departed this life at Providence on the
twenty-seventh day of September, A. D. 1885, in the sixty-eighth year of
his age, sincerely lamented by all who knew him. He was a Rhode Islander
by birth and education; thoroughly imbued with the history and
traditions of the State, and always identified himself with its best
interests. Conservative, candid and outspoken, and an excellent judge of
human nature, he was not easily deceived or led to do an unwise or even
an injudicious act. To say that he was a wise, prudent and thoroughly
conscientious man, is but to voice the common sentiment of all those who
knew him.

Since September of 1862, I have known Colonel Browne well, and been
honored by his constant friendship. During the period of his service in
the army, my duties brought me in almost daily contact with him; I was
one of his mess during our Kentucky campaign, and had the opportunity to
study his character and habits with deliberation; while since the war I
have known him in the walks of private, professional and political life.
And for stalwart manliness, transparent honesty and true nobility of
character, I can unhesitatingly say that I have not known his superior.

As the commanding officer of the Twelfth Regiment, he at once inspired
both the confidence and love of his men. His utmost energies were
continually put forth for the efficiency and usefulness of his command,
while his efforts for the personal welfare of each individual member
thereof were proverbial. Indeed, in the latter respect he seemed more
like a kind father watching over the welfare of his children, than a
cold military commander issuing the stern edicts of war. It was his
daily habit to go about the camp and personally inspect the same,
frequently making his appearance in the tents and huts of the privates
as well as in the quarters of the officers, for the purpose of
ascertaining their condition as to cleanliness and comfort; inquiring
after the wants of the men; visiting the hospital and speaking words of
hope and good cheer to those who were sick, and in many other ways
seeking to minister to the welfare of his command. A single instance of
his unselfish devotion to the good of his men illustrates this

On Sunday, May 3, 1863, his regiment marched from Richmond, Kentucky, to
Paint Lick Creek, a distance of twelve miles, through a drenching rain.
Many of the men had become foot-sore or otherwise disabled by reason of
the great amount of marching they had recently done, and some of these
became unable to complete the journey; whereupon, Colonel Browne,
Lieutenant Colonel Shaw, and other field officers, gave up their horses
to the use of these disabled ones, and themselves tramped with the men
through the mud and rain for a good part of this distance.

Colonel Browne was a brave man. He faced the guns of the enemy at
Fredericksburg where the battle waxed hottest, with as much apparent
coolness as though simply facing his regiment on dress parade. A ball
pierced his mantle; "the noise of battle hurtled in the air," and
death-dealing missiles were flying thick about him, but he neither
wavered nor blanched. Wherever his regiment was ordered to go, thither
he promptly went in front of it, inspiring his followers with courage
both by his genuine heroism and his manly words of cheer.

His bravery, however, was not of the ostentatious or noisy sort. It was
more like the current of a still but deep-flowing river, which moves
calmly but steadily onward, irresistibly drawing to itself, and
unconsciously controlling all the lesser streams about it. He never
paraded his virtues before his fellow-men, or posed as a hero or
statesman for public applause. Indeed, he utterly scorned all attempts
made by others for the sake of notoriety and position as vulgar and
unworthy. He admired, however, and honestly won, the fame which follows
generous and noble deeds, and not that which is sought after by the
demagogue and the charlatan. He was notably considerate and courteous in
his treatment of his subordinates in office, never seeming to command,
while in fact exercising the most perfect control.

Colonel Browne retained an abiding interest in the men of his regiment
to the day of his death. His greetings to them on the street, in the
marts of trade, and especially at their annual reunions, were always
warm and hearty. A single incident will serve to illustrate his interest
in their welfare. Meeting me one day last winter on Westminster street,
he said: "Judge, _I've got some good news to tell you_," and invited me
to step into a bookstore which he was then passing while he should
reveal it. "Do you remember Sergeant ----, of Company ----?" said he, his
face all aglow with that expression of happiness which was peculiar to
him. "Yes, Colonel, I do; what about him?" "Why, he's been out West, and
by diligence and skill in a profitable business which he there engaged
in, first as clerk and subsequently as one of the firm, and now as the
manager thereof, has actually made his fortune, and is to-day a rich and
highly respected man. And he came to see me the other day and told me
all about it." And then with much enthusiasm and honest pride in his
manner, said: "_Isn't that good news from one of our boys?_" Had this
sergeant been his own son, he could hardly have manifested more joy in
his prosperity.

His private benefactions to several of his men who had long been in
indigent circumstances, are known and remembered by Him who said:
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,
ye have done it unto me."

There was no circumlocution or ambiguity in Colonel Browne's methods.
Whatever he had to do, he went about in a direct and business-like way,
and prosecuted it to completion in the same straightforward manner. He
had none of the arts or tricks of the demagogue, and was utterly
incapable of double-dealing or hypocrisy. And no man whom I have ever
known, more thoroughly detested these base qualities in others. He had
no patience with shams or subterfuges of any sort whatsoever, and did
not hesitate to frown upon them with indignation whenever and wherever
they appeared. If diplomacy has been correctly defined as being the art
of concealing one's thoughts in his language, he never would have made
a successful diplomat; for he always said just what he meant, and always
meant just what he said.

Colonel Browne's abilities, both natural and acquired, were of a high
order. He had a broad, vigorous and well-balanced mind, which had been
thoroughly trained and disciplined to habits of logical and exact
reasoning, and a power of analysis which led him to correct conclusions
with almost mathematical certainty. He was not a superficial thinker,
but always insisted on laying bare the very roots of the matter under
consideration, and then gradually working upwards to natural and
legitimate conclusions. His processes of reasoning were inductive rather
than dogmatic. With such a mind, so constituted and developed, he was
eminently fitted for positions of trust and responsibility, whether
private or public, which foot the citizens both of his native town and
State were not slow to learn and appreciate.

As a legislator he was diligent, prudent and conservative, possessing
the courage of his convictions, always exerting a large and salutary
influence by his candor, integrity and good judgment, and readily won
the confidence and esteem of his associates. Public office was with him
a public trust, to be administered with strictest fidelity and care.

In his chosen profession, in which the strength of his vigorous manhood
was spent, he attained eminence and preferment, being a recognized
leader of the bar of this State for many years before his death. A safe
and able counsellor, an ingenuous and convincing advocate and an
honorable opponent, he brought to the practice of his profession those
qualities which insure success. Quibbles and quirks and barren
technicalities were an abomination to him as a foundation upon which to
base an action or a defense. Like Solon, "who built his commonweal on
equity's wide base," so he built his legal structures on the broad
principles of justice, truth and right.

In 1874 he was elected to the high and honorable office of Chief Justice
of the Supreme Court of this State by a legislature composed mainly of
his political opponents, a monumental tribute to his integrity, learning
and ability. He declined the office, however, and remained in the
profession which he had dignified and honored to the day of his death.

As a private citizen he was a man of unimpeachable character, generous
impulses, and high and noble purposes. His life was pure and
unostentatious, and his manner frank and undisguised. Let us ever
cherish his memory, and strive to emulate his virtues.

    |             Transcriber's Note:               |
    |                                               |
    | Typographical errors corrected in the text:   |
    |                                               |
    | Page 33  Kentuckey changed to Kentucky        |
    | Page 34  guerilla changed to guerrilla        |

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