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´╗┐Title: Soldiering in North Carolina
Author: Kirwan, Thomas
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Soldiering in North Carolina" ***

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                      SOLDIERING

                        --IN--

                    NORTH CAROLINA;

                       --BEING--

  THE EXPERIENCES OF A 'TYPO' IN THE PINES, SWAMPS, FIELDS,
      SANDY ROADS, TOWNS, CITIES, AND AMONG THE FLEAS,
      WOOD-TICKS, 'GRAY-BACKS,' MOSQUITOES, BLUE-TAIL
        FLIES, MOCCASIN SNAKES, LIZARDS, SCORPIONS,
           REBELS, AND OTHER REPTILES, PESTS AND
             VERMIN OF THE 'OLD NORTH STATE.'

   EMBRACING AN ACCOUNT OF THE THREE-YEARS AND NINE-MONTHS
         MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENTS IN THE DEPARTMENT,
               HE FREEDMEN ETC., ETC., ETC.

               BY "ONE OF THE SEVENTEENTH,"

        [Illustration: Thomas Kirwan (signature?)]

                      ILLUSTRATED.

                        BOSTON:
         PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY THOMAS KIRWAN.
                         1864.



 ENTERED ACCORDING TO ACT OF CONGRESS, IN THE YEAR 1864, BY

                    THOMAS KIRWAN,

IN THE CLERK'S OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT COURT OF MASSACHUSETTS.



PREFACE.


The contents of the following pages are presented to the public
as matters of fact. They embody some of the writer's experiences
while serving his country in the "land of cotton." It is true his
experiences are tame and unromantic when compared with those of some
of the men of the Potomac or the Cumberland; but they are the best he
can offer, and need no apology, as the style does, which is rough and
unpolished.

Besides giving an account of the 17th Mass. Reg't, and its
participation in the engagements at Kinston, Whitehall, and
Goldsboro, something is said of the other old regiments in the
department, and the nine months' men,--also, an account of the
contrabands, their habits and disposition--anecdotes, &c.



                         DEDICATION.


  To the officers and men of the Seventeenth Massachusetts
    Regiment, who, through no fault of theirs, have only
    lacked the opportunities to render their organization
           as famous as that of any regiment from
           the old Bay State: whose services have
            been mostly of that passive character
               --upon the outpost picket, and
                 performing arduous duty in
                  the midst of a malarial
                   country--that suffers
                     and endures much
                     without exciting
                     comment or adding
                  to the laurels, of which
               every true soldier is so proud:

                THIS HUMBLE WORK IS DEDICATED,

 By one who, with them, has braved the "pestilence that walketh
         abroad at noonday," the fatigues of the march,
                and the dangers of the battle.



PART 1.

    ENLISTMENT--DEPARTURE--THE VOYAGE--HATTERAS--UP THE
    NEUSE--NEWBERN--AN ACCOUNT OF THE 17TH--ON PICKET--DOING
    PROVOST DUTY IN NEWBERN, ETC.


It has been said that man is essentially a "fighting animal,"--that
in this "world's broad field of battle" his life, from the cradle to
the grave, is one continued struggle against want and its attendant
circumstances,--and that he is the greatest who, be his position
what it may, acts well his part. If this be true--and I think it
is--then the man who goes to the war only exchanges one mode of
strife for another--"the whips and scorns of time," for interminable
drilling, "hard tack and salt horse,"--"the oppressor's wrong," for
the hardships of the march and the dangers of the battle,--"the proud
man's contumely," for the murmurings at home that he does not "clean
out" the rebels in a week or two,--"the law's delay," for the tedium
of garrison and camp life,--"the insolence of office," for the rule
(not always gentle or humane) of men placed over him,--and the "bare
bodkin," for the sword and the bayonet. And yet--and yet--

    "Ah me! what perils do environ
    The man that meddles with cold iron!
    What plaguy mischiefs and mishaps
    Do dog him still with after claps!"

The severe checks and disasters experienced by the Union arms in
the Spring campaign of 1862, culminating in the "seven days' fight"
before Richmond, and the retreat of McClellan's noble but suffering
and crippled army to James river, while it spread sorrow and mourning
throughout the land, had the effect of awakening those in power to a
full sense of the nation's peril. When the President called for more
men, thereby giving effect to the wishes of the loyal people, I was
one of those who helped to swell the volume of that mighty response
which echoed back from the hills and prairies, cities and villages,
towns and hamlets:

    "We are coming, father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!"

Like others, I had to mourn the loss of a friend,--a brave young
fellow, who was killed in the second of the "seven days' fight," and
determined to fill his place, if I could.

On the 4th of August, 1862, I entered my name as a "raw recruit" for
Co. F, 19th Mass. Reg't, as one of the quota of the town of Malden.
A friend, struck by my example, or, perhaps, being in that state of
mind which needs but little to turn one way or the other, joined with
me; but upon going to the office in Boston where enlistments for the
19th were "done up," we were told recruiting for it was stopped.
How times have altered since then,--now, I believe, it would take a
battalion to fill it. We were in a fix (at least I was, who wished
to go in the 19th), but there was a remedy at hand. A recruiting
officer for the 17th, who had an office in Union street, received us
willingly, and after being examined and sworn in, we were packed off,
with some twenty other recruits, to Camp Cameron in North Cambridge.
It was late in the evening when we arrived there, and no preparation
being made for us--owing, I suppose, to the constant and rapid influx
of recruits, which taxed to their utmost the various departments to
fit out and provide for,--we had to turn in, supperless, to a bunk of
downy boards, with no covering but our thin citizens' summer clothes.
I thought it was a very uncomfortable resting place at the time, but
it was nothing to what I have since known in the way of sleeping
accommodation. The next morning I had leisure to look around me and
take a survey of the mass of human nature that there commingled
for the first time. And truly it was a heterogeneous compound of
representatives of nearly every race of people in Europe, and
plentifully sprinkled among them was the leaven of the whole--smart,
shrewd, intelligent, quick-eyed and quick-witted Americans. And such
a confusing babble as prevailed I never heard before. Wrangling and
swearing, drinking and eating, talking and laughing,--all combined
to give me no very agreeable foretaste of what I had to expect in my
new vocation. I noticed others, new, like myself, to such scenes, who
seemed mentally dumbfounded, or unconsciously comparing the quiet
routine of the life they led at home to the new one they had assumed,
and, no doubt, to the great advantage of the former and dislike
for the latter. But happily for us all, being the creatures of
circumstances, the pliability of our natures leads us to be quickly
reconciled to our lot, whatever it may be. The change of life from a
citizen to that of a soldier is so radical that few like it at first;
but by degrees it becomes endurable, and finally, often, desirable.
The recent re-enlistments prove this.

There were several "characters" among the recruits in camp, to whom,
if I could, I would devote a few pages, as well as to management of
the camp and the method of dovetailing a little _innocent_ private
business into that of the public, as practiced by some of the
little-great men in authority there; but as paper costs 22 cents per
pound, I am warned that I must leave out here and condense there,
which is not so pleasant after all.

Men were arriving every day in squads of from twenty to fifty,
and leaving at intervals in detachments of from 100 to 500, to be
distributed among their respective regiments at the seat of war.
At length our turn came. It was on a Friday.--Now, Friday, though
generally considered by superstitious persons an unlucky day, has
often proved a lucky one for me. I was born on Friday; was married
on Friday; and now I started to go to the war on Friday. I shouldn't
wonder if on some Friday in the future I would die--and that will
be another great event in my life. Well, we started on a Friday
afternoon, and taking the cars at the Old Colony depot in Boston and
the boat at Fall River, found ourselves next morning in the city of
New York. We were quartered in barracks on White street, furnished
with filthy beds, miserable "grub," and allowed free range of the
city. A lieutenant (from Haverhill, I believe) had charge of our
squad, which numbered about a hundred, and some of his enthusiastic
admirers in the crowd presented him with a sword. There was, of
course, a presentation speech, enthusiastic, pathetic, patriotic
and warlike, and a response suitable and sentimental. It made a
good impression on me at the time; but then I had yet to learn
the difference between what an Indian would call "talk fight" and
"fightem."

On the following Monday afternoon, with all "traps" snugly bestowed
and knapsacks strapped on, we were drawn up in front of the barracks,
when the lieutenant stepped out in front and proposed three cheers
for the barrack-master, which were given; but I did not join in, even
in dumb show, having too much conscientiousness to outrage the finer
feelings of my stomach by cheering for an individual who had cheated
and abused it. We then took up our line of march for the transport,
and went along almost unnoticed save by a few patriotic individuals
who bade us a fervent God-speed and wished that good-fortune might
attend us wherever we went; but the great mass seemed hardened
to the sight of their fellow men going away from amongst them to
explore unknown fields of danger, and to purchase with their life's
blood a continuance and perpetuity of that nationality which has
made the United States of America the first among nations. As these
thoughts entered my mind, they suggested the picture of the hundreds
of thousands of devoted men who passed through this great city,
with all their hardest and most bitter experiences--hardships and
dangers, sickness and death--before them, many, very many of them to
return again no more; and I began to realize that, though still in
a land of peace and plenty, a few days would bring me out upon far
different scenes and into circumstances that would require a bold
heart to meet as they ought to be met. Luckily for us all, the future
cannot be penetrated, or we should be mourning calamities before they
befall us; dreading dangers before they threaten, and finally become
unmanned at the awful prospect impending over our future. Still there
is in the expectancy of danger something that is fascinating, and
something, too, that even while we dread we seek; and this feeling,
the result of a strange curiosity, enlivened by hope and the love
of excitement, is what often keeps up the spirit of the soldier
and urges him on, even when worn out with fatigue and well-nigh
exhausted, to renewed energy and more determined acts of bravery.

The transport we embarked upon was a dilapidated steamer called the
"Haze" (who that ever took passage in her to or from Dixie can forget
the old tub?), a miserably appointed vessel, whose officers and crew
seemed better fitted for the penitentiary than for the station they
held. It was in this vessel that I first learnt some of the hardships
and inconveniences of a soldier's life. Just before the hawser was
cast off, an Irish apple-woman came on board, her basket well laden
with fruit, and said--"Come, me poor boys; it's not many of these
ye'll get in the place ye're goin' to--so help yerselves! 'Tis all I
have to give ye, except me blessin'--and may God bless ye all, and
bring ye safe back agin to the frinds ye have at home!"

She then proceeded to distribute the apples (and fine ones they
were) to the boys, many of whom, thinking more of the apples than
the blessing, rushed eagerly in saying, "bully for you, old lady!"
nearly overturning her in their desire to possess as much of the
fruit as possible. As for me, I was content to let them have the
fruit--the blessing and good wishes of the warm-hearted old woman
was all-sufficient for my desires. She stepped ashore, and as she
disappeared in the crowd on the pier, I heard one of the lucky ones,
who was luxuriating in the fruits of his scramble, remark to another
lucky one,--"D--d good apples!--that's a bully old woman,--how did
you like her malediction?" "Big thing," was the response.

The hawser was finally cast off, and, backing slowly out of the
dock, the steamer was soon under full headway down the bay. What
my emotions were as I gazed (perhaps) for the last time upon the
surrounding scenes, I will not tire the reader by giving expression
to,--doubtless they resembled in a manner those of thousands of
others who had gone the same road before me. My comrades, however, as
a general thing, were merry, and talked of the promised land (Dixie)
in a tone that showed how high their hopes ran; but presently, as
we passed Sandy Hook, and the regular and continuous swell of the
ocean set in, many who were before lively as kittens became tame and
wretched-looking enough. It was dark before we passed the Highlands,
and, though we could not see the Jersey shore we heard of it from the
breakers, here and there catching glimpses of lights which told us
that even among its barren sands many had found homes. But let Jersey
pass, and Delaware, and Virginia's eastern shore--"away, away down
South in Dixie" we go. But how few, comparatively, of our detachment
were now so eager, after encountering one enemy, to meet another?
And yet, I verily believe, many of these poor fellows would prefer
at that time to run their chances in battle (if only on the land)
than be tossed about at the mercy of the waves and so thoroughly
sea-sick. As for me, whose somewhat eventful life had often before
sent me "down to the sea in ships," I had no feelings of nausea, and
consequently enjoyed the surroundings, the fresh, bracing sea air
seeming to instil new vigor into my frame, which twenty years of toil
in a printing office (with short intermissions) had tended to impair.
Thus situated I could look about me, and I observed some who were
formerly the jolliest of our band now the saddest and most forlorn.
One in particular (a fine young fellow, whom we dubbed "the colonel")
who had been the life of our party, now, pale and sad, with not a
word to say, lay doubled up inside the coils of a hawser, as forlorn
as the Wandering Jew (by Eugene Sue). It was no more, with him,
"Away daown Saouth in a few days--hooray!" We passed the Chesapeake,
(Fortress Monroe,) Cape Henry and the dismal coast beyond, and on
the third evening neared land to the north of Cape Hatteras.--But
such land! A long, low bar of sand, stretching away as far as the eye
could reach, relieved at intervals by huge hummocks covered with a
stunted growth of trees, whose ragged and forlorn limbs and inclined
position made them appear as if a fierce hurricane all the while tore
through their branches, threatening to uproot and cast them away
forever. "There," said I to the 'colonel,' who had come upon deck
when he heard we were near Hatteras, and stood beside me grasping
the rail,--"There is Dixie, my jolly 'colonel.' We have come 'away
daown Saouth in a few days,' haven't we; and how do you like the lay
of the land? What--can't you even say 'hooray?'" But only a faint
smile was the answer. Shortly after dark we descried Hatteras light,
which we neared about ten o'clock; but the captain would not venture
in, and so we had to lay "off and on" till daylight, which was no
pleasant job, for "the wind rose and the rain fell," and gave those
who selected the deck for their sleeping place (myself among the
number), with the assistance of an occasional dash of salt water, a
pretty thorough soaking. As soon as it was clear day our craft headed
for the "swash," the wind blowing a small gale, the rain coming in
squalls as if some fretful genius presided over this unhappy coast,
and the waves running in shore like race-horses, spreading their
foam in a thin gray mist over the narrow line of sand, which seemed
endeavoring almost in vain to keep its back above the water. To our
right, and north of the inlet, were the forts taken by Gen. Butler
in his first Coast Expedition. Only one of these, Fort Hatteras, is
now used. The other has either sunk into the sand or been almost
wholly destroyed by the action of the waves. Fort Hatteras is an
earthwork, but so admirably situated as to prove an almost impassible
barrier to anything but ironclads. Beyond and around the fort on the
land or sand side, were a few buildings used for quarters for the
garrison and for ordnance stores. Anchored in the Sound, near by,
were supply ships, transports, and old hulks; while here and there
rows of disconsolate timbers, lifting their dripping heads above the
tide, told the fate of many a noble ship of the glorious Expedition
of Gen. Burnside. We "hove to" after entering the Sound to deliver
the mails for the Fort; and the change from the violent rolling,
tossing and pitching was such as to inspire even my old friend the
'colonel' with something of the spirit he was wont to display ere old
Neptune changed his tune. After taking a look at the Fort and its
surroundings, I turned my eyes to the opposite shore of the inlet,
when lo, there stretched out in an almost straight line from the
point into the Sound a troop or flock of--what? That was the puzzle
to my mind. Were they huge gulls or windbags, cormorants or cranes,
devils or dogfish? Fowl, flesh, or fish? I watched them with close
attention while asking myself these questions; but ere my cogitations
were finished they separated, spread their wings and took flight,
apparently, but it seemed strange they did not rise from the surface
of the water. They neared us presently, and I made them out to be,
instead of birds, small sail-boats. "Love launched a fairy boat," &c.
No love for us there, I guess, was my mental comment. "Pilots," I
heard some one say. They came fluking towards us, their comparatively
large sprit-sails hurrying them along at no contemptible rate of
speed. There were about fifteen of them, and it seemed evident all
could not get a job from our hazy skipper. "That's Jeff.'s navy,"
remarked one.

"Hooray for the boat that's ahead!" sang out the 'colonel.'

"Bully for the little fellow with the big sail!" exclaimed another.

"I'll bet on the cross-gaffed, giraffe-colored one!"

"Bully for the rip-staving roarer that wins!"

"Aint she a-ripping up the old salt water canvas, skearing the sharks
and astonishing the sea sarpints?"

"I'll bet Jeff.'s in that boat, and he's coming to ask us to dine
with him in Richmond!"

"Beauregard's in the second one!"

"No, _sir_, that's Stonewall Jackson!"

"D--n Stonewall Jackson, or any other man!" and remarks of a like
character attested the interest felt in this novel contest by others
as well as myself. The boats were pelting away in fine style, each
having a loose rein. Then hurrah, my hearties! the lucky man wins,
and "first come first served!" Two of the number were distinctly
ahead of all the rest, and one of these slightly ahead of the other.

    "But Cutty Sark, before the rest,
    Hard upon noble Maggie prest--"

so that when they came up it was difficult to say which was first,
and both came aboard to dispute the point, while the remaining
unsuccessful ones kept on, as if philosophically resigned to a
fate they could not overcome. Our hazy skipper, who was not very
particular about expenses when Uncle Sam had to foot the bills,
and to end all disputes, took both pilots--a piece of diplomacy I
hardly expected his thick head capable of conceiving. The anchor was
hoisted, and away we sped over the dark, swampy waters of Pamlico
Sound. Roanoke Island lay to our right, and ever and anon we caught
glimpses of the low, swampy lands of Hyde and Plymouth counties. To
the left or south we beheld a continuation of islands, and shortly
after the main land of Cartaret county became visible. It seemed
almost wholly unsettled, the wilderness appearance being only here
and there relieved by the small clearing of a turpentine plantation,
fishing establishment, or the twenty-acre field of a "poor white."

We soon made Neuse river--a noble stream, upon the banks of which
turpentine, pitch, rosin and tar enough might be made to supply
the markets of the North. As we ascended the river the signs of
habitation became more numerous although seeming "few and far
between" to the eye accustomed to the more frequent settlements
on Northern rivers, and the sombre hues of the pine, cedar and
cypress forests were occasionally enlivened by the brighter foliage
of persimmon, walnut and fig trees, the last flourishing here in
great luxuriance, bearing two or rather a continuation of crops
of delicious fruit in a season, and may be seen on every farm or
plantation in patches of from a few trees to orchards of twenty-five
acres in extent. We could also trace the courses of the many
"branches" or creeks from the lighter foliage of the gum and other
water-loving trees.

In the afternoon we passed Slocum's Creek, where Burnside landed
his troops the evening before the battle of Newbern, and soon the
spires of this city, and the shipping, hove in sight; and towards the
close of the day, after a sail of ten hours, during which time we
steamed eighty or ninety miles, we drew up at the pier and prepared
to disembark, thankful that we could again set foot on land and leave
forever the accursed "Haze" and her brutal captain and crew.

"Mind, I tell you," said one of the latter, "bad as you think the
old 'Haze' is, you will before long be glad to be on board of her
again--if you'd be _let_!"

He was laughed at; but I doubt not many of them, ere six months
elapsed, wished themselves anywhere else than where they were. Still
they could not see it then, but felt happy, like young bears, with
all their troubles before them.

The dilapidated and seedy condition of the wharves, and the ruins
of houses, mills and turpentine factories, impressed me with a
premonition of what I should yet witness of the ravages of war in
this fair land.

The city of Newbern bears the appearance of some age, is regularly
laid out, the streets intersecting each other at right angles, and
well protected from the merciless heat of summer by fine old elm
trees, intermixed here and there with the chaney and other trees the
names of which I do not recollect. The city is located at a point of
land formed by the junction of the Trent river with the Neuse, and
has altogether an imposing appearance viewed from the approach by
water.

The Mass. 23d Reg't, Col. Kurtz, (who was provost marshal,) was then
doing provost duty in the city.

When the order for landing was given, each scrambled ashore with the
whole of his household furniture upon his back. After passing through
a part of the city, we struck the railroad bridge, (destroyed by
the rebels after their defeat, but rebuilt by our forces,) crossing
which, and marching a mile or two, halted at the encampment of the
17th on the Trent river, where we were welcomed by the men of the
various companies, many of whom found friends and acquaintances among
the 'raw recruits.' My comrade had friends in the Malden Company (K),
of which we were henceforth to form a part, and we received a hearty
welcome from the members of mess 5, some of the good-natured ones of
which taxed themselves to the amount of nearly a dollar to procure
from the sutler something more palatable for our first meal than
'hard tack and salt horse.'

After 'taps' the lights were put out, and we disposed ourselves upon
the tent-floor to sleep, in the manner of spokes of a cart-wheel,
our feet toward the hub, which consisted of the gun-rack around
the tent-pole, there to revolve in the circle of dreams of home and
friends far distant. Before closing our eyes, however, and while
inquiries were plied and answered thick and fast, one of the mess
startled the newcomers by exclaiming--

"A rat! A rat! I have him!"

"Pass him around!" was the general cry.

"Now I've got him!" another exclaimed. This was followed by a
gurgling noise, as in the first instance.

The 'rat' came nearer, and presently I smelt him. There was no
mistaking that 'rat,'--he came from Jersey and was surnamed
'lightning,' and cost the fourth part of a soldier's pay for one
month. Being eagerly pressed to taste him, I did _taste_, but that
was all--the smell was enough, and I passed him over to the next man.

Sleep at length overcome me, and I dreamed of rats made of glass,
squealing "Jersey lightning! Jersey lightning!" until morning, when
I awoke to find myself surrounded by comrades busy eating breakfast.
Beside me stood a dipper of smoking hot coffee, some hard bread and
salt beef, provided by one of the most thoughtful of my new friends.

After guard-mounting (9 A.M.) the recruits were drawn up in line,
assigned to the various companies, examined by the surgeon, and,
after a few words of encouragement or advice from their captains
(and mayhap a glass of whisky), returned to their quarters, feeling
relieved, no doubt, that the affair was over.

Thus, in the course of about an hour, the recruits were disposed of,
and duly incorporated with the regiment--to share in its messes and
marches, its skirmishes and scratches, its picket duty and plunder,
its whisky and quinine, its tents and hospitals, its hard tack and
salt horse, its pea soup and pea coffee, its baked beans without
brown bread, its pride and its perils, its glory and its graveyards.

The following is a list of the principal staff and line officers of
the 17th, the companies and where they were raised, together with an
account--taken from a diary or journal of Mr. Wm. Noble, of Saugus,
(the first color sergeant)--of the doings of the regiment from its
inception down to the 5th of January, 1862:

_Colonel_--THOMAS I. C. AMORY.

[Mr. Amory was born in Boston, Nov. 27, 1828; entered West Point in
1846, and graduated in 1851, when he was appointed 2d lieutenant in
the 7th Infantry, ordered to Fort Smith in Arkansas, and was promoted
1st lieutenant in 1855. In 1858 he was ordered to Utah, under the
command of the late Gen. Albert Sidney Johnson, who joined the rebels
at the outbreak of the Southern rebellion and was killed at Shiloh;
was ordered to Boston on recruiting service in 1860, and was promoted
to a captaincy May 7, 1861. When the war broke out, he obtained leave
of absence from the War Department, and accepted a commission from
Gov. Andrew as Colonel of the 17th Mass. Vols., on Sept. 7th, 1861.
Since the regiment has been in the Department of North Carolina,
he has acted as General of Brigade; but whether his nomination for
the brigadiership has been confirmed or not, I am unable to say. Of
this I am certain, however, that there are few officers at this time
serving in our armies better capable of wearing the star or more
fully deserving of it than Thomas I. C. Amory.]

_Lieut. Colonel_--JOHN F. FELLOWS.

[Mr. Fellows, of Chelsea, is well known in Boston, having been for
many years connected with its daily press. He was also an active
member of the State Militia. When the war broke out he offered his
services to Gov. Andrew, from whom he received a commission as Lieut.
Colonel of the 17th Reg't on the 21st of August, 1861. He has proved
himself a capable officer and a thoroughly brave man. I shall have
frequent occasion to speak of him hereafter.]

_Major_--JONES FRANKLE. (Now, LUTHER DAY.)

[Mr. Frankle is a Prussian by birth, and served in the war of 1848
in Germany, at which time he did not "fight mit Sigel," but against
him. He received his commission as Major of the 17th on the 1st of
August, 1861; and proved himself a capable and efficient officer. In
June, 1863, he resigned his commission in the 17th for the purpose of
raising an artillery regiment (the 2d Mass. Heavy Artillery) which
he now commands, and which is doing duty in the field and in forts
in the various parts of North Carolina held by our forces. He was
succeeded by senior captain (Co. F) Luther Day, of Haverhill, a very
good officer.]

_Adjutant_--B. N. MANN. (Now, H. A. CHEEVER.)

[Mr. Mann was, I believe, for many years connected with the Boston
Post Office. He is a brave man, and generous as he is brave. He was
succeeded by Mr. Cheever in the Fall of '62.]

_Quartermaster_--Capt. HARRIS was commissioned Quartermaster of the
17th; but resigned in the Fall of '61, and was succeeded by Lieut,
(afterwards Capt.) THOMPSON, who died at Newbern in October, '62.
Lieut. DEXTER succeeded, and is the present incumbent.

_Surgeon_--ISAAC F. GALLOUPE.

[Dr. Galloupe is a hard-working, skillful, efficient and humane man,
and discharges his duty in a manner that commands the respect and
gratitude of every man who comes under his treatment. The Dr. is from
Lynn.]

_Assistant Surgeon_--WM. H. W. HINDS, of Boston.

[The men have no exalted opinion of this Dr.'s kindness or capacity,
though he seems attentive and a hard worker. Perhaps his unpopularity
arises from the fact that he unmercifully doses all whom he considers
'bummers' (i. e., those who are too lazy to do duty and 'play sick'
to escape its performance) with salts, jalap, blue pills, and
especially quinine; but I think he often punishes in this manner the
deserving as well as the guilty.]

Co. _A_--Capt. Henry Splaine, of Haverhill--was raised principally in
Newburyport.

Co. _B_--Capt Enoch F. Tompkins, of Haverhill (vice Capt. S. C.
Bancroft, S. Danvers, resigned)--South Danvers.

Co. _C_--Capt. Nehemiah P. Fuller--Danvers.

Co. _D_--Capt. Ivory N. Richardson, of Malden (Capt. Levi Thompson,
of Cambridge, deceased)--Salisbury and Amesbury.

Co. _E_--Capt. Michael McNamara, of Haverhill--Stoneham and Haverhill.

Co. _F_--Capt. Day (now Major)--Haverhill.

Co. _G_--Capt. G. W. Kenney, of Danvers--Rockport and Salem.

Co. _H_--Capt. J. K. Lloyd--Boston and Fall River.

Co. _I_--Capt. Wm. W. Smith, of Danvers (vice Capt. Thos.
Weir)--Lawrence.

Co. _K_--Capt. Joseph R. Simonds, of Melrose--Malden, Medford and
Saugus.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Recruiting for this regiment commenced as early as the fall of
Fort Sumter, but owing to the embarrassed condition of the State,
the hesitation of the General Government in regard to accepting
troops, and the want of authority on the part of the Governor to
act, this regiment was obliged to wait from week to week without any
decisive answer as to the intention of the Government, concerning
its organization. The companies were formed on the militia basis,
and were desirous of a regimental organization, and to be mustered
into the service, but every effort which the company officers made in
that direction, seemed to be counteracted by the dominant political
and monied influence which was brought to bear in favor of other
regimental organizations, to the disparagement and detriment of the
companies comprising the 17th. While others were splendidly provided
for by private munificence, and hurried off to the seat of war,
this regiment was unprovided by the State with an organization,
clothing, arms, equipments or rations. An opinion prevailed at one
time, that all idea of a regimental organization must be given up,
and the companies enter the United States service, through some other
State organization. Captains Fuller of Danvers, and Day of Haverhill,
determined on bringing the matter to a focus.

"They visited the Governor, and after several ineffectual efforts to
get an audience, at length succeeded, and informed His Excellency
that they were going into the army, and should take their commands
with them; that they wanted to go in a Massachusetts Regiment, and
unless accepted by the State, should go into the Mozart Regiment
of New York, as one or two other companies from Massachusetts had
already done. Orders were given them by the Governor to go into
the camp at Lynnfield. The other companies of which this regiment
is composed, were ordered to the same place, and all arrived there
between the 10th and 12th of July. They were mustered into the United
States service on the 22d, remained in camp until the 23d of August,
when they were ordered to Baltimore, and arrived in that city on
the 25th, at 4 o'clock P.M. The principal duty of the regiment thus
far, had been of a police character, and it was moved about either
as a whole or a part, from one portion of the city to another, as
circumstances required.

"Nov. 15, Co.'s F, K, E, G, H, and C, with Captain Nims' Battery,
were detailed to form a part of the brigade under command of
General Lockwood, for an expedition into the counties of Accomac
and Northampton, Va., for the purpose of breaking up a rebel force
concentrating there. The expedition went on board a steam transport,
and on the 17th arrived at Newtown. Here they pitched their tents for
the night, and the next day marched a distance of sixteen miles into
the country. The rebels had felled trees across the roads in many
places to obstruct the advance of the troops, but they were cleared
away with but little delay. One deserted rebel battery, pierced for
four guns, was found on this day's march.

"On the 19th, the regiment reached Oak Hall, and on the 20th the men
went out fowling, and were very successful, taking a large amount
of game, which was dressed and partaken of by the men with double
relish, as they were on short rations of hard bread and salt junk,
and were much exhausted by the fatigues of their march. On the 21st
marched to Drummondtown, a distance of twenty-seven miles, performing
the journey in eight hours, notwithstanding the many obstructions
thrown across the road by the rebels, and the burned bridges which
required them to march round, following the bend of the streams. On
this march, between Oak Hall and Drummondtown, another rebel battery
was discovered, pierced for fourteen guns. The stars and stripes were
at once raised over it, and three rousing cheers given.

"November 23, took from the rebels seven guns, 150 small arms, one
barrel of powder, besides some swords, shot and shell. At the jail
were stored 8,000 rounds of cartridges and 200 small arms, which
were also taken. Two gun-carriages and one brass howitzer were also
found secreted in the woods, and captured. On the 26th, marched to
Pongoteague, a distance of twelve miles, and found another deserted
battery.

"November 27th, marched from Pongoteague to Franktown, a distance of
twelve miles; and on the 28th, marched to Eastville, thirteen miles,
taking on the way one brass cannon, seven horses, some small arms and
swords, besides several other articles contraband of war. The rebels
had an unfinished earthwork here which they deserted on the approach
of the Federal troops.

"A very large proportion of the arms and military stores captured
were returned by Gen. Lockwood to the parties claiming them,
creating great dissatisfaction among the troops, and rendering the
General liable to the suspicion that he sympathized with the rebels.

"The object of the expedition having been attained, the brigade was
broken up, and the Mass. 17th embarked at Cherrystone on the 1st and
2d of Dec., and sailed on the 4th for Baltimore, where they arrived
the same evening, and went into their old quarters. On the 18th they
commenced building barracks [on Stewart's Place] for winter quarters
and moved into them on the 5th of January." (These barracks are still
standing, and used as a general hospital.)

In February Co.'s F and H relieved the 6th Michigan at McKim's Place,
and K and G the 4th Wisconsin at Patterson's Park, those regt's being
destined to form part of Gen. Butler's force then about to sail for
New Orleans. On the 14th of March four other Co.'s of the 17th were
ordered to Fort Marshall, East Baltimore, to assist in defending that
fortification from an attack by rebel sympathizers, who, emboldened
by the destructive raid of the Merrimac in Hampton Roads, meditated a
rising in Baltimore, if not throughout the State.

When the 17th arrived in Baltimore they found the people of that city
nearly all 'secesh' in sentiment, and seeming only constrained from
rising by the presence in, and passage through, the city, of large
numbers of troops. It will then be readily inferred that the men of
this regiment had no very enviable task to perform in endeavoring
to keep the peace and making these disaffected people see the evil
of their ways. In doing this, however, they were not fools enough
to use moral suasion alone--that would be casting pearls before
swine--No; they used arguments that were far more convincing, such as
street drills, practicing at street firing, &c., all of which turned
the hate of the 'secesh' citizens into fear--and, finally, their
fear became a feeling of respect. What if the men were insulted
every time they walked the streets--the women (who were the most
outspoken) at length became weary of abusing them, and the men who
attempted to insult them never tried that game a second time; for
they found in the men of this regiment a spirit that would brook no
abuse--an indomitable, dare-devil disposition that met them half way
with a bowie knife as long and as keen as their own, and a pistol
as deadly. Thus they fought their way to respect, and this latter
feeling ripened into affection, which is shown by the fact that when
the regiment was about to sail for North Carolina, the ladies of
Baltimore presented it with a magnificent silk flag, upon which was
painted a fine portrait of Washington.

On the 27th of March, '62, the regiment embarked at Baltimore
for Newbern, North Carolina, which place they reached on the 1st
of April, and encamped on a field to the west of the city,--near
where Fort Totten now stands, and which was then in process of
construction. On the 7th of April the regiment was ordered out on
picket duty--the left wing to Jackson's place on the Trent road, and
the right wing to a place called the Red House on the Neuse road,
relieving the 24th and 27th Mass. regt's. The regiment remained
on picket until the 30th May, during which time they had frequent
skirmishes with the enemy, and made several raids and forays into the
enemy's country. Shortly after the regiment went to Jackson's place,
a few companies made a dash about nine miles up the Trent road to a
church, where they had a smart brush with the 'rebs,' two of whom
were killed and one wounded, and one taken prisoner. It was here
that one of those ludicrous incidents occurred which often serve to
relieve the dark outline of war's grim visage. When the enemy were
come up with, and firing became frequent, Lt. Col. Fellows ordered
the men to open right and left to let the artillery pass to the
front. One of the captains, mistaking the full purport of the order,
and thinking the ranks were to be opened to allow the rebels a fair
field and an open road to come into close quarters with his men, sang
out:

"Open right and left, and let the d--d scallywags through!"

Captain Weir, of Co. I, with his command, and as many volunteers as
wished to accompany them, made a raid to Pollockville to capture
cotton, and anything else that might prove of value to the "rebs" in
their belligerent character. Now, as this was not the first time Tom
Weir (as he was familiarly called) had invaded the sanctity of that
village, the rebs had a special eye to his movements, and lay in wait
for him.

He had a mule team loaded with cotton, corn and other plunder
preceding him on his return, which the rebs in ambush allowed to
pass; but just as the company got opposite to where they were
concealed, they poured in a volley which killed three and wounded
the same number--and put the men into such a panic that they fled.
The captain stood, and endeavored to rally them, but to no purpose,
and he had to follow and leave those who had fallen to their fate
(which was being stripped of arms, equipments, clothes, and whatever
valuables they had upon them), until rescued by the reinforcement
which came up promptly--to find the rebels flown. For this Captain
Weir was court-martialed, and dismissed the service--a sentence which
was universally condemned by the men, who considered him a brave
officer, having done all a man could do under the circumstances.

Captain Lloyd of Company H, next tried his hand in Pollocksville, but
lost three men by the upsetting of a boat in the Trent river on his
outward march. He, however, took some plunder and two prisoners.

The results of all these scouts and forays were the capture of
several thousand dollars' worth of cotton, corn, cattle, hens, &c.,
(there must have been _foul_ play somewhere).

The regiment returned to Newbern on the 30th of May, and on the 26th
of June were ordered to Swift Creek--upon approaching the bridge
leading across which they were fired upon by the rebels (without
sustaining any damage) who had a battery masked by a breastwork or
fort of shingles. The 17th charged across the bridge in fine style
(the bridge was a lightly built one, and swayed and shook under
the combined weight of 600 men in such a manner as to lead to the
belief that it would break down, but it didn't); but upon crossing
they found the enemy had flown. Three companies went up the road
in pursuit some distance, but the 'rebs' were nowhere to be found.
They halted near a dwelling house, when some of the men went into an
adjoining negro hut, where a pot of meat and cabbage was in process
of being cooked, which they proceeded to confiscate; but just as they
had commenced their feast an officer came up and drove them off,
saying:

"Dum thee, did thee coom here to ploonder."

At the same time, it was asserted, though I don't believe it, that
the officer who thus drove them from the feast had his pockets filled
with sweet potatoes and other "ploonder." Three prisoners were taken.
One of them a lad about 16 years old, was thus interrogated by the
Major:

"Vat for you be guerilla for?"

"I'm not a guerilla, sir; I'm in the regular Confederate service."

"Vat for you lay in ambush, den?"

"I didn't lay in any bush, sir; I was standing behind a tree."

"Ha! You be von rascally guerilla, and we vill shtring you up to a
tree, ven we arrive in Newbern!"

But it is needless to say this threat was not carried out.

The reg't here received orders to rejoin the division (the 9th army
corps) which was about to leave the Department with Gen. Burnside,
and started of a Sunday morning 28th (without breakfast) on their
return. The weather was intensely hot, and the sand on the road was
ankle deep. The case, however, was pressing, and the men were urged
to their utmost; but the task was too much for them,--and when the
reg't arrived at the landing about 4 P.M., after a march of 22 miles,
it numbered little more than a full company--the remaining 400 or 500
being distributed along the road for miles back. They, however, kept
coming in squads of from two to twenty during the remaining part of
the afternoon and evening--and a more tired and thoroughly used up
lot of men it would be difficult to find anywhere. To make matters
worse, when the reg't arrived at the landing opposite Newbern, they
found no transportation for them, and nothing wherewith to satisfy
the cravings of hunger. It was not until about 12 o'clock at night
that they received a ration of hard bread and salt meat; but no
vessels arrived to transport them across, and they were forced to lay
out upon the sandy beach, without shelter, in a pelting, pitiless
rain, which had set in early in the evening. Next morning a couple
of scows or flat-boats arrived, and they were taken across; but Gen.
Burnside pitying their forlorn and used up condition, and thinking
it would be an act of cruelty to put men in such a state on board
transports, ordered the 6th New Hampshire reg't to take their place.
Thus the Seventeenth were cheated by fate out of their share of the
glory of South Mountain, Antietam, Bull Run 2d, Fredericksburg,
Chancellorsville, and Knoxville; and were compelled to silently and
doggedly face and fight the most deadly of human foes in its own
malarial fens and swamps.

About the first of July the reg't was ordered to camp on the south
side of the Trent river near the county bridge, to do picket and
outpost duty, which consisted of sending a company to Bray's
Ferry and plantation about three miles out, and another to Evans'
Mills--seven miles down the railroad towards Beaufort.

About July 25th the regiment went in an expedition to Pollocksville,
and constructed a bridge across the Trent river for the entire column
to cross upon, after reaching which place, Col. Amory, who was in
command, decided to push on to Trenton; but upon approaching to
within four miles of the latter place he found the enemy too strong,
and withdrew without bringing on an engagement.

August 20th, six companies of the 17th went to Swift Creek, again,
accompanied by a section of the New York Marine Artillery and
four boat howitzers. Lt. Col. Fellows, who was in command of the
expedition, having missed the boat that conveyed the reg't and
artillery across the river, the command devolved upon the Major,
who marched them about a mile from the landing, and halted to await
the Colonel's coming. The column halted opposite a dwelling, and,
as is often the case under like circumstances, there was a rush for
the well to fill canteens. Two of the men, however, strayed into a
field and were making a flank movement upon a pile of tumble-down log
outbuildings, supposed to abound in hens, chickens, eggs, &c. One
of these men, a very tall and large specimen of humanity was named
Gilman; the other was a small man, and, for my purpose, nameless. The
vigilant Major detected this unauthorized flanking affair, and, being
determined to put a stop to all such unmilitary proceedings, sung out:

"Vat for you shtray off dat way? Come back, I say to you! Dou-bel
_twit_!" (quick)

The little man obeyed, and came back at a dog-trot. Gilman, however,
hastened back slowly--at much too slow a gait to suit his impatient
superior, who yelled out again:

"Dou-bel twit!--I say--dou-_bel_ TWIT!"

But no faster came Gilman on, and the Major (who was a little man)
rushed to him, and seizing him by the coat collar as he was crossing
a fence, dragged him over,--then, drawing his sword and flourishing
it about the head of the still doggedly defiant Gilman, exclaimed:

"You tink, because I am small, I'm be afraid of you? I will let you
know! Dou-bel twit! now, or I will make two Gilman of you!"

There was a man called Tom Croke in Co. E--an extremely hard
ticket--quarrelsome, venomous, and altogether thoroughly depraved.
He had been a source of trouble and annoyance to the officers of the
company ever since he came into it. On this expedition, I believe, he
shot the top of one of his fingers off--an accident, as he told the
captain (McNamara)--

"Devil d--n you," replied the latter, "it's a pity it wasn't your
head!"

Tom Croke, for this or some other misdemeanor, was subsequently
court-martialed and sent to Fort Macon to serve out his time, from
which place he escaped to the rebels. On his way from the Fort to
rebeldom he met a deserter coming into our lines, whom he directed
as to the best route to pursue, and who in turn gave him such
information as he desired to facilitate his escape.

When the expedition arrived at the bridge over Swift Creek it was
evening. Our cavalry, which had preceded them, were bivouacked for
the night on the other side, and our men at first took them to be
rebels, but were soon undeceived.

There was a store-house in the village of Swift Creek, containing a
variety of articles in the dry goods, grocery and merchandise line.
Some of the boys smelt the plunder, and proceeded to confiscate.
The wife of the owner of the store suspecting what was going on,
went to Col. Fellows and told him the men were breaking in, and he
immediately repaired to the scene of operations to put a stop to such
work. A member of Co. K, who had been left on the watch, gave warning
of the colonel's approach, and the raiders hid.

"What ho! there,--what does all this mean? What are you doing here?"
(To Co. K man.)

"I'm on guard, sir."

"All right, madam," said the colonel; "you see there is a guard on."

What plunder the boys obtained it would be bootless to relate.

The expedition returned to Newbern, burning the bridge after them.

The camp of the 17th was situated in what was formerly a cotton
field, on the banks of the river Trent, affording excellent
facilities for washing clothes and bathing, of which most of the men
availed themselves,--and at all hours of the day men could be seen
bathing in the river, or squatted along its margin washing clothes.
It seemed at first sight to one unacquainted with the peculiarities
of the climate, to be a well chosen and healthy location (and indeed
it was about the best in the vicinity); but the hanging mosses that
everywhere shrouded the few solitary cedars which still survived the
ravages of the pioneer's axe, showed the unmistakeable presence of
fever and ague--that pest of new and warm countries. About a couple
of hundred yards up the river, close to the county bridge, a fort
was in process of completion,--the work of 'contrabands,' numbers of
whom I observed busily employed in and around it. Beyond this were
encamped some light batteries; while still further on, and at the
crossing of a deep, sluggish stream called Brice's Creek, a number of
detailed men were at work constructing a block-house (a square-built
fort, made of hewn logs, compactly put together--and most
conveniently constructed to be knocked to pieces by a six-pounder
about a poor devil's ears). Between the artillery camp and the
block-house was a brick dwelling-house, once the property of Gov.
Speight, the late owner and family of which fled after the battle of
Newbern. This house was afterwards demolished to supply bricks for
chimneys of barracks built near by in the Fall. To the rear of this
house, about 75 yards distant, beautifully shaded by fine old trees,
was the tomb of Gen. Speight, a revolutionary hero, and one of the
early Governors of North Carolina.

The plain on which the 17th were encamped is about two and a half
miles long, and from one-half to two miles wide, and had, evidently,
before the rude hand of war obliterated their boundaries and
landmarks, consisted of two or three plantations. This plain was an
excellent place for drilling, and nearly all reviews were held there.

The whole field gave evidence of having, at different times and
in different parts, been camped upon by infantry, artillery, and
cavalry--and everywhere evidences of military occupation were visible
in the shape of broken bottles, dilapidated canteens, dippers and
plates, and remnants of worn-out shoes, coats, blouses, pants, and
harness, forgotten tent-stakes, sink holes and caved-in wells. While
overhead and around, unnoticed and unmolested, on lazy wing sailed
the huge turkey-buzzard, scenting the dead carcase and decayed
garbage from afar, and patiently biding the absence of man from its
vicinity ere he descended to gorge himself therewith.

I noticed a great variety of wild flowers in the fields, some of
which were very beautiful. A species of cactus grows wild here;
but is a very inferior kind. Wild garlic is also to be met with
everywhere. A coarse grass, called Bear's grass, grows in bunches
here, the leaves of which, when subjected to a roasting process in
hot ashes, are uncommonly strong, and take the place of small ropes
and cords with the natives, who apply it in a variety of ways, from
the suspension of a dead pig to the tying of a shoe, or temporarily
supplying the place of a lost button. From the centre of these
bunches of Bears grass a stem five or six feet high shoots up in the
spring-time, which is crowned with a crest of yellow flowers very
beautiful to behold at a distance.

A few days' experience of camp-life gave me a better knowledge of
its comforts and discomforts, its tribulations and my philosophy.
It was the middle of August, and the weather very warm. The first
night of my abode in my new quarters was undisturbed from any cause,
from the fact that I was tired after the sea-voyage. But the second
night I was destined to feel some of the annoyances to be endured
by campaigners in warm climates. Mosquitoes revel in this congenial
atmosphere, as do also the blue-tail fly, and a species of biting
insect like the common house-fly, while gallinippers, gnats, ants,
and biting sand-fleas, (which play second fiddle to the old-fashioned
iron-clad chaps, their bites making one squirm as if twinged by a
bad conscience,) and grey-backs, all attack the hapless sleeper
in succession, in a body, by detail, in squads, battalion,--in
brigades drawn up in echelon--in front, flank and rear. They scale
the walls of his fortress in the very teeth of a fierce cannonade of
imprecations--burst the barriers of bedclothes--penetrate the abatti
of woolen socks and tightly-tied drawers--and though, even after
gaining the inside of your works, they are subjected to a deadly
cross-fire of small arms, yet they invariably "attain the object of
their reconnoissance." The bayonet is powerless against them, and
they never draw off from the attack till fairly exhausted with the
feast of blood.

What surprised me most was the utter indifference manifested by
the veterans to the petty annoyance of vermin and insects, and the
matter-of-fact way in which they overhauled their clothing and
disposed of the grey-backs when found.

For about a week the recruits had "fine times," as the soldiers
thought, having nothing to do but "bum around," and sleep--when they
could, which was mostly in the day time. The days were excessively
hot, as were the nights until about 11 or 12 o'clock, when it became
uncomfortably cold.

During this week of leisure, I pretty thoroughly explored the region
in the vicinity of our camp, and visited Newbern on 'pass,' but
found nothing special there to note, if I may except the fact that
there were many really cozy and comfortable-looking dwellings, and
numerous flower and fruit gardens--some of which gave evidences of
former tasteful ownership, but which seemed of late to have come in
for their share of the general neglect and destruction. Those of the
inhabitants who still clung to their homes seemed to wear a sullen
and discontented look, with some exceptions, and these were of the
mercantile class, who, with the sutlers and others who follow the
wake of armies, seemed to fall in for their fair proportion of the
trade.

About the greatest curiosity to me was what was called the new
cemetery, in the upper section or suburb of the city,--the wall
enclosing which is built of shell-rock--a curious fossil concrete
obtained in some part of the State--where I do not know. There are
many graves, and a few tasteful tombstones. Beyond this in what has
become an open field or common, are several soldiers' graveyards
consecrated by the poor fellows whose bodies repose there, who for
love of fatherland, left home and kindred to return no more.

My first duty on picket was at Mr. Bray's plantation. "Old Bray"
the boys called him, and being on the outpost which was near his
house, I determined to give the old gentleman a call. I found Mr.
and Mrs. Bray at home, the former seated on the piazza reading a
newspaper, and the latter squatted on the doorstep doing 'nothing
in particular.' They were a lean pair, (but their _leaniny_ was not
on our side, as I afterwards found), and had a family of five or
six lean boys and girls. They certainly looked an unromantic enough
realization of our ideal Southern planter and his family. Mr. Bray
was apparently about 45 years of age, and his wife perhaps as old,
although she seemed much older. They both looked sour and cross
enough to dispense with the use of vinegar at meal-time. But they
did not seem indisposed to have a chat with the Yankee 'hirelings,'
and soon I was made acquainted with all their griefs--the husband
commencing the relation of them, but the wife invariably winding up.

I then for the first time learnt how this benevolent planter and his
amiable wife had been abused--how, first of all, notwithstanding a
'protection' from Gen. Burnside, their 'niggers' had been enticed
away, all efforts to get them back proving fruitless, owing to the
"abolition officers and soldiers."

"Niggers and pigs were the only things that ever paid any ways well,"
put in Mrs. Bray.

They had only five pigs and three 'niggers' left now, and did not
know how soon they'd go off with the rest.

Some of the soldiers who had been on picket near their plantation had
behaved very bad, and had stolen and destroyed much of their corn and
all their water melons (melancholy to relate); and Co. K of the 17th,
was the worst of the lot--and the lady wound up with the expression
of a hope "that the new recruits would be more of gentlemen than the
old soldiers, and not seek to injure her as they had done."

Mr. Bray then showed me his melon patch which, though evincing some
traces of the recent vandal act, still bore a goodly number, which
I made a note of. He also showed me a patch of cotton, in full
bloom,--and after another hour of desultory conversation, I left with
the impression that old Bray was a 'great man on a small scale,' but
his wife was the greater of the two.

About September 1st a storm came on, accompanied by rain, which
lasted that and the following day and night, giving us and our traps
a thorough soaking. During all this time I did not sleep a wink. The
third morning, wet, sleepless and weary, I was detailed for guard,
and was put on the third relief (from 1 to 3 P.M., and 1 to 3 A.M.),
and during the first two hours of my guard was refreshed by a 'jolly'
shower of rain, which came in at my coat collar and soon filled and
overflowed my boots.

When the third relief turned in for the night, I lay down with the
rest, on the wet ground, and attempted to sleep; but it was no
go--so, lighting my pipe (sole comforter at times), I left the tent,
and sat under a tree near by, and smoked the hours away (rain or
no rain) until the third relief fell in, when taking my musket and
falling in to my place, I was soon on my post, which extended from
a tree (blown over by the wind) to the river bank, about 85 paces
distant. I felt drowsy, but paced my beat rapidly to keep awake,
until tired out, I leaned against the inclined trunk of the fallen
tree to rest awhile. My brain was in a whirl, and everything about
me seemed to reel and oscillate unsteadily. It was moonlight, but
cloudy. More than once I thought I detected myself napping, and shook
myself, and pinched my nose and ears to keep awake. My comrade,
whose beat joined mine, came up occasionally, and we exchanged a few
words. I exhorted him if he caught me napping to rouse me. He had
left me, and was near the other end of his beat, when, on looking
after him, I beheld, about ten paces from me, as plainly as if in
daylight, the form of a huge negro. He wore a broad-brimmed hat, a
linen coat blue or _dark_ striped, vest, white shirt (seemingly of
cotton,) open at the neck, around which was a colored handkerchief
tied sailor fashion, the ends hanging down loose. His pants seemed
of light fabric, checked. I could see his countenance plainly. It
seemed, if anything, smiling, though there was something peculiar
in its expression, as well as the attitude, for the figure seemed
leaning its weight on one foot, its left hand resting on the hip,
and the right arm hanging loosely by its side. The expression of the
darky was so peculiar--jaunty, saucy--and he looked full at me, that
for a moment I was taken by surprise,--and, during that moment made
the observations just recorded--but quickly recovering, I brought my
piece to 'charge,' and called out--

"Who comes there?"

[Illustration]

But no response was deigned by my darky visitor. I challenged again,
and again, with the same result, the object still retaining its
position, and regarding me with the same complacent look--when my
comrade, who heard my first challenge came up, and inquired what
the matter was, just as I was about bringing my piece to 'present'
to fire. I pointed to the object of my challenging, who still kept
his ground in the same position. He laughed at what he supposed was
a joke I was trying to come on him--not being able to see anything
in the spot I pointed out,--and resumed his beat. The thought then
occurred to me for the first time that what I saw was not real. What
then was it? I asked myself. Surely I am not troubled with that
disease known as 'nigger on the brain!' And I again leaned against
the trunk of the fallen tree to think the subject over, all the while
keeping my eyes fixed upon the object of my thoughts, which stood the
scrutiny unmoved. Now, I am not superstition by nature, and still
less so by education and experience,--and so I viewed the apparition
without a particle of fear or awe, and tried to account to myself for
its appearance in the most natural and rational manner. I came to
the conclusion there and then, that want of rest and the stimulation
of the coffee and tobacco I had been indulging in unduly excited my
brain, which produced the hallucination, on the same principle that
it is produced in certain stages of drunkenness, called delirium
tremens. This was a very fair deduction; but still in front of me
stood the grinning darky, as plainly as before. I thought then I
would test the unreality of the apparition in another way. If it were
an optical illusion, the figure must recede as I advanced, or follow
as I retreated. I accordingly advanced towards it; but, strange to
say, it remained in the same spot, until I was within arm's length,
when stretching forth my hand I grasped--nothing. I walked over the
exact spot where the figure stood, and returned to my old stand, to
be still more puzzled to see the figure in the same spot, with the
same expression on its countenance, but with _both_ arms hanging
down by its side this time. More puzzled still, I retreated to see
if it would follow; but no--there it stood still gazing after me.
I took three or four turns up and down my beat, and on each return
to the fallen tree beheld the figure in the same position as last
seen. I then halted, determined to watch if other changes would
manifest themselves in shadowy being before me. My comrade came
towards me again, and I reiterated my former tale of the apparition.
Still he couldn't see it. But, as I was yet talking of it, and still
persisting I saw it, the phantom darky disappeared--not suddenly, but
seeming to melt away gradually.

    "He vanished in the darkness, like a beam
    Of cold, gray moonlight in a wintry stream."

This is the first and only ghost I have ever had the pleasure of
seeing, or, more properly speaking, fancying I saw. What caused its
appearance I neither know nor care, and only relate the fact (or
fancy) because I think it singular.

On a Sunday morning, about 10 o'clock, we started for Evans' Mills,
to relieve Co. E, which had overstayed their time one week--doubtless
from the fact that a large orchard of apple trees was upon the
plantation, the fruit of which was a luxury they were loth to
leave--small blame to them.

After a march of about two hours, we came out upon a clearing just
beyond a continuation of the rebel line of defences to the right of
the Beaufort railroad. Here we saw deserted houses, and a cotton gin;
but no living creature of the human or brute creation, and the place
looked solitary and deserted enough--its own sad elegy of war written
plainly in the solitude which brooded over the absence of those who
once gave animation to the scene, and made 'the wilderness blossom
like the rose' with fields of cotton and gardens of bright flowers.

About a mile further on, after passing through a narrow belt of
woods, we came out upon Evans' plantation. On our right was a field
of some eighty acres, about half of which was covered with a young
growth of apple trees. On the left was a field of about twenty acres,
at the further end of which was the plantation house, with its negro
huts, surrounded with the inevitable grove of elegant shade trees.
Just opposite the front gate of the mansion, the road turned sharp
to the right, and on looking ahead, we beheld a block-house, nearly
completed, in the rear of which was the encampment, and our future
abode. Upon reaching the block-house, the road took a turn to the
left, down a short, steep hill, skirting the bank of a stream, which
it crossed on a rude plank bridge, still turning toward the left.
After crossing the bridge, a grist mill lay on the right, and about
60 yards on the left, on the dam of a magnificent pond of water stood
a large saw mill, which ran two sets of saws when in operation. It
was then idle, the dam having broke away. The road, after crossing
the flume of the grist mill led on to the negro village--quite a
collection of comfortable houses--built on each side of the cross
road, which led to Pollocksville. Just before coming on to the
Pollocksville road, in a field to the right was a large cotton gin
and press. At the intersection of these roads was our outpost in the
day time, the guard being drawn in to the mills at night.

The army wagons which accompanied, (with tents, cooking utensils,
quartermasters' stores, company baggage, &c.,) arriving a few minutes
after, the men soon had plenty to do in erecting tents, and fixing
themselves as comfortably as circumstances would permit. There was a
little board shanty with two bunks, lately occupied by the drummers
of Co. E. To this my comrade and I 'froze'; and, having got our traps
snugly bestowed--our guns and equipments slung up, and our blankets
spread--we sallied forth in quest of plunder.

Our first raid was upon the orchard near by; but it had been picked
bare. We, however, subjected every tree to a searching examination,
and as the reward of our toil returned with about half a bushel
of a apples. On our way back we passed through a small field of
sweet potatoes, to which we returned with a sack, and soon were in
possession of a bushel of very fine ones.

During our absence, foraging, the tents had all been put up, and the
men were busy arranging their traps. Charley (our French cook) had
not been idle meantime, and had a blazing fire, and coffee ready.
Procuring from him a pot, we soon had the satisfaction of seeing some
of the sweet potatoes, the fruits of our late raid, smiling upon
us, and welcoming us to the feast. Giving the cook a couple of good
ones for his accommodation, we retired to our cabin with our coffee,
sweet potatoes and 'salt horse,' and made one of the most hearty and
satisfactory meals I have ever known. Appetite was our best sauce,
exercise had sharpened it, and the new and palatable food agreed
so well with the disposition of the stomach, that it had ample
satisfaction in embracing its best friend.

After eating, with pipe lit, I started forth to take a view of the
mansion house, and its surroundings. On entering the front gate,
I was struck with the size and beauty of an immense beech tree,
whose wide extending branches covered a circle of over 100 feet in
diameter--and, Yankee fashion, I immediately computed that if cut
down it would make over five cords of firewood. It must have proved a
cool and inviting shade for the planter and his family in the summer
time. Approaching its huge trunk, I observed that the Yankee jacknife
had been at work and covered it with the representative names of
men from nearly every United States regiment that had ever been in
the department. Besides the huge beech there were numerous other
trees--elm, cedar, chaney--and the beautiful flowering althea.

The house was an ordinary two story one, containing about 7 rooms,
set on brick blocks about three feet from the ground, and serving as
a cool place of resort for the pigs, fowl, and youthful, curly-headed
negroes, during the heat of the day. This, together with the
plantation attached of some 10,000 acres, seven or eight hundred of
which were cleared, together with the mills, and about 120 'head of
darkies' (all of which excepting two old negroes and their wives,
had been 'run up country'), belonged to a Mr. Evans, a son-in-law of
Ex-Gov. Morehead, (after whom Morehead city had been named).

Evans was, as I afterwards found, a very influential man in that
part of the country, and had early become a convert to the doctrine
of secession. He raised a company of cavalry, and equipped them at
his own expense. He took part in the battle of Newbern, and it must
have been a bitter trial for him to leave so fine a property, though
I believe he had another plantation in the upper part of the State.
The regiment to which his company was attached, remained for some
time in the State, and had more than one encounter with our cavalry.
They were, however, finally ordered to join the army of Virginia, and
were, no doubt, engaged in all its conflicts with our army. At the
battle of Gettysburg, Evans, who had become a colonel, was wounded,
taken prisoner, and died shortly after in hospital at Baltimore.

Such has been the fate of an infatuated man, who, like thousands
of others, left a prosperous and comfortable home to plunge in the
suicidal fray against the Government under which he was reared and
had prospered. He may have repented his folly when too late; but I
doubt it. Such men are as little given to repentance as they are to
truth, justice and reason.

At the back of the mansion house were two negro huts, where those
who were domestics lodged. The body of the negroes were lodged in
the village before mentioned about a mile away. Doubtless there was
design in this--as the master of bondmen must have lived as insecure
amongst his slaves as the tyrant in the midst of his vassals.

Adjoining the negro-huts attached to the mansion were the various
outhouses and stables, behind which the land sloped to waters of the
tortuous stream which emptied into the mill-pond further down.

To my view Evans' Mills at first appeared a lonely place; but a
further acquaintance with it materially altered my opinion. Were it
not that the restraints which discipline imposes upon the soldier,
living in this place would be quite agreeable. There was no lack of
game of all kinds, from the red deer, the nocturnally rambling coon
and possum, to the partridge, wild pigeons, grouse, waterfowl, and
fish. The latter were the only legitimate sport for the soldiers
(and many a finny inhabitant of those sluggish streams--though shy
at times--graced his tin platter), as the necessities of war forbid
the use of fire-arms upon any other game than men (butternuts--and
some of them mighty hard nuts at that). Occasionally, however, the
negroes, and such of the white inhabitants as were left behind 'when
the rush of war was past,' with their coon dogs, and well provided
with pine knots to guide them, would sally forth of a night and
traverse the banks of the numerous streams and branches, and rarely
would they proceed far until the peculiar bay of the dogs denoted
that they had lit upon the track of a wary possum or coon, in the
direction of which the hunters would hasten, to find the 'critter
treed,' and if the tree was too large to cut down, one climbed, and
with a club killed or dislodged him. A coon hunt has rarely been
unsuccessful, from the great number of the 'animals' abounding, and
the excellent training of the dogs, which seem to take after this
kind of game as naturally as a cat takes after mice.

The streams are generally belted with fine groves of cedar, gum,
black walnut, locust, and ash trees, intermixed, the whole bearing
their proportion of parasites, some of which entwine themselves so
closely round the trees they select to climb on as almost to become
incorporated with them in the process of time, and look like huge
serpents endeavoring to crush out their life but they look beautiful
in the summer time, covered with leaves and fruit (for they are not
all poisonous or profitless), and many a bunch of rich, purple grapes
has the writer purloined from the midst of those masses of tangled
creepers. This intermingling of hardwood trees with the evergreen
pines had a pleasing effect upon me, as it recalled the remembrance
of the northern forests where the pine, hemlock and spruce were often
in the minority.

Occasionally, however, the explorer of these Southern woods, would
suddenly come upon a cypress swamp, and he would there behold the
incarnation of all that is dismal in a landscape,--especially if,
as when I first beheld one, the time was just before twilight, and
the slanting rays of the sun had ceased to penetrate the masses of
the forest foliage. A picture, however finely wrought, would fail
to give an idea of the utter gloom and funereal solemnity of such a
scene; and if any lover or hater of humanity should wish to seek a
solitude where, unmolested, he could mourn over the wickedness and
folly of mankind, and make himself thoroughly miserable, I would
advise him to select a spot in full view of a cypress swamp,--and
if he will not suffer enough, do enough penance, and weep enough to
wash out and atone for the world's sins--his own included,--in the
space of the twelve months, then it will not be the fault of the
swamp, I can vouch. I do not wonder that the ancients, even aside
from their superstitions, selected the cypress as an emblem of
death and mourning--for no one can behold that tree in its native
solitude and state without thinking of all the friends he had lost,
and would be likely to lose for the next hundred years.--Picture to
yourself, gentle reader, the bed of a sluggish stream, enriched by
the accumulations of vegetable mould for unknown ages, until the
water forced itself through a deep, narrow channel, winding hither
and thither; that at a former indefinite period, the seeds deposited
on this mould germinated, and there arose from its slimy depths,
like ghosts that had 'burst their cerements,' the mighty cypress
trees; that they continued to grow slowly upward, but toward the
base the trunks swelled to undue proportions like the paunches of
gluttons--and undoubtedly the cypress is the glutton among trees,
as its huge cone-shaped roots are well adapted to the ravenous
absorption of air, and the rich liquified food that is forever in
process of formation around and above them. And thus they tower up in
the midst of their slimy abode, huge, bilious and bloated, and look
like a grim array of fallen spirits, which, having attempted to cross
into daylight, got stuck in the mud of their mythical Styx.

Such is a cypress swamp.

In nationality the men of Co. K comprised Americans, Canadians,
Provincials, English, Irish, Scotch, French and Germans. In
disposition and character, they were nearly as diverse as their
nationality; but taken as specimens of the countries they
represented, were about as intelligent and respectable a body of men
as could well be expected from such material.

The Captain, Joseph R. Simonds, (for many years a bookbinder in
Spring Lane, Boston,) was a thoroughly patriotic and honest man, a
good soldier, with many virtues, and a few faults and foibles (and
what man has not these to a greater or less extent.) He took great
pride in the well-being and efficiency of his company; and its good
name, and the praise of his superiors for cleanliness, superiority in
drill, or having a small sick-list, were to him matters of just pride
and gratulation,--and frequently, after a creditable performance
on drill or parade, he would snap his fingers with delight, and,
after dismissal, invite them all to his quarters for a treat. He
was careful about the quality of their food, and whenever he could
(which was not often) would procure such articles of luxury and
dietic change as would be most likely to promote health. He was
uniformly kind, obliging and considerate, and did not look upon his
men as mere pieces of mechanism that moved when he pulled the wires.
He considered them _men_,--socially his equals, though in reality
under his command, and, to a certain extent at his mercy. He rarely
abused his authority--never maliciously; and though he occasionally
did injustice to some deserving men--it was, I think, more from
an error of judgment than through design. Yet he was popular and
unpopular with the men. Soldiers like sailors will grumble, and it is
a privilege they often abuse; but, the fit over, they all invariably
acknowledged his worth, and disposition to treat them well.

The first Lieut (J. A. Greeley) was of a quiet disposition, a strict
(but not over strict) disciplinarian, and a man of considerable
genius in engineering (he subsequently had the planning and
superintendence of several fortifications near Newbern). He was a
strict temperance man, and wished the men to practice this virtue
also. He has since been detached from the regiment, and commissioned
captain in the 2d regiment of Heavy Artillery.

But I cannot enumerate the names of all the company,--and will
content myself with mentioning a few of the 'characters'--and the
first that occurs to my mind is "old Jesse Hitchings" (forgive me,
Jesse, for putting your name in print; but you need be no more
ashamed of it than you were of your old cap riddled by the enemy's
bullets). Jesse was a character--a tall, thin old bachelor of over
fifty--of a pleasant, benevolent disposition, a good soldier, an
uncompromising patriot (no com_promises_ with the rebels, was his
motto)--and a successful hand at poker. It is related of Jesse, that
when the company was doing picket duty at the Deep Gully, he lit a
fire one night at the outpost, and when his time came to mount guard,
leisurely walked up and down in front of the fire, giving the enemy's
pickets a fair chance, if so disposed, to pick him off--and upon
being warned of his danger, coolly replied--

"Well, if I'm to be shot I'll be shot, I suppose--what's the odds."

In camp, on guard, in the bivouac of the battle-field, wherever there
was a fire, Jesse could be seen at any hour of the night bending
over the same, his chin resting between his knees, warming his long
skinny hands--sometimes asleep; but mostly half awake or dozing. Poor
Jesse--he is one of the few sterling men who act well their part
without ostentation, and are rarely noticed for their real worth.

Another character was "Billy Patterson" (he was called "Billy,"
though his name was James). He was a hard-working, rough-spoken
fellow (his general salutation being "G' along till haal wi' ye!")
Billy, though a good soldier, and brave in action, did not like guard
or picket duty--and, being an excellent cook, generally contrived by
a species of finesse--not always of an unexceptionable character--to
work himself into a good berth, with pots for his jolly companions.
Charley (our French cook) shortly after going to Evans' Mills fell
sick, and Billy took his place--which he held afterwards for a long
time, and flourished and bullied when sober, and when drunk abused
every one--and gave the mess very good dinners.

Sam Kenny was another whom I considered a character. He was nicknamed
'Dickens,' being a great admirer of that author. 'Dickens' was an
intelligent man, but fond of whiskey; and whenever he imbibed too
much was sure to get in to some scrape or other, which generally
ended in depositing him in the guardhouse. It is related of him, that
being one night in Newbern, on a 'bender,' he applied for admission
into a house (where he was acquainted), but the lady noticing his
condition, refused; when, after repeated failures to get in, becoming
convinced of the uselessness of any further trial, and by way of
revenge, he put his mouth to the keyhole, and shouted--

"I say, madam, do you chew snuff?"

Now be it known that snuff chewing is quite a common practice among
the women in and around Newbern, and for aught I know is a regular
Southern institution; but those of any pretension to refinement
never use it, or if they do, it is on the sly--and a greater insult
could not be offered a woman than to ask her if she chewed snuff.
'Dickens,' no doubt, had his revenge.

A young fellow, named J. E. Mills, had a mania for cutting his
autograph upon trees, walls, fences, and objects in every place he
visited. It is related that during a freshet, when a lot of logs in
the river above the dam broke loose, every one of them contained one
or more inscriptions of "J. E. M.," cut in with an axe or knife.

William Stack 'was a soldier every inch of him.' He had been in
the British service over ten years, and served in India. His
peculiarities were numerous; but were redeemed by a strict integrity,
a love of duty and a thorough knowledge of his business. I often
wondered why men, his inferiors in many of the most essential
qualifications of a soldier, were promoted over him, while he
remained a private. He entertained a great veneration for the British
army--and thought the British soldier not only superior, but better
paid, better clothed, and better cared for than the American soldier.
He had a good memory, a rich fund of anecdote, and many a weary hour
has he beguiled by the relation of scenes and adventures in 'the land
of the palm and the poppy.'

John Smith was another who had served in the British army. He was a
good soldier, an unpretending man, and the pertinacity with which he
defended the government, (there are two parties in the army as well
as here), his strong anti-slavery sentiments when nearly all were
down on the poor negro, and the confidence he felt in the ultimate
success of our cause, even in the darkest hours when the general
opinion prevailed that we could never whip the South, might well put
to shame many of his American comrades, who often seemed to lose
in their desire for peace, the consciousness that it was theirs to
dictate the terms to a beaten foe. The poor fellow has been taken
prisoner--and is now in Dixie.

Smith had a brother who was nicknamed 'Ben-Doza.' 'Ben' was
discharged in March, 1863, and I gave him a curious stick which I cut
in one of the swamps to bring home for me. If this should meet his
eye, I wish he would hasten to 'fork it over.'

But lest I should become tedious and uninteresting, I will drop
the biographical and take up the chronological thread of my yarn,
noticing the different individuals as they may be brought by
circumstances into future scenes. It is true that in speaking of
the mere rank and file of the army, I do not write of men known to
fame. There is, indeed, little of romance connected with the private
soldier--that peculiar species of flummery (which makes the heart of
the dreamy damsel of sixteen flutter so) being, as it were by right
divine, the speciality of the ideal mustached, lightning-eyed, and so
forth young men of the shoulder straps. Those I write of principally
occupy, many of them, the humblest (though the most useful) position
in our grand army. It is such men who do the real fighting, and
have to take and give the hardest knocks--and if a score of those
brave hearts are laid low by the hand of war, it creates not half
as much public sensation as the destruction of an old barn by fire,
or the escape of a negro from rebeldom. Their biography is written
by the orderly sergeant in a few words, and their requiem sung by
the turkey-buzzard out on a foraging expedition. Their names, it
is true, are on the rolls of fame; but who cares for these, except
it be their immediate friends and relatives--and the clerks in the
pension-bureau, who mayhap think it particularly unkind in privates
A. B. or C. to die at all, and thus give them so much additional
labor.

Two brothers, named Tibbetts, living about three miles beyond our
outpost, lost some hogs and cattle in a very mysterious way, and came
into our lines to inquire if we knew anything of them. Of course we
didn't, and Billy Patterson's pots never told tales. I entered into
conversation with one of the brothers, who appeared to be a civil
sort of a man, and who invited me among others to visit his house,
saying that he had plenty of eggs, &c., and could get up a very good
dinner for us.

I remembered Tibbetts' invitation, and a few days after, accompanied
by a companion, started out to see him. He lived in a miserable
log cabin, about 20 feet square, without windows, having shutters
to supply their place at night, which were opened in the day time
to admit light and air. A field of about 25 acres surrounded the
domicile, partly planted in corn and peas, with about three acres
of sweet potatoes. And these, with a few pigs, and a small garden,
constituted this family's whole 'visible means of support.' The
family consisted of a sallow, bilious-looking wife (all women
thereabouts, as well as men, look alike) and a half-dozen sallow,
bilious-looking children. (Nearly all the natives of that level,
swampy region are thin, and have a shaky appearance.)

I noticed, to my surprise, upon my first introduction to Madam
Tibbetts, that a small stick protruded about two inches from her
mouth, and that ever and anon she spat out what seemed marvellously
like tobacco juice. I watched her movements for some time during our
conversation, and I noticed that she occasionally removed the stick
from her mouth, and, one end being made soft by chewing, dipped the
same into a box of snuff, replaced it again, and ran it around her
gums and teeth in the same manner as one would use a tooth-brush. I
found that neither Tibbetts or his wife, nor his brother or sister
(the latter a smiling old maid) who afterwards joined us, could
read or write--in fact it was considered quite out of their line
altogether, though they seemed to regret that their children could
not have some education. They were a fair specimen of that class of
settlers at the South known as 'poor whites.'

Being allowed, when off duty, a free range within the lines, our
visits were made in all directions--sometimes (often, I confess)
transgressing our orders, we went beyond, especially towards the
abodes of the Messrs. Tibbetts--and we frequently stumbled upon a
quiet household of 'poor whites,' who received us civilly, though by
no means graciously. All of these were, however, strongly 'secesh' in
feeling, having had their minds pretty thoroughly poisoned with the
false tales told them by their late 'superiors' of Yankee injustice
and cupidity.

In conversation with the elder Tibbetts, I learned that the
honey-bees often selected the trunks of hollow trees in which to
gather immense deposits of honey, and that in going up a creek lately
he had discovered a tree, which he intended visiting some time. The
idea of a 'bee hunt' was novel to me, and I determined to join him;
and, a few days after, with a comrade, started for Tibbetts' house,
who readily undertook to pilot us upon our saccharine expedition.

We were successful in getting a considerable amount of honey; but
staid out so late that the officers became alarmed at our absence,
thinking we were 'gobbled up' by the 'rebs,' and doubled the guard,
served out extra ammunition, &c.,--and when we did come in at last,
reprimanded us for staying out so long, and forbid any of the men
going beyond the lines in future.

Time wore on. At first we expected a recall at the end of each week
after our time had expired, but no such order came, and as the season
was beginning to wear the sear and yellow leaf in its garments, and
the indications of cold weather warned us that the time was at hand
when

    "The wild deer and wolf to their covert" must "flee,"

we bethought us that the negro village might abound in material of
which shanties might be erected, and, as Billy Patterson elegantly
expressed it, "be a d--d sight more comfortable than miserable." This
bright thought was slow in spreading, and it was not until three
or four men of a mess erected a snug shanty, that it took root and
flourished--and then there was a rush for the 'diggins.'

The shanties at the outpost, once the shelter of the humble household
gods of many a smoky descendant of Ham, were threatened with
disembowelment--until the fury of the onslaught was turned upon the
cotton gin, which soon presented a skeleton appearance. The plundered
boards and scantling had to be carried by the men half a mile. But
they set to work with a will. For at least two weeks nothing could
be heard around the camp, from sunrise to the going down thereof, but
hammer and saw, and saw and hammer, and from the promiscuous heaps
of purloined boards and scantling there arose in due time one of the
most curious villages that could be met with outside of negrodom;
but they were as comfortable as could be desired, and well laid out
with bunks, gunracks, &c. Each had a flue or chimney for a stove
or fireplace, the bricks to build which had to be carried on the
back, or wheeled by hand from a mile and a half to two miles; and as
wood was plenty, we never lacked for good fires. Thus comfortably
situated, it was no wonder that we became attached to Evans' Mills.

It being designed to erect permanent barracks in the vicinity of
Newbern, and the steam saw mill in that city proving insufficient to
supply enough lumber--workmen being plenty, a detail from any of the
New England regiments supplying any number needed--it was resolved to
repair the broken dam at Evans' Mills. A detachment of about sixty
contrabands, under the superintendence of a sort of Baron Munchhausen
chap, a private in a New York artillery regiment--was sent to make
the necessary repairs.

The dam had broke away at the waste water gate--and the genius
who was sent to repair it, commenced by filling in the waste gate
with brushwood and earth--and, after a month's labor, (costing the
Government over $1,500), he succeeded in partially stopping the
water, so that a few thousand feet of boards could be sawed; but
the first rain-storm swelled the dam so much that, having no proper
outlet for the superabundant water to escape, it gave way, and the
blundering fool and his work departed about the same time--the former
to hospital sick, and the latter to be distributed along the oozy
bottom of the tortuous creek which emptied into the Trent River.

When the rebels were defeated at Newbern, Evans, like other
large planters, sent all his slaves to a plantation which he
owned in the upper part of the State--that is, all who were worth
sending, for he left two old negroes and their wives behind to
'take charge' of the plantation. These, in process of time, and
the occupation of the place by our forces, were joined by others,
until the negro population at the time our company went there,
amounted to about ten, including picaninnies. The old negroes
alluded to were called respectively, Old (Uncle) George, and Indian
Joe. The former venerable old patriarch was "eighty-five, sar,"
communicative and religious, and the latter a cross between the Negro
and Indian--retaining a good deal of the aboriginal physique and
character--respectful, but retiring in his manner; and, though said
to be fully as old as George, was spry and supple, a good hand at
a tar-kiln, and a keen sportsman, never going to the woods without
being accompanied by his dogs and an old Harper's Ferry musket--

"For you know de coons come out sometimes 'fore dark, and de deer
dey stray off up dar down here in de day, and dey's good eatin', I
reckon, is dem deers."

"I suppose you would not hesitate to pink a rebel if he should come
across you instead of a deer, Joe?"

"Lor, yes--no--reckon--(scratching his head). O yes--right good day,
sar--good morning, sar."

I think he'd shoot--if the alternative was to shoot or be taken.

The other contrabands were mostly runaways. One of them, a mulatto,
was a good carpenter, a man of some intelligence, and interested me
much. His story was simple, and illustrated the atrocious system,
which subverts honor, and makes conscience a tool to be used as
interest may dictate. He was 'raised' (that is the term, and sounds
odd when applied to human beings) up country, and when his old
master died he left him free; but the son and heir not liking to
lose a 'right smart boy' of his description, would not give him his
freedom, but kept him as a slave, treating him precisely like the
other bondmen. When the war broke out, his master, who resided or did
business at Wilmington, joined the navy, as captain of a gunboat,
and took this slave with him as his servant. After the battle of
Roanoke, when our gunboats followed up and destroyed the rebel fleet,
his master, when one of our gunboats ran into the one he commanded,
deserted him, jumping overboard, to escape capture; but, while in the
water, a stray shot struck him, and he 'sank to rise no more.' The
mulatto, glad of the change that gave him his liberty, accompanied
our forces to Newbern, and there remained, entered the employ of the
Government, and performed his part in a skillful and faithful manner.

Another of the contrabands was a full-blooded African negro, bearing
the classical name of Nero. He was from Duplin County, some ninety
miles north of Newbern, and near the Virginia line, and had run away
from a cruel master, as numerous scars on his person testified,
travelling the entire distance on foot through woods and swamps, and
subsisting upon an occasional ear of corn, for which he ventured into
the fields only at night, eluding the rebel patrols and pickets,
and, finally, almost exhausted and worn out, he arrived, with about
five or six others from the same place, inside our picket lines,
and gave himself up. He left behind him a wife and six children;
but notwithstanding this, and the stories he had heard of Yankee
barbarity to runaway negroes (the slaves being generally told that
the Yankees placed iron rigs through the shoulder-blades of the
darkies, and sold them off to Cuba), he was willing to run all risks
for the bare chance of obtaining his liberty; and, he said, if
the other slaves knew how well the contrabands were treated, they
would come in in greater numbers. His simple story would fill an
interesting volume. When Wild's brigade was subsequently organized,
he joined the first regiment, and, I have no doubt, has proved
himself a capital soldier. Wo to the rebels that fell in his power.
He had many wrongs to avenge, and would avenge them, if opportunity
offered.

Uncle George was a good specimen of the ideal negro--fat,
good-natured, and seemingly contented.

"Well, uncle," I said, "how do you like the Yankees?"

"Right well, sar--dey's bery fine people, sar!"

"Would you sooner be with the Yankees than the rebs?"

"O yes, sar; (my name's George, sar); 'cause I'se a free man now, and
dat's what I am now, sar."

"You think you are free now, and that the Yankees made you free, do
you?"

"O yes, sar," he replied, and then added, in a deeply impressive
voice--"and I tank de Lord and you Yankees for dat. De ole man hab
worked for many years--de good Lord he send me and the ole woman six
sons and five daughters, and massa, he sell some off afore de war,
take some away when de Yankees come--and now, de poor ole man and de
poor ole woman am left all alone in de world; but de good Lord send
de Yankees, and dey make us free afore we die, and dat am payment
enough for all ole George's work--bress de Lord, amen."

George finding, I suppose, that I took an interest in him, and
did not treat him as it might be inferred many would from their
salutation of "Hello, old nig--how dye _do_," often visited our
shanty at dinner-time, and we had always plenty of crackers and 'salt
horse,' and an occasional pint of soup or coffee to spare him; but
the cook (Billy Patterson,) perhaps from pure good nature, took a
fancy to old George, and he soon forsook our more humble board for
the savory flesh-pots of Billy's cookhouse, perfectly satisfied to be
addressed as you 'd--d old nigger,' so long as he had his revenge in
the shape of a plentiful supply of good grub.

I stated before that the outpost guard was drawn in at night to the
mills (the day-guard at the mills being camp-guard at night). A few
darkies, who worked for the government making tar and cutting saw
logs, lodged in the mill. Without education enough to read, without
the knowledge of the commonest accessories of amusement, it cannot
be wondered that the time hung heavily upon their hands; but their
naturally elastic temperaments stood them in good need, and suggested
a species of amusement to pass away the time that was best suited to
their capacity, viz.: dancing and its promoter, 'jigging'--a species
of vocal and pantomimic music almost peculiar to the African race.
At first their levees were attended only by gents of color; but,
by and by, the spirit of their performances began to spread, and
soldiers from the relief guard and the camp visited them, and enjoyed
hugely the sight of the dancing, sweating darkies, (encouraging
and applauding the most expert--and there were many supple legs
and nimble feet among them), and the equally sweating and nimble
'jiggers' or time-beaters. The 'jiggers' did not always depend upon
the voice, but used it as a sort of auxiliary or flourish to their
time-beating, which latter was performed by striking the open hands
upon the thighs, legs and breast, and together in rapid succession,
and in admirable measure, so that the tune thus beat could be
followed by the dancer as precisely as if played upon a full band.

We had a Maryland negro in our company, who ran away from his
master, and became attached to the regiment in Baltimore. He was
called 'Pomp'--a lithe, supple fellow--and, with a few months
training, I have no doubt, would equal, if not surpass, some of the
clog-dancers of our friends the Morris Bro's. It was amusing to note
the patronizing airs he adopted towards the North Carolina 'nigs,'
and, I presume, the circumstances of his having come from Maryland,
and being so long in the army, added not a little to obtain for
him a certain kind of prestige among his simple sable brethren.
The soldiers for amusement taught him the manual of arms, and so
naturally did he take to the business that it was a common remark
among the men that there were few better drilled men in the command
than Pomp. But Pomp became lazy and independent, and left the company
shortly after we went to Evans' Mills to work for Government. But his
mind was not in work, and after a few weeks labor he went to Newbern,
and there became attached to a company of the 43d Mass. regiment, as
Captain's servant. This captain (I know not his name, or I should
record it, to his credit), taught him as well as some other negroes,
to read and write; and, when the policy of the Government, directing
the enlistment of the blacks, reached North Carolina, Wild's brigade
began to be formed, Pomp was among the first to enlist, and, for his
proficiency in drill, and quickness for military duty, he was made a
sergeant in the North Carolina colored regiment.

"I've been made free by de President of my country," he said to me,
when I met and congratulated him upon joining the army, "and I tink
it is my duty to fight for de country dat makes me a free man."

This regiment afterwards bore a prominent part in the unfortunate
battle of Olustee, Florida. I wonder if poor Joe (he changed Pomp to
Joseph) escaped.

On the 28th of August, the 17th reg't embarked on transports for the
purpose of capturing Plymouth; but upon arriving opposite that town,
found the place too well defended to warrant a landing, and they
returned without disembarking.

On the 30th of October, the 17th regiment left Newbern on board
steamers, and proceeded up the Neuse River about eight miles, where
they were joined by cavalry, artillery, and a large baggage train,
the whole under command of Colonel Amory. They landed and marched
to Swift Creek, a small settlement eight miles distant, which was
reached at sundown. Here they were fired upon by the rebel cavalry
picket, who had destroyed the bridge over the creek. They fled upon
our approach. The following forenoon was employed by our forces in
building the bridge, and at noon the column was again in motion
towards Washington, N. C., which our forces reached on the evening of
November 1st, without molestation.

November 2d, the line of march was again continued, (our forces being
augmented by the addition of several thousand infantry,) in the
direction of Williamston. Towards sundown the advance came up with
the enemy; posted behind entrenchments, at a place called Rawle's
Mills, who disputed their passage; but our forces soon compelled them
to retreat, and the following morning the advance again continued
on to Williamston, which place the column reached at noon, having
marched a distance of twenty-three miles from Washington. Leaving the
sick and foot-sore on board the gunboats in the river, the troops
marched out of the town about three miles, and bivouacked for the
night.

November 4th, they took up the line of march for Hamilton, within
two miles of which they were obliged to halt for several hours to
build a bridge, near which was a deserted breastwork, leading from
the woods across the main road to a fort on the river bank. Hamilton
was reached about sundown, and, like Williamston, was found entirely
deserted. The town being set on fire by the troops, the sick were
placed on board gunboats, and the expedition marched out of Hamilton
several miles, and bivouacked for the night.

November 5th, they started early in the morning, taking the road
to Tarboro'--marched until night, when they came to a halt, and
bivouacked within nine miles of Tarboro'. The following morning they
commenced their return march, not having met with the enemy in any
force. A heavy rain having set in, the roads were in a bad condition,
and the marching much harder than it had been previously. The
expedition reached Hamilton late in the afternoon, and took up their
quarters for the night in the deserted dwellings.

November 7th, a violent snow storm raged in the morning, but it did
not delay the march, which was continued for Williamston, by a road
leading near the river, and which they had not travelled before.
No force of the enemy appeared to interrupt the march, and the
expedition reached Williamston in the afternoon, where it remained
until the morning of the 9th, when the line of march was taken up
for Plymouth, N. C., a distance of twenty-three miles. They reached
the latter place the next morning, 10th, and Newbern on the 11th, at
noon, having been absent thirteen days, and having marched about 150
miles. The expedition captured about 50 prisoners, 400 horses and
mules, and about 100 teams.

The failure of this expedition, and the causes of its failure, are
pretty well known, and need no comment from me, save that it caused
much hardship to the troops comprising it, and left Newbern in an
almost defenceless state. The rebels, judging that the garrison of
the city had been largely drawn upon (but never dreaming that this
was the case to so great an extent), to divert, perhaps, whatever
after purposes our commanders had, and to make them recall the
troops as fast as possible, sent a weak force to demonstrate in
front of Newbern. This drove in our pickets, and created the utmost
apprehension in the city. The case seemed critical, and every
available man was called inside the defences to await the onslaught
of the enemy.

Our company (the remainder of the regiment being in the expedition,)
received hurried orders to report in Newbern, and rumors coming in
heralded the enemy as advancing upon the city in large numbers. The
order to pack up and be ready to march at a minute's warning, was
received by us just as we were 'turning in,' and was not very welcome
news you may be sure, but to hear was to obey; and in half an hour
we were ready for the road, and some talked of the morrow, what the
'row' was all about, whether we should have a fight, and others
(myself among the number) went to bed and slept. About three o'clock
in the morning I was aroused from a pleasant sleep by my comrades,
and heard all around me the hurried tramp of men. Hastily putting on
my knapsack, I seized my gun, and went forth to take my place in the
line. The night was foggy, and a feeble moon, while it brightened
the obscurity a little, lent to the half distinct scene a dreary
and confused appearance. A few men had been detailed to destroy the
bridge; and the strokes of the axe, the falling of the planks and
beams into the water, the hum of the camp--its lights glancing to and
fro, contrasted with the solemnity of the surrounding silence (which
only echoed noises of our hasty departure, or the hoot of the owl)
left a cheerless impression on my mind.

After a march of two hours, we reached our old camp tired and
exhausted, to be refreshed by a good dipper of coffee.

The morning advanced but the rebels came not; and as reinforcements
arrived by the railroad from Beaufort, all apprehensions of the
result of an attack upon the city died out, and the day wore away
without any demonstration being made against any part of our lines.
Indeed, word came in from our scouts, that the rebels had fallen
back, satisfied, no doubt, with having carried out their design of
creating a diversion, which would serve to hasten the recall of the
expedition.

In the evening we received orders to return to Evans' Mills, which
place we reached by nightfall.

What must have been the surprise and dismay of the darkies to work
on the mill-dam (who knew nothing of our departure during the
night, although we made noise enough to rouse the 'seven sleepers')
upon waking in the morning to find the bridge destroyed and the
camp deserted. We were told that they no sooner heard of our
departure--and the reports, greatly exaggerated, no doubt, of a rebel
attack upon Newbern--than, considering it was 'all up' with them,
they scattered, and made for the woods--'every man for himself, and
the devil take the hindmost.' Some of them turned up in the vicinity
of Newbern, others made their way to Morehead City and Beaufort,
while others were never heard from, and these, it was thought likely,
being too frightened to venture out in the clearings, supposing the
whole country again in possession of the rebels, were starved to
death, or lost their way, and came out somewhere in Dixie--no doubt
into the lion's mouth they were trying to avoid.

Poor unfortunates, the sport of every varying breeze of fortune, good
or ill. The best fortune for them is as yet but indifferent, while
ill fortune is death. They are, alas, no 'chosen people of God.' They
have no Moses to organize and lead them out of their land of bondage;
no cloud by day or pillar of fire by night to guide them; no ark of
their freedom's covenant around which to rally [yes, the starry flag
is their ark, and, thank Heaven, wherever it waves over them they are
free!] No miracles are vouchsafed for their preservation; no manna
from heaven; no quails; no water gushing from the rock to assauge
their thirst. Alas! alas! that their pathway to freedom should be
beset with so many dangers--that its course should so often lead them
through the valley of the shadow of death! Poor creatures! heaven
help them through the fiery ordeal in which they are passing!

The old darkies, however, belonging to the mill, together with the
others who had not been there when we came, did not skedaddle; but,
by turns, kept a good look-out on the Pollocksville road, ready, of
course, to leave at the approach of the rebels, though determined
not to do so until they hove in sight. Old George took charge of
our camp, closed every door, and when we returned, every article we
were forced to leave behind, even to the smallest and most trivial,
remained just as we had left it.

Back once more in our comfortable quarters, and resuming our old
routine of duty, we began to think that we were as good as settled
for the winter. Our old pastimes were revived--rambling, fishing,
quoit pitching, playing cards, backgammon, and draughts. The same
huge fires were kindled and burned brightly in front of our quarters,
and at the outposts, for the guards to warm themselves by in the
dreary watches of the chilly night, around which, before retiring
to rest, groups of smoking men assembled, and spun many a yarn of
strange adventure in all lands, from the orient to the Occident,
and from the frozen regions of the north to the trackless southern
seas--mostly true, I believe, but surely entertaining.

This state of affairs lasted a few weeks longer, when suddenly we
received orders to rejoin the regiment, which took the place of
the Mass. 23d in doing the provost duty at Newbern. This was about
the 20th of November. To some this change was delightful, while to
others (and I was one of these) it was not a welcome change. But we
packed up--this time with more deliberation--and the next morning
when Co. A, 23d regiment, Captain Brewster, came to relieve us were
ready to evacuate, leaving everything connected with the camp to our
successors, in apple-pie order. I wish they could (or did) return
the compliment; but they did not, and were so 'put out' about being
put out of Newbern, that they vented their spleen upon the luckless
houses occupied by them as quarters, smashing up every thing that
might conduce to the comfort of their successors.

Our quarters were on Pollock street, near the market and the office
of the Provost Marshal. Co. B's quarters adjoined ours, and F
occupied quarters on the other side of the street nearly opposite.
After considerable labor in sweeping, scrubbing, making bunks, &c.,
we became settled down once more, comfortable enough. But our
duty was no child's play. We were on guard every second day--the
intermediate one being filled up (twice a week) by a march of six
miles and a brigade drill of three hours or more. This did not leave
much time to ourselves, after cleaning boots, polishing brasses and
buttons, and brushing clothes, for we had to appear neat and tidy
while on duty.

A provost guard is a kind of police-soldier, and his duties are as
multifarious as the character of his office and power is indefinite.
His instructions vary in detail from day to day; and, before he
goes on duty for the day has a string of orders and regulations,
as long as the laws of the Medes and Persians, read to him, often
couched in language that could be defined to mean one thing or
another, or nothing at all in particular. For example, the guard is
told to examine _all_ passes and salute _all_ officers; to permit
no fast driving; to allow no soldier or man-o'-war sailor to go by
him unless provided with passes properly countersigned; to allow
no citizen to pass after a certain hour, without a special permit
from the provost marshal; to 'jug' every negro found out after 9
P.M.; to allow no citizen or negro to be abused; to allow no breach
of the peace; to permit no horses to be tied to trees; to stop all
disturbances whatever indoors or out of doors; to, in fact, keep his
eyes 'peeled,' and be continually on the alert, and, if possible,
do all the impossible things required of him. Four hours on post
(and twice posted) performing this delightful duty, was required of
the man detailed for guard. The accommodations at the guard-houses
were abominable. The windows were broken, the bunks smashed up, poor
fires, and the floors so dirty, and the cricks and crevices around
so filled with vermin that one night's experience in the endeavor
to get rest in them was generally sufficient to deter most of those
who still retained the idea that cleanliness was a virtue from ever
attempting the like again.

Major Frankle of the 17th regiment was Provost Marshal, and was a
worthy successor of Col. Kurtz, of the 23d (now Chief of Police in
Boston.)

I cannot enter into a relation of all the incidents which enlivened
the monotony of our provost duty in Newbern, not from lack of good
material--that would, perhaps, make thirty or forty pages of readable
matter, but want of space admonishes me that it will not pay. Suffice
it to say that, with forty or fifty thousand men in the department,
a large proportion of whom were in the vicinity of Newbern--the 17th
had their hands full, and the lock-up often became overcrowded, as
did the jails in time. We had drunken men to arrest--street rows to
quell, horse-racings, shootings and stabbings to look after--brawls
in bad houses to put a stop to, and arrest drunken and half-crazed
men armed to the teeth, and other duty of a no less dangerous
character to perform. But I believe we did things 'up to the
handle;' in fact I'm certain we did--notwithstanding there were many
complaints (as there always must be in such cases) and criticisms of
our method of procedure.

To add to our already heavy labor, shortly after we were in the
city, the marine battalion (which I have before incidentally spoken
of,) had refused to do further duty, and were placed in our custody.
These gallant fellows had been shamefully used. When enlisted in
New York city, they were promised $18 per month for the privates,
or sailors, and pay in proportion for the petty officers. They had
been in the service over a year, had not received any pay, clothing,
or allowances for the same, and were informed that they would not
be recognized in any other capacity than soldiers, with whom they
must consider themselves on an equal footing in pay, as in all other
respects. Considering this a violation of agreement, they refused
as a body to shoulder a musket or do any kind of duty, and thus
passively mutinied. The men of the 17th pitied the poor fellows, and
showed them many acts of kindness. The Major, too, while he had to
enforce their imprisonment, sympathized with the marines, and, I have
reason to believe, did all in his power to have their just claims
considered, and their wrongs righted; but the knot on the 'red tape'
which bound the poor fellows could not be opened, and it was not cut.
So, after a two month's imprisonment, they were given the choice of
servitude in the forts as criminals, or the alternative of enlisting
in the navy, and they wisely accepted the alternative. I think theirs
was a case of peculiar hardship. Some of those human kites which
abound in large cities started the project of their enlistment,
without the approval of the Government, made money out of the affair,
and left their victims to curse them for many a weary heartburn, many
an anxious, hopeless thought of home, and of a perhaps destitute
family.

One of Co. K's men, named Finn, at one time a guard over the marines,
allowed two of them to go out to purchase something at the market,
but the Major, somehow, discovered the charitable error, and rushing
up to the guard, said:

"Vat for you let ze marines go away?"

"But they'll come back again, sir."

"O--fool--fool--I vill have you put under arrest and court-mar_shal_!"

Soon after the marines returned, and Finn, who caught sight of the
Major passing, sung out--

"They're back again, Major! The marines"--

But the Major, who was in a hurry, passed him by, angrily exclaiming--

"O fool--fool--o-h block-head!"

"Be jabers," said Finn, looking after the Major, but taking care he
was not heard by that officer,--"ye're the first man that ever called
me so far out of my name that I didn't lay on the broad of his back!"

There were four other Massachusetts regiments in the department,
viz:--the 23d, 24th, 25th, and 27th.

The 23d regiment, Col. Kurtz, was recruited in Lynnfield, which
place it left for Annapolis, Md., on the 11th of November, 1861,
and reached there on the 16th; and on January 6th, 1862, embarked
upon transports as a portion of Gen. Burnside's Expedition to North
Carolina.

The regiment, after encountering the fearful storms off Hatteras, was
among the first to land on Roanoke Island, and in the engagements
which followed bore a conspicuous and honorable part. It then
accompanied the expedition up the Neuse, and took an active part in
the battle of Newbern (March 14th, 1862), where it lost ten killed
(including its Lieut. Colonel, Merritt) and forty-one wounded.

The 23d afterwards did picket duty, and took part in nearly all the
expeditions into the interior and along the sea-coast.

On May 7th, the 23d relieved the 25th Mass. regiment doing provost
duty in Newbern, where it continued until Nov. 20th, when it was in
turn relieved by the 17th.

In January, the 23d formed part of the expedition to South Carolina,
but did nothing, owing to a misunderstanding between Gens. Foster and
Hunter, and returned, in April to North Carolina, and encamped at a
place called Carolina City, near Morehead City.

Later it was transferred to Norfolk, and, I believe, is at present in
that portion of the department.

The 23d bears the reputation of being a good regiment, and stands
high on the roll of honor. Success to the old 23d.

The 24th Mass. regiment, Col. Stevenson, was recruited at Readville,
and formed part of the Burnside expedition to North Carolina, and
in the battles of Roanoke Island and Newbern, acted a conspicuous
and noble part. This regiment, in common with others, had its share
of marching on expeditions and doing picket duty (in which it had
several sanguinary engagements with the enemy, who were invariably
defeated). It accompanied Gen. Foster to South Carolina, where it
has added fresh laurels to its name, as well as in Florida, where it
remained until April last. The 24th is a splendid regiment. It is now
in the army of the Potomac, and has shared in the triumphs which have
at length rewarded that long-suffering but noble and brave army--that
has at length came 'out of the wilderness.'

The 25th regiment, Col. Upton, was raised in the western part of
the State, and left Camp Lincoln, Worcester, to join Burnside, and
take part in his expedition. Little need be said, save that this
regiment has inscribed on its banners such names as 'Roanoke Island,'
'Newbern,' 'Kinston,' 'Whitehall,' 'Goldsboro,' &c., &c. This
regiment did the first provost duty in North Carolina. The 25th has
taken part--together with the 23d and 27th--in the late brilliant
advance of Gen. Butler on Richmond, where it has come in for its
share of glory and hard knocks.

The 27th, Col. Lee, was also raised in the western part of the
State, and left Springfield Jan. 6th, and joined Burnside's troops
at Annapolis, Md. The 27th shared in all the battles, marches, and
picket-skirmishes in North Carolina. In fact, the history of one
of these regiments is the history of the whole. All, alike, have a
glorious record, and have earned the same by the hardest kind of
fighting, marching and suffering.

In October, the first of the nine months regiments began to arrive.
The 44th was, I believe, the first of these--a fine-looking body of
men; but seeming more like a regiment of officers than soldiers.
Their style of dress, though about the same as the 'regulation,'
varied in being of a much finer texture, and containing, at least,
two more buttons on the tails of their dress coats than the
regulation allowed to privates. (Orders were issued during our stay
in the city to cut off the extra buttons, and much ill-feeling was
created by the remorseless cur-_tail_-ment practiced by the men
of the Seventeenth towards their fellow-soldiers of the 44th.)
Some of the men, too, seemed to possess a consciousness of their
superiority, induced, no doubt, by their fancied higher social
standing at home, and passed the poor three-years men with the same
patronizing and patrician air, their eye-glasses clasped upon their
noses in the same manner, as when strutting amid their fathers'
workmen in Massachusetts, or when promenading the thoroughfares, and
ogling the girls (beg pardon, young ladies) at home. It is true they
were civil, and mostly well-behaved young men; but their civility,
though well intended, was bestowed with a hauteur which had an
opposite effect, and left rankling in the minds of their less favored
comrades (all soldiers are comrades) a feeling of envy and, perhaps,
disgust. Undoubtedly, there were men in this regiment of a very
high order of intellect; but there was a class among them composed
of puny clerks and school-boys, whose notions of the world and what
constituted a man were about as crude as those of any apron-string
hero could be; and it was the influence of this class operating as
the representative of that better and really respectable one whose
good sense kept it in the background, which caused this regiment to
be unjustly criticised and hated--and by none more than its co-nine
months comrades of other organizations. To show how prejudice will
jump at conclusions, it was confidently predicted they would never
stand fire; but they did stand fire bravely, and acted in many
respects in a most creditable manner for so new an organization. A
story went the rounds, and which may not be true, to this effect:--On
the Tarboro expedition, the 44th were in the advance, when the
cavalry, after waking up the rebs, and finding them in large force
ahead, fell back, and their lieutenant (Mix), seeing no one taking
the necessary steps in such an emergency, rode up to the captain of
an advance company of the 44th, and said:

"Deploy your men, captain; the rebs are close upon us!"

To which the captain replied--

"I don't know how!"

"Then," replied Mix, "right about, and run like hell, or you'll be
gobbled up!"

Again, at the battle of Kinston, it was said that the 44th who were
laying down, were ordered to charge the rebel line, which had begun
to waver and show signs of weakness; that they refused, and the 10th
Connecticut (three hundred strong) were ordered up, charged upon the
rebels, and, in charging, had to walk over the prostrate 44th. I give
this story without vouching for its truth; for, being in another part
of the field, I had not an opportunity of witnessing the inception
of the charge referred to, though, arriving with our regiment near
the bridge by the flank ahead of the main charging column, I had an
opportunity of seeing the 44th come up at the double-quick close on
the heels of the flying rebels. But the story was told, and told,
too, on the battle-field.

At Whitehall, however, no envious tongue could say aught against the
conduct of this regiment; and I can here speak of what I saw of them,
and can say they acted well under the murderous fire to which they
were exposed.

Another anecdote of the 44th, and I have done with them; and, lest
I might be accused of harboring any of that feeling towards them I
have already alluded to as prevailing in the department, and which I
most heartily condemn, I will state that I do not believe one word
of it, and only give it a place here to show how far human malignity
and envy will make men forget what is due to self-respect and to
co-laborers in a good work. During the siege of Little Washington, it
was stated that the rebels sent in a flag of truce, requesting the
commander of the post to send the women and children, _and the 44th_,
to a place of safety, as they were going to assault the town.

The 5th regiment came about the same time the 44th did. They were
a fine, hardy-looking set of men, and participated with credit in
all the expeditions undertaken during their term of service in this
portion of the department.

The 45th regiment was the next--a fine body of men; but they, too,
like the 44th seemed to assume too much importance, and came in for
their share of ill-will; but, speaking from my own knowledge, I never
knew of but one instance in their whole career where they did not
seem to be up to the mark, and this time from no fault of the rank
and file. The fault, if any, lay with the officers. I allude to a
little affair at a place called Cole Creek, on the railroad towards
Kinston, in May '63, where, by the Colonel of the 45th outranking our
Lt. Col., the regiment had the advance, and when it came in sight
of an earthwork manned by a few rebs, the Colonel anxious for his
men, and not wishing to be precipitate, seemed to hesitate. Colonel
Fellows riding up, asked him why he did not advance on the enemy's
work, replied that he thought it too strong.

"Allow me," said Colonel Fellows, "and I will take it with my two
flank companies."

The consent was obtained, and companies A and F of the 17th walked
into the works, which had been hastily abandoned on their approach by
the rebels. As I said before, this result was no fault of the rank
and file of the 45th, whom I have seen marching in under fire, with
ranks precisely dressed up, and acting with coolness and intrepidity.

The 43d seemed the favorite regiment with the three-years men, who
regarded it as the best of the nine months men. They were, indeed, a
fine lot of men, and, I have no doubts if circumstances placed them
in the post of danger, they would prove themselves fully as reliable
as the three-years troops. In saying this, it will, of course, be
inferred, that I do not consider the nine-months men as reliable in
an emergency as the three-years men; and, I do not think them so,
generally speaking--not because the men are inferior in regard to
courage or endurance; but because they are not really soldiers but
militia, and not so self-reliant as the three-years men.

Of the other nine months men I know but little, save that they were
a fine lot of men, and if they did not do anything to distinguish
themselves, it was no fault of theirs, but because they lacked the
opportunity.

A few words in regard to the feeling of the three-years men towards
the nine-months troops. The men of the old regiments, almost to a
man (but there were some exceptions) seemed to regard them with a
feeling of envy and dislike, and the frequent salutations of 'how are
you, three hundred dollars and a bugle?' partly showed from whence
the dislike came. I say partly, for the other reason was, that,
besides receiving so high a bounty, they could return at the end of
their time of service,--which to men who had already served eighteen
months, and still had a year and a half to serve, seemed unfair. And
certainly, looking at the matter with their eyes, the thing did not
seem altogether right, though it might very properly be argued that
as the three-years men went into the service with their eyes open,
and agreeing to the terms of the Government, they had no right to
complain.



PART II.

    EXPEDITION TO GOLDSBORO--SKIRMISHING--SOUTHWEST CREEK--BATTLES
    OF KINSTON, WHITEHALL, AND GOLDSBORO--INCIDENTS--RETURN
    OF THE EXPEDITION TO NEWBERN--THE 17TH RELIEVED BY
    THE 45TH IN NEWBERN--ACROSS THE TRENT--BUILDING
    FORTS--SICKNESS--BEAUFORT--AN ACCOUNT OF THE FREEDMEN, ETC.,
    ETC.


The indulgent reader, who has accompanied me thus far in my
peregrinations through Dixie, need not be alarmed, upon looking at
the caption of this page, at the prospect of being bored with so
many dry, solid pages as he has waded through in the first part of
this work. I have prepared this literary feast, if not of the best
materials (and I have no better, I assure you), at least after the
most approved style of French cookery, and, therefore, have kept back
the best dishes to the last. It is in this second part of my humble
work, that I hope to give the most stirring (I might say thrilling)
and interesting part of my narrative of

    "Moving accidents by flood and field,"--

and, if I do not succeed to my own satisfaction, I hope, at least, to
give satisfaction to my patrons. This done, I can pocket the profits
with a clear conscience.

In November, 1862, when the nine-months troops had about all arrived,
the work of brigading them with the old regiments, and drilling them
in field movements, was undertaken and vigorously prosecuted.

Preparations on a scale of considerable magnitude for a large
expedition had been going on for some time; but to what point it was
destined was wisely kept a secret, though it was generally understood
to have some connection with the movement of Burnside in Virginia.

On the 8th of December, the war-worn veterans of General Wessells'
brigade (of Gen. Peck's division) arrived in Newbern, and
preparations for the expedition were hastily completed. The same
evening, at dress parade, an order was read from Gen. Foster to all
the regiments, to be ready to march in thirty-six hours in light
marching order, viz.: without knapsacks, carrying only blankets
and overcoats, with three days cooked rations to be carried in
haversacks, seven days' to be conveyed in wagons.

The following day was a busy one for the quartermasters of the
Subsistence Department, and the cooks. In the evening the guards were
withdrawn, and the 8th Mass. regiment, which had not yet been fully
provided with arms and equipments, took charge of the city, and sent
out details of men to patrol the streets.

This was a busy night for us all. Like sailors before a storm, we had
to make snug our tackle, and spread only as much sail as we thought
the ship could conveniently carry. Everything in the shape of spare
clothes and blankets were snugly packed in our knapsacks; and, when
the final order came for us to be in line at three o'clock in the
morning, we were ready at the moment to start. But we visited Billy
Patterson, and each man proceeded to stow away into his haversack
what he judged would be sufficient to subsist him for three days. We
then turned in, to gain a little repose and freshen our energies
against the morrow.

At three o'clock on the morning of Thursday, Dec. 11, 1862, we were
awakened by the bugle call, and after a hasty meal, formed in the
yard of our quarters, and proceeded to the place of rendezvous for
the regiment on ---- street. A gray, frosty mist enveloped the city,
which was alive with marching men, horse, foot, and artillery, and
forage and ambulance trains. As early as was the hour, however, the
whole population--especially the negro portion--seemed abroad in the
streets, and many a fervent prayer and good wish for our success were
showered upon us by the poor negro women as we passed along.

"Oh," exclaimed one, "I know de Lord am walkin' alongside ob you, and
you will beat de rebs, I knows--I knows!"

"Aunty," sang out a soldier from the ranks, "if I don't come back
you'll never get paid for them clothes you washed for me."

"Nebber mind de close, honey," exclaimed the generous old woman;
and then, changing her tone, she continued, as if to herself--"Oh,
Lord!--de Lord!--Oh good Lord!--Nebber come back!--Oh, de poor
sojer!--Lord, help de poor sojer! Amen for de poor sojer!--Amen!
Glory!"

We halted on the Trent road, just beyond Fort Totten, and awaited the
movement of the various bodies of troops that were to precede us.

The morning broke clear and cool, and beheld a fine array of
infantry, cavalry, and artillery taking up their line of march by the
Trent road from Newbern. The sight was magnificent as the long lines
of infantry with their polished arms, and the cavalry and artillery,
slowly but cheerfully took up their line of march, with an elasticity
of step and a merry hum of voices that unmistakeably showed how
high the spirits and expectations of all were aroused, and that it
required only an able general to lead such an army on from victory to
victory.

As we advanced into the country the evidences of former strife
everywhere met the eye, in the desolated plantations, houses burned
to the ground or partially destroyed, and an air of ruin and
desolation pervading all.

After a tedious, plodding and plunging march of about fourteen miles,
the army bivouacked for the night on a plantation which seemed more
fortunate than many others we passed. But its time had come; and as
regiment after regiment arrived and stacked arms, it was a curious
study to watch the rush they made for the nearest fence, the eager
scramble for rails, and the disappearance of the fences, as if by
magic. As night darkened over the scene, the countless bivouac fires
rose in all directions, casting a lurid glare up to the sky, and
forming about as picturesque a scene as could possibly be imagined.
And the sound of voices and laughter, and the neighing of horses and
unearthly braying of mules, all combined to render that (my first)
bivouac a something to be remembered forever.

Beyond where we encamped Thursday evening, the rebels having notice
of our approach, blockaded the road for two miles, by felling trees
across; but the pioneers set about removing them during the night,
and when the army resumed its march in the morning the way was
cleared, and we passed on 'into the bowels of the land.'

About 10 A.M., on Friday, a skirmish occurred near Trenton, between
our advanced guard of cavalry and some rebel cavalry and infantry, in
which the latter were routed with the loss of three or four killed
and several wounded and taken prisoners.

Our advance reached Southwest Creek about noon on Saturday, and
the enemy, about 2,000 strong, were posted beyond, with a battery
commanding the road.

The 9th New Jersey and Morrison's battery were sent forward to feel
their position, and a smart cannonade of some two hours' duration
took place, when the 9th New Jersey made a detour through the woods
and captured the battery, putting the rebels to flight. They made
another stand about four miles this side of Kinston, when the same
force pushed after them and engaged them for about half an hour, when
the rebels again fell back.

While the skirmish was going on, the troops, as they arrived, were
assigned their places in line of battle, almost parallel with the
road. Towards evening, the regiments bivouacked in the same position
they had taken when expecting the assault of the enemy. We were
pretty hungry by this time, you may depend, not having, some of us,
tasted food for nearly two days. When orders were given to stack
arms, there was a general rush for rails, but some of the boys, while
seeking out the latter, came across some luckless porkers, which bit
the dust, were skinned, and their still quivering flesh subjected to
a barely warming process, ere it was devoured by the half-famished
soldiers. I fell in for a stray piece, and computed that the flesh I
was then devouring, had fifteen minutes before formed a portion of
an animate pig, careless of sorrow, and only seeking some innocent
pieces of garbage or succulent root wherewith to tickle his palate
and satisfy the cravings of hunger. How rapid are transmutations,
sometimes! Little did that pig dream that on the morrow he would
stimulate the nerves of many a soldier in the defeat of rebels
and the capture of Kinston. But so it was; and this curious fact
might lead me, if I were given to abstract reasoning, to trace this
influence of forces by the abundance of pork. But no; for me are
plainer and perhaps more demonstrative revelations.

There was a house in our front about one fourth of a mile distant,
whither some of our lads found their way, and soon all the available
beds and bedding which the frightened inmates left behind were
confiscated and appropriated by the tired soldiers. The pig did
not satisfy me. I was too fond of vegetables to be satisfied with
flesh, and, accordingly, set out at the first opportunity in search
of sweet potatoes. Espying a house upon a rising ground, about a mile
to the right of our encampment, I made for it; but night came down
just as I was starting, and I was compelled, as it were, to grope my
way through a rice-field or swamp that intervened, where I met many
a ditch and slough, some of which I avoided, and some I fell into.
But, nothing daunted, I held on, and drew near the house, when I
beheld in the darkness the dim outlines of a man in my path, of what
description--union soldier or guerilla, friend or foe--I could not
make out. Not being in the mood to stand upon ceremony, I accosted
him as I approached (he proved to be a friend), inquiring if he knew
of any deposit of sweet potatoes in that region. Returning a cavalry
pistol to his belt with which he had covered me on my approach, he
directed me to where I could find what I desired: and it may be
inferred that I was not slow in availing myself of the opportunity
afforded, and soon set out on my return loaded with sweet potatoes. I
had almost cleared the swamp, and was approaching the camp-guard of
one of our batteries--in fact I was almost upon the guard--without
being perceived, when plump! down I went into an undiscovered ditch
or drain, frightening myself as well as the guard, who brought his
piece down to the 'charge,' expecting he had some atrocious guerilla
on hand. I soon explained matters to his satisfaction, however, and
went on my way rejoicing. My success awakened the hungry ones of Co.
K, and the officer in command, appreciating the necessity of the men
having a good supper, sent half-a-dozen along with me to the scene of
my discoveries. I was a willing guide, and we soon returned with an
abundance of provisions, and made a hearty supper upon the plunder.
We slept well, and awoke next (Sunday) morning refreshed, and ready
for the road and the fight.

On Sunday morning the 14th, we resumed our march on Kinston. From
the place where we encamped, a steep hill descended, and the road
wound through a low, swampy ground for about two miles, when we
came out upon higher land, where our advanced guard (the 9th New
Jersey and Wessells' brigade) had bivouacked for the night. The
advance was already in motion, and our regiment followed. In the
low grounds of Southwest Creek, we saw the evidences of yesterday's
strife--two cannon captured, and a few dead rebels. When we passed
the low lands, we saw abundant evidences of hasty preparation for
resisting our advance; but, I suppose, as a very considerable body
of the enemy--who expected us on the other road where they were very
strongly fortified--could not be got up in time, Evans thought it
prudent to abandon them. We had not proceeded far, however, when the
crack of musketry told us that our advance was driving in the enemy's
pickets; and soon, as we shortened the distance between us and the
scene of the coming battle, the more regular and deliberate volleys
of small arms announced that the ball had opened in earnest. Soon the
artillery came galloping up, and took position, just as we reached
the wood skirting the battle field. We were halted, and ordered on to
the right of the road to support a battery.

The enemy were advantageously posted in a swamp, and on a rising
ground beyond, about a mile from the bridge leading across the river
to Kinston.

The action, which was commenced by our advance in the morning, was
sustained with vigor, until the main body of our forces came up, when
the battle became more earnest and terrible, and, as battery after
battery arrived in position, and opened its fire on the enemy, the
ground fairly shook with their repeated reverberations, while the
sharp roll of musketry--whole battalions delivering their fire at
once--filled up the intervals. The rebel position was well chosen,
under cover of a dense undergrowth of wood, their foreground
protected by groves of pines, which, however, offered no impediment
to our artillery, which mowed them down like grass.

I stated that the 17th were ordered to the right to support a
battery. As we marched in to take our position, the officer in
command of the battery, asked--

"What regiment is that?"

"The 17th Massachusetts," was the reply.

"All right, boys," said the officer, and turning to his men, he
remarked, "I'm glad they didn't send me one of those d--d nine months
regiments."

We stood a few minutes in the position we had first taken, the cannon
booming away like thunder, and the bullets began to p-e-e-w athwart
our line, quite lively--hurting nobody however--when the artillery
officer, who was on horseback, said--

"Here they come--the devils are on us!"

We could see the flash of bayonets at the edge of the wood, and fully
expected a charge. Our Colonel ordered the men to fall back a few
yards to a fence, unsling their blankets, and fix bayonets. This was
done in less time than it takes me to record it, and we waited with
anxiety the onset of the rebels.

Here, for the first time, was I brought into a position that required
courage and resolution; but though I felt determined to 'do or die,'
a strange feeling came over me, and if I was not really frightened,
the feeling was marvelously like fear. I suppose every man who first
goes into action is troubled with a sensation something akin to that
which I felt at this time; but, like every new sensation, it soon
wears off, and the experience of the actual dangers of conflict
serves to obliterate all such qualms, and leaves the individual in
the full enjoyment of a reckless indifference to what may betide, and
an implicit confidence in that fate which may be the preservation or
destruction of his dear life.

While we were in position awaiting the onset of the enemy, an
incident occurred, which showed how serene men will look upon others
going into the same danger they are in themselves.

A negro teamster, with his ammunition cart, was ordered further on,
to supply another battery on our right whose caissons were running
low of ammunition. The poor fellow thought he was going to his death,
and if ever mortal fear displayed itself upon the countenance of
any human being, it was upon that poor darky's face. I shall never
forget the wild rolling of his eyes, nor the frenzied and agonized
expression of his face, as he hesitatingly guided his team in front
of our regiment, urged on by our men with such encouraging remarks
as--

"Go it nig; don't be afraid!" "You're a goner, old darky,--good bye!"
"Won't the rebs chaw him up?" &c.

We waited some time for the rebels to appear, but they came not. In
the meantime, the battery we were supporting was ripping up the woods
in front in fine style--at every discharge cracking off the pine
trees as it they had been pipe stems.

At length an order came for us to proceed further down to the right,
where the 9th New Jersey and a battery had preceded us, and here we
crossed a swamp, and turned the enemy's right.

We were to push on; but our Lt. Colonel, not, perhaps, understanding
the order fully, halted us in a cleared field beyond the swamp, and
ordered us to lay down. The 9th New Jersey were off in the woods to
our right, and when I first beheld them I took them for rebels. From
the position occupied, we could see the long line of intrenchments
in our front; but we did not suppose a river intervened, which was
the case. During the movements just recorded, the firing had been
rapid and tremendous, and, from the cheers of our men, we could
clearly infer that the rebels were giving way. Then was the golden
opportunity for us--for, had we then advanced as we did afterwards,
instead of taking a few hundred prisoners, we should have captured
an entire brigade--but it was lost. Col. Amory coming up soon after,
said--

"Why do you stay here? Forward, as quick as you can!"

The regiment rose like one man, and, on the order being given to go
forward at the double quick, rushed down with a yell. As we neared
the bridge, we beheld a rout--an almost indescribable body of men
running for their lives. All discipline seemed lost, and casting
aside guns, equipments and clothing, and, in fact, whatever might
retard their flight, they fled like a herd of frightened deer, while
close upon their heels came on the charging columns of our men. It
was a magnificent, and yet it was a pitiable sight. As intimated
before, we succeeded in bagging a goodly number; but the bridge being
set on fire, we were forced to give over the pursuit until the flames
were extinguished.

While laying down in the field, I observed a substantial looking
two-story house in our front, and near the bridge, a large portion of
the rear of which had been shattered by a shell, evidently the work
of the enemy. I found this the case when we halted near the bridge,
from which position I could observe that the missile had entered
the roof of the piazza, went clean through the house, bursting as
it was penetrating the rear wall, and making the havoc described.
Standing upon the piazza, the picture of anguish and despair, were
two women, who seemed watching the rout of their army with a terrible
and heart-sick interest, perfectly heedless of the missiles of death
flying around thick and fast. Some of our officers, taking pity upon
the poor women, and solicitous lest the exposure should endanger
their lives, approached, and advised them to retire to a place of
safety. But they resolutely refused to stir from their dangerous
position. Doubtless, they had friends near and dear to them in the
fight, and anxiety for the fate of those loved ones made them forget
the natural timidity of their sex, and thus risk their lives.

It has been often stated that the women of the South did more to
drive the men to take up arms against the Government than the
politicians. If this be so--and my experience makes me think it
probable--then they have most surely reaped in the whirlwind of
desolation which has burst upon their hitherto peaceful homes the
most bitter fruits of the wind of treason they have sown. To them,
unlike the women of the North, the fields of strife are not afar
off, and they do not have to weep for their braves fallen in the
distant battle-field. The clouds of strife gather and burst about
their homes. They see their fields laid waste,--their towns and
villages made the abode of desolation and anguish. They behold
their sons, brothers, fathers, and friends stricken down by the
hand of war before their eyes. Danger lurks forever at their doors.
Famine--gaunt, ghastly, insatiate--forever hovers in their future,
like a bird of ill omen. They are forced to many a weary struggle
to provide the necessaries of life for their helpless, and too
frequently, alas! fatherless children. Like the first of their sex,
they incited disobedience, and now they find their paradise changed
to an abode of wretchedness and misery, and are compelled, in tears
and wretchedness to eat the bitter fruit of their crime. I have seen
the widowed wife and orphan children standing pale, motionless and
horror-struck over the dead body of the husband and father, and, with
glassy eyes look upon the passing array of their foes, fierce and
triumphant in the 'pomp and circumstance of war;' and I have thought
what a pity that even so great an offence should have so terrible a
punishment. But 'those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make
mad.'

The attack on Kinston was planned and carried out by Gen. Wessells,
and, though the fight was more severe, and of much longer duration
than the battle of Newbern, a difficult position was carried with
comparatively small loss--(about 100 killed and 400 wounded).

The rebels had chosen their position, as before stated, upon a slight
elevation beyond a swamp, and on both sides of the Kinston road.
Their left was protected by a church and a growth of scrub oaks, and
their right by a grove of large trees, their front and both flanks
being pretty well protected by a swamp, difficult to cross, and
densely covered with a growth of small trees and pines.

[Illustration: BATTLE OF KINSTON]

The brigade of Gen. Wessells opened the ball in fine style, driving
in the rebel advance, and alone sustained the onset of the rebels,
until the brigades commanded by Cols. Amory, Heckman, and Stevenson
got into position, when they formed the left wing of our line of
battle--Stevenson and Heckman the centre, and Amory the right.

Gen. Evans commanded the rebel army, which consisted of over five
brigades of about 15,000 men, including a brigade of home-guards
from Raleigh. The other troops were mainly from South Carolina,
Georgia and Mississippi. Evans disposed his men in a skilful manner
upon and behind the rising ground he had chosen for the battle-field,
and had several batteries so disposed as to command the approaches by
the road in front, and his left flank, which, however, was his weak
spot. The fire of the rebels upon our attacking columns was rapid
and well-directed, and did great havoc among them; but our line kept
steadily though slowly, from the nature of the ground, advancing upon
them, and, after a severe contest of over five and a half hours, and
just as the 17th and 9th New Jersey had succeeded in turning their
left, an impetuous charge was made, and the day was ours.

We halted in a field, and were ordered to lay down, our left resting
on the river. The few remaining rebels on the other side kept up a
desultory but sharp fire upon our men and the 9th New Jersey in our
front.

Orders to fire had not been given, and we had to lay quietly and
forego many a good opportunity of picking off a stray rebel. But
human nature could not stand such inaction always, and many a sly
shot was planted upon the opposite bank, sometimes with excellent
effect. I had my eye upon a rebel who kept firing from behind a tree,
and seemed particularly active in picking off our men, and suddenly
formed the resolve to shoot him if I possibly could. Slipping quietly
to the rear, I made quick time for the left of our line on the river
bank. Just as I arrived, I found one of Co. K's men, named Kendrick,
in the act of firing, and on looking across to see the result of
his shot, saw a huge porker jump into the air as if struck. Sam
fixed that fellow's hash for him, and it afterwards became a common
saying--"Who killed that pig?--Sam Kendrick." But my man, who was
behind a tree, abandoned his shelter and made off just as I had got
my battery into position. I fired, and, throwing up his arms, he
fell forward on his face. Feeling like a prize-fighter, who had drawn
his 'first blood,' I leisurely returned to my place in the ranks,
reloading my piece as I went along, when I was accosted by Capt. Day,
who was acting Major--

"You have been firing without orders."

"Yes, sir."

"What name?"

I told him.

"What company?"

"K."

Going along the line with me to where the company was, he ordered the
officer (Lieut. Greeley) to put me under arrest.

"What will all this amount to, lieutenant?" I asked.

"Nothing," he laconically replied, "take your place in the ranks."

"What's the matter?" queried some of the men.

"Nothing," I replied, "only I've been arrested for shooting a reb."

"Is that all!"

Men were detailed, under the guidance of Major Frankle, Provost
Marshal, to put out the fires which had been kindled by the
retreating rebels, which, in a short time, was accomplished, and
the 9th New Jersey crossed over followed by the 17th. And here I
had an opportunity of seeing some of the most terrible evidences of
human strife. The bridge was actually paved with cast-off arms and
equipments, while in the midst of where some of the fires had been, I
beheld one of the most sickening sights that ever met my gaze. Some
of the poor fellows who had been wounded by our fire on the retreat,
or been trampled down by the rush of the flying host, were burnt to a
cinder, and I could actually see the fat seething and boiling in the
hollow of the temple of one of the charred remains.

Upon reaching the other side of the river we halted, amidst a
promiscuous mass of dead, dying, and wounded men--of clothes, arms
and equipments. It was here that the 9th New Jersey picked up
(captured?) the battle-flag of the 22d South Carolina regiment, a
magnificent silk banner, with the palmetto tree on one side of the
field, and a wreath of stars on the other, and the red, white and red
stripes.

A few yards from where we halted, was an abandoned field piece with
its caisson, which the rebs had left behind in their flight. It was
the same cannon which had fired the last rebel shot in the battle,
directed at our regiment, over which it burst, and wounded two or
three men. I had the curiosity to examine some of the cartridges in
the caisson, and found them, as well as the fixed ammunition of the
small arms used by the rebels labelled with the maker's name (which I
forget) 'London, England.'

After a short halt we advanced up towards the town of Kinston,
whither the 9th New Jersey had preceded us. The road wound along the
river bank to the left for a short distance, and then took a turn to
the right into the centre of the town. At the entrance to the town,
the 9th New Jersey were halted, and when we came up mutual cheers
were exchanged.

Just then Gen. Wessells came riding up at the head of his brigade
of Pennsylvanians and New Yorkers. He was a fine specimen of a man,
tall, straight as an arrow, and with a pleasing, and even gentle
expression of countenance, that indicated a humane disposition, and
these indications were not false, if the love and admiration of his
men were any evidence. He seemed, by his gray hair and a few wrinkles
on his noble face, to be over fifty years of age; but, otherwise,
in elasticity of movement, apparent vigor, and by the keen, quick
glances of his honest gray eyes, he looked much younger.

The rebels, after collecting their stores and all the cotton they
could gather into a heap, set them on fire. They also set fire to the
railroad depot, a handsome brick structure, but this was extinguished
by our men before it had made any considerable headway.

Previous to our entering the town, a flag of truce demanding its
surrender had been sent in; but as it was found the enemy had
abandoned the town, a messenger was sent back acquainting Gen.
Foster with the fact, the party kept on to find the skedaddlers, if
possible. About two miles beyond the town they came up with Evans,
who sent back word to Gen. Foster to have the women and children
removed, as he was going to return the fire, which all the while had
been kept up by our heavy guns upon his retreating forces. This was
simply a ruse to gain time; for, after our forces had been brought
up and disposed in line of battle, and the cavalry and skirmishers
had advanced up to where they expected to find the enemy, it was
ascertained the bird had flown.

Our regiment, which had been detailed from the brigade, and when
we entered Kinston was ordered on provost duty, in view of the
anticipated fight, was ordered to rejoin the brigade; but, when the
skedaddle was discovered, we were again assigned to provost duty, and
such marching and countermarching, and shifting, and looking around
for a vacant place to serve as quarters for the night, as the men of
Co. K had, never fell to the lot of so tired and hungry a set of men
to experience. I suppose some of the other companies could boast of a
similar experience.

But do not suppose the men of the 17th were satisfied with only one
job on hand at a time. No, sir. They could do provost duty; but
they could also, when hungry, find something to eat (and drink) if
such were comeatable. In this instance the way poultry suffered was
a caution; and there was something truly ludicrous, too, in the
exhibition of men gravely marching in the ranks, each having in his
hand a couple of hens, or a turkey, or a goose, all of which made
such a noise and flutter that it was next to impossible to hear the
word of command when spoken.

The Major (Frankle), who, as a general thing, was very severe in his
denunciations of such proceedings, replied to a woman, who complained
that she had lost all her fowl:

"Vat--all your shickens gone? You may be tankful it was no more! If
you did not have more to eat than my men, and march and fight so
hard, I tink you would take a little shicken, too!"

The town of Kinston is one of the neatest and most tidy-looking I
have seen in North Carolina, or, in fact, elsewhere. It is finely
laid out, in a splendid location upon the banks of the river, the
streets running at right angles; the houses well built, painted
white, and to each is attached a beautiful and tasteful flower
garden. The jail was a small but solid-looking structure, and empty.
A church, small, but with a high steeple, (the top of which had been
struck and bent by a cannon-shot), stood in the centre, and an air of
so much quiet and comfort--so different from anything we had seen in
Dixie, and so unexpected in this place--pervaded it, that the men of
the 17th incontinently fell in love with the place, and wished for
nothing better than to do provost duty in Kinston forever.

We had not been long in the town when mines of apple-jack, peach
brandy, and tobacco were discovered, and the various expedients
resorted to by the men to get at the same were as amusing as they
were generally successful. People who left their houses with clothing
and other matters behind, must have found a considerable change when
they came back. Indeed, some of them returned during our occupation,
and a more pitiable sight could not well be imagined, than those
small processions of timid women and helpless children who came
flocking back to their homes upon being assured of protection.

Apple-jack and peach brandy, which had been discovered somewhere by
the most expert foragers, soon made their influence felt, and incited
the soldiers to committing many curious pranks. Here would be seen a
burly soldier, with a woman's dress, even to the bonnet, put on over
his own, his musket still on his shoulder, and linked arm in arm with
another soldier, presenting as grotesque an appearance as could well
be imagined--while in another place could be seen a party intently
engaged in harnessing a diminutive mule to a vehicle, the quadruped
resenting such freedom as only a mule can.

A cavalryman passed us, with a bucket in each hand, urging his horse
to its utmost speed, and shouting as he went on--

"Plenty of rum, boys!--lashins!--lashins!"

The inhabitants (those who remained) looked glum and chop-fallen
enough; but the negroes--it seemed a gala day to them, especially the
juvenile portion, who ran around among 'de sojers' as if they were
friends returning after a long absence.

"How is you, Yankees? I's glad you'm come!" was the general
salutation; and the negro women vied with each other in emptying
their larders to give 'de sojers suffen good.'

Towards night (having, like Ishmaelites, wandered about all the
evening in search of quarters) we obtained an entrance into a
hardware and furniture store; but just as we were going in an order
came, directing us to guard the prisoners. We proceeded to the upper
end of the town, near the depot, and there took charge of a squad of
about 400 rebels, and escorted them to a large unoccupied building at
the other end of the town. On our way thither, I had an opportunity
of speaking with several of them. Although they differed in some
things, yet they all seemed to agree in one thing, viz., in being
heartily sick of the war, and desirous of peace.

Observing among them a man in Quaker's garb, I remarked--

"Friend, you do not look like a fighting man. How did you get here?"

To which he replied, in a half-crying tone--

"Thou art right, friend. I am no fighting man. I never fought in my
life! I don't want to fight--I won't fight! Thy horsemen caught me on
the road, and thee seest the result."

Observing an elderly gentleman in civilians' clothes, I remarked--

"You do not look like a soldier either, friend?"

"No, sir," he replied, "I'm not a soldier; nor would my conscience
allow me to fight in the confederate cause. I've always been a Union
man, and am so still."

I cautioned him about expressing sentiments that might compromise
him when we left, as it was not certain how long he would receive
protection from our arms; but he replied, that he cared not; his
sentiments were already well known, and while he lived he would
express them to friend or foe.

Observing he was lightly clad, I asked if he had any friends in the
city who could supply him with clothes and something to eat. He
said his son-in-law, named Patterson, lived just across the street,
and would attend to his wants, if acquainted with his situation. I
offered to carry a message to Mr. Patterson, who expressed surprise
at his father-in-law's arrest, saying he was one of the few men in
that neighborhood, who had all along remained true to the old flag.

He immediately repaired to the provost marshal's office, and, I had
the satisfaction of knowing, was successful in obtaining the old
gentleman's unconditional release.

We left our blankets and overcoats on the field, and the night being
cold, after our blood had cooled somewhat, when the day's excitement
was ended, we felt the need of some covering, and a party of our
company was made up to go over and get them; but we could not procure
a team, and the project was abandoned. I, however, had no notion of
doing without my overcoat, and, with two or three others, who were
of the same mind, started for the field. We passed over the place
where the fighting had been thickest, and stumbled upon, and over,
evidences of the deadly strife--inanimate bodies of friend and foe,
maimed and disfigured. But I will not dwell upon the sickening scene
revealed to us by the light of the camp fires; suffice it to say,
that we were successful in obtaining our clothing and returned to our
temporary quarters tired and hungry.

During our absence, a hotel had been set on fire, whether by design
or through accident, could not be found out. It was burning fiercely
when we returned; and, despite the efforts of our men to extinguish
it, was destroyed, together with some small dwellings adjacent.

The gunboats had come up to a blockade about four miles below the
city, which was commanded by an earthwork fort; and, after we had
driven the rebels out of Kinston, we could hear the continuous boom
of heavy artillery in that direction. A squad of the 3d New York
Cavalry started for the scene, and surprised and captured the fort
that was pounding away at the gunboats, and nearly all in it.

The result of our day's work may be summed up in a few words--we beat
the rebels from a strong position, took over 500 prisoners, and 11
pieces of artillery.

The battle of Kinston was won on the same day on which the battle of
Fredericksburg was fought.

On Monday morning we were awakened early, and with the 9th New
Jersey, took up the advance. Recrossing the bridge, we passed over
the battle-field, and here I observed a fine mastiff laying down
beside the body of his dead rebel master. I had often read of such
things; but I had at last the privilege of seeing for myself that
noble instinct of affection which binds so closely the ties between
man and the inferior animals.

About two miles on the road to Whitehall (for we had turned off
in that direction), I left the ranks, and went into a house at
the roadside. A poor widow, with three or four young children,
constituted the family. The poor woman seemed terribly frightened,
and in a tremulous voice told me her husband had been in the rebel
army, and had died at Manassas; that she had to depend for her
support, and that of her children, upon the labor of the loom, and
that the house she lived in was given her for occupation, free, by
a gentleman who owned the plantation on which it stood. She gave me
some corn-bread, and I gave her in exchange a few biscuit and some
tobacco, for she smoked; and with pity in my heart for the poor woman
and her helpless family, I left them, none the worse off for my
visit, and rejoined the regiment which had halted for a rest a short
distance ahead.

About mid-day, however, I began to feel my legs growing stiff,
and being unable to keep up with the regiment, I 'fell out' and
straggled--for the first time. Charles Renaud (our late cook,
whom I have mentioned before) was in the same boat, and we soon
came together, and together trudged on as best we could, rested
together, made our coffee together, and together visited many
points of interest and attraction on our route, gathering a stray
honeycomb here, and a stray piece of corn bread there; but the
grand object of our search (which was anything of a spirituous or
malt nature we could get hold of--whiskey preferred) could not be
found. At length, shortly after mid-day, we came in sight of a
really handsome one-story cottage house, evidently the abode of
wealth and refinement, and thither we went, but only to find that
we had been anticipated; the house deserted by all save a negro,
and every thing in the most delightful confusion--drawers pulled
out, and their contents scattered about, chairs and furniture
broken, and every portable thing of value missing. But we were not
disappointed at this, as our object was not plunder, but--whiskey.
Bringing the point of my bayonet in close proximity to the darky's
breast, I conjured him as he wished for the success of the North,
and his own freedom and life, to tell me if he had any whiskey or
apple-jack stowed away about the premises. He turned pale (that
is, for a darky), his knees smote together, and, with an agonizing
appeal to spare his life (which was perfectly unnecessary, inasmuch
as I had no notion of confiscating it) and solemn assurances that
there was nothing of the kind on the premises, directed me to a
distillery, which, he averred, lay in from the road about 'haaf'
a mile, on the right hand, just after crossing the second branch.
Off we started, and on our way questioned a farmer, who, with horse
and team, was requested to accompany the army so that he should not
give information to his rebel friends of its whereabouts--Foster
having given them the slip--but he stoutly denied all knowledge of
its whereabouts, averring that there was nothing of the kind within
twenty miles. Somewhat staggered by this information, we were about
giving up the search; but depending more upon the darky's word than
that of Mr. Secesh, we finally concluded to give the place a trial.
We struck off at the point indicated, and followed a rough cart-road,
which, a short distance onward, diverged into numerous roads and
bridle-paths, to choose between which was no little difficulty. At
length we pitched upon one, and having disencumbered ourselves of
blankets, overcoats, and haversacks, which we secreted behind a
fallen tree, set forward, determined to see the end of that road, at
the same time keeping a wary eye in case we should stumble upon a
stray guerilla party. Instead of going 'haaf' a mile, we went over
two miles before we came in sight of the object of our search, which
was just beyond a grist-mill, on the bank of a stream. We knew it to
be a distillery by the number of casks and barrels around it, and
by the peculiar odor arising from it, borne to our nostrils on the
wings of the wind. But all was deserted; the mill and still-house
were locked, bolted and barred, and our cautious advance found no
opposition from anything animate. We paused before the strongly
protected door of the distillery, and I doubted our ability to break
the lock.

"Well, then, let us smash in ze door."

"But we will be heard by the guerillas who may not be far off, and
what would we do if a dozen of them should come upon us?"

"Fight, I teenk."

"Fight! What chance would we have against so many?"

"We could fire, and re-treet."

"Yes; but they would probably surround us before we knew it."

"Well--dhan, I suppose we must be tak-en pree-so-neer."

"And would you like that, Charley?"

"I sup-pose if we cannot help it--what you do?" and he shrugged his
shoulders.

"Are you willing to run the risk?"

"Oui--if you say so!"

But believing there might be an easier way of 'breaking and
entering,' besides attacking the formidable door before us, I
suggested a reconnoitre of the rear, where we found an opening
defended only by a few boards nailed crosswise. These were soon
ripped off, and, leaving Charley to guard against any surprise from
without, I entered, taking his canteen, and proceeded to explore.
There was corn in soak, and plenty of empty casks; but no whiskey. At
length I lit upon a stone jug nearly full, from which came the smell
of whiskey, and, giving Charley to understand I had found the prize,
I proceeded to fill both the canteens, after having accomplished
which, I thought it would be nothing out of the way to save what I
had secured as much as possible, and therefore proceeded to fortify
myself with a pull at the jug; but the first mouthful convinced me
that the prize I had secured was not whiskey, but water (no doubt,
the jug had contained whiskey once, as was evident from the smell).
Vexed at my disappointment, I proceeded to examine further, but with
no success, and I finally emerged empty-handed as I had entered.
Charley was as much disappointed as I, but a shrug and muttered
'sacre' was all the evidence he gave of it. We then broke into the
mill; but found nothing there except corn and some empty kegs. We
went to a house or barn in the rear, filled with corn, but were
equally unsuccessful. There was a house about a mile distant from the
mill, and after a consultation, in which it was taken for granted
that it must belong to the owner of the distillery, we started for
it. Within a quarter of a mile of the house was a grove of young
pines, and there we halted and arranged that I should go forward
alone, and in case of danger Charley could come up at the proper,
time, when I would ask him where he left the rest of the men, and
he was to reply--"Waiting in the grove." Fixing on my bayonet, and
looking to see if the cap of my piece was all right, I moved for
the house, which I reached without molestation or discovery, except
by a sentinel dog (not a fierce one), who retreated in good order
at my approach. I entered the first door I came to, and proceeded
through a bed room into which it opened, to the kitchen or general
room of the house. My heavy tread announced a stranger, I suppose,
for half a dozen females and as many children came in at once, and
seemed transfixed and terrified at the apparition they beheld. Giving
assurance that I intended no harm to any of them, I inquired if
the master of the house was at home, and if so, where he then was?
After a little hesitation, they told me he was in the garden, in
front. I went out to him, and he returned my salutation without any
exhibition of ill-will. I inquired if guerillas were numerous in the
neighborhood, which he denied, saying, however, at length, that there
had been 'a right smart' of mounted men in the neighborhood a short
time previously. At this juncture Charley came up, and I questioned,
and received such answer from him as agreed upon. I inquired about
the distillery, but the planter disclaimed its ownership, saying
that the man who owned it, lived a 'right smart' distance beyond.
Had he any whiskey? No, sir; he hadn't a drop--we might search
if we pleased--he had nothing in that line but some peach brandy
(spirits), which had been burnt in the distillation, but was just as
good, and we were welcome to it. Taking him at his word, we poured
into our canteens enough of the spirits to warrant our filling them
with water, and still leave a strong drink (I didn't have the heart
to take all). We then asked if he had anything to eat, as we were
hungry, when his wife immediately set before us a good dish of pork,
corn bread, and sweet potatoes, which we did ample justice to. The
children became more familiar, and some of the youngest actually came
up to us, to share in our meal. They were the finest children I had
seen in North Carolina. Thanking our host--for we had nothing better
to give in return--we retraced our steps in better spirits, and soon
rejoined our struggling and straggling comrades, who had been, and
were still, wending along on their weary way.

We had in Co. K a young fellow, of small stature, named Tom McNally,
who was one of the regimental 'markers.' Tom was full of fun, and had
a great love for horseflesh. He accompanied the regiment on every
expedition, and it was remarked, that he always managed to have a
horse to ride ('confiscated,' of course, from rebels, in a manner
peculiar to Tom). At the battle of Kinston, he came in possession of
a fine colt; but, during the afternoon, while engaged in exploring
the town, the animal was stolen by one of the 51st. Tom went up
boldly to the headquarters of the regiment, and demanded the horse;
but the colonel of the 51st told him he had no right to the animal,
and should not have him.

"I've as much right to him as the other fellow," said Tom; "and if I
can't get him any other way, I'll steal him back again!"

And he would have carried out his threat, but eight men of the 51st
were detailed to guard the animal that night, and, of course, he
stood no chance of being successful, and did not try his hand at the
game.

Nothing disheartened, however, he next morning struck off ahead of
the regiment, and had not proceeded above three miles before he came
to a plantation, where he found a fine young mare; and actually
compelled the owner to put on bridle, saddle, and assist him to
mount. The wife of the planter did not wish to lose the animal, and
told Tom she had a better horse in one of the fields, which he could
have instead; but, suspecting the horse could not be better, he made
off amid the complaints of the woman. One of the 9th New Jersey, who
witnessed the affair told him it was a shame, &c.

"Shut up your head!" answered Tom, "you'd be only too glad to get a
horse to ride yourself!"

And, sure enough, it was not long until Tom saw the Jersey-man
mounted on a blind mule he had taken from a negro.

Shortly after, Tom procured a pair of spurs, and on applying them to
the mare's flanks, developed a peculiarity, which his ready wit soon
turned to account, as the following will show:

Riding up to a planter's house, he accosted a negro girl, and asked
her for some eggs. She refused to give him any, when, turning the
horse's heels towards her, and applying the spurs, the animal began
kicking furiously, Tom at the same time exclaiming--

"If you don't get me some eggs, I'll kick your brains out!"

"O lor, massa, don't kill me, and I get de eggs!" she said, and
retreated to the hen-house; but once inside, and feeling secure, she
again attempted to put him off by saying there were no eggs; when,
without further parley, he backed his nag up against the hen-house,
and giving her the spurs, the animal commenced kicking against it
so violently, that the wench, fearing the building would be knocked
about her ears, piteously begged him to desist, and she would get him
all the eggs he wanted. Tom drew off from the attack, and received
the fruits of his victory, in the shape of a dozen eggs. The same
persuasive force also procured a canteen full of peach brandy. But
luck is often a fickle jade, as is a strange mare, sometimes; for,
the very qualities in Tom's animal of which he was so proud, and
which had served his turn so well, came near being the death of him.
Passing too close to her heels one evening, the vicious brute gave
him a kick in the side, and broke two of his ribs, which eventually
ended in his being discharged from the regiment.

I might here pause, and give a description of the stragglers (among
whom I found myself for the first time.) The mass of stragglers, as a
general thing, are composed of men who become worn out with marching,
or who are too foot-sore to keep up with their respective battalions,
and fall behind, keeping on as best they can, and generally rejoining
the regiments when they bivouac, though, of course, some hours after
the halt for the night takes place. Some--often a great portion--of
them, however, straggle for the sake of picking up stray fowls,
victuals, and whatever else palatable which might fall in their way;
and it was an amusing study to watch these fellows scattered and
squatted along the roadside, or snugly ensconced in the angles of
the fences, leisurely engaged in the work of plucking geese, turkies
and other fowl, or skinning and dissecting dead porkers. Sometimes
a cow would be met with and slain, and then quite a number of these
stragglers would congregate, light a fire, and proceed to roast and
devour the not unsavory pieces of flesh hewn from the still quivering
carcase. There is, of course, a rear-guard to each brigade; but
they do not succeed in keeping the men moving fast enough, and are
generally compelled to 'let them slide.' Some of the stragglers,
however, take a different method of prosecuting their researches,
and, instead of falling behind, push ahead, and spread themselves
like locusts on each flank, and generally make a clean sweep of all
things eatable in their course.

The army bivouacked for the night within about five miles of
Whitehall. In the morning, just before we started, a difficulty
occurred between Billy Patterson and a little drummer. Words grew
hot, and the drummer, making a demonstration on Billy's physiognomy,
the latter (a burly, double-fisted fellow), as if resolved to die in
the last ditch, exclaimed--

"Well, be----, a man has got to die but once, and I might as well die
now"--

But his further utterance was stopped by the little drummer springing
up and dealing him a 'sockdologer' under the ear. Before Billy
could draw in his skirmishers, however, and prepare for a general
engagement, an officer stepped up and separated the belligerents.

About nine o'clock on Tuesday, our advance came up with the enemy at
Whitehall, who, after a sharp skirmish, retired across the river,
burning the bridge behind them.

Whitehall consisted of one house, which looked as if it never knew a
coat of paint, and why it was called by that name has been a mystery
to me to this day. The only reasonable solution I can give to the
apparent misnomer is, that a man named White, or a white man, lived
there.

Upon the advance of our forces towards the river--a feint being made
as if we intended to cross the same--the enemy opened on us from the
opposite side with artillery and musketry. They had also a number of
sharpshooters in the tree-tops, and other advantageous positions on
the other bank, who kept up a continuous and pelting fire upon us,
with perfect impunity, too, for we could not see them, though they
could see us, and picked off many of our poor fellows.

The 17th were ordered down to the river bank on the right of the
road, and got into a hornet's nest and no mistake; for the shells
burst around and among us, and the bullets made the air vocal with
their insinuating p-e-w-phet; but though we had quite a number
wounded, not one of our number was killed.

[Illustration]

While being actively engaged upon the river bank, our own artillery
had come up, and commenced pelting at the rebs in glorious style.
We had six batteries (forty-two pieces) in the expedition, and here
they were all brought into play. The enemy had also a good share of
artillery, and when they all got into full working order, what with
the bursting of shells and the diapason of small arms, the ground
fairly shook with the reverberations.

The wooded bank of the river, in which the 17th were posted, becoming
dangerous from the fire of our artillery, which ripped through the
trees and drove the splinters about in all directions, wounding some
of our men, Col. Amory sent in his aide with instructions for Lt. Col.
Fellows to draw his men further to the rear. I was sitting cosily
on the edge of a sloping bank, my legs astride the butt of a tree,
and anxiously dodging my head about in search of a sharp-shooter
who was, as I had occasion to believe, exclusively engaged in the
endeavor to put me out of suspense and existence at the same time,
when the aide came up and inquired where the Lt. Col. was. Perhaps
it was officiousness on my part to direct him in the most safe and
expeditious way to find Lt. Col. Fellows, who, as usual was at the
front; for, without noticing my directions he proceeded further, and
came near faring much worse. Just as he was taking advantage of an
opening in the underbrush to go down the bank, whizz-herr-r-r-bang
came a shell from the enemy which passed within two feet of him. He
drew back, pale, and looking frightened enough; but, rallying, he
proceeded a few yards further; but, just as he had found another
opening, one of our batteries sent a discharge ripping through the
woods just in front of him again, when, thinking, probably, he had
gone far enough in that direction, he came to the right about, and
sought the path I pointed out to him in the first place.

Our regiment was withdrawn about one hundred yards to the rear,
ordered to lay down, and remained there under fire for three hours.
We had, however, time to smoke, and take a survey of the battle-field
on our left. The batteries were thundering away, and the regiments
which were ordered in on the left of the road (among which were the
23d, 44th and 45th), were tiring rapidly, and losing heavily, if
one could form a judgment from the way in which the ambulance corps
were carrying the wounded to the rear. Not only did the infantry
suffer from the fire of the enemy, but the batteries which were most
advanced suffered their share of the casualties.

A sergeant, of Belger's battery I think, was in the act of
dismounting from his horse, when a shot or shell passed through the
animal, and hit the sergeant, tearing the left side completely out of
him.

One of our men wishing to have a better view of some object in his
front, elevated his head, and opened his mouth, when a rifle ball
passed into the cavity, and out at the back of his neck, the first
intimation of which we had was a stream of blood spirting out of his
mouth.

Major John G. Chambers was in command of the 23d, and marched his
men in under fire; then formed them in line of battle, and I could
not help noticing the extreme coolness of this officer in giving the
order, in a deliberate voice--

"Captains of companies, see to your allinements."

Before the engagement had any sign of abating, the 17th were ordered
to take up the advance for Goldsboro. We had to pass across the
battle-ground under fire every step of the way; but, strange to say,
no casualties occurred during this movement. We halted opposite the
house which constituted the city or town of Whitehall, when we were
accosted by an enthusiastic but prudent defender of his country, who
had taken shelter in the lee of the house, safe from the enemy's
bullets, who exclaimed:

"I say, boys, aint we giving 'em hell?"

Bestowing upon the hero a few 'O you be d--ds,' we resumed our march,
and soon left the fierce cannonade far behind us.

The battle of Whitehall was little more than an artillery-duel, and
would be deserving only of a few lines of record if it occurred on
the Potomac or the Rapidan. I think, in the engagement, which lasted
about four and a half hours, there must have been a great deal of
lead wasted and iron thrown away on our side. The only sensible
impression made by our projectiles, that we could see, was upon the
frame of a gunboat on the stocks at the other side of the river
(intended for an iron-clad), and this was certainly riddled up in
fine style.

The mention of the gunboat, or frame of one, puts me in mind of a
daring act performed the evening previous to the battle by one of the
3d New York cavalry. He stripped off, swam the river, and was in the
act of setting the gunboat on fire, when he was discovered and fired
upon, and had to dive into the river, leaving his work undone, and
swim back again amid a perfect shower of bullets, not one of which,
strange to relate, touched him.

The loss on our side at Whitehall was about 30 killed and 120 wounded.

Our regiment was followed by the 9th New Jersey and others, until
all the infantry were under full headway, leaving only a battery
and a company of cavalry to engage the attention of the enemy until
nightfall.

We continued our march to within about five miles of Steep Creek, and
eight of the Wilmington Railroad, and halted for the night.

On Wednesday morning our regiment, followed by the 9th New Jersey,
again took up the advance, and proceeded cautiously along to within
about two miles of the railroad, where, as we came out upon the brow
of a hill, we could see about a mile in our front the gleaming of the
enemy's arms, as they slowly withdrew. Our advance companies came
up with them, and quite a lively skirmish ensued, in which Sergeant
Hardy of Co. F was mortally wounded.

Lt. Col. Fellows seemed in his element, and went on even in advance
of the skirmishers.

A battery had been planted on the hill just mentioned, and commenced
shelling the retreating rebels.

We advanced through a wood, skirting the mill pond, and, just on the
further edge of the wood, where we struck the county road, we came
upon a deserted rebel camp, the fires still burning, and in the ashes
of which many roasted sweet potatoes were found.

After a short halt, we advanced along the county road which crossed
the railroad about a mile to the south of the railroad bridge over
the Neuse river, on arriving at which place abundant evidences were
manifest of a hasty preparation to receive us, abandoned in greater
haste, the hoes and shovels used in making rifle-pits and breastworks
being left in confusion along the track. Axes were immediately
brought into requisition, the telegraph posts cut down and the wires
destroyed.

We halted a few minutes just beyond the railroad, and, two companies
being sent out as skirmishers to the left, took up our march on the
track towards the bridge, which it was the purpose of the expedition
to destroy.

This bridge was a magnificent structure, about 200 feet long, and is
said to have taken twelve months to build.

The 17th had proceeded but a quarter of the distance, however, when
they were opened upon by a battery placed on the track across the
bridge, which, having the exact range of our position sent shot and
shell into us with terrible accuracy.

The track was immediately cleared, the regiment dividing, taking each
side of the railroad, (the bed of which there rose to an elevation
of about ten feet,) and gradually advanced towards the bridge. The
fire from the battery and sharpshooters on each side of the railroad,
became so continuous and heavy that it was difficult to tell whether
moving along or laying still was most dangerous; but we kept pressing
on, returning the fire as best we could. Our firing was rapid, but,
though the bullets flew into where the enemy were supposed to be, yet
I doubt if they did much execution.

While advancing cautiously onward, and during one of those pauses in
our progress rendered prudent by the iron and leaden hail directed
against us, an incident occurred, which impressed me at the time as
being truly ludicrous. A Co. K man, named Gately, who was hugging
the side of the railroad with commendable zeal, was approached by a
rebel of the canine species, which, with that instinct that often
approaches to reason, and is at times wonderfully developed in this
species of animal, seemed to realize that he was in the midst of
danger, and sought the nearest place of shelter. For this purpose, he
insinuated himself between the soldier and the ground. The man not
relishing the companionship, from prudential reasons, no doubt--an
inch of elevation in the position he then was affording so much of an
additional mark for bullets or erratic pieces of shell,--endeavored
to dislodge him, saying--

"Clear out of this, d--n you!"

But the dog would not stay repulsed, and again returned.

"Give him the butt of the musket!" suggested Phil. Mealley, (another
of Co. K's men), "knock him over into the ditch!"

This suggestion was acted upon, and the dog driven off.

As we were marching down the railroad in the first place, and when
the enemy opened upon us, the cry was raised among the men--Billy
Patterson's stentorian voice being among the loudest--

"Unfurl the flag!"

"Let the d--d rebs see what we fight under!"

"Show them our colors!"

A man named Carney, of Co. I, who was color-sergeant, immediately
responded to the call, and shook out the folds of the old 'star
spangled banner;' and there he stood on the railroad track, alone,
for half an hour, a mark for the enemy's sharpshooters; but, strange
to relate, though two of the color guard who were lying down behind
him were wounded, and the old flag riddled with bullets, he received
not a scratch. This act of true bravery, no matter how ill-advised it
might have been, is, I think, deserving of a record, and the honor
of this deed should be given to the man who so nobly faced death
while upholding his country's flag.

Having progressed in the manner described about half a mile, somebody
gave the order, and every one repeated it, to form on the railroad,
and charge across the bridge--what for, except to take the battery
just beyond, which had so annoyed us, I could not understand.
Supposing however, that everything was correct, I scrambled up the
bank and took my place with the rest. Then with a shout and a cheer
we commenced the charge on the double quick; but had not proceeded
twenty yards when, from the skirt of woods bordering the field on
our left there came--tr-r-r-r-r--a volley of musketry fired by file,
followed in half a minute's time by another volley delivered at once.
(I should judge from the length of the line that no less than three
regiments fired each time). And then commenced a scene that it would
be vain to attempt a description of, especially by an actor in it. In
less time than I can relate it, every man who was not wounded, had
jumped, tumbled headlong or rolled over into the ditch at the right
of the track, and the regiment apparently thrown into the wildest
confusion. I have been told that those who witnessed the scene
thought for the moment that the 17th were cut to pieces; but were
agreeably surprised to see the brave fellows spring up again, and
commence a rapid fire upon the enemy, using the elevated bed of the
railroad as a breastwork.

There were but four or five men wounded from these volleys. The
rebels, evidently mistaking the distance (about 200 yards), and the
height of the railroad bed did not fire high enough, and most of
their bullets lodged in the bank at the left--an extremely lucky
circumstance for us all, as was also the interruption to our progress
thus given; for had we crossed the bridge few of us would ever have
returned to tell the tale.

When the sound of the first volley struck my ear, I involuntarily
turned my head to see where it came from, and I mentally
remarked--"What splendid file-firing!" But when the second volley
burst out at once, the smaller sounds uniting to swell the volume
into a deafening crash, I was too absorbed in calculations upon
whether any of the musical messengers of death singing about my
ears, were intended for my especial misfortune, and hesitating
among the confused mass of men what to do with myself, when, just
as a shell burst close over me, I received a knock on the left side
which doubled me up, and I toppled over, with the others, head heels
into the ditch. The breath was knocked out of me, but sensibility
remained; and, strange to say, while falling the short distance down
the bank, I made twice over this mental calculation--

"If the bullet [I thought it was a bullet, and went quite clean
through me, for I felt the pain equally in both sides] has not gone
through my stomach I may get over it. If it has, I'm a goner, sure."

Picking myself up, as best I could, and, with a rueful visage, I
suppose, replying to the inquiries of my comrades if I was hit, I
took off my blanket, unbuckled my belt, and proceeded to search for
the wound. I will freely acknowledge, that at this time my thoughts
were not of the most lively character; but, upon searching and
finding no wound save a painful bruise, I could have jumped for joy,
and felt better pleased than if I had come into possession of the
best plantation in North Carolina. In picking myself up after the
tumble just described, I noticed the 9th New Jersey, who had advanced
down the field to our right, retire on the order at the double-quick.
And yet, afterwards, in Gen. Foster's report, this regiment received
all the credit for what the 17th had done.

After a while Morrison's battery came thundering along, and got into
position in the field at the right of the railroad, and commenced
hurling shot and shell into the enemy in fine style.

The men were loading and firing away in splendid fashion, though I
think with questionable results, and, catching the spirit of the
occasion, I added my feeble quota to their efforts.

[Illustration]

At one time, after discharging my piece over the railroad, and
coming down to reload--the shot and shell of the enemy screaming and
bursting over and around us, they having brought a number of their
batteries to bear upon our particular position--I beheld one of our
men (a very young fellow), with his head punched into the bank;
and looking the picture of bewilderment and terror. Seeing that he
appeared unhurt, I questioned him while loading my piece:

"What's the matter? Why don't you fire?" [No answer.]

"Is your piece loaded?" "Yes."

"Then, d--n you, get up, and act like a man!"

But he was too terrified to move, and I left him in disgust, although
pitying the infirmity that should have deterred him from ever
entering the army.

I have omitted to state that half a dozen of the marines, whom we
had been guarding, had volunteered into Co. I (our smallest company
in point of numbers), and in this engagement they acted with great
gallantry. Our men were crowding the embankment towards the bridge,
and one of the marines anxious to have his share of the fun, sung
out--

"Make room for a marine, there, will you?"

"Bully for the marine!" shouted the boys, as they made way for him.

One of our fellows had taken shelter behind a log, and a
non-commissioned officer observing the act, routed him out, telling
him to go forward and do his duty. The man departed, and the officer
took his place, snugly ensconcing himself behind the log.

Lt. Col. Fellows was continually going up and down the line,
encouraging his men, showing them by his example a pattern of the
most fearless bravery.

Lieut. Graham, of the Artillery, went forward with combustibles to
fire the bridge, but soon returned pell-mell, jumping behind a log,
exclaiming--

"D--n them, they won't give a fellow the ghost of a chance out there!"

An order then came to form into line, and I thought it a case of
particular hardship in taking up my place in the ranks to have to
stand upon a log, which elevated me about two feet above my comrades,
and thereby exposed me more to the flying shot and shell of our own
batteries, as well as those of the enemy; for our own shells were
bursting just over us, and Morrison's battery was belching forth its
destructive missiles just above our heads.

The order was given, and we marched out from behind the embankment,
and were halted in the rear of Morrison's battery, and ordered to lie
down in a hollow made by taking earth for the bed of the railroad.
The rebels seemed to have the exact range of the position, and the
way the shell and solid shot scattered and tore up the earth about
us, and in our midst, was a caution. Col. Fellows alone stood, and
some of the officers were remonstrating with him upon the rashness of
thus exposing himself, when a shell at that moment came screaming by,
apparently within a few feet of his head--

"Phew! there she goes!" exclaimed Col. Fellows; and replying to the
officers, he said--"Well, it appears to me, that it is just as safe
standing here, as lying down; if a man is to be hit, he'll be hit
lying down as well as in any other position!"

"Poor philosophy, Colonel," I thought, "but very inspiriting words."

Lieut. Barnabas F. Mann then came forward, with a bundle of prepared
combustibles in his hands, and called for two volunteers to accompany
him to the bridge, to operate with another party in an endeavor to
fire the same. The men were instantly forthcoming, of course, and the
trio started on their dangerous errand. We watched them with anxiety,
and saw them gain the bridge amid a perfect death-shower of bullets,
one of which, unfortunately, hit our brave Lieut. Mann on the plate
of his belt, causing a severe contused wound. They returned with
the wounded officer, reporting that they did not succeed in their
enterprise; but were mistaken, as will be seen presently.

Faint cheers were now heard from the rebels, and on looking to
ascertain the cause, it was discovered that a train had arrived with
reinforcements, which could be seen rapidly defiling from the cars
and forming in line of battle across the railroad. Capt. Morrison
learning this, immediately jumped upon the railroad, and directed the
fire of his battery. The first shell fired fell rather to the left of
the rebel line. The second fell in their midst almost on the railroad
track, and the way they scattered into the woods was amusing.

A 'monitor' or battery came up with this train, and immediately
commenced shelling us, every shell bursting directly above our heads.
At the third fire from Morrison's battery, the shell exploded the
engine, and a column of white smoke shot up into the air, carrying
with it, no doubt, the lives of many poor rebels.

The enemy's fire began to slacken, and just as another attempt was
about to be made to fire the bridge, smoke could be seen issuing from
it, and soon the whole structure was wrapped in flames. The most
important part of the work was accomplished.

In the meantime the work of tearing up the rails and sleepers of the
railroad, and setting them on fire, was efficiently performed by
the gallant 5th Mass. regiment and the New York Cavalry, the latter
destroying another railroad bridge about two miles north of the
great bridge; and when the fight was concluded I had time to notice
the smoke of hundreds of fires, extending as far as the eye could
reach on the bed of the road, indicating how completely the work of
demolition had been accomplished.

Our regiment then marched out from under fire, and were received with
cheers from all the other regiments that had come up to our support.

We then took up the advance on the return movement; but had not
proceeded far, when we heard firing, and cheers of men, indicating
that the fighting was not yet over, and soon an order reached us to
halt. We were formed in line of battle, in case the forces in front
would be compelled to retreat; but after a half hour's suspense in
this position, were ordered again to the scene of our late labors,
where we arrived in time to see the tail end of the fight, and to
find we were not needed.

It appears that just after we had retired from the field, and towards
sunset, the rebels having crossed the county bridge, some two or
three miles above, to the number of three or four thousand, came
down and charged across the railroad upon battery B, 3d New York
Artillery. They formed in three lines of battle and came on with a
terrible swoop intending to crush all before them.

The captain of the battery ordered his pieces to be loaded with
double charge of grape and canister, and when they came within about
sixty yards, sent a hail storm into their midst which mowed them
down like grass, and before they could rally or fly, sent another
discharge into them which threw them into such confusion that they
incontinently fled, and were seen no more. The 5th Massachusetts was
supporting this battery, and received great praise for its gallant
behaviour. About forty prisoners were taken, and if the artillery
supports had charged, no doubt many more would have been captured.

Our aid not being required, we went to the right about, and again
took up the backward track; but though night had fallen on the scene,
our way was not in darkness; for, some of the men--stragglers,
perhaps--of the advanced regiments, had amused themselves in setting
the woods on fire, on each side of the road. The scene was grand.
The huge pitch-pines, which had been stripped to obtain the gum,
from which turpentine and rosin were made, were ignited, and burned
fiercely, and lined our road on either side like flaming sentinels.
The underbrush had also caught, as well as the dried leaves, and
with their volume of light added, rendered our pathway as clear and
distinct as if the noonday sun poured down his burning beams. The
heavy and regular tread of the marching battalions; the rumbling of
the artillery and the baggage wagons and ambulances; the braying of
mules; the confused hum of voices; the occasional cry of pain from
the wounded men; the fierce, flaming, crackling, and cracking of the
trees on fire; the occasional crashes of the falling giants of the
forest; and the illuminated cloud of smoke which hung over all, made
up a picture of sight and sound that, once witnessed, can never be
forgotten.

I was tired, weary, bruised, and exhausted, and felt truly glad
when we halted for the night, which we did in the same place we had
bivouacked the night previous.

We resumed our march next morning; but I could not keep up, and
arrived at the bivouac long after the regiment had stacked arms. But
on emerging from the wood in full view of the encampment, I beheld
a sight which was the grandest I ever witnessed. The ground rose to
a considerable elevation from and on each side of the road, on both
sides of which were encamped the infantry, cavalry and artillery. I
could see the long lines of bivouac fires extending to the woods on
either side, and the swarthy visages of the men as they moved around,
or gathered about the fires, smoking and talking over the events
of the day; and, what with the braying of mules and the barking of
isolated and astonished dogs, there came a hum from the host that
resembled the murmuring of 'many waters.' Added to this sight of
magnificence the surrounding woods on fire, and the crashing of
falling trees and branches, which might lead to the delusion that
quite a number of small skirmishes were going on at the same time,
and you will have some faint idea of the picture that met my gaze. To
one unacquainted with military matters, looking upon that scene, it
would appear that instead of an army of fifteen or twenty thousand
men, there were at least double or treble that number encamped before
him.

On our return, we were accompanied by a goodly number of escaped
slaves, and any one who beheld the processions of these escaped
bondmen--and they were dotted all through and along the line--men,
women and children, and witnessed the patient and even cheerful
manner in which they toiled along, with all they could hastily gather
up in their flight, would be convinced that their love of liberty
was prompted by more than an indefinite idea of the blessings of
independence. I could not help occasionally smiling at the grotesque
appearance of some of the females, who had, apparently, left the
more useful articles of their own wardrobe, to indulge in the
inevitable female taste for finery and gewgaws, by 'confiscating'
and bringing off in triumph some of their late mistresses' finery.
Some were apparently unmarried, and they carried the largest amount
of 'plunder,' while those who had children to carry or look after,
could not bring more than a few necessaries of life, and, perhaps,
a bed-quilt or blanket. Some had mules or carts; but the majority
were on foot. After a tedious and toilsome march of over three days,
in which no enemy annoyed our flanks, front or rear, we arrived in
Newbern, as 'hard' a looking set of men as probably ever entered that
city before. We were thankful, however, that our toils and fighting
were over for the present, at least, and enjoyed the short repose
granted us, ere we resumed our duty as provost guard of Newbern.

The 17th regiment continued in the city until the 26th of January,
1863, when it was relieved by the 45th, and went into barracks near
the old county bridge across the Trent river. Here the regiment was
engaged in doing picket duty, and constructing earthworks under the
superintendence of Major Frankle, in which latter duty they were
assisted by the 43d Mass., encamped near by.

The winter wore away heavily enough, but was enlivened by occasional
dancing assemblies in the different companies' quarters, each
emulating the other in the taste displayed in their decoration.

On the 14th of March (the anniversary of the battle of Newbern),
the enemy made an attack upon an entrenched camp of two regiments
of Wessells' brigade, across the Neuse river, and at the same time
attempted to shell the city; but the gunboat Hunchback coming to the
rescue, they were driven off. The affair was a fizzle on the part of
the enemy, although from a sketch of it which I have seen in one of
the New York illustrated papers, the public might be led to suppose
it was most sanguinary and terrible.

I omitted to mention, in the proper place, the departure on the 7th
of Feb'y, '63, of an expedition composed of a portion of the 18th
Army Corps and Gen. Peck's Division of the Army of the Potomac, which
arrived from Norfolk in January. This expedition, upon which so much
was counted, proved a failure, owing to a disagreement between Gens.
Foster and Hunter as to which general should have the chief command
and direction of affairs in the operations against Charleston; and,
as Foster could not have his own way, he withdrew a considerable
portion of his forces, and with them returned to North Carolina in
March.

About the first of April, the rebel Generals Hill and Garnett, with
about fifteen thousand troops invested Little Washington, and erected
batteries so as to command the approaches by water. Gen. Foster
arrived the day it was invested, and great fears were entertained
for his safety as well as that of the garrison. The rebels commenced
a vigorous bombardment of the position, but after fifteen days
pounding, and being pounded in turn, they fell back, and raised the
siege. During all this time we could distinctly hear the sound of the
cannonade, although the scene of conflict was fifteen or twenty miles
distant.

On the 7th of April, the 17th formed part of an expedition undertaken
for the relief of the besieged city; but upon approaching a place
called Blounts' Mills, the enemy was discovered in force strongly
entrenched. A severe skirmish ensued, the 17th losing seven men and
an officer wounded, when the position being found too strong, the
troops were withdrawn, and the expedition returned, without having
accomplished anything. The expedition renewed its attempt on the 17th
of April, and reached Washington on the 22d, without opposition, the
enemy having previously withdrawn.

On the 27th, the 17th with the other regiments of the brigade,
including the 45th Mass., started on an expedition to Green Swamp,
upon the railroad leading to Kinston. On the 28th, at a place called
Sandy Ride, near Cove or Cole Creek, the enemy were encountered, and
the 45th advanced towards where they were entrenched, and would, no
doubt have driven them out in fine style, for the 45th was really
a good fighting regiment, but the Col. (Codman) hesitated, not
from fear, I think, but ill-judged prudence, when two companies of
the 17th were ordered up by Lt. Col. Fellows, and marched into the
enemy's works, which they found abandoned. The expedition returned to
its bivouac of the night previous, amidst a drenching rain, having
marched nineteen miles in nine hours.

On the 5th of July, the 17th formed part of an expedition under Gen.
Heckman, and proceeded to Warsaw, where they made some important
captures of rebel stores, and destroyed salt works, &c.

On the 1st of October, the 17th again assumed the provost duty of
Newbern, relieving the 27th Mass., where it has, I believe, remained
ever since.

The rebels had during the winter of 1863, made several feints upon
Newbern, and drove in our pickets at various times, but never
approached nearer the city than ten miles. During the Fall of
'63, after the nine months troops had been all withdrawn from the
department, their time having expired, the comparatively small
garrison had been still further depleted by Gen. Butler (who
succeeded Gen. Foster as department commander) for the purpose of
strengthening other posts. The rebels fully aware of this, determined
upon the capture of Newbern, and, during January, collected a
force of 15,000 or 20,000 men at Kinston, and on the 26th, reached
our outposts, which they drove in. About 114 men of the various
companies of the 17th under command of Lieut. Col. Fellows, went
to the assistance of the pickets at Batchelder's Creek, and on the
1st of Feb. were attacked by an overwhelming force of rebels, and
lost eight officers and fifty men taken prisoners, and one killed
and four wounded. Among the prisoners were Lieut. Col. Fellows,
Adjutant Cheever (wounded), Capt. Lloyd (wounded), and Lieuts. B.
F. Mann and Comins. But the rebs didn't get Newbern, although they
captured Plymouth and its brave commander (Gen. Wessells), and the
heroic garrison under his command. And after all the blood shed in
the efforts to hold Little Washington, it has been abandoned to the
enemy. Let us hope that the same policy will not be pursued in the
case of Newbern, which is certainly one of the most important and
strongly fortified posts held by our army on the coast.

I was taken sick in April, and sent down to Beaufort with thirty
or forty other sick men. We took the cars at Newbern, and in
about three hours were transported from the heat and dust of the
interior to the cool, bracing air of the sea coast. On the way down
I noticed that the country we passed through seemed little better
than a continuation of swamps. We passed Havelock station, where a
block-house had been erected in the midst of a swamp, and I pitied
the poor fellows whose duty it would be to garrison that post during
the coming warm season. Further on we came to clearing, and saw a
line of breastworks behind which it was intended to dispute the
advance of Burnside's forces in their march from Slocum's Creek to
Newbern, but which he drove them from with little trouble. Newport
Barracks, about ten miles from Morehead City, was a collection of
some dozen houses, and the quarters of the cavalry and infantry
pickets in that section. Carolina City was next reached, but where
the city was I couldn't for the life of me make out. It was not
anything like so grand a place as Newport Barracks, and I should
not have known of its whereabouts but for the camp of the 23d Mass.,
which was said to be in the city. We next passed through Morehead
City to the railroad terminus or wharf, about a mile further on.
Morehead consists of one or two hotels, and forty or fifty houses
and stores. A number of steamers and transports were laying at and
off the railroad wharf. To the south, across the sound, I beheld
Fort Macon, and anchored abreast of it and inside the sound were
ships of all descriptions, from the captured blockade runner to the
huge blockaders which were taking their rest and preparing to resume
their dangerous duties off Wilmington, relieving in turn some other
blockader. The city of Beaufort lay to the eastward, and looked much
larger than it really was, and quite imposing.

While waiting for transportation, and looking at the various objects
of interest around, my eye lit upon an individual (a sergeant in
the--Mass.) whom I instantly recognized as having seen at Camp
Cameron, whither he had been detailed to gather up recruits. But
what a change had been wrought in his appearance! When I saw
him at Cambridge he was full of life, spirit, confidence, and
business--and drove a profitable trade there in the retail of porter,
ale, &c. (under the rose, of course.) Now he looked cheerless and
forlorn--utterly 'played out,' and as anxious as the most peacefully
inclined rebel that 'this cruel war' should be ended. Hard marching,
hard beds, hard usage, hard fighting and hard tack, had evidently
left their mark upon him. And yet he was not sick--only dispirited a
little.

A boat being at length in readiness we embarked, and after an hour's
sail reached the Hammond Hospital at Beaufort. This hospital was
in a building or series of buildings formerly known as Pender's
Hotel, and was one of the most considerable and extensive of its
class in Beaufort, and before the war was the summer residence of
many planters and their families from the interior who made this
city their watering place. The main structure was built out upon
the shore, on piles, so that the tide ebbed and flowed under it,
and was altogether one of the most delightful places I have seen
in that section. The former owner (Pender) was among the first and
most active in the secession movement in North Carolina, and, with
a company of men he had raised in Beaufort, took possession of Fort
Macon; but Burnside came along, and after taking Newbern, Morehead
City and Beaufort, leisurely proceeded to knock him and his fellow
traitors and their arrangements into a 'cocked hat,' and Pender was
taken prisoner and forced to leave his fine hotel, with its plate,
furniture and bedding, behind him; and the story went that the
negroes, the poor whites who remained, and some of the officers of a
Rhode Island regiment divided the spoils.

The city of Beaufort is well laid out and looks quite pleasant
from the water; but though there are a few good dwellings and
some old-fashioned stores, the houses are scattering and the sand
ankle-keep in the streets. In fact, the city is built upon a bank
of sand; and how the inhabitants managed to cultivate gardens was
a mystery to me--but they did make gardens, and in some instances
very creditable ones. The soil, however, seemed too sandy for any
fruit trees but the fig, which flourished in great plenty. The
majority of the people--who, I judge, never exceeded two thousand in
number--seemed to live by fishing and gathering shells. Beaufort is
so situated within the folds of a marsh, and the approaches to it are
so intricate and shallow, that it can never become a place of any
great commercial importance--Morehead City will be its successful
rival in that respect.

We (that is, the sick men) were assisted to land, and, after our
names were checked and our surgeons' certificates or assignments
deposited, shown to our ward room; and, to tell the truth, we had no
cause to complain of our new quarters, which were pleasantly situated
in the main building, commanding an extensive view of the harbor and
the sea beyond. The beds were really good--but to us poor devils who
had known nothing of the kind since leaving home, they appeared truly
luxurious. A little experience in the productions of the culinary
department of the hospital, however, did not impress us so favorably
with that part of the programme. The bread was often hard and mouldy,
and the beef as solid as a frozen turnip and salt as Lot's wife. As
for the soup, it was whispered around that it was nothing but sea
water in which salt junk was boiled, and a few carpenters' shavings
thrown in for vegetables--it was called 'salt-water soup.' Of fresh
meat I never tasted any in the hospital, while of fish and oysters,
which were in great abundance in the market, I did not have more than
two meals during the four weeks I was in hospital. When we complained
to our fellow patients of the fare, they told us it was much better
than it had been.

A few days after our arrival we were called up to undergo examination
by the hospital surgeon, Dr. Ainsworth. In answer to one of his
queries, we all told him we liked our quarters very well, but
complained about the poor quality of the 'grub.'

When Tom McNally (the hero of the kicking mare) came up, Dr.
Ainsworth asked--

"Well--what's the matter with you, sir?"

"O nothing particular," replied Tom.

"What were you sent here for, then?"

"Why--to recruit my health, I suppose."

"Ah--I see. I think you'd better go back to your regiment. I send
some others off tomorrow, and you can go with them."

"I'd just as soon go now, sir."

"No. You can't go till I send you."

"Well, for God's sake, give me something to eat while I am here!"
returned Tom.

"Here," said the doctor to the clerk, "make out papers for this man,
and have him sent off immediately!" Then, taking another sip from a
glass on the counter beside him, which looked like whisky, he added--

"These 17th men seem hard to please. I shouldn't wonder if they
boarded at the Revere House before they came into the army!"

That the hospital at Beaufort was not well conducted, I could plainly
see, though to a visitor everything seemed to work well. And I was
reminded of a reply made to an observation of mine to one of the
patients in a general hospital at Newbern, that everything seemed
favorable to the comfort and recovery of the sick--"Ah," he replied,
"what you see is all very well--but there are many things you don't
see!"

It was so with the Hammond Hospital at Beaufort. A pack of idle,
worthless fellows, in the enjoyment of the most robust health--who
should have been doing duty with their regiments in the field--were
employed as clerks and orderlies, who, by a system of espionage
upon the actions of the men and of persecution to all who incurred
their displeasure, exercised a kind of petty tyranny which made them
obnoxious but at the same time feared. These understrappers, while
the patients were often deprived of some of the most common and
desirable necessaries, reveled in the choicest dishes and delicacies
to be obtained, including wines and preserves. This I have seen
myself, and mentally contrasted it with the coarse fare of the poor
patients who were forced to swallow the barely parboiled salt junk
and dry bread, and the abominable milkless and unsweetened slops
dignified with the name of tea or coffee.

And yet there was one man in authority, who seemed to do all in
his power to remedy the too palpable evils. This was the assistant
surgeon, Dr. Vaughan--a New Yorker, I believe. He was a kind, humane
man--and to his exertions were due, in a great measure, the reforms
that had been made in affairs. I have seen him day after day in the
kitchen enforcing a reform in its arrangements; and I noticed, too,
that on such occasions our meals were so much better than usual as to
elicit remarks of satisfaction from the partakers.

'Red tape,' I presume, is indispensable in the conduct of all affairs
pertaining to Government; but no where does its knotted folds tighten
with more deadly effects around the destiny of its victims than in
the hospitals. Hundreds die in the hospitals every year, who, if
transferred to their homes at the North, might recover--if not, they
would at least have the consolation of dying among their friends,
which is the least that might be accorded by the Government to the
poor fellows who become disabled in its service; but as they can not
be sent North without a discharge from the service, and often while
the discharge papers are passing through the tedious processes of
signature ('the mill of the gods grinds slowly') the unfortunate
patient becomes impatient, fretful and gloomy at the delay, and that
'hope deferred which maketh the heart sick' in many cases increases
the virulence of the disease or brings on a relapse--and the poor
fellow, so lately warmed with the pleasing hope of seeing once more
his friends and his home, closes forever in blank despair his eyes in
the bitterness of death.

[Since the above was written, I find that, through the efforts of
Governors of different States and other good men in power, this evil
has been partially remedied. I would respectfully but earnestly call
the attention of those in power--and especially our good Governor
of Massachusetts, who has always been the soldier's friend--to
the adoption of some system whereby all sick men who will bear
transportation can be sent home to their friends, and by this means
thousands of lives may be saved.]

I will instance a case in point, to show the fatal effects of delay
in the matter of discharges of sick men. A young man, named Palmer,
who belonged to a New York regiment, was sent to the hospital at
Beaufort, very sick from chronic dysentery. It was thought by the
surgeons, after they had treated his case for a while, that nothing
could save his life but a change to a more northern climate; but
this could not be effected without a discharge. They interested
themselves, however, and the discharge papers were forthcoming in an
unusually short space of time. The poor fellow, buoyed with the hope
of again seeing his friends, rallied a little, and actually gained
considerably in strength; but just as he had got on board the boat
at the wharf, which was to take him with a squad of other discharged
men to the steamer in waiting, an order came from the surgeon that
he must return, as there was some informality in his papers, and a
new set would have to be made out. The poor fellow returned; but the
shock occasioned by the disappointment was too much for his enfeebled
constitution to bear. A relapse ensued, and in a few days he was
a corpse--the victim of 'red tape,' or incompetency, or criminal
carelessness--which?

I have said the understrappers at the hospital made a 'good thing'
out of the necessities of the patients. They did more. The whisky
intended for hospital uses was not only used by them, but frequently
disposed of to the man-o'-war's men, who paid liberally for the same.
The loss to the hospital (or rather the patients) was made up in this
wise: When a pail-full of whisky was drawn from the cask, it was said
that an equal quantity of water was thrown in--so that when the cask
got pretty well down from the withdrawal of the legitimate supplies
for hospital use, it was remarked by the patients that they got water
diluted with whisky, instead of whisky weakened with water as in the
earlier stages of this peculiar process.

There were many other things in the management of this hospital open
to criticism--though, doubtless, the fault did not always lay at
the door of the surgeon in charge. For example--there was quite a
large number of disabled men, whose discharge papers had been made
out and sent to headquarters for signature, but had been kept back
two, three, and even six months--for no reason whatever save some
contemptible quibble or pretense that these papers were not made out
correctly. Here were a large number of men unfit for any duty--some
of them permanently disabled, others in the last stages of decline,
and all anxious to be sent home as soon as possible, since they could
be of no further use to and only a burthen upon the Government--kept
against their own wishes, at a heavy public expense, and all because
Dr. So-and-so, or Medical Director Bobolink, or their understrappers,
were too indolent or careless to do their duty properly. Many of
the nine-months men who had become disabled and were placed in the
hospitals for discharge, were retained for some time after their
regiments had been mustered out of service. No doubt it is a good and
a very charitable thing to retain disabled men in hospitals whose
discharge therefrom would throw them upon the charity of the world;
but cases of this kind are very rare. Nearly all have friends who
would willingly care for them, or belong to communities who have
providently considered such contingent demands upon their charity,
and made liberal arrangements to that end. In any case, I believe the
condition of such men would be eminently improved by a transfer to
the North--either to their friends or to some convalescent hospital
or home for disabled soldiers.

I have now drawn towards the close of my narrative, and find that,
instead of having room left for an elaborate essay (were I capable
of writing one) upon the condition, character and habits of the
freedmen, I have only space for a few general remarks. I do not
regret this, however, when I reflect that there are many others
better qualified for such a task than me.

In the course of my experience with the contrabands, I have been
favorably impressed with their capacity for becoming a free people.
The negroes seem, as a general thing, to possess a superior vitality
to the white men of the South; for, with comparatively poor domestic
arrangements and an inferior style of nutriment, they seem to thrive
better and be capable of greater endurance and more continued
physical exertion. They display a thirst for knowledge--a desire
for information--an indomitable faculty of acquisitiveness, and a
superior power of imitation, which must lead the social philosopher
to but one conclusion, viz., their eminent fitness for advancement
in the social scale from the position of bondmen to that of freemen.
And the necessity of some such change in the social condition of the
negroes of the South cannot but be too apparent to every fair-minded
man who has beheld the universal manifestations of the desire for
freedom displayed by them. They are endowed with a temperament at
once docile and energetic, light and serious. They have considerable
aptitude for the mechanic arts, and are probably, some of them, the
best practical farmers of the South. They are generally moral and
deeply impressed with the sacredness of religion; but it is true at
the same time that they have many petty vices--and the wonder is,
that under so debasing a system they have any virtues at all. Of the
length, breadth and depth of their mental capacity I do not pretend
to judge--all white men are not equal in that respect; and I trust
I am not one of those who believe that nothing good can come out of
Nazareth. As to the radical mental and physical difference which is
said to exist between the black and the mulatto, I must confess I
could never perceive it--there are the weak, puny and imbecile of
both shades of color, at well as the strong and active, intelligent
and energetic.

It cannot be denied that, above all other things, the negroes have
an unbounded desire for freedom--extravagant only in the risks it
will cause them to run to obtain that boon; for, once free, they are
content--nay, happy--to begin on the most humble scale to climb the
ladder of fortune. They are very domestic in their habits, and where
they can find no habitation ready for them when they come into our
lines, will set to work, and with such materials as very few white
men would make available, erect a hut--not an elaborate one, to be
sure, but all sufficient for their humble wants.

In and around Newbern I should judge there were from 5,000 to 8,000
escaped slaves, and of that number at least one half were located in
camps or collections of huts of their own construction in different
localities adjacent. There was one of those on the left of the Trent
road, near Fort Totten; another near Fort Spinola on the other side
of the Trent river, and a third just across the railroad bridge and
to the left of the railroad.

This latter village, inhabited by over one thousand negroes of all
ages and sexes, was under the supervision of Mr. G. R. Kimball,
of Nashua, N. H. (Mr. K. was formerly Sutler of the 17th.) Upon
expressing a desire to learn some facts in regard to the negroes
under his charge, he kindly offered to give me all the facts in his
possession.

The adult negroes under Mr. Kimball's charge were all in the employ
of the Government--the females were engaged in cooking, washing, and
making pies and sweetmeats, for which they found a ready sale among
the soldiers. "And a more contented and happy lot of mortals," said
Mr. K., "you can not find anywhere." This I verified from a personal
inspection.

Among other places I visited the village school. It was kept by a
negro named Mack Bourne, and contained twenty-five pupils. When I
entered, Mack did not seem pleased at the intrusion, and said--

"Look here, sojer--I dusent want any body in de sojer business to
come in here; for d'oder day one of you sojer men--he cum'd in here,
and he stole a testament from me--he did--a bran new one, too--and I
don't like sich work--I don't!"

I told him I did not come to take anything from him.

"What did you cum for, den?"

"My dear sir," I replied, in a melo-dramatic tone, "I am a member of
the press, and take an interest in your welfare."

"You is--you do? De press--wha-what press--de ex-press?"

"No--the printing press--for printing newspapers."

"Oh!--Is you a-gwine to print a paper? I tought you was a sojer!"

"And so I am, my friend; but I'm a printer also."

"Dus you make books like dis-a-one?" displaying a primer.

"Yes; I could print a book like that, or--a testament."

"Look here, sojer," he said, the remembrance of the loss he had
sustained making him suspicious--"I tink you'm foolin' me. Now, sar,
I dusent like to be fooled--I dusent!"

But I assured him I didn't want to fool him, and so pacified him that
he became confidential, and told me his history. He was 'raised' in
Plymouth, and had been taught to read by a nephew of his master's,
who gave him lessons on Sundays, on the sly. None of his scholars had
advanced beyond lessons in spelling, and most of them were in the
alphabet. The girls seemed to make the most rapid progress; and two
of these--named respectively Rosette and Melvina--could spell words
of two syllables, after a tuition of only four weeks.

"Ise glad Ise free now--dat's so!" I one day heard a little
curly-headed ebony urchin say to another. They had just been let out
of school in Newbern. Struck by the oddity of the saying, I stopped
and questioned the lad--

"Why are you glad you're free, my little fellow?"

"'Cause, sar, I can go to school, and learn to read; and den--"

"Well, what then?"

"Why, den de ole woman'll guv me heaps of sweet 'tater pies!"

When the Goldsboro expedition was about to start a requisition for
thirty negroes was made upon Mr. Kimball. These, together with a
like number from other camps, were to be used as auxiliaries to the
pioneer corps. He called them together and stated that an expedition
was going off, that Gen. Foster wanted thirty of them to go with it,
and called for volunteers. Only six men stepped forward in answer to
the call.

"What," said he, "only six! Is that all the men I have?"

When one of the delinquents stepped forward and asked--

"If we goes, Massa Kimball, will dey guv us guns?"

"Yes--you will have guns if you need them."

Upon this announcement they all came forward and offered to go, and
he had no easy task to select the thirty men required from the eager
crowd.

This was before Wild's brigade had an existence; but showed that the
negroes had manhood enough to fight for their freedom--which they
have since fully proved on many a bloody field.

       *       *       *       *       *

My task is done--would I could think it well done; but as it is it
must go forth, like the ghost of Hamlet's father, with 'all its
imperfections on its head.' I might have made it better--but I did
not. The world moves on rapidly--things get jumbled up strangely in
these troublous times--and, I suppose, the minds of men get confused
and jumbled up also, for sympathy is a law of nature;--life is short,
and greater men than I have made mistakes; but no man who fights in
the cause of mankind--of universal freedom--can greatly err in its
advocacy. The soldier who braves the hardships and perils of the
campaign and suffers in a good cause, holds that cause dearer the
more he endures for it; and the remembrance of those scenes, filled
with glowing and startling pictures, often serves to renew that
patriotic fire which forever burns in a corner of his heart. The
armies of the rebellion have been flanked--the Confederacy will also
soon be flanked, and, like my book, must sooner or later come to an


    END.


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

_Underscores_ surround italicized text.

Obvious typographical errors were repaired, but valid archaic
spellings were retained.

Handwritten "Thomas Kirwan" on title page was retained, although it
is uncertain whether this is an actual author's signature.

Darkey (3) was standardized to the more frequent darky (6).

P. 124: "all the facts in his possession"--original omitted the word
"facts."





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