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Title: Ten years in the ranks, U.S. army
Author: Meyers, Augustus
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Ten Years in the Ranks

U. S. Army






This narrative of ten years' service in the United States Army on the
frontier and during the Civil War at an early period of my life is
written mainly from memory after an interval of more than half a
century. I have endeavored to describe in a simple manner the daily
life of a soldier in the ranks while serving in garrison, camp and


Table of Contents

PART I.       Enlistment and Service on Governor's Island, New
              York Harbor, in 1854                                  1

PART II.      At Carlisle Barracks, Pa., in 1855                   33

PART III.     Journey from Carlisle to Fort Pierre Nebraska,
              Territory, in 1855                                   49

PART IV.      Fort Pierre and the Sioux Indians, 1855-1856         71

PART V.       Establishing Fort Lookout, 1856-1857                109

PART VI.      Service at Fort Randall, Campaigning in Kansas and
              Expiration of My Enlistment, 1857-1859              127

PART VII.     Re-enlistment and Return to Frontiers, 1860         157

PART VIII.    Service in Washington and Georgetown, D.C.,
              1861-1862                                           177

PART IX.      The Peninsula Campaign, 1862                        197

PART X.       The Seven Days' Retreat, 1862                       225

PART XI.      Harrison's Landing to Fredericksburg, Va.
              1862-1863                                           257

PART XII.     Chancellorsville to Winter Camp of
                      1863-1864                                   287

PART XIII.    In Grant's Campaign, 1864                           311

PART XIV.     Departure from the Field and Last Days of Service,
              1865                                                341

REFLECTIONS                                                       351

ADDENDA                                                           353



On March thirty-first, 1854, with the consent of my widowed mother, I
joined the United States Army. I enlisted for a period of five years,
as a musician in the general service, at the recruiting office, at No.
115 Cedar Street, New York City. My age was twelve years and nine
months. I was of slender build, but in good health and passed the
medical examination. After being sworn in at a notary's office in
Nassau Street, I was conducted by the recruiting sergeant to the
Governor's Island boat landing at the Battery; there he placed me in
charge of Sergeant John Brown, cockswain of the eight-oared barge
manned by soldiers from the Island. As this was then the only way for
passengers to reach the Island, I had to wait a long time for the next
trip of the barge, and it was late in the afternoon when we started.

There were but few passengers besides myself, a woman, a civilian or
two and a few soldiers returning from "pass," more or less hilarious.
After a struggle with the swift currents of the East River and
considerable pitching and tossing, we landed at the Island dock near
the guard-house, where I was taken in charge by a corporal of the
guard who conducted me to the South Battery on the east side of the
Island opposite Brooklyn, where the boys learning music were in
quarters. We reported to Sergeant Hanke, who was in charge of all the
non-commissioned officers and music boys in that battery.

Sergeant Hanke, after looking me over, asked whether I desired to
learn to be a drummer or a fifer. When I expressed a preference for
the former, he made some remarks about my slim and very youthful
appearance, and advised me to think it over for a day or two. He
called for Corporal Butler, who conducted me to Room No. 1 on the
ground floor, to the south of the sallyport, of which he had charge.

On my entrance into the room there arose a cry of "Fresh fish" from
the boys who were present. They surrounded me, asked my name, where I
lived and many other questions and demanded to know whether I had any
money or tobacco, taking no pains to hide their disappointment when I
confessed that I had neither. The corporal, who had left the room,
fortunately returned soon and relieved my embarrassing position. He
assigned me to "bunk" with the only boy in the room who had no
bedfellow or "bunkie."

The corporal's presence diverted the boys' attention from me for a
while and gave me time to examine my surroundings. I found myself in a
room with two windows that overlooked the parade ground and one facing
inward towards the interior of South Battery. There were six iron
double bedsteads in the room and a single bedstead for the corporal in
a corner next to a window. The double bedsteads were made so that
one-half could be folded up over the other half when not in use. This
in a measure relieved during the day the very crowded condition at
night when all the beds were down. The beds consisted of a bedsack
stuffed with straw, which was rolled up in the day time, and a pair of
blankets, neatly folded, laid on top. There were no sheets nor pillows
for the boys--the corporal was the only one who enjoyed these
luxuries, and he had provided them himself. The boys slept on the
bedticks and covered themselves with their blankets when it was cold,
or used one of the blankets to lie on when it was warm enough, folding
up a jacket or some other piece of clothing as a substitute for a

A wide shelf around the room above the beds provided space for
knapsacks, extra shoes, drums, fifes, and other objects, and on hooks
under the shelf were hung the overcoats. There was a coal fire burning
in the grate. A few wooden benches and a chair for the corporal in
charge; this, with a water pail and a tin cup on a shelf behind the
door, completed the furniture of the room.

After a while I heard a drum beat, which was the first call for
"retreat." Ten minutes later, the "assembly" sounded to form ranks on
the parade outside of the sallyport. The boys formed in two ranks,
those who were proficient with their drums and fifes on the right. The
command, "parade rest," was given by one of the sergeants, and the
"retreat" played by the musicians as prescribed in the regulations.
Then came the command, "Attention," and a roll call, at which each boy
present answered, "Here." Some special orders were read and then at
the command, "Break ranks, march," the boys rushed back to their
quarters, to deposit their instruments and adjourn to the mess room in
the basement for supper.

I was directed to follow, and found the mess room large enough to hold
the entire company of boys at one sitting. There were long pine tables
and benches without backs, all scrubbed clean. At each boy's place was
a thin plate, containing a small portion of stewed dried apples, a
large stone china bowl filled with black coffee (sweetened but without
milk) and a slice of bread about four ounces in weight. There were
iron spoons, knives and forks, and a few dishes on the table
containing pepper and salt.

I asked one of the boys if they had the same kind of a supper every
day, and was informed that sometimes they got molasses in place of the
dried apples. As the boys finished their meager supper they left the
mess room without any formality and returned to their quarters or went
out to have a smoke in some place unobserved. I went back to my
quarters and sat on a bench, chatting with some of the boys, who told
me many things about their daily duties and the treatment they
received. They all wished to leave the Island, and hoped to be sent
soon to join a regiment somewhere. Some were reading books by the
feeble tallow candle light, some played checkers on home-made checker
boards, or amused themselves with other games.

Thus passed the evening until nine o'clock when the call for "Tattoo"
sounded. There was considerably more music than at "Retreat,"
otherwise it was the same. There was another roll call and dismissal
to quarters, where the beds were let down and the blankets spread.
With a little skylarking, the boys undressed and lay down. The orderly
covered the fire in the grate with ashes, "Taps" were sounded by the
drummer detailed for that purpose, lights were extinguished, and all
were supposed to be silent. But there was whispering and smothered
laughing, which ceased only after some vigorous language and threats
of reporting by the corporal.

I lay down alongside of my strange bedfellow, who kindly shared his
blanket with me, my head pillowed on my jacket. There was a glimmering
light from the fireplace, by which I could make out the forms of my
companions and that of the corporal stretched out on his more
comfortable bed in the corner. Soon all seemed to be asleep except
myself. I remained awake a long time, thinking of the circumstances
that had brought me here, the strange company I was sharing, and
wondering what my future would be. At last, weary with the day's
unusual experiences and excitements, I also fell asleep. And thus
ended my first day as a soldier in the United States Army.

I was awakened next morning at daylight by a drummer beating the first
call for "Reveille," and the corporal's voice shouting, "Get up! you
lazy fellows," to some who were slow to respond. The boys, who slept
in their underclothing, hastily put on their pants, stockings and
shoes. Then each grabbed a tin wash basin from its hook in the hall,
went out of doors to a pump and filled the basin, which he carried
into the hall, and, placing it on a bench, performed his ablutions,
drying himself on a roller towel. In the warm season this performance
took place out of doors. It was a cold, raw morning, and it made me
shiver as I followed the others outside; but I concealed my distress
to avoid being laughed at.

We finished dressing, and soon heard the drum beat the "Assembly," and
the corporal's call to "Turn out and fall in." Ranks were formed, as
at "Retreat" and "Tattoo," and the roll was called. The fifers and
drummers played the "Reveille," which was a much longer performance
than either "Retreat" or "Tattoo." It consisted of perhaps a half
dozen tunes, commencing with a piece called "Three Camps," then "Slow
Scotch," "Austrian," "Dutch," "Quick Scotch," "Hessian," etc. Some of
these pieces were played in slow time and others in quick time; they
and the regular calls were the same as were used at the time of the
American Revolution and had never been materially changed since.

Immediately after we were dismissed, we went to breakfast which
consisted of a small piece of boiled salt pork--cold--a piece of bread
and a large bowl of black coffee. There was also some grease in a
dish, saved from the boiling of the pork, which some of the boys
spread on their bread as a substitute for butter, seasoning it with
pepper and salt.

Soon after breakfast "Doctor's Call" sounded, and those who felt
unwell were conducted to the hospital to be examined by the surgeon.
The boys now became busy making up their beds, cleaning their shoes,
brushing their clothes and polishing their brass buttons with the aid
of a brush and what was called a "button stick." Some pipe-clayed or
chalked the white braid on their jackets. The room orderly, who was
changed daily, swept the floor, replenished the fire and everything in
the room was put in order for the daily inspection made by Sergeant

At eight o'clock came the call to "fall in" for guard mounting, ranks
were formed and after a critical inspection as to cleanliness by the
sergeant, the company marched to the main parade ground in the center
of the Island. About the same time we heard a band playing as it left
the main garrison followed by the guard detail for the day. The lines
were formed, the adjutant and the officer of the day took their
places. Then the arms, accoutrements and clothing were inspected. An
orderly for the commanding officer was selected from the guard and one
from the boys for the adjutant.

The entire interesting ceremony of the Guard Mount was performed
according to regulation, the band playing at intervals. The guard
passed in review, marched off to their station and relieved the old
guard. The boys were marched back to the South Battery where, shortly
after their arrival, a call for "School" sounded at nine o'clock. As I
was in citizen's clothing I did not have to take part in any formation
of ranks. I was simply a spectator until I was uniformed.

At eleven o'clock school was over and practice on the fife and drum
continued until noon. The drummers, twenty-five or more in number,
went outside and made a great racket under the east wall of the South
Battery, which could be heard on the other side of Butter Milk Channel
in Brooklyn. They were in charge of their instructor, Sergeant Moore,
who was called the drum major and had Corporal Butler as an assistant.
I watched the boys practicing and noted how difficult it seemed to be
for some to hold the drum-sticks properly and beat the first exercise,
called "Mammy-Daddy," without hitting the rim of the drum as often as
the drum-head, which would bring down upon them a reprimand from the
instructor, or in some cases a rap across the knuckles for some
persistently awkward boy. When I took note of the exceedingly large
and heavy drums used in the service at that time, which the drummers
were obliged to carry, I resolved to become a fifer, as I considered
it more genteel and a step towards acquiring some knowledge of music.

While the drummers were practicing outside of the Battery, Sergeant
Hanke, the fife-major, and a corporal were instructing an equal number
of fifers in the school room that was filled with a shrill din as each
tried to play a different tune.

At noon musical instruction ceased, and we went to the mess room for
dinner. The menu consisted of a bowl of rice soup containing some
desiccated vegetables, a small piece of boiled beef and the usual
piece of bread. I was told that about three times a week there was
bean soup served with boiled salt pork or bacon and, at rare
intervals, one or two boiled potatoes.

After dinner there was nothing to do until two o'clock when school
opened again for two hours. At four o'clock in the afternoon drill
commenced. The boys were instructed in what was called the "School of
the Soldier"--facing, marching, etc. They drilled singly at first,
then in squads and finally by company according to Scott's Tactics,
always without arms. Drill was over at five o'clock when there was a
rest until "Retreat." This was the daily routine of duties, except on
Saturdays, when they ceased at noon.

On Saturday afternoons some of the boys were detailed in turn to scrub
and holy-stone the floor of our quarters and the benches, which
consumed some hours. The remainder of the boys were free to do as they

On Sundays we attended guard mounting at eight in the morning and at
ten-thirty we marched in a body to the Episcopal Chapel, a short
distance from our quarters. The chapel was a frame structure, seating
about two hundred besides the music boys. The services were attended
by some of the officers and their families, soldiers' wives and their
children and such of the soldiers and recruits as wished to attend.
There was no regular post chaplain; I do not think there were any in
the army at this time. A minister from New York or Brooklyn conducted
the services. I do not remember whether any collections were taken
up--if there were I am sure it was fruitless so far as the boys were
concerned, unless the Sunday immediately succeeded a pay day.

The interior of the chapel was very plain, only one aisle had
cushioned seats and they were not for our use. There was a small organ
and a few wooden tablets were hung on the walls. One of them was much
larger than the others. It commemorated the wreck of the steamer
_San Francisco_, bound for California, and the drowning of a
number of soldiers and music boys, whose names were on the tablet.
This always interested me, and if the sermon was dull or I felt
sleepy, I would read it over and over again until I could repeat all
the names by heart.

On Sunday afternoon we were free to roam about the island as we
pleased, until about sun-down when, if the weather permitted, we had
"dress parade" on the main parade ground. This was a more elaborate
ceremony than guard mounting. It was always interesting to me and I
liked to attend it. The post band turned out and all the armed
soldiers on the island were present as well as our "Field Music
Battalion." We made a fine show, and sometimes we had a few spectators
who came from the city in row boats. Once in every two months we had
muster and general inspection by the commanding officer of the post,
who called the roll and looked over the arms, accoutrements, clothing
and quarters. For this inspection we were obliged to appear on parade
in full marching order, our knapsacks packed and bulging with our
spare clothing. Muster was a preliminary to pay day, an event always

On my second day on the island I was taken to the quartermaster's
store house to draw the first installment of my yearly clothing
allowance. There were issued to me, one blanket, one great coat, two
fatigue jackets, two pairs of trousers, two pairs of white flannel
shirts, two pairs of Canton flannel drawers, two pairs of woolen
stockings, two pairs of shoes, one forage cap and one leather stock,
also a knapsack, a haversack and a canteen.

The blanket was coarse and heavy; it weighed five pounds and measured
seven by five and a half feet. It was grayish brown in color and had
"U.S." in four inch black letters worked in the centre. The overcoat
as well as the trousers and jacket, were of coarse sky-blue cloth. The
overcoat was single breasted and had a cape reaching down to the
elbows; there was a row of brass buttons on the breast and on the cape
and some more on the coat tails. The jacket came to the hips, had a
standing collar, an inside breast pocket, a row of brass buttons down
the front and a few on the sleeves. The shoes were coarse looking with
broad toes and heels and leather thongs, but they were good
serviceable marching shoes. The trousers were plain without stripes
and had two pockets. There were no waistcoats issued. The forage or
fatigue cap was a heavy, clumsy looking affair, made of thick dark
blue cloth. It had a large overhanging crown with a welt, a chin-strap
with a brass button on each side and a leather visor.

The most objectionable part of the whole uniform was the leather stock
or "dog collar," as we called it, intended to serve as a cravat and
keep the soldier's chin elevated. It was a strip of stiff black shoe
leather about two and one-half inches high and arranged to fasten at
the back of the neck with a leather thong. It was torture to wear it
in hot weather, but we found means to modify the annoyance by reducing
the height of the stock and shaving down the thickness of the leather
until it became soft and pliable.

As the soldiers' clothing was made up in men's sizes only, there were
none to fit the boys. I believe there were about six different sizes
in shoes and three or four in clothing. The smallest size in clothing,
No. 1, was issued to me, and I was sent to the post tailor. He took my
measure and altered the great coat, jackets and trousers. He also put
some white braid on the collar and sleeves of one of my jackets. The
cost of these alterations were deducted from my first pay due. It was
moderate enough, for the tailor's price as well as those of the
laundress and the sutler were fixed by the Post Council of
Administration. With the shirts and drawers I was obliged to get along
without alterations, voluminous though they were. The shoes were too
large for me also, but the thick woolen socks helped to fill them. No
dress coats were furnished to the boys while they were on the Island.
We only got those after joining a regiment.

In about a week my clothes were ready. I arrayed myself in my new
sky-blue uniform, experiencing a boy's pleasure in a new suit and some
pride in what I considered my fine soldierly appearance. We were not
allowed to keep any citizen's clothing, so I sold my clothes to a
Hebrew "Old Clo' Man" who often visited the island for that purpose.
He paid me a dollar for them, the possession of which made me quite
popular with a few of the boys who showed me where we could buy pies
and ginger-pop at the sutler's store.

On the third day after my arrival, I was ordered to commence attending
school and to learn music. The school was in a room within the South
Battery, which was much too small for the attendance. There were some
pine desks and benches, a blackboard, desks and chairs for two
teachers and some shelves. We were divided into several classes and
were instructed in three R's by Sergeant Evans who taught the older
boys and by Corporal Washburn who had charge of the younger ones. Each
of the teachers had a rattan, for it required more than patience on
their part to keep the unruly element quiet. I think both the sergeant
and the corporal were very forbearing men. They were excused from all
other duties and paraded at muster only, receiving a mere pittance of
extra pay from the post fund.

Every month Sergeant Evans read to us the hundred and one Articles of
War from the Army Regulations, wherein punishments were prescribed for
all imaginable offenses, the ninety-ninth article covering everything
else that might have been missed in the preceding articles so long as
the offense was "to the prejudice of good order and military
discipline." I noticed later that there were more charges and trials
for "violation of the ninety-ninth article of war" than for any other.
It seemed to fit nearly every case.

At eleven o'clock the two hour morning session of the school was over.
The drummers who were nicknamed "sheepskin fiddlers," left the school
room for an hour's practice, the fifers, called "straw blowers," by
the drummers, had their instruments with them and remained in the
school room. They got out their notes, and as soon as Sergeant Hanke
and his assistant entered, commenced to practise, producing a terrific
racket with their differing tunes. I was handed a "B" fife, the kind
that was used at that time, and was shown how to hold it and place my
fingers over the holes and my lips over the embouchure. I found it
difficult to make a sound at first, but after a time I managed to
produce some noise. I struggled with the gamut for a week or more and
spent another in trying to play a bar or two of music correctly. After
that I got along faster and commenced to learn some of the more simple
calls and to understand the meaning of the notes in my music book. In
about two months I had made sufficient progress to take my part in
playing the reveille, retreat and tattoo. After that, I learned to
play marches and other pieces. In the meantime, I had also made
progress in drill and was considered sufficiently proficient at the
end of three months to take part in parades and all other duties.

During the course of my musical instruction, I found the corporal
instructor, whose name I do not recall, a rather impatient man very
much given to scolding. Sergeant Hanke was more kindly, but he had a
habit of taking a boy's fife out of his hands and playing part of the
piece for him to show him how it should be done. As he was an
inveterate tobacco-chewer this was very disagreeable. Wiping the fife
on the sleeve of the jacket did not remove the strong odor. In my case
I used soap and water as soon as I had the opportunity to do so.

I was obliged to submit to the customary "hazing," inflicted on new
arrivals. I had to do various foolish stunts such as innocently asking
Sergeant Moore for a pair of knapsack screws. He very promptly chased
me out of his room. But the worst was what the boys named a "blanket
court martial." This was performed in the quarters, a blanket was
spread upon the floor, the victim was brought into the room
blindfolded and placed standing upon the blanket by his guards. He was
accused of a number of crimes such as stealing one of the heavy guns,
swimming to Brooklyn with it and selling it for junk, and other
ridiculous things.

Finally he was asked by the president of the court if he was guilty,
and upon his reply "No!" the president said, "Then what are you
standing there for?"

This was the signal for jerking away the blanket from under his feet,
tumbling him to the floor. It was both rough and dangerous and I was
sore after it.

I also had to have a few fights with some of the boys. These usually
took place under the east wall of the Battery and were witnessed by a
number of spectators. Such little affairs were not serious; the
combatants usually had a rough and tumble scrap and the only damage I
ever received was a bloody nose and a few scratches. Some of the older
boys, however, occasionally had regular fist fights according to rules
and had scouts out to give warning at the approach of any officer.
Fighting was forbidden and the participants liable to be severely
punished. After a time other "fresh fish" arrived and I ceased to be a
novelty. I was then left at peace to pursue the regular course of

The greater part of the fifty or more music boys on the island at this
time were from New York City like myself; the rest were from cities
and small towns in adjoining states. There were half a dozen farmer's
boys, mostly from Connecticut and the interior counties of New York
State. A few of the boys were about my age, but most of them were from
fifteen to eighteen or nineteen years old. None were enlisted without
the consent of their parents or guardians whose inability to support
them, no doubt, caused the greater part of them to join the army.

Some of them, however, seemed to have left good homes, or at least had
prosperous looking visitors who brought them nice things to eat or
gave them money. Poorly dressed women also appeared, mothers, who took
their boys to some retired spot and had a cry over them. There was a
very nice, genteel boy a year or two older than I, whose father owned
a hotel on Broadway near Bleecker Street, in New York. I wondered why
he left home to enlist. He and I became good friends and served in the
same regiment later on, but he was always reticent on that point. By
far the greater part of the boys were native born, but largely of
foreign parentage, the Irish predominating.

With the exception of a dozen or so who were rather "hard cases" and
boasted of it, and who formed a clique by themselves, the boys, I
always thought, would compare quite favorably as regards morals and
good behavior with an equal number of boys of even age at some private
school. Discipline was of course stricter with us and punishment more
severe. For minor offenses we got a few whacks over the shoulders with
a rattan in the hands of one of the non-commissioned officers,
confinement to quarters, or deprivation of passes to the city. The
most frequent punishment of all was to "walk the ring," but this was
inflicted only by order of the adjutant, who was the officer in
command of the musicians. He could also confine an offender in a cell
for twenty-four hours in the guard-house without formal charges.

The ring was in front of the guard-house under the observation of the
sentinel of Post No. 1, who had orders to keep the culprits moving.
They were required to walk around in a well beaten circular track of
about thirty feet in diameter, sometimes two or three at one time.
They had to attend to their duties and walk the ring during recreation
time in the afternoon and from retreat to tattoo in the evening. This
punishment might last anywhere from one day to a week or more at a
stretch. Graver offenses were tried by a garrison court martial whose
findings were submitted to a higher authority for revision or

The punishments of a garrison court martial were limited to thirty
days' confinement in the guard-house, part of it, perhaps, solitary
confinement on bread and water, or the forfeiture of a month's pay and
allowances. Very serious offenses were tried before a general court
martial which had power to sentence the prisoner to almost any kind of
punishment, including death, according to "Articles of War." Their
proceedings were reviewed, however, by the Judge Advocate at the War
Department in Washington, and some cases required the decision of the
President. There was also an intermediate court named a regimental
court martial which had somewhat larger powers than a garrison court,
but no such court convened at the island during my stay there, as
there was no regimental headquarters, all the soldiers belonging to
what was called the general service.

One day at a morning inspection for guard mounting, Sergeant Hanke
noticed the end of a pipe stem protruding between the buttons of my
jacket. I had carelessly thrust it into the inside breast pocket when
the call to "fall in" sounded. He pulled it out and confiscated the
pipe, remarking, "You will get a month on the ring for this." I was
greatly alarmed at this threat of so severe a punishment and fully
expected to receive orders to report to the sergeant of the guard
after school that afternoon to be placed on the ring by him and
commence my endless march. When the order was not given I thought sure
it would some the next day, but it did not. It was a week before I
felt safe and concluded that the sergeant had not reported me. Only on
one occasion did I receive any punishment. I once threw a basin full
of dirty water out of a window and inadvertently dashed it over
Sergeant Moore, who was passing. He saw me and immediately got his
rattan and gave me a good whipping.

Governor's Island in 1854 presented a very different appearance from
what it does in 1914. It was much smaller. Its diameter was less than
half a mile and there were but few buildings on it. More than a
hundred acres have been added to it by filling in a part of the bay
and a sea wall has been built around the entire island. Many buildings
have been erected; trees, shrubbery and flowers have been planted and
walks laid out; sewers have been put in; water, gas and electricity
provided and the island generally improved and beautified.

Many of the venerable old buildings still remain, however, as they
existed during my time. Castle Williams, at the south-west angle of
the island, is a circular structure, pierced with three tiers of
embrasures. At its portal can still be read the inscription cut in the
stone, "Commenced 1807, finished 1811." It is built of brown stone,
backed up with brick. The granite parapet on top was erected shortly
after Civil War, replacing one of brown stone. As a work of defense it
has long outlived its usefulness, but in 1854 there were still guns
mounted in the first tier of casemates which were considered
formidable, and others were mounted en barbette on the parapet. These
guns were used sometimes in firing a salute to foreign warships in the

Northward from Castle Williams, near the northwest angle of the
island, was the ordnance building, then came the guard-house with its
prison cells in the basement and the adjutant's office above them. The
quartermasters' and commissary stores, the commanding officer's house
and a few other houses for the married officers of the higher grade
were all on the north side of the island. Next came the hospital on
the east and near it, but somewhat to the west, a row of small
two-story buildings partly used as the sutler's store and as quarters
for some married soldiers and their families. At the southeast corner
of the island was the South Battery, mounting a few guns. Some
distance to the west was the chapel and next to it the graveyard, in
which some officers and a number of soldiers were buried, most of whom
had died of cholera and yellow fever which had often visited the
island. Beyond the graveyard was the post garden, several acres in
extent, in which all kinds of vegetables were raised. West of the
garden was the parade ground, extending to the garrison, and from the
commanding officers' house sloping gently to the shore line on the

Fort Jay, or Fort Columbus, as it was then called, was generally known
as the "garrison." It is situated on the westerly part of the island
on raised ground--a square-built, old style fortress with a dry moat,
portcullis, draw bridge, and ramparts. Guns are mounted en barbette on
three of its sides. An artistic and elaborate piece of sculpture over
the portal, representing the various arms of the service, cut in brown
stone, is still in a fair state of preservation. Passing through the
deep sallyport, the interior is found to be quite roomy, having a
sodded parade ground with quarters surrounding it on four sides. The
buildings in the south were used as quarters for the unmarried
officers. On the east lived recruits, and on the west were the
quarters of a company of soldiers, about seventy-five strong, who were
officially called the Permanent Party. On the north was the post band
on one side of the sallyport and the non-commissioned staff and some
buglers on the other. There was a smaller gate on the south leading
into the moat and a sunken way leading from there to the entrance to
Castle Williams.

All of the buildings which I have described still exist except a few
of the officers' cottages on the north side of the island, the
sutler's row and the chapel which was destroyed by fire and lately
replaced on another site by a much larger and finer building of cut
stone, a gift of Trinity Church of New York. The post-garden has
disappeared and so has the graveyard with its few monuments and many
headstones. The remains were disinterred and reburied elsewhere, and
the site is now covered with buildings.

Governor's Island was the principal recruiting depot in the east, and
in 1854 Major John T. Sprague of the Eighth U.S. Infantry was in
command. He was a West Point graduate, who had joined the army in 1837
and had been breveted as a Major during the Mexican War. Major Sprague
was relieved and ordered elsewhere before my departure from the
island. He was succeeded by Captain Mansfield Lovell, a dashing
artillery officer, who later joined the confederate army and had
something to do with the surrender of New Orleans. A captain or two,
an ordnance officer and six or eight lieutenants from different
branches of the service, were all detailed on detached service away
from their regiments to serve here as instructors of recruits.

A very fine military band was connected with this post under the
leadership of Bandmaster Bloomfield, who was a celebrated musician.
There were two drummers in this band, brothers, named Jack and Pete
Vigo, who were considered to be the best in the army. Later on both
served in the band of the regiment which I joined, Pete Vigo, in the
meantime, having married Bandmaster Bloomfield's daughter, who
accompanied him to the frontiers.

The band played at guard mounting and dress parade, musters and
general inspections. It also gave concerts on certain summer days in
front of the commanding officers' quarters. Bandsmen had permission
occasionally to play in New York City, which was lucrative for them.
Indeed they were very much petted and pampered and enjoyed many
privileges. They received extra pay and had especial fine uniforms and
instruments, all of which had to be paid for out of the post fund.

The Permanent Party, also called Company "A," was a company of
soldiers selected from the recruits for stature, physique and
soldierly bearing. They were mostly tall men and, as I imagine, must
have borne some resemblance to the grenadiers of Frederick the Great.
They looked well on parade in their striking uniforms--dark blue coats
with facings and sky-blue trousers, white cross and waist belts,
epaulettes and black shakos with blue pompons and brass chin straps.
Occasionally some were sent away to serve with a regiment at their own
request or as a punishment. The Permanent Party did all of the guard
duty that was required on the island, and guarded the prisoners who
did the scavenging.

Other troops on the island were the recruits, generally several
hundred of them, who were quartered in the garrison and in the upper
casemates of Castle Williams. From time to time they were sent away in
detachments of a hundred or more, generally accompanied by some of the
drummers and fifers, to vacancies in regiments serving throughout the
country. Officers were detailed to accompany these detachments to
their destinations. The non-commissioned officers were generally
selected from the most worthy and efficient of the recruits and
promoted to lance sergeants and lance corporals, a rank with authority
but without extra pay. Often a few re-enlisted old soldiers, rejoining
regiments on the frontiers, went with these parties and helped to take
charge of them.

The recruits were unarmed. Arms were furnished when they joined their
regiments, unless it became necessary to march through a part of the
Indian country to reach their destination. In that case they were
armed and accompanied by an escort of experienced soldiers. These
departures from the island were always occasions of considerable
military ceremony. The recruits were escorted from the garrison to the
wharf by the post band and the Permanent Party. And when they had
embarked on the steamboat and the lines were cast off, the band would
play, "The Girl I Left Behind Me," amid the parting cheers of the

The final complement that made up the garrison of Governors Island
were the music boys, designated as Company "B," and stationed in the
small South Battery. We were under special command of the
Post-Adjutant, but never saw him there except on muster days. He
troubled himself very little about us, leaving the care and management
of the fifty or sixty boys to the two sergeants in charge. Sergeant
Hanke, of whom I have spoken before, was a Dane who had been for many
years in the United States service. He was of low stature, very
corpulent, with a large round florid face, and was bald, except for a
fringe of gray hair below the top of his ears. He had sharp twinkling
eyes and a strong voice. He was married but had no children and lived
in a couple of small rooms on the second floor of the quarters. His
Irish wife was his counterpart in stature and corpulency. She
generally wore a white cap and a red skirt. That she had a fine brogue
we knew from overhearing her disputes with the sergeant. She had a
loud voice and was more than a match for the sergeant, whose English
failed him when he became excited. Sergeant Hanke, while a strict
disciplinarian, was not an unkindly man. He often listened patiently
to our complaints and forgave us for many minor transgressions when we
were brought before him.

Sergeant Moore was an Irishman and married. He kept house with his
wife and several children in some rooms on the lower floor of our
quarters. He also had served a long time in the army. He was a tall
thin man with iron gray hair, quick tempered and not so well liked by
the boys as Sergeant Hanke. Both of these men remained in the service
for more than sixty years and were finally retired and pensioned by
the government. Sergeant Moore lived to be ninety-seven years old and
Hanke nearly as long.

Corporal Butler, the assistant instructor, was a young man of medium
size, with a fiery temper and a profusion of very red hair and
mustache, the greasing, waxing and combing of which consumed much of
his spare time. The other corporal, who was assistant fife instructor,
and whose name, unless memory fails me, was Pfaefle, was a tall and
very good looking young German of a more pleasant disposition. He
spent much time in "primping" himself and the boys called him "the
dude." I never learned what became of him in after years, but I did
learn that Corporal Butler remained in the service all his life and
died only recently at a military post at Sackett's Harbor, N. Y., at
an advanced age. Sergeant Evans and Corporal Washburn, our school
teachers, were both very fair men with no peculiarities. Later on I
believe they became citizen clerks in the War Department at

With a couple of the older boys promoted to lance corporals, who had
charge of some rooms, this completed the list of non-commissioned
officers who had the immediate charge of the boys and were responsible
to the post adjutant, who cared very little how things went.

It took but a short time for me to realize that the quantity of food
we received was very scanty for growing boys. While we were not
actually starved, we did not get enough to eat and often felt hungry.
We had a limited amount of credit at the sutler's store, which was
deducted from our pay. Much of this we consumed in buying crackers and
cheese or an occasional piece of pie or cake to eke out our scanty
food, the sameness of which often palled on us. In the summer months
we were given a few vegetables once or twice a week from the post
garden after the officers and their families had first received all
they wanted. The poor recruits never got any, although they
contributed their pro-rata share to the post fund, while the officers
were not obliged to contribute anything.

Had we received the entire ration allowed us, it would have been
sufficient and we could not have complained as to quantity. The
soldier's daily ration at this time consisted of sixteen ounces of
salt or fresh beef or twelve ounces of pork or bacon, eighteen ounces
of soft bread or flour, or one pound of hard bread and the "small
rations," as they were called, such as coffee, sugar, beans, peas,
rice, salt, vinegar, desiccated vegetables, soap and candles, which
were sufficient, when used collectively, for an entire company. The
flour ration of eighteen ounces, when baked into bread, will produce
about one-third more in weight of bread. Hence there was a saving of
about one-third on flour which was sold to increase the post fund. But
we boys never received eighteen ounces of bread per day, and all of
our other rations were also reduced.

A post fund, according to army regulations, was created by a tax of
ten cents per month to be paid by the sutler for every officer or
soldier stationed there, also from the savings on the flour ration
between eighteen ounces of flour and eighteen ounces of bread at the
post bakery. No saving is supposed to be made on any other portion of
the soldier's ration. The management of the fund was generally in the
hands of three officers, one of whom acted as treasurer; they were
called Post Council of Administration and had power to fix a tariff of
prices for the sutler, laundresses, tailor, shoemaker, etc., and the
expenditure of the fund for other purposes approved by the commanding

At Governor's Island one of the largest expenses was the band whose
members were paid extra (according to their ability) over and above
their grade of soldier's pay. Their instruments, which the Government
did not furnish, had to be purchased, as well as music and a showy
uniform. Other expenses were the post bakery, the post garden and
school for the boys. From all this the officers received the greater
benefit and yet they were not required by army regulations to
contribute to the fund.

When spring came, in pleasant weather I often sat on the west shore of
the island, which faced Battery Park in New York, and watched the
ferry boats and excursion steamers pass close by, crowded with people
who were bent on enjoying themselves. This made me feel melancholy and
homesick. Sometimes, when alone, tears would come to my eyes in spite
of my efforts to restrain them. When the summer came, I felt less
lonely and forsaken. We played ball and other games during our leisure
hours and went in swimming very often on the south shore of the island
where there was a good gravelly beach, interspersed with mossy rocks.

Early in June we received two months' pay. A private soldier's pay at
this time was but seven dollars per month, but was raised by act of
Congress to eleven dollars about six months after I entered the
service. The officers' pay was raised also all along the line. The
musician's pay was always one dollar more per month than that of a
private, and I was, therefore, entitled to sixteen dollars for my two
months' service; but after the sutler's, tailor's, and laundresses'
bills were deducted, I had but a few dollars left.

Immediately after being paid the soldiers and some of the boys started
gambling with cards and dice in secluded places all over the island,
under trees, behind buildings and even in the graveyard. I was
pressingly invited to join in some of the games but I refused as I had
no inclination for playing. Gambling was forbidden and the gamblers
punished if caught. I wished to get a pass to visit New York and did
not care to take any chances. I applied for a pass and got permission
to be absent from nine o'clock on a Saturday morning to Retreat at
sundown on Sunday.

I put on my best uniform, polished my shoes and buttons, exhibited my
pass to the guard on the dock and was rowed over to the Battery in New
York, whence I had departed two and a half months before. I walked
rapidly through Battery Park and up Broadway towards my home. I was
anxious to see my mother from whom I had only heard by letter since my
departure. I had not gone far when I was jeered at by boys and larger
hoodlums and saluted with such questions as "Soger will ye work?" and
their replies of "No! First I'd sell me shirt." I flushed with anger
but could do nothing except to hasten my steps and get away from my
tormentors, only to encounter others on my way home. Even respectable
people looked me over as though I was a freak or a curiosity of some

A soldier at that period was but little respected by civilians in the
east. Only the people on the Western frontiers appreciated him and
understood how much he did toward making the new country a safe place
for them to acquire homes and develop the land. It required the lesson
of the Civil War to teach the east the value of soldiers and sailors.
The soldier particularly was looked upon as an individual too lazy to
work for a living. He had not been much in evidence since the Mexican
War. The entire U.S. Army contained less than twelve thousand men
scattered over a large territory.

When my pass expired I caught the boat for Governor's Island, and
reported for duty on time. I did not receive another leave of absence
for about three months. The cholera broke out in New York and Brooklyn
and soon made its appearance on Governor's Island, where it had been a
frequent visitor as well as the yellow fever. Passes were suspended
except in urgent cases, and communication with the city restricted as
much as possible. A few of the boys were attacked but recovered. Some
of the Permanent Party died of it, but the recruits suffered most. A
considerable number of them died and were buried in the island
graveyard. The funeral march was often heard and the report from the
corporal's firing squad of eight, who fired three rounds over the
grave, was the last farewell to the poor soldier, as no religious
services were held.

I had formed a few friendships among the soldiers of the Permanent
Party, particularly with a man named Lovell, a very tall, fine-looking
soldier who later on became the drum-major of my regiment. Another of
my friends was a man named Fisher, an estimable soldier. One evening
Fisher sent for me from the hospital where he was sick with the
cholera. I found the building crowded with cholera patients and
others. Fisher was suffering intensely but was conscious. He expressed
a wish, in the presence of the nurses, that in case of his death his
trunk, keepsakes and money were to be given to me. I left him after a
while and next morning learned that he had died during the night.

I got permission to attend his funeral, and the next day I went to the
hospital to claim my inheritance, but the hospital steward, named
Campbell, chased me away and for a long time I blamed him unjustly for
depriving me of the little legacy, for his own benefit, as I supposed.
He was an ill tempered man not liked by the boys. But later on I
learned that he was within his rights in not allowing me to take
anything. There is a great deal of military red tape in disposing of a
soldier's effects and I dropped the matter. Steward Campbell was
shortly after relieved by David Robinson, a kindly man, who at the
present time is still on the island, retired and living in a cottage

The island, even when free from epidemics, was not a healthy place.
There were no sewers, the water was supplied from cisterns and a few
wells. There was no gas and on dark nights lanterns were carried.
First sergeants of companies called the roll at tattoo by their aid.
As the island had no sea wall and was directly in line of the tide
currents of the East River, which it divided into two parts, much of
the floating filth from the city was deposited on its shore. Dead
cats, dogs and other small animals were washed on to the beach daily.
Sometimes a horse and, on a few occasions, a human body. Fruit of all
kinds, but all more or less decayed, great quantities of wood, all
sorts of boxes and cases, in fact anything that could float, seemed to
be cast upon the island's shore. A squad of prisoners under guard were
busy all day long in "beach combing," gathering up this filth and
burning it.

One day, when passing along the south shore, I noticed a curious
looking object partly covered by rubbish. It was high and dry up on
the beach, where it must have lain for some days exposed to the hot
sun. It was very brown and very small, and I thought it was a dead
monkey or perhaps a mummy of some kind. I called the attention of the
prisoners' guard, who were close by, to the object. They uncovered it
and declared it to be a new born infant. One of the prisoners carried
it on a shovel to the graveyard, only a few steps away, where he dug a
shallow hole in a corner of the fence and buried it.

Some parts of the shore were sandy, and at low tide I often saw some
of the hungry recruits gathering soft clams and eating them after
boiling them in a rusty can, picked up along the shore. They also ate
much of the fruit cast up by the tide. All this no doubt contributed
to the greater mortality among them during the prevalence of the
cholera. Very few boys, I think, ever touched any of the fruit. We
were strictly cautioned against it.

Changes made by boys being sent away to join regiments made it
possible for me to move to a room on the second floor which was more
cheerful and to have a more congenial bunkie, whose name was William
J. Milligan. He was a New York boy, whose mother kept a millinery
store on upper Broadway. We became fast friends and remained so as
long as he lived. We were separated when he was sent to join the Sixth
U.S. Infantry, as a fifer, and I did not meet him again until we both
served in the same brigade in the Army of the Potomac, during the
Civil War.

One day orders were given to prepare for a grand inspection of all the
soldiers on the island by General Winfield Scott, who was the
Commander-in-Chief of the army. We were busy for some days cleaning up
for the great inspection. Finally the day arrived, so did the general
in his cocked hat, a gorgeous uniform and splendid sword. He was very
tall, large and dignified. Despite his age he was erect and soldierly.
He was accompanied by some of the officers of his staff, also in full
uniform. As he debarked, a salute of thirteen guns thundered from
Castle Williams. All the soldiers on the island, not on other duty,
were drawn up on the parade ground and the band played "Hail to the
Chief." For occasions of this sort we were required to appear fully
equipped and with knapsacks packed.

There was always a rivalry among us as to who could pack his kit the
neatest and show the fewest creases in the overcoat when rolled up and
strapped on top of the knapsack. In this particular we never seemed to
be able to equal the Permanent Party, whose overcoats were faultlessly
rolled. The usual formula of a general inspection was carried through,
as prescribed in the regulations, ending up with opening ranks,
unslinging and opening knapsacks and displaying our kits. The General
and his aides-de-camp, accompanied by the commanding officer and the
adjutant, first inspected the band, then passed through the boys'
opened ranks without any comments and on through the ranks of the
Permanent Party, each of whom stood like a statue at the position
"order arms." An officer of the General's staff, remarking the
immaculate rolling of many of the overcoats, tapped one of them with
the scabbard of his sword. It emitted a hollow sound. He asked the
soldier what it was, and the man explained that it was a dummy made
out of a piece of stove pipe covered with blue cloth. The old General
noticed the incident but merely smiled as did some of the other
officers. However, it proved to be the end of the dummy overcoats on

One summer's day several French ships of war arrived in the harbor,
opposite Governor's Island. They fired a national salute which it was
necessary to reply to, gun for gun, according to custom. Unfortunately
at that particular time there were no artillery soldiers on the
island, but a sergeant of the Permanent Party was found who understood
how to load and discharge guns. He was furnished with a detail of
infantry men to assist him. Salutes were always fired from the first
or ground tier of guns at Castle Williams, about a dozen in number.
When not in use the embrasures for these guns were closed with wooden
shutters which could be removed and taken inside while firing.

The Sergeant ordered the shutters to be detached from their fastenings
and laid down flat in the openings. He then commenced firing, and at
every discharge we saw the shutters being blown to splinters into the
harbor, fortunately without damage to any one. When all the guns in
the tier had been discharged the Sergeant and his inexperienced crew
had to go back to reload and fire them over again. This caused a long
gap in the completion of the salute, which should have been fired
continuously, and no doubt astonished our French visitors.

A day or two later on a Saturday afternoon the French admiral, with
some of his officers, accompanied by the post adjutant, came on an
informal visit to the island. I was on the scrubbing squad that day
when they passed through the sallyport of the South Battery,
unannounced. I was the first boy whom they encountered, hatless,
barefooted, in shirt sleeves, with my trousers rolled up to the knees
and a broom in my hands. I was startled, but stood to attention and
came to a salute, which was returned by the admiral. My few companions
did the same. Most of the boys were out fishing, swimming and playing
games. The distinguished party remained but a few minutes and did not
enter the quarters. I think they were not favorably impressed by our
sloppy appearance.

Sometimes recruits deserted the island by arranging to have a row boat
appear on the shores at night or by swimming across the Buttermilk
Channel to Brooklyn in the night time when the tide was right. If
recaptured they were tried by a general court martial and sentenced to
severe punishments. There were few desertions among the boys; but two
of them who failed to return from leave of absence were caught after a
time. They were tried and sentenced to receive twenty-five strokes
with a rattan well applied to their "bare buttocks," so the sentence
read, and to be confined in the guard-house at hard labor for two
months, also forfeit their pay for the same period.

We were turned out and formed in ranks on a spot near the graveyard to
witness the punishment of the poor fellows. They were marched to the
place under guard. The Adjutant read the sentence of the court
martial. Then one of the boys was laid face down on a long bench and
held by a member of the guard at his head and another at his feet. His
clothes were removed sufficiently to expose his buttocks, and at the
adjutant's command, a corporal commenced to apply the rattan, which
left a red mark at every stroke and made the boy squirm and groan and
finally cry out with pain before the adjutant cried "Halt" at the
twenty-fifth blow. While the blows were not inflicted with anything
like full force, yet they were cruel enough if only by their number.

The unfortunate second victim was obliged to witness his comrade's
punishment and then endure the same himself. Both of the boys were
about seventeen years of age and served out their enlistment. One of
them I met during the Civil War as a lieutenant of a volunteer
regiment. The trembling and sobbing boys were reconducted to the
guard-house, and we marched back to quarters after this distressing

The summer passed away, the cholera, both in the city and on the
island, was almost extinct. Leave of absence was again granted and I
went to the city a few times during the fall and early winter. One
morning I felt ill and reported at "doctor's call." I was taken before
the surgeon, who examined me and ordered me to bed in the hospital,
thinking, no doubt, that I was about to have an attack of fever. I did
not expect this and hoped that I would simply be marked "sick in
quarters" and excused from duty. I was put to bed in a ward that
contained about eight beds occupied by soldiers with all sorts of
ailments, some of them very disagreeable. Some of the boys who had
been in the hospital had told me that tea and toast was served there
to the sick. I hankered for some of it, as I had not tasted any for a
long time. I got it twice a day and a little thin gruel, but nothing
else. On the third day, I begged to be let go. I was disgusted with
the hospital and its inmates. As no serious complications had
developed, I was sent back to quarters and excused from duty for a few

As the winter approached we were obliged to give up many of our little
outdoor diversions and confine ourselves more to our crowded quarters.
As there was no place indoors for exercise or amusement, our condition
became more melancholy and dejected. Our clothing we found
insufficient to keep us warm. Many of us bought woolen knit jackets,
which we wore instead of a vest and which gave us some protection
against the fierce cold winds that blew across the island and chilled
us to the marrow when we were on parade. When we began to have severe
frosts, the bandsmen did not appear at guard mounting on the plea that
their instruments would freeze. The fifes and drums furnished the only
music. Often our fingers were so numb with the cold that we could
hardly play a note. The drummers could manage to beat a march with
gloves on their hands and suffered less.

One cold night late in November there was an alarm of fire which
proved to be in the sutler's row near the hospital. It broke out in
several places at once. There was some excitement in getting out the
soldiers' wives and children who lived there, but none were injured.
There were no fire extinguishing appliances on the island, save fire
buckets. The soldiers formed lines to the nearest pump and cistern and
passed the buckets along. But they could make no impression on the
fire, and the row was a mass of ruins in little more than an hour.
Long before a ferry boat brought some firemen and a hand engine from
the city there was nothing left to save.

Two of the older boys were accused of setting the houses on fire. They
were arrested and confined in the guard-house on charges of arson and
were still awaiting trial when I was ordered away shortly after.

The winter had set in early. It was very cold at times and there was
snow on the ground. We felt generally depressed and miserable, when
quite unexpectedly, one day in the early part of December, 1854, two
other boys and myself received orders to prepare to depart to Carlisle
Barracks, at Carlisle, Pa., there to be assigned to the Second U.S.
Infantry. I do not know why I was selected to go. Quite a number of
the boys had been on the island longer than I, and some were more
proficient. But I felt glad. Surely any kind of a change would be for
the better. The next day I and my companions, Peter Moritz and Edward
Young, both a year or two older than I, received a pass to go to New
York and say farewell to our parents or relatives, whom we were not
likely to see again for years.

A trusty corporal was placed in charge of us. He had orders not to
allow us to separate nor to lose sight of us and to return with us to
the island before evening. In this way we were obliged to witness each
other's leave taking in the presence of our conductor. There were
tears and lamenting, and the corporal, who was kindly, but did not
like his task, was importuned when about to leave one house for
another to "let the poor boy stay just five minutes longer." When he
acceded it generally extended to fifteen minutes or more. As none of
us had any intention to desert this painful way of parting might have
been spared us. There was no special need to hurry us away, and
sufficient time could have been given to notify our relatives to come
to the island and bid us farewell there. I always looked upon this as
unnecessarily harsh treatment.

We all had some lunch in an eating house, made a few small purchases
and in due time returned to the island, angry at the way we had been
humiliated by the orders of either the commanding officer or the
adjutant. Next morning we packed our kits and started for the boat
landing shortly after noon, accompanied by some of the boys and
another corporal who was to take us to Carlisle. We boarded the barge
in which I had come to the island on the day of my enlistment nearly
nine months before. Sergeant Brown, who soon after became a member of
my company at Carlisle, was still cockswain. We pushed off amid the
cheers of our comrades and passed over the East River to New York.

No one seemed to have any clear idea as to where Carlisle was or how
long a time it would take to get there, so they loaded us with three
days' rations of boiled salt beef and bread, which filled our
haversacks to bursting. This, together with a canteen filled with cold
coffee, made no inconsiderable load. We wore our overcoats, and our
knapsacks were packed with a five-pound blanket, an extra jacket and
trousers, underwear and stockings, an extra pair of shoes, clothes and
shoe brushes and knick-knacks. A tin wash basin was strapped onto the
back of the knapsack. All this made a load enough for a man to carry.
We passed through Battery Park and staggered along West Street in the
direction of the Jersey City Ferry, making occasional halts for a
rest, when crowds would collect about us and ask us many questions. No
doubt we three small boys looked ridiculous to them, overloaded as we
were. I overheard a longshoreman remark that he'd "be damned before
he'd make a pack horse of himself for Uncle Sam."

We reached the ferry, crossed the North River to Jersey City and were
put on a car that had wooden seats without any cushions. It was the
first time that I had ever been away from New York on a railroad train
and I was much interested in watching the scenery all the way to
Philadelphia, where we arrived about dusk and changed trains for
Harrisburg. I opened my haversack, ate my frugal supper and went to
sleep, tired out with the day's excitement. About midnight the
corporal woke us up at Harrisburg to change cars for Carlisle, but we
found that there would be no train to Carlisle until eight o'clock
next morning. The station master kindly allowed us to stay in the
waiting room of the depot for the remainder of the night. There was a
good fire in the stove and some benches to lie on, so we passed the
night quite comfortably. We all had a little money and got some hot
coffee and rolls at the depot next morning before we left on the eight
o'clock train for Carlisle. We arrived there in less than two hours,
with our three days' rations almost intact. There was snow on the
ground, through which we trudged laboriously towards the garrison
about a mile away.

I was glad to leave Governor's Island. Its narrow limits impressed me
as a place of confinement. The quarters were overcrowded, the food was
bad and insufficient, the discipline very strict, and there was little
time or opportunity for recreation. It was monotonous and depressing,
and although later during my service I suffered much hardship and
encountered many dangers, I never wished myself back on the island
again. Among the many boys whom I knew on the island I saw but few
again, outside of those in my own regiment. They were scattered all
over the country, serving at distant posts and often changing.
Probably but few are living now, and I know the whereabouts of only
one, who served in the Seventh U.S. Infantry for many years and now
resides in New York, where I see him occasionally and talk over old



After a tramp through the snow with our heavy loads from the Carlisle
depot, we reached the barracks tired out. The corporal reported our
arrival at the adjutant's office, and we were assigned to companies.
Moritz went as drummer to Company I, Young as fifer to Company A, and
myself as fifer to Company D of the Second United States Infantry.

The regimental headquarters were there together with the field and
staff, and the band, companies A, G and I had been recruited to their
full strength, but Company D, to which I was assigned, had no real
existence as yet. There were only two officers, a few sergeants and
corporals, together with three or four privates, some of whom had
served in the Mexican War, which was all that was left of Company D on
its return from the Pacific coast, where the regiment had served for a
number of years. All of these men were attached to other companies
until such time as recruits would be received to fill up the ranks. I
was ordered to duty temporarily with Company I.

The Second Regiment of the United States Infantry was one of the
oldest in the service. It was organized by act of Congress on March 3,
1791, and was engaged with the Indians on Miami River, November 4,
1791. It had fought in other Indian Wars, principally against the
Seminoles in Florida. It took part in the War of 1812, and
participated in the engagements of the Mexican War from Vera Cruz to
the City of Mexico. After the Mexican War, and at about the time of
the discovery of gold in California, it was sent there, where its men
built Benicia Barracks near San Francisco, Fort Yuma and other posts.

About 1850 it became known that the Government was enlisting many
recruits at Governor's Island for service in California. The gold
fever was at its height and hundreds of soldiers were deserting to the
mines. Men who had served their terms scorned re-enlistment when they
saw so many digging wealth from the hills or dipping it up from the
mountain streams. For the same reason it was impossible to get
recruits in gold-mad California.

But no such difficulty was experienced in the East. There were plenty
of recruits, but the sudden increase in enlistments brought into the
army some of the worst men that ever joined it. They put on the
uniform solely for the purpose of getting free transportation to
California at the Government's expense. I had the story from some of
the survivors of the eventful trip made by these recruits from New
York to San Francisco.

A steamship was chartered, loaded with army supplies and some hundreds
of the recruits. They were under the command of Brevet Major George W.
Patten, of the Second United States Infantry, with whom I served later
on the frontiers. Major Patten had served in the Mexican War, where he
had lost two fingers of his right hand, and was brevetted for
gallantry. By the rank and file he was called "Three-fingered Jack,"
and was known as an easy going soul who hated any sort of trouble, of
which he and the young and inexperienced lieutenants with him got
plenty before they reached their destination.

Almost the first day at sea the bad element among the recruits began
fighting with the sailors. They stole all the provisions they could
lay their hands on. Fortunately they had no arms; these were packed in
armchests, and stowed in the hold of the ship. Only some of the
sergeants carried sidearms.

The first stop of the steamship was at Kingston, Jamaica, for coal.
There the recruits overran the guards, got possession of a coal pile
and had a pitched battle with a strong force of negro police, who were
trying to keep them on the dock. They soon routed the police, swarmed
all over the town and committed many depredations. It required several
companies of white British troops to round them up, drive them back to
the ship and keep them there while she was coaling.

All the way to San Francisco the unruly element made trouble. They
laughed at the mild way in which the good old major disciplined some
of them. I was told that when one of the ring-leaders was brought
before him he asked his name and promised to make him a sergeant in
his own regiment when they arrived in California, if he would only
behave himself. After their arrival in San Francisco, most of these
ruffians deserted as soon as opportunity offered. Many of them made
their way to the gold diggings, and very few of them were ever

In 1854 the Second United States Infantry had become greatly reduced
in numbers from various casualties, and what remained of the regiment
was ordered East. Some companies were consolidated, and the skeleton
organizations of others filled up with recruits. A few were entirely
re-enlisted. Companies A, D, G and I were at Carlisle, Pa., and the
remaining six companies were at Forts Snelling, Ridgely and Ripely on
the upper Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, protecting the settlers
from the Indians.

I found Carlisle barracks a very agreeable change from Governors
Island. It had been built to serve as a dragoon barracks, and had
quarters and stables enough for a regiment, but during my time, was
used only for the Infantry. On July 1, 1864, a part of the Confederate
Army, on their march to Gettysburg, fired some shells into the town of
Carlisle and set fire to the barracks, but they succeeded in
destroying only a part of the buildings. On a recent visit there I
found some of the former officers' and soldiers' quarters still
standing, also the commanding officer's house, the adjutant's office
and guard-house, all of which, together with a number of new
buildings, are now used as a Government Indian school and have been
for many years.

The soldiers' quarters were three-story buildings with a wide veranda
at every floor, facing the parade ground. There company roll calls
were held in bad weather. The rooms were large enough not to be
crowded; but the bunks were the old-fashioned two-tier kind. Two men
slept in each of the lower and upper bunks, and it was uncomfortable.
The rooms were heated by stoves in which we burned wood. They were
comfortably warm during the winter, which I found less severe in
Southern Pennsylvania than in New York.

Our rations were much improved. We were able to add many extras from
the company funds. We were in the midst of a fine farming region and
could purchase all kinds of vegetables, and other products very cheap
from the farmers who came to the barracks for that purpose. When
spring came we took long walks. We were allowed to go anywhere within
a mile limit without a pass, but generally went much further. Few
depredations were committed, and many of the farmers were delightfully
hospitable, often giving us milk, and other things, on our tramps
about the country.

Carlisle, the county seat of Cumberland County, Pa., was then a town
of about seven thousand inhabitants, having churches, schools, hotels,
banks, stores, some saloons and many good private houses. There also
was Dickinson College, a Methodist institution of renown, which is
still flourishing. The town was easy of access for the soldiers, who
often went there without the formality of a pass. It was but a mile
away from the barracks, and considerably less for those who used a
favorite route, crossing a small creek on a log, and cutting across
the intervening fields.

Unfortunately for some of the soldiers, there was a distillery on the
outskirts of the town quite near where the log crossed the stream,
where newly made whiskey was sold for a shilling (twelve and a half
cents) per quart, or eighteen cents for a canteen full. Shillings were
still in circulation, and there was no high tax on spirits. This cheap
and easy way to procure liquor was the means of sending many a soldier
to the guard-house.

Occasionally, during the winter, there was a theatrical performance in
the town, which a limited number of soldiers received leave of absence
to attend. Another favorite amusement was a dance at a tavern or
road-house outside of the town where we had a chance to meet some of
the farmers' daughters. I borrowed a gun sometimes, and got a few
rabbits. I also had some sleigh rides. Indeed, our liberty contrasted
so favorably with the narrow confines of Governor's Island that the
mild winter passed very quickly.

In about a month after my arrival at Carlisle, the complement of
recruits required for Company D was sent on from Governor's Island,
and the company took up quarters by themselves in a new two-story
building, with a mess-room in the basement, on the easterly side of the
barracks. The recruits were all young men, twenty to twenty-five years
old, hailing from various parts of the country. A considerable portion
were foreign-born, mostly Irish, although there were some Germans and
a few other nationalities. Their previous occupations ranged all the
way from a school teacher to farm laborer. Some were fairly well
educated and others ignorant to the point of illiteracy. There were
many mechanics of all sorts among them who had worked as journeymen at
their trades. Also there were some runaway apprentices. We found those
of a mechanical experience very useful later on at the frontiers.

As usual, they had enlisted for various reasons. Some had the
"Wanderlust"; others had a taste for adventure and hoped to satisfy it
in a soldier's life. Some had joined from sheer necessity, or
inability to find any other occupation to support themselves. This
last was a very common cause. There were also a few "ne'er-do-wells"
who were of no use anywhere, and a detriment to the army. It took
months to drill and discipline these men, and to make serviceable
soldiers of them. But after a time their awkwardness disappeared. They
carried themselves erect, and there was a marked improvement, except
in a few who seemed too stupid to be taught and strained the drill
sergeant's patience to the breaking point. Every company seemed to
have a few members so awkward as to disarrange any well drilled
company. Whenever possible these were detailed to some special duty,
which kept them out of the ranks.

The men were left to choose their bunkies, and pair off as they
pleased. I bunked with one of the sergeants of the company who had
served in Mexico and in California. He was a middle aged man of
exemplary character, who took a sort of fatherly interest in me. He
taught me many things useful in a soldier's life.

I met with one great disappointment on joining Company D. I had hoped
to have as a companion a drummer-boy of about my own age, with whom I
could chum. This desire was strengthened by the knowledge that the
fifer was considered to rank the drummer and in the absence of special
instructions could order the drummer to play such tunes or marches as
he chose. But I found myself associated with a man who was a dozen
years my senior. He was serving his second enlistment, and had been
transferred from some other regiment and sent to Carlisle. He was a
married man without any children, and lived in another part of the
garrison away from the company. His wife, a rather attractive and
genteel young woman, was one of the four laundresses which the army
regulations allowed to each company, and provided free with a
soldier's daily ration, quarters, transportation, and medical

My drummer was a tall, haggard man with a sallow face. I was still a
few inches short of having attained the height of five feet, and when
my tall drummer and I marched at the head of the company we were
called the "long and the short of it," which greatly annoyed me as I
was very sensitive to ridicule. Another annoyance was the fact that he
was not a very good drummer, and would not take the trouble to learn
any new and fancy pieces, as we boys did. Whenever I had to play with
him alone I was obliged to content myself with the old repertoire.
Aside from these differences, we managed to get along well enough, as
he was a sober and solemn man who kept very much to himself. But I
always missed the companionship of a more youthful spirit.

The commander of my company at this time was Captain and Brevet Major
Samuel P. Heintzelman, a native of Pennsylvania who during the Civil
War commanded an army corps in the army of the Potomac, and became a
major general. His grey hair and beard gave him a fatherly appearance,
and he was well liked by the men. He was fond of bean soup, the kind
that only soldiers can make. He frequently sent his servant to the
company kitchen for a quart of bean soup. Captain Heintzelman remained
with us but a few months when he was promoted to Major of the First
Regiment of Infantry. We regretted to lose him. The first lieutenant
was Thomas W. Sweeney, a native of Ireland, who had lost an arm in the
Mexican War. He retired from the service in 1870, with the rank of
Brigadier General. He was a good soldier. The second lieutenant was
John D. O'Connell, of Pennsylvania, a tall, fine-looking man, somewhat
given to swearing when he got angry, but a fair and just man. I do not
know what became of him after the war. We had three efficient officers
who took good care of the company. Captain Heintzelman and Lieutenant
O'Connell, were both West Point graduates. The commander of the post
was John J. Abercrombie, lieutenant colonel of our regiment. He was
also a West Pointer and had joined the army in 1822. He was a good
tactician and a very proud and dignified officer.

In March, 1855, great changes took place. The U.S. Army, which then
consisted of only eight regiments of infantry, two of dragoons, one of
mounted rifles, four of artillery, of which but two companies in each
regiment were batteries, and a few engineer and ordnance soldiers, was
authorized by act of Congress on March 3, 1855, to be increased by the
formation of two additional regiments of infantry, the Ninth and
Tenth, and two of cavalry, the First and Second. The old names of
"Dragoons" and "Mounted Rifles" were dropped, and those regiments were
thereafter known as the Third, Fourth and Fifth Cavalry. General
Scott's infantry tactics were abandoned for Colonel Hardee's.

The old smooth bore musket, which carried a ball and three buckshots
at short range, was replaced by a long range rifle with a barrel of a
dull finish and a sword bayonet. The old fashioned cross belts were
done away with, and the cartridge boxes made smaller. The heavy shakos
and clumsy fatigue caps were replaced by a lighter and neater uniform
hat, and a Képi, after the French army style. The cut of the dress
coat was altered and made to look smarter, and polished brass epaulets
were worn. All this made a decided improvement in the appearance of
the soldiers on parade.

The change in tactics made extra drilling necessary. The old had to be
unlearned and the new acquired. After we had become proficient in the
new drill, Colonel Abercrombie sometimes marched the four companies,
with the band and field music ahead, through the town to the Dickinson
College grounds which were on the side nearly opposite to the
barracks. There he put us through a battalion drill. These drills and
marches through the town took place on fine spring days, much to the
delight of Carlisle's citizens, who turned out in great numbers to see
the spectacle and to hear the band play.

I had a very easy time at Carlisle barracks. I attended the roll calls
at reveille, retreat, tattoo and guard mounting; drilled and practiced
for an hour each day except Saturdays, and served as orderly at the
adjutant's office about once a week. I had a great deal of spare time
which I spent in roving around the country. I also went to town quite
often. There was no school so I bought some books and did some
studying evenings with the assistance of some of the men in my
company. I began to like "soldiering." I wore a fine, showy uniform
dress coat of dark blue cloth with the standing collar, cuffs and
breast faced with light blue cloth, which made it very conspicuous and
distinguished the musicians from the non-commissioned officers and
privates. The trousers were of light blue cloth, and the Képi (cap) of
dark blue ornamented with a small brass bugle and the regimental
number above a straight visor. I had a pair of brass epaulets, or
"scales," as we called them, which, together with my coat buttons and
cap ornaments, I kept highly polished. I also had a bright sword, for
each musician, and the first or orderly sergeant of each infantry
company carried a straight sword. The sword belt was made of black
leather and had a brass clasp ornamented with an eagle and a wreath of
white metal. My sword was rather long for me at this time, and it used
to get between my legs at first when marching, and trip me up. It took
some time to become accustomed to it.

My pay was twelve dollars per month, with everything found and I
looked pityingly upon citizen boys of my age who had to slave for a
couple of dollars per week.

I was approaching my fourteenth year, and outside of my military
obligations felt that I was my own master. This, I suppose, made me
think I was a man in spite of my youth. I fear that at this period I
felt "a little cockey" or vain, and showed it. This feeling, however,
I got rid of after I experienced real service in the frontiers. I
bought some white shirts, "boiled shirts," as we soldiers called them,
also neckties and "bear's grease" for my hair. With all this I arrayed
myself gorgeously when I went to town. Sometimes I wore a red sash
instead of my belt and sword which I was not allowed to carry into
town. I began to correspond with some of the town girls, who admired
the soldiers, and I made calls on some of them.

We music boys patronized a small ice cream and candy store kept by a
widow and her daughter. There was a back room where we often met and
were served with soft drinks and cake. Between pay days, when we had
run out of money, the widow gave us credit.

The freedom I enjoyed here was a great contrast to my unhappy
experience on Governor's Island, where I had but little liberty, was
half starved and was badly treated in many ways. I look back with
pleasure to my six months' stay at Carlisle, whose citizens were
always friendly to the soldiers. There was but little of the rough
element in that staid old Pennsylvania town, and I cannot recall that
any serious difficulty or encounter ever took place between the
citizens and soldiers during our stay there.

While at Carlisle barracks, I was obliged to take part in a
disgraceful scene--the drumming out of two soldiers. They had been
tried for desertion by a general court martial, found guilty and
sentenced to be indelibly marked on the left hip with the letter D,
four inches in height, to have their heads shaved, to be dishonorably
discharged and drummed out of service. This sentence was executed one
cold winter morning, directly after reveille. The companies who had
just answered roll call were kept formed while all of the fifers and
drummers marched to the guard-house. There we formed ranks, the two
prisoners in front, bare headed, closely followed by four privates and
a corporal, their guns at a position of "Charge bayonets." The field
music was behind, playing what is called "The Rogue's March." In this
way the prisoners, whose closely shaved heads presented an absurd
appearance, were marched around the four sides of the parade ground,
past the companies standing in ranks, back to the guard-house and
through the gate adjoining. There we halted, their caps and small
bundles containing their little belongings were handed to them, also a
dishonorable discharge, then we watched them for a while as they
hastened down the road towards the town. They did not enter it,
however, but cut across the fields and soon disappeared from sight.

This spectacular exhibition of a brutal punishment seemed to me like a
relic of barbarity. It was conceived in the virulent minds of some of
the officers who tried the prisoners. The sentence was duly approved
by a higher authority, although it was not in accordance with the
punishments as prescribed in the army regulations. Young as I was, I
felt ashamed and indignant at being compelled to be an actor in this
disgraceful scene.

A company of soldiers, after they have served together for some
months, become like a large family. My own company was a fair sample.
We soon knew each other's good points, failings and weaknesses. It
took but a short time for the company to separate itself into two
parties; the larger of which contained the men who kept themselves
clean, and took some pride in soldiering. The other contingent,
happily small in numbers, were often slovenly, disorderly, and
sometimes vicious. They were given to quarreling, and occasional
fighting. Though they banded together, they were not able to create
much trouble while in the quarters, as they were so largely
out-numbered. It became necessary sometimes to teach one of them a
severe lesson, and I remember one case wherein a man of filthy habits
was taken to the creek by his comrades, stripped and washed with soap
and sand until his skin was raw.

As we had no way to lock up anything we owned we were particularly
severe on petty thieves, taking the law into our own hands, by giving
the guilty one a sound beating. This had a good effect. Of those we
punished none ever complained of their treatment to the officers,
knowing that they would receive small consolation from them. After a
few rigorous punishments it was seldom that a soldier missed anything.

Tricks were played upon us boys once in a while. We played our calls
at the flag staff in front of the commanding officer's house, where,
when commencing to play, some fifer would nearly burst himself trying
to blow his instrument. Upon investigation he would find it stuffed
with paper or rags. Sometimes a drummer would find the drumhead
greased or the snares loosened. The bandsmen also had their troubles.
Their brass instruments were filled with water or stuffed with rags;
these experiences soon taught us to examine our instruments before
going to the parade ground.

Early in March, 1855, Major Edmund B. Alexander of the Eighth
Infantry, arrived after having been promoted to colonel of the Tenth
Infantry, one of the new regiments. As he ranked Lieutenant Colonel
Abercrombie he took command of the post. The headquarters of the Tenth
Infantry were established at Carlisle barracks. Officers and recruits
for the new regiment began to arrive, and the post took on a more
lively appearance as company after company of the new regiment was
formed. We began to be somewhat crowded. The parade ground within the
barracks proved to be too small for drilling all the companies at the
same time, and some of them were obliged to exercise in adjoining

The addition of four new regiments to the United States Army, and the
necessary increase of more than one hundred and fifty officers brought
joy to the hearts of many of the old officers, who had long waited for
promotion. Advancement in time of peace is naturally very slow. Many
grey haired first lieutenants became captains, some elderly captains
became majors, and a few majors were promoted to colonels. The second
lieutenants were supplied from West Point as far as possible. There
was a very scanty promotion from the ranks, but quite a number of
appointments from civil life--many of these through political
influence more than for any merit the candidates possessed.

Before the raising of the four new regiments the number of officers in
the army who had been appointed from civil life was very small. Most
of them dated from the war with Mexico. These men had seen service and
were experienced. We did not take kindly to the newly appointed
lieutenants from civil life. Few of them knew anything of military
work, and for some we had contempt. But we respected the young
officers from the military academy, who understood their business.

The various promotions caused many transfers of officers to serve in
higher grades in other regiments. My company lost Captain and Brevet
Major Samuel P. Heintzelman, who left us, much to our regret, to
become a Major of the First United States Infantry; William M.
Gardner, a native of the State of Georgia, and a West Point man,
became our next captain, having been promoted and transferred from
another regiment. He was an ardent Southerner who most cordially hated
the "Abolitionist"--a haughty, high-spirited, irritable man, more
feared than liked by the soldiers. He was middle-aged and unmarried,
slight and of medium size with a swarthy complexion. His delicate
physique caused him to suffer much from the severe hardships endured
while on the frontiers, but he bore them courageously and without a

He remained captain of Company D until his native state seceded from
the Union, when he resigned his commission, and joined the
Confederacy. There, I have been told, he became a brigadier general
and lost a leg during the war. I remember Captain Gardner with the
kindest of feelings, and I am grateful to him for special acts of
kindness and indulgence. He never was harsh or hasty to me, and often
he gave me good advice, which to my regret I did not always follow.

We had a mild winter at Carlisle, as I have said, and spring opened
early. In May it was warm enough to bathe in the deep holes of the
small creek, near the garrison, and we often enjoyed swimming in a
river some miles away. There was a large cave in that vicinity into
which we often went for the pleasure of shouting and hearing the
echoes. The country was beautiful. There were large farms, with
prosperous-looking houses. I never tired of wandering about on the
good roads that stretched in all directions.

I found much amusement in watching the drilling of the raw recruits of
the Tenth Infantry, for we of the Second considered ourselves trained
soldiers now and laughed at their awkwardness as others had probably
laughed at us.

A certain Irish sergeant had a most peculiar way of his own of
elucidating the tactics to the recruits, and often lost his temper
when things were done wrong. One day, after he had patiently explained
and demonstrated to his squad that, when given the command, "Forward
march," each man must step off with his left foot, about half of the
squad advanced the right foot.

"Didn't I tell y'es the roight fut's not the roight fut?" he shouted.
"The lift fut's the roight fut."

Sometimes it happened that some inattention of the instructor himself
would cause amusement when drilling some of the larger squads in
marching. At the command "By the right flank, right face, forward
march," one-half of the squad misunderstanding the command, would face
to the left, and march on until brought up against a fence or other
obstruction. At the same time the other half marched with the
instructor at their flank in the opposite direction, until he
commanded, "Halt, front face," and discovered the missing half on the
other side of the parade ground "marking time," and waiting for a

An old soldier of my company named Coffey was married and had several
children. One of them was called "Kitty." She was a little
freckled-faced four-year-old who had the most astonishing red hair
that I ever saw. Kitty had a roving disposition, and wandered all over
the garrison, and into the soldiers' quarters. Everyone played with
her, and she was a general favorite. She loved the soldiers, and the
only way we could make her go home was to say to her, "Kitty your
hair's on fire, run home and tell your mother." Kitty would then
scamper off crying.

She dearly loved to hear the band play, and often got in the way on
the parade ground. One day at guard mounting, Lieutenant O'Connoll, of
my company, who had a keen sense of humor, was acting as adjutant. He
was about to march the guard in review, when he discovered Kitty
directly in front of the band, gazing at them with admiration. He
changed the customary words of command to "Column forward, guide
right--Kitty Coffey get out of the way--March!" all in the same tone
of voice.

I have seen Lieutenant O'Connoll, a big raw-boned, black-whiskered
Pennsylvanian, whom we learned to like in spite of his very forcible
language, fly into such a passion at drill that he would plunge his
sword into the ground half way up to the hilt and hold up his hands in
despair, vigorously berating the company for some false movement.
Sometimes, however, he would laud them when they did their work well.

About the first of June, 1855, orders arrived for the immediate
departure of the four companies of the Second Infantry stationed at
Carlisle to Fort Pierre on the Missouri River in Nebraska Territory.
We were to form a part of the Sioux Expedition, under Brigadier
General William S. Harney, for the purpose of chastising one of the
tribes of the Sioux nation, who nearly a year before had massacred
Lieutenant John L. Grattan, and his escort of twenty-one soldiers, who
had been sent out from Fort Laramie to hold a parley with them. As the
Government had but a handful of soldiers at Laramie, vengeance had to
be delayed until a sufficient number of troops from our small army
could be gathered for the purpose.

General Harney had been made leader of the expedition because he was
an old experienced Indian fighter, known and feared by many of the
Indians. We made our preparations quickly, paid some farewell visits
in the town and in a day or two were ready to start as soon as
transportation could be provided.

I had some regrets at leaving Carlisle Barracks, where I had
experienced none of the ennui of a soldier's life, but had thoroughly
enjoyed myself. I think, however, that my regrets were more than
counter-balanced by the prospect of new scenes far away from
civilization in a country inhabited only by savages, and which at that
time had been but imperfectly explored.



Companies A, D, G and I left Carlisle Barracks about the first week in
June, 1855. We formed on the parade ground for the last time on a
Saturday afternoon in full marching order, our haversacks filled with
three days' rations of hard bread and boiled salt pork. At the command
of Col. Abercrombie we started off in a quick step, the band playing
alternately, "The Girl I Left Behind Me" and "The Bold Soldier Boy,"
both old-fashioned tunes that it was customary to play on such
occasions. We marched past the guard-house where the officer of the
day and guard of the Tenth Infantry saluted us with a "Present arms."

We passed down the road to a point on the railroad track leading into
the town where a special train awaited us on a siding. The train was
made up of a few baggage cars, a passenger car with upholstered seats
for the officers, and "emigrant cars" with bare wooden seats, for the
enlisted men and the wives and children of the married soldiers. None
of the officers' wives and children went with us; two years or more
elapsed before they saw them again.

Lieut. Sweeney of my company was left behind, detailed for some
special duty. Capt. Gardner and Lieut. O'Connell, both bachelors, were
with the company. The last farewells were said, and amid tears and
cheers from some of the soldiers of the Tenth Infantry and the
citizens from the town, we started on our long journey.

I had a seat at a car window and was greatly interested in the
constantly changing scenery. We had to go back to Harrisburg to get
to the main line to Pittsburgh. Traveling by railroad was slow at that
time, particularly so in our case as we had to keep out of the way of
passenger trains. We put in a bad night on the hard seats and in the
morning were at Altoona, where hot coffee was brought into the cars
and served to us from milk cans. Arrangements had been made to give us
coffee two or three times per day while en route.

We made slow progress over the Allegheny Mountains, sometimes having
an extra locomotive to push us along, and it was late Sunday afternoon
when we reached Pittsburgh. We had to change trains here, and as we
marched through the streets to another depot, a crowd of people
followed us. There were four companies with a band and colors,
probably more regular soldiers than they had ever seen at one time
before. We were delayed a long time at the depot; but finally we
started, and after another miserable night on the hard seats, we left
the cars in the morning, crossed a river on a ferryboat and were in
Toledo, Ohio. Stacking arms in one of the streets, we sat on the curb
stones and ate our meager breakfast of hard bread and pork, together
with hot coffee served in our quart tin cups.

A crowd of citizens watched us with interest. They asked many
questions and made remarks, some not very complimentary to our
appearance. We had been two nights on the dusty cars with no
opportunity to wash ourselves or to clean our clothing. I remember
overhearing a stylish young lady say to her dudish escort, "Oh! John,
see how dirty they are and look at the big shoes they wear."

We waited for some hours and then left for Chicago on another train.
Next morning, stiff and sore from our cramped seats, we were outside
of Chicago on the Illinois prairies, going south towards Alton on the
Mississippi. During this third night on the cars, as many as could
find room lay down on their blankets in the passage-way, securing a
few hours of fitful sleep at the risk of being stepped on.

Towns and villages were far apart in Illinois at that time. We
traveled many miles without seeing a tree or a bush. It was my first
view of a prairie. Towards evening we arrived at Alton and detrained
on the outskirts of the town. There we took shelter in some empty
barns and other vacant buildings, on the floors of which we were glad
to get a night's rest. Next morning we were greeted by a furious rain
which continued for two days and nights. During all that time we were
kept in the barns. Sentinels were posted to allow no one to go into
the town; nevertheless, some of the men succeeded in obtaining

On the morning of the third day the sun was shining bright and warm.
We received orders to "fall in" and marched down to the wharf where
four steamboats were awaiting us. One company went on board each boat,
the headquarters, field and staff and the band going on the largest
boat with one of the companies. The boats cast off at intervals of
about a half an hour each and got under way. They carried no other
passengers. My company embarked on the "Australia," which was the
third boat in the line. The steamboats were of the usual style of
light-draft river craft, built to carry freight and passengers. They
were all equipped with high pressure engines which noisily ejected a
great puff of steam through exhaust pipes on the top deck at every
thrust of the piston. They were sidewheelers and each had two tall

On each side of the foredeck rested the butt end of a great spar,
hanging forward at an angle and secured at the top with tackle. These
long spars were used in working the boats off sand bars, I found out

Freight was carried on these boats in a very shallow hold and on deck
behind the boilers, which were located well forward. Above the boiler
deck was the cabin or passenger deck, containing the staterooms, and
over that, the "Texas" or hurricane deck, on which was the pilot house
in front, and back of that the officers' cabins. The crew was provided
for on the boiler deck. The construction was very frail above the
boiler deck. The boats shook and shivered when under way, and as
everything was constructed of light joists and thin boards, the danger
of fire was always present.

Our boats had been very heavily loaded at St. Louis, Mo., with a cargo
of military and sutler's stores and material for portable wooden
houses. The company was quartered in the forward staterooms on the
cabin deck, two to each room. We found the rooms stripped of every
article of bedding and furniture. Even the slats in the bunks had been
taken out, and we had to lie on our blankets on the floor. For our
morning ablutions we went to the lower deck and threw overboard a
bucket at the end of a rope. In these pails of muddy Missouri River
water we washed ourselves. The company cooks prepared our meals in a
kitchen on the lower deck and we ate them wherever we could find room
to squat down on the deck among the deckhands, who were all whites.
While on board we got no fresh bread and only salt meats. The boat's
crew, or "roust-a-bouts," had better food than we, plenty of it and a
variety. They often guyed us about it, but we had the laugh on them
when the boat landed at a wood pile and the burly mate chased them
along with a club or rope's end while they loaded cord wood.

We drank from barrels in which the muddy river water had stood until
the mud had settled. It became fairly clear, when undisturbed for
about twelve hours, and was not unpalatable.

We had a citizen doctor on board, hired by the Government for the
trip. There was no work for him just then, but when we got to Fort
Leavenworth he was kept busy.

On leaving Alton we went down the Mississippi to its junction with the
Missouri, the "Big Muddy," where we could see the distinctly marked
line of the two rivers for miles before the waters seemed to blend.
The water of the Mississippi was comparatively clear and seemed loath
to mingle with that of its murky companion. The Missouri was high at
this time, during the usual June rise. The current was strong, and our
heavily laden boats made but slow progress. This, however, did away
with the necessity for sounding and enabled us to run at night, at
least as far as Fort Leavenworth or further.

Except for three daily roll calls I had nothing to do. The weather was
fine. I watched the engines occasionally but spent most of the day
sitting in the front of the cabin deck looking out upon the mighty
river whose windings disclosed constant changes of scenery. I was
enchanted with it, and it never became monotonous to me. Sometimes a
steamer carrying many passengers passed us, for no railroads then
connected any of the river towns, except one inland from St. Louis as
far as Jefferson City, the capitol of Missouri. A few of the passenger
boats were equipped with a calliope, or steam organ, and would play
old plantation melodies on approaching or departing from a town. To
hear "Suwanee River," "The Old Folks at Home" or "Susannah"
reverberating from the hills on a calm summer's evening was charming.

There were not many towns on the Missouri in 1855; the principal ones
that I remember were St. Charles, Hermann, Jefferson City, Booneville,
Glasgow, Kansas City, Leavenworth and St. Joseph, which was then about
the end of civilization and the white settlements. Smaller places, not
yet even named, were starting up, and some of them are prosperous
towns now. I had a good school atlas with me so that I could locate
the direction of the river and its principal tributaries. It proved to
be an interesting and useful companion, giving me general information
about the country and the distances between various points.

All of the steamboats used cord wood for fuel. This was supplied from
wood yards along the river as far north as the white settlements
extended. They were generally located in the wilderness far away from
any town, but were well known to the pilots, who, when running short
of wood, would sound a warning whistle on nearing a wood yard, which
would bring out of the woods to the river bank a bushy-whiskered,
matted-haired individual in a red shirt, with one suspender holding up
his corduroy pants, the bottoms of which were thrust into cowhide

The pilot would run the boat close in to shore and slacken speed while
the captain opened a parley with the man in the red shirt about the
price of the wood per cord and haggle about it until a bargain was
made. If the price was low a large quantity would be shipped, or on
the contrary, only enough to reach the next yard. Occasionally it
happened that the captain would not take any fuel at the price offered
and would start away to take his chances at the next wood pile, if he
was sure he had enough fuel to get there.

When it was decided to take in wood, the boat tied up to the trees.
Two gang planks run out, and the captain, the chief engineer and the
purser of the boat went on shore and inspected and measured the wood.
If satisfactory, they gave the word to the mate, who had his crew
ready, and with a shout started them off on a run. Each man rushed to
the pile, grabbed as many sticks as he could carry and ran into the
boat on one gangway and out on the other. The mate, in the meantime,
shouted and swore at them on the run, sometimes giving a slow man an
unfriendly rap over the shoulders, to hurry him along. This was kept
up without a moment's rest until all the wood wanted was on board. The
poor devils of deck hands and firemen were exhausted and dripping with
perspiration when their hard task was over. When this scene was
enacted at night time under the fitful blaze of pitch-pine burnt on
shore in iron baskets, it had a weird, unearthly aspect.

We made fair progress, without delay or accident, until we were within
a few miles of the village of Booneville, Mo. It was noon, the weather
was beautiful and the boat was making her best speed. I was sitting on
a barrel on the lower deck forward, and had just finished my dinner
and was talking to some comrades, when suddenly a crashing shock threw
me down to the deck some distance away. I could hear the timbers and
upper wood work of the boat crunching and straining. I looked up and
saw the two tall smoke stacks wobbling dangerously and straining at
their guys. The two great spars at the bow of the boat were swinging
to and fro, and threatened to fall to the deck.

Finding that I was not injured, I rushed to the upper deck and looked
down upon the scene of confusion below. There were cries of "Snag!
Snag!" that dreaded obstruction to river navigation that had wrecked
so many steamboats. In a moment the forward lower deck was crowded
with hurrying boat hands and shouting officers. A hatchway was
uncovered and half a dozen men jumped down into the hold. Mattresses
and blankets were dropped to them with which they tried to stop the
leak. But the inrush of the water was so strong that their efforts
were futile and in less than five minutes they scrambled hastily on

In the meantime, the pilot tried to back away from the snag, but the
boat seemed to be caught in a trap. Fortunately, some one now gave
orders to draw the fires and to blow off steam to avoid an explosion
of the boilers. The roar of escaping steam and steady shriek of the
big whistle added to the excitement and confusion. The soldiers' wives
and children ran about the cabin deck, screaming with terror. We
soldiers were made to understand, despite the noise, that we were to
take the life preservers from our staterooms and assemble on the
hurricane deck. This was promptly done. There I noticed that we were
seventy-five to a hundred yards from the east bank of the river, with
no habitation nor any other boat in sight.

There were some life boats on this deck which our officers had ordered
us to help the crew to launch when word came that this would not be
necessary, as soundings had shown that there was no danger of the boat
being entirely submerged. This quieted the frightened ones, and when
the steam had about escaped from the boiler and the noise lessened, we
were ordered to descend to the cabin deck again to pack our knapsacks,
take our arms and reassemble on the upper deck. There we saw five or
six miles down the river the steamboat, _Grey Cloud_ with Company
A on board hastening to our assistance.

During all this time the boat had been sinking steadily, but not so
rapidly as I expected. We could plainly hear the air pressure in the
hold force off some of the hatchway covers and noticed a hissing sound
when the water reached the still hot boilers. But there was no danger
of explosion; the steam had been let off just in time. Occasionally
the boat gave a sudden lurch and listed alarmingly to one side and
when the water had entirely submerged the boiler deck and the boat
began to sink more rapidly, we laid down our knapsacks and arms and
began to put on the life preservers, as we feared the water would lift
off the cabin deck and float us out into the river to drown, in spite
of the assurance that the river at this point was too shallow for that
to happen.

We watched the final struggles of the boat filled with the fear that
she might break in two. Then with a huge straining and a terrifying
tremor she settled on the bed of the river. Her bow was much higher
than the stern, she had a strong list away from shore and the water
was about three feet below the cabin deck.

I have no clear idea as to the time that elapsed between the striking
of the snag and the grounding of the battered hull on the river
bottom. But I know that the _Grey Cloud_, which we were anxiously
watching, drew up alongside of our wreck about an hour after we had
sighted her, and took us on board. No one was lost or injured. We
saved the company books and papers and our own private property,
except our dress coats and uniform hats, which had been packed away
where we could not get at them. For these we were reimbursed later on.

The sun was still high when we cast off aboard the _Grey Cloud_ and
started up the river again. We took a couple of the _Australia's_
officers with us and landed them at Booneville, a few miles away, to
seek help. The captain and crew remained on board and were launching
one of the life boats as we left. The last we saw of the wounded
steamboat before a bend in the river hid her forever from our view, was
her upper deck, with her paddle boxes and smoke stacks sticking out of
the water. We learned later that she soon went to pieces and was a
total wreck.

Snags, such as that which caused us so much trouble, are trees which
have been washed away by freshets. They float down the river and the
largest of them frequently become fixed with the heavy butt and great
roots fast in the river's bed where they are held until one of the
constant shiftings of the channel releases them. The branches of these
trees in time drop off, leaving only the solid trunk, invisible at
high water. It was such a one that sunk the _Australia_. We saw
thousands of snags on the upper Missouri when the water was low. The
pilots when descending the river pay but little attention to the
smaller ones. They are pointed downstream and the boats often run
directly over them without any injury as they readily bend under the

The addition of my company crowded the _Grey Cloud_. We had to
put up on the floor of the saloon for a few days until we reached Fort
Leavenworth, where we disembarked and were to remain until another
steamboat could be loaded and fitted out at St. Louis to take us up
the river to Fort Pierre. The remainder of our little fleet had
already passed on. The soldiers' wives and children of my company were
left on board with Company A, fortunately for them. Their husbands,
however, were ordered to disembark and serve with the company.

It was in the early forenoon that we marched up the steep hill from
which Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, overlooked the river. We were assigned
to quarters in an old two-story building close to some vacant cavalry
stables on the western side of the fort, near some brush and woods.
Fort Leavenworth was an old frontier post and its buildings were
dilapidated. Its garrison at that time consisted of two companies of
cavalry and a large number of unmounted recruits for one of the new
cavalry regiments that was being formed there. The place was crowded
and the cholera was raging. The hospital had long been overcrowded and
one of the largest barrack buildings was also used as a hospital where
the sick filled both of its large floors.

We had not been there many days before the dread disease made its
appearance in my company and soon we had a dozen men sick of it. They
were placed on straw beds on the floor of one of the old stables near
our quarters, which had been hastily cleaned up for the purpose,
although it was so infested with rats that they ran over the helpless
sick even in the day time. There were no conveniences of any kind. The
weather was intensely hot. The only drinking water to be had was
brought from the Missouri River in barrels, into which each one dipped
his tin cup. There was no ice, not even for the sick, and medical
attendance was altogether inadequate.

After a day or two of illness one of our men died and was soon
followed by another. During our short stay the company lost four
members, as well as Brevet Second Lieutenant Samuel T. Sheppard, who
died June 27, 1855. He was assigned to duty with us after our arrival.
Lieutenant Sheppard was a fine young officer and had only lately been
graduated from West Point. As there were no musicians at Fort
Leavenworth except my drummer and myself and a few buglers of the
cavalry companies, we two were ordered to attend all the funerals to
play the "Dead March," and as my company was the only infantry
present, they furnished the escort for the recruits who died in the
hospitals. During our stay of about three weeks I cannot recall more
than two or three days without a funeral, held usually in the morning,
but often followed by another in the afternoon or evening. I
frequently saw two or three coffins carried at one time in the two
horse, covered delivery wagon which did duty as a hearse.

These funerals were simple affairs. A funeral escort of a corporal,
eight privates and my drummer and myself appeared at one of the
hospitals and waited until the coffin or coffins were loaded on the
wagon. Sometimes we were kept waiting rather long, while the corpses
were being placed in the coffins, and nailed up in the presence of the
sick and dying. There was no dead houses or separate place for the
bodies; they were left lying where they died on their straw beds on
the floor, simply covered with a blanket until the time for the next

When the coffins were brought out the escort presented arms, and when
they were loaded on the wagon, the corporal commanded, "Shoulder arms,
right face, reverse arms, forward march." Then we marched off in slow
time, playing the solemn "Dead March," which could be plainly heard by
the unfortunate patients in the hospital. We continued the slow march
and music, until a short distance outside of the fort, when we ceased
playing, and marched at the "Route Step," until we entered the
cemetery, which was more than a mile away. There we resumed the slow
step and doleful music, until we arrived at the grave. The coffin was
lowered without any further ceremony, except the firing of three
rounds of blank cartridges by the escort, across the grave. We then
marched back to the garrison, while the grave diggers filled in the
earth on top of the coffin.

One morning, while waiting at the temporary hospital on our usual sad
duty, I was seized by a strong desire to see with my own eyes the
awful conditions in the building, of which I had heard much. I entered
the hallway and passed through a wide open door into a large barrack
room. On the two long sides of the room, lying on the floor upon
bedsacks stuffed with straw, were about three dozen men in all stages
of the terrible disease. Some were unconscious of their surroundings;
their features had turned to a bluish black color. Flies in great
numbers swarmed around them, and settled on their open lips and
staring eyes. Others, in the earlier stages, feebly tried to free
themselves from these pests. The doors and windows were all open, but
the heat and stench were terrible. There was no furniture in the room,
except a table for medicines, and a few chairs for the soldier-nurses.

Two rude oblong boxes rested on the floor near the door. They were of
pine, and not even stained any color. Into these two almost nude
bodies of men who had died during the night were being placed or
packed--literally packed, for one of the bodies was that of a very
large man for whom the coffin was too short. When his head and feet
were in, his chest bulged up, which made it necessary for one of the
attendants to sit on the cover while it was being nailed down. All
this was done in plain view of the patients. What a sight for those
who were conscious! What must have been the thoughts and feeling of
the unfortunate sufferers?

I turned with horror and indignation from the room, sickened and
shuddering at the sight I had seen. What should be said of the
commander of the post, an officer of high rank? And what of the chief
medical officer? They permitted this brutal and inhuman treatment of
the sick to continue, while there was plenty of space and tents to
shelter the stricken, to separate the convalescent from the sick and
to remove the dead from their proximity?

I am aware that medical science, at that time, knew but little
concerning either the prevention or cure of cholera, but at Fort
Leavenworth absolutely nothing was done to prevent the disease from
becoming epidemic. No orders, caution or instructions were ever given
to us in regard to it, and it was left to each man to guard himself as
his intelligence might dictate.

The afflicted of my company fared a little better than the poor
recruits. They were not crowded, and our little fat citizen doctor did
his duty conscientiously. After about two weeks no more new cases
developed in my company, and those still under his care were

There was a man in the company at this time, who claimed to know of an
infallible preventative of cholera. Before enlisting he had worked in
some of the Mississippi river towns, as far south as New Orleans,
where cholera and yellow fever were prevalent. He claimed to have
acquired his knowledge from an old negro doctor. He said all he needed
was a gallon of whiskey, and he could furnish the rest of the required
ingredients. He talked so much and so earnestly about this, that he
finally persuaded another and myself to put up the money for the
liquor, as he had none himself. He went down to Leavenworth City, a
few miles away, and bought a gallon demijohn of corn whiskey, which he
secretly carried into the woods back of our quarters. Then he dug up
some roots. These, with some bark, he cut up and put into the whiskey.
After digging a hole among the bushes deep enough to hold the
demijohn, he concealed it with brush-wood.

Every morning between reveille and breakfast, we sneaked away to the
woods by divers routes. Careful to be unobserved we pulled out the
demijohn and each took a drink of the mixture. It was vile and strong
stuff. One of the ingredients, I think, was sassafras, but I do not
know what else it contained, for we were never told. We did this
regularly every morning during our stay. I do not know whether the
stuff had any real merit, but none of our syndicate had any symptom of
the disease, and we succeeded in keeping our cache a secret.

After we had been at Fort Leavenworth about three weeks, we received
the heartening news one morning that the steamboat _Genoa_ had
arrived from St. Louis, and was ready to take us aboard. We embarked
in the afternoon, and at once started up the river. It was on the
third day of July, a date impressed on my memory by the joy of getting
away from a pestilential place, and the fact that we hoisted the
United States flag and fired a salute at noon next day, with the
little one-pounder cannon on board of the boat.

The _Genoa_ was almost a duplicate of the _Australia_, on which we had
been sunk near Booneville. Our accommodations were about the same,
except that the slats had been generously left in the berths, so that
we did not have to lie on the floor. I had my first view of Indians a
short distance above Leavenworth. They belonged to the Kickapoo tribe
and did not impress me much. There were half a dozen of them loafing
around a wood pile where we had stopped. They looked sad and lazy and
begged for tobacco. They lived near the white settlements, and appeared
to have degenerated by contact with the whites.

The June rise of the river was over, and the water was much lower; we
could no longer run in the night, but tied up at the river bank as
soon as darkness fell. In a few days we passed St. Joseph, Mo., which,
save for a few small settlements a little further on, marked the end
of civilization. Council Bluff, Omaha, Nebraska City, Sioux City, and
others, had no existence as yet. St. Joseph was one of the starting
points for emigrants, who went to Utah and overland to California. It
was also the place of departure on the Missouri from the United States
Mail Route and the Pony Express.

We had not yet seen the last of the cholera. A sergeant of my company
was stricken, on the second day out from Leavenworth, and was
immediately isolated on the lower deck of the boat. Fortunately, it
proved to be a mild case, and under the doctor's care he recovered in
a short time. This case was the last we had.

At this time I shared my cabin with Corporal Clifford of my company,
who was my bunkie. We had been on the river but a few days, when one
night while I was preparing to lie down in my bunk, after tattoo roll
call, he told me he was going down to the lower deck and would be back
directly. When he failed to return within a reasonable time, I
reported his absence to the first sergeant. A thorough search of the
boat and the shore revealed no trace of him. It was concluded that he
had fallen overboard and drowned, though no outcry had been heard.
Some months later we read in a newspaper of the finding of a soldier's
body in the river, away down near Kansas City. The description seemed
to fit Corporal Clifford. Everyone liked him and his loss was deeply

The captain of the _Genoa_ was named Throckmorton, an experienced
Western riverman. He had his son with him, a lad about my age, with
whom I spent a good deal of time. The boy had a shot gun, and once or
twice he took me with him shooting birds and small game on shore,
while the boat laid up for wood.

There were no wood yards beyond St. Joseph, and we encountered no more
steamboats, except those which had taken Companies A, G and I to Fort
Pierre, and were now returning laden with furs. When wood ran short,
the boat made a landing at a suitable place, and all the firemen and
deck hands went on shore to cut down trees and chop them up to
cordwood size. A quantity of logs were also taken on board to be sawed
and split on deck, while the boat was under way. This saved time, for
the "wooding up" of the boat consumed many hours, and had to be
repeated every few days. The wood was of poor quality, mostly cotton
wood, and of course, very green for firing. Some of the soldiers
voluntarily assisted at the wood chopping, tempted no doubt by the
small pay per hour, and a drink of whiskey, which was also served to
all the boat hands.

Navigation became more difficult as we slowly advanced up the tortuous
stream which often seemed to double on itself. At times we were
heading south instead of north, and appeared to be going down the
river instead of up.

It was the mid-summer period of low water in the Missouri, and no
improvement could be expected before the fall rains. There was no well
defined channel, for the erratic river was constantly changing its
course. Islands that had existed the previous year were washed away by
the spring floods, or so changed in contour as to be unrecognizable.
New islands were formed, and soon covered with a growth of willows and
brush. Land was washed away from shores and added in other places. No
reliable chart of the upper river existed. The pilot was guided only
by his own judgment of the current, the appearance of the water, the
visible sand bars, and the numerous snags that showed their branches
above the water's level.

Appearances were sometimes deceptive and caused the pilot to run the
boat up on the wrong side of a long island, only to find that the
channel was too narrow to get through or too much obstructed by snags.
He would then have to back out and run back for miles in order to try
the other side of the island. Many times each day we heard the pilot's
single toll of the bell on the forward deck. This was the signal to
take soundings on the starboard side, and was usually followed by his
ring to the engine room to slacken speed. A man would commence to
"heave-the-lead" attached to a line, that had marks in various colors
at intervals, to indicate the depth of water. He would cry out
measurements, such as "No bottom, mark-twain, half-twain,
quarterless-twain, six feet, five feet," then perhaps suddenly "Nine
feet," or "Three feet," when we could feel the boat slide onto a sand
bar, if the pilot had not reversed the engines in time. Soundings were
sometimes taken in a row boat at some distance away.

We frequently ran onto sand bars lightly, and managed to get off by
reversing the paddle-wheels, but often it took many hours or several
days to float the boat again. When it was found that the steamer was
hard and fast, the great spars carried forward were brought into use.
The butt end of one of the spars was lowered over the side into the
water well forward. It sunk firmly into the sandy bottom by its own
weight. A double set of strong pulley blocks, attached to the top of
the spar, were connected by a cable which wound around the drum of a
powerful capstan on the forward deck. The capstan bars were manned by
as many of the deck hands as could find room. Then they began turning,
very slowly after the strain was on, going around in a circle and
keeping up a kind of a chant, such as sailors often sing on ships when
raising the anchor by hand. It was exhausting labor, but the soldiers
often volunteered to help.

By this operation a part of the boat was practically lifted, and by
placing the spar at the proper inclination, it was also sheered away
from the bar at the same time. Progress seemed to be made by inches.
Many times the spar had to be lifted and reset in a new position, and
often a portion of the deck freight had to be shifted before the boat
could be freed. During all this time the sand in the river kept on
drifting against the boat and added to the difficulty. If the boat ran
into a bar near the shore, where a cable could be fastened to trees,
we could get off again with much less trouble, and without the use of
the spars.

We proceeded in this laborious way, until we were fifty miles or more
north of where Sioux City is now located. There a series of very bad
turns in the river made Captain Throckmorton decide that the
_Genoa_ was too heavily laden to pass, and that at least one-half
of her freight must be put on shore. A place deemed suitable was
selected on the east bank of the river, and the unloading was
commenced. The freight consisting of all manner of commissary,
quartermaster and sutler's stores. It was put ashore on skids by the
deck hands and piled up under tarpaulins.

The company went on shore, including the citizen doctor, and put up
so-called "A" tents, which we found among the quartermaster's stores.
Thus we established a camp, where extra ammunition and other
necessaries were provided. A guard of a half a dozen men under a
corporal remained on board, and the _Genoa_ resumed her journey
towards Fort Pierre, a few hundred miles away. But, when something
more than half way there, and just below the upper "Big Bend," the
captain unloaded another part of his freight and left it on shore
without any guards.

Along the entire distance from St. Joseph to "Camp Gardner," our
destination, which the soldiers named after our captain, we saw no
indications of white settlements, except at the mouth of the Big Sioux
River, a few miles north of the site where Sioux City was founded the
following year. There, as we passed, we noticed some white men
erecting a saw-mill. They ran down to the river bank and motioned to
us to stop, but we kept on our course. We saw no Indians, for,
according to their custom, they had departed in the spring to hunt
buffalo and other game on the plains and would not return to the river
until late in the fall.

We saw a few herds of buffalo grazing on the prairies some miles away
from the river. But when they became aware of the steamer, they rushed
away, and soon disappeared from sight.

We were greatly annoyed by mosquitoes at night. So persistent were
these pests on a few occasions that men from the company were detailed
to remain on shore all night and tend small fires whose smoke
enveloped the boat.

One night there was an alarm of Indians. The sentinel on shore
reported to the corporal of the guard that he had seen moving lights
some distance away, that appeared to be signals. The company was
quietly called under arms, and the lights on the boat extinguished. We
remained on the alert until daylight, but nothing happened. It seemed
to have been a false alarm.

While at Leavenworth, a married soldier had joined our company, and he
and his wife went up the river with us. She was the only woman on
board. A girl baby was born to her before we reached Camp Gardner, and
it was named Genoa Harrison, after the steamer.

We had not been more than a week on the river, when I became very ill
and had to take to my berth. I had not felt well for some days, and
now had a throbbing headache and a high fever, being part of the time
delirious. I was furnished with a mattress to lie on, and a man was
detailed to wait on me. The doctor was very attentive, and managed to
pull me through. When I got so that I began to eat a little, the
doctor got Captain Throckmorton's permission to have my meals served
from the cabin table. They were brought to me by the captain's colored
boy, who served me cheerfully. He was a happy, grinning young darky,
about my own age, and so black that the soldiers said charcoal would
make a white mark on him. I had no money to reward him, but when we
got to the end of our journey, I gave him one of my jackets and a
soldier's cap, which made him very proud and happy. As for the doctor,
I remember him most gratefully; but I never saw him nor heard of him
again, after he left us. I was able to be up about a week before we
got to Camp Gardner, and was convalescent, but still weak. I suppose
now that I had typhoid fever, although the doctor did not tell me so
at the time.

It was about a month after we had left Leavenworth that we encamped,
and in all that time we had accomplished less than five hundred miles.
The camp was on a knoll close to a ravine, in which were some trees
and bushes. The country round about was hilly, and without any woods.
I think the captain chose the position as one of good defense against
Indians, in case our rich booty of freight should tempt them to attack
us. We never saw an Indian while there, but sentinels were posted in
the day time, where they could overlook much of the country, and were
withdrawn nearer to the camp at night.

It was August and the weather was intensely hot. To escape the sun we
spent much time in the shady ravine. We also went swimming often, and
fished for cat-fish in the Missouri. Rattlesnakes, which were
numerous, were a cause for anxiety, but we escaped being stung by them
and killed many.

It was at Camp Gardner that we first made use of some of the
mechanical talent of my company. A couple of masons built a bake-oven,
near the river bank, out of stones found there. It had a stone bed and
was regularly arched on a wooden center made of barrel staves, and was
provided with a smoke flue. The builders had no lime or cement, so
they covered it all over, about a foot thick, with earth and sods. It
worked well, and in a few days a practical baker of the company made
such good use of it that we all had bread which tasted delicious after
eating "hardtack" for a month. We had plenty of flour, but I do not
know how he made yeast. Perhaps that was found in the shape of powders
among the sutler's stores.

Tobacco had become very scarce among the men. Some of them smoked tea,
coffee or dried leaves, until the captain, who, I think wanted some
himself, authorized the first sergeant to search the sutler's stores
in the freight pile. Boxes of plug tobacco were found, and a plentiful
supply was distributed, for which the sutler was reimbursed. Later on
we learned to make use of the Indian's substitute for tobacco, when in
want of it.

We had been without any fresh meat or vegetables, since we left
Leavenworth, but at Camp Gardner we caught plenty of large catfish, of
which our cooks made a very palatable chowder. It was an agreeable
change of diet. In some of the ravines we found quantities of wild
plums, smaller than the domestic fruit, and yellow, but fairly sweet
and deliciously flavored. There were also plenty of wild grapes, but
not yet ripe enough to eat. We had an easy time in camp, performing no
duties except guard. A stone cutter among the soldiers wiled away part
of his spare time carving deeply into the soft rock face of a cliff on
the river's edge: "Camp Gardner, August, 1855. Here was caught a
fifty-pound catfish by John O'Meara, Company D, Second U.S. Infantry."
The man who caught this great fish was henceforth called "Catfish

After nearly three weeks, the _Genoa_ returned from Fort Pierre.
The freight was reloaded and Camp Gardner abandoned. The company's
baker baked an extra supply of "soft bread," which we took with us
when we resumed our slow, monotonous journey up the river.

Evenings, when the mosquitoes were not too numerous, we gathered at
the bow of the boat and sang songs to the music of a mouth harmonica,
which one of the soldiers played, or told stories and tried to be
cheerful. But we were again overtaken by a calamity, about the third
day after leaving camp.

The boat was tied up to get fuel one afternoon, and some of the
soldiers took a swim in the river.

A sergeant named Schott, a strong, athletic young man and a good
swimmer, took a dive from the shore into the river, at a point about
two hundred feet ahead of the boat, and in plain view of many on deck.
We saw one of his hands appear above the water twice, near the place
he went in. But, as the minutes passed, his head did not appear, and
we gave the alarm. By the time the place was reached, there was no
longer any hope of rescue. Some hours were spent in grappling for the
body unsuccessfully. The small cannon was brought on shore, and fired
over the place where he was last seen, a half-dozen times; but it
failed to raise the body, which was never recovered. This event cast a
shadow of gloom over us. It was the second case of death by drowning
since we had been on the _Genoa_.

The river was now at its lowest. The summer had been unusually dry,
and when we got to the mouth of the L'Eau qui Court River, now called
the Niabrara River, it was found to have formed a sand bar across the
Missouri. This new barrier made a lot of trouble, although we had only
half a load of freight. So, when Captain Throckmorton reached the
place just below the Big Bend, on the way up, where he had left a part
of his freight, consisting of a lot of barrels of salt pork, he
decided that he could not make his way through the Bend. The freight
was once more divided, and we went into camp on the east side of the
river, while the boat steamed on to Fort Pierre again.

This camp was named "Camp O'Connell", after our lieutenant. It was in
the woods, where we were sheltered from the hot sun, but we found the
ground rather damp. We cleared away the underbrush and covered the
floors of our tents with brushwood and leaves. When this did not keep
out the moisture, we built bunks about a foot high. We did not build a
bake oven this time, as we expected the boat to return in a week. We
were now only about one hundred miles from the end of our journey. By
this time we had become more indifferent about Indians, as we had
encountered none at Camp Gardner, and wandered further from camp, in
small squads, always taking our rifles and ammunition. A few men got
permission to go hunting. One of them shot a small deer, but they had
little success with rifles on small game and prairie hens.

One day some of the men discovered a large cornfield in the bottom
land near the river. The stalks were tall enough to hide a man on
horseback, but there were many weeds. The ears of corn seemed as large
as a man's forearm, and were just about ripe enough to eat on the cob.
Next day I was one of a party that brought a kettle from camp, and we
boiled corn on the river bank. For a few days we had a daily feast of
this delicious corn. Many of the ears were red or blue or mixed in
color. We did not let the officers know about our find, fearing they
would forbid us to take any of it. We learned later that this corn
belonged to some of the Yankton tribe, whose squaws had planted it in
the spring before the Indians started on their summer buffalo hunt. No
care was taken of it, but it grew to immense size in the rich soil,
despite the weeds. On their return, late in the fall, the Yanktons
gathered it.

In about a week the _Genoa_ returned, and once more we reembarked. In
taking down our tents, it was found that some snakes had lodged in the
brush and leaves under some of the low bunks, and it made some of the
occupants turn pale on learning that they had peacefully slept so close
to the dangerous reptiles. As the boat now carried only about one
quarter of the amount of freight she had started with, we made better
progress, and were only delayed by frequent soundings. I think we
reached Fort Pierre on the morning of the fourth day from Camp
O'Connell, about the middle of September, 1855, just fifty-one years
since the Lewis and Clark expedition had passed that way on its long
journey across the continent.

As I look back over this long, weary and unfortunate journey, I
realize that it took about three and a half months to go from
Carlisle, Pa., to Fort Pierre, Nebraska Territory. Of this time, we
were more than seven weeks on the Missouri River, and it had cost the
company seven lives--one officer and four privates, by cholera, and
two non-commissioned officers, by drowning--a rather mournful
remembrance for this early period of my service.



Fort Pierre, situated on the west bank of the Missouri River, about
fifteen hundred miles above St. Louis, Mo., was an old trading post
belonging to the American Fur Co., which also had another post or two
higher up the river and one on the Yellowstone River. Fort Pierre was
the headquarters. It was a stockade structure, built of split logs
firmly set in the ground and twenty feet or more in height. There were
sheltered and protected turrets at the corners on top, which afforded
a look-out over a large area of flat country. The fort set back a
short distance from the bank and had a large gate on the river side.
There were also one or two smaller gates. The stockade enclosed a
square space, containing several well built log houses for the
traders, trappers, hunters and others. There were also storehouses and
a central vacant space of considerable size within the barrier. The
fort was built in 1832 by Pierre Chouteau, Jr., and recently sold to
the Government.

The stockade was built on high bottom land, well placed for defense
against the Indians. The prospect was uninterrupted for miles up or
down the river, and to the west the land was level and bare for some
miles to the foot-hills. To the east was the Missouri with a large
island opposite the fort and hilly land on the other side of the
river. To the north, on the bank of the river, less than half a mile
away, there was an Indian settlement of about twenty-five lodges. It
was there that the Indians who came to trade usually camped. The
surroundings were bleak and dreary to the extreme. One saw nothing but
prairie or a few stunted bushes in some shallow ravines near the
river. Wood for fuel had to be hauled a long distance.

We found here the three companies that had preceded us, also companies
"B" and "C" of my regiment who had marched across the country from
Fort Ridgely, Minnesota Territory. They were the first soldiers that
had ever been stationed in that part of the country. They brought a
herd of beef cattle and mules in charge of herders, who had managed to
get them there during the summer season with small loss.

During the six weeks or more that these five companies had preceded
us, they had been very busy setting up the portable houses that had
been brought up on the steamers. These houses were placed a short
distance behind the stockade, around three sides of a large
parallelogram, forming the parade ground--officers' houses on one
side, company quarters opposite and other houses on one end. The
necessary store houses were erected on the river front. The company
houses were intended to hold half a company each without crowding. We
moved into two of them on our arrival and had a little less than
thirty men in each house. They were single-story affairs with but one
room and of the flimsiest wood construction. The sills and floor beams
were entirely too light for the live weight to be carried, the upright
studding was about three by two inches, grooved on two sides to
receive panels made of three-quarter inch boards, which was all the
protection there was against the intense winter cold of that latitude.
There was no interior finish of any kind. The roof was of thin boards
covered with tarred paper and had a low pitch from a ridge to the
sides. The houses were set on wooden posts about two feet above the

Each house was furnished with two sheet iron stoves for burning wood,
and had stove pipes passing through the roof. The officers' houses
were the same, except that they were smaller and were divided into two
rooms by a thin board partition. These houses were very easily set up.
There was but little work on them except driving nails. They had been
previously painted a dark red color, both inside and out. Whoever
designed these cardboard houses--for they proved to be but little
better--had but a small conception of the requirements of that
climate. The winters were long, with deep snow and frequent blizzards.
The architect of these shelters was indirectly the cause of much
suffering. We built log huts for company kitchens, but we had no

On the day before the steamboat _Genoa_ left on her return trip
to St. Louis, partly loaded with furs, a paymaster, who returned on
her paid us for four months. We did not see a paymaster again until
the following May or June. A sutler had established a store, with a
miscellaneous stock of goods such as soldiers needed, also goods for
trading with the Indians. But the prices were so high that we could
not afford to buy much. This was due to the high cost of steamboat
transportation, which amounted to about fifty dollars per ton from St.

About two weeks after our arrival at Fort Pierre, a courier from
Brigadier General William S. Harney, commander of the Sioux
expedition, arrived from Ash Hollow with an order for four companies
of the Second Infantry to be sent to him as re-enforcements.

It appeared that General Harney had fought a battle with the Brulé and
Ogalalla tribes of the Sioux, on September 3rd, 1855, at Ash Hollow on
the Blue Water creek. This is a tributary of the Platte River, about
two hundred and fifty miles south-west of Fort Pierre.

These were the Indians who had massacred Lieutenant Grattan and
twenty-one soldiers more than a year before, and for whose punishment
the Government had organized the Sioux expedition.

General Harney had started out from Fort Laramie with six small
companies of infantry and two of cavalry. After a march of nearly one
hundred and fifty miles, he skillfully approached the Indians' camp,
without the presence of his troops being suspected.

The Indians had been buffalo hunting during the summer, acquiring many
skins, and much dried buffalo meat. About seventy lodges had encamped
on the Blue Water in a sheltered valley, where they probably expected
to pass the coming winter.

The troops surprised the camp at day break, and attacked it
simultaneously from two sides. The Indians, unable to make any
organized resistance, fled in the direction where their ponies were
herded, but were pursued by the cavalry. Many were killed, among them
a number of squaws, for in the confusion it was difficult to
distinguish them from the warriors.

The chief, Little Thunderer, made his escape. The soldiers lost few in
this action, but the punishment to the Indians was very severe; and it
had its effect, for as long as we remained among the Sioux, only small
skirmishes took place.

The loss of all their lodges, provisions, arms, furs and other
property, which the general caused to be burned, was a severe blow to
them. They were also deprived of many of their ponies. After the
battle, the troops were encamped in a stronger position nearby. There
they awaited re-enforcements from Fort Pierre, where they intended to
winter, as the general deemed it imprudent to march his small force to
the fort, across the enemy's country, fearing that other tribes to the
north and east might form a coalition with the vanquished Indians.

My company was one of the four ordered to join General Harney, at Ash
Hollow; but I and a few more of the young boys were not taken along.
We were left at Fort Pierre with the two companies retained there. The
march proved to be very severe. Part of the route was across the
"Mauvaises Terres" (Bad Lands), where there was no vegetation. It was
a desert, where wood and water had to be carried in the waggons from
one camp to another.

Many curious specimens of fossil remains, picked up in the Bad Lands,
were brought by the soldiers to Fort Pierre. There were petrified
fish, lizards, frogs, etc. But nearly all were imperfect, and more or
less broken.

After a short rest, the united troops under General Harney, twelve
companies in all--quite a little army for those days--took up their
march for Fort Pierre, and arrived there early in November, without
any molestation from the Indians.

I have often regretted since that I was not allowed to go on this
march. I wanted to see that part of the country, through which but few
white men had ever traveled before.

General Harney's additional troops went into camp near our quarters.
The weather was getting cold; winter was approaching; firewood was
scarce, and had to be hauled a long distance. There was but a small
supply of forage for the cavalry horses, and scarcely any grass in the
vicinity of the fort. That had been eaten up by the mules and Indian
ponies. Water also had to be carted quite a distance from the river.
In view of these conditions, and as there were not enough portable
houses to shelter them, it was decided to put the six companies of the
Sixth Infantry, and the two companies of cavalry into cantonment. They
were accordingly sent about six miles up the river, where they built
log houses in the woods on the east bank of the Missouri and remained
there until the following spring.

General Harney took quarters in one of the buildings in the stockade.
Whenever it was my turn as orderly at the adjutant's office, one of my
duties was to bring the general, in a sealed envelope, the
"countersign," or watchword for the night. When I approached him,
saluted, and said: "General, the countersign," he would reply in his
gruff, stentorian voice, "Lay it on the table." I was always glad to
hustle out of his presence.

The general was very tall and powerfully built. He wore a long white
beard, and his white hair was also long. In spite of his age, he was
erect--a remarkably commanding figure. Many of the Indians knew and
feared him. Among them he was known as the "Great White Chief."

General Harney had been in the Seminole, and other Indian wars. He was
colonel of the Second Dragoons, in the war with Mexico, and was
promoted to Brevet Brigadier General.

During the absence of my company on the march to Ash Hollow and
return, I had but little to do and spent much of my time in wandering
about the environs of Fort Pierre. With others I crossed the river in
a canoe, and on the opposite side we found great quantities of wild
grapes, which were fairly good to eat, though somewhat tart. We
squeezed the juice out of them, and with the addition of sugar and
water, made a very palatable drink.

There were some prairie-dog villages on the plain west of the fort,
and it was interesting to watch these alert and nimble animals, no
larger than a squirrel, running about and having sentinels posted on
some higher point near their underground dwellings. These sentries sat
upon their haunches, and watched carefully in all directions. Whenever
we got within a certain distance of them, they gave a shrill, sharp
bark, which started all the others running for the various holes. No
matter how quiet we kept, or how long we remained, they did not come
out again until we were a long distance away.

I became acquainted with some of the employees of the American Fur
Company, who were mostly French-Canadians, with a few half-breed
Indians among them. Some of them were married to squaws and lived at
the Indian camp close by. From these men, who were mostly hunters,
trappers or guides, I heard many interesting stories of their
hazardous lives and their experiences among the Indians, whose
language most of them spoke. They were often useful as interpreters.

To me, the most interesting people at Fort Pierre were the Indians,
among whom I passed the greater part of my leisure time. This intimate
association with the savages continued all through my service on the
frontiers, a period of about five years in Nebraska and Minnesota

I have read the beautiful stories of Fennimore Cooper and other
writers of Indian romances. I have also read some of the stories of
explorers and the able and interesting works of men who lived among
the North American Indians and studied them. But I do not intend to
quote from any of them. I shall simply relate here what I learned
about the Indians from persons living in close contact with them
during my time and the impressions they made on my youthful mind, as I
can remember them now, after a period of fifty years since I left the
Indian country to take part in the Civil War, in 1861.

Nebraska Territory in 1855, extended from Minnesota Territory, on the
east, to the Rocky mountains, on the west; and from Kansas Territory,
on the south, to the British possessions, on the north. It has since
been partitioned into North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and
Montana. The greater part of this immense territory was claimed and
inhabited by the Sioux Indians, a name given to them by the
French-Canadians, who also gave French names to some of the tribes
composing the Sioux, such as the Gross Ventres, Brules, etc. These
Frenchmen also named the rivers, streams and mountains, many of which
have since been re-named.

The Indians called themselves Dakotas, and did not recognize the name
of Sioux. They were divided into a number of tribes, each ruled by a
chief. The following are the names of some of the tribes, with the
most of whom we came in contact: Poncas, Yanktons, Yanktonnas,
Uncapapas, Blackfeet, Rikarees, Minnikanye, Ogallalas, Brules. Certain
tribes were sub-divided into bands, such as the "Two-Kettle-Band," and
"Smutty-Bear-Band," both of whom were Yanktons.

Lieutenant Gouverneur K. Warren, of the Topographical Engineers,
U.S.A., who made surveys in the Dakota country in 1855, 1856 and 1857,
and to whom we furnished an escort, estimated the Dakota Indians at
about three thousand lodges, which would represent a population of
twenty-four thousand, of which five thousand were warriors.

During a decade, their numbers had decreased from wars with the
Chippawa Indians and other tribes in the north, while in the south,
near the white settlements, the mortality from the small-pox had been
very great among Poncas and Yanktons. I noticed that many of them were
pock-marked, and some had become blind in one eye from the disease,
which their medicine-men could neither cure nor prevent from becoming

It was obvious that the more northern tribes of the Dakotas, who had
seen but a few whites, were superior to those of the south, near the
settlements, whose contact with the whites had degraded them. The
Indians who inhabited the more northern and western parts of Nebraska
were fine specimens of their race, for they still lived in their
aboriginal way. Game was yet abundant. They were proud and warlike and
possessed many ponies. Their tepees were larger, finer and more
decorated. They were rich in furs of all kinds, which they bartered
with the traders for guns, powder, lead, beads, calico, knives,
tomahawks, etc. Many of them had guns, but most of these were old
flint-locks. Bows and arrows were by no means abandoned and they
continued to manufacture and use them. They also had many dogs, which
closely resembled wolves, except in color. These dogs, some of them
very large, they used in many ways, often as beasts of burden--and as
a choice article of food on festive occasions.

The distinctive features of the Dakotas were their broad faces with
high cheek bones; their high, broad, receding foreheads and coarse,
coal-black hair, slightly wavy like a horse's mane. The men, or bucks,
as we called them, wore no beards. The very little hair that grew on
their faces, they carefully removed. I often saw them engaged in
plucking out hairs from their faces with tweezers and the aid of a
small mirror. Some of them even plucked the hair from their eyebrows.
The men were generally tall, or looked so because of their erect
bearing. Sinewy and slender as a rule, quick and active, they seemed
better looking than the women. They wore buckskin leggings and
buckskin shirts in winter, fringed and ornamented, moccasins,
elaborately beaded, and colored blankets or soft buffalo robes. They
wore no head covering, simply a few eagle feathers. Hats or war
bonnets were only worn on special occasions. They were fond of wearing
large brass rings in their ears, the weight of which pulled the lobes
so far down as to be grotesque. Many wore armlets and wristlets of
heavy brass wire, wound around many times, and a necklace of bears'

The complexion of the Dakotas ranged all the way from a pale saffron
to a deep copper color. When they were decked out in their full
paraphernalia, with their faces and upper parts of their bodies
painted in various colors, knives and tomahawks thrust into their
belts, and bows and quivers slung over their shoulders, they presented
a formidable and picturesque appearance.

I saw but a small proportion of very old bucks or squaws among them.
Possibly they had a way of getting rid of them when they became old
and helpless. Neither were children very numerous, although they
practised polygamy. I suppose many of these died in infancy.

Of the many Indian chiefs whom I saw at Fort Pierre, I can only recall
the names of two, Struck-by-the-Ree and Smutty-Bear, who were there
frequently and in whose tepees I smoked the pipe. Both were well along
in years.

Of the squaws but few could be called handsome and it would be
flattery to say that many were even good looking. While they were
generally lithe and graceful in their youth, laborious work and severe
hardships aged them early. They inclined to stoutness more than the
males, and many of the elder ones had backs that were bent from
carrying heavy burdens.

The squaws planted corn, dug up edible roots, gathered and dried
fruit, skinned the game which the men killed, cut up and dried the
buffalo meat, tanned the skins, made moccasins and garments, did the
cooking, fetched water and carried fire wood or buffalo chips for long
distances on their backs. They put up and took down the teepees,
loaded the ponies, and did all kinds of other work, frequently with a
papoose or two fastened to their backs.

The males did little more than hunt and fish, make bows and arrows,
and carve pipes and stems. The young Indians herded and took care of
the ponies and some few horses which had probably been stolen from the
settlers. Sometimes they helped the squaws in setting up the large,
heavy teepees. This is about all I ever saw them do, save for playing
polo with a ball and crooked stick, while mounted on their fleet and
active ponies, very much the same as the game is played among the
whites to-day.

The squaws' clothing closely resembled that of the bucks. They wore
buckskin moccasins, leggings and a skirt, but they were very fond of
gay colored calico garments, which they wore in the summer time. The
material for these they obtain from traders or soldiers. We often
bought calico of the sutler and traded it with the squaws for
moccasins or furs. We could always make a better bargain if the calico
had glaring colors and fantastic figures. The squaws also wore a
blanket or robe, and when they covered up their heads with that,
leaving only their broad faces exposed, they looked so much like the
young bucks that it was difficult to distinguish the sexes by sight.
This was the cause of some ridiculous mistakes by the soldiers.

Observance of ceremonies and duties toward the dead was also the
performance of squaws. When an Indian died the squaws sewed up the
body in several wraps of buffalo hide together with his personal
belongings--his gun, his bow and arrows, his knife, tomahawk, pipe
and, in fact, all his minor property. Some ears of corn and other food
were always placed inside the shroud to provision him for the journey
to the spirit land.

The Dakotas did not bury their dead. They either secured them in the
branches of trees or on a rude, strong scaffold made of forked sticks
and poles, set atop some hill, where it was plainly visible for miles
around. Among the Ponca tribe, however, I saw bodies placed on the
ground on top of a knoll with a pediment-shaped structure of split
logs over them. They were encased in stones and sods to secure them,
but many had fallen into decay and were partly open to the ravages of
wolves and other animals.

Sometimes on marches through the country we had a few Indian guides
who took some of their squaws with them. Whenever the squaws sighted
an Indian burial place they rode towards it, dismounted, and set up a
mournful howl. Then they deposited some ears of corn or some pemican
at the foot of the tree or scaffold.

On a hill within sight of Fort Pierre, there was a large, high
scaffold, on which some dozens of Indians' bodies were lashed with
strips of buffalo skins. I visited the place one day with some
companions. We found that a recent storm had demolished a part of the
old structure, and nearly a dozen of the bodies had fallen to the
ground. In many cases the dry, brittle wrappings of skins had been
broken open by the fall, exposing the contents to plain view.

It seemed to me most singular that the bodies had not putrified, but
appeared to have simply shriveled up in that pure, dry atmosphere. It
was as if they had been mummified by nature. There appeared to be no
flesh, but a parchment like skin clung to the bones, and the raven
black hair adhered to the skull.

The bodies were all fully dressed and had on all their ornaments. I
noticed one among them that wore a British officer's red uniform coat
with epaulets and gilded buttons. I regret to say that some of the
soldiers committed the sacrilege of appropriating some of the articles
inclosed with the bodies, such as knives, tomahawks, flints and steel,
and made practical use of them.

A group of squaws sometimes visited the fort with cunning looking
little papooses' heads peeping out over their shoulders followed by
small children who were afraid of the soldiers. They meandered around
until they found the huts where the soldiers' wives and families
lived. There they would squat on the ground and spend hours watching
the white women at their domestic work. By way of diversion they
occasionally placed one of their children between their knees, and set
to work picking small insects out of the child's hair. They had a very
original and effective way of disposing of the captive. They held him
between the thumb and finger, placed him between the front teeth and
bit him to death.

The squaws wore their black, coarse hair in two long braids. The
parting in the center was generally made conspicuous with vermillion
paint. The color of their cheeks was heightened by the same material,
with perhaps a yellow ring around the eyes. If in mourning, a simple,
irregular patch of white paint on the forehead seemed to be all that
was needed. They greased their hair liberally with buffalo fat which,
when rancid, emitted an unpleasant odor.

It was interesting to watch the arrival of a band of Indians at a
military post. This happened often at Fort Pierre except in winter.
Sometimes they came with a grievance against white settlers or
hunters, or with a complaint against a neighboring tribe who were
violating a treaty. But often they visited us simply out of curiosity.
They came in large and small parties, sometimes several hundred or
more, including squaws and children.

I often watched the long line coming down the hills or across the
prairie, the men riding in advance two by two on their unshod ponies.
After them came squaws riding straddle and leading pack horses. Next
came a line of ponies in single file, with a number of long lodge
poles lashed to their sides. One end of the poles dragged on the
ground behind, making what is called an Indian trail. On these poles,
behind the pony, there was fastened a network on which were piled the
teepees, furs, cooking utensils, and other articles used by the
Indians. The ponies were led by boys or girls mounted or on foot.
Frontiersmen called these conveyances "travoys." Bringing up the rear
were a number of large dogs dragging smaller travoys in which children
rode. Old squaws or invalids rode as best they could on top of the
baggage on the larger travoys.

When a suitable camping place near the post was reached, there was a
halt and a closing up of the long column. The bucks had a short parley
with the squaws. Then they dismounted and sat down on the grass in
groups and commenced smoking their pipes, while the squaws unpacked
the ponies, and began to put up the teepees in line and at regular
intervals. Some of the larger teepees, with their long poles, were
heavy to raise and required the assistance of the younger bucks. When
the ponies were all unpacked and unsaddled, they were driven off to
water and graze on the prairie. The tired dogs lay down, and went to
sleep. The squaws continued at their tasks. Some in search of
fire-wood, others went off with kettles for water or were busy within
the teepees. When the teepees were ready, the Indians entered them and
after a time emerged, if the sun was not too low, dressed--or rather
undressed--in full war paint. They were naked from the waist up. Some
wore feathered bonnets; others had eagle feathers in their hair. But
the faces of all were grotesquely painted in colors that suited their
fancy. Some were hideous.

They also painted part of their bodies, particularly the ribs. When
this was done alternately in white and black it made them look like
living skeletons. They were unarmed, except for a knife or tomahawk
carried in their waist belts. A few squaws, their faces also painted,
and each with a small drum like a tambourine, joined them.

By this time an interpreter had appeared. They donned their robes or
blankets, and without any regular formation, started for the parade
ground. In front of the commanding officer's house they came to a
halt. The commandant with other officers was ready to receive them. A
lot of the soldiers not on duty and citizen employees soon formed a
group of spectators. The Indians threw off their robes and blankets
and formed a circle. The squaws stationed outside of the circle
commenced a monosyllabic chant in a low voice at first, but gradually
rising. This was responded to by the bucks in a like manner, while the
squaws beat a tom-tom on their drums. Then they began to dance around
the circle, slowly at first, with heads and bodies thrust forward,
backs curved, feet moving stiffly up and down, elbows against the
sides, forearms extended straight forward and fists doubled. In this
way the dance went on for five or ten minutes, increasing in speed
until it ended in a furious beating of the drums and an ear piercing
yell or war-whoop.

After this interesting ceremony had been repeated once or twice, the
Indians advanced in a body towards the officers, headed by their
chief, who commenced a "talk," which was interpreted to the commanding
officer, and was frequently assented to by a grunt from the other
Indians. When the chief had concluded, his place would be taken by
another, a real orator perhaps, whose language was fluent and gestures

The complaints of the Indians were often about settlers encroaching on
their lands, or about a party of white hunters who had caused the
buffaloes to migrate to other parts. If they had no particular
grievance, they would tell that they were good Indians and loved the
whites, especially the soldiers. Then they would ask for food. When the
Indians had finished the commanding officer's reply was interpreted to
them, and received with grunts of satisfaction or dissent. Sometimes
another talk was held on the following day, but they all ended by an
order on the commissary for several days' rations for every member of
the party. Sometimes the Indians prolonged their stay and induced the
commanding officer to grant them a second issue of rations. By the time
they reached the commissary store house, a number of the squaws were on
hand ready to receive the rations which consisted of bacon, flour or
hard bread (biscuits) in barrels, rice, beans, ground coffee and sugar.
No salt, pepper, vinegar, candles or soap was issued to them. They had
no use or desire for these--particularly the soap.

To watch the distribution of the rations, which were given to them in
bulk and in the original packages so far as possible, was very
amusing. At first everything received was carried to a clear place
some distance from the store house. The barrels were carried as well
as the boxes, for the Indians did not understand about rolling them
until some of the soldiers showed them how to do it. The squaws, who
represented families, spread blankets or robes on the grass into which
to receive their share. Some of the Indians opened the barrels and
boxes awkwardly with tomahawks and knives and commenced the division
under the supervision of the chief, with a lot of jabbering from the
squaws. They seemed to get along fairly well with articles that could
be counted, such as sides of bacon or biscuits; but coffee, sugar,
rice, etc., they divided in small cupfulls for each individual, until
the supply was exhausted. The squaws then shouldered the bundles and
followed the bucks back to their camp with happy expressions.

I have also seen one of our beef cattle issued to a large party. The
Indians would drive the frightened animal near to their camp and kill
him by shooting. Then the squaws skinned him and cut him up, utilizing
many parts of the carcass that a white man would throw away.

On the night when rations had been issued there was a feast in camp.
They gorged themselves, beat their drums, and sang long after we
soldiers had to retire after tattoo.

I distinctly remember my first visit to the Indian camp at Fort
Pierre, accompanied by some other soldiers. There were about two dozen
lodges. Half of them were visitors. The others remained there
permanently, and lived on what they got from the soldiers and fur
company employees. The latter were a rather lazy lot and did but
little hunting, so long as they could get enough to eat around the
fort. The first salute we received was from a pack of wolfish-looking
dogs of all sizes which barked furiously but did not attempt to bite
and were easily shooed away.

We walked all through the camp and noted that there were large,
fine-looking teepees, decorated with Indian paintings of animals,
etc., on the exterior. These had an air of opulence about them that
seemed to indicate the owner to be the possessor of many squaws and
ponies. There were also many more teepees that were less pretentious
and a few small, old and tattered ones that showed the poverty of the
owner. It was much like other villages the world over. The palace and
the hovel were in close proximity. Back of the teepees squaws were
cooking something in kettles hung on a pole, supported over the fire
by two forked sticks. They always cooked outside until the weather got
cold. Some children played and ran around just as white children do.

The teepees were of tanned buffalo hides, closely sewed together with
a strong thread made from the sinews of the same animal. They were
conical in shape and were upheld by a number of long, slender but very
strong poles, placed in a circle on the bottom at regular intervals
and meeting on top where they were interlocked. There was an opening
above for the smoke to escape. The entrance was through a slit on the
side, high enough for a man to pass through nearly upright and spread
apart on the bottom to make the passage easier. Over this opening a
piece of tanned hide was usually hung to keep out the weather. These
teepees could be kept warm and comfortable in the coldest of weather,
and were far more durable than the best canvas tents.

We entered one of the best lodges without the formality of knocking
against the side of the opening and saying "How-ko-ta," as we had not
yet learned Indian etiquette. The interior appeared dark at first
after the bright sunlight; but we distinguished the inmates to consist
of several Indians, some squaws and a few children. They all squatted
onto robes spread around the sides of the lodge, which formed their
bedding. We were apparently received in a friendly manner, and by
words and signs were invited to sit down among them. We squatted like
our hosts with our legs crossed. The Indians did not appear to have
been doing anything but conversing. Some of the squaws, however, were
sewing beads on moccasins.

The smaller children shrunk back and stared at us. Presently one of
the bucks produced a long wooden stemmed pipe of polished red stone,
which he filled with kinnikinic, the Indians' substitute for tobacco,
from a buckskin pouch and lit the pipe with a piece of punk ignited
from a flint and steel. He took five or six whiffs of the pipe very
deliberately, and swallowed all the smoke. Then he handed the pipe to
a soldier on his left. As he did this he began to exhale all the smoke
he had in him slowly through his nostrils. The soldier imitated the
Indian in taking a half a dozen whiffs, but he did not swallow the
smoke. In this way the "Pipe of Peace" passed around the circle from
Indian to soldier, and soldier to Indian, myself included. We
understood enough not to offend against the Indian custom of passing
the pipe from mouth to mouth by wiping the mouth piece. After the
smoke there was an attempt at talk of which neither party understood
anything. The young squaws watched us closely and giggled
occasionally. I tried to make one of them understand that I wanted a
pair of moccasins. She brought out a bundle of them, and showed me
some handsome ones. But we failed to make a bargain. I had to make a
few visits with an experienced person before I learned to trade with

The kinnikinic that the Indians smoked was the bark of a red willow
that grew along the streams. They first removed the outside red bark,
then carefully scraped off the greenish second bark with a knife
without cutting into the wood. These shavings were dried in the sun or
before a fire. When crisp they were rubbed into small particles
between the hands. The Indians were fond of mixing a little tobacco,
cut up small, with the bark, but I never saw them smoke pure tobacco,
as they could not inhale its smoke. The bark of the red willow, when
mixed with tobacco, made an agreeable, fragrant smoke. The soldiers
often used it.

Before we left the teepee we gave the Indians a generous piece of plug
tobacco which seemed to please them very much and caused them to say,
"Was-te-da," which means "good."

We entered several other lodges on this, our first visit, and had more
smokes. But I learned later that the smoking ceremony only took place
on the first visit, and not on subsequent calls, unless we brought
with us a stranger who had not visited the lodge before. We were
received in a friendly way in most of the lodges, yet once in a while
we heard an ominous growl from within and thought it best to keep out.

While many of the older Indians were very austere and dignified in
their intercourse with soldiers, the younger ones were inclined to be
droll, particularly the younger squaws, with whom, on account of my
youth I suppose, I seemed to become a welcome visitor. I went to the
Indian camp almost daily, sometimes with a companion but more often
without one.

Many of the soldiers became as much interested in the Indians as I
was. We began to imitate them. We wore moccasins when not on duty. We
sometimes built a council fire back of our quarters, around which we
squatted after dark wrapped in blankets like Indians. We smoked the
"pipe of peace," and we had "talks." There were some good mimics among
us, who could deliver a speech to the rest of the "warriors," which
neither the orator nor anyone else understood. We painted our faces
and imitated war dances with their accompanying drum beats and chant,
not forgetting to yell furiously at the end. We called each other by
the most ridiculous "Indian" names. Mine was, "Why-a-so," but that was
a real name given to me by some of the young Indians and squaws. It
meant "musician."

We got up imitation war parties and scalped our helpless prisoners or
burned them at the stake. In fact, we were like a lot of boys, and got
plenty of fun out of it while the novelty lasted.

I soon became interested in the Dakota language and tried to learn all
I could. I got a memorandum book and pencil. When in a teepee I asked
the names of various objects to which I pointed. When these were given
to me, I wrote them in my book in phonetic spelling. When I read them
off to the Indians on my next visit they were much interested and
laughed when I mispronounced a word. In this way I picked up quite a
vocabulary, but when it came to pronouns, adjectives and verbs, my
progress was slow. This was partly due to the various meanings of the
same word. Numbers were easy for the Dakotas could not count above
ten. After that it was so many tens and units. They generally kept a
tally for any considerable number that was to be remembered by making
notches on a stick. I never attained any considerable proficiency in
the language, but I learned enough to ask simple questions and make my
wants known. I could understand the meaning of much of what they said
after I became a little familiar with the many signs used when
talking. Some of the Indians evinced a desire to learn English and
easily acquired some nouns. But beyond that they could only imitate
sounds without understanding their meanings. This was taken advantage
of by some wags among the soldiers, who taught them to utter the most
ridiculous phrases. This never failed to provoke a laugh, which seemed
to please the Indians.

About the first thing I remarked in the Dakota language, was that the
vowels a, e, i, o, and u, had the long Italian sound in pronunciation,
and that the greater part of the words, whether nouns, pronouns,
verbs, or adjectives, ended in a vowel, which was always accented, and
of which the following are examples:

    Buffalo              Ta-tai-ka
    Horse                Shun-ka-ka
    Dog                  Shun-ka
    Blanket              Shin-na-hota
    Water                Mi-ni
    Whiskey              Mi-ni-wa-ka
    Silver Money         Kash-pa-pi
    Bread or Crackers    Ak-yu-a-pe
    Woman                Wee-a
    Plenty               O-ta
    Missouri River       Mi-ni-tan-ka
    Mississippi River    Mi-ni-so-ta
    I, thou, he          Mi-a, Ni-a, Ee-a
    Ride                 Ga-ki-a
    Far                  Te-ha
    Large                Tan-ka

Many signs were used by the Indians in their conversation, as for
instance, the phrase "Mi-a, ga-ki-a, te-ha, shun-ka-ka," meaning "I am
going to ride far," had to be accompanied by the sign of straddling
the first finger of the left hand with the first two fingers of the
right, to indicate riding on horseback. Each tribe also had a sign by
which the members could make themselves known. That of the Dakotas was
the drawing of the open right hand across the throat from left to

Another peculiarity of the language was the total absence of the
consonant "R." I cannot recall a single word that had any sound
resembling that letter in it.

Early in November ice began to form on the edge of the river in places
where the current was not strong. The nights were cold, and we found
our blankets insufficient for comfort. Buffalo robes and other furs
were still fairly plentiful, and could be had from traders or Indians
at a very moderate price. Many of the soldiers bought them to keep
warm. I got a fine large one in trade for about three dollars, also a
deer skin for two dollars. Old and worn robes could be had much

The Indians who lived near the fort permanently soon learned the value
of money and how to spend it at the sutler's store. They liked the
bright silver dollars, for one of which the squaws would sell us a
pair of nice moccasins ornamented with beads. A plainer pair could be
had for half a dollar.

The army at the present time is very wisely supplied with clothing
suitable to the climate the soldiers are serving in. In my time,
however, the kind and quantity of clothing was the same, whether you
were stationed in Florida or Nebraska. Any additional clothing we
needed in that cold climate we were obliged to provide and pay for

By the latter part of November, the Missouri river was entirely frozen
over with ice thick enough for wagons to cross. We had snow, but no
great quantity as yet. The thin walls of our pasteboard houses were
covered on the inside with a hoar-frost, which stayed there and grew
thicker. We dug deep trenches around the houses and banked up the
earth against them to make the floors warmer. One day we had a furious
wind storm, accompanied by drifting snow. The roofs of some of the
more exposed houses were carried off and the sides blown in,
fortunately without serious damage to the inmates. Other houses were
only saved by the passing of ropes over the roofs and putting braces
against the sides. This was the beginning of a period of suffering,
which lasted until the following spring and was the worst we had in
the Dakota country. After the storm it was realized that the frail
houses, the scarcity of fire wood and the bleak location, made Fort
Pierre an unsuitable place to winter troops. Therefore, one company
was ordered to a well wooded island below the fort, while three
companies, of which mine was one, were sent to build log huts in the
woods on the opposite side of the river, about five miles above and
within a mile of where the companies of the Sixth Infantry and the two
cavalry companies were located. Two other companies, the headquarters
and the band, remained at Fort Pierre. They improved the houses they
occupied with the debris from the houses that the storm had destroyed.
We put up tents near the river bank. A place about a half mile back on
higher ground was selected for the cantonment, where it was not likely
to be overflowed by the rise of the river in the spring. We cleared it
of underbrush and cut down the trees, mostly cottonwoods. There we
commenced to erect log huts.

We had been furnished with a lot of axes, large saws, crow bars, picks
and shovels by the quartermaster's department. Every man not required
for any other duty was put to work on the huts. We worked with a will,
for we suffered severely from the constantly increasing cold in our
tents, which we could not heat. They were not "Sibley" tents, and we
had no iron stoves. The ground was frozen hard and the snow was deep.
Evenings, when our work was done and if the wind was not too strong,
we built large fires in the company streets in front of the tents.
Before these we warmed ourselves before turning in for the night. Soon
nearly every man's blue trousers were scorched brown on the backs from
standing too close to the fires. Our clothing was insufficient. We had
to wear two shirts at one time and two pairs of trousers and

Although I was not required to work on the log huts, I did so
voluntarily to keep from freezing. I could not stay in the tent
without being covered up with my bedding, and I did not wish to stand
or sit around a fire all day, to be scorched on one side and frozen on
the other, while my eyes smarted with the smoke.

We built two log cabins for each company in the roughest way, leaving
the bark on the logs, notching them at the angles, and roughly cutting
off the projections at the corners. We sawed out an opening for one
door and one window, and built a wide fire place at one end opposite
the end that was pierced by the single window. We had great difficulty
finding stone enough to build the fire places, which were about six
feet high and had wooden chimneys plastered with mud. These chimneys
gave us much trouble by constantly getting on fire.

The roofs we formed of split logs, laid with the split side down on a
pitch, and reaching from one wall to the other in a single span. On
this we put a thick layer of brush and shrub, covered with about
twelve inches of earth pounded down hard. The cracks between the logs
were chinked with wood and daubed with mud. We had to build fires to
take the frost out of the ground before we could dig for our mud. When
we mixed it with warm water to the proper consistency for daubing, it
froze so quickly that we could not make the walls and roof tight
enough to keep the cold wind out.

The huts had a dirt floor. We constructed rude two-story bunks of
split logs along both sides, with a passage only six feet between
them. There was a little more space around the fire place. There was
no lumber of any kind for doors and no sashes for windows, so we hung
a piece of an old canvas wagon cover over the door-holes, both inside
and out. The window opening we covered with a piece of white muslin
bought at the sutler's store. We built smaller single-room huts for
the officers and the married soldiers whose wives had been left at
Fort Pierre until the huts were ready for them. We also built a
kitchen for each company, with a bread oven in it, some store houses,
a small hospital and a guard-house. We did not build any mess-rooms.
Each soldier had to go to the kitchen for his rations and eat them in
his quarters.

I think it was about the middle of December, when we broke up our camp
at the river and moved into the log huts at "Cantonment Miller," as it
was officially named. The change was for the better, but the huts
proved to be very uncomfortable. The stationary bunks took up so much
of the room that we were uncomfortably crowded and the place was dark.
When we started a fire the ground began to thaw out for some distance
in front of the fireplace and turn to soft mud, but the earth remained
frozen hard at the other end of the room. The fire had little effect
on the cold air of the room in severe weather, except in its immediate
vicinity. We burned green cottonwood, a very poor material for
heating. While the logs burned on one end the sap ran out at the
other. We got some ash and a little cedar wood, which was better,
although we had to go long distances for it. Details of men went out
and dragged in on home-made sleds the better kind of wood needed for
cooking and baking. Cottonwood was plentiful all around us.

In January and February the thermometer sometimes dropped to forty
degree below zero, but when we made an unusually large fire the
chimney caught fire. We had to keep pails of water ready to extinguish
the blaze. On very cold nights the men took hourly turns to keep up
the fire and to watch the chimney. The snow was deep and drifted
through the chinks of our log huts. We often found large patches of
snow covering our bedding in the morning.

At supper-time every evening we got a loaf of bread which the company
baker had made that day. We put it into our haversacks, which were
hung against the wall of the hut. The next morning it was frozen as
hard as stone. We had to knock off chunks with an axe and thaw them at
the fire before we could bite into them. Some of the men took their
haversacks to bed with them to keep their bread from freezing.

Three soldiers at Fort Pierre attempted to desert to the settlements.
They perished before they had gone a hundred miles, and their
skeletons were found the following summer by a scouting party.

We hauled our water from the Missouri half a mile away. The ice was
more than three feet thick and the hole we had cut through it to get
at the water froze over every night and had to be re-opened in the

By this time we had accumulated plenty of furs. My bunkie, Sergeant
McMillan, and I possessed three buffalo robes, two deer skins and some
wolf skins. With these and four blankets, we had a warm bed on the
coldest nights. I had the company tailor make a sort of a cloak for me
from a buffalo skin, beaver skin mittens and a cap with ear-laps. A
squaw made a pair of buffalo skin boots for me with the hair inside
and large enough to wear over my shoes. Most of the soldiers made
their own fur clothing, such as caps, mittens, coats and boots, and
produced some curious looking objects. One of them made for himself a
complete outfit of boots, pantaloons, jacket and cap of buffalo skin
with the hair outside. He presented a weird picture when dressed in
them and was given the name of "Standing Buffalo."

We were permitted to wear anything we pleased on or off duty, except
at inspection or muster. These, however, took place in the company
quarters during the severest cold. To expose ourselves, even for ten
minutes on parade out of doors, without furs, would have resulted in
frost-bitten ears and noses. The officers clothed themselves about the
same as the soldiers. There was a herd of beef cattle on our side of
the river and when the snow became too deep for them to find any more
prairie grass, and as there was neither forage nor hay for them, they
were driven into the woods to feed on the bark of young trees. They
began to die off rapidly from starvation and exposure after the

The French-Canadian chief cattle-herder, who reported to the
commissary officer each day, would say in his peculiar English,
"M'sieu! One catt ees died! Two catt ees died!" as the case might be.
The carcasses were left where they died, and were quickly devoured by
the wolves. The wolves often came around our quarters at night,
attracted by the offal from the kitchens. They howled hideously. We
caught one occasionally by an ingenious trap. After many of the cattle
died, the remainder were slaughtered. The meat was allowed to freeze
and was piled up in the store houses. There was scarcely any trace of
fat remaining. It was not nutritious. When boiled it showed
greenish-yellow streaks running through it that made it repulsive. I
could not eat any of it. When I needed a change from pork or bacon, I
got some pemican from the Indians. Pemican is buffalo meat cut in thin
slices, without any fat, and dried in the sun without salting. It was
nutritious, but hard to chew. It could be pounded into a kind of meal,
and when mixed with pork-fat and fried in a pan, it was an acceptable
dish. This and a piece of game, when I could get it, made an agreeable
change in diet.

The cavalry companies lost more than one-third of their horses during
the long, severe winter. The shelter for the horses was built of
brushwood and there was no forage. The men removed the snow where long
dry grass was to be found, and stripped the bark from young trees to
feed the horses. Some of the horses lost their ears or tails from
frostbites. The mules stood the hardship better than the horses.
Mortality was not so great among them, but they also lost some ears
and tails.

About mid-winter, scurvy made its appearance. We had been fed on a
salt meat diet for nearly eight months and, with the exception of a
few wild fruits, had had no vegetables. Those who were attacked became
pale and listless. After awhile their gums began to bleed and their
teeth loosened. Their joints swelled and the flesh became soft. If a
finger was pressed hard into the fleshy part of the arm, it left a
dent that remained for hours. We did not suffer so much from scurvy at
Cantonment Miller as did the soldiers at Fort Pierre. The few serious
cases we had we sent to the hospital there. Little could be done for
them, except to give them lime-juice, which was among the medical
stores. With great trouble some potatoes were obtained during the
winter from the "States," as we called it. These were given to the
sick, raw, scraped fine and mixed with vinegar and improved their
condition very much. However, a few men died of the disease in the
hospital at Fort Pierre. In the early spring, when the snow melted, we
dug up roots that grew in the woods, a few inches below the ground as
we saw the squaws do. The roots resembled a thin sweet potato in shape
and were white in color. They could be eaten raw or boiled and were
quite mealy and palatable. Not knowing the proper name for these roots
we called them artichokes. The sick improved rapidly upon eating them,
and as spring progressed, they all recovered.

An Indian camp of about twenty lodges, belonging to the Yonktonna
tribe of the Dakotas, had located within easy distance of Cantonment
Miller and remained there until the following spring. We soon had a
well beaten path through the deep snow leading to the camp. There I
had the best opportunity during my entire service to observe the
Indians closely in their domestic relations. I became known to some of
them myself and made progress in the study of their language. For a
period of more than five months, I went to the camp very often in the
day time and sometimes in the evening. I often remained for hours in
one or two of some half a dozen lodges which I had selected as my
favorites, after having made the round of the entire camp. The lodges
had fires in them and were warmer and more comfortable than our huts
and never ceased to interest me. The Indians seemed to have plenty to
eat and lived quite comfortably. They had stores of pemican, corn,
roots, dried fruits and buffalo tallow, which had been melted and put
into bladders for preservation. They also had some game when the bucks
went hunting.

I was invited to eat with them and did so a few times when they had
cooked meat of some sort; but I excused myself when I saw any
mysterious dish. I brought them some coffee and sugar once in a while
and showed the squaws how to make coffee, of which they became very
fond. When any of them visited the cantonment, which happened almost
daily, I often gave those that I knew, part of my ration of bread for
the papooses, or a piece of tobacco for the bucks. This, in a measure,
repaid their hospitality. A singular thing which I noticed was that
many of their children, from about three to five years of age, had
abnormally developed paunches, which made them look ridiculous when
they toddled almost naked about the teepee.

When the children attained their fifth or sixth year they became
slender and graceful. I was told that an almost constant meat diet was
supposed to be the cause of their curious development.

One day I saw a little toddler step into his father's dish of food.
The man, without a word of scolding, took off the child's moccasin,
scraped it clean with his horn spoon, then dug a hole in the dirt
floor beside his dish, buried and covered up the scrapings and
continued his meal, undisturbed by the incident.

Both parents showed affection for their children, and in my presence,
at least, I never saw the Indians act with brutality toward their
squaws or children. The children had dolls and played much as white
children do. The older boys often practised shooting at a mark with a
bow and arrow. They were very shy with the soldiers and so were the
wolfish looking dogs. It was almost impossible to win the confidence
of either. Nevertheless, a soldier of company I got the consent of the
parents to take an Indian boy to our quarters and keep him there. He
made a suit of soldier's clothes for him and slept with him all the
winter. "Paddy," as we called him, became quite a pet in the company
and was learning English with a comical Irish accent, acquired from
his tutor, when his mother came and took him away in the spring. At
the same time the rest of the Indians went away, and we never saw or
heard of him again.

The Indians played games among themselves, and the soldiers tried to
teach them the use of cards, but they were unable to learn or
understand the simplest of such games. We, therefore, invented a
special game for them, in which the greatest number of spots on a card
took the trick, for they could count up to ten at least. They admired
the Jacks more than the Kings. They were the big chiefs and the Kings
next. Any card could beat the Queen, which was the "Wee-a" or squaw.
They took great interest in this game. I could do a few simple tricks
with cards, which mystified and amused them. Some of them had a
considerable sense of humor and often laughed heartily.

I was shown some Indian scalps, which had long black hair dangling
from them. The skin was soft, and looked and felt as though it had
been tanned. To me it seemed very thick. I do not know if they had any
white scalps. If so, they never showed us any.

Sometimes one of the Indians produced a buckskin bag ornamented with
beads, wherein he kept his most cherished treasures, and drew
therefrom a written paper, which some white trader or hunter had given
to him. This he would proudly hand to us for examination. These papers
were very much of the same tone as this model: "O-kee-ha (red heart)
is a good and trustworthy Indian, and I recommend him to anyone who
wants a safe guide and a good hunter." One of the Indians had several
such papers, one of which he would always show last. This had
evidently been written by some wag or, perhaps, a truthful man, and
ran something like this: "Beware of this Indian, Big Crow, he is a
thief and a liar, and will murder you if he gets a chance. Take
warning!" As this paper never failed to provoke a laugh, he no doubt
set a greater value on it than on all the others he owned.

When the weather was bad I sometimes watched the bucks making arrows
and pipes, while the squaws were industriously employed on moccasins
or some article of clothing. The making of arrows was quite a delicate
operation, with the few tools they had. The stem of the arrow had to
be true, straight and balanced properly. The feathers must be
carefully glued on and the head firmly affixed with sinew, thread and
gum. Metal arrow heads were made by laboriously grinding pieces of
hoopiron, or the like, which they had picked up somewhere, to the
required size and shape. Other heads were made of chipped flint. War
arrow heads were made with sharp barbs to prevent them from being
easily extracted.

Some of the pipes they manufactured were plain, and others handsomely
inlaid with lead. They were made of a dense, fine grained but soft
working stone of a beautiful red color. To obtain this stone they made
long and weary journeys to the Pipe Mountain, which was somewhere in
the northern part of Minnesota Territory. There, it is said, they
prayed to the Great Spirit before removing any of the stone which they
esteemed so highly. The pipes were carefully bored and finished with a
high polish, which took many hours of patient labor. The long pipe
stems were made of some tough, flexible wood, the same that they made
their bows of. They were round or flat in shape, sometimes twisted,
and the wood polished and ornamented. The hole through the stem was
made slowly and carefully with a piece of wire heated red hot. The
mouth piece was neatly tapered and rounded. These pipes were a
valuable article of trade. A fine pipe was worth a pony in trade with
the Indians in remote parts of the country. I bought one and paid a
good price for it. I had great difficulty to persuade an Indian to
sell me a piece of the stone to make a pipe for myself.

I have at times witnessed the entire performance of an Indian feast. A
squaw selected a fat-looking dog, and tied him fast in some secluded
place for several days, giving him nothing to eat, and only water to
drink. She then fed him with a mixture of pemican and dried fruits
made into a moist soft paste, and let him eat all he could of it.
This, I suppose, was to serve as a stuffing or forcemeat, for she
killed him by knocking him on the head with a tomahawk, before
digestion commenced. His hind legs were then tied together, and he was
hung by a cord head down from a pole supported on two forked sticks
over a low fire. With a firebrand the squaw burnt off every hair on
his body close to the skin, and rubbed him with buffalo fat. The squaw
would sit for many hours turning and basting the carcass with melted
fat. The dog was thus roasted whole, for he had not been disemboweled.
In the evening the family were joined by relatives and friends whom
they had invited. The teepee was well crowded when the feast
commenced. The dog was cut up, and all gorged themselves to their full
capacity. The most desired morsels seemed to be the bowels and other
soft parts. When the eating was over, the squaws beat the drums,
chanted songs, and all made merry until long after we soldiers were in
bed. I looked in at some of these feasts and was invited to partake.
Although it was considered an honor, I declined. A few of the soldiers
did eat some roasted dog, and declared it tasted good. The Indians
preferred it to the finest venison.

There was a young soldier in my company, who became so infatuated with
the Indian life that he spent every spare minute in their camp. He
made great progress in learning their language, and never missed a dog
feast. He was a black haired, dark-complexioned man, who tried to make
himself look as much like an Indian as possible by plucking out all
the hair that grew on his face. In the spring, when the Indians broke
camp and departed, he was missed a day or two later. We learned that
he had joined the tribe, but no effort was then made to recapture him.

During the long, cold winter we got a mail from the "States" about
once in three weeks. It went to Fort Pierre and was sent to us from

There was no sutler at Cantonment Miller. When we wanted anything from
the store, we had to go five miles to Fort Pierre for it or have it
brought by a comrade who made the trip.

One calm sunny morning--we had a few such days--when the thermometer
was but a few degrees below zero, another boy and I got a pass to go
to the fort. Not anticipating any change in the weather, we did not
dress ourselves quite so warmly as we should have done, for zero was
considered a comfortable temperature if the wind was not blowing, and
we discarded some of our heaviest furs when the temperature was at
that point or higher. We two boys crossed the Missouri on the ice and
walked down to the fort on the opposite side, which was less hilly
than the east bank. We made a few purchases at the sutler's store,
visited our friends and had dinner with them. It became much colder
early in the afternoon, and the wind began to blow. We were admonished
to return early, which we did; but by the time we had come about half
way the wind was blowing a gale and the cold was increasing. We tried
to cross the river and gain the woods on the other side, but the bare
ice was as slippery as glass. The fierce wind knocked us over, and
blew us like corks along on the ice. With great exertion we crawled on
shore and got into a ravine where we were partly sheltered from the
wind. Here we kept in motion. There was no wood to make a fire and to
sit down meant freezing to death. We had our mittens and our fur caps
protected our ears, but our noses and cheeks turned white with frost,
and we rubbed them with snow several times. I think we both feared
that we would perish in that ravine, when suddenly, as daylight began
to fade, the wind died down and we were able to proceed. We arrived at
our quarters half frozen, and it took some days to recover.

There was an officer at Cantonment Miller named James Curtis who was
the First Lieutenant of Company B. He singled me out from among the
boys and was most kind to me.

While stationed at Fort Pierre I had bought a flute from a member of
the band, and took lessons from him. As I understood something about
music and played on the fife, I made rapid progress on the flute and
had become a fair player when Lieutenant Curtis asked me to come to
his lonely cabin and play duets with him. He was an excellent player,
and had a lot of music books, also works on history, science, etc. In
fact, he owned quite a little library, for he was a great student and
did not spend his time drinking whiskey and playing cards like some of
the other officers did. He loaned me books to read and gave me lessons
to study, which I recited to him and he corrected my exercises. After
these lessons we played music until tattoo. This went on for three or
four nights a week, while we were at the cantonment. I learned more
during that time than during all my previous schooling.

Lieutenant Curtis was a graduate of West Point. Very much to my regret
he resigned his commission in the spring to enter civil life. He
rejoined the army in 1861, and served in the West during the Civil
War. I never met him again, and do not know whether he is still
living, but I remember him as a man who befriended me when I was a
boy, and I shall always entertain the most profound feeling of
gratitude toward him.

A contrast to Lieut. Curtis was the officer who commanded the company
which wintered on the island below Fort Pierre. He was always more or
less under the influence of liquor and abused the men in his command.
In one of his drunken fits he shot a private of his company, wounding
him so severely the man died a few days after. A pretense of an
investigation was made. It was called an accident and hushed up,
though the man was deliberately shot while lying in his tent after he
had had some words with the officer. Two years later his slayer died
wretchedly of delirium tremens at another military post.

In the early part of April we were startled one night by loud reports
like the firing of a heavy cannon. This was caused by the cracking of
the thick ice, which began to break up and move in a day or two and
afforded an interesting spectacle. Some time later the river began to
rise until it overflowed its banks, and was miles wide in the low
lands. Then there came drift wood in enormous quantities. For several
days at a time the river would be covered with it from shore to shore
at the narrower places. It seemed as though a man could walk across on
the floating logs. The high water continued for a long time. It fell
very slowly and some time in May it seemed stationary for a while as
the snows melted much further north. We were cut off from all
communication with Fort Pierre for a time, until boats could cross the
river after the flood subsided.

The Indians began to make preparations for departure. The squaws were
busy dressing such skins as they had not tanned before cold weather.
This they did by stretching them on an upright framework made of poles
lashed together. Then they scraped them thin with a steel scraper and
treated them with a preparation that made them soft and pliable.

About the first week in May, when their ponies had attained a fair
condition, they struck their tents one day and disappeared over the

We received orders to abandon Cantonment Miller and return to Fort
Pierre, where all of General Harney's troops were to be assembled for
a great treaty that was soon to be made there with the Indians. We
crossed the river in a Mackinaw boat belonging to the American Fur
Company. These were large, flat-bottomed boats with tapering prows and
square sterns. They were used by the company to carry furs from its
more northern posts on the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers.

We went into camp after we crossed the river as it was too late to
march to Fort Pierre that day, and had just finished putting up our
tents, when a tremendous wind storm struck us. It blew down the tents
and scattered them as well as every other movable article over the
prairie. It was all over in a short time, but we slept without tents
that night. Next day after picking up all of the articles we could
find, and loading them on wagons, we marched to Fort Pierre and went
into permanent camp close to the stockade. Within a few days all of
the troops had assembled, and encamped there.

In March General Harney had sent messages to all the tribes of the
Dakotas, to assemble at Fort Pierre on May twentieth for a council

The Indians had some way of noting the date, probably by tally on a
stick of wood. I think that representatives from all the Dakotas were
present on that day, except the Brules and the Ogallalas, who had been
so severely punished the previous September.

The Indians began to arrive about ten days before the appointed time,
and soon the great plain about Fort Pierre was dotted with nearly a
thousand teepees.

Each of the tribes had a large representation of men, women and some
children. It was estimated that seven thousand were present, of whom
one-third were warriors. It was a grand spectacle, such an assemblage
of Indians had not been seen for many years. Among them were proud and
magnificent savages who had traveled long distances to be present.

As soon as the arriving Indians became numerous, we were forbidden to
visit their camp. Neither were the Indians allowed within the sentinel
lines of ours. At night the sentry posts were doubled and extra
ammunition was issued. We practically slept on our arms while the
council lasted, for their warriors out-numbered us at least three to
one. Our garrison and camp were open to an attack from all sides, and
the temper of so great a body of Indians was very uncertain.

On the appointed day the council commenced. At first only a few
hundred of the chiefs and other head men of the tribes were present.
The council was held outside of the stockade, the Indians sitting on
the grass in a semi-circle facing the General. With the commandant
were some other officers, clerks and interpreters, a few orderlies and
a small guard of soldiers. These were all on a slightly raised
platform, the officers being seated in front. The dignified,
white-haired general was in the center and his imposing figure towered
above all the others.

We could only view the council from a distance, as sentinels kept us
beyond a certain boundary. But we could observe the dramatic gestures
of the Indian orators and hear the grunts of approval. What the great
talk was all about we did not know.

The council went on in this way for three to four days. On the fourth
or fifth day the meeting commenced earlier, and nearly all the
warriors, to the number of several thousand, were present. They were
painted, and their lustrous dark skins glistened in the bright
sunlight when they had cast off their robes and blankets. It was a
sight long to be remembered, and the like of it was probably never
seen in after years. On this day a treaty of peace was concluded. The
Indians buried the hatchet, as it was customary to say. The Sioux War
was over, and during our stay in their country we had no more serious
trouble with them. It was only after the withdrawal of the regular
soldiers to take part in the Civil War that they became unruly again,
and committed atrocities among the settlers of Minnesota in 1862.

On the night of the day when the treaty had been concluded there
seemed to be a great "pow-wow" in the Indian camp. We could hear the
tom-toms, and the voices of the bucks and squaws until early morning.
On the following afternoon we were treated to a remarkable sight. Two
thousand Indians marched to the stockade, where General Harney had his
headquarters, and saluted his appearance by blowing on reed musical
instruments made from willows which grew abundantly along the river.
At the same time a large number of squaws beat on drums. The curious
noise could be heard for miles around.

While the council was on, the first steamboat of the season or
"wa-ta-pe-ta-choo-choo," as the Indians called it, arrived. It was the
_Genoa_, which had brought my company up the river the previous
summer. With her arrived a paymaster and Lieutenant Gouverneur K.
Warren, who later commanded the Fifth Army Corps in the Civil War. He
was to make surveys in the Dakota country and was accompanied by some
scientists. My regiment furnished him with an escort, who traveled
with him until fall. He returned the following season and continued
his surveys.

Many of the Indians present had never seen a steamboat. Hundreds of
them and their squaws lined the river bank, when the _Genoa_ was
sighted. They noted the puffs of steam ejected by her engines, and
declared that the wa-ta-pe-ta was puffing, out of breath, and tired
out after her long journey.

The Indians had brought great quantities of furs with them, and
trading with the American Fur Company and the sutler was brisk. The
_Genoa_ on her return trip could carry only a part of the vast
quantity of furs the company had accumulated. Some of the Indians
departed a few days after the treaty was made. Others lingered for a
while, but in about two weeks nearly all had disappeared. When their
numbers had materially diminished, restrictions against visiting their
camps were withdrawn, and I had interesting experiences in observing
the customs and manners of some far away tribes, whom I was not likely
ever to see again.

About the first of June orders were issued to abandon Fort Pierre, as
it was most unsuitable for a military post. The troops who had come
from Fort Laramie in the fall returned there, and of my regiment four
companies and the band took up their march to a point on the Missouri,
a few hundred miles below Fort Pierre, where they built a post called
Fort Randall. The other two companies, B and D, marched to a place on
the Missouri, midway between Forts Pierre and Randall, to establish
Fort Lookout.

The remaining portable houses at Fort Pierre were taken down and with
other materials were put on rafts and floated down the river to be
re-used in building quarters at the two new posts.

Our experience since we arrived at Fort Pierre had been very trying
through the incompetency or carelessness of someone in authority. We
were ill prepared for the rigors of so severe a climate as to
clothing, food, quarters and medical stores. Men died from exposure
and from scurvy, and many animals succumbed to starvation. Officers
and soldiers suffered alike. The miserable huts in which we lived
during the winter were unfit for stables. We almost froze in them, and
when the spring came, the mud roofs leaked like sieves.

I look back upon the winter passed at Fort Pierre as one of great
suffering and hardship, by far the worst that I went through during my



Companies B and D left Fort Pierre the first week in June, 1856, on
their way to the site upon which Fort Lookout was to be built. Captain
Nathaniel Lyon of Company B, being the ranking officer, was in
command. Captain Gardner of my company and three lieutenants were the
only other officers present. The details of this march, although a
short one, will serve, except as to special incidents, as a
description of all other marches that we made on the prairies.

We ascended the hills west of Fort Pierre to gain the higher tableland
in order to avoid the many ravines and small creeks that flowed into
the Missouri river, which we did not sight again until we reached our
destination. The order of march for large or small columns of troops
was as follows: First came the guides, either Indians, half-breeds or
hunters, riding on ponies some distance in advance and sometimes going
ahead for miles to search for a suitable point to ford a stream or
locate a camp. When no guides were present the desired direction was
kept by means of a compass, for there were no roads, nothing but an
occasional trail, made by Indian travoys which the weather soon
obliterated. At times there was not a hill, tree nor bush in sight.
Only flat or rolling prairie land met the eye all day long, and it was
easy to lose direction on a cloudy day without a compass. Officers in
command of troops marching through an unknown country were obliged to
keep a journal and draw rough maps of the route, showing the water
courses, springs, hills, woods, camping places and all points worthy
of notice, also the approximate distances between them. These journals
and maps were afterwards forwarded to the War Department, to serve for
future information.

After the guides, our small column was led by Captains Lyon and
Gardner and one of the lieutenants, another lieutenant was in the rear
of the column, and the acting quartermaster was with the wagon train.
All of the officers were mounted, some at their own expense on ponies
they had bought from the Indians, as in an infantry regiment the
regulations only allowed horses and forage for the colonel, major,
surgeon, adjutant and quartermaster, or for officers temporarily
acting as such. For a year or more we had no medical officer, only a
hospital steward. There was but little sickness, and we got along very
well without a doctor. Following the leading officers, came the
musicians, and we boys were rather proud to be able to set the pace
for the entire column. Behind us marched the soldiers by fours at a
route step carrying their arms "at will." The company in advance
to-day was the rear company to-morrow. Following the soldiers was the
wagon train and behind that marched the camp guard, bringing up the
rear. We never carried any knapsacks on this kind of marches on the
frontiers. We always had wagons enough to carry the tents, knapsacks,
provisions and forage. Each soldier carried his arms and
accoutrements, his canteen and his haversack, which contained only
enough provisions for a noon-day meal. The musicians carried only a
sword, canteen and haversack.

The speed at which we marched was generally about three miles per
hour, or less, if the route was hilly or the marching difficult. About
every five miles we halted for a rest of fifteen or twenty minutes
with a somewhat longer rest in the middle of the day. The distance we
marched each day averaged less than twenty miles, but it was
irregular, for camping places had to be selected with an eye to
obtaining wood and water. Some days we marched only about fifteen
miles while on others we had to make more than twenty-five. On a few
occasions we camped on the prairie, where there was neither wood nor
water. We brought a scant supply with us in our wagons from the
previous camp. Buffalo chips (dung) were sometimes used instead of
wood and made a sufficiently hot fire to cook with.

The army wagons had canvas covers and looked something like the
"Prairie Schooners" used by the emigrants in crossing the plains.
There was a seat and a locker across the front and a detachable
feed-box across the rear. They were provided with strong brakes. A
team of six mules was hitched to each wagon, the pair in front were
called "leaders," and were the smallest mules in the team, next came
the "swings," a little larger and last the "wheelers," which were the
largest and strongest mules of the lot. One of the wheel mules had a
saddle on him on which the driver was mounted, who, with only a single
line and the aid of a long whip, drove the team.

The drivers were generally citizen employees of the Quartermaster's
Department, if they could be had, or soldiers who volunteered for the
job. These were detailed on "extra duty," as it was called.
Twenty-five cents per day from the quartermaster was added to their
regular monthly pay, for which they were obliged to sign a roll. One
of them wrote Thomas O'Brien, M.D., and when asked to explain the
meaning of the two letters after his name, said they stood for mule
driver. It was hard work driving mule teams where there were no roads.
Steep hills and deep declivities, streams and water courses, soon made
most of the drivers experts in profanity. They had names for all their
mules, and we often heard one of them urging his team through a bad
place with such words of encouragement as these: "Now, Mary Jane! pull
like a good girl; pull, girl!" or "You, there, Pete! you black-hearted
----, I'll cut the hide off you, if you don't pull!"

On marches, reveille was sounded at day-break or even earlier if there
was a long day's march ahead. Immediately after roll call we had our
breakfast of salt pork or bacon, hard-tack and black coffee, which the
company cooks had already prepared at their camp fire. Then the
"General" was beaten by one of the drummers. This was the signal to
"strike tents" and pack the wagons. Soon after sunrise we formed ranks
and marched off. This was the time when we felt fresh after a good
night's rest. There was talking, laughing and joking in the ranks.
Sometimes a song was started and many joined in the chorus.

After about two hours of marching this exhilaration gradually died
down and when the sun got high and began to scorch us--for it could be
as hot in the summer on the plains as it was cold in winter--the
voices were stilled. We trudged on noiselessly save for the rattling
of the tin cups and canteens or the sharp rebuke of one soldier to
another, who had perhaps jostled him, which was always annoying to a
weary man.

The officers also enjoyed the cool of the morning. After the column
had marched a while, I was often called by one of them to ride his
horse, while he marched four or five miles. I would very much have
preferred this ride at the end of the march when I would have enjoyed
the rest. But I was always a good marcher and sometimes, when I felt
like falling out, my pride kept me up until we reached camp.

The first day's march revealed the presence of a flat-footed man in
the command who could not march more than a few miles, after which he
had to ride in one of the wagons. He was discharged as soon as
transportation to the settlement could be had. Sick or exhausted
soldiers were permitted to ride in the wagons.

So fiercely did the rays of the sun beat down on the hot prairie, that
during our brief periods of rest, we often crawled under the wagons,
grateful for their slight shade even for a short time. If we came to a
stream that could be forded we took off our shoes and stockings and
sometimes our trousers, and waded across. If the current was strong we
grasped each other to avoid being swept off our feet. On the opposite
side we generally halted long enough to refill our canteens and rest.

At times we had to cross a river too deep for fording. Then the
crossing meant several days of hard labor. It was accomplished by
taking the wagons apart and making boats out of their bodies. This was
done by enveloping the wagon bodies in several thicknesses of the
canvas wagon covers. When the crude boats would float, some men swam
across pulling a stout rope after them. They secured it on the other
side to guide the boats in crossing. In this way we established
ferries capable of taking all the men and freight to the other side.
The horses and mules were forced to swim over. A few minor accidents
occurred, but in the main the crossing was successfully although
slowly made, as these canvas pontoon boats could carry but little at
each trip.

On a few occasions we saw a herd of buffalo while on the march, but
never got near them. We seldom met any Indians on the routes we

When we had a short day's march, we got into camp before noontime if
the route had been favorable, but if we had to march twenty-five miles
or more, it was the middle of the afternoon or much later before we
finally halted. The first thing we did was to stack arms and lie down
in the shade, if there was any. Tired out, we went to sleep while
waiting for the wagons to come up. At the end of the day's march they
were often some miles behind. They could not always make the short
cuts that we could. When the wagons arrived we unpacked them and
erected our tents. Practice made us experts at this. The cooks started
a fire and prepared a meal, while the teamsters parked the wagons,
unhitched the tired mules, watered and fed them, and then picketed
them on the prairie to graze and rest.

The officers had wall-tents for their use, with a tent fly over them,
which made them quite comfortable and cool when the sides were turned
up. The soldiers had "Sibley" tents at that time, which were better
than the small "A" tents previously used. These tents were the
invention of Col. Henry W. Sibley of the United States Army. They were
patterned after the Indian teepee, but differed from them in that but
one tent pole was required. This fitted into the socket of a wrought
iron tripod in the centre of the tent and upheld the shelter. A hood
on top could be opened to emit the smoke from a sheet iron stove in
cold weather. These tents, conical in shape, were large enough to
shelter a dozen men without crowding.

When the tents had all been set up in "streets," we fished or went in
bathing if the water was suitable. Fish were generally plentiful and
were a welcome addition to our rations. At times we washed our
clothing in the streams, for the laundresses did not perform that work
on a march and were never with the troops except when changing
stations. On these occasions they and their children rode in the

Our canteens were made of tin covered with felt, and held about three
pints. An old soldier taught me to fill my canteen with water in the
evening, saturating the felt covering thoroughly. By hanging it up
exposed to the air during the night, the water would be kept cool
until morning. Next day I was careful to keep the canteen on my shady
side while marching. In this way I had a cool drink for a much longer
time. Sentinels were posted about the camp and the wagons at night. We
had an early tattoo and slept soundly until daybreak next morning.
Rainy days added much to our discomfort while marching and made it
necessary to make camp on soaked ground while our clothing was

We had half a dozen dogs with us on the march to Lookout, for dogs
love soldiers. In the cool part of the morning they ran all over the
prairie chasing birds or prairie dogs, and tired themselves out before
the march was half done. When we halted for a rest they went to sleep,
and it was difficult to make them go on again, except one wise dog who
always trotted at the head of the column with the musicians and never
wasted his energy in running around the prairie. At times these dogs
became a nuisance. They sometimes got to a small pond or water-hole
ahead of us, and by swimming around in it roiled the water until it
was unfit to drink.

Our last day's march was long and hard, but we cheered up when in the
middle of the hot afternoon we sighted the Missouri River about five
miles away. It was hundreds of feet below us, for we were up on a high
range of hills, which the wagons were able to descend only by making
long detours.

We encamped on a shady spot near the river bank and remained there for
two days while Captain Lyon and another officer explored the region
for the most suitable place for the new post. Captain Lyon finally
selected a spot three miles below our camp and thirty miles south of
the Big Bend of the Missouri River. We moved there at once and
encamped until our quarters were completed in the fall.

The site for Fort Lookout was well chosen. The river channel was on
that side and the banks high enough not to be overflowed. The wooded
bottom land extended two hundred yards back from the river, then
ascended fifty feet above the water in an easy grade to a plateau. Two
small water courses in ravines at right angles to the river and about
half-a-mile apart drained the plateau on which the post was to be
built. About a mile west of the river the land became rugged and
hilly. There were plenty of woods in sight along the river bank as far
as we could see.

Captain Nathaniel Lyon of Company B, Second United States Infantry,
the commanding officer under whose direction Fort Lookout was to be
built, was a native of Connecticut. He was of average size with sandy
hair and beard. His voice had a distinct nasal twang. He was a
graduate of West Point and had served in the Mexican War and in
Florida. He was a strict disciplinarian, conscientious, patriotic and
as strong an "Abolitionist" as Captain Gardner of my company was a
"Pro-Slavery" advocate. Nevertheless the two captains seemed to get
along very well on duty, but outside of that did not associate much.
Captain Gardner usually had his tent put up at some distance from
Captain Lyon's, who kept very much to himself and seemed to pass his
time in reading and writing.

Captain Lyon was of a most peculiar temperament. While he preserved a
fatherly attitude toward his company and saw to their comfort, he was
very exacting. The least infringement of rules, which other officers
would not notice, he would punish. He seldom put any of his men in the
guard-house, except for some serious offense; but punished them by
making them do menial duties or by having them march in front of the
company quarters where he could observe them, carrying a log or a
heavily loaded knapsack or with a barrel over their shoulders, the
head sticking out of the top. He had punishments to fit every grade of
offense, most of which were of his own invention. However, he seldom
court-martialed any of his men, though some of them would have
preferred that to the humiliating punishments they received. When the
war broke out, Captain Lyon was in command of the arsenal at St.
Louis, Mo., which he saved to the Government. He broke up the rebel
"Camp Jackson" under General Frost, defeated the troops under Governor
Jackson at Booneville and fought the battle of Wilson's Creek, Mo.,
against superior numbers under Generals McCulloch and Price. He was
killed in that battle on August tenth, 1861, while he was in command
of the Union troops with the rank of brigadier-general. General Lyon
did much to save the State of Missouri to the Union and in his early
death, the Government lost a loyal and efficient officer. One of the
last requests that General Lyon made just before his death was that
"First Sergt. Griffin of his old company which was present at the
battle should receive a commission as Lieutenant,"--which was granted.

As soon as our camp was permanently established at the top of the
slope leading towards the river, we prepared to erect the necessary
buildings. Gangs of men were sent into the woods to cut trees, trim
them and haul in the logs.

Others were set to work making bricks for the chimneys and bake ovens
out of some suitable clay and sand that had been discovered near the
river bank. The bricks were made in moulds and burnt in the usual way.
They answered their purpose very well. Every man not required for
guard duty was set to work either as a mechanic or a laborer at "extra
duty". Carpenters, framers, masons and all other mechanics received
forty cents per day and the laborers twenty-five cents per day, extra
pay for ten hours' work. The mechanics remained at their work, but the
laborers took turns at guard duties. I was put on extra duty myself
for a while as a time-keeper and messenger and was rated and paid as a

Presently the raft which had been made up at Fort Pierre arrived and
was unloaded and taken apart. About the first of July a steamboat came
in with a full cargo for Fort Lookout, consisting of military stores
and some building materials, such as doors, sashes, hardware,
shingles, lime, etc. She also landed three citizen employees, a
master-mechanic to take charge of construction and two carpenters.
There were in addition some goods for the sutler, who came to
establish himself. A cow and some hogs were put ashore consigned to
Captain Lyon. To put this cargo in a suitable place on shore and
protect it from the elements until store houses could be built,
occupied some time. A small herd of beef cattle also arrived, having
been driven up from the settlements.

One of the first things the master-mechanic did was to erect a
whip-saw for getting out flooring and roofing boards. This saw was
worked by two men, one above and the other below the elevated log. It
was slow, laborious work. He next made a plan for quarters for three
companies, for another company was to join us later in the season. He
directed the carpenters and framers to hew the logs square and cut
them into suitable lengths to form the walls of the houses, which were
built large enough to hold a company apiece comfortably. They had the
luxury of doors, windows and brick chimneys, a wooden floor and a
shingled roof, but no ceiling. Log houses were built for the married
soldiers, for company kitchens, a hospital, a bakery, the adjutant's
office, the guard-house and storehouses, but they were put up to be
warm and comfortable and had brick fire places, doors and windows,
wood floors and shingled roofs, the same as the quarters. For the
officers the portable houses rafted down from Fort Pierre were
re-erected, but made much stronger. The exterior walls were double
with a filled space between them, which made them warmer. Chimneys and
fireplaces were built. We built no company mess-rooms, leaving that to
be done next year as we already had undertaken all we could possibly
accomplish before cold weather.

Captain Lyon was quite busy for a time in outlining the post and
locating the various buildings. He seemed very anxious about getting
the post lined exact and true to the cardinal points, which he found a
difficult task in the absence of proper instruments. He had a factotum
named Charley Breen who was his valet, cook, hostler and assistant
surveyor. When the captain went out on several nights to observe the
north star for hours, he always took Charley who carried a lantern.
Next day the lines were changed again. We had many a laugh with
Charley about hunting for the north star with a lantern.

Captain Lyon laid out Fort Lookout in generous dimensions. Perhaps he
had orders to do so. He occupied ground enough for about two
regiments, the parade ground was large enough to manoeuvre a brigade
of troops. The plan was a parallelogram in shape except at the west
end where the officers' houses formed a semicircle. The east end near
the river was square and there were located the guard-house and store

On the long sides were the company quarters, two on the south and one
on the north side. They looked very lonely in that vast space. It was
much more than a quarter mile from the guard-house on the east to the
officers' quarters in the west, and nearly half that across the parade
ground between the company quarters from north to south. These great
distances proved to be very inconvenient in winter, when the snow was
deep and much time had to be consumed in relieving the widely
scattered sentinels.

Uninterrupted progress was made all through the summer. We had no
trouble with the Indians, in fact none came near us until fall, when
they began to appear and dance for rations. The only soldiers who were
absent from the fort were a small escort under a non-commissioned
officer with Lieutenant Warren and his party who were surveying and
mapping some of the Dakota country. They approached within a few
hundred miles of the place where the National Yellowstone Park is now
located, but did not seem to have ever heard of that wonderful region.
It appeared to be unknown at that time. We never heard hunters or
trappers speak of it, and if the Indians knew of it, they kept their
knowledge to themselves.

A comet was visible for many weeks during the summer, larger and more
brilliant and with a longer tail than any I have seen since.
Unfortunately we had no opportunity to learn in what way the Indians
regarded this phenomenon.

In the month of August, Company K arrived from Fort Ripley after a
strenuous march. They crossed the Missouri at Fort Pierre in Mackinaw
boats and from there came down the west bank to Fort Lookout. This
company was much harassed by the Chippawa Indians, while marching
through their country, though no direct attack was made. One soldier
was stabbed to death by an Indian at a spring near one of their camps,
where he had gone alone to fill his canteen. A sad accident occurred
on this march. One sentinel shot another dead, mistaking him for an
Indian because of his wearing a blanket on a cool night while on post.

Company K brought two Indian guides and their squaws with them; also
an interpreter and his squaw. This interpreter proved to be the young
man from my company who had deserted from Cantonment Miller about
sixteen months before to join the Indians. Why he took the risk to
come back in our direction I cannot imagine, unless he was misinformed
at Fort Pierre in regard to the whereabouts of his old company. He was
much changed, but was recognized in spite of his Indian make-up. He
was arrested and put in the guard-house, which at this time was a tent
from which he escaped easily on the second night, and we never heard
of him again.

Brevet Major George W. Patten, whom I have previously described, was
in command of Company K. He wrote an able article about the march from
Fort Ripley, which was published in Harper's Magazine. As Major Patten
ranked Captain Lyon, he took command of Fort Lookout on his arrival,
but Captain Lyon continued to superintend the building of the post.

During the summer Capt. Lyon got an idea that some other drink besides
the Missouri river water would be good for the men, and he started in
to make what he intended to be spruce beer. He put us boys to work
gathering cactus plants, wild hops, sprigs of spruce and a few other
plants of his own selection. Then he made us mash the cactus to a pulp
and boil the entire mixture in camp kettles, adding water, some
molasses and vinegar. We then strained it and put it into barrels.
Under the Captain's supervision it took us a week to make three or
four barrels, for, according to his habit, he fussed and spent as much
of his time over it as he would have given to an important matter.
When this hodge-podge was brewed it was offered to the soldiers. One
drink was enough to satisfy most of them. If they took any more they
were likely to be unfit for duty next day, but not from any
intoxicating qualities of the mixture. When it began to ferment it
threw off such a sickening odor and tasted so vile that no one would
drink it. Cactus was plentiful in the vicinity. Some of it bore
delicious and succulent prickly-pears. Wild plums and grapes were also

One night we were startled by the sound of a shot that came from the
direction of Post No. 3, a short distance from camp. There were cries
of "Corporal of the guard, Post No. 3!" and for a few moments there
was great excitement.

It turned out that the sentinel on that post had shot off the little
finger of his left hand. He explained that he was carrying his rifle
across the back of his neck, with the left hand over the muzzle and
the right on the lock "when the durned thing went off."

We suspected that he did it on purpose, hoping to get his discharge
from the army for physical disability. If so, he was not liberal
enough with his self mutilation, for the sacrifice of his little
finger did not procure his discharge.

Near the end of summer another steamboat on the way to Fort Pierre
stopped and unloaded some more stores, including a quantity of
potatoes, onions and turnips to prevent a reoccurrence of scurvy. This
steamer also brought a second lieutenant to join one of our companies.
He was one of the appointees from civil life--the only one at the
post. He hailed from one of the southern states and, for a soldier,
was the most ungainly, awkward and unmilitary figure that I ever saw.
He was a young man, so excessively tall that he stooped over and so
thin that he barely cast a shadow. He had a glass eye that had a
roving disposition. It gave him a very droll appearance. He was quite
ignorant of military matters and at his first appearance on parade as
officer of the day appeared wearing his sash over the wrong shoulder.
Major Patten appointed him Post Adjutant shortly after his arrival, in
derision, I think.

At guard mounting he had to be coached by the acting sergeant major,
or the officer of the day. When it came to that part of the ceremony
where the adjutant turns "About face" and reports to the officer of
the day "Sir, the guard is formed!" he nearly fell over himself with
his sword scabbard between his legs. He never learned to make an
"About face" gracefully. It was very difficult to repress our
laughter. With all this, he was arrogant, domineering and conceited,
and was thoroughly detested by his company.

When on duty as officer of the day he visited the sentinels on post,
demanded their orders and received the customary reply: "To take
charge of this post and all Government property in view, to salute all
officers according to rank, to allow no one to pass or repass at night
without the countersign, in case of fire to give an alarm," etc., etc.

Then he would torment the soldier with such absurd questions as: "What
would you do if you saw a steamboat coming down over the hills, or a
thousand Indians mounted on buffaloes charging out of the woods?"

One of the sentinels answered him, "I would call for the corporal of
the guard to notify you immediately."

Whoever was responsible for his obtaining a commission in the Army had
much to answer for. He resigned after a few years and disappeared from
our sight and knowledge.

In October we were able to occupy our new quarters which appeared
palatial to us in comparison with the wretched hovels in which we
lived the previous winter. We had worked hard to accomplish this.
About this time a singular affliction came upon nearly one-half of the
garrison, which we called moon-blindness. Every evening after twilight
they began to lose their vision, and when it became dark they could
only distinguish a bright light if very close to them. They had to be
led around like blind men. In the morning they could see as well as
ever. This lasted about a fortnight, and made it hard for the
unafflicted who had to do double guard duty. No one seemed to know the
cause of this blindness. Some had an idea that the comet was
responsible for it. I was one of the fortunate who escaped this

Small parties of Indians began to visit us; and about a dozen lodges
established themselves in a permanent camp for the winter, but at an
inconvenient distance from the fort. It was necessary to cross a deep
ravine or make a long detour to get there.

An English sportsman, Sir St. George Gore, stopped for a day to visit
the officers. He had been hunting along the upper Missouri and
Yellowstone River for two years and was now on his way home. He had
come with a crew on a large Mackinaw boat, loaded with furs and other
hunting trophies.

Immense quantities of wild ducks and geese were now flying south. We
managed to kill quite a number with our military rifles, loaded with
shot which we made ourselves by pouring a ladle full of melted lead
from an elevated position slowly into a pail of water placed on the
ground. This produced shot of various sizes which we assorted, using
the smaller shot for blackbirds which were abundant. This homemade
shot was all egg-shaped instead of globular. It seemed to be effective
enough when fired into large flocks.

As soon as steady frost appeared all of our beef cattle were killed
and dressed. Profiting by our sad experience of the last winter this
was done while they were still in good condition and the meat placed
in a store house for use during the winter. Soon there was a deep fall
of snow which remained and increased throughout the winter. A space
was kept cleared of snow on the vast parade ground with paths leading
to it from the officers' and company quarters, for the purpose of
holding the daily guard mounting. Spaces were cleared around the
quarters and the snow piled up until the buildings were half hidden. I
think the winter was fully as cold as the previous one; but we had an
abundant quantity of seasoned firewood, which we burnt in stoves and
were comfortably warm, except on days when there was a high wind. When
the thermometer fell to twenty degrees below zero, orders were issued
to call in all the sentinels, except Post No. 1 in front of the
guard-house, and No. 2, at the store houses close by, and even these
posts were relieved every half hour. Our food was more abundant and
much better than at Cantonment Miller the previous winter. There was
no re-appearance of scurvy and we had plenty of warm clothing.

Captain Lyon, who had imported some hogs, presented them to his
company to be killed as a Christmas treat of fresh pork. The captain
sometimes visited the pen and gave directions for their care. A sow
had a litter of pigs in the fall, and fearing that she might kill
them, he directed his first sergeant to have her watched for a few
days. The Sergeant detailed some men for this purpose, among them a
young German, who, considering this a very unmilitary duty, refused to
serve, saying "To h---- mit der piggins, I'm no swiney doctor!"

There was very little sickness during the winter, but a number of
cases of frost bites, none of them very serious. One death occurred
during the midwinter in our little hospital, that of Sergeant Fiske of
my company who was a veteran of the Mexican War, and had suffered for
a long time from a malady to which soldiers long in the service are
liable. Sergeant Fiske was an inveterate card player and smoker. On
the evening of the night on which he died he sat cross legged on his
bed and played his favorite game with some of the other hospital
inmates. When he was placed in his coffin, some of his comrades
slipped in a pack of cards and his pipe to be buried with him, Indian
fashion. With great labor a grave was dug through the deeply frozen
ground. On the top of a hill near the fort, we buried Sergeant Fiske
with military honors, Lieutenant George H. Paige reading the burial
service. A board was put up to mark the lonely grave; but in that
bleak spot it probably remained only a short time before the weather
obliterated all signs of it.

During this winter I saw but little of the Indians. There were only a
small number in camp near the fort, and no others arrived. During the
long winter evenings we played games or read the few books, magazines
and occasional newspapers that we could procure. A mail from the
"States" arrived but twice a month, and life at the post was

At Christmas and on New Years' day an extra dinner was served for all
the soldiers, with a dessert of pie made with dried apples by the
company's baker. Whiskey punch was also provided. There was no chance
for the soldiers to procure whiskey at Fort Lookout unless one of the
officers gave them a drink of it, which happened rarely. This drove
some of them who had a craving for it, to use essence of Jamaica
ginger and bay-rum which they could buy at the sutler's store. They
sometimes made a punch of it by adding sugar and hot water. The sutler
had some imported ale and porter, which he was allowed to sell to
soldiers; but as the price was seventy-five cents a pint bottle, very
little of it was consumed.

In April, when the snow had melted, we began to drill again for the
first time since leaving Carlisle Barracks. We had lived more like
pioneers than soldiers. Early in May orders were received to abandon
Fort Lookout, where we had worked so hard to build quarters, and to
proceed to Fort Randall, where the regimental headquarters and four
companies had gone when Fort Pierre was abandoned a year ago. We went
into camp and began to tear down the company quarters for they were
built of hewn timber, which it was desirable to save. We also took
down the officers' houses. All this material was hauled down to the
river bank to be made into a raft, and floated down to Fort Randall.
We left all of the log cabins and the brick chimneys standing but
removed the doors and sashes. Early in June a steamboat which had
discharged her cargo at Fort Randall arrived at Fort Lookout and took
on board the three companies and all of the commissary and
quartermaster stores and other moveable property. The wagons and mules
were sent overland in charge of an officer and escort.

When the steamboat started down the river, I went up on the hurricane
deck to have a final look at what remained of Fort Lookout. I saw some
Indians prowling around the abandoned log cabins. Brick chimneys alone
marked the places where our quarters and the officers' houses had
been. I could also make out the white board which marked the lonely
grave of Sergt. Fiske on the hill.

We were soon out of sight, and arrived at Fort Randall in a few days.


MY ENLISTMENT--1857-1859.

We arrived at Fort Randall in June, 1857. It was located on the west
bank of the Missouri river, about a hundred and twenty-five miles
north of the Big Sioux river as the crow flies; but more than two
hundred miles by following the tortuous water course. At Fort Randall
an unusually sharp turn to the east, and another to the south, gave
the fort a river front on two sides, east and north, with the
protection of high banks sloping to a wide strip of bottom land along
the shore. That the location was desirable is proved by the fact that
it has been used as a military post up to the present time, and is now
in the midst of a large reservation.

The four companies that went there when Fort Pierre was abandoned a
year before, had also worked hard and put up substantial log houses,
rough, but comfortable, around a parade ground of reasonable size. Our
three companies went into camp and waited for the arrival of the raft
from Fort Lookout, which came in about a week. Then the re-erection of
our quarters and officers' houses commenced. The cabins for the
married soldiers were all placed on the bottom land called "The
Hollow". There also were the cabins of all the citizen commissary and
quartermaster's employees, married and single, and near by was a
considerable camp of Ponca Indians.

There were about a dozen of citizen mechanics at the fort who did the
greater part of the work in re-erecting the quarters. They had the
help of only a small detail of soldiers. The buildings were improved
by ceilings, and a mess-room was built--something we had not had for
two years.

A large post garden had been planted early in the spring by the
companies there, and during the summer and fall we had an abundance of
vegetables. I had never seen potatoes, onions, and tomatoes, attain
such an astonishing size as they did in that rich virgin soil. A few
soldiers detailed as gardeners lived beside the garden in tents about
a mile west of the fort.

We drilled and performed guard duty and moved into our new quarters
after the middle of August. I did not have much to do and spent a
great part of my spare time swimming, fishing and visiting the Indian
camp. One day, I swam across the Missouri with some companions, but we
were so exhausted we had to come back in a canoe.

There was a singular hot spring or pit on the opposite side of the
river. It could not be closely approached because of the dangerous
quick-sand about it. There was no overflow, and the pit seemed to be
bottomless. We threw long sticks into it from a distance. They went
down but never came up. The spring emitted steam in winter, but it was
overflowed by the river in the spring and disappeared.

Major Hannibal Day was in command at Fort Randall. There was a band
and we did regular garrison duty, including Sunday dress parades and
skirmish drills. Once in a while, an escort was furnished to accompany
some wagons to Sioux City and back--a place which was then beginning
to build up--or a company occasionally made a short march to settle a
small Indian difficulty. Our duties were varied and the summer passed

The sutler had built a roomy store at Fort Randall, with lumber
brought from St. Louis. It was stocked with goods for both soldiers
and Indians, and the prices were lower than at Fort Pierre. He kept
ale on draught which, with some restrictions, he was allowed to sell
to the soldiers by the glass. Whiskey began to be smuggled from Sioux
City and was sold to the soldiers. This made more cases for the

An enterprising soldier's wife fixed up a small still in her quarters
at the "Hollow" and made a little corn whiskey which she sold to
soldiers secretly, but she was informed on after a while and her
distilling plant was destroyed. As a punishment, she was deprived of
her ration allowance. Every company had some men who were slaves to
the liquor habit. There was one in my company who, whenever he saw an
intoxicated man, could not refrain from exclaiming, "I wish I had half
of your sickness!"

A second lieutenant, a man of middle age, joined my regiment. He was
appointed from civil life, but there was a rumor that he had served as
an officer in the navy. If so, the navy was to be congratulated on its
loss, for we soon discovered that he was one of those steady drinkers
who, without being intoxicated, are almost constantly under the
influence of liquor in a minor degree. He was saturated with it and
exhaled it. Whenever any severe duty was to be performed he managed to
get excused on the plea of sickness, and was away on leave as often as
he could get it. Unfortunately, he remained with my regiment until
after the beginning of the Civil War. By that time he was unfit for
field duty. He was on the sick list most of the time, and never was
present at any battle. We got rid of him in 1862, when he was retired
as a captain.

All of the officers' families, from whom they had been separated for
two years, joined them at Fort Randall. It was quite a novelty to see
white ladies again and to see their children playing on the parade

Captain Gardner was married here to the sister of a lieutenant of
another company. He went home to Georgia on leave, and when he
returned brought back with him a negro and his wife, both of whom were
slaves. The woman cooked and the man did chores.

A partial alteration was made at this time in the army uniform. The
tight fitting jacket was replaced by a loose fitting blouse of dark
blue cloth, which was an agreeable change. The light blue trousers
were replaced by trousers of dark blue cloth, but in less than two
years were changed back to the light blue, which the army has adhered
to ever since. There was an absurd change from the old uniform hat to
a strange and unmilitary design. The new creation was made of stiff
black felt with a broad brim and a high crown. The brim was looped up
on the right side and fastened with a brass eagle, otherwise it would
have interfered when the soldier had his gun at "shoulder-arms." On
the front was a brass bugle with the regimental number in the centre
of it, and a brass letter of the company above it. Around the hat was
a worsted cord with tassels of light blue for the infantry. A single
black feather or plume was fastened on the left side of the hat, which
few of the soldiers knew how, or cared to keep curled neatly. In damp
weather it looked like a drenched rooster's tail-feathers. The
officers had similar hats of finer material with more generous plumes.

A substantial new guard-house of hewn logs with a large room for
prisoners and a few dark cells had been built during the summer. It
was at the head of the road leading down to the river, and chance made
me the first inmate of one of the cells. Some soldiers who had
deserted were recaptured and tried by a general court-martial, which
sentenced them to receive thirty-nine lashes on their bare backs, laid
on with a rawhide. They were also to be confined at hard labor for
four months, lose all pay and allowances and be dishonorably
discharged. On the autumn day on which the first part of the sentence
was executed we were paraded, and formed three sides of a square, the
guard-house and prison forming the fourth side. It was the first time
that I had ever seen corporal punishment with a rawhide inflicted on a
man while in the army, and was also the only time, as flogging for
desertion was abolished forever by Act of Congress a few years later.
The three prisoners were present under guard.

The officer of the day read the sentence, and called out the name of
one of the deserters, who was led to the centre of the square, where a
triangle formed of strong joists had been set up. Here he was divested
of his jacket and shirt, his wrists were bound with cords. His arms
were pulled up over his head and tied to the top, while his feet were
spread apart and secured to the bottom of the triangle. It had always
been the custom in the army for flogging to be administered by one of
the musicians. Why they were selected to do it, I never learned. When
all was ready the officer of the day called one of the older boys from
the ranks. He was handed a rawhide and told by the officer to strike
the prisoner hard from the shoulders to the loins.

At first the blows were moderate, but increased under the officer's
threats until each blow left a dark red mark and then began to cut the
skin until blood flowed. The poor wretch squirmed and groaned
piteously, the more so when some ill directed blow struck him around
the side. When the thirty-ninth blow had been struck, the officer who
had kept count cried, "Halt". The victim was untied by the guards and,
unable to stand on his feet, was dragged towards the guard-house.

The second prisoner was then led forward and prepared to receive his
punishment. The officer of the day turned about to select another
musician to strike the blows. His glance rested on me for an instant
but he passed me by and called out another by name, for which I felt
very thankful. The brutal scene was repeated in all of its revolting

When the last prisoner was ready the officer of the day called out my
name; but I stood still and shook my head. He then peremptorily called
me a second time, to which I replied, "I refuse." He ordered me to be
placed in charge of the guard, and called on my drummer to execute the
sentence which my refusal to act had delayed for a few minutes.

Charges of disobedience of orders were preferred against me, and in
about a week I was tried by court-martial. I could only plead guilty,
and in another week my sentence was promulgated. I was to be confined
in the guard-house for thirty days, ten of them in solitary
confinement on a diet of bread and water, the remainder at hard labor,
and to forfeit one month's pay. My captain tried to have my sentence
commuted, but it was so glaring a refusal to obey orders without any
extenuating circumstances that he was unsuccessful.

I commenced to serve the first part of my ten days at hard labor by
going out with the prison gang under guard at seven o'clock each
morning, chopping wood at the officers' quarters or sweeping the roads
and keeping the parade ground clear until six o'clock in the evening
with an interval of an hour for dinner. All of the prisoners
"soldiered", and shirked their work as much as they could. None of us
worked hard.

My second term of ten days was to be in one of the new cells on bread
and water. But all of the sergeants in charge of the guard were
friendly to me, and let me out of my cell into the guard room for
hours at a time after dark. Some took the risk of letting me out in
the day time after the officer of the day had made his customary
rounds. As for bread and water, I never had any of that. Everyone
seemed anxious to smuggle in something nice for me to eat, and I had
to give away much of it to other prisoners. There was more than one
boy could consume. Hot coffee was also supplied to me when it was
brought in with the meals for the other prisoners. Friends furnished
me with plenty of candles and books.

When my ten days of solitary confinement expired, I commenced the last
term of ten days at hard labor the same as before. During those terms
I had to sleep on the floor in the large prison room with the other
prisoners. I would have preferred to sleep in the cell alone.

But there was enough that was amusing going on at the post to make the
memory of my punishment soon lose its sting. For example, there was
one man in my company, an old soldier of the Mexican War, who would
sometimes take a drink too much. This always made him maudlin and
melancholy. At such times he always spoke of the "beautiful
senoritas," as he called them. Tears would come into his eyes when he
told us the charmers called him "Senor Patrucio Martino". Then he
would say with a sob, "Look at me! What am I now? Nothing but plain
Paddy Martin," and burst into a flood of tears.

The winter was much milder than the two preceding ones. There were
some bitterly cold days during January and February, yet we were quite
comfortable. We had plenty to eat and a variety. The general health of
all the soldiers was exceedingly good. We got up amusements to pass
the time. There were some negro employees in the Quartermaster's
Department who could sing plantation songs for us. One of them, a coal
black negro who had been on the frontiers for a number of years with
the Fur Company, was married to a squaw and had several children who
were curious specimens of the human race, combining the most prominent
features of the Indian and the negro. Both the father and the mother
seemed very proud of them, however.

The Indian camp, of easy access to the garrison, always proved
interesting. Its population was sometimes increased by visitors from
the large Ponca Village, and from a Yankton village not far away. I
spent much of my time with the Indians, as I had done two winters
previous at Cantonment Miller.

In April, after the breaking up of the ice on the Missouri and the
melting of the snow, flocks of wild ducks and geese made their
appearance. For a time they came in incredible numbers and we managed
to get all we wanted of them.

A man of my company named Jack Lynch, who had a habit of prowling
about the country alone, showed us a spoonful of gold dust that he
said he had found during his wanderings, but did not tell us where.
About this time there were articles in the papers about the discovery
of gold in the Black Hills, some hundreds of miles to the west of us;
and we saw no good reason why gold should not exist in the bleak hills
about Fort Randall. Our man brought in more samples of gold. He was
watched and was discovered washing gold in a ravine, through which a
small water course ran down from the hills a mile or more south of the

Then excitement ran high. Crowds of soldiers went prospecting and
washing gold. Places were discovered where it was more plentiful. In
fact, too plentiful, for some of the more industrious quickly
accumulated a considerable quantity of it. I had about a pint of it
myself. Games of poker were played in the quarters evenings, at which
the stakes were gold dust measured out in thimblefuls. Others hoarded
their wealth and guarded it jealously. Hope of riches within our grasp
warmed our hearts and cheered us.

The excitement had reached a high pitch, when, about a week after our
"gold digging" started, some one thought of submitting a sample of the
gold dust to the hospital steward, who had the necessary acids for a
test. He promptly declared the stuff to be pyrites or "fools' gold".
Some of the men were bitterly disappointed, others laughed. The
discoverer and a few more, however, clung to their "gold dust". They
believed that it was valuable until they got a report from St.
Louis--where they had sent a sample to be assayed--which confirmed the
hospital steward's opinion. After a while some of the soldiers began
to think that Jack Lynch might have been playing a huge joke on us. He
was a peculiar man in many ways, and was the possessor of a pair of
eyes that did not match, one of them being light blue and the other
dark gray.

During the early spring of 1858, we read much in the newspapers about
the Mountain Meadow massacre in Utah in 1857, by Indians instigated by
the Mormons. A large party of emigrants had been annihilated, except a
few small children, and Col. Albert Sidney Johnson was gathering
troops at Fort Bridger, Utah, to punish the Mormons. We also read
about trouble on the border line between Missouri and Kansas
Territory. Kansas desired to become a "free state," while the
Missourians, together with some adherents in the territory, wanted it
to become a "slave state." This led to many atrocities on the border
line, where people were being driven off their farms and murdered by a
gang called the "Border Ruffians."

Soon a rumor spread that some of the companies at Fort Randall would
be withdrawn to serve either in Kansas or Utah, and presently an order
arrived to send two companies to report at Fort Leavenworth, as soon
as transportation by steamboat could be had. For this service my own
company and Captain Lyon's Company B were selected. We were ordered to
prepare ourselves in light marching order, leaving behind us all of
our full dress uniforms, and other articles not required on a
campaign. We also left behind us the alcoholic second lieutenant, who
managed to be excused from going and remained at Fort Randall on duty
with some other company. The officers' and soldiers' wives and
children also remained. Captain Gardner and Lieutenant O'Connoll of my
company and Captain Lyon and a lieutenant of Company B were the only
officers to go.

We waited impatiently for a steamboat to arrive. She did not appear
until near the middle of May, and with her came a paymaster who gave
us eight months' pay before our departure. When the boat was unloaded
and all was ready, we formed on the parade ground and, escorted by the
band, marched to the boat. Among those who watched our departure were
a number of Indians and squaws from the camp.

The river was still high and the current swift. The boat was but
lightly loaded, so we did not strand on any sand bars and made good
progress, running at night on the latter half of our trip. We still
had to tie up now and then and cut wood to feed the boilers, but
occasionally there was a pile of cord-wood for sale.

The great changes that had taken place since we had ascended the river
three years before, were surprising to me. Then St. Joseph, Mo.,
marked the limit of the white settlements. Less than a hundred miles
from Fort Randall by river, we made the first landing at Niobrara,
where the river of the same name, flows into the Missouri. There was a
small cluster of houses, and a somewhat pretentious hotel, a
three-story frame building which some enterprising citizen had
erected. Next we stopped at Sioux City, which had become a
considerable village near the river bank of one and two story frame
buildings, with a general store and a small church. Then came Council
Bluffs, Omaha; Nebraska City; Atchison and some smaller places. All of
them had sprung up within three years, and were busy and rapidly
growing. We stopped at all these places to take on passengers or a
little freight.

Such comfort as the staterooms afforded was not for the soldiers. They
were set apart for the use of the passengers and our officers, while
we were very uncomfortably limited to the lower or boiler deck. We had
to sleep anywhere we could find room to lie down, on piles of freight
or on the bare deck. The weather was raw at first, and we had cold
rains. With half a dozen others I slept under the boilers several
times after the fires were banked and the boat laid up for the night.
The rear of the boilers was elevated on iron supports three feet or
more above the deck. It formed a warm and sheltered place when the
cold wind blew fore and aft through the open deck from stem to stern.
After the boat began to run at night, the place became too hot for us
and we had to sleep elsewhere.

There were no docks or wharves at any of the landings. When the boat
approached a town she sounded her whistle and rang a bell, which
brought many of the inhabitants to the river bank. In making a landing
while going down stream, the pilot slowed down, approached the shore
at an acute angle and pressed "her nozzle ag'in the bank." There he
held the boat, until the force of the current swung her around and the
bow pointed up stream. The impact of the boat always dislodged a large
quantity of soft earth from the river bank, which fell into the water
and left a big dent in the shore line. Every steamboat on its way down
stream deprived the town of some of its real estate, if it made a

In ten or twelve days, we reached Fort Leavenworth and went into
quarters. I found the place very much improved. It had been cleaned
up, the old buildings had been renovated and some new ones added.
There was no cholera or other infectious sickness there then. It was a
very busy place at that time. Soldiers were arriving and departing
frequently, on their long march via Forts Kearney and Laramie to Fort
Bridger, near Salt Lake City, where Col. Johnson was assembling a
little army to punish the Mormons. At Leavenworth post I saw Robert E.
Lee, who was then the colonel of one of the cavalry regiments and soon
to become the Commander-in-Chief of the Confederate Army.

A few days after our arrival at the fort some comrades and myself
obtained a twenty-four hour pass to go to Leavenworth City, only a few
miles down the river. It had grown to a thriving town with many
stores, hotels and saloons, on the business streets; churches,
dwellings and shacks on others. All were built of wood and very few
were more than two stories high.

We were in luck--a circus had come to town and was parading through
the streets when we arrived. There was a steam organ on a decorated
truck followed by a band and the mounted circus performers which drew
a great crowd. Of course, we were on hand at the afternoon performance
in the tent and thought it was great. In the evening we went to a
theater in a barn-like building in the heart of the town, where we sat
on wooden benches which were all on a level. There was no gallery.
Three or four disreputable looking musicians, playing on wheezy
instruments, made up the orchestra. The stage and the auditorium were
lighted with candles. The floor of the stage creaked when the
performers walked over it, and the scenery threatened to topple over.
I distinctly remember that the piece played by the ambitious actors
was "The Lady of Lyons," which they probably murdered. However, the
audience that crowded the place applauded and seemed to enjoy it, and
so did we. We slept at a hotel that night on a real bed for the first
time in years, and next morning walked back to the fort.

A few days later we received orders to start for Utah. Each man bought
a gray felt hat at the sutler's store, as we had seen other
detachments do. These we wore on the march instead of the fatigue cap,
which was a poor protection against the fierce rays of the sun on the
prairies. Our first objective point was Fort Kearney on the Platte
River, about two hundred and fifty miles away. But we had marched only
about a week when we were recalled and retraced our steps to Fort
Leavenworth. I felt disappointed, I had hoped to see the Great Salt
Lake and the Mormons. The long weary march did not intimidate me. On
our return to the fort, we learned that fresh trouble had broken out
on the Kansas border, and we were to go to Fort Scott in the
south-eastern part of Kansas, a few miles from the Missouri border, to
protect the settlers. In a few days our little command was ready to
start. It included Companies B and D and a section of a battery of
artillery consisting of two of the old style brass six pounders with
their caissons, and necessary complement of artillerists commanded by
First Lieutenant Beekman Du Barry, Third Artillery, who attained high
rank later in the Army of the Potomac. Second Lieutenant J. B. Shinn
was his assistant. The surgeon who accompanied us was Samuel W.
Crawford, who later commanded the division of Pennsylvania Reserves at
the battle of Gettysburg as a brigadier general. Captain Nathaniel
Lyon, being the ranking officer, commanded the detachment. Captain
Lyon, the firm abolitionist, and Captain Gardner, the ardent
pro-slavery advocate, were there together, on a mission to keep the
peace between rival factions, the free-soilers and the partisans of
slavery. Whatever their feelings may have been, but they did not
exhibit them. They were polite to each other but not cordial.

Our first day's march ended at a creek which was almost dry when we
crossed it. That night there was a cloud-burst which drenched us, and
next morning the dry creek had become a raging torrent many yards
wide. We witnessed the drowning of a man and a horse, who attempted to
swim over to our side, and to whom we could give no aid.

A few nights later we were encamped on low bottom land at the Kansas
River, when after midnight a terrific rain storm flooded our camp with
several inches of water. I sat until daylight in my tent on an
inverted quart tin cup. My bare feet were in the water and I held my
knapsack and clothing on my knees to keep them dry.

We crossed the Kansas river on a private ferry, which consisted of a
flat-boat or scow large enough to carry a wagon with a team of horses.
A cable was stretched across the stream high above the water. An
ingenious arrangement of pulleys was attached to this cable and to the
boat, so that it was guided from shore to shore while the current
furnished the motive power. No steering was required and no labor,
except to shove the boat off to take the current. It was easy work,
but very slow. It took all day to pass the soldiers and wagons over
the river. The artillery crossed on the following day.

We encamped one day near a small village called Shawneetown. In the
evening many of the soldiers strolled to the village, where there was
a hotel with a bar-room, in which a few citizens were drinking with
some of the soldiers. It was becoming dark, and the saddled horses
belonging to the citizens were hitched to posts on the street. This
gave a joker of my company an opportunity to play a trick on one of
the civilians. He pulled a hair out of a horse's tail, and tied it
firmly around the animal's hind leg between the hoof and the fetlock,
concealing the hair by carefully covering it with the hair on the
horse's leg. Then he awaited developments.

After a while the civilians came out, mounted their horses, and
started off. We leisurely followed them, as their road led in the
direction of our camp. Soon one of the men noticed that his horse was
going lame. It raised one of his hind feet higher than the others, and
brought it down with a jerk, as though it were trying to kick off
something which annoyed it. The rider dismounted and examined the
horse's hoof but found nothing wrong. Then his two companions
dismounted and examined it. As we passed we heard them say that the
only thing to be done was to go back to the village and have the shoe
taken off. This they did and I hope discovered the harmless trick that
had been played on them.

After leaving Shawneetown, we directed our march close to the border
line. Sometimes we were in Missouri, sometimes in Kansas. This
continued all the way down to Fort Scott. We halted for a day's rest
at a small village called West Point in Missouri, where we could
overlook a valley and see some Indian mounds. By this time we had been
joined by half a dozen dogs, who had left their owners and followed
us. They seemed to love the soldiers, who petted and fed them. We had
quite a pack before the summer was over. Our marches were easy. There
was no hurry; it was desired to let the people know that there were
troops for their protection near the border line.

The country was sparsely settled. When we had reached the border we
began to see abandoned farms, and burned farm houses and cabins. Those
of the settlers who remained were outspoken sympathizers with slavery.
On some of the abandoned farms the gardens and fields had been planted
in the spring and were now overgrown with weeds. The horses and cattle
had been taken away too, but there were pigs in the woods and chickens
and ducks running loose without any owners. Every day was a feast with
us on that short march. We lived on fresh pork, chickens and all kinds
of vegetables, disdaining of the government rations, except the hard

We reached Fort Scott in the evening during a heavy thunder storm,
soaked to the skin. We put up for the night in one of the old barrack
buildings, and next morning established a camp just outside of the
little town. Fort Scott was an old frontier post, built on the same
plan as all the others, which had been abandoned and sold by the
Government. Citizens now lived in the frame buildings, formerly
occupied by officers and soldiers. One of the old barrack buildings
had been converted into a hotel, and the parade ground, with its well
in the centre, was now the public square. On it faced the court house,
in one of the old buildings, with the old guard-house serving for the

The town of Fort Scott on the Marmiton river was the county seat of
Bourbon County, Kansas. Some scattering houses had been erected
outside of the old fort, but the entire population probably did not
exceed two hundred at that time.

There appeared to be very little money in circulation. The farmers had
none, and could only trade for their produce at the stores. They came
to our camp, and sold us two chickens for twenty-five cents, eggs at
five cents per dozen, two quarts of milk for five cents, and other
produce in proportion, and seemed to be pleased to get real money. Two
guileless farmer lads drove into camp one day with sixty pounds of
choice butter. They said that "Ma" had told them that they must bring
home six dollars for it. They had no scale, but a soldier loaned them
one of our quart tin cups, which he said would hold just a pound, if
filled and well heaped up. When they had sold all of their butter at
ten cents per cup, they found to their chagrin that they had a little
less than four dollars to take home to "Ma."

There were some abandoned farms around Fort Scott, but they were quite
a distance from camp. Some of the soldiers, when they wanted green
corn or potatoes, found it easier to get them from nearby farms when
the farmer was not looking. One day a farmer complained to Captain
Lyon about losing a calf and said he thought he could identify the
soldier whom he suspected of taking it. We were paraded, but when he
looked us over he said he could not pick out his man because we all
looked alike. Some of the men who had dined on the calf made friends
with the farmer, and took him to the hotel in town. There they filled
him with whiskey and started him home feeling so happy that he invited
them all to visit him at his farm.

One day three comrades and myself were enjoying a savory stew of
chicken, young pork, potatoes and onions. We had it in an army mess
pan which we had placed on the ground in our tent, and we were
squatted around the pan, each dipping into it with his spoon in
soldier fashion.

We had just started when one of the men began to sputter and kick.

"What in h---- is the matter with you," exclaimed one of the others.
"Why don't you blow on it, if it is too hot?"

Instead of acting on this suggestion the man rolled over on his back,
his mouth frothing and his eyes distended. He kicked over the pan and
scattered our luscious dinner over the tent floor.

We sent for the doctor, who after a long time brought him back to
consciousness. The man had had a fit. He had subsequent attacks and
was soon after discharged from the service.

I suppose it was this incident that inspired a big red-haired Indiana
"hoosier" in my company to try to get a discharge in the same way. One
night he disturbed us by groaning and gnashing his teeth. We found
that he was frothing soap-suds at the mouth, and was such a bad actor
that it needed only a glance to show that he was shamming. The orderly
sergeant threw a bucket of water over him and he had no more "fits."

A lot of pigs belonging to the towns' people ran around loose, and
rooted about the camp until they became a nuisance. One day a soldier
who craved some fresh pork, not daring to shoot a pig near the camp,
baited a large fish hook with a piece of meat and when some of the
pigs appeared in the company street he threw the hook just outside of
his tent. Soon one of them took the bait, and only had time to let out
one little squeal before the "fisherman" had him in the tent smothered
in blankets. Roast pork was on the bill of fare for the mess next day.

We had easy duty while at Fort Scott and plenty to eat. We drilled for
an hour during the cool part of the morning, for it was very hot there
in midsummer. After that those who were not on guard or on some detail
had the remainder of the day at their own disposal. I spent the
greater part of my time on the shady banks of the Marmiton river,
which was a fine lively stream of clear water with rocky embankments
that showed out-croppings of soft coal. There were plenty of fine fish
in the river, which we caught and often cooked on the bank, although
our camp was but a few hundred yards away. I went in swimming several
times each day, and enjoyed it immensely. At the stream we also washed
our clothes and sat under a tree while they dried hung on bushes in
the hot sun.

One afternoon, while many of us were at the river, we heard the "Long
Roll" beaten in the camp. We rushed back and got under arms. On a hill
a mile from camp we saw two dozen mounted men who were examining our
camp and prancing around in a defiant manner. They all seemed to carry
guns and opened fire on us when they saw us forming ranks. All of
their shots fell short, and when Captain Barry sent a shell over their
heads, they soon scattered. Pursuit was out of the question, as they
were well mounted and we were on foot. This was the only time during
our stay in Kansas that we saw any of the Border Ruffians. They were
careful to keep out of our reach. The little incident caused some
excitement among the inhabitants of the town who were glad to have the
soldiers there to protect them from a raid.

I think we had been a month at Fort Scott, when we broke camp one
morning and commenced our march to Lawrence on the Kansas River by way
of Ossawatomy, Kansas. This was the place where John Brown had a sharp
fight with the Missouri raiders in 1856, and earned the name of "Old
Ossawatomy Brown." We were told that he was in Kansas at that time
earnestly working for the Free Soilers, but I don't think we met him.
We made a leisurely march. I rode Dr. Crawford's horse for five or six
miles every day. He seemed to enjoy marching in the cool part of the
morning, as also did some of the other officers. At night we often
camped at some small settlement or near a farm house. We found the
natives ill-informed. They seldom saw a newspaper, and knew but little
as to the cause of all the trouble in Kansas.

Some had never seen any soldiers before. One good old lady marveled at
the "big pistols on wheels," when she saw the artillery. Money was
almost a curiosity in some of the "way-back" places through which we
passed, and they sold us their produce at ridiculously low prices to
get a few coins.

We stayed but a few days at Lawrence and then marched south again by a
different road, back to Fort Scott. Our empty wagons were sent from
Lawrence to Fort Leavenworth, with a small escort for supplies, and
rejoined us later at Fort Scott. On our re-arrival there, Captain Lyon
encamped us about a mile from town, but as long as we were close to
the Marmiton River we cared little for the town.

About the first week in September, we received orders to return to
Fort Leavenworth, which we did by the same route along the border
line, by which we had come down. We had done a considerable amount of
marching since we had left Fort Leavenworth, three months before. Our
clothing was nearly worn out, and some of the men would soon be
bare-footed, for we had left there in very light marching order, not
expecting to remain away so long. Clothing and shoes were issued to us
on our arrival at the fort.

I look back upon the summer I passed in Kansas, as an excursion when
compared with the hardship of marching on the prairies. We always
found a stream, a spring or a farmer's well within easy distance,
which obviated the necessity of making distressingly long marches on
account of the scarcity of water. We also fared well in the matter of

We remained but a few days at Fort Leavenworth before a steamboat
arrived which was to take us up the Missouri River to Fort Randall
again. This boat was much smaller than the others we had traveled on.
She was what is called a "stern-wheeler." Her paddle-wheels, on the
stern instead of on the sides, made her shake more than the other type
of boat. She carried no other passengers, and we had the use of the
unfurnished cabins on the saloon deck in the rear next to the
paddle-wheels. This boat was of very light draft and not heavily
loaded, so we seldom ran on sand bars and made steady progress. We
were tormented by mosquitoes when the boat was tied up at night, and
had to make smokes on the shore.

I became ill with chills and fever soon after we started and remained
so until we arrived at Fort Randall. Dr. Crawford dosed me so
liberally with quinine, that I could scarcely hear anything at times.

We made the trip from Leavenworth to Randall in a little less than
four weeks, and arrived there in the middle of October. We occupied
our old quarters, and resumed the usual duties. There were but five
companies at the post then, two others having been sent away during
the summer to Fort Laramie. We arrived in time to take part in the
fall duck shooting, and Sergeant McVeagh of my company and I got a
two-day pass to go hunting at a lake on the other side of the Missouri
River, about ten miles away, where wild ducks and geese abounded. We
borrowed shot guns from some of the citizen employees, and carried
blankets and some provisions with us, intending to camp at the lake
for one night.

We hunted during the afternoon with fair success, and as evening
approached made our way toward one end of the lake where we saw woods
in which we intended to camp for the night. But on approaching closer
we noticed smoke issuing from the tops of several Indian teepees among
the trees. We quickly decided that it would be safer to trust to the
Indians' hospitality than to camp alone, as they had no doubt
discovered our presence. A furious barking of dogs announced our
arrival, and we entered the largest of three lodges. We sat down, and
after the customary smoke we made the savages understand that we were
hungry, and wanted to sleep in their camp for the night. The Indian
assented by pointing to a heap of skins on one side of the tent, and
making the sign indicating sleep.

We found that these Indians belong to the Oo-he-non-pas (Two Kettle
Band) of the Yankton tribe, and the inmates of the teepee consisted of
an Indian with his two squaws, two girls about my age, two children
five or six years old, and a wrinkled gray-haired squaw bent with age.

We gave the squaws all the ducks we had shot. They prepared some of
them for supper, also some venison which they had. The sergeant and I
made coffee for the whole family, and shared our bread with them.
After supper we gave the Indian some tobacco, and we smoked our own

We talked with all of them as much as our limited knowledge of their
language permitted and found out they had been far away hunting, and
were going to winter with their tribes. They had been at the fort and
knew the soldiers. Some visitors from the other two lodges dropped in.
The Indians showed us his pipes, his bows and arrows, his gun and his
little curiosities. He admired our guns, which we had kept loaded,
removing the percussion caps before entering the lodge. The sergeant
interested them with a pack of cards, while I amused the younger
squaws by drawing pencil sketches for them, and showing them my watch.

I began to wonder what the arrangements for sleeping would be when I
noticed one of the squaws make a bed of buffalo robes and other skins
on one side of the lodge for us, while directly opposite on the other
side of the fire which was in the center of the floor, she put the two
young squaws to bed. First she wound a horse hair rope many times
around the lower limbs of each, to prevent them from running away with
us I suppose. As a further precaution she lay down at their side next
to the fire. The Indian with the other squaw slept opposite the
opening to the lodge. The two children slept at the foot of the young
squaw's bed next to the door, while the old squaw was left defenceless
and alone to sleep at our feet on the other side of the door. They all
lay down with their clothes on so we did the same, taking off only our
coats. Our guns we laid next to the side of the lodge where I slept,
the sergeant sleeping in front next to the fire.

I was tired and soon went to sleep. A noise awoke me during the night,
but it was only the old crone putting a few fagots on the fire to keep
it lighted. We arose soon after daylight. The two girls had been
unwound before we got up. We had breakfast and departed, not
forgetting to invite the family to visit us at Fort Randall.

We resumed our hunting, and soon had all of the ducks we were able to
carry. Then, after a lunch by the lake, we took up our tramp to the
fort, where we arrived in the evening.

The Indian and his family hunted us up in a few days at the fort, but
the old squaw and the two children were not with them. They came
mounted on ponies. The sergeant and I got them something to eat, and
bought the squaw a few things in the sutler's store. We gave a plug of
tobacco to the buck to repay his hospitality and they all went away

The river closed early, and cold weather was soon upon us. We passed
our time as we had done the previous winter. Nothing disturbed our
tranquility, until suddenly in the early part of January Company I and
my company were ordered to go at once to Niabrara. Four army wagons
mounted on runners were prepared to carry our provisions and baggage.
One of them was fitted up with a sheet iron stove for the officers to
ride and sleep in. It seemed that the Ponca Indians, whose village was
close to Niabrara, had killed one of the citizens and committed
depredations on the settlers. The villagers had asked the commandant
of Fort Randall for protection. The commanding officer sent a message
to "Big Drum," the chief of the Poncas, and the head men of the tribe
to come to Fort Randall, but they paid no attention to it. After
waiting a reasonable time he ordered the two companies to go and
punish the Indians.

The captain of Company I, who commanded the expedition, was a
corpulent, elderly man, with a large family. He loved his ease and had
lost his stomach for fighting. When the Civil War broke out he soon
resigned to spend his declining years peacefully keeping a store in a
western town. The other officers of our little expedition were Captain
Gardner and Lieutenant O'Connoll of my company and a lieutenant of
Company I.

We started our march in the forenoon of a very cold but bright day and
climbed the hills below Fort Randall. The snow was deep, and the thick
crust on it made marching hard and tiresome. It was quickly discovered
that our customary way of marching by fours was impracticable. We were
reduced to twos, and as soon as the two leading men were tired out
breaking a path in the deep snow, they stepped to one side, and waited
to fall in line again in the rear. The officers rode their horses, but
at times took to the warm sleigh which the commander hardly ever left.
The days were short, and I think we accomplished only a little more
than six miles on the first before darkness overtook us. We went into
camp on the spot where we halted on top of a bleak hill, and waited a
while for the sleighs with our baggage to come up.

It was bitter cold, probably thirty degrees below zero at least, but
we had no thermometer to tell us that. We shoveled away some of the
deep snow and tried to put up tents but found it impossible to drive
wooden tent pins into the frozen ground. We therefore banked up the
snow high to the windward, and made our beds on the frozen ground.
Fortunately we had plenty of robes and blankets. I slept in the middle
with three in the bed, and felt warm all night.

The cooks started a fire with wood obtained from a nearby ravine, but
for water they had to melt snow. We had coffee before we went to bed,
which helped to warm us up and the fire was kept burning all night.
Snow had to be melted to water the horses and mules, and to make our
coffee in the morning. We slept in our clothes, removing only our
overcoats and boots. When we arose we found that the exhalation from
our bodies had caused a thick crust of ice to form on the topmost
robe, while the lowest one was frozen fast to the ground. I had
imprudently left my boots and buffalo hide overboots outside of my
bed. In the morning they were frozen as stiff as sheet iron. I could
not put them on until a comrade had thawed them at the fire for me.

The four officers slept in the sleigh as best they could. I overheard
Captain Gardner remark to another officer next morning while they
warmed themselves at the fire before mounting their horses, that he
had the courage, but not the constitution to stand such a march. Our
corpulent commander did not leave the sleigh, and had his breakfast
cooked and brought to him by his "dog-robber," as the men called an
officer's soldier-servant.

We had a hard day's march the next day, for we kept near the river
where it was hilly and made about twelve miles. We fared better on
that and on subsequent nights, as we camped at the edge of woods where
we could build roaring fires. Fortunately we had no snow storms to add
to the rigor of the intense cold. We did not put up any tents during
the march.

I think it was on the forenoon of the fourth day, just as we got to
the brow of a hill, that about fifty mounted Indians appeared over the
crest of a hill more than half a mile away. They seemed astonished on
seeing us and halted for a moment. An excited soldier discharged his
rifle at them without waiting for orders to fire. This caused nearly a
dozen others to fire before the officer could stop them. At the first
shot the Indians fled down the hill and were out of sight in a few
seconds. They did not reply to our firing, which had done them no
harm. We learned a few days later that this was a party of Ponca
Indians on a peace journey to Fort Randall.

On the evening of the fifth day we arrived at the wooded bluffs
overlooking the Niabrara River, near its junction with the Missouri.
On the other side of the river was a small settlement of about a dozen
houses and a hotel called "The Niabrara." Next morning we had a hard
time getting the sleighs down the steep bluffs to the frozen river.
The mules were unhitched, and the sleighs were slid down one at a time
with ropes hitched around trees to prevent them from descending too
fast. We got them all down safely, crossed the river and camped close
to the settlement. With great difficulty we put up our "Sibley" tents,
using steel picket-pins to drive holes in the ground before we could
insert the wooden tent pins. We got brush in the woods to cover the
ground inside the tents, and built fires in the company streets, as a
fire within the tent would have thawed the frozen ground, and reduce
it to a quagmire. The officers occupied rooms at the hotel and messed

The large Ponca Indian village was but a mile or two away, and the
next day after our arrival orders were sent to the Indians to attend a
council on the following morning. But that night a blizzard which
lasted for forty-eight hours swept down upon us and caused intense
suffering. The wind blew the drifting snow so fiercely that no fires
could be kept going. It was evening before the kindly proprietor of
the hotel sent for our cooks and allowed them to make some hot coffee
for us in his kitchen. The next day the storm continued with unabated
fury. All we could do was to lie in our tents covered up with our
blankets and buffalo robes to keep from freezing. But we had hot
coffee twice and some warm soup on the second day, which put some life
into us.

The hotel at Niabrara must have been built with an idea that the
settlement would grow rapidly like Sioux City. But it had failed to do
so. The place seemed as large as one would expect to find in a western
town of two thousand inhabitants. It was a frame building,
clapboarded, three stories high with a shingled gabel roof. There was
a kitchen and dining-room on the first floor, also a good sized
bar-room and a sitting-room. The first two stories had been plastered,
but the third was left unfinished, and had only the clapboards and the
shingles as a protection against the weather.

I do not know whether it was an arrangement made by our officers, or
an offer from the proprietor, influenced perhaps by the fact that at
this time there were no guests at the hotel, and that all of the
soldiers seemed to have money. At any rate, when the blizzard was
over, we took down our tents and moved to the unfinished third floor
of the hotel, which was just about large enough so that all could lie
down at night. There were only about seventy of us, counting cooks,
teamsters and "dog-robbers." It was very cold up there on the top
floor at night, but we had plenty of bedding and during the day we
were allowed to sit in the bar and the sitting-room, where there were
stoves. We found it an agreeable change from the camp.

We cooked our own meals and ate them where we could, but the
proprietor, who seemed a very shrewd sort of person, served some meals
in the dining-room at fifty cents per head, at which we got fried
bacon, corn bread, flap jacks and coffee sweetened with molasses,
which was all he had to offer. He had some soft drinks at the bar,
cigars and tobacco and a few candies and crackers. I do not know
whether he had any liquor. If he did, he never sold any of it to the
soldiers. He had his cook make large quantities of corn bread and
often came into the bar-room with slabs of it, shouting: "Who'll have
another section for a quarter!" Our officers occupied rooms on the
second floor of the hotel, and had their meals served there.

The council with the Ponca Indians was held on the day after we had
moved into the hotel. All the soldiers not on guard or other duty to
the number of about fifty, were drawn up under arms in front of the
hotel, when we saw Big Drum and his braves approaching. All of the
officers and soldiers knew the chief. They had also met some of the
other Indians, who had often been at Fort Randall, which was but "one
sleep" (two days ride) from the Ponca Village. The chief, a man of
about fifty years, was the tallest and most powerful member of his
tribe. He was a typical savage in appearance with a large head and
face strongly pock marked. I had seen him at the fort considerably
under the influence of "fire water," which had been given to him by
some of the officers or the sutler.

We noticed that the Indians had come to the council, contrary to
custom, almost fully armed. Some had guns with them, which were but
ill concealed beneath their robes or blankets. Their weapons were
probably loaded, while our guns were not.

Our officers with a few citizens and some interpreters formed a group
about twenty paces in front of the center of our little battalion, and
faced the Indians who out-numbered us more than two to one. While the
"talk" progressed the Indians spread around the flanks, and in rear of
the officers, practically surrounding them. Had any trouble occurred
we would have had to fire in their direction, and perhaps kill our own
officers. We wondered at the unwise and negligent arrangements of our
corpulent commander. I think the other officers noted it, for when the
council was continued on the following day, our guns were loaded, our
officers kept close to the front of our ranks, and the Indians were
not allowed to spread around the flanks. At the close of the second
day of the council Big Drum surrendered four Indians as prisoners.
They were disarmed, and put in the guard-house, which was a small
out-building belonging to the hotel.

About three days after the council, we commenced our return march to
Fort Randall, taking with us the Indian prisoners, who marched in rear
of the column with the camp guard. We crossed the Missouri on the ice
and marched up on the east bank, where the land was more level and the
distance somewhat shorter owing to the curvature of the river towards
the west. We crossed the Vermillion River, almost without noticing it,
where it passed through a piece of prairie. The snow being so deep
that the banks were scarcely distinguishable. We accomplished the
distance in three days' marching, and were fortunate not to encounter
a snow storm.

About noon on the last day of the march, I succumbed to the severe
fatigue of marching through the deep snow for the first time during my
service. I was exhausted and unable to go further. I was put into one
of the sleighs, hauled by six mules, into which some other worn out
and half frozen soldiers had preceded me. We arrived at the fort after
dark, where I discovered that some of my toes on both feet were badly
frozen. It was about three weeks before I was able to do duty again. A
number of the soldiers had been frost-bitten, but none seriously.

After a while Big Drum, accompanied by some Indians of his tribe, came
to the fort, and remained for some time. He had several interviews
with the colonel in command, which finally resulted in the four Indian
prisoners being set free.

No further trouble occurred during the remainder of the winter. I
began to count the days that remained before the expiration of my
service on March 31, 1859. When the day arrived I received my
discharge from the service, but remained with my company as their
guest until I could get transportation to the States. A soldier of my
company whose term of service had expired about the same time as mine,
had built himself a staunch boat with two paddle wheels to be worked
by hand power. He proposed to descend the Missouri in this boat to St.
Louis, and invited me to make the journey with him. However, I
preferred to wait for a steamboat. He started on his trip alone about
the middle of April, but we never heard how he got along.

The ice in the Missouri broke up about a week earlier than usual, and
the latter part of April I began to make frequent ascents of some of
the highest hills about Fort Randall. From their summits I could look
for many miles down the river and watch for a steamboat, for I was
impatient to return to civilization. Finally the boat arrived on the
evening of the first day of May, somewhat sooner than we had expected
her. On this boat came Major James Longstreet, who was a paymaster in
the United States Army and destined to become a Lieutenant General in
the Confederate Army, and a conspicuous figure all through the war of
the Rebellion.

Major Longstreet, with the assistance of his clerk, J. T. Bradley,
paid off the troops at the fort next morning. I received all my due
pay, and my retained pay of two dollars per month. The retained pay
was the amount held back by the Government from each soldier since the
pay had been raised in 1854, to be given to him at the expiration of
his service. I also received more than fifty dollars, which I had
saved on my clothing allowance and mileage to New York City, the place
of my enlistment. All this amounted to over three hundred
dollars--quite a sum of money for a boy not eighteen years old. It
made me feel wealthy. From the pay of every soldier throughout his
service there was a monthly deduction of twelve and a half cents,
which went towards the maintenance of the Soldiers' Home at
Washington, D.C., an institution of great benefit to old and indigent

I engaged cabin passage on the steamer to St. Louis, as did a few
other discharged soldiers, among them Sergeant John Brown of my
company, whom I had first met as cockswain of the Governor's Island
barge. Sergeant Brown had re-enlisted, and was going on a furlough.
Later on he was made an Ordnance Sergeant. A few other discharged and
furloughed soldiers took deck passage. I had sold or given away my
clothing and bedding, and bought a suit of citizens' clothing at the
sutler's store--regular wild western store clothes. I took with me a
collection of Indian pipes, moccasins, bows and arrows, etc., and
about three days after the arrival of the steamboat, I bade farewell
to my comrades and to the officers of my company, receiving some good
advice from Captain Gardner.

Many of my comrades advised me to remain in the west, and grow up with
the country; and I came near doing so, but a strong desire to go to
New York and see my mother overcame all other considerations. I was
still very young, hopeful and ambitious to succeed in civil life, and
I was strong and healthy in spite of the hardship and sufferings I had
endured in my tender years.

I little thought at that time that in a year I should re-enlist and
serve in the same company throughout the Civil War, in the Army of the
Potomac. Neither did I think that I was too young and inexperienced at
that time for success in civil life, or that it would require another
term of service of harder experience to mature and prepare me for a
permanent career outside of the army.

There were a few furloughed officers on the steamboat, among them
Brevet Major Henry W. Wessells of my regiment, an estimable officer
who was taking his eldest son, H. W. Wessells, Jr., whom I knew very
well, to place in a school at Danbury, Connecticut. Young Wessells
became a Second Lieutenant in the Army in 1865, while his father was
retired as a Lieutenant Colonel and Brevet Brigadier General in 1871.

We took many passengers on the way down the river, some of them very
interesting and talkative people, but Major Longstreet and his clerk,
Bradley, led the conversations at the steamer's public dining-table.
They were not only the most interesting talkers but received the most
respectful attention.

I had not been many days on the river, when I was afflicted with the
chills and fever again, and had to keep to my berth a great part of
the time. It seemed as though I was to suffer from that or dumb-ague
every time I traveled on this river. There was no doctor on the boat,
but an elderly colored man, the chief steward, heard of my illness and
came to see me. He assured me that he could cure me with three doses
of medicine, so I would never have the fever again. For this he
sagaciously demanded five dollars in advance. I was desperate, so I
gave him the money and told him to go ahead. He brought me a dose of
medicine, which was the vilest stuff I ever tasted and made me feel
very sick. After an interval of a day he brought me another dose,
which tasted so much worse than the first and made me feel so ill that
no amount of his persuasion could induce me to take his third dose. I
vowed that I would rather have the ague for ever after than to take
his medicine. About this time we had reached Leavenworth, where I
spent about half a day on shore. I began to feel better, and before I
reached St. Louis I was entirely well.

At one of the towns along the river a gentleman and his son from
Cleveland or Rochester, who were traveling on business in the west,
took passage for St. Louis and struck up an acquaintance with me. The
elder man seemed to be greatly interested in my experience in the
Indian country, and before we reached St. Louis he invited me to visit
him. He hinted that he would charge himself with my future, if I would
go with him; but I declined. I was too much bent on getting back to
New York, where I hoped to build up my future by my own efforts.

The river was high, and we had a quick passage to St. Louis, where my
companion, Sergeant Brown, and I stayed for two days, seeing, after so
long in the wilderness, the sights of a large city. We left St. Louis
for New York on a Saturday afternoon, and arrived at Cincinnati on
Sunday morning, where we had to lie over until midnight as no trains
went out on Sunday. With a few changes of cars, we reached New York,
where we separated, and I went home.



It is not my intention to describe in detail my experiences as a
civilian during the period between my first and second enlistments,
but to restrict this story to my army career. I will only state here
that my lack of knowledge of civil life made it hard for me to obtain
any remunerative or permanent employment. I made all kinds of efforts,
answering advertisements by letter or in person; in the latter case
often finding a crowd of applicants ahead of me, most of whom had some
experience in the kind of work offered. I often walked the streets
looking for work and felt heartsick and discouraged at my failure to
find employment. My little stock of money diminished day by day
although I practiced the strictest economy, spending a few pennies for
a mid-day meal when I was tramping about the city. After a time,
during the summer, I found occasional employment; but it was not until
fall that I secured a steady job where, however, the hours were long,
the pay small and the work uncongenial.

About the middle of March, 1860, I was visited by two discharged
soldiers from my company who had also come to New York, their former
home, in search of employment, but without success. They had made up
their minds to re-enlist and asked me to join them. I considered the
matter carefully, and seeing no prospects for advancement, finding
myself poorer financially than if I had remained in the service, and
having a real fondness for a soldier's life, I decided to give up my
employment and try my fortune once more in the military service.

On the twenty-fourth day of March, 1860, my two comrades and I
re-enlisted to serve for five years in the United States Army. The
recruiting office was in Chatham Street (now called Park Row), New
York city. First Lieutenant Thomas W. Sweeney of my old company was
the recruiting officer. He remembered us, seemed glad to have us
return to the service and promised to see to it that we would be
restored to our former regiment and company. It was just one year,
lacking a week, since I had been discharged at Fort Randall, Nebraska
Territory. My age at my re-enlistment was nineteen years, less three

We passed the medical examination, were sworn into the service by a
notary, and on the same day were sent to Governor's Island, New York
harbor. As I was no longer a musician I was assigned to quarters in
the upper casemates of Castle Williams, along with a number of raw
recruits. I found no changes or improvements on the island since I had
left it more than five years before; it seemed the same as I have
already described it, only the officers had all been changed. Major T.
H. Holmes of the Eighth Infantry was in command.

In a few days I drew my kit and clothing at the quartermaster's stores
and had to commence drilling along with other recruits who were being
instructed by the drill-sergeants in their facings, marching, etc. The
officer in command of the drilling squads soon discovered that I was
well versed in all that was to be taught the recruits and detailed me
to take a few of the stupidest of the lot to one side and try to
instruct them. I disliked drilling this awkward squad, as it was very
trying to my patience. They did not seem to know the left foot from
the right; and when ordered to keep their heads up, out would go their
stomachs. When it came to an "about face," some of them fell over

One afternoon a comrade and myself were detailed for fatigue duty to
dig a grave for a soldier who had died in the hospital. We were
supplied with pick and shovel and conducted to the island graveyard by
a sergeant who marked out the location and the dimensions of the grave
and then left, after admonishing us to be sure to have the job
finished before two o'clock in the afternoon, when the funeral was to
take place. Neither my comrade nor I had ever handled a pick or shovel
before and we found the work hard. It was a warm day in April. We soon
grew tired and felt very hot and dry. Opportunely the sutler's store
was close by and beer by the glass was sold there. We found it
necessary to refresh ourselves several times during the forenoon and
to take a good long rest at noon-time. At two o'clock we were still
digging when we heard the drums and fifes playing the dead-march and
saw the funeral approaching from the hospital close by. The procession
entered the graveyard and lined up at the grave; the corpse was ready,
but we were not, for we had dug a hole only about four feet deep.
After a scolding we were ordered to quit--much to our satisfaction. A
couple of strong and husky Irishmen soon dug the hole to the required
depth of six feet and the ceremonies were completed.

After a few weeks I was transferred from the castle to the garrison,
where both the quarters and food were better. As I understood all the
necessary drill, a rifle and accoutrements were issued to me and I had
to take my turn at guard duty twice a week. I well remember that, the
first time I was a sentinel on post, I was stationed on the shore
facing Brooklyn, in front of some store houses, where I paced for two
hours at a time and then was relieved and had four hours off before
going on post again. In the day-time I could interest myself in
watching the movements of steamboats and small craft on the river, but
at night it was lonesome and the time on post seemed much longer. We
had a little rest at night, during the four hours off, when we lay
down on a hard wooden platform in the guard-house which was built for
that purpose. We had to keep all our clothing and accoutrements on,
and were generally disturbed after midnight by sentinel number one in
front of the guard-house calling out, "Turn out the guard for the
officer of the day" when we hurried out, formed ranks and were
inspected by the officer of the day, who usually made the rounds of
all the sentinels on the different posts at that hour.

There was on the island at that time a sergeant with a Polish name who
had the immediate charge of the raw recruits. He was a martinet, a
tyrannical bully in his treatment of the poor and ignorant recruits,
who feared and hated him, but he was artful enough to keep aloof from
the old soldiers who understood their rights and privileges. He seemed
to be the most detested non-commissioned officer in the army.

I was impatient to rejoin my regiment on the frontier and to get away
from Governor's Island, where my former experience was not a happy
one; but it was not until early in June that a detachment of recruits
for the Ninth Infantry, then serving in Oregon, was ready to depart.
With this detachment of one hundred and fifty, another of fifty,
destined for the Second United States Infantry, stationed in Dakota
Territory, was to travel a part of the way. I secured a pass to be
absent for forty-eight hours and went to the city to bid farewell to
my mother and friends. One morning a few days later we formed on the
parade ground, fully equipped with knapsack, haversack, tin cup, tin
plate, knife, fork and spoon, a canteen and three days' rations of
boiled salt pork and hard bread stowed in our haversacks; but without
arms. We were escorted to the wharf by the post band, playing the
usual airs, and embarked on a steamboat for the Erie Railroad depot in
Jersey City.

Upon our arrival at the railroad depot we found a special train
waiting to take us out West. The soldiers traveled in emigrant cars
with bare wooden seats, very uncomfortable to ride in and very
fatiguing, as we could sleep but little in our cramped positions. My
experience on this journey was similar to that of my first trip West
five years before. We lived on our rations with a quart-cupful of hot
coffee with milk twice a day at some of the stations.

Upon arriving at Chicago the fifty recruits for the Second United
States Infantry, of whom I was one, changed cars for St. Louis,
Missouri, while the larger party kept on West as far as the railroad
went and then had a long march across the plains to Oregon. From St.
Louis we went South a few miles by cars to Jefferson Barracks, on the
west bank of the Mississippi River, where we arrived about the middle
of June. There were few soldiers at the barracks at that time, about a
dozen reenlisted men awaiting an opportunity to rejoin their
regiments, like myself, and a few score recruits in addition to our
detachment. The barracks was pleasantly situated on high ground
overlooking the river and was quite extensive. The country round about
was sparsely settled, with large stretches of still uncultivated land
and woods. A good road led to the village of Carondelet about half-way
to St. Louis. Midway between the barracks and the village was a tavern
called "The Stone House," which was much frequented by the soldiers.

I was appointed lance-corporal and helped to drill the recruits. I was
also corporal of the guard about once a week and, as such, posted and
relieved the sentinels. This gave me plenty of spare time for roving
about the country, and for fishing and swimming in the Mississippi
River. I was exceedingly fond of swimming and for nearly three months,
except when on guard, I had a swim immediately after the reveille
roll-call before breakfast, rain or shine. The weather was very hot
that summer and I went into the water generally twice more during the
day and always had a short swim in the evening after sundown to fasten
a fish-line to a snag in the river about fifty yards from the shore,
where I often found a catfish when I examined the line in the morning.
It was pleasant to sit in the cool shade on the river-bank and see
some of the famous Mississippi river steam-boats racing by, for at
that time there were still many boats plying the river and the levee
at St. Louis was crowded with them. Several times I secured a pass for
a twenty-four hours' visit to St. Louis, and walked six or seven miles
to Carondelet a few times without a pass.

Farm produce was very cheap; we improved our rations at very little
expense and lived fairly well during the summer.

Early in September about sixty-five of the recruits destined for the
Second United States Infantry, myself among the number, received
orders to proceed to St. Louis and there to embark on a steamboat for
St. Paul, Minnesota. We boarded the cars of the Iron Mountain Railroad
at the barracks station and rode to St. Louis. It was a long distance
from the railroad depot to the steamboat, which was near the north end
of the levee; the day was hot and I staggered along under my heavily
loaded knapsack and was ready to drop when we reached the steamer. My
excessive swimming had weakened me to an extent that I was not aware

The steamer was a regular passenger and freight boat of the usual
type; there were no bunks nor any kind of accommodations for us and we
had to stay on the lower deck with the freight, spreading out blankets
and sleeping any place we could find room. This proved to be a great
hardship for me, for on the second day of our journey I became ill
with a violent attack of what we called dumb-ague, which lasted until
we reached St. Paul. It seemed that every time I traveled on the
Missouri or the Mississippi rivers I was to have a fever of some sort.
Dr. Andrew K. Smith, our surgeon, dosed me so liberally with quinine
that I was in a stupor, so that my memory is almost a blank regarding
this trip up the river. I could not eat the rations, but, fortunately,
had some money and could bribe the cabin cooks to give me nourishing
soup and a few delicacies, for which I was grateful. When we landed at
St. Paul I felt better and was able to march to a camp prepared for us
a few miles from the city, where Sibley tents had been put up and a
train of about twenty army wagons with their six-mule teams were ready
to load up with commissary and quartermaster's stores for Fort
Abercrombie, Dakota Territory, which was our destination.

In a few days we started on our long march, passing through
Minneapolis, and then in a northwesterly direction through a sparsely
settled country to the town of St. Cloud, on the Mississippi, which
dwindled to a small river at that point. Captain Deluzier Davidson,
together with a lieutenant and a surgeon, were the officers of our
detachment. I was still weak, but improved rapidly under the influence
of the healthy atmosphere and the out-of-door life. I could not make a
full day's march, however, although we carried no knapsacks; sometimes
I rode the doctor's horse when he wanted to walk, or rode in one of
the wagons when I was tired out. We did not attempt hard marches, but
started at sunrise and generally encamped in the early afternoon, for
Captain Davidson loved his ease and comfort, and there was no
necessity to rush us along. At St. Cloud we rested for a day and
washed our clothing in the river.

A day's march after we left St. Cloud all signs of settlements
disappeared and we saw no more until we came to the town of
Alexandria, a cluster of houses on a lake, about half-way between St.
Paul and Fort Abercrombie. We were now in a country full of lakes,
large and small, some of them were beautiful--the water clear and
teeming with fish. When we arrived at the Otter Tail Lake, which was
larger than any we had seen, we rested for another day and were amazed
at the countless numbers of pelicans that we saw. These birds, when
not fishing, rested on the islands in the lake, completely covering
them, and from a distance it seemed as though they were covered with
snow. We made a sort of seine out of feed bags, sewed together end to
end, about twenty-five feet in length, and fastened to a stick at each
end. Two men would wade into the lake for a short distance, extend
this seine and drag it towards the shore, bringing with them many fish
that struggled and wriggled when they got into shallow water, where we
picked out with our hands such of them as we fancied.

Although we were in the country of the Chippawa Indian, we saw none of
them until we reached Breckenridge, an old trading-post, where we met
a few of the savages. Breckenridge was an easy day's march from Fort
Abercrombie. We had just finished establishing our camp there for the
night when several wagons and a small escort of soldiers arrived and
halted for a while. They were from the fort on their way to St. Paul,
and with them was Captain William M. Gardner of my company, going home
on a six-months' furlough, accompanied by his wife and negro servants.
They rode in a spring wagon (about the size of an ambulance) drawn by
two horses. The captain was somewhat surprised to find me back in the
army again. He talked with me for a long while and mentioned that he
would make me a non-commissioned officer as soon as there was a
vacancy in the company. He advised me to study with a view to being
admitted to the military academy at West Point, and promised to use
his influence, along with that of some other officers, to obtain for
me an "appointment at large" from the President when I could qualify
for admission. Much to my regret, I never saw Captain Gardner again.
He resigned his commission before his furlough expired (while at his
home in Georgia) and joined the Confederate Army.

The next day we arrived at Fort Abercrombie. The fort was situated on
the west bank of the Red River of the North, which here marked the
dividing line between Dakota and Minnesota Territories. This river
flows north and empties into Lake Winnipeg in the British possessions,
while the Mississippi, but little more than a hundred miles to the
east, flows south. The Red river was but a small stream, navigable for
canoes only. The most interesting thing about it and the Wild Rice
river, a tributary a few miles away, were the dams built by beavers,
which were plentiful on both rivers. Muskrats were also abundant.

The place was a fort in name only; it was in a bend of the river,
whose course was marked by a fringe of woods in places, while all else
was a bleak, level prairie as far as the eye could see. Two companies
of my regiment had arrived here from Fort Randall in the spring and
had built the customary log huts, which they were now occupying, in
the woods on the low bottom-land of the river. Two other companies
made the long march from Fort Laramie, via Fort Randall, and had
arrived here in midsummer. These companies were engaged in building
permanent quarters of hewn logs, with board floors and shingled roofs,
on the plateau which formed the edge of the prairie. The soldiers'
quarters consisted of one large room to house an entire company with a
wing for the kitchen and mess-room. These buildings had not yet been
completed upon our arrival and the two companies were in camp in
Sibley tents. It was the end of September, the nights were getting
cold and we had an occasional white frost in the morning; we were a
few degrees further north than at Fort Pierre and on a higher

Our detachment of recruits was apportioned to the different companies
and I rejoined Company D, in which I had served during my first
enlistment. I missed a number of my old comrades--they had been
discharged and had scattered throughout the West--but most of the
former non-commissioned officers had re-enlisted. The first, or
orderly sergeant, as he was also called, had me appointed as company
clerk, which was an easy job and excused me from guard duty and from
work upon the new quarters. This lasted for about two months, when we
had a dispute and I was ordered back to do duty the same as any other

Fort Abercrombie was a dreary, lonesome place. The Chippawa Indians
seldom came there and only in small parties and for a short stay.
Their villages were much farther north--as far as Pembina, near the
British lines.

A paymaster arrived at the post shortly after we did, accompanied by
Major Irving McDowell, who was an assistant inspector general. He was
a fine looking and apparently genial officer. He made a thorough
inspection of the post and the soldiers. I little thought then that I
would next see him in Washington after the battle of Bull Run, a
defeated general. The commander of the post was Major Hannibal Day of
the Second Infantry, a dignified old gentleman with long white hair
and beard and a cold austere look in his eyes. The company commanders
were Captains Christopher S. Lovell and Deluzier Davidson; a first
lieutenant was in command of the third company, and my own was
commanded by Second Lieutenant Wm. H. Jordan of the Ninth Infantry,
who was temporarily attached to my regiment, our captain being absent
on furlough and the first lieutenant on recruiting service in New York
city. A few other second lieutenants and the surgeon made up the
complement of officers at this time.

In October we began to have frosts and some snow; the Sibley tents
were cold and uncomfortable, as no sheet-iron stoves had been provided
and when we attempted to build fires in them the smoke drove us out.
This led to various contrivances to warm our tents. In my own we dug a
deep pit on one side and a covered trench with two lateral branches
extending from it under the dirt floor, with openings outside of the
tent for the smoke to escape from the fire which was built in the pit.
This system of heating kept the tent comfortably warm except when the
wind was contrary.

A great snow-storm and blizzard struck us in November and caused much
suffering. Fortunately our quarters were completed about the end of
the month; we moved in and enjoyed the comfort of sleeping in bunks on
bedsacks filled with dried leaves, and warming ourselves at the two
stoves with which our quarters were provided, although the large room
except directly around the stoves was freezing cold. In January and
February the thermometer sometimes fell to more than forty degrees
below zero. We had a number of frost-bite cases in our little
log-house hospital--some of them very severe--before our unsympathetic
post commander issued an order to relieve all sentinels except Post
No. 1, in front of the guard-house, who, with the temperature twenty
degrees minus zero, was to be relieved every thirty minutes.

I had to take my tour of guard duty about once a week and was on post
for two hours at a time with four hours off. I was warmly clothed, but
when the temperature was down to thirty or lower I was chilled to the
bone in less than an hour. In the night I often leaned my gun against
a snowbank and beat my hands against my shoulders vigorously and ran
to and fro the extent of my beat to keep my feet from freezing. On my
hands I wore a pair of heavy woolen gloves and over them mittens made
of buffalo skin with the hair on the inside, yet my fingers became so
numb with the cold that, if I had had occasion to fire off my gun, I
could not have reloaded it. From a board fence close to my post the
intense cold forced out nails, which whirred through the air with a
whizzing sound.

Wolves were plentiful; they came howling around our kitchens at night
and close to the sentinels--less than a hundred feet away sometimes,
when I shouted and rushed at them with my bayonet to scare them away.
When a horse or a mule died, he was dragged out on the prairie a short
distance and there devoured by the wolves. Traps were set in the snow
about the carcass and many wolves were caught, while the others picked
the bones clean.

I was frequently excused from the severe guard duty by being selected
as commanding officer's orderly. This was a reward for the soldier
whose clothing, arms and equipment the adjutant considered the
cleanest and neatest. A speck of rust or a small spot on the clothing
often put a man out of the race. There was great rivalry for this
selection among the soldiers, for the orderly had an easy time. He
could sit in a warm room in the commanding officer's quarters, carry a
few messages during the day and sleep in his own bunk all night.

During the long, dreary winter we kept within doors, when not on duty,
for the inclemency of the weather permitted but little out-of-door
exercise. In compliance with Captain Gardner's advice, I borrowed
text-books from Lieutenant Jordan, who was but lately from West Point,
also from some other officers, and studied them all through the winter
during my spare time. Some soldiers read papers and magazines, but the
favorite pastime was playing checkers and cards; the games were
euchre, seven-up, forty-five and poker, at which the stakes were dried
beans instead of money.

An enterprising citizen established an express service between St.
Paul and Fort Abercrombie with way-stations for the changing of
drivers and horses. This gave us a mail service once a week, when the
weather permitted, and kept us in touch with the world. The expressman
took orders from us for any articles we wished from St. Paul and
brought up the packages, as well as goods for the sutler.

There was a Scotchman in my company, whom we called Sandy, who was an
excellent cook and a born caterer. During the winter he proposed to
get up a dinner to be followed by dancing in the company's mess-room.
Permission was obtained for "Sandy's ball," as we called it; most of
the company subscribed, as well as some soldiers from the other
companies. Sandy shrewdly collected the cash and gave no credit, then
he sent to St. Paul for stone china dishes, for we had only tin cups
and plates in our mess-room. He ordered hams, tongues, sardines,
pickles, preserves, lemons, etc., not forgetting a few dozen bottles
of American champagne, which had been carefully packed with sawdust
into barrels both for safety and concealment. These goods arrived in
due time and Sandy was a busy man, cooking hams and venison and baking
pies and cakes. We helped him put up a few decorations and a lot of
candles around the walls.

All was ready when the eventful evening arrived. The dinner was to be
at eight o'clock, followed by dancing until midnight, with two
fiddlers and a flute player to furnish the music. A half dozen
soldiers' wives were the only ladies present; but we had as many more
of the younger men dressed up in borrowed female clothes. The dinner
was voted a great success and we lauded Sandy. We had bottled ale from
the sutler's and topped off with whiskey punch, which continued to be
served throughout the evening. Then the tables and benches were moved
into a corner, the dishes piled on them, and the dancing commenced.

Everything went well for a while and we had lots of fun, until trouble
started between the fiddlers. One of them, Mike Burns, had partaken of
too much punch and wanted to play an Irish jig, while his German
partner held out for a waltz. This enraged Mike so that he exclaimed,
"Oi despises no nation, but damn the Dutch!" and smashed his fiddle
over his partner's head. The combatants were separated, Mike was put
out, order restored and the dancing resumed. While the dance went on
Sandy had been busy in the kitchen selling Ohio champagne to the
soldiers at steep prices. This, together with liberal quantities of
whiskey punch, began to show its effects and the fun became fast and
furious, until near midnight a fight started in one end of the room
and in a moment a dozen or more of the soldiers were in the midst of
it. Bottles and dishes were thrown about the room; the women screamed
and rushed for the door; Sandy was up on a table waving his arms and
shouting, "Quit yer fechting! dinna be breaking me dishes, I'm a puir
mon," when the table upset and he went down to the floor among his
broken dishes. The officer of the day and a few files of the guard,
together with the corporal, now made their appearance and quelled the
disturbance. All those who showed marks of having been fighting or
were drunk were marched off to the guard-house and all others ordered
to their quarters.

Sandy's ball had a sad sequel for him. He was a canny Scot and took
good care of his bawbees (pence), saving much of his pay for some
years, and it was assumed that he had made money out of the ball. A
few weeks later, during midwinter, Sandy was missing for nearly a week
and when he was at last brought back to the post in the express sleigh
he had to be put into the hospital with his feet so badly frozen that
all of his toes on both feet had to be amputated. He remained in the
hospital until spring, when he was able to go about on crutches. He
was then dishonorably discharged, forfeiting his pay due and all
allowances. In the woods close to the post we built a shack for him to
live in, also a stable, for he bought some cows and had them sent up
from the settlements. There he made his living by selling milk and
butter to the soldiers and ice cream, at which he was an adept. By the
time we left the post he had discarded his crutches and was able to
hobble about on his stumps.

Newspapers kept us informed of what transpired in the southern states
after Lincoln's election to the presidency in November; how the
violent threats of the south culminated in the secession of South
Carolina from the Union on December twentieth, 1860, soon to be
followed by other southern states. We read how Major Anderson
transferred his small force from Fort Moultry to Sumpter, and about
the firing on the steamer "Star of the West" with reinforcements for
Fort Sumpter. We also heard that the Secretary of War, John B. Floyd,
was accused of robbing the Indian Trust Funds and of depleting the
Northern arsenals of arms and ammunition and of sending them south
while still in office; also how in February General Twiggs
traitorously surrendered the Seventh United States Infantry and other
troops serving in Texas to the Confederacy; and how the rank and file
refused the inducements held out to them to join the Confederate army,
but were paroled and later on exchanged and did valiant service in the
Union army, while a large number of their officers joined the standard
of the enemy. We discussed these events earnestly and were much
stirred when we learned that Fort Sumpter had been bombarded on April
twelfth and evacuated by Major Anderson. We then understood that this
was the commencement of war.

Militia soldiers from Pennsylvania reached Washington a few days later
and on the fifteenth of April the President called out seventy-five
thousand volunteers to serve for three months. Another proclamation of
the President, dated May third for an increase of the regular army by
twenty-two thousand and of the navy by eighteen thousand, was read to
us on dress parade. In the meantime hundreds of the officers of the
regular army had resigned their commissions and nearly all joined the
Confederacy, among them my captain and some other officers of my
regiment. To the credit of the rank and file be it said that, with
very few exceptions, they remained loyal to the Government in the hour
of its need. We began to wonder whether we were likely to take any
part in putting down the rebellion before it was over, or whether we
were to remain here in the Indian country.

Spring had come. When the snow had melted and the prairie became dry,
we began to drill from three to four hours each day except on Saturday
afternoons and Sundays. We had company, battalion, skirmish and
bayonet drills, as well as target practice, and in a few months we
became very expert in all of them. I was fond of the free action in
skirmish drill, but did not like drilling in close formation. I also
liked the bayonet exercise, and at target practice few could show a
better score.

When not on duty we spent much of our time at the river, fishing, and
swimming after the water had become warm enough. A favorite diversion
was to go up the river a few miles and build a small raft of sticks to
hold our clothes, swimming and pushing the raft before us down the
current which flowed through shady woods. A small party of Chippawa
Indians and squaws appeared a few times during the early summer and
danced for rations, which was the only thing that relieved the
monotony at this post.

We read of small engagements that had taken place between the opposing
forces in various parts of the country and that an army was being
concentrated at Washington, where two companies of our regiment from
Fort Snelling, Minnesota, had gone. We envied these companies; they
had a chance to see something of the war, which would soon be over, as
we imagined, while we fretted and chafed in this lonely, far-off
place, seemingly forgotten by the Government. At last, about the
middle of July, we received the joyful news that two companies of the
Second Minnesota Volunteers were on the way from St. Paul to relieve
us and that we were ordered to Washington. In a few days the two
companies arrived, weary and footsore from their long march. Most of
them were very young lads who, though strong and hearty, were
unaccustomed to marching on the burning hot prairies in midsummer.
They had arms and accoutrements, but as yet no uniforms. We gave them
a hearty reception, fraternized with them and helped to make them
comfortable in their camp until they could occupy our quarters.

We packed our dress uniforms, hats and surplus clothing into
packing-cases from the quartermaster's department, which were received
some time after our arrival in Washington. In a few days our
wagon-train was made up, we put our knapsacks on board, and left Fort
Abercrombie without any regrets, early on a forenoon, amidst mutual
cheering and a salute of "Present arms!" from the battalion of
volunteers. All of the officers' ladies, as they called themselves,
and the soldiers' wives and children went with us, riding in
ambulances and in the army wagons.

Our first day's march ended at Breckenridge; our second day's march
was a much longer one--we pursued about the same route as in the
previous fall when we came up from St. Paul, but did not have the
short marches we had enjoyed with the easy-going Captain Davidson. We
soon found out that Major Hannibal Day was forcing us along at a rate
of from twenty-four to thirty miles a day, which was very severe in
the scorching heat of a July sun on the prairies. A number of men gave
out on these long marches and were picked up by the rear-guard and put
into the wagons. To be sure, we were anxious to get to Washington
before the war would be over, but we did not want to kill ourselves in
trying to get there. The men cursed the Major for an old tyrant, not
loud but very deep.

We had completed about one-half of our journey to St. Paul when we
encountered the express wagon carrying the mail to Fort Abercrombie
and from newspapers received learned of the disaster and rout of the
Union Army at Bull Run. This sad news staggered us--we could scarcely
believe it. The northern press, from which we derived our information
and shaped our opinions, had boasted so much about the patriotism and
valor of the militia, who so promptly responded to the President's
first call for troops, that we had fondly believed a single real
battle would be enough to give the Confederacy a terrible lesson and
break up the rebellion. We were indignant at the conduct of some of
the Union troops, as we then understood it, the news of Bull Run cast
a deep gloom over our battalion and we realized that we were likely to
arrive at Washington in ample time to see something of the war.

Major Day, upon whom we looked as a very unfeeling man, allowed us
some unusual privileges on this march. At St. Cloud a brewery had been
erected, and when we were within four days' march of the town one
forenoon we met a two-horse wagon loaded with kegs of lager beer,
packed in ice and carefully covered over to shield it from the fierce
rays of the sun. There was a man on the wagon beside the driver who,
we noticed, had some talk with the Major and then turned the wagon
around and followed our column until we halted for a rest, when we
learned that each man who desired to do so might purchase a quart cup
of beer for ten cents (a non-commissioned officer saw to it that no
one got more than a quart). A rush was made for the beer wagon and keg
after keg was tapped. It tasted delicious and cheered us. The officers
also drank it, sending their servants for it; indeed, old Major Day,
himself, did not disdain it. The beer wagon met us every day
thereafter, near noontime, all the way down to St. Paul, and when it
appeared we halted for a longer rest at the next convenient place and
ate our lunch.

The Union sentiment was strong in the few small settlements through
which we passed. At St. Cloud, where we encamped about a mile from
town and rested for a day, the citizens gave us a generous welcome. A
lady named Jane G. C. Swisshelm, who edited a newspaper there called
"The Visitor," assisted by a committee of citizens and accompanied by
the St. Cloud band, drove out to our camp, bringing with them a fine
lunch and kegs of beer, for which we were very grateful. We gave her
and the citizens of St. Cloud three rousing cheers when they departed.

The last day's march but one brought us to Minneapolis, where we
encamped for the night on some fields just outside of the town, too
tired and worn out to care for anything but to lie down and rest. This
had been the hardest day's march of all--Major Day had made us cover
thirty-two miles. Many men dropped out along the dusty road, overcome
by the heat and fatigue; some fell asleep in shady places and did not
reach camp until midnight. I was one of only a third of my company
that was able to keep in the ranks until we reached camp. As the race
is not always to the swift, so marching is not always the forte of the
biggest and strongest men in a company of soldiers.

Next morning we resumed our march somewhat later than was customary,
passing through Minneapolis, which was but a small town then, on to
St. Paul, about ten miles away. The road between the two places had
only farms and a few clusters of houses scattered along it. Upon
arriving at St. Paul we marched to the steamboat wharf with closed
ranks and received much attention and cheering from the citizens. When
our wagon-train arrived, we got our knapsacks and the four companies
boarded a steamboat which was waiting for us; we stowed ourselves away
wherever we could find room, except on the cabin deck, which was
reserved for passengers. There was no railroad at St. Paul then. We
were to go down the Mississippi as far as La Crosse, Wisconsin, and
take the cars there.

We sailed in the early afternoon; the boat was crowded and the weather
very hot. When night came on my bunkie and I, along with others,
spread our blankets on the hurricane deck back of the smokestacks. We
took off our shoes and blouses, used our knapsacks for pillows and the
starry sky for a covering. Being very tired, we were soon in a deep
sleep. During the night I was awakened by a terrific yell and saw that
my bunkie was sitting up, clutching at his chest and roaring with
pain. I was confused, and for a moment I imagined the boat was on
fire, as I saw fiery sparks in the air. We soon discovered the cause
of the trouble. A large red-hot cinder from the smokestack (the boat
burned wood for fuel and had high-pressure engines) had lodged on his
bare breast through his open shirt and burned him severely enough to
raise a large blister. We moved our bed to a safer place and slept
peacefully for the remainder of the hot night.

Early in the afternoon on the following day we disembarked at La
Crosse, where we noticed a train made up of one passenger car and a
lot of empty box cars which was apparently waiting for us. We were
indignant and loudly expressed our determination not to enter these
cars and travel like cattle. The officers who, no doubt, overheard us,
must have been of the same opinion, for we were not ordered into the
cars but stacked arms and waited about three hours until a number of
cars with hard wooden seats came along to replace the others. We
embarked and started for Chicago.

After a weary night we arrived in Chicago the next day, where a change
of cars was made, much for the better, as we got cushioned seats this
time. We remained there about two hours and during that time crowds of
citizens surrounded us and served us with coffee, sandwiches and pies,
and presented us with cigars and tobacco. At Chicago we lost two men
by desertion--the only ones on the entire trip. We also lost Captain
Davidson, who remained behind and later on resigned his commission. He
was an elderly man, very corpulent and unable to stand the hardships
of a campaign.

All through the loyal western states across which we traveled there
had been an uprising for the Union. The people were enthusiastic and
gave us a hearty welcome wherever we stopped. At a town in Indiana,
where we arrived near midnight, the citizens must have been informed
of our coming. The station platform was crowded with people and they
had a band playing patriotic airs. A group of young ladies, all
dressed in white and wearing red-white-and-blue sashes, sang "The Star
Spangled Banner" for us. Since the news of defeat at Bull Run the
people were ready to make any sacrifice; the Northern papers clamored
for the formation of a new army and an immediate advance "on to
Richmond." It must have been during the time of this national
excitement and enthusiasm that Josh Billings wrote the memorable
words, "The Union must and shall be preserved, if I sacrifice all my
wife's relations."

On our arrival in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in the forenoon, the depot
was jammed with people. Provisions enough for a feast and baskets of
fruit were brought into our cars; it seemed as though everyone in the
crowd wished to do something for us. After leaving Harrisburg we
received orders to load our rifles, for there were rumors of expected
trouble in Baltimore while the troops were traversing the city from
one depot to another, for at this time the trains did not pass through
to the Washington depot and it was necessary to march a long distance
through the streets of the city. We reached Baltimore about four in
the afternoon, formed ranks in the street, fixed bayonets and marched
by fours in close order with the venerable Major Hannibal Day leading
us. We carried our knapsacks, haversacks and canteens; we were dusty
and dirty and bronzed by the hot sun on our recent march across the
prairies. There were four companies of us and we looked more seasoned
and determined than the militia troops that had passed through
Baltimore before. We marched silently, only words of command being
heard. There were many people on the streets regarding us with close
attention. Sometimes a ruffian yelled out, "Bull Run!" which provoked
no reply from us. A large, red-headed woman leaning out of a
third-story window shouted, "Three cheers for Jeff Davis!" but got
very scant encouragement from the people in the street.

We reached the depot without having any trouble, but were kept waiting
there a long time and it was quite dusk in the evening when we
embarked for Washington, arriving at the national capitol late in the
evening. In Washington we formed ranks and marched to the "Soldiers'
Rest," a large shed-building north of the capitol and but a short
distance from it, where newly arrived troops received food and rested
for a short time before going to their camps or quarters. The place
had a board floor on which we spread our blankets. We were glad to
stretch ourselves for we were very tired and stiff after our ride of
three days and nights in a cramped position on the narrow seats of the
cars. I think I fell asleep as soon as I lay down, and no ordinary
noise could have waked me up before morning.



When I awoke on my first morning in Washington, I hastened out of
doors to have a look around. The first prominent object I saw was the
great white capitol building, the steel ribs of its unfinished dome
strongly outlined against a clear sky. I took a long look at
everything in view and then answered roll-call and had breakfast in
the "Soldiers' Rest," after which we formed ranks in the street, where
we "stacked arms" and waited for orders, watching meanwhile the
arrival of some volunteer troops who had just come in on the cars and
marched into the "Soldiers' Rest." Troops were beginning to arrive
daily in large numbers in response to the President's call for "four
hundred thousand more." About ten o'clock in the forenoon we received
orders to "fall in" and the four companies separated, being sent to
quarters in different parts of the city.

My company marched up Pennsylvania Avenue toward the White House. On
the way some ladies presented each man with a Havelock, which is a
cover for the forage cap and was made of white muslin and with a hood
to protect the back of the head and neck from the sun's rays. They had
been much worn by English soldiers in India during Major-General Sir
Henry Havelock's time, and looked very fine when an entire regiment
wore them on parade; but in less than a year their use was abandoned,
as they were too conspicuous and kept the air from our necks. Our
march ended at a house on the north side of K, near Eighteenth Street,
which was to be our quarters. It was a three-story and basement
private dwelling of the usual type and was devoid of any furniture. It
belonged to a secessionist and, like a number of others, had been
taken charge of by the Government. We drew rations and did our cooking
in the basement and used the upper floors for sleeping, at night
spreading our blankets on the bare floor. We had only light duties to
perform, which left us plenty of time to wander about the city, visit
the capitol and other public buildings. Only the principal streets in
Washington were paved at this time, the remainder were mud roads
rendered almost impassable in rainy weather by the artillery and army

It was the first week in August; most of the three-months' warriors
had left for their homes and order was being restored. The streets
were patrolled by regulars and all soldiers found in the city without
permission were arrested, taken to a central guard-house and then
returned to their respective commands. General George B. McClellan had
been called to Washington immediately after the battle of Bull Run and
placed in command of the Army of the Potomac. He was busy with his
staff in organizing a great army. Our quarters being but a short
distance from the headquarters of General McClellan, I had frequent
opportunities of seeing him there and also riding through the streets,
followed by a brilliant staff, among whom were a number of foreign
officers in showy uniforms adorned with decorations and much gold
lace. I also saw President Lincoln on the avenue a few times and saw
his boys in Zouave uniforms "playing soldier" with some companions on
the lawn in front of the White House.

There were probably not more than fifty thousand troops in and about
Washington upon our arrival, but they soon began to come in at a rate
of forty thousand a month, so that by the first of November, 1861, the
numbers had reached one hundred and seventy thousand. They were young
men who enlisted for three years or the duration of the war; they were
patriotic and earnest and were not tempted to enlist by the payment of
bounties. These soldiers became the flower of the Army of the Potomac
and, I think, were not equaled by any subsequent levies.

A thousand regular soldiers had preceded our small command to
Washington and about eight hundred of them had been in the engagement
at Bull Run, including some marines. Among them were also the two
companies of our regiment previously mentioned. From them we learned
many details of what occurred on that disastrous day. This small body
of eight hundred regulars and marines were unaffected by the panic and
covered the retreat of the Federal Army. Many of the regulars were
quartered near the then outskirts of the city on the north side in
hastily constructed wooden buildings, which were called Kalorama
Barracks. There were at that time six companies of my regiment in
Washington, also the regiment headquarters and the band. Four other
companies were with the western armies and remained there throughout
the war. During my entire ten years' service I never saw more than six
companies of the regiment together at one time.

After a stay of about two weeks in the K Street house in Washington my
company (D) and Company A were ordered to Georgetown and quartered in
Forrest Hall, a large sized building on the corner of what were then
called High and Gay Streets. This building is still standing at this
date (1913). There was a large entertainment hall on the second floor
with a raised stage at one end and many wooden benches on the floor.
Company A occupied this apartment, while my company took the third
floor, which was divided into rooms. We slept on the bare floors, as
we had done in K Street, but had the additional comfort of some of the
wooden benches to sit on. The first floor was used for a guard-house
with a large room for prisoners brought in by the patrols; the
basement, which had an alley on the rear leading out into Gay Street,
was used for our kitchen.

On the hot day that we moved into this building a severe thunderstorm
broke out in the afternoon and the rain fell in torrents. We thought
this a good opportunity to get a refreshing bath, and as the high roof
of the building could not be overlooked from any of the houses in the
neighborhood, a number of us took off our clothing and ascended to the
roof and remained there until the storm was over; later on we took our
baths in Rock Creek and our swims in the Potomac above the Aqueduct

It was the custom then in the regular army for every private soldier
to serve a term of two weeks as company cook. There were two cooks to
each company, a head cook and an assistant. After serving as assistant
for a week, one then became chef, unless the chef was satisfactory and
desired to remain longer. It often happened that both of the cooks
remained for months; they got no extra pay, but were relieved from all
other duties and had some perquisites in selling soap-grease, if there
was a market for it. It was my hard luck to be detailed as assistant
cook after we arrived at Forrest Hall, much to my disgust. After a
week's service I was declared to be a failure and returned to company

A few days later a vacancy occurred and I was promoted to corporal
with two dollars per month additional pay, making fifteen dollars per
month, for the pay of the army had been raised from eleven to thirteen
dollars per month for a private soldier. About this time we received
four months' pay in greenbacks with coupons attached to the larger
notes--the ten and twenty dollar bills, I think. Heretofore we had
always been paid in gold and silver.

We were busy while in Georgetown; we kept a main guard with a sergeant
at the hall in charge of the prisoners, a corporal and six privates at
the Aqueduct Bridge, and the same at the foot of High Street, where
there was a flat-boat rope ferry to Analostan Island in the Potomac
opposite Georgetown. The two companies in Georgetown did not have
their full complement of men; some had been detailed as clerks in the
War Department, and others as orderlies at army headquarters on "extra
duty," as it was called. This made us somewhat short on the "present
for duty" number and caused a tour of twenty-four hours on guard every
three days or less. We also did considerable drilling in company and
skirmish drills, sometimes brigade drills and a few reviews for
General McClellan and staff. We had to patrol the streets of
Georgetown from eight A.M. till ten P.M. for two hours on and two off.
The patrol was a squad of eight privates under a sergeant or a
corporal, often accompanied by an officer in the daytime. This patrol
had authority to enter saloons and other places and search them for
soldiers and demand their passes; every soldier on the street was
halted, and if he had no pass or a poor excuse he was told to fall
into the ranks and march with the patrol until it repassed or returned
to the main guard, where he was turned over to the sergeant, who
recorded his name, company and regiment and then locked him up. There
was, however, considerable leniency both on the part of the officers
and the non-commissioned officers in command of the patrol; if the
soldier were sober and had some sort of a plausible excuse, he was
often simply ordered to get out of town quickly and return to his
camp. It was the drunks that gave us trouble, when we tried to march
them in the ranks. In some extreme cases we took them to the
guard-house in a borrowed hand-cart. One day the patrol arrived just
in time to save the "Eagle Bakery," where a drunken soldier was
wrecking the place because he failed to get a baked eagle he had

About this time a very young officer named William Kidd, who belonged
to a prominent New York family, joined my company as second
lieutenant. He was a civil appointee and knew very little about drill
or military matters in general, but was trying to learn. He was well
liked by the men for his genial nature. Often when I was on patrol
with him he would say, "Now, Corporal, you head her in any direction
you like and don't march too fast." He let many a soldier off with a
reprimand such as, "If I catch you in town again without a pass I'll
have you court-martialed and shot before sunrise." Sometimes he
stopped at a cigar store and bought cigars for the patrol, which he
handed to us when we were dismissed. Lieutenant Kidd, to our great
regret and sorrow, was killed in less than a year at the second battle
of Bull Run.

One evening I received word from a friend, a sergeant of a New York
regiment which was encamped a short distance from Georgetown on the
Tennalytown road that he had been arrested by the patrol and wished me
to try and have him released so that he might return to his camp that
night, as he feared that if he was returned to his regiment from the
central guard-house it would mean the loss of his sergeant's stripes
and reduction to the ranks. I implored the sergeant of our main guard
to release him, but he refused as he had just reported the number of
his prisoners to the officer of the day. He agreed, however, to make
an exchange with me if I brought him another prisoner when I went out
on patrol from eight to ten that evening. I started out with my squad
at the appointed time. It was a stormy night, the wind howled and the
rain beat fiercely upon us; the streets seemed deserted and there were
no soldiers in sight. Instead of resting at times in a sheltered
place, as we were accustomed to do in bad weather, I kept my patrol
moving and visited most of the places where soldiers were in the habit
of congregating, despite the grumbling of my squad. Our time was
nearly up and I had encountered but two or three soldiers, whom I
could not arrest as they showed me passes. I was in despair, when
suddenly, while passing along Bridge Street on our return to the
guard-house, I caught a glimpse of a blue uniform in the back room of
a saloon, through a partly opened door. I halted my squad and went
into the saloon, where I found a soldier asleep on a chair. I shook
him and demanded to see his pass. He was mildly inebriated, but
managed to explain that he was on duty as a nurse in the hospital
close by and did not require a pass in Georgetown, but not having a
pass was enough for me. I took him out, put him into the ranks and
turned him over to the sergeant of the guard in exchange for my
friend, who hurried off to his camp. The man I arrested was soon
released by the sergeant when he satisfied him as to the truth of his

Every morning at eight o'clock when the guard was relieved, the old
guard was obliged to take the prisoners picked up during the
twenty-four hours and march them to the Central Guard-House in
Washington, situated just off Pennsylvania Avenue near the market.
This was a long and tiresome tramp after a night on guard. We often
had a couple of dozen prisoners, some of them unruly and others
scarcely able to march after their spree. After our return from the
Central guard-house the old guard was excused from duty and rested
until retreat that evening. The men whom we arrested in the streets
were volunteer soldiers, almost without exception, from the different
camps about Washington.

Occasionally I was corporal of the main guard at Forrest Hall and was
surprised to observe the effect of drink on the prisoners at different
times. They were all locked up together in one large room with a
sentinel outside of the door. The prisoners from our own command, when
we had any, were confined in a smaller room. In the large room the
prisoners were sometimes hilarious and noisy with laughter, while at
other times they were sad and melancholy, many of them crying for
"home and mother," and others shedding silent tears. At still other
times they seemed to have imbibed fighting whiskey and were
quarrelsome, fighting fiercely among themselves or against the guard
who had to go in and separate them; some we could only subdue by tying
their limbs. It was a job we did not relish. Some of them threw
bottles at the guards and other objects which had escaped the
sergeant's search at the time of their admission.

Our two companies had the free run of Georgetown to go where we
pleased when not on duty, but if we crossed the Rock Creek bridge and
went into Washington without a pass, we were in turn liable to be
arrested by the provost-guard's patrol and put into the Central
guard-house. We were well posted on the time and route of the patrols
and knew how to elude them.

Another of our duties was to furnish an escort to the cemetery for all
the soldiers who died in what was called the Seminary Hospital located
at Georgetown. The cemetery was in the grounds of the Soldiers' Home,
a long way from Georgetown, a very tiresome march over a poor road. At
these funerals there was no music or ceremony of any kind; no one but
the escort of eight privates and a corporal marched with the ambulance
which carried the corpse. On the arrival at the cemetery we found only
grave-diggers constantly busy digging graves for the many soldiers who
died in the hospitals or camps in or about Washington. The coffin was
unloaded and left on the ground beside the grave to await the leisure
of the grave-diggers; the escort fired the three customary rounds of
blank cartridges over the coffin and hurried away. At some distance
from the cemetery, where the road was lonely, we climbed into the
ambulance and rode to the outskirts of Georgetown. During the winter
when the weather was bad and the mud ankle-deep on the road, the
escort took their chances and halted the ambulance near a road-house
about half-way, fired the three rounds and waited at the road-house
playing cards until the driver, whom they bound to secrecy, passed on
his return. This went on for some time until one day a firing squad
was discovered at it and punished.

Towards the close of 1861 many changes had taken place among the
officers of my regiment. Aside from the few who had resigned to join
the Confederate army, nearly all were advanced in rank; colonels and
majors and some captains became brigadier-generals or colonels of
volunteers. The twelve new regiments added to the regular army
absorbed many of our captains and first lieutenants who gained a step
in rank by the transfer. The lower grades were filled mainly by
civilian appointments, many of them through influence more than any
adaptability for a military life, as was demonstrated later on. The
Government began to make some appointments from the ranks and later on
increased them. These men, appointed from the ranks, as a rule made
efficient and reliable officers, whom the rank and file could respect.
Dixon S. Miles became colonel of my regiment and remained so until he
was killed at Harper's Ferry in 1862, but we never saw him, as he had
a higher volunteer rank. All of our former field officers were
promoted and replaced by others, some of whom we never saw. The
regular army, small in numbers, was stripped of many of its best
officers. All through the war, companies were largely in command of
first lieutenants and regiments were often commanded by senior
captains. My company was particularly unfortunate at this time in
having for its captain, and serving with it, the lieutenant who had
joined the regiment in 1857 at Fort Randall whom we had dubbed our
"Alcoholic Lieutenant," and whose name I withhold because I cannot say
anything to his credit. He had gained the rank of captain by seniority
because of the general promotions at this time. Our first lieutenant
was William H. Jordan of the Ninth Infantry, who had never as yet seen
his own regiment in the West since he left West Point in 1860. He was
an estimable officer, who remained with my company until he was
severely wounded at the battle of Gaines' Mill in 1862. Our second
lieutenant was William Kidd, who was killed in battle, as previously
mentioned. Major William Chapman was in command of the six companies
of my regiment in Washington at this time; he was well along in years
and retired early in the war. He was a good disciplinarian and an
excellent drillmaster.

In the late fall of 1861 the regular troops in Washington, old and new
regiments, had been augmented to nearly three thousand and were formed
into a brigade under the command of Major George Sykes of the
Fourteenth Infantry, who held the rank of brigadier-general of
volunteers and later on became a major-general. I think he was one of
the best tacticians in the army and a very capable officer. He drilled
the brigade in line of battle manoeuvres occasionally on a large field
near the Kalorama Barracks. We made a fine appearance in full uniform,
marching down Pennsylvania Avenue and out Seventh Street to the drill
ground, with our bands playing and colors flying. I liked this parade
and drill; when we turned the corner of Fifteenth Street and I looked
down the avenue and saw a great mass of bayonets glittering in the sun
ahead of me it was impressive--a sight I had never witnessed in my
previous service. Major Chapman, who commanded our battalions, never
made an error in executing General Sykes's commands in these brigade
drills, but, alas! some of the new fledglings of first lieutenants in
command of companies often got tangled up; this angered the major and
caused him to say sharply, "Mr. Long, face your company to the front!
Mr. Freeman, bring your company on the right by file into line! Mr.
Goodrich, you are obliquing your company to the left instead of to the
right," etc., all of which was very annoying to me, for it destroyed
the movements of other companies and hurt the pride I always had in
marching and drilling correctly. Our first sergeants were able to
coach the inexperienced officers and did so quietly on parade.
Fortunately for my company, our captain never appeared at brigade
drills and Lieutenant Jordan put us through our paces very creditably.
The brigade drills ended with a "Pass in review!" before General Sykes
and his aides-de-camp. This movement was often executed in "double
quick time," which gave rise to a story that the general made us
double quick because his little daughter used to say to him, "Pa, make
'em twot!" which amused her greatly. The general lived with his family
in a house overlooking the parade ground where they could see all the
manoeuvres of the troops. We were also reviewed on the same parade
ground by General McClellan and staff, but upon that occasion did not
have to _trot_.

I was often on guard at the Aqueduct Bridge and at the Ferry and liked
that duty much better than guarding prisoners. The Chesapeake and Ohio
canal crossed the Potomac river here on its way to Alexandria,
Virginia, by means of the Aqueduct Bridge. At the breaking out of the
war the water had been shut off and the bridge solidly planked over to
serve as a roadway for pedestrians and vehicles. A small guard room
had been built for the shelter of the six men and corporal composing
the guard on the Georgetown side. A sentinel was stationed on each
side of the entrance to the bridge. Our orders were to permit no
soldier to pass or repass the bridge without a properly signed and
countersigned pass, and no civilian without a pass from the
provost-marshal's office in Washington. Officers unaccompanied by
troops were also to show passes, except those of high rank who were
supposed to be known to us.

We were also to search for and to prevent the smuggling of liquor to
the soldiers encamped on the opposite side of the river; but I am
afraid we were somewhat lax in carrying out that part of our orders,
as we did not like to act as customhouse inspectors, considering that
unmilitary. If the person halted carried a package or basket we
generally took his or her word for it that it contained no liquor and
passed them on without examination, except in cases of inebriety or
when they were insolent to the guard.

I think women did more smuggling of liquor than the men. Many got
passes from the provost-marshal to visit their soldier relatives or
friends encamped on the other side of the river. They generally came
on foot and carried baskets or packages containing food and articles
of clothing for the soldiers, as they invariably informed the guard,
and some became indignant when they were asked the usual question
about liquor. One day as I was examining the pass of a large,
good-natured-looking woman with a fine broad smile, I heard a tinkling
sound with every movement she made and noticed that she wore unusually
large hoop skirts which made her look like an animated haystack from
the waist down. I asked her if she carried any liquor about her and
was met by an emphatic denial. I put my hand on her waist and gave the
skirt a shake which caused an audible jingle of bottles, and asked
her, "What's that, Mama?" "Whisth! Sergeant, dear, shure it's
sody-wather for the bys!" she said laughingly. I was in a dilemma. She
evidently had bottles of liquor strung all around her waist beneath
the large hoops she wore; but I could not take them from her without
undressing her, which was inconvenient at the time and place; besides
it was such a clever trick that it deserved success, and I let her

Some sutlers had permits to carry liquor for officers' messes in their
wagons; others carried barrels which they declared contained beer or
cider, which we were allowed to pass, as we had no means of testing it

We got to know many of the sutlers by sight; their wagons bore the
regimental designation to which they belonged and, as we knew they had
passes, we did not always halt them. Occasionally some of them tossed
a package to the guards containing cigars, tobacco, crackers and
cheese or a can of preserved fruit. The sentinels halted every
passenger and vehicle, with this exception, looked at the pass and in
cases of doubt called on the corporal of the guard for his decision of
the case.

Sometimes General McClellan, who, since General Scott's retirement,
was commander-in-chief of the United States Army, passed over the
bridge with his staff to review troops or examine defences on the
other side. It was here that I first saw the Orleans princes, the Duc
de Chartres and the Comte de Paris, who were aides on his staff. The
Duc was a very young looking man.

The Fourteenth New York Volunteers, better known as Colonel Fowler's
Fourteenth Brooklyn Regiment, were encamped on Arlington Heights and
guarded the Virginia end of the bridge. We became acquainted with many
of them and were on friendly terms, often letting some of them pass
into Georgetown at night, cautioning them to look sharply for the
officer of the day on their return.

When my guard was relieved in the morning, we discharged our rifles
into the river, firing at some floating object, instead of drawing the
charges; sometimes I threw an empty bottle into the river and
frequently knocked off the neck with a ball from my rifle.

While on guard at the bridge I had many opportunities to observe the
uniforms, arms and equipments of the volunteer soldiers who crossed
and went into camp on the other side. A few of the regiments were
armed with Springfield rifles, as we were, but the greater part of
them had arms of foreign manufacture; there were English rifles,
Belgian and Austrian muskets and even some of the old "smooth-bores"
of the Mexican War time, which the traitor, Secretary of War Floyd,
had not deemed worthy of removal from the Northern arsenals. The
Government had hastily purchased these arms abroad and as all the
calibres differed, serious confusion resulted sometimes through
issuing the wrong ammunition. It was more than a year before there was
anything like uniformity in the arms of the infantry regiments. Their
uniforms were also diversified; many still wore the gray uniforms
issued to them by the states they came from; some had a sort of German
uniform; and the Garibaldi Guard, an Italian one; the Fifty-fifth New
York Volunteers, Colonel De Trobriand, wore a distinctly French
uniform, including the red breeches and "kepi." Another distinct
uniform was that of the Chasseurs d'Afrique, and there were others;
also a number of Zouave regiments, some with red breeches and some
with blue, some wearing white turbans and some only a red Fez cap on
their heads. In the course of a long time this was remedied and all
wore the regulation uniform, except some of the Zouave regiments, who
were permitted to retain theirs to the end of their term of service.
In the month of September at Fall's Church, Virginia, one of our gray
uniformed regiments was fired into by another of our regiments who
mistook them for "graybacks" (rebels) and sixty or so were killed and
wounded before the mistake was discovered. Lamentable errors like this
occurred in various parts of the country at this time.

The neatness of the uniforms, the polished buttons and the bright
looking arms of the regular soldiers was often a matter of interest to
the volunteer officers. One day while on guard an elderly captain, who
unquestionably hailed from one of the New England states, said to me,
"Where be you men from? I see you all got brand new guns!" I explained
to him that we were regular soldiers and had used these guns on the
frontiers for years. He exclaimed, "Dew tell! Our boys got new guns
but they're all rusty. What do you clean yours with?"

In October happened the unfortunate engagement with the Confederates
at Ball's Bluff, some distance up the Potomac, where Colonel Baker was
killed, and we lost nearly a thousand men--killed, wounded and
prisoners; also by drowning. After the battle corpses floated down the
river, some of them being washed ashore at Georgetown.

We preferred to do guard duty at the ferry to Analostan Island at the
foot of High Street because it was easy, as it took the rope ferry
boat a good while to make a trip and the traffic was small. This spot
was the landing place for fishing boats and small sloops which brought
oysters and vegetables to the Georgetown market from down the river.
The watermelon season was still on and sloops came in loaded with
them. We watched the boats for the owners at night and in return they
gave the guard all the melons they could eat, and they were delicious.
It was the same later on with oysters; and last came the sweet
potatoes, the real Virginia or Maryland sweet potatoes, which we
roasted and feasted on.

One day when I was corporal of the guard at the ferry, the sentinel
called out, "Turn out the guard for the commanding general!" and
immediately the general replied, "Never mind the guard!" He did not
seem to care for my little command of six men. General McClellan was
in a carriage along with his chief of staff, General Randolph B.
Marcy, his father-in-law, but without any escort. Although I knew them
both, I went to the side of the carriage, saluted and said, "Passes,
gentlemen?" to which the General, returning the salute, replied, "I am
the commanding general." I said, "Pass on, General," which ended the
only conversation I had with him during the war. The General had to
wait for about ten minutes before the carriage could be driven on the
boat. During that time I could observe him closely, while he conversed
earnestly with General Marcy.

A miserable looking tramp passed our little guard-house at the ferry
one day and seeing a pair of old buckskin gloves belonging to me,
which I had left on a bench outside, promptly appropriated them. The
sentinel saw him and called me. He ran, but I caught him, took the
gloves from him and was about to give him a kick and let him go, when
one of the town constables came up and insisted on arresting the man.
Since the town had been policed by the soldiers, the few constables
had had little to do and had grown rusty. This one seemed glad to have
a case and would not let his prisoner go, although I entreated him to
do so as the old gloves had no value. Next day I received a subpoena
to appear as a witness at the court house at Four-and-a-half Street in
Washington the following morning, and with the subpoena I was handed a
dollar and a half, which was a godsend to me, as I hadn't another cent
at the time. I blessed that tramp! I was provided with a pass for all
day, gave my evidence in court and heard the poor tramp sentenced to
thirty days in the workhouse; then I started in to regale myself
royally on the dollar-fifty. I had an oyster fry at Harvey's on the
avenue, and something to drink and smoke. I spent the afternoon in the
streets and I fear I was rather more extravagant than a man in my
company who sometimes said, "Give me two cigars for five cents. I'm on
a spree and don't care how I spend my money."

My captain resided with his family in a house on Bridge Street; the
unmarried officers boarded around town; the married soldiers had
located their wives and children in cheap apartments where some of
them remained to the end of the war. Some wives never saw their
husbands again after we went into Virginia. The captain in his
capacity of commanding officer sometimes visited the guard late at
night and had it turned out for him and put us through the usual
formalities. I was always thankful that he omitted the inspection of
arms, for at times I would have hated to trust him with the handling
of a loaded gun. He sent for me occasionally to report to him at his
house and when I appeared he put me through a kind of catechism
commencing with, "Who made you a corporal?"

"The captain," I replied.

"Why did I make you a corporal?"

To which my answer was, "Because I was in the line of promotion, I

"No! because I then believed you to be a good and reliable soldier. I
see by the guard report that you were corporal of the guard at the
ferry on Tuesday night when a lot of common soldiers were drinking in
a saloon on Cherry Street and wrecked the place. Why didn't you go
there and arrest them?"

"I could not hear the disturbance, it was too far away; besides, the
regulations for the army forbid my leaving the guard without orders."

"I am the provost-marshal of this town and I make the regulations.
Don't let this happen again. I will not allow any more common soldiers
to go into saloons and will issue an order to that effect. Remember, I
can break you. Go back to your quarters!"

He never issued that order--he couldn't; neither did he break me,
although he used to send for me if there was any scrape in town; no
matter if I didn't have the remotest connection with it, he suspected
I was concerned in it.

A tragedy happened while we were quartered in Forrest Hall. A soldier
of Company A was on post No. 2 on the Gay Street side of the building
one winter night when Sergeant Brennan of his company, who was the
sergeant of the main guard that night, went out of the guard-room and
passed around the corner of the building towards sentinel No. 2. In a
few minutes a shot was heard, and some of the guard running out found
Sergeant Brennan on the sidewalk, dead, with a bullet through his
heart, while the sentinel, with his gun in his hands, calmly stood
there awaiting arrest. What transpired between them during the few
minutes they were alone never became known. The soldier admitted
shooting the sergeant, but made no explanation. It was well known,
however, that there was a bitter enmity between them dating back to
the time when they were on the frontier service. The body was carried
up into the Hall and laid out on some benches on the second floor
among the sergeant's sleeping comrades. A screen was erected around
the body next morning and some nuns from Georgetown watched and prayed
by it, until the next day when the funeral services were held in the
Catholic church. The murderer was incarcerated in Washington and was
speedily tried by a general court-martial which sentenced him to be
hanged. A few weeks after the tragedy the entire regular brigade
marched to a field on the north side where many of the finest houses
are now built and formed a square about an elevated gallows which had
a flight of steps leading up to the platform. The hangman (a soldier)
was there adjusting and soaping the rope. Presently the prisoner
arrived in a closed carriage, accompanied by a priest and a cavalry
guard. The culprit mounted the steps unassisted, and when he reached
the platform he stood erect, waved his right hand and exclaimed in a
firm voice, "Good-bye, soldiers! Good-bye!" His limbs were quickly
bound and a black cap drawn over his face; the trap was sprung and we
saw the contortions of the lower part of his body. In a few minutes
his struggles ceased and the soldiers marched silently back to their

We found the winter climate of Washington mild and agreeable, as
compared with our experience in Nebraska and Dakota Territories. Our
food was fairly good. We drew bread from the Government bakeries;
fresh beef was issued to us at the foot of the unfinished Washington
Monument, where all the beef cattle for the troops in or about
Washington were slaughtered. Other provisions we drew from the general
commissary depot.

During our stay of about five months in Georgetown we had become well
acquainted with every nook and corner of it and got along well with
such of the citizens as were not Southern sympathizers. At some of the
houses to which we had been invited we played games with the girls. At
one house in particular where a few friends and I called for a while I
flattered myself that I was the daughter's favorite visitor; but,
alas! "fair and false was she!" for she placed her young affections on
a drummer of the band whose more gaudy uniform seemed irresistible to

About the end of January, 1862, my company was ordered to leave
Forrest Hall and occupy a vacant two-story and attic house on
Pennsylvania Avenue between Eighteenth and Nineteenth Streets, facing
a small triangular shaped park. This house is still standing (1913)
and is now numbered 1806. We lived there as we did in the K Street
house. Our duties were much easier than in Georgetown; the only guard
duty we had was one post in front of our own quarters. We picked up a
few recruits in Washington and I had to drill them sometimes in the
little park, to my chagrin and much to the amusement of the
spectators, as one of them named Davis was as awkward a man as I ever
tried to instruct.

Since the battle of Bull Run, the preceding July, the Army of the
Potomac had been assiduous in drill and had gained much in discipline
under that admirable organizer, General McClellan, all except the
volunteer cavalry regiments. Many of the men could not ride horses
when they were enlisted. The horses were untrained and were as green
as their riders. In a few slight skirmishes with the enemy on
reconnaissances the horses ran away at the first fire, in spite of the
efforts of the troopers to make a stand. It was a standing joke in the
army at that time that there was a reward of five dollars for any
soldier who had seen a dead cavalryman. It takes a long time to drill
cavalrymen and horses. It was not until after the second year of the
war that they became really effective and after that they did splendid

The Northern papers were clamorous for the Army of the Potomac to make
a move on the enemy. "Why doesn't the army move?" was the cry. In the
West there had been some success; General U.S. Grant had captured Fort
Donaldson, Tennessee, together with Generals Buckner and Tilghman and
thirteen thousand prisoners. President Lincoln, impatient at General
McClellan's delay and unwilling to agree to the General's plan of a
campaign, appointed February twenty-second as the day for a general
movement of all the land and naval forces; but nothing was done. We
observed the day by hanging out a flag and by burning a lot of candles
in the front windows of our quarters at night. We were tired of
garrison duty and wanted to see some field service. Up to this time
the small regular army had had but little representation in any of the
conflicts and no share in what little glory there had been. All seemed
eager for real service, even the man in my company who used to declare
that he "enlisted to fight but was not quarrelsome."

We knew that a campaign of some sort would soon take place and began
to prepare for it. All of our fancy uniforms and articles of no
service in the field were packed into cases, turned over to the
quartermaster's department and placed in storage in the then
unfinished Corcoran Art Gallery, situated on Pennsylvania Avenue near
our quarters, and none of us ever saw them again. Shelter tents were
issued to us. They were an imitation of the "tent d'Abri" used in the
French army and consisted of a piece of thin canvas supposed to be
rain-proof. It was about six and a half by five feet and had buttons
and buttonholes along the edges, so that two or more pieces could be
joined together and stretched across a ridge pole supported on two
posts, and the sides fastened to tent-pins driven into the ground.
This formed a small A-shaped tent, a "pup-tent," as the soldiers
called it, but was open at the front and back. Generally three men got
together and used the third piece of canvas to cover one of the open
ends--the one to windward. The little tents were so low it was
necessary to crawl into them on hands and knees and we could barely
retain a sitting posture. Tent and ridge-poles of light wood, made to
telescope in convenient lengths, and small hardwood tent-pins were
also issued to us. All this had to be strapped to our knapsack and
increased the load to be carried on our back very considerably. The
poles and pins we threw away after a few days' trial in the field and
trusted to chance to pick up forked sticks and ridge-poles in the
woods. For this purpose I provided myself with a small hatchet, and to
even up loads my bunkie carried a frying pan for our use.

On March eighth Centreville was discovered to have been evacuated by
the Rebels. Painted logs (Quaker guns) were found mounted in the
enemies' earthworks. Manassas was also found to be evacuated; at last
the Army of the Potomac was forced to move. General McClellan was
relieved from the supreme command of the United States Army and
appointed to command the Army of the Potomac. We received orders to
cross the Potomac into Virginia. The six companies, headed by the
band, formed on Pennsylvania Avenue in the forenoon of the tenth of
March and marched to the "Long Bridge" by way of Fourteenth Street,
after more than seven months in Washington and Georgetown. The day was
clear but cold. It was my hard luck to be corporal of the guard
bringing up the rear of the column with a few prisoners and some
drunks who had been unable to resist the temptation of a final
debauch. I had some trouble to keep them from frolicking with the
negro wenches who had lined up on the sidewalks in large numbers to
hear the band play and see us marching off. The captain, much to our
satisfaction, did not accompany us. He managed to get a medical
certificate excusing him from field service and remained in Georgetown
on easy duty.



Our real war experience commenced when we passed over the Long Bridge
at Washington into the enemy's country--Virginia. It is not my
intention to write a complete story of any part of the Civil War, nor
to criticize the general conduct of the war, but simply to describe my
personal experience and my observations, together with the impressions
made upon me and my comrades at the time. A soldier in the ranks sees
but little of a battle and, outside of his own regiment or brigade,
knows less of events that have taken place or new movements to be made
than a civilian can learn from the newspapers. We often read articles
about the Army of the Potomac in papers several days old which
contained information that was news to us.

After passing the bridge we marched along the Fairfax Court House road
for a distance of about six miles, when we were ordered to halt and go
into camp beside the road at the edge of a piece of woods. Our heavily
loaded knapsacks began to be a burden on this short march and next
morning we threw away things we thought we could dispense with. On the
frontiers we had wagons to carry our tents, rations and knapsacks,
which made marching easier, although we marched greater distances than
a large army could. All through the Civil War the soldier in the ranks
furnished his own transportation. In this camp we put up our little
shelter tents for the first time, but as I was on camp guard and had
to relieve sentinels every two hours, I sat on a log by a fire all
night and dozed between times.

Next morning we broke camp and counter-marched to within about a mile
of the town of Alexandria, where we went into camp on some high
ground, carefully putting up our tents along lines forming company
streets, as we expected to stay for some time. My bunkie and I
gathered some pine-needle brush in the woods and spread it over the
floor of our tent, as the ground was frozen and damp. The nights were
still cold. We cooked our rations at fires which we built in the
company streets and gathered around them evenings until tattoo. Nearly
every soldier soon had the back of his blue trousers scorched a deep
brown above the heels of his shoes from standing too close to the
fire. There were encampments of troops all around us. The greater part
of the Army of the Potomac was in the vicinity of Alexandria awaiting
transportation to Fortress Monroe, Virginia. A fleet of boats was soon
gathered from New York and Philadelphia to transport the army; they
were of all kinds--tug-boats, towing-barges, New York ferryboats,
excursion steamers and coast liners. Daily shipments were made, but
our corps, General Fitz-John Porter's Fifth Army Corps, was held in
camp until near the last.

I was on camp guard a few times and remember particularly a very
distressing night at that camp. It had rained all day, soaking us to
the skin; and at night it turned into snow and sleet. We had no guard
tent to shelter us and were exposed to the storm all night, sitting on
logs around a fire that would not burn and blinded us with smoke. In
the morning the storm ceased and soon the sun came out and warmed us.
Fortunately I had a change of dry clothing in my knapsack in the tent,
which I put on as soon as relieved and experienced no ill effects from
the exposure. Although we were experienced soldiers, we had much to
learn, now that we were a part of a great army entering upon a
campaign. One of the first things that forced itself upon us was that
while on a campaign or on marches there could be no company cooks and
every soldier had to carry and cook his own rations. This was
necessary because companies were constantly divided. Some men were
absent on picket or on scouting duty for days at a time. It was only
while in a permanent camp or when the army was in winter quarters, as
it was called, that we could receive full rations and have the luxury
of company cooks and fresh bread instead of hardtack.

The daily ration of hard bread was increased from twelve to sixteen
ounces per day and a few other changes were made in the soldiers'
rations by law and regulation in July, 1861, to hold good during the
war. We lived on what we called "short rations" when on a campaign or
a march, the daily allowance being as follows: one pound of hard
bread, twelve ounces of salt pork or bacon, or twenty ounces of salt
or fresh beef; one and a quarter ounces of ground coffee; two and a
half ounces of sugar; half an ounce of salt and sometimes a piece of
soap. We generally drew three days' rations at a time, which fairly
filled our haversacks. Sometimes we had to carry rations for five days
and were obliged to stow away a part of them in our knapsacks. There
were times when we had to get along with less than the above

The haversack was a canvas bag, the knapsack was of the same
material--both painted black. The haversack had a canvas lining which
could be removed and washed. We made small bags to hold our coffee,
sugar and salt; the pork or beef we wrapped up in a piece of paper or
cloth and stowed away in the bottom of the haversack, and then filled
it up with the hard bread. Each soldier carried a quart cup and a
plate made of strong block tin, also a spoon and a steel knife and
fork. Those who did not provide themselves with frying pans used their
tin plates as a substitute. Our canteens were of strong tin, covered
over with thick felt cloth, and held three pints.

We soon learned to make several palatable dishes out of our limited
marching rations. We would fry our pork until it was well browned, and
after dipping some of the hard bread into water for a few minutes we
fried that in the hot pork grease, which made it swell and softened
it, for it was very hard bread indeed when eaten raw. At other times
we broke the hard bread into small pieces and soaked it in water for
an hour or more until it was thoroughly soft and then fried it in pork
grease. We also had a way of making a stew in our tin cups, to which
the soldiers gave a name that would not look well in print. This stew
consisted of pork or beef cut into small pieces, with broken hard
bread boiled in water; and if we were fortunate enough to obtain a
carrot, a potato or an onion, we had a feast.

We had good appetites. On the third day we generally fasted to a more
or less extent, having used up more than the just proportion of our
rations on the first two days. If there was any man in the company who
could not eat all his rations, he was much sought after by those who
were hungry. We boiled our coffee in the quart cups. Sometimes we
could buy condensed milk from the sutler when not on a march.

Porter's Fifth Army Corps received orders to embark for Fortress
Monroe about March twenty-second, but it was two or three days later
that the division of regulars broke camp and marched to a wharf in
Alexandria, where we embarked on an old excursion steamer. The crowded
boat made her way slowly down the Potomac and when in the afternoon we
passed Mount Vernon, where the remains of General Washington repose,
the ship's bell tolled and we were ordered to remove our caps as a
mark of respect for the Father of his Country.

We found that the soldiers could do no cooking on this boat; some of
them tried to make coffee by placing their cups on the hot steam
pipes, but they could not get it to the boiling point. A few fortunate
soldiers got the firemen of the boat to boil their coffee for them. I
had to be content with washing down my frugal meals with cold water.
At night we lay on the floor of the saloon and about the decks,
wherever we could find room.

Next day we were in Chesapeake Bay, making slow progress, and arrived
at Old Point Comfort a little before sunset. Here was an interesting
sight--the harbor was crowded with all sorts of boats which had
transported the Army of the Potomac and its supplies from Alexandria
to Fortress Monroe. There were also several men-of-war and the
Monitor--the little "Yankee cheesebox on a raft," as the Rebels called
her--which had defeated the redoubtable Rebel ram, the Merrimac, only
a short time before. We picked our way carefully among the many
vessels and were within a half mile of the dock--a short distance
north of the present dock at the Hotel Chamberlin--when suddenly there
was a crash which threw us off our feet and caused an ominous creaking
and straining of the timbers in the old boat. We had struck something,
probably a forgotten wreck, and were beginning to sink rapidly. There
was great confusion, with shrieking of whistles, blowing off steam
from the boilers, and a rush in search of life preservers. In a few
minutes tug-boats came to our assistance and began taking us off. All
were saved, but had our boat been going at full speed when she struck,
there might have been a heavy loss, even though we had assistance
close at hand. We spent a very uncomfortable night, lying on the open
dock wrapped in our blankets and overcoats. It was cold, the strong
wind which was blowing made us shiver, and were thankful for daylight
and the sun's warm rays. Through someone's negligence our three days'
rations, exhausted on the previous day, had not been renewed and on
this morning many were without anything to eat; I had a hardtack or
two and a little sugar; these and a drink of water constituted my
breakfast. There was much grumbling and dissatisfaction. One soldier
in my company declared that it was enough "to make a dog strike his
father." Soon after sunrise our officers, who had spent a more
comfortable night at the Hygeia Hotel than we had on the cold dock,
joined us and we took up our march to camp.

We passed the fort, crossed Hampton Creek and passed through the
village of Hampton, which had been nearly destroyed by the Rebel
general, Magruder, who had ordered it to be set on fire the previous
year. A few miles further on we came to a flat plain near the James
river, where we halted to camp. Many thousands of tents stretched away
as far as the eye could reach in the direction of Newport News on the
James river; the entire Army of the Potomac was here.

It was afternoon before we received any rations and wood to start
fires with which to cook them, for there was no wood to be had in the
vicinity and we had to go a long distance for water. After a great
deal of trouble we secured some sticks with which to set up our
shelter tents; for the officers a few wall tents and some A tents were

It was at this camp that I first saw the Fifth New York Volunteer
Infantry, better known as the "Duryee Zouaves." They arrived from
Baltimore, where they had been engaged in constructing fortifications
on Federal Hill during the fall and winter, and established their camp
in close proximity to ours, which afforded us opportunity of much
friendly intercourse. They were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel G. K.
Warren, whom we had known in Dakota Territory as a lieutenant of
topographical engineers, making surveys for the Government in
1855-1857. Colonel Warren had brought this fine regiment to a state of
discipline, efficiency and drill that was not equaled by any other
volunteer regiment in the Army of the Potomac. When on drill or dress
parade they looked both splendid and formidable in their picturesque
Zouave uniforms and white turbans. General George Sykes, our division
commander, selected this regiment of all others for the third brigade
of the second division of the Fifth Army Corps. The First Connecticut
Heavy Artillery, serving as infantry, was presently added to this
brigade, and later on the Tenth New York Volunteer Infantry. The
"Duryee Zouaves" remained in Sykes's division until the expiration of
their term of service.

The first and second brigades, amounting to upwards of four thousand
men, were made up of regular soldiers. The second, to which I
belonged, was composed of the following: Second United States
Infantry, Sixth United States Infantry, Tenth United States Infantry,
Eleventh United States Infantry, Seventeenth United States Infantry.
The eleventh and seventeenth were new regiments raised since the
beginning of the war; they were what was called three-battalion
regiments, twenty-four companies but only one battalion of each; eight
companies were ever present with us. The old regiments were
ten-company regiments, but none of them had over six companies
present. The commander of the brigade at this time was Lieutenant
Colonel William Chapman, an old veteran of the Mexican War, who
remained with us but a short time, when he was retired on account of
old age and disability.

At this time--the beginning of McClellan's Peninsula Campaign--my
regiment had but three or four officers present who had served on the
frontiers with us and were West Point graduates. All of the first and
second lieutenants, with the exception of Lieutenant Jordan, who
commanded my company, and a few who were appointed from the ranks,
were civilian appointees. Some had served in state militia and had
some knowledge of tactics and discipline; some turned out to be good
officers, but others could have been dispensed with, and that with no
loss to the service.

I took a trip along the shore of the river one day towards Newport
News and had a close view of the masts of the Congress and the
Cumberland sticking up out of the water. These were the two United
States frigates that were sunk by the Merrimac in the memorable
conflict of March eighth, 1862.

The Army of the Potomac commenced its advance on Yorktown on April
fourth, but it was nearly a week later before we left our camp near
Hampton. General McClellan, while in command of the Army of the
Potomac, made Sykes's division his reserve--a body of troops to be
relied upon "at a critical moment," as he expressed it, in his report
of the Peninsular Campaign; that is why, during his time as commander,
we seldom took the initiative in any forward movements, but were more
often used to cover a retreat, as at the first Bull Run, when the
enemy pursued us.

When we left our camp about the tenth of April we found the roads in
very bad condition from recent rains and badly cut up by that part of
the army which had marched ahead of us. We passed through a place
called Little Bethel and through Big Bethel, where the "Duryee
Zouaves" had an encounter with a body of the enemy on June tenth,
1861. The breast-works marking the Rebel's position were still there.
A few miles beyond, about half way between our former camp and
Yorktown, we halted and went into camp in a field at the edge of some
woods, in which there were a large number of huts or shacks, which had
been occupied by some Rebel regiment during the winter. We found a
number of pigs running around in the woods, some of which we captured
and had fresh pork for supper.

During the night a rainstorm came on which lasted almost without
intermission for more than forty-eight hours. My bunkie and I had
taken the precaution to put a thick layer of pine branches on the
ground and had dug a ditch around our tent; still, next morning the
water soaked in, though we dug the ditch deeper, and for two days and
nights we had to sit or lie on beds that were water-soaked. To add to
our misery, the shelter tents were far from being waterproof; such a
rain as this could not be kept out. As we lay in our tents we watched
the globules of water oozing through the thin canvas; and to keep them
from dripping in our faces, we would put up our fingers to touch the
drop and guide it along the sloping side of the tent. The rain was so
fierce that half the time we could not boil any coffee, as no fires
could be kept up. The field in which we camped was soon turned into a
quagmire through which we waded ankle-deep when we ventured outside
the tents. The men named this place "Camp Misery," and it remained as
such in our memories for many a day.

On the morning of the third day the sun came out, but the roads were
in such a horrible condition that we could not move. It was not until
the morning of the fourth day that we resumed our march and arrived at
Yorktown in the afternoon. At Yorktown our camp was established a
short distance from the front of General McClellan's headquarters and
was known as "Camp Winfield Scott." There was a fringe of woods which
screened us from the enemy in the fortifications of Yorktown about a
mile and a half or more in front of us. When the first of the troops
of the Army of the Potomac arrived in front of Yorktown they found
their further advance checked by fortifications mounting heavy guns,
with smaller works and formidable, well protected breast-works
extending from the York river on the north across the entire peninsula
to the James river on the south, where the Warwick river enters it.
For a few days reconnaissances, which brought on some minor
engagements, were made to find some weak spots in the Rebel defenses.
Then General McClellan decided that a siege would be necessary to
capture the enemy's works. Presently the Union Army of about eighty
thousand men was busy making roads, building works for batteries of
siege guns and trenches for the infantry.

The first work my regiment did was to assist in building corduroy
roads between the camps and Shipping Point on the York river, where
the army supply depots were. These roads had to be substantially built
for the transportation of heavy siege guns and all kinds of army
supplies. This work was severe and frequent cold rains added to our
misery; but it had to be done quickly, regardless of weather
conditions. Early in the morning a detail of about one-half the
regiment, furnished with axes, picks and spades, marched to a part of
the Shipping Point road and commenced work. We cut down trees, trimmed
them and dragged the logs to their places; we filled in low spots and
dug ditches to drain the water from swampy sections, often standing in
mud and water to do it. At noon we were allowed an hour's rest to make
coffee and eat our rations. About sundown we quit work and returned to
camp, very tired and glad that we could rest all of the next day,
while the other half of the regiment was at work.

The sick list increased while this work went on, but it was soon
finished and then we furnished detachments to work on trenches which
were a part of the siege operations of the investment of Yorktown,
consisting of ditches and earth breast-works running in long zigzag
lines, constantly approaching the enemy's works. New lines were always
begun in the night, but strong works for mounting siege guns and
batteries were hurried along night and day, in spite of the enemy's
frequent shelling, which was answered by our gun-boats in the York
river; and generally they were soon silenced by them. After sundown
the soldiers who had been detailed for work on the trenches during the
night formed ranks and marched to a place where picks and shovels were
furnished us; then we neared the place where the work was to be done
and concealed ourselves in the woods, which were abundant in the
vicinity of Yorktown, and awaited very quietly until darkness had set
in. We were then led out into the open fields in front of the Rebel
works, where we found pegs driven and lines put up by the engineers,
indicating the direction in which the new line of trenches was to be
dug. We were cautioned to make as little noise as possible with our
tools and no talking was allowed, for the Rebel pickets might be near.
The men began digging a wide trench, throwing the dirt in front of
them to form a breastwork; and they worked very hard indeed until they
had dug a hole deep enough to lie down in, then they took it easier.

As a non-commissioned officer I did not have to do any of the digging;
I superintended my section and kept them at work, but the nights were
still cold and raw and I often relieved a tired private for a while to
warm up; besides I was as much interested as any of them to make a
hole in the ground deep enough to protect me when the enemy fired at

All through the night, at almost regular intervals of about fifteen
minutes, a single gun in the forts at Yorktown fired a shell in our
direction, which passed over us and exploded or buried itself in the
ground somewhere behind us. On the half-dozen occasions when I was on
such a detail I can recall only one shell bursting over us which
severely wounded two men of a regiment working next to ours. When the
gun was fired at Yorktown a mile or more away, there was a flash in
the sky and a sergeant on watch called out "Lie down!" when we
immediately dropped flat on the ground or into the trench. About the
time we heard the report of the gun, the shell was passing over us.
The interval of time between seeing the flash of the gun and hearing
the report was just about sufficient for us to drop for protection.
Occasionally the Union gunboats in the river fired a few rounds in the
direction of the Rebel gun which was annoying us and had the effect of
silencing it for an hour or two. At the first streak of daybreak we
ceased digging and returned to camp, depositing our entrenching tools
where we had received them. We were then excused from duty and rested
all day; alternate nights the same detail went out to work on the
trenches again. Similar work was done by the troops all along our
front line.

We had a fairly good camping ground, which could be drained, but there
was much rain at this season and our thin canvas shelter tents leaked
badly, until we thought to give them a coating of pork-grease or
melted tallow, which improved them for a time at the expense of their
looks, for all the dust and dirt flying about clung to them. In this
respect the volunteer regiments were better provided for than we; many
of them had rubber ponchos--not furnished by the Government, but by
the states from which they hailed. The ponchos could be used as a
shelter tent and were waterproof; they could also be worn as a
protection in rainy weather, while on the march or on picket, for they
were slit in the center for the head to pass through. They had,
however, the disadvantage of being much too heavy and excessively hot
when used as tents in warm weather.

During our stay at Camp Winfield Scott, for about a month, we had no
drum or bugle calls nor were any bands allowed to play, and after
sunset all fires were extinguished. This precaution was taken to
prevent the enemy from ascertaining the exact location of our camps,
many of them being within easy distance of their long-range guns, only
a thin strip of woods masked the camps in most places.

A large captive balloon near the army headquarters was in charge of
the signal corps, a new branch of the service added since the
beginning of the war. Some of the engineer officers made ascensions in
this balloon for hundreds of feet and must have obtained a
comprehensive view of the enemy's camps and defenses. Shells were
fired at this balloon at times; we saw them burst in the air, but they
never came close enough to endanger the occupants. There was also a
telegraph corps at headquarters, which was an innovation in warfare.
Insulated wire was used, wound on large reels mounted on trucks drawn
by horses. The wires could be paid out quickly and were secured to
trees or fences, or laid on the ground, and communications established
between headquarters and commanders of the corps.

Not a day passed without some long-range artillery firing from both
sides; sometimes a shell passed over our camp and over General
McClellan's headquarters camp behind us. Picket firing also went on,
and there were some casualties daily. It was at this camp that I saw
Rebel soldiers for the first time; some prisoners, taken in a
skirmish, were brought to headquarters. Only a few among them wore a
complete uniform of gray; the others had a mixture of military and
civilian clothing and wore slouch hats; they were taken charge of by
the provost-guard.

An estuary of the York river extended close up to our camp. There were
many oyster beds in it, which were soon exhausted by the soldiers. We
washed our clothing in this water, which was brackish; our drinking
water we obtained from springs and from wells which we dug. Encamped
alongside of our brigade was the regiment known as Colonel Burdan's
United States Sharp Shooters, an independent organization belonging to
no particular state. This regiment was much used as skirmishers and on
picket. Many of the men had their own private arms, rifles with
telescopes, hunting rifles and other superior arms; some had powder
horns and cast their own bullets rather than use any fixed ammunition.
A detail from this regiment was sent out and remained in the
rifle-pits or were concealed in the branches of trees from daybreak
till dark for the purpose of taking shots at the Rebel gunners in the
fortifications of Yorktown.

About the first day of May Battery Number One on our right, the
largest of our batteries, was completed and began firing occasional
shots from its one-hundred and two-hundred pounder siege-guns at the
Rebel fortifications at Yorktown and Gloucester Point on the opposite
side of the York river. The noise caused by the firing of these great
guns and the explosion of the shells was deafening. Siege mortars were
also fired. At night we could plainly follow the course of the mortar
shells by their burning and sputtering fuses as they curved high up in
the air in their flight towards the enemy's works. It was expected
that in a few days, as soon as all of our batteries were ready, a
general bombardment all along the line would take the place of
desultory firing. For several days the enemy replied but feebly to our
rambling fire, but on Saturday evening they commenced a furious fire
all along their line and kept it up until long after midnight.

At daybreak on Sunday morning, May fourth, it was discovered that the
Rebels had evacuated Yorktown and were in full retreat up the
peninsula toward Richmond. There was great cheering in all the camps
as they received the news, the bands, silent for a month, played
patriotic airs like mad, and as though they would never have another
chance to play. We seemed to be celebrating a great victory and forgot
our tremendous and now useless labor during the siege operations. When
General McClellan and some of his staff appeared among the camps on
their way to Yorktown, we threw our caps into the air and cheered him
to the echo, for he was our "Little Mac," our "Napoleon," our "Little
Corporal." The soldiers were very enthusiastic and cheered him along
the line of march, whenever he appeared; they had the greatest
confidence in him and would have followed him anywhere. No future
commander of the Army of the Potomac inspired the rank and file with
the same affection; they idolized him. But we were inexperienced in
war and too easily enthused at this time; we expected our commander to
lead us to certain victory. Of the future commanders I think that
General Joseph Hooker was next to McClellan in the affections of his
soldiers, but to a lesser degree.

Immediate pursuit of the enemy followed by a cavalry brigade which met
with some loss from percussion shells planted on the road leading from
Yorktown to Williamsburg, before they overtook the enemy's rear-guard
and had a skirmish with them. The cavalry was followed within a few
hours by the infantry of the fourth and a part of the third army
corps, which pushed on vigorously until near night, when they
encountered a large force of the enemy strongly posted in a work
called Fort Magruder and about a dozen redoubts and many rifle-pits
located about a mile or more east of Williamsburg.

Next day a fierce battle was fought all day; in our camps at Yorktown,
where we were held in readiness to march at a moment's notice, we
could plainly hear the heavy firing. That night the enemy abandoned
their position and the road to the Chickahominy river was open. All
the troops now began a forward movement, but we were among the last
to leave, two or three days after the battle of Williamsburg.
Transportation was limited, only one wagon being allowed our small
regiment to carry the officers' tents, their baggage, mess-kits,
etc. Nothing was carried for the soldiers, except the sergeant-major's
and first sergeant's small desks or chests in which their books and
papers were kept. By this time many of the officers had negro
servants--soldiers not being allowed for that service while in the
field; these they had picked up from among the many hundreds of
General Butler's "contrabands" at Fortress Monroe. Many had
broken-down mules, or old horses, on which they packed shelter tents,
blankets, provisions and a few cooking utensils--a very convenient
arrangement to resort to on a prolonged march, when the officers
wanted some coffee, or when the baggage wagon failed to reach camp.
These servants were mostly ignorant plantation niggers, but they
seemed to fill the bill. They walked and led their animals; and in
some way they managed to find or steal forage enough to keep them
alive. The unfortunate ones who did not have animals to carry their
burdens were obliged to make pack-horses of themselves. These camp
followers, or "dog robbers," as we called them, kept up close with the
command to which they belonged, except when they heard any firing
going on in front, in which case they did not show up until all was
quiet again.

Our first day's march was to Williamsburg, about twelve miles, where
we encamped for the night near Fort Magruder on a part of the
battlefield of three days previous. Not much of the struggle remained
to be seen, the dead had been buried, the dead horses burned, but the
woods and trees and the earthworks showed the effects of the rifle and
cannon firing which must have been most severe. The road from our
camps led through Yorktown; we passed by some of the Rebel
fortifications which heretofore had been seen only from a distance. We
noticed a number of small sticks with a piece of rag attached to them.
These indicated places where percussion shells were supposed to have
been buried by the Rebels. A squad of Rebel prisoners under guard were
forced to dig them up. This was very dangerous work, as to step on the
cap of the shell or to strike it with a tool was liable to cause a
disastrous explosion.

The weather was very warm; the road was mostly through pine woods with
an occasional clearing; the woods, set on fire by the retreating
Rebels, were still burning in places and the smoke at times was
suffocating. We found the road strewn with blankets, overcoats and
other clothing and articles discarded by our troops who had marched
ahead of us. Owing to the warm weather, the heat of the burning woods
and the rough state of the roads, we felt the weight of our knapsacks
on our backs more than ever before; and we also began to shed
clothing. We reasoned that there was a long summer before us, during
which we would need but little clothing in this climate; and if we
were still alive in the fall we could draw more blankets and
overcoats. My bunkie and I lightened our loads by discarding a blanket
and an overcoat; the other blanket we cut in two, and cutting the cape
off the remaining overcoat, we cast it away, together with half of the
blanket and some other articles, all of which lightened our burden

All through the summer when on a march, we did not bother with putting
up a shelter tent unless it rained. We spread one of the sections of
the tent on the ground and lay on the half-blanket, covering ourselves
with the blanket and with the other section of the tent if we expected
a heavy dew. Sometimes we were caught in a shower during the night,
but that did not disturb us much, as we were then too tired and sleepy
to get up and erect a tent. We kept the overcoat for a while to be
made use of when either of us was on guard or picket, but we soon
threw that away, also. The country people who lived along the route of
the army must have gathered a rich harvest in clothing and shoes at
this time. There were a few men in every company who could not make up
their minds to part with any of their property; some even picked up
articles that others had thrown away and added them to their burden,
although they staggered under the load.

The second day's march was a short one. We went only about six or
seven miles beyond Williamsburg and encamped. In going through the
town we saw but few citizens, except colored people; the stores were
nearly all closed, the private houses had their blinds closed and were
seemingly deserted. The ladies were evidently hiding themselves. The
place was full of wounded soldiers from both armies; large hospital
tents flying the yellow flag had been erected on the outskirts of the
town. We passed the venerable buildings of William and Mary College,
which, I think, were used as a hospital at that time.

Next morning, soon after reveille, I was handed an order for the
admission of half-a-dozen sick soldiers from my brigade (whom the
surgeon considered unable to stand a campaign) to a hospital at
Williamsburg. I was directed to take charge of them, to march them
there and rejoin my company as speedily as possible and as best I
could. I secured permission to leave my knapsack in the regimental
baggage wagon, keeping only a blanket which I made into a roll and
carried over my shoulder. I started early, but it took my sick squad
about four hours to travel the distance of six miles back to
Williamsburg. I found the hospital tent, left my charges and was given
a receipt for them.

The day was still young. I was puzzled whether to stay in the town and
await the chance to return under the protection of some detachment of
soldiers, or to go on alone. I decided on the latter course, for I
felt fresh and vigorous and was a good marcher; I reasoned that I
would be able to overtake my command before night, if they had not
made too long a march that day; and, at the worst, I might find a
wagon-train or some soldiers encamped along the road, among whom I
might spend the night. I stayed in town only long enough to get
something to eat and some coffee at the hospital, and then started off
at a brisk pace which I kept up with only a few short rests until
evening, when I began to look anxiously for signs of a large camp
ahead. None was to be seen, and no one seemed to be traveling towards
me, from whom I could learn how far it was to the next camp. The road
was a very lonely one; much of it was through woods, and there were
but few houses and cabins. The trail left by the army could be easily
followed in the daytime, but after dark it would be more difficult
when arriving at a cross or branch road to decide which way to go.

During the afternoon I was never any very great length of time out of
sight of a wagon-train or some cavalry detachment, and I also met some
stragglers, who had been foraging. They asked me to stay with them but
I declined. Towards evening I saw no one and felt very lonely and
uneasy. Shortly after sundown a small cavalry squad in charge of an
officer overtook me. I was halted and the officer demanded to know
what I was doing alone on the road. I showed him my receipt and
explained that I was not a straggler. He advised me to hide in the
woods in a hurry and to stay there until some detachment came along
which I could join, or I would be shot by guerrillas. I had not heard
guerrillas mentioned before in camp, but from the earnest way in which
this officer spoke, I judged they were to be dreaded.

I quickly retraced my steps to the nearest woods, about half a mile
behind me, and took a careful look up and down the road before
entering, but saw nothing to alarm me. Within hearing distance of the
road, I spread my blanket under a tree, ate a portion of my rations
and took a drink of water from my canteen. It was growing dark and I
was afraid to light my pipe and have a smoke, so I lay down on my
blanket to rest, my loaded rifle beside me. I felt very tired, as I
must have marched more than twenty-five miles since early morning,
according to my calculation, and although I tried to keep awake and
listen for any noise there might be on the road, sleep overcame me and
I did not wake up until it was broad daylight.

After a careful survey I resumed my march and soon passed a house a
few hundred yards off the road, in which no one seemed to be stirring
yet. A few miles further on, I saw a cavalry picket post and, noting
the blue uniform and yellow facings, I knew that I was safe. Here I
learned that the camp was but little more than a mile ahead and soon
heard the joyful notes of a bugle call. My regiment was waiting to
take its place in line for the day's march and I reported to the
commanding officer, who complimented me on my activity in making two
days' marches in one, and ordered me as a reward to be excused from
guard and picket duties for a month.

A short time later I knew better than to take the foolish chance I had
in making that march alone. In less than a week General Sykes's
servant was shot dead by guerrillas and some teamsters were killed by
them not far from camp. During the war many stragglers were killed by
guerrillas, being reported missing or perhaps as deserters. In my own
company, two men who were supposed to have fallen asleep by the
roadside during a rest on a night march were never heard from.

On this day it was the turn of the Fifth Army Corps to be in the rear
on the line of march, and my brigade was the last in the corps, which
made it quite late in the morning before we started on the road. It
was the custom, when it could be done and when a large part of the
army was marching on the same road, for the corps in advance to-day to
be in the rear to-morrow. This rule applied also to divisions,
brigades, regiments and companies of regiments, the leading company
to-day being the rear company to-morrow.

We marched by fours, and if there were fifty thousand men or more in
line they extended for many miles, and it sometimes happened that the
troops in the advance went into camp before those in the rear started
on their march. Reveille, however, was sounded at the same time in all
the camps, irrespective of their place in line. The supply trains with
their guards often followed the troops on the same road and were very
late getting into camp. Rations were then issued at night to the
waiting, hungry soldiers. When the roads were very bad and conditions
made it feasible, an army corps remained at rest in camp for a day
avoiding the overcrowding of the road.

Marching with a large body of troops is very tedious and very
annoying, when you are far to the rear of the line and the troops in
front empty the wells and springs along the road and roil the rivulets
and ponds to the extent of making water unfit to drink. When a halt
occurred we did not know whether it was for a rest or only for a
moment; a halt of a few minutes at the head of the line miles away
multiplied itself many times before it reached the rear. If a piece of
road had to be repaired, a stream forded or a bridge strengthened or
repaired for the safe passage of artillery and cavalry, we were
delayed for hours. Those in the rear knew nothing of the cause and
wondered why we did not go on, expecting every moment to hear the
bugle sound the call "forward." When we halted we stood still for a
few minutes waiting to go on again, and if there was no indication of
it among the regiments immediately in front of us, we broke ranks
without orders and unslung our knapsacks and sat on them or lay on the
ground by the roadside if it was dry, the officers doing the same--for
all company officers had to march on foot. If the halt continued for a
while the men soon began to straggle off in search of water and wood;
if it was evening, soon many small fires were burning along the road
and many were making coffee in their tin cups; and perhaps before the
coffee boiled the bugle would sound the command to "fall in." We could
not afford to throw away the coffee, partly made, but carried the cups
in our hands to the next halting place and built another fire. We had
become wise and put swinging handles on our cups, if we could find any
wire for that purpose, to carry them more easily. A short delay at the
head of the column became a long one in the rear, if the men broke
ranks, for it required a little time to sling knapsacks and to take
your place in line--very much like a tie-up on a long line of
street-cars, when it seems a long time after the first one has started
again before the last one moves. On night marches the afore-mentioned
difficulties were greater, for tired out men fell asleep by the
roadside and did not always hear the command "forward." If we missed
them when forming ranks, we delayed a little and searched for them; if
we did not, they had a chance of being picked up by the rear guard, or
ran the risk of being captured by guerrillas.

We passed through New Kent Court House and reached Cumberland on the
Pamunkey river long after dark. Sykes' division encamped on the
heights overlooking the valley of the river, and there we saw a sight
the grandeur of which can never be effaced from the memory of those
who witnessed it. Below us on a great plain the entire Army of the
Potomac was encamped, reunited for the first time since leaving
Yorktown. Thousands upon thousands of camp fires were seen as far as
the eye could reach in every direction. The sight was magnificent. We
rested at Cumberland for a day and the army was reviewed by Secretary
of State William H. Seward.

Our next march was to the White House, at the head of navigation on
the Pamunkey. Here the river was crossed by a bridge of the Richmond
and York River Railroad. The tortuous river was crowded with vessels,
all loaded with supplies for the army, for the White House landing was
to be our base of supplies while operating against Richmond, and the
railroad partly destroyed by the Rebels was to be rebuilt to convey
the supplies to the Chickahominy river. The White House was a large
plantation, formerly the property of the wife of George Washington and
at that time owned by the Lee family. General McClellan ordered
safeguards to protect this estate from vandalism, but about a month
later the fine mansion was destroyed by fire along with our supply
depot, when the Union Army retreated to the James river. Our next camp
was at Tunstall's Station, and two more short marches brought us to
Gaines's Mill, north of the Chickahominy and about seven miles from

All the way up the peninsula the country was deserted; about the
plantations and farms no young men were to be seen, they had all
joined the Rebel Army. Few negroes were visible; all but trusty house
servants had been sent within the Rebel lines to prevent them from
running away from their masters. Scarcely a horse or any other
domestic animal was to be seen about the farms; they were either
secreted or had been sent away.

During the first eighteen months of the war, orders against foraging
or destroying any private property in the enemy's country were
strictly enforced; in our division we were not even allowed to take
fence rails for firewood, safeguards being placed at many of the more
important plantations for their protection. After the invasion of
Maryland by the Rebels in September, 1862, and the discovery that many
of the houses along the route of the army harbored guerrillas who
murdered our stragglers, the orders were no longer strictly enforced
and but few safeguards were furnished. I believe it was twelve days or
more from the evacuation of Yorktown before our advance troops reached
the Chickahominy river, a distance of something less than fifty miles.
The Northern papers criticized General McClellan very severely for his
slow pursuit of the enemy; but there were few roads that this large
army with its immense baggage and supply trains could travel; owing to
constant and unprecedented spring rains they were in a horrible
condition and had to be repaired in many places before the artillery
and wagon trains could pass, and besides the bridges had to be
rebuilt. The battle fought at Williamsburg caused a loss of two days
also in our advance on Richmond.

The great stretches of pine woods on the peninsula made us familiar
with a camp-pest we had not encountered before--the woodtick, a small
bug which buried its head in the most tender parts of the skin of
one's body, causing intense itching, swellings and sores. In the
morning, while on the march, when the sun was shining, and we were in
good spirits, some regiment would start up a song. I particularly
remember that my regiment marched directly behind the "Duryee Zouaves"
one morning when one of their fine singers started "The Mocking Bird,"
and presently the entire regiment, twice as large as ours, took up the
chorus. It was beautiful, and it has ever since remained one of my
favorite sings.

Gaines's Mill, where our camp was located, was a part of a large
plantation owned by Dr. Gaines, a bitter Rebel who resided on the
property in a large house that was protected by a safeguard. My
brigade was encamped along the edge of the mill-pond, a body of
stagnant water which received all the drainage of the camp and which
was our only supply for cooking and drinking. No precautions of any
kind were taken to prevent contamination of the pond; the soldiers
bathed and washed their clothing in it. We dug some deep holes along
the shore and allowed the water to seep into them, hoping in that way
to filter it, but without perceptible results, for our sick list
increased and we had some fatal cases of typhoid fever.

The Army of the Potomac was presently separated into two parts; only
the Fifth Army Corps and one additional division remained on the north
side, or left bank, of the Chickahominy, all the other troops being on
the right bank of the river and nearer Richmond. They formed the left
wing of the army between the Chickahominy and the James rivers; while
we formed the right wing, virtually cut off and liable to be
out-flanked by the enemy, for the Chickahominy was bordered by large
forest trees and low, marshy bottoms which a single heavy rainstorm
would overflow; all bridges had been destroyed and had to be rebuilt
and a number of new ones constructed.

General McDowell with the First Army Corps and other troops, to the
number of about forty thousand men in all, formed an independent
command at Fredericksburg at this time, only a few days' march away
from General Porter's Fifth Army Corps. General McClellan had most
earnestly requested the authorities at Washington to allow General
McDowell to form a junction with him to strengthen the right wing of
the Army of the Potomac, but General McDowell did not receive an order
to join until it was too late, and we had to pay a fearful price for
the delinquency.

At this time there were no less than six independent commands in
various parts of Virginia, and even the soldiers in the ranks could
understand that the war in that state was being conducted from
Washington; no important operations could be undertaken without the
approval of the President, Secretary of War Stanton, or the
Commander-in-Chief, Halleck. It was not until General Grant's time in
1864 that the commander of this army was given a free hand.

After we had been a few days at this camp it was discovered that two
brigades of the enemy, estimated at twelve thousand strong, were at
Hanover Court House, between McDowell's army and our own and were
threatening our communications with the White House, our base of
supplies. A division of the Fifth Corps, together with Warren's
brigade and some cavalry and artillery, marched at daylight next
morning and encountered the enemy. Next day there was a spirited
engagement in which the Rebels lost about a thousand, killed, wounded
and prisoners, and were obliged to retreat to Richmond, while the
Union loss was less than four hundred. The two regular brigades
marched to the field a day later as a support, but we were not called
into action. The "Duryee Zouaves" took part in the engagement,
sustaining only a trifling loss. The following day the Virginia
Central Railroad with its bridges was destroyed by our troops as far
as Ashland and we returned to our camp at Gaines's Mill.

We assisted in building approaches across the Chickahominy swamps to
the new bridges erected by the engineers and sometimes we worked in
mud and water all day. Occasionally the enemy fired some shells at us
without much damage and were quickly silenced by some of our batteries
posted in a commanding position to protect the bridge.

The Rebels had one very long range gun which they sometimes fired from
the other side of the Chickahominy in the direction of our camp. We
could not hear the report of the gun but heard the shell pass over us
and explode far beyond. This gun was supposed to be of English
manufacture--the best type of rifled cannon made at that time.

On one of these working parties we found in a field a tobacco barn in
which there was a goodly quantity of dried leaf-tobacco, from which we
abstracted as much as the small party in my charge were able to
conceal and carry away without being discovered. Next day in camp we
made cigars of the stogie shape and enjoyed smoking them.

On the thirty-first of May occurred the very severe battle of Fair
Oaks on the right bank of the Chickahominy, in which the Fifth Army
Corps took no part, but was kept in readiness to cross the river, if
that could have been accomplished. The recent heavy rainstorms had
caused such a flood that the bridges had been carried away and the
unfinished approaches destroyed. The enemy knew this and no doubt
counted on the fact that our army was separated by an impassable river
and could not be united at that time. We heard the constant roar of
artillery and infantry firing from noon until dark. It recommenced at
daylight next morning and lasted for several hours. We learned later
that our troops were driven back on the first day, but regained their
position the following morning and drove the enemy two miles further
in flight towards Richmond, only five miles away. It was a victory for
the Union Army, but could not be followed up; the condition of the
roads was so bad that artillery could not follow. The troops went back
to their former lines and greatly strengthened them. The combined
losses of both armies in this battle were upwards of twelve thousand,
killed and wounded.

When the month had expired, during which I had been excused from guard
and picket, I had to resume those duties again. The guard duty was
easy enough as we only maintained a camp guard; but going on picket
was a very hard task which happened once a week or oftener, at this
camp. Our entire company would march out of camp near evening, leaving
our tents standing but taking our knapsacks with us. We would then
proceed for a few miles in whatever direction we had been ordered to
go, until we arrived at the picket reserve whom we were to relieve.
There we were divided into relieves for day and night duties and
received our orders and special instructions from the officer in
command. When darkness came on we marched out to the picket line in
small detachments, were challenged by the sentinels and relieved them
consecutively, being informed by the soldier relieved of any
suspicious circumstances or points to be especially watched. Then
began our lonely vigil through the night until relieved at daybreak,
for when near the enemy we had to remain on post all night, or from
dawn till dark, as relief detachments were frequently fired on, even
though the opposing picket lines did not fire at each other by a sort
of mutual understanding during the daytime.

Picket posts were generally within sight or hailing distance of each
other; some had the protection of trees or bushes or rising ground,
while others were out in the open fields without any protection or
concealment. Although I was a corporal, I had to take my place on the
picket line with my squad when conditions were such that the pickets
could not be relieved at regular hours in front of the enemy. While
the daylight tours were much longer at this season of the year, I
found the night tours a greater strain on me and more exhausting.
There was a continuous strain on the eye and ear, watching for the
movement of dark objects or listening for noises; a bird or a small
animal moving in the bushes might sound like the stealthy approach of
a person; while to fire a shot or to give a false alarm without a good
cause meant punishment. We kept our rifles at half-cock, but when
hearing a suspicious noise I would stand still and bring mine to a
full-cock, waiting until all was quiet again. It was very hard
sometimes to fight off sleep. When I felt a drowsy feeling stealing
over me, I resorted to all kinds of expedients to keep awake, even to
rubbing tobacco into my eyes to make them smart.

I put in one particularly distressing day at one of the new bridges
which we were completing across the Chickahominy. At daybreak I was
sent from the main picket guard at the Rebel side of the bridge to
post a line of sentinels about two hundred yards ahead of the bridge,
to watch and give the signal should the enemy approach to interfere
with the working party on the bridge. We had to wade through an
overflow of the river for a long distance up to our knees and some of
the sentinels had to stand in the water all day behind trees as they
could not be relieved before dark. I took for my post the farther end
of the line behind a tree, where I did not have to stand in the water.
When it was fully daylight I noticed a large tree out in an open field
about a hundred yards in front of me and soon made out that there were
two Rebel pickets watching me from behind that tree. Sometimes a gun
was poked out and pointed in my direction on one side or the other of
the tree, which caused me to do the same; but as they did not fire, I
was only too glad to keep quiet myself. During the forenoon a Rebel
battery fired over our heads at the men working on the bridge. This
drew a concentrated fire from some of our batteries which soon forced
the enemy to desist. A heavy rain came on before noon and lasted all
day, soaking us to the skin. I watched my two neighbors, but nothing
of an exciting nature happened on this miserable, wet day. When I felt
hungry I ate some boiled bacon and munched a few crackers. The day
seemed interminably long. Just as soon as it was dark enough I left my
post for the main picket guard at the bridge, picking up the sentinels
as I went along, for at this time the guard retired to the north side
of the bridge over night.

After the battle of Fair Oaks, offensive operations seemed to be
suspended for a time on both sides. Incessant rains for a week or more
had put the country into such condition that an advance movement could
not be attempted; only artillery duels, small skirmishes and some
picket firing took place. But about the middle of June there was some
excitement in our camps caused by a report that a large force of
Rebels were in the rear of the right wing, threatening the destruction
of our base of supplies at the White House. This proved to be the much
vaunted Confederate General Stuart's raid. General Stuart, with a
cavalry force of about twelve hundred and a section of artillery, made
a swift and complete circuit of the Army of the Potomac. His progress
was so rapid that he met with but little opposition; there was no
considerable cavalry force at hand and the infantry sent out in a
hurry could not pursue him. He was unable to inflict any damage,
except to tear up a small section of the railroad track near the White
House, cut some telegraph wires, kill a few cavalry-men and some
teamsters and burn a dozen army wagons. The most important result of
this raid for the enemy was that it disclosed to them the weakness,
location and difficult connection of the right wing of our army, with
the main body on the south side of the Chickahominy,--a condition of
which they took advantage presently, to our discomfiture. Things went
on quietly for a little while after Stuart's raid, until on the
twenty-sixth of June, 1862, the enemy attacked our right wing with a
superior force at Mechanicsville, which was the first of the "seven
days of battle" and retreat of McClellan's army in front of Richmond.



On the morning of the twenty-sixth of June, 1862, everything was quiet
in our camps; only the fire of an occasional gun was heard in the
front of the main part of our army, on the other side of the
Chickahominy. We were enduring a very hot period of weather and sought
relief from the fierce rays of the sun under our little shelter tents
which we opened on all sides for more air. Men who were not on duty
smoked, played cards, chatted or discussed the conduct of the war and
explained how it should be managed; they damned the cabinet and the
politicians in Washington, who really managed the war and interfered
often disastrously with the commanding generals in the field. They
expressed indignation against the Copperhead (Rebel sympathizing)
papers in the North and wondered why they were not suppressed. They
made rough estimates of the enormous cost of the war which drew forth
a remark from one of the party, that he thought many millions could be
saved if the Government advertised for bids to put down the rebellion
and awarded the job to some Napoleonic contractor.

About the middle of the afternoon we were suddenly startled by heavy
firing in the direction of our right wing at Beaver Dam Creek near
Mechanicsville, about three miles from our camp, where the third
division of the Fifth Army Corps under General McCall was posted in a
strong position. Presently the firing increased to heavy volleys,
mingled with the thunder of artillery, and we realized that the long
expected attack on our right wing had begun. The drummers beat the
long roll and in a moment all was activity in camp. Tents were struck,
knapsacks were packed, rations were issued and cartridge boxes
replenished; the wagons were packed and all ready for a movement; we
only awaited orders to march to the support of the third division.
Then came a lull in the firing for an hour or more, only to be renewed
about sundown with increased fury when Sykes's division was ordered
forward. We took the road towards Mechanicsville and marched in quick
time to within half a mile or so of the battle line, when we were
halted for a while and then turned off the road into a plowed field on
the right, where we were to bivouac for the night. It was getting dark
but considerable firing was still going on and it was after nine
o'clock before it ceased entirely. We stacked arms and sat on our
knapsacks on the ground waiting.

From orderlies and wounded men passing to the rear, we learned that
the enemy had crossed and were still crossing the Chickahominy by the
upper bridges; and had made fierce attacks on the strong position of
the third division on Beaver Dam Creek where they had been repulsed
with great loss, while our loss was small; but that by morning the
enemy would be in such overwhelming numbers that the position would be
untenable. This information made it seem sure to us that there would
be another battle on the morrow and that we would take part in it; and
for the first time we experienced the peculiar feeling and mental
condition of the soldier on the eve of battle, a condition that has
been described in prose and poetry, as the "night before the battle."
Heretofore our brigade had only been under artillery and picket
firing, in which there had been but few casualties, but now we were to
face more serious encounters with the enemy.

We all felt grave. Each man seemed to reflect. I heard none boast as
to what they would do to-morrow. Intimate friends made known their
wishes to each other, in case either of them should not survive. We
spread our blankets on the plowed field. It was a beautiful moonlight
night. I lay awake a long time looking at the starry heavens, thinking
of my mother, who was my only relative. I believe that to a young
soldier the anticipation and certainty of a battle for many hours
before it occurs is one of the most trying parts of it. I suppose that
I felt just like my comrades. I prayed and hoped that I might be
spared, or, if I was to fall, that I might be killed rather than
mutilated. At last I fell asleep and slept soundly until awakened at
daylight next morning.

The events of the next few days made a stronger impression on my
youthful memory than any other occurrence throughout the war, and it
seems to me that at this writing, after a period of more than fifty
years, I remember and can describe my feelings and actions, step by
step, as though it had all happened but a week ago.

After a hasty breakfast without coffee, we stood to arms and waited.
Some troops were marching on the road to the rear and we learned that
General McCall's division was being quietly withdrawn from their
defenses. Only some rambling shots could be heard. After a while we
marched out into the road and in the direction of Cold Harbor, which
was simply a traven at the intersection of two roads. On our way we
passed our old camp and the mill and noticed that all our wagons had
departed during the night and that quantities of provisions which they
could not carry had been set on fire and were still burning.

We were halted several times and remained in line of battle for an
hour or more before we went on again; sometimes we countermarched. The
forenoon was well spent when we passed Cold Harbor and took the road
leading to Turkey Hill and Woodbury's Bridge. When we reached the
vicinity of the Adams house, where General Porter established his
headquarters, we halted again and were ordered to pile our knapsacks
in a field at the edge of the road where a small guard was left in
charge of them, while we went on about a quarter of a mile further and
took up a position on some high ground in a field on the road leading
to New Cold Harbor where we found Warren's brigade and other troops
who had preceded us.

It was past noon when we arrived here and sat or lay down on the grass
by the roadside under a broiling hot sun and ate our dinner of boiled
bacon and hardtack. I remember distinctly that it was bacon, for when
I took my piece out of my haversack and unwrapped it, I found it had
melted nearly half away from the great heat since early morning. We
lay around and smoked our pipes trying to find a little shade from
some low bushes that grew along the road, while we listened to an
occasional cannon shot which seemed to be a long way off.

The position of my regiment was near the highest part of the road
which at this point was about two feet below the general surface of
the ground, thus forming a low breastwork. In our front were open
fields bordered by woods three hundred yards or more away. Some
distance to our left the fields were broken by a small stream in a
ravine fringed with bushes and some trees. This stream crossed the
road we were on about three hundred yards to our left and at a lower
level. Beyond the stream the fields rose again to the edge of the
woods. In our rear there was a gentle upward slope which reached a
height of about a dozen feet above the level of the road and was
within sight of the Watt house surrounded by fields. On this
commanding but exposed position a regular battery soon appeared,
unlimbered their guns and prepared for action, the cannoneers filling
their sponge buckets with water, while others tore down the rail fence
in front of the guns on the high side of the road.

From our position I had a good view of the open fields and the
locality made such an impression on my memory, that I had no
difficulty in recognizing it many years afterward when I revisited the
scene. The road to the right and left of us was filled with troops of
Sykes's division. I noticed that Warren's brigade, which I recognized
by the Zouave uniforms of the Fifth New York, was posted in some
depressed ground in front of the road in advance and at some distance
to our left.

I think it was some time after two o'clock in the afternoon that
picket firing became more frequent and kept on getting closer. We
lined up against the rail fence watching the fields in our front
anxiously. Presently I noticed a company of the "Duryee Zouaves" leave
their regiment, deploy as skirmishers, and enter the woods opposite
them; and in a little while we heard the crack of their rifles. Then
we realized that the enemy was driving in our pickets and preparing to
attack us.

Two pieces of woods formed almost a right angle about five hundred
yards from our position and in the corner there was a wide gap through
which I could see the country for a mile or more beyond. I noticed a
great cloud of dust which seemed to be approaching, and when it neared
the gap I could make out that there were horses, but was not sure
whether it was cavalry or artillery from the dust they raised. My
doubts about this were dispelled in a few minutes when I saw a sudden
puff of smoke and heard the familiar sound of a shell passing over our
heads. We heard the command to lie down and obeyed it promptly,
throwing ourselves face down in the thick dust of the road. The shots
now came in such quick succession that I judged a full battery of six
guns was firing at our battery, stationed directly in the rear of my
regiment only a few yards away, which lost no time in replying and
whose guns roared with deafening effect close over our heads as we lay
in the road. Amid all this noise and the bursting of the enemy's
shells among and behind the battery, we could sometimes hear the
groans of a wounded battery horse.

As I explained before, we had some protection from this fire, inasmuch
as the road was sunk about two feet, and only one of the many shells
fired burst directly over our heads, killing two and wounding three
men of Company G., next to my company on the left. While this firing
was going on, I think each man tried to make himself as thin as
possible--I know that I did. Each time I heard the scream of a shell
coming our way, I hugged the ground so close that I broke the crystal
and hands of an open-faced watch which I carried in my pocket, and I
felt a great sense of relief when I heard the explosion of the shell
behind me. I ardently wished to be in some other place or that the
firing would cease.

I do not know just how long this artillery duel lasted--to me it
seemed an age--but it was probably less than an hour before there was
a lull in the firing. We arose, and I looked at the two men who had
been killed close by and saw that one had had his head blown clean
off, leaving only a stump of the neck; while the other had a large
hole in the side of his head. The sight was horrible; they lay in a
great pool of blood. The three wounded men had been removed. I took a
look at the battery in our rear and judged from what I could see that
they had not suffered as much as I had expected.

The battle had now begun in earnest at several points along our line;
we heard the heavy volleys of the infantry and the thunder of many
guns. I stood at the fence and, amid much smoke, saw that Warren's
brigade had become engaged with the enemy who were at the edge of the
woods. Soon I noticed a large body of Rebels come out of the woods,
apparently in our direction, when the command to lie down was again
given and this time a warning from the officer commanding the battery
that he was about to fire canister at the approaching enemy. Canister
shot is a round tin can made to fit the bore of the gun. It is filled
with bullets. When fired, the tin is blown to pieces and the bullets
have a tendency to scatter. A few dozen rounds of canister from our
battery drove the enemy back into the woods leaving their dead and
wounded out in the field. While the canister firing went on a little
incident occurred which under other conditions might have been
humorous. A man in my company was hit by something in a very soft part
of his body, covered by the seat of his pants, and let out a yell that
he was wounded. When the firing ceased and an examination was made,
only a large red spot could be found on his skin; he had evidently
been hit by a piece of tin or solder from a canister which no doubt
stung him hard!

My regiment now received orders to form ranks and we immediately went
forward down the road at a run, passing other regiments held in
reserve who encouraged us with such remarks as "Go in, Second
Infantry, and give them hell! Pitch into them, boys!" When we came to
the little stream previously mentioned, we filed to the right and
passed along for some distance, halted, closed up the ranks and fixed
bayonets when I discovered that I had lost mine; it had slipped out of
its scabbard while I was climbing a fence. We then crossed the ravine
and brush and went up the incline in company front and found ourselves
on the right of the Fifth New York Regiment of Warren's brigade,
prolonging his line of battle. I distinctly remember seeing General
Warren mounted on a gray horse at the right front of his line, a very
conspicuous figure, watching the Second Infantry taking their place in

At this stage of the war neither the officers nor the soldiers had
learned to take advantage of any inequalities of the ground, or in the
absence of such, to dig a hole and throw up a small heap of dirt for
protection, behind which the soldier lay and fired if the enemy was at
some distance. They learned to do this very soon, however. In passing
I noticed that most of the Fifth New York on our left had set up their
knapsacks in front of them and were firing in a horizontal position.

Our colors were planted on the very brow of the rise and we dressed
(aligned) to them as we did when on parade. This brought us in full
view of and made us a conspicuous mark for the enemy who were plainly
seen at the edge of a wood directly in front about two hundred yards
away. As soon as they observed us they began firing, with but little
effect at first, until some minutes after when they estimated the
distance more closely. We lost no time in replying. The command was
given to commence firing, to fire at will, and to sight for two
hundred yards.

As soon as I began to fire at the enemy, I was inspired by very
different feelings from what I had experienced while lying inactively
in the road, being shelled by the enemy and unable to reply; this, I
think, has a dispiriting effect on a young soldier. I now felt a
strong desire to inflict all the damage I could on the enemy. I was
cool and collected and took deliberate aim with every shot, as long as
I could distinguish individuals, and when the smoke became thick I
aimed at the flash of their guns and admonished my nearest comrades in
the ranks do the same.

The bullets began to whistle spitefully about our ears now; some
struck the ground in front of us, raising the dust, but the greater
part of them went above our heads. A hasty glance to the right and
left along the line showed me, however, that men were falling here and
there, and presently my comrade on my right in the front rank pitched
forward on his face to the ground, exclaiming with a groan, "I've got
it!" He seemed in intense pain and clutched the earth with his
fingers. I turned him on his back and found that he had been hit in
the right thigh, and I am sure that in the din of battle I heard the
bullet strike him and break the thigh bone. There is a peculiar sound
or thud when a bullet enters a human body, different from that which
it makes when striking other objects--a sound, once heard, not easily
forgotten. I ordered two men to take the wounded man a few yards to
the rear, down the incline, out of the line of fire, where they left
him in the shade of some bushes and saw to it that he had his canteen
handy, and then they took their places again in the firing line. When
the wounded man was removed I picked up his rifle, took off the
bayonet and affixed it to mine, thinking I might need it if we came to
close quarters.

I will here digress in my story and relate what happened to this
soldier whom we left grievously wounded on the battle field when we
had to retreat, for the purpose of showing how the enemy often cruelly
neglected our wounded. The man's name was Charles Rehm. He was company
clerk at this time, and I had known him well ever since he joined my
company at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1858. I met him about eighteen
months after this battle, while on a short furlough in Washington. He
related to me how, soon after being wounded, he seemed to have lost
consciousness and remembered little until near the close of the
following day--more than twenty-six hours after he was hit--when a
Rebel surgeon attended him and he was sent to a hospital in Richmond
that night along with many other wounded Union prisoners. There they
wanted to amputate his leg, but he told them he would rather die than
loose his leg. He was a young man about twenty-five, strong and
vigorous. He recovered, but his right leg was much shorter than the
left; he had to use a cane and limped badly. At the time he was
employed as a clerk in the War Department.

To continue my story of the battle, after firing many rounds in our
exposed position we were ordered to fall back a few paces and to fire
kneeling or lying down. The rising ground in front of us now gave us a
little protection. I fired a few rounds in a prostrate position, in
which it was difficult to reload, until I saw a man a few files from
me receive a horrible wound which opened his face from his forehead to
his chin; then I arose and fired kneeling until I heard a sudden
command to close ranks and fire by company. This command, I learned
afterward, was given because the enemy seemed to form for a charge
upon us. We arose and in close double ranks began to fire volleys all
together, to the commands of "load!" "ready!" "aim!" and "fire!" which
proved to be very effective, for the Rebels retired into the woods and
for a little while their firing ceased; then it recommenced in a more
feeble way, when we ceased firing by company and fired at will again.
While the volley firing was going on, I received what seemed like a
hard blow on the right side of my head which staggered me; but I
immediately guessed the cause of it and turned around to my rear-rank
man, who had to fire over my shoulder, and soundly berated and
threatened him. He proved to be the stupid and excitable recruit,
named Davis, whom I had drilled in Washington at times. My neck and
ear were blackened with powder, and it was months before I regained
perfect hearing.

Loading and firing the old style muzzle loading arms was slow compared
with modern arms and metallic cartridges. Before the gun could be
fired, we had to take a paper cartridge out of the cartridge box,
convey it to the mouth, bite off the end and pour the powder into the
muzzle of the gun barrel held vertically. Then we tore off the
remaining paper to free the ball and inserted that into the muzzle;
the ramrod was now drawn, turned around, end for end, and the ball
rammed home without any wadding; the ramrod was then drawn out, turned
and restored to its place. The gun was now brought to the right hip,
full cocked, a percussion cap placed on the nipple, and was then ready
to aim and fire. All this required many motions and much time.

The day was intensely hot, my clothing was saturated with
perspiration, the bright barrel of my gun was so heated by the fierce
rays of the sun and the firing that it seemed to burn my hands and I
was almost afraid to reload it without giving it time to cool off. I
think we had been under fire nearly two hours, and our forty rounds of
ammunition were almost exhausted when a regiment of the Pennsylvania
Bucktails (so called because each soldier had a buck's tail sewed to
his cap) arrived to relieve us. We were ordered to retire into the
small ravine behind us, passing through the ranks of the Bucktails who
advanced to take our places. We left our dead and seriously wounded
behind us where they fell, unable to give them any help, crossed the
little stream in the ravine and formed ranks on the other side in a
field--a much shorter line than it had been but two hours before.

We marched off in good order to the rear until we gained some rising
ground, when a Rebel battery opened on us with grape shot which killed
and wounded more of our men, among them Captain Richard Brindley who
commanded the regiment at this time. He was instantly killed by a
grape shot. We broke into double quick pace to reach lower ground and
escape from the fire of this battery; then we turned to the right in
the direction of the Adams house and halted about a half a mile back
of our firing line, where we found some regiments from General
Slocum's division, which had been sent by General McClellan from the
other side of the Chickahominy to reinforce the Fifth Army Corps which
up to this time had held more than double its number of the enemy at
bay. The battle at this time was raging fiercely--nearly a hundred
thousand men were engaged; from our position, however, we saw but
little of it except some batteries on high ground behind us firing
over our heads at the enemy.

We lay on the ground, tired and exhausted by what we had gone through,
noting the absence of many of our comrades and relating to each other
how we had seen this or that one fall. Three of our lieutenants we had
not seen since noon-time; and we wondered what had become of our band
and the drummers and fifers, whom we had not seen since morning, and
who should have been acting as stretcher-bearers to carry the wounded
off the field. There was no organized ambulance corps in our brigade
at this time, and but few ambulances; and, unfortunately, the wounded
soldiers who could not walk were left on the field where they fell.
This sad state of affairs was much improved later on in the war.

Some ammunition now arrived, but only twenty rounds could be served
out to each man. The first sergeant of my company informed me that I
had been selected to serve on the color guard. This was considered an
honor, but it had its disadvantages, the killed and wounded being
always greater in proportion on the color guard than in the companies.
One of our two color sergeants had been killed and two of the color
corporals wounded. I left the ranks of my company and joined the color
guard. I expected to find the colors riddled with bullet holes from
the fire of the enemy and was greatly surprised to find a bare
half-dozen holes in each.

We remained in our position a while longer and saw many wounded men
and stragglers making their way to the rear. Presently larger bodies
of broken regiments appeared and we realized that the Fifth Corps was
being forced back by the overwhelming numbers of the enemy. Some loud
cheering on the high ground about a quarter of a mile to the rear
startled us, and, from the appearance of the troops of which some
regiments wore straw hats, we thought they were Rebels who had broken
into our ranks from the rear, but they proved to be parts of French's
and Meagher's Irish brigades which had been sent to reinforce General
Porter. They were sent too late, however, to be of material

It was nearly sunset when two officers from General Sykes's staff made
their appearance and gave some order to Captain John S. Poland who was
now in command, and immediately the order was given to fall in, then
by the left flank forward at double quick. The two aides-de-camp were
mounted and led the column to make a charge on the enemy by General
Sykes's order; one of them was Lieutenant Thomas D. Parker of my
regiment, the name of the other, who belonged to a different regiment,
I do not remember. We rushed on for about two hundred yards when we
halted for a brief space to correct the alignment on the colors in the
center; then the command "forward, charge." was given and we rushed up
a hill for a hundred yards or so, cheering and yelling like mad, the
two aides-de-camp riding in front in the center waving their swords.

It suddenly came to me that we were about to attack the enemy with
bayonets. I had been instructed in bayonet drill and had practised
until I was considered proficient; but I think at this moment I had a
secret wish that the adversary whom I might encounter would not be a
bigger man than I. I looked ahead but could see no enemy until we
reached the crest of the hill, when we suddenly received a staggering
fire, from a Rebel regiment that seemed not more than twenty yards
away. I saw both of the mounted officers fall at the first fire,
Lieutenant Parker being killed and the other wounded. One of the
horses dropped, while the other rushed madly through our ranks.

I do not know whether it was by word of command or by instinct that we
halted and instantly began firing instead of rushing on with the
bayonet. I dropped on one knee and commenced firing as fast as I
could; I aimed at their colors which were almost opposite ours. We
were so close together that for a few minutes I could plainly
distinguish the features and color of clothing of our opponents until
the smoke obscured them. Suddenly their fire slackened and then ceased
altogether; they seemed to have melted away down their side of the
hill, and we could see only their dead and wounded on the ground where
they had been in line. Why we did not pursue the retreating enemy
puzzled me, for I thought we now had a chance to give them a good

I stood up and looked around on a sight still vividly impressed on my
memory. We were on high ground overlooking a considerable part of the
fields on which the battle now raged; the sun was setting and with its
almost horizontal rays lit up a magnificent panorama such as I have
never seen since. I could see masses of infantry engaged in deadly
struggle, the flashing of the artillery, and I heard the terrific
roar; but what fascinated me was the figure of a Rebel officer,
mounted on a horse reared up until he seemed to stand almost straight
on his hind legs. I could see the officer waving his sword over his
head, apparently urging his command forward. At this moment the horse
and rider, illuminated by the parting rays of the sun, appeared
gigantic and towered above all else. It was a picture for an artist. I
took all this in, it seemed to me, in a few seconds, when I heard a
command given and dropped back into my place. The enemy had been so
close to us, and I had been so busy loading and firing, that I had
looked neither to the right nor to the left, but now I observed that
we had suffered severely and that two corporals of the color guard had
been wounded.

Suddenly we heard the Rebel yell and saw a mass of Rebel infantry
rushing toward us. We began firing at them as soon as we saw their
heads appear above the crest of the hill. They halted, short of their
former line it seemed to me, and delivered their fire as we had done
when we had rushed at them. Later on, when I had time to think it
over, it seemed to me that these tactics were not in accordance with
what I had supposed a charge to be. In this case both sides, finding
that the party attacked was not inclined to run, halted and peppered
away at each other rather than become engaged at close quarters.

Our condition now was rather serious. Our ammunition was running very
low and I suppose there were no reinforcements close at hand. A German
battery posted on some high ground behind us tried to aid by firing at
the Rebels, but unfortunately their aim was bad and they did us more
harm than they did to the enemy; a few of our men on the right being
killed and some wounded in the back by the firing of this battery.

I had not fired many shots in the second encounter on the hill and was
in the act of ramming a cartridge, when a command or shout caused me
to look to the right and I saw that our right wing had broken and were
running down the hill helter-skelter, and that we were being fired at
from that direction, as well as from the front. I understood that we
had been out-flanked and that we would be taken prisoners. I yelled to
my comrades of the color guard and started to run with them, not
taking time to withdraw the ramrod from the barrel of my gun. There
was a friendly piece of woods a hundred yards or more ahead of us to
our right--a shelter we were all striving for, but which many did not
reach for the enemy kept up a hot fire all the way. Twice I had to
jump over men who had been hit and rolled over in my path. The enemy
kept on firing volleys into the woods for a time but made no attempt
to follow us. I got behind a tree and, like many others, fired off
half a dozen cartridges in the enemy's direction, retaining but two
out of the sixty I had during the day. Darkness was coming on. For us
the Battle of Gaines's Mill was over, but it still raged on other
parts of the field as long as it was light, and I think it was nine
o'clock before all firing ceased. I learned later that our last attack
had been made on Turkey Hill, not very far from the position we had
held at noon before the battle began. Therefore we had lost little

Efforts were now made by our officers to reform our command which had
become scattered throughout the woods; and with difficulty the
remnants were gathered together and we made our way out of the woods
to the road by which we had approached in the forenoon. Here we
reformed ranks and took up our march in retreat.

We soon came to a place where the road was skirted by thick woods on
the left and a high bank on the right with a free space between the
bank and the road on which were piled hundreds of boxes of infantry
and artillery ammunition. As we passed, a young and very indiscreet
officer made frantic appeals to some of us to stop and help him set
fire to the ammunition to prevent it from falling into the hands of
the enemy. No attention was paid to him further than calling him a
fool, for the road was crowded with retreating troops and wounded men
making their way painfully to the rear. An explosion of the ammunition
would have made sad havoc among them.

After a while we arrived at the point of the road where we had
deposited our knapsacks. Here we were halted and told to pick them out
in a hurry. It was dark by this time and the piles of knapsacks seemed
to be mixed up in hopeless confusion. Very few of the soldiers got
their own; I could not find mine nor even one belonging to my company.
I had to grab one and rejoin the ranks.

We resumed our march in the direction of Woodbury's Bridge, and when
we neared it, we were ordered to bivouac in a piece of woods on the
left side of the road. I sought my company to bivouac with them, but
could find only a few men. The first sergeant had a prisoner in
charge, a Rebel lieutenant whom he turned over to me as I was the only
non-commissioned officer of the company present besides himself. He
told me to have him guarded during the night, but I resolved to guard
him myself for a time and then turn him over to someone else. I talked
with him for a while and gave him a couple of my crackers, and
fortunately, he had a canteen of his own with some water in it, of
which I was very glad, as I had but a swallow or two left in mine,
having been unable to replenish it during the day. He lay down on the
ground, after telling me that he was slightly wounded in the leg and
apparently went to sleep. I tried hard to keep awake and for a while
listened to our army marching on the road to the bridge; but I was so
tired and exhausted by the trials of the day that, in spite of my
resolution, I dropped to the ground and to sleep; and I think the
heaviest cannonading could not have awakened me before daybreak. When,
in the morning, someone shook me and I looked about, I found that my
prisoner had escaped during the night. Nothing was said or done about
it, and I was thankful that the prisoner had not harmed me, helpless
as I was from fatigue.

On the morning of the twenty-eighth of June most of our stragglers and
men who had lost their way in the woods the evening before rejoined
us. The greater part of the army had crossed to the south side of the
Chickahominy during the night, and it was left to Sykes's division of
regulars to form the rear guard and destroy the bridges, which we did
about an hour after daylight, unmolested by the enemy at the Woodbury
Bridge where my brigade crossed. When we reached the other side we
marched half a mile or more until we reached some higher ground, where
we stacked arms and rested among some shrubbery beside the road.

Here for the first time in two days, I was able to boil some coffee
which greatly cheered and refreshed me. I then opened the knapsack
which I had picked up the night before and found therein the usual
soldier's kit, and in addition thereto a neat and well-kept diary, in
which the writer described how he had left his home in England and had
come to Canada, where after a time he was employed on the estate of a
gentleman as a horse-trainer; and how he got into some trouble with
the female members of the family and was discharged, when he made his
way into the United States and finally drifted into the army. Up to
this point the diary was very complete and full of details; but of his
army life there were only a few straggling entries made at odd times.
No name appeared, neither was his company mentioned, but I found some
initials on his clothing by means of which, after many inquiries, I
found the company to which he belonged, but he had not been seen since
our last fight with the enemy on Turkey Hill, where he was supposed to
have been killed or taken prisoner. I left the diary with the first
sergeant of his company to be returned to him if he ever came back. I
made inquiries in regard to my own knapsack but could find no trace of
it. The only things I regretted losing were a few letters and

Many of our wounded were transported to, or had gone on to Savage's
Station, where there were thousands of them, but there were still a
number of slightly wounded with us who kept our surgeon and hospital
steward, assisted by a detail from the band, busy all the morning
dressing their wounds. First sergeants of companies called the roll
during the morning and, when they came to a name to which there was no
response, those who had seen the man fall, killed or wounded stated it
and the sergeant made note of it; of others, no one knew anything.
Some of them may have been taken prisoners at Turkey Hill. In this way
we learned approximately of our losses in this battle, which amounted
to more than one-third of my regiment--a larger amount in proportion
to our small number, only six companies, than any other regiment in
our brigade. Our losses could not be computed accurately until
sometime later. General George Sykes, in his report of the Battle of
Gaines's Mill, mentions the Second and Sixth United States Infantry of
our brigade, the Twelfth and Fourteenth of the First Brigade, and the
"Duryee Zouaves" of the Third Brigade as especially conspicuous during
the action.

All of the Army of the Potomac was now united on the south side of the
Chickahominy nearer to Richmond than the greater part of the Rebel
Army which was now divided by a river as we had been--Jackson's,
Longstreet's and Hill's divisions under General Lee being on the north
bank with many of the bridges destroyed by the Federal troops in their
retreat. Even the rank and file knew this and we fully expected to be
led on to Richmond with every chance of success in our favor; and when
in the afternoon we heard some heavy firing on our side of the river,
we thought our opportunity had arrived, but, as we learned later, it
was only a minor engagement between a part of General Magruder's
troops and General Smith's division of our Sixth Army Corps at
Golding's Farm and was repulsed with small loss on our side.

We lay around in the hot sun all day, getting but little shade from
some low bushes, were awaiting orders, but none came until evening.
Ammunition was issued to us and one day's rations. Our supply trains
to the number of about five thousand wagons, together with the reserve
artillery, were on the way to the James river, where General McClellan
had decided to establish a new base of supplies. Well on towards
evening we received orders to "fall in," and marched off not knowing
where we were going; but about dusk we arrived at Savage's Station on
the Richmond and York River Railroad. Here many troops were in bivouac
and thousands of wounded were gathered in hospital tents by the
roadside, but the greater part of them lay around in the fields or
woods without shelter of any kind. It was a sad sight for us to
witness. There were not ambulances enough to transport the unfortunate
victims and more than twenty-five hundred of them were abandoned and
taken prisoners next day. We were halted here for sometime and noticed
great fires burning up supplies and military stores of all kinds which
left no doubt in our minds that we were retreating from Richmond.

We started on again and soon entered some dark and gloomy woods,
through which the road led toward the White Oak Swamp. It was so dark
in these woods that we could not distinguish anything half a dozen
files in front of us. At a few places where the roads crossed, fires
were lighted and guards were stationed to indicate the way. Owing to
the darkness, mainly, and some rain, our progress was very slow and we
had many halts of long and short duration, at some of these tired out,
I dropped to the ground and fell asleep as soon as I touched it.
During one of these short rests in the night, I was suddenly awakened
by hearing shots fired close by me. I jumped up and in my confusion
imagined that we were being attacked. I hid behind a tree on one side
of the road, like many others, cocked my gun and listened. There was a
noise which sounded like cavalry and a chatter like sabre scabbards,
it seemed to us in our half-awake condition. Scattering shots
continued to be fired, until it was discovered that the alarm was
caused by an officer's pack-mule, that had escaped from his keeper and
was running down the road among the sleeping soldiers, rattling the
kettles and pans which were a part of his load. A number of shots were
fired at him, but the mule bore a charmed life and was unharmed.

Soon after daylight on June twenty-ninth, we crossed the White Oak
Swamp at what was known as Brackett's Ford, halting a short distance
beyond, where we stopped to boil coffee and eat breakfast. The only
water to be had was that of the swamp which was dark and stagnant.
After breakfast we took up a position a little further on and remained
in line of battle for hours, listening to the heavy firing behind us
at Savage's Station, where General Sumner kept the enemy at bay until
dark and then retreated during the night across White Oak Swamp.

The country we were in was a wilderness of woods, bush and swamps, and
for two days we hardly saw a clearing, or a cabin. The enemy had
repaired some of the bridges across the Chickahominy and we were in
danger of flank attacks from both sides, the more so on our right,
between us and the James river where the enemy followed us on a
parallel road. Several times during the day in these woods, where the
heat was almost insupportable and not a breath of air was stirring, we
thought we were about to be attacked, and, with our rifles at full
cock, kneeled on the ground peering into the thicket and silently
awaited the foe. At different periods of the day some of our own
troops marched along the road in the direction of Malvern Hill, but we
remained until dark, only changing our position slightly a few times.
After dark we resumed our march and put in another distressing night;
the more so, as the guide for Sykes's division lost the road, causing
us to countermarch for a long distance, so that we did not reach
Malvern Hill where we were due in the early morning hours of June
thirtieth until nearly noon next day. On this day a severe battle was
fought at Glendale, which lay between the White Oak Swamp and Malvern
Hill, by Generals McCall and Kearney against Generals Longstreet and
Hill of the Confederates. This battle resulted in a repulse for the
enemy and enabled our troops to retire to Malvern Hill during the
night, where by daylight on July first the entire Army of the Potomac
was assembled in a strong position selected by General McClellan.

Sykes's division, upon its arrival during the forenoon of June
thirtieth was posted on the western edge of the large Malvern plateau,
from the Malvern house toward the Crew house, except General Warren's
brigade which formed the extreme left down on the river road in the
bottom lands. Half a dozen batteries, including Tyler's battery of ten
siege guns, were stationed at the edge of the plateau overlooking the
steep slope and the fields in front, which ended with some woods about
a thousand yards away. The regiments of Sykes's division were placed
between the batteries for their support. My own was very close to the
Malvern house, an old Colonial mansion built of bricks brought from
Holland. General Fitz-John Porter made this house his headquarters. It
was also used as a hospital during the battle and as a signal station,
for it overlooked much of the country and the James river, where
several gunboats armed with heavy guns were anchored. My regiment and
another were placed between the siege-gun battery and a regular
battery of six Napoleon guns.

The position occupied by the Fifth Corps was a commanding one and we
hoped the enemy would attempt to assault it. We lay down in the hot
sun, thoroughly tired out after our night's marching. There was water
at the foot of the plateau and by details we replenished our empty
canteens but were forbidden to build any fires to make coffee--besides
there was no wood to be had near our position. Shortly after our
arrival at Malvern Hill a gill of whiskey was served to each man who
wished to take it, also three pieces of hard-tack. I suppose these
were a part of commissary stores left behind, for our wagon-train was
by this time well on its way to Harrison's Landing on the James river.
We rested and slept during the afternoon, until rudely awakened by our
batteries beginning to fire on the enemy down in the low ground in our
front and near Warren's brigade. A sergeant of the Fourteenth
Infantry, who had probably had a little more than his gill and was
confused when tardily aroused by the firing, cried out, "Is it
possible I'm in the hands of the enemy? I'm a British subject!"

The Rebels advanced some artillery from the woods to a position within
eight hundred yards of us and opened fire, some of their shells
passing over us, some dropping among Warren's men. By standing up, I
could plainly see their batteries out in the field, as well as a large
body of infantry at the edge of the woods supporting them. In a few
minutes some three dozen of our guns on the plateau were firing at
them, making a tremendous uproar, above which we could distinguish the
sound of the large guns from the gunboats on the river and the
explosion of their enormous shells among the enemy in the woods, the
effect of which must have been terrifying. The position of the Rebel
batteries and their infantry was invisible to the gunboats owing to
intervening woods, so that their fire was directed by signals. The
signal corps had built a platform at one of the chimneys on the steep
roof of the Malvern House, from which I noticed two men making
signals. Whenever one of the great two-hundred-pound shells, fired at
great height, rushed through the air, it sounded like a train of cars
in motion at high speed and the explosion shook the earth. Some of
these shells fell short in the fields in our front; all did not
explode--some spun around, threw up dirt and dug holes in which it
seemed a horse could have been buried. The well-directed fire of our
guns on the edge of the plateau destroyed the Rebel batteries in less
than a half hour. Several caissons were blown up, the soldiers
abandoned their guns in wild flight, and the infantry disappeared,
making no further attempt to molest Warren's brigade on the river road
that day.

After a short engagement, in which there were only a few casualties on
our side, it remained fairly quiet on the left wing during the evening
and throughout the night, and for the first time since leaving our
camp at Gaines's Mill we had a night of unbroken rest, wrapped in our
blankets. I was so weary that even the certainty of a battle the next
day could not keep me awake, and I slept soundly until awakened at

The morning of July first broke bright and clear, and gave promise of
a hot day. The Union Army seemed in excellent spirits; bands could be
heard playing patriotic airs in the early morning on various parts of
our line; our own band played for a time with a most cheering effect.
Our gigantic and genial Drum-Major Lovell whirled his baton joyously
and showed no disappointment because his daily prayer to the Lord to
send him a million dollars remained unanswered. He hoped, as he
explained to us, that some day He would get tired and say, "Let the
poor devil have it and not bother me any longer." Later on the Lord
was good to him, for he became one of the color sergeants of the
regiment and remained in that capacity for eighteen months until the
close of the war, without receiving a scratch; and he was the only
color bearer in my regiment who served that length of time without
death or injury. He remained in the army for many years after the war;
but, alas! ended his days in the Soldiers' Home in Washington.

The enemy were massing under cover of the woods all the morning; we
caught glimpses of them through some of the clearings. After ten
o'clock in the morning they advanced a battery occasionally, feeling
different parts of our line, but were always quickly silenced by a
concentrated fire from our artillery. Some one of the batteries which
we supported kept throwing shells into the woods where the Rebels were
supposed to be massing, and the gunboats also fired an occasional
shell. This artillery duel went on until about one o'clock in the
afternoon, when heavy infantry firing took place toward the center of
our line. This went on for some hours, spreading toward the right;
then for a time it slackened, only to recommence with renewed vigor
after five o'clock when the most desperate efforts were made to break
our line, but without success.

During this time all the batteries in our vicinity kept up a
tremendous fire, as did Tyler's siege-guns and the gunboats. It was
estimated that at times, when nearly all the artillery on both sides
were engaged, over two hundred guns were in action. The earth trembled
and the roar of the many guns so close to us was deafening. I think it
was the heaviest firing which I heard during the war. Again we were in
a passive state, in a position prone to the ground to escape the
shells from the enemy, unable to fire a shot, as the Rebel infantry
made no attack on our part of the line; they deemed our position too
strong to be assaulted and did not have artillery enough to make any
serious impression.

During this great artillery duel two of the immense shells from the
gunboats dropped short and landed among the siege-guns beside us. One
of the shells exploded, killing and wounding several men. The gunboat
fire was stopped for a time by signal, then recommenced in a different
direction. The batteries in our vicinity suffered little loss and in
my regiment only two men were wounded during all this firing. About
sundown the heavy volleys at the center and right of our line ceased,
the attacks of the enemy in masses had been repulsed and they had
withdrawn with great loss, without penetrating our line at any point.
The batteries we supported ceased firing, but a heavy, desultory
infantry fire with occasional cannon shots warned us that the battle
was not yet over.

Suddenly we received orders to form ranks and my regiment marched off
by the Quaker Road in the direction of the Crew House, near the center
of our line and about a mile away. Our band, led by the drum-major,
was at the head and, by orders of Captain Poland, began playing. It
was the first and the only time during the war that I heard a band
play, while a battle was on. We marched as if on parade; the music was
inspiring and drew cheers from the troops among which we passed. This
was kept up until we turned off the road and some spent balls began to
drop among us, when the band ceased playing and fell in behind.

We marched on toward the place we were to occupy and, when near it, we
passed a curious little battery which was stationed alongside of a
barn. They were busy firing. I had remarked this battery a few times
when it passed us on the road, while we were marching up the
peninsula. It consisted of a small gun-carriage and limber drawn by
two horses; on the gun-carriage was mounted a single steel barrel,
somewhat longer and heavier than an ordinary gun-barrel, but of about
the same calibre; there was a cranked handle to turn and a hopper to
receive cartridges. The soldiers named it the "coffee-mill battery."
It really looked like a large coffee-mill mounted on wheels, except
for the barrel. It required the services of three men to fire the
gun--one to feed cartridges into the hopper, another to raise or
depress the barrel and swing it right or left in a quarter-circle and
to take aim, while the third man turned the crank which caused the
explosion of the charges. I think there were six of these guns, and
their pop-pop-pop was quite rapid and continuous as we passed by them.
They were the elementary production of the later inventions--the
mitrailleuse and gatling guns. They disappeared soon after that from
the Army of the Potomac and I never saw them in action again.

When we reached our position along a wide and deep ravine, it was
almost dark and objects at some distance could only be distinguished
with difficulty. An irresolute fire was opened upon us from the
opposite side of the ravine, to which we immediately replied, although
all we could see of the foe were the flashes of their guns, which
stopped in about ten minutes after which we received the command to
cease firing. Half a dozen were wounded in this short engagement, but
none killed. We remained silent in our position, awaiting a possible
attack, hearing very plainly some of the commands given by the Rebel
officers on the opposite side of the dark ravine. From the ravine
itself, we heard groans and cries of wounded men who were evidently
Rebels, for one among them, probably an officer, in his delirium
sometimes cried out, "Charge, Ninth Georgia!"

The firing on other parts of the line of battle did not cease entirely
for an hour or more, and then the enemy seemed to have retired,
leaving us completely victorious. I think it must have been much later
than ten o'clock, when the word was quietly passed along the ranks to
quit our position and creep back as silently as possible. I did this a
part of the way, then went the rest of the distance in a crouching
position, until we were halted and re-formed our line. Then we marched
a little farther, halted again, and sat on the ground, resting and
wondering what these movements meant.

Later, the first sergeant of my company called me and conducted me to
the adjutant, who ordered me to make my way to the Malvern house,
where one of our lieutenants and a company of our men had been left as
a guard at the general hospital, and to inform the officer to hold
himself and his men in readiness to rejoin the regiment when it passed
during the night or morning. Since we were in the field I had been
selected several times for special duties, but I did not like this one
in the least. I knew the general direction of the Malvern house,
whence we had come, and if I could gain the Quaker Road the rest would
be easy. But to reach this road it was necessary to cross some fields
and a piece of woods, and it struck me I had a good chance of being
shot by some picket, or getting lost and being taken prisoner.

The sky was overcast and the night dark. I made my way cautiously
towards the woods and just before reaching them passed over an
elevated piece of ground, where evidently one of our batteries had
been stationed during the day. I inferred this from a number of dead
horses, some with their stiffened legs up in the air, and among them a
few dark forms which I knew but too well were the bodies of
artillerists. I hurried over this place and gained the edge of the
woods--which I dreaded the most on account of pickets, but was not
challenged. I halted a moment and listened, thinking I heard the
clatter of accoutrements and the heavy tramp of marching men. I knew
that this could only be some of our army and felt much relieved.

Presently I was among them on the Quaker Road, for the woods proved to
be shallow. These soldiers belonged to another corps and were
retreating very reluctantly toward the James river. There was much
grumbling among them; they wondered why, after a victory and with a
retiring enemy, they were ordered to leave a strong position. We
learned later that some of the corps commanders had importuned General
McClellan to hold Malvern Hill, but the General ruled against it,
giving as his reason the difficulty of supplying the army in that

I reached the Malvern house a little before midnight and found a
sentinel who directed me to the lieutenant in charge. He was fast
asleep. I awakened him and repeated the adjutant's orders. He ordered
some of the men to watch the road near the corner of the house and
notify him when the regiment appeared. On looking around I saw that
the house was brightly lighted and there was much commotion caused by
officers and orderlies rushing in and out of General Porter's
headquarters; it was also the principal hospital, and in the
out-buildings and some tents I could see surgeons attending the
wounded and performing amputations by candle-light, while the ground
back of the house was covered with wounded soldiers.

I did not tarry long to look at this heart-rending scene, but made my
way along the front of the house and the out-houses. I was hungry and
was looking around to find something to eat. My haversack was almost
empty; and I knew the necessity of saving something for the morrow, as
we were not likely to get any rations until we came to our supply
trains. As we had not been able to make coffee for some days, I had
plenty of that and sugar, but I had no meat and only a few crackers,
so I prowled around until I observed a half dozen soldiers near the
corner of a fence where there was a heap of boxes and barrels, which
proved to be commissary stores left unguarded and probably forgotten.
I joined the group and found them dipping their tin cups into a
barrel, of which they had knocked in the head, and filling their
canteens with what I knew from the odor to be whiskey. This seemed a
heaven-sent opportunity and one not to be neglected. I emptied my
canteen of water and filled it with whiskey. Some boxes of hard-tack
had been opened, from which I filled my haversack. There were still
some barrels of whiskey, also barrels of pork, which the group decided
it would be unsafe to break open on account of the noise it would
make. I dipped my quart cup into the barrel once more and hurried away
with it in my hand, returning to the guard with whom I shared its
contents. I kept silent regarding my canteen, however. I did not dare
tell my comrades where I got the liquor, for fear some of them would
become intoxicated; so I was forced to invent a tale of having
received it from one of the hospital stewards, who was a friend of
mine. I took especial care to guard my canteen with its precious
contents, then wrapped myself in my blanket and went to sleep among my

I was awakened at daylight when our brigade approached. We hurried to
the road and waited until the regiment came along, then joined its
ranks. Sykes's division was again covering the retreat of the army.
The First Brigade, under Colonel Buchannan, formed the rear guard
while our brigade immediately preceded them. It was storming, as it
generally did after a battle, and the rain soon came down in torrents,
wetting us to the skin in a few minutes. It was a cold, chilly rain
which lasted all day.

The army had been retreating from a defeated enemy on this road all
night, again leaving many of our wounded behind. By the time we
reached Haxall's and the bottom-lands, we found the road in a
frightful condition. Cut up as it had been by thousands of wagons and
artillery, it was now a liquid quagmire from the torrential rain. We
tore down fences and crossed fields to avoid some impassable places.
We waded through many ditches and small streams, often knee-deep, and
had many halts and interruptions, often coming to a halt in a part of
the road where it was impossible to sit down for a much-needed rest,
unless we should sit in mud nearly a foot deep. My shoes were soon
filled with gritty liquid mud which chafed the skin and made marching
very painful and distressing. At one time I just saved myself from
falling, while crossing a stream, and my rifle slipped from my grasp
and was submerged in the muddy water. I doubt if I could have
discharged it if I had needed to do so.

I cannot describe our misery and suffering on this day, the seventh of
the retreat, and by far the worst of all. We had reached the limit of
endurance, weakened as we were by battles, marching and want of food.
We had become callous and cared little what became of those who
dropped out from exhaustion or of small squads of wounded men who were
limping painfully along the road, sometimes being knocked down and
crying out in anguish for help. The rule of self-preservation had a
deplorable demonstration on this awful day.

Several times we formed line of battle in the fields, ready to repel
the enemy who pursued and harassed the rear guard just behind us.
Stuart's Rebel cavalry and a light battery of artillery followed us
all day and occasionally sent a few shells into our ranks. We also had
cavalry with the rear guard who skirmished with the enemy, and a
battery of regular artillery which more than once took up a commanding
position beside the road and with our cavalry kept the enemy in check.
During the forenoon, while at a long halt, I gave Lieutenant
McLoughlin, who now commanded my company (and the only company officer
present at this time, Lieutenant Kidd having been wounded) a drink of
whiskey from my canteen and he declared I had saved his life. He
laughed when I explained how I had got it, but remarked that I was
lucky not to have been caught. I took a big drink myself which cheered
me, wet and shivering as I was; the remainder I doled out to my
comrades, as far as it would go, and for that day at least I was the
most popular member of the company.

We reached Harrison's Landing while it was still daylight. Although
the distance was not more than about eight miles, it had taken us
twelve hours to make it owing to the state of the roads, the frequent
halts and the forming of line of battle several times during the day.
We halted at the edge of an immense wheat field which I think must
have been a mile square. Only a small part of this field had been cut
and stacked in sheaves. It still rained hard. My bunkie and I decided
to put up our shelter tent for the first time in seven days. We
gathered a thick layer of the wet sheaves and lay down in our wet
clothing, sleeping soundly all night. We could not make any coffee,
but were surprised and cheered by an issue of hard-tack and a gill of
whiskey during the evening and the promise of some meat on the morrow;
which was a great comfort to us in our despondent condition.

Next morning, July third, directly after reveille, a Rebel battery
commenced throwing shells into our camp from a hill which overlooked
it. We formed line of battle, advanced a short distance and remained
under arms until the firing ceased in a short time, the battery being
driven away and the hill occupied by a Maine regiment. This was the
finish of the seven days' retreat, or "change of base," as General
McClellan preferred to name it. No large body of the Rebel Army had
followed us from Malvern Hill, where they had received such a crushing
blow that they retired within the fortifications of Richmond to
recuperate, leaving only small reconnoitering parties to observe us.

After the firing had ceased and while we were still standing in ranks,
a private of my company stepped into the bushes just behind us and
presently we heard a shot; and he came running out, holding up a
bleeding hand and crying, "I am wounded. Take me to the hospital!" But
he ran so fast, it would have been hard to catch him. We found his
rifle in the bushes, apparently just discharged, which left no doubt
that this was a case of self-mutilation, fortunately of rare
occurrence, so far as I knew; but I heard of a few cases where the
mutilation took place during battle. This soldier never rejoined his
company, which was well for him. The fear of the contempt of his
comrades is even more powerful a factor than discipline in keeping a
timid or nerveless soldier in the ranks during battle.

As we looked at each other while in ranks, we were amazed at the
shocking appearance both officers and rank and file presented after
the strenuous week we had passed through. Our clothing was torn and
shapeless and coated with sticky mud from head to foot; our faces and
hands were grimy with powder and dirt, for few had had opportunity to
wash themselves for a week. Several who were slightly wounded wore
bandages. Our guns were rusty but serviceable. Some had lost their
knapsacks and some a part of their accoutrements, and upon all the
faces there was a gaunt and weary look which plainly told the story of
our endurance. Of the great field of wheat which I had seen the
evening before, scarcely any remained that had not been trampled down
during the night by soldiers and horses.

The rain had ceased, but the sky was still clouded and the day
cheerless. During the forenoon we marched to a point within about a
mile and a half of Harrison's Landing and the brigade encamped on low
ground on the border of a sluggish and boggy creek, where we were
destined to remain for many weeks sweltering under the great heat of
the summer.

The first advance upon Richmond had failed, as did also the second
under General Grant two years later, when he operated on substantially
the same ground against the same enemy reduced in number and
resources. Military writers and historians have accused General
McClellan of grave errors in the Peninsula Campaign; but some of them
accuse the Administration at Washington, together with the Joint
Committee of Congress on the conduct of the war, of graver errors and
blame them as being the real cause for the unsuccessful termination of
this campaign. That the Army of the Potomac, made up of as fine and
intelligent soldiers as ever took the field, remained as true and
loyal to its commander after this campaign as it had been before,
proved beyond question that it had not lost confidence in him.

The "retreat" to the James river was not a retreat in the usual sense
of the word; we kept our formation, all our movements were directed by
General McClellan and there never was a rout. We fought daily battles
in all of which, except that of Gaines's Mill, we were successful in
checking the enemy and keeping them at bay until a new position was
gained. We lost none of our artillery, except in battle, and we saved
all of our heavy siege guns and our immense wagon-train preceded the
army. All this was done in an unknown, swampy country with few roads
upon which a great army could march and make any rapid progress, even
if unpursued by a determined enemy. The enemy's losses in the seven
days' battles were greater than ours by nearly four thousand men,
according to authorities.

The battle of Gaines's Mill, although not ranking as one of the great
battles of the war, was remarkable, being the one with the greatest
disparity in numbers. When the battle commenced General Porter had
only the Fifth Army Corps, consisting of less than twenty thousand
men, to oppose double their number, and it was not until late in the
afternoon that Slocum's division of seven thousand reinforced him. For
four hours the powerful enemy tried in vain to break our lines and it
was not until near sundown that, reinforced by General Jackson's
troops, augmenting their numbers to more than sixty-five thousand,
against our less than thirty thousand actually engaged, they succeeded
in breaking our line in the center; and when darkness ended the battle
they had only advanced as far as the ground previously occupied by our
reserves. The losses of the Fifth Army Corps during the seven days
were about seventy-six hundred, of whom forty-eight hundred were
killed and wounded and twenty-eight hundred captured or missing. My
battalion, consisting of six companies of the Second United States
Infantry, about three hundred and fifty present for duty, lost two
officers who were killed and four wounded; fourteen soldiers killed,
one hundred and three wounded, and sixteen captured or missing--total,
one hundred and thirty-nine, more than one-third of our number.

I had no clear idea at the time of the distance the army had covered
during the seven days' retreat and I was astonished when twenty years
later I made the trip with a friend from Richmond to Haxall's,
following the route of the army in a single day, and had sufficient
time to take a number of photographs. We had a carriage and a pair of
good horses. The coachman was black, but his name was White. We
remained on Malvern Hill until dark, when we went to Haxall's to spend
the night, much to the relief of Charlie White, who showed great
terror as we passed through the dark and gloomy woods on our route
which he said were full of ghosts. He declared that "sodjer ghosts"
marched on this road until daylight.

In my narration of events which occurred during McClellan's Peninsular
Campaign I have tried to describe in detail a soldier's experience in
camp, on the march, in battle and when retreating before a pursuing
foe, as accurately as my memory permits after an interval of more than
fifty years. I consider that campaign unsurpassed in hardship,
suffering and endurance by any subsequent campaign while I was in the
Army of the Potomac, unless perhaps it be the battle of Fredericksburg
and General Burnside's "Mud-March," both of which occurred in winter
time. I therefore deem it superfluous to burden the remainder of my
narrative with similar details.



The part of the camp at Harrison's Landing occupied by our brigade
was, I think, the most unhealthy spot in which I had ever camped. The
weather had become intensely hot and water fit to drink was difficult
to obtain from a poor spring, at which crowds stood in line waiting
for a chance to fill their canteens. The water of the boggy creek was
soon contaminated and the sinking of barrels and cracker boxes at its
edge had but little effect in purifying it. Nearly a third of our men
were soon sick with miasma and swamp fever; the hospitals were
over-crowded and the mortality high. Every morning and evening we
heard the dead march.

Our second day in this camp was the Fourth of July, and General
McClellan caused a salute to be fired at noon at each army corps
headquarters. In the afternoon he reviewed us and his address to the
Army of the Potomac was read to us on parade. A few days later
President Lincoln visited the camp and held a review in the cool of
the evening. He was enthusiastically cheered.

About this time I became very ill and had to report to the regimental
surgeon, who wanted to send me to the hospital; but I did not want to
go there among so many sick and dying men and remained for a few days
in my tent, over which we had built an arbor, which was of little use,
however, as the camp was exposed to the torrid sun. I became very
weak. A kind comrade assisted me from camp to the creek, about a
hundred yards away, where he spread my blanket and I lay there under
the shade of a tree all day, until he helped me back to camp at night.
It was better than remaining in the little shelter tent; but I was so
miserable that I cared very little whether I lived or died.

The sick and wounded of the volunteers had a "sanitary commission,"
supported by the various states, which furnished nurses, supplies and
delicacies that the army could not provide. The regulars, when in
their own hospitals, received no such attention; they had to get along
on soldiers' rations, if they could eat them. At this camp we had
company cooks. My comrade brought me rice soup from our kitchen, and
on that and some soft crackers and condensed milk, bought at the
sutler's, I managed to keep alive. In about ten days I began to
improve, but was greatly emaciated, and it was well towards the end of
July before I could take my place in the ranks again.

One of our first lieutenants and two second lieutenants, all civilian
appointees, who had not shown themselves at any of the recent battles
the regiment had been engaged in, turned up at Harrison's Landing
and were promptly arrested. They were tried by court-martial and
cashiered on July twenty-first, 1862. I believe two of them succeeded
in getting back into the army early in 1863, and one--the first
lieutenant--redeemed himself by being killed at Gettysburg. I shall
not mention the names of these valiant officers; they are recorded
in the official Army Register of 1862-'63.

We had been in camp about a week when we were surprised by the
reappearance of the captain of our company, whom we had left in
Georgetown four months before with a medical excuse from field duty.
He was more corpulent and his face was more florid than ever. He
brought with him some cases, containing a variety of liquors, which he
charged his servant to guard very carefully when he was absent from
his tent--which was seldom, as he performed no duties. Few of our
officers paid any attention to him or visited him in his tent, with
the exception of the three lieutenants under arrest; they were his
chums and boon companions from morning till night. My tent was within
ear-shot of the captain's and when I lay there while sick or
convalescent I could not help hearing their loud talk while they were
carousing--a daily occurrence. They fought the seven days' battles all
over again, the captain bewailing the ill health which had kept him
from the active service which he so ardently desired. Had he been in
charge of the brigade he would have formed an oblique square and in
that form he would have charged upon the enemy at a double-quick. He
demonstrated to the entire satisfaction of his auditors that the
impact of the sharp corner of the oblique square could not have failed
to break the enemy's center, while the two sides of the square would
have brushed away their right and left wings and caused them to be
annihilated by our fire. He admitted that such a bold movement could
be successfully executed only with reliable troops like the regulars,
if led by an officer who was a tactician able to conceive such a
daring attack. At times the officers under arrest became maudlin and
with tearful voices lamented their hard luck in being under arrest,
when the captain would cheer them by saying, "Gentlemen, I know you
are all brave men; trust in me, I will see you vindicated! What will
you take now?"

This went on until the three officers were cashiered and left camp.

One night soon after the Rebels shelled the camp at Harrison's Landing
and there were rumors of another advance on Richmond. The captain
hastily departed with bag and baggage, leaving only the empty cases
behind. This time we were rid of him for good; he was retired for
disability(!) August twenty-seventh, 1862, and we never saw him again.
John S. Poland now became captain of my company. He had been graduated
from the West Point Military Academy and was a very efficient officer.
The departure of our captain, the dismissal of the three lieutenants,
a few transfers and some promotions from the ranks, left us with a
better lot of officers--men whom the rank and file could respect.

We were much in need of clothing, particularly shoes, and these were
issued to us while at Harrison's Landing; also the medical department
ordered whiskey and quinine occasionally as a prevention against
malarial fever, as had been done while we were on the Chickahominy.
Most of the soldiers would have preferred to take this dose unmixed,
dispensing with the quinine.

We had regular drum and bugle calls and bands played in the evening at
this camp. Promotions took place among the soldiers--I was made a
sergeant, the youngest sergeant in the regiment at that time.

Shortly after midnight on August first a heavy fire from field pieces
on the south side of the James, which quickly aroused the entire army,
was opened on our camps and the many vessels in the river. Our
batteries at the river opened fire; so did the gun-boats. For more
than half an hour there was a tremendous noise of guns and exploding
shells, when the Rebel batteries suddenly ceased firing. None of the
shells reached us, but ten men were killed and fifteen wounded in the
camps nearer the river; the shipping received only trifling damage.

Next day troops were sent across the river, my regiment among them. We
crossed on a steamboat, near noon; deployed as skirmishers on the
other side; advanced up a hill through some woods and came upon a
meadow where the Rebel guns had been placed, commanding our camp and
the river, but screened by the woods. It was possible to locate the
guns and count them. There were forty-one of them. Some artillery
ammunition was scattered about and we noticed large holes in the
ground near-by, made by shells from our gunboats.

The day was very hot. We lay in the shade of the woods and I was
taking a nap when I was awakened and ordered to take six men and
examine a piece of wood land on our right, for half a mile or more,
and then return and report. I started with my little squad at a "trail
arms," the guns at half-cock. There was much underbrush and we
advanced cautiously for nearly half a mile, when I heard a noise and
thought I caught a glimpse of a man in a gray uniform, trying to hide
behind a tree only a short distance away. I made a sign to my squad to
halt and advancing a little nearer brought the gun to my shoulder at
full cock, when I challenged and was immediately answered, "Friend of
the Sixth Infantry!" as the man stepped from behind the tree. He was
dressed in a gray woolen shirt, having left off his blue blouse on
account of the heat. I frightened him when I explained how near he had
come to being shot on account of his gray shirt. He belonged to
another party examining the woods from a different direction. I made
my way back to my command, diverging somewhat from the way we had
come. In a clearing we found six fine cows grazing which we drove
towards our party. They were kept and turned over to the commissary
later on. We noticed some Rebel cavalry on high ground a mile or more
away watching us, but they did not venture any nearer.

The place where we had landed was called Coggin's Point. We were on
part of a large plantation, the property of a prominent secessionist.
There was a large house within view, called the Cole house, which was
ordered to be destroyed and was set fire to by another detachment. We
re-crossed the river about sundown and returned to our camp. General
McClellan ordered Coggin's Point to be occupied and field works
constructed to prevent a recurrence of a bombardment from the south
side of the James.

About August fourth General Hooker made a strong reconnoissance in the
direction of Richmond and drove a Rebel force from Malvern Hill. There
were rumors of a campaign and the authorities at Washington and the
Northern journals united in urging General McClellan to become active.
The sick and wounded, more than ten thousand of them, were being
shipped North as fast as water transportation could be provided for
them, and we supposed that another attempt to capture Richmond would
be made. We were disagreeably surprised when we learned later that we
were to reinforce General Pope north of the Rappahannock river, whom
"Stonewall" Jackson had hopelessly bewildered by his rapid movements.

The commands of Generals Freemont and Banks had been withdrawn from
the Shenandoah Valley when "Stonewall" Jackson gave them the slip in
June and by forced marches reached Richmond to take part in the seven
days' battles. These two commands were consolidated with that of
General McDowell to form the Army of Virginia, which was to operate
between Washington and Richmond for the protection of the capitol.
General Halleck called General John Pope from the West, with the
approval of the President, to take command of the Army of Virginia,
although he was out-ranked by both McDowell and Freemont. General
Freemont, unwilling to serve under Pope, promptly resigned his
command. When General Pope took command he addressed a proclamation to
the Army of Virginia in which he expressed his contempt for certain
phrases he found much in vogue, such as "bases of supplies" and "lines
of retreat"--phrases which he enjoined his army to discard, as
unworthy of soldiers destined to follow the leadership of one "who
came from the West and had never seen anything but the backs of his

This bombastic and arrogant nonsense was a satire pointed at General
McClellan. Alas for Pope! Less than two months after he took command
the enemy saw his back and his heels as well. He was shelved to the
command of an unimportant department in the West and cut no further
figure in the war. The Northern papers made much of him and his
proclamation, but the soldiers had a clearer insight into his
character and ability as the commander of a great army. He became
known among them by the sobriquet of "Headquarters in the Saddle."

The Fifth Army Corps was the First to leave Harrison's Landing. On the
afternoon of the fourteenth of August Sykes's division received orders
to strike their tents and prepare to march to Newport News, Virginia.
We left our camp about six o'clock in the evening and marched all
night, resting only about two hours at midnight. Some time during the
forenoon of the next day we reached the Chickahominy, and crossing it
by a pontoon bridge about a thousand feet long, went into bivouac. The
following morning we started again at daybreak, and passing through
Williamsburg and Yorktown, we reached Newport News on the fourth day,
the eighteenth, remaining there for two days awaiting transportation.
There we had salt water bathing in the James river, which was very
refreshing after the hot and dusty march. We were hurried along and
made rather long marches. I had not recovered my full strength after
my illness at Harrison's Landing, but I managed to keep up by
lightening my burden. I threw away my knapsack and part of my
clothing, made a roll of the blanket and shelter tent, wrapping up in
it a change of underclothing and socks, and slung the roll over my
shoulder. I put on my newest shoes and threw the others away. All this
made marching easier for me. Many of my comrades did the same.

On August twentieth we embarked on a steamboat along with other troops
for Aquia Creek on the Potomac and had the usual overcrowded and
uncomfortable experience. We arrived on the twenty-second and were a
long time getting ashore by tugs. There was a railroad to
Fredericksburg, less than twenty miles away, and we were tumbled into
empty freight cars and upon platform cars and taken to Falmouth
Station, near Fredericksburg, where we disembarked in the evening and

Next day, after receiving some rations, we started our march up the
north bank of the Rappahannock in the direction of Pope's army. The
other corps of the Army of the Potomac went up the Potomac river as
far as Alexandria, which gave them only half so long a march to join
Pope, as the Fifth Corps had had from Falmouth. General McClellan
accompanied the main part of the Army to Alexandria.

Our march up the Rappahannock and along the line of the Orange and
Alexandria railroad by the way of Bealton, Catlett's and Bristoe
Stations to Manassas was a severe one. The heat was so excessive that
a man in my company declared "the sun must be in the hydraulics!"
Parts of the country seemed to be destitute of water, which caused us
great suffering, and many were overcome and dropped by the wayside. We
did not have the muddy roads of the Peninsula, but we had an
intolerable amount of dust which hung in great clouds over the
marching columns and betrayed the movements of the opposing armies. As
we neared Bristoe Station, where a stretch of the railroad had been
torn up by the Rebels, we began to hear cannonading.

On the morning of the twenty-ninth we started at daybreak for
Centreville, passing Manassas Junction, where we saw the ruins of
locomotives, cars and immense quantities of rations and military
stores totally destroyed by fire a few days before when Jackson's army
had slipped around the bewildered General Pope's right and got in his
rear, between him and Washington.

We had only just passed Manassas when we were ordered to face about
and march in the direction from which we had come on the Warrenton
Pike towards Gainsville. Before reaching there some of Longstreet's
troops were encountered about noon, concealed in the woods near the
Manassas railroad. We took up a position near Bethlehem Church, massed
in the rear of the First Division as a reserve. Later in the afternoon
very heavy firing was heard some miles away to our right, where the
battle of Groveton was being fought. We had a strong force of
skirmishers out; so did the enemy. There was much firing between them
until dark and some movements as though we were forming for an attack,
with the object of preventing Longstreet from sending reinforcements
to Jackson at Groveton, but nothing came of it and we remained in our
position until daybreak, August thirtieth. The last issue of rations
had been, I think, at Warrenton Junction; we were nearly out, in fact
had lived on half-rations for the last day. During this night we
received a small allowance of hard-tack and nothing else.

On the morning of the thirtieth we marched by way of the Warrenton
Pike in the direction of yesterday's battle and took up a position
about noon near the center in a cornfield not far from the Pike, my
brigade forming the reserve in rear of the First Brigade. We were soon
under a heavy fire of shells from the Rebel batteries which kept up
with more or less vigor until the middle of the afternoon, when the
real battle commenced with General Butterfield's attack on the enemy,
strongly posted in a railroad cut towards the right. Historians have
described this bloody battle and how, about sundown, our army was
out-flanked and forced to retreat. It was about this time that Sykes's
regulars were ordered to retreat and did so in good order towards the
Henry house plateau, which commanded the road by which the army was
retreating in some disorder, towards the stone bridge over Bull Run.
Sykes's regulars assisted by some volunteer regiments checked
Longstreet's pursuit.

Here for the first time on that day my brigade became engaged with the
enemy at the edge of some timber through which they were advancing.
For nearly an hour we held our ground, delivering heavy volleys until
we were out-flanked, forced to retire, and the fight continued by
other troops.

General Warren's Third Brigade, consisting of the Fifth and Tenth New
York, about one thousand strong, had earlier in the evening, in an
isolated position, sustained the first onslaught of overwhelming
numbers of Longstreet's troops. In less than fifteen minutes this
small brigade sustained a loss of more than four hundred killed and
wounded, the Duryee Zouaves alone losing two hundred and ninety-seven
men, a greater loss than that of any other regiment in this battle.
During the two days my small regiment lost sixty-six killed and
wounded and, singular to relate, only one officer and one private were
killed outright; seven others, however, were missing and we did not
know what had become of them. The first sergeant of my company,
Rudolph Thieme, was among the missing, but no one had seen him fall. A
small detail from my regiment, which under a flag of truce recovered
Lieutenant Kidd's body, failed to find that of the sergeant, who was
an old soldier and expected soon to be commissioned. The mystery of
his disappearance was never solved.

When darkness came upon us and the firing ceased, except for a few
shots here and there, the second battle of Bull Run was over. We
marched by way of the Pike to the Stone Bridge, where we found an
indescribable scene of confusion. Ambulances, artillery, army wagons,
sutlers, wounded soldiers and stragglers were all crowding towards the
narrow bridge, colliding with organized bodies of marching troops and
destroying their formation. Slowly and with great difficulty we
crossed and re-formed on the other side, taking up our march to
Centreville and keeping off the road as much as possible to avoid the
confusion there. To add to our misery a steady rain had commenced
after dark and kept up all night. The retreat continued until
daylight, when the bridge was blown up. We reached Centreville about
midnight when, tired and exhausted, we lay on the wet ground and slept
until morning.

Able writers and critics have pointed out the monumental blunders of
General Pope which nearly caused the destruction of his army, and the
advantageous opportunities he failed to grasp, particularly where Lee
divided his army by sending Jackson to Manassas in his rear. They also
show his vindictiveness towards the meritorious General Porter, who
was cashiered after the Antietam campaign, but established his
innocence after a struggle which lasted for many years and was
restored to the army.

During the active part of this campaign General McClellan was
detained, by order of General Halleck, at Alexandria and ordered to
forward his troops as fast as they arrived from Harrison's Landing to
join Pope's army. This he did and they had all joined us in time to
take part in the battles of Groveton and the second Bull Run, except
Franklin's and Sumner's corps, who were still on the march. General
McClellan then found himself in the singular position of a commanding
general stripped of his army, with nothing but a few orderlies and
small camp guard. General Pope had sent a very favorably colored
report of the second Battle of Bull Run to General Halleck; but the
next day Colonel J. C. Kelton, A.A.G., was sent from the War
Department to Pope's army, and upon his return on September second
reported the true condition of affairs, which alarmed the President
and Cabinet and terrified the city of Washington. Pope's army was
ordered to retreat immediately within the fortifications of Washington
for the protection of the city. The administration now turned toward
McClellan again and placed him in command of the defenses of
Washington and the troops of Pope's defeated army as they arrived
within the fortifications.

The morning after the battle, August thirty-first, during a cold rain,
we were marched within the old Confederate works at Centreville and
encamped there. The day was quiet, but toward night there was a rumor
that a part of the Rebel army was on the move to turn our right and
intersperse between us and Washington. Next morning two army corps
were ordered to march in the direction of Chantilly, where that
afternoon a severe battle was fought which resulted in a victory for
the Union arms. Among our losses was the daring one-armed General
Kearney, one of the bravest officers in our army.

It was a race now to see which army would get to Washington first. We
could hear the firing at Chantilly and, while it was still going on
the Fifth Corps received orders to proceed to Fairfax Court House in a
hurry. After a weary night-march we arrived there on the morning of
September second and went into bivouac. The following morning we
resumed our march, taking the road towards Washington. The enemy was
close on our flank and there was some skirmishing just after leaving
Fairfax Court House. Late in the afternoon we saw the dome of the
Capitol and kept on, weary with the long march, until after dark, when
during a halt, we heard loud cheering in front. Soon word was passed
along that General McClellan had come out to meet us, and the cheering
was taken up by the entire corps. The General had only a very small
escort of soldiers and one officer with him, but his presence cheered
us and revived our depressed spirits. We felt that Washington was

The Fifth Corps encamped for several days on Hall's Hill. While at
this camp the skeleton battalions of the Second and Tenth United
States Infantry were consolidated under the command of Captain Poland
of the Second Infantry, the ranking officer, and henceforth we were
designated as the Battalion of the Second and Tenth Infantry; company
formations were not interfered with.

With the arrival of the army within the defenses of Washington the
enemy disappeared and on the fifth of September were reported to be
crossing the Potomac into Maryland. The cavalry of the Army of the
Potomac was promptly started on the march and quickly followed by the
artillery and infantry. The Fifth Corps left on the evening of the
sixth and crossed the Potomac on the Chain Bridge, then marched by way
of Tennalytown, Rockville and Monocacy to Frederick City, where we
arrived the twelfth of September. The roads were good, but very dusty;
the country was well cultivated and we got some fruit and plenty of
green corn on the way, roasting the ears at our camp-fires.

Next day our march was across the mountains to the Middletown Valley,
where we encamped near the foot of South Mountain. We could hear the
guns at Harper's Ferry, which was besieged by Stonewall Jackson. On
the afternoon and evening of the fourteenth General Reno had a battle
at Turner's Pass on South Mountain, part of which was visible from our
camps. The Rebels were driven from the mountain and retreated toward
Sharpsburg during the night. General Reno was killed near the close of
this action.

On the morning of the fifteenth we crossed the Blue Ridge by the road
across South Mountain leading to Sharpsburg, passing a part of the
battlefield, where we saw a number of dead Confederates beside the
road and in the fields where they had fallen the evening before. In
descending the western slope of the South Mountain we had some fine
views of the valley of the Antietam, the great fields of grain,
orchards and farm-houses--a beautiful picture of peace and plenty,
soon to be destroyed by the horrors of war. Our march was toward the
Central Bridge over the Antietam on the pike leading to Sharpsburg,
where we took up a position on the left of the road. The Rebels had
batteries on the opposite side of the Antietam on high ground, which
opened on us as soon as they saw us approaching; but they did us no
damage and we were soon under cover where their fire was returned by
two of our batteries.

The great Battle of Antietam, in which more than one hundred and fifty
thousand men and some hundreds of pieces of artillery were engaged on
the sixteenth and seventeenth days of September, is well described in
histories and was decidedly a Union victory. General McClellan is
severely criticized for allowing Lee and his army to escape across the
Potomac on the night of the eighteenth, and General Burnside for
dilly-dallying and delaying his attack on bridge number three, where
he could not see his glorious opportunity.

Porter's Fifth Army Corps held an important position in the center of
the line covering the reserve artillery and wagon-trains on the east
bank of the Antietam. It was here, in the center, that General
McClellan was most anxious that his line should not be broken, and he
relied on General Porter for that. The Fifth Corps was not engaged as
a body in this battle, but some brigades were detached from it at
various times to reinforce other parts of the field. We were much
exposed to the enemy's artillery fire and sharp-shooters at times. On
the second day of the battle my battalion, the Second and Tenth, were
ordered to cross the bridge about four P.M. to protect some light
batteries on the opposite side of the Antietam. We deployed as
skirmishers to the left of the road and while passing over a ridge
were fired at by the Rebel sharp-shooters and by a battery with
canister shot. We sustained considerable loss but kept on as far as a
fence, where we halted and commenced a fire which soon caused the
enemy's cannoneers to leave their guns; and although soon reinforced
by a part of the First Brigade, we were not considered strong enough
to charge and take this battery and were ordered by one of General
Sykes's aides-de-camp to withdraw from our dangerous position to a
place of cover, where we remained until sun-down and then re-crossed
the bridge and returned to our former position. Our small battalion
lost about fifty of its number, killed and wounded, in this

The day after the battle we remained quietly in our position. The
Rebels, under flags of truce, were picking up their wounded and
burying some of their dead, while squads from our army performed the
same sad duties.

At daybreak on the morning of the nineteenth it was discovered that
the enemy had departed during the night and the last of their rear
guard was then crossing the Potomac at Shepherdstown ford. General
Porter's Corps was ordered to the ford. On the way we passed through a
part of the battlefield, which was still strewn with Rebel corpses.
Most of them had turned so black that they looked almost like negroes
and their heads and bodies had swollen to an enormous size. It was a
horrible sight. We passed through the town of Sharpsburg and beyond
that through some of the deserted Rebel camps, where fires were still
burning and there was every evidence of hasty departure.

When we approached the ford there was much artillery firing from Rebel
batteries posted on the hills on the other side of the Potomac, which
was replied to by some of our batteries. Sharp-shooters were posted at
the river-bank and canal, firing at the enemy opposite. Towards
evening a regiment of the First Division and the sharp-shooters
crossed the river by fording and found a lodgment on the other side,
capturing a few guns.

Early on the morning of the twentieth our brigade and the Fifth New
York of the Third Brigade were ordered to ford the river and make a
reconnaissance on the Charlestown road. General Sykes himself
accompanied the brigade. We deployed as skirmishers, advanced about a
mile and halted in some woods, when it was discovered that a large
force of the enemy was rapidly approaching with artillery. General
Sykes ordered the brigade to fall back slowly to the bluffs on the
river-bank. In the meantime Barnes's Brigade of the First Division of
the Fifth Corps had also crossed the river to go to Shepherdstown, but
General Sykes ordered them to take a position on the heights near
where they had crossed, to our right, where their skirmishers soon
became engaged with the approaching enemy and brought on a spirited
engagement. General Sykes, who informed General Porter of the large
force opposed to his two small brigades, was ordered immediately to
recross all the troops. This we were enabled to do in good order by
the aid of a number of our batteries, posted on the heights on the
Maryland side. These batteries delivered a destructive fire over our
heads which kept the enemy from the river-bank, or it would have gone
hard with us while fording the river. Before night all our troops had
recrossed the Potomac.

This engagement at Shepherdstown ended the Maryland campaign. The loss
on our side was about five hundred and, with the exception of
nineteen, was all in General Barnes's brigade. The loss in my
battalion was one killed and two wounded. Later it was learned that
the retreating foe had turned back nine brigades of infantry with
artillery under Generals Early and Hill to oppose us at Shepherdstown.
No doubt they over-estimated our numbers and thought we were an army
corps instead of two weak brigades. We then realized what great peril
we had been in.

A daring act was performed by First Sergeant Daniel W. Burke of
Company B, as we re-crossed the Potomac. He voluntarily attempted to
spike some abandoned Rebel guns near the shore under a withering fire
from the enemy. He received a commission soon after and was retired in
1899 as a brigadier-general and medal-of-honor man.

The next day we established a permanent camp in some woods near
Sharpsburg, where we remained for more than six weeks and received a
detachment of recruits during our stay, which somewhat replenished our
skeleton companies. Four companies of the Seventh Infantry also joined
our brigade at this place. They were a part of the troops surrendered
in Texas, who were paroled at the time and had since been exchanged.

A few days after we had settled down to our regular camp duties I was
much surprised when the first sergeant of my company informed me that
I had been detailed to report to Lieutenant Hawkins as brigade
commissary sergeant. This was promotion to a post usually filled by an
older and more experienced soldier. My comrades congratulated me and
said I was in luck to get that position--one that was greatly desired.
I was not much elated over it, however, and seriously considered
whether I should not ask to be excused and remain with my company.

By this time the sergeant major and half a dozen of the first
sergeants of the companies had received commissions as second
lieutenants, and without exception they made good officers and gave
the regiment a better character and standing than the inexperienced
civilians that had been inflicted upon us at the beginning of the war,
many of whom we had since got rid of. All of these sergeants were
older than I and had been longer in the service; I had only just
turned twenty-one and looked much younger. With the exceptions of
our two musicians, I was the youngest soldier in the company, until
some recruits joined us a while later. I had learned from the
sergeant major that my name had been mentioned in the regimental
report for good conduct in battle, along with those of some other
non-commissioned officers.

I had spoken to a couple of our officers, who were most friendly to
me, about applying for a commission, and was advised to wait until I
should be first sergeant of a company. This seemed a long way off, as
I was only the third sergeant of the company at the time. I realized
that if I left the company on special duty, to act as brigade
commissary sergeant, the man who remained in the ranks would get the
preference in promotion, other reasons being equal. On the other hand
the position offered many advantages and was less arduous than that of
a company officer. No more marching--I would have a horse to ride; no
more guard and picket duties; no more standing in ranks to be fired at
for hours by the enemy. The worst that had befallen the army trains
thus far had been guerrilla attacks and captures by the enemy. So far
I had been so lucky as to escape without a scratch, but I had seen
many of my comrades fall in battle while in the ranks, and it might be
my turn in the very next engagement. I decided to hold the position
and left my company to report to the acting commissary officer at
brigade headquarters. There was no extra pay attached to the position.
I was carried on the company's muster rolls as "absent on special

First Lieutenant Hamilton S. Hawkins of the Sixth United States
Infantry was acting as the brigade commissary and quartermaster. He
was a West Point graduate and a gentleman--one of the finest officers
I met in the service. He was very dignified, honorable and just, kind
and pleasant with his inferiors in rank--one of Nature's noblemen. In
after years he was called the "Sir Henry Havelock" of the American
Army. In the Spanish War he was a major-general of volunteers and
commanded the division that captured San Juan Hill. He retired in 1898
as a brigadier-general of the United States Army, and at his death
(which occurred recently) he was the governor of the Soldiers' Home in
Washington, D.C.

With Lieutenant Hawkins, as his chief assistant, was John W. Clous,
quartermaster sergeant of the Sixth United States Infantry, who acted
in the double capacity of brigade quartermaster and commissary
sergeant. It was to relieve him of the duties of the latter that I was
detailed. Sergeant Clous was a remarkable man and had a most honorable
and successful career in the army. He was well educated--a student--he
had served on the frontiers and was my senior by eight or ten years.
He became a second lieutenant in December, 1862; and after the war he
made a study of military law and became the professor of law, with the
rank of lieutenant colonel, at the Military Academy at West Point. At
the close of the Spanish War he was a brigadier-general and judge
advocate of the commission which settled the affairs between the
United States and Cuba. He retired as a brigadier-general in 1901 and
died a few years ago. Much to my regret, I never had the opportunity
of meeting either of these men after I left the army.

When I entered upon my new duties I found that I had much to learn,
but I had a very capable instructor in Sergeant Clous. He was
thoroughly familiar with all the rules and regulations of the
commissary department and the many forms for accounts and reports
which the admirable Government method of accounting for everything
demanded. We had a wall tent which we used for an office when in a
permanent camp, furnished with two small field desks and a folding
table. When in camp Sergeant Clous and I slept in this tent; on the
march we slept under the clear skies or in a wagon when it rained. Our
little detachment included a clerk and three men to load and unload
wagons and assist in issuing rations. One of these men was also the
butcher who slaughtered the beef cattle when we had any, killing the
cattle with a rifle and dressing the carcass. Another did the cooking
for our mess and the third man took care of Sergeant Clous's horse and
mine, besides his other duties. These men were all soldiers detailed
for special duties, temporarily absent from their companies and, like
myself, liable to be ordered back to duty in the ranks at any time.
There was also a wagonmaster who was a civilian, as were also most of
the teamsters; he had charge of our supply train under orders from the
commissary officer. When in camp Lieutenant Hawkins, who had a private
servant, generally stayed at brigade headquarters, but while at
Sharpsburg he had his tent for a time in a grove along with the
officers of his regiment. I remember that his mother visited him there
and remained for some days. She was a very fine, motherly lady who
adored her son.

While the army was at Sharpsburg all of its supplies had to be hauled
from Hagerstown, Maryland, about twenty miles away, which was the
nearest railroad depot. There was a good turn-pike road all the way
from Sharpsburg, which passed through the recent battle-field, on
which the Dunkard church was a conspicuous mark. It was one of my
duties to draw supplies at Hagerstown once a week or oftener. I was
provided with the necessary requisitions, signed by Lieutenant Hawkins
and countersigned by the brigade commander, given charge of as many
wagons as were required and accompanied by the wagonmaster. We
generally made an early morning start so as to arrive in Hagerstown
early in the afternoon, loading the wagons on the same day, then going
into camp for the night, and returning to Sharpsburg the following
day. This could not always be done, as the place was crowded with army
wagons on the same business and it was a case of first come, first
served. I always rode on ahead to get my requisition on file, and if
we could not be attended to on that day, I rode back to meet my train
and park them in some field on the outskirts of the town. It often
took two days and a night to make the trip, sometimes more.

On one occasion, after the train had been parked, it became necessary
for me to return to the town, and as my horse had cast a shoe, I had
my saddle put on one of the teamster's riding mules. It was my first
experience in riding a mule. I got along well enough for a short
distance until I came to the ford of a small stream, where we were in
the habit of watering our animals. I stopped to let the mule drink and
then started to cross, but he was determined to go back to the train.
I next tried to cross an adjoining bridge with the same result. I
coaxed him, I dismounted and tried to lead him, I remounted and did
all that could be done to a mule with a pair of spurs and strong
language, much to the amusement of some soldier spectators, who
advised me to build a fire under him. I could not make him go to
Hagerstown, but he willingly went back to camp, to my discomfiture,
and I had to borrow the wagonmaster's horse to make the trip.

We were paid while in the Sharpsburg camp and I was able to buy fresh
bread and other things for our mess while in town. The bread tasted
mighty good after being on hard-tack for six months. I also regaled
myself a few times with a real dinner in a tavern at the extravagant
price of twenty-five cents. Nearly all through October the weather was
delightful and I enjoyed the trips to town immensely; the days were
warm, but the nights began to be cool enough for camp-fires.

President Lincoln visited the army on the first of October and
remained with General McClellan for several days. Near the middle of
October General Stuart of the Confederate Army made a swift raid with
two thousand cavalry-men and a battery of horse artillery into
Pennsylvania and around the Army of the Potomac, as he had done on the
Peninsula. He was almost unopposed, as our cavalry--never equal to
that of the Confederates in number--was at this time broken down,
scattered and so reduced in numbers by the late campaign that not a
thousand serviceable horses could be mounted. After Stuart's raid the
road to Hagerstown was patrolled by cavalry.

When not on the road I was kept busy in camp issuing rations and
making up accounts. At this time the system was for the brigade
commissary to issue rations to companies on the requisition of the
officer commanding the company, approved by the commander of the
regiment. Companies subdivided their rations among themselves. While
in camp issues of rations were made about once a week, except fresh
meat, which was issued on days when cattle was slaughtered.

Provisions for officers and their servants, according to regulations
of the commissary department, could only be sold to them for cash and
on their certificate that they were for their own use; for the
Government sold commissary stores to officers at cost, less the cost
of freight, but for their own use only. The rule of selling for cash
only could not be enforced strictly in war times, but the commissary
officer made himself liable for any credit he chose to extend. Sales
to officers were made during fixed hours of the morning; money
received and vouchers for same were turned over to the commissary
officer daily. As commissary sergeant I soon found that I was really
gaining the experience of a manager for a large grocery firm.

Issues of whiskey to troops, one gill per day, were only made on the
order of the brigade commander in cases of excessive fatigue or severe
exposure. Officers could purchase all they wanted, if they stated in
their written orders to the commissary that it was for their own use
and signed their names. Some good-natured officers who hardly drank at
all, seemed to buy much whiskey, for they frequently gave one of their
company sergeants an order which read something like this: "Let the
bearer have one canteen full of whiskey for my use." Others more
scrupulous omitted the words "for my use," knowing the order would not
be filled in that case; but I suspect that in some cases the soldier
added the necessary words to the order which he himself had written
after the unsuspecting officer had signed it.

Sometimes stores became damaged or were received in a damaged
condition, when a board of survey was appointed by the commanding
officer to ascertain the amount of damage, for the commissary officer
was virtually obliged to account for every cracker he received. There
seemed to be no end to the many accounts we had to keep and reports to
make out, but it was an instructive business experience for me.

On the sixth of October General McClellan received an order from
Washington to cross the Potomac and give battle to the enemy or drive
him South while the roads were good. At this time the army was in no
condition to move for want of supplies which arrived very tardily, and
it was not until the end of October, when bad weather had set in, that
the first part of the troops re-crossed the Potomac. During all this
time the authorities at Washington and the Northern papers were
accusing McClellan of being dilatory and demanding his removal. The
Fifth Army Corps left Sharpsburg on the thirtieth and crossed the
Potomac next day at Harper's Ferry, while the train crossed on a
pontoon bridge at Berlin, some distance further south. Riding a horse
was a very agreeable change from marching in the ranks and carrying a
heavy load. All I carried now on my person was a large Colt's
revolver. To my McClellan saddle was strapped an overcoat and a
canteen of water, while the saddle-bags held some cooked meat and
crackers and a pipe and tobacco.

The roads were fairly good on the start until we neared the Blue Ridge
Mountains. Being again in the enemy's country, the train had a guard
of some infantry and a small detachment of cavalry. The chief
quartermaster of the Fifth Army Corps was in charge of our train and
directed its movements.

On November second we rejoined our brigade at the small town of
Snickersville. That evening Sykes's division was ordered to occupy
Snicker's Gap and make a reconnaissance to Snicker's Ferry on the
Shenandoah. I was ordered to follow the troops with a couple of wagons
and issue some rations to my brigade. The ascent to the top of the Gap
where the troops rested for the night was steep and wearisome; the
night was dark and cold, and when we arrived on the mountain-top,
late, a strong wind was blowing. I snatched a little sleep in one of
the wagons and issued the rations at daylight.

Part of the division descended the Gap towards the Shenandoah in the
morning but did not cross, and during the day an artillery engagement
occurred between some of the Rebels on the opposite side of the river
and the Sixth and Fourteenth United States Infantry. After taking a
long look at the beautiful and fertile valley of the Shenandoah at our
feet I started back to our camp. On the way down the mountain we had a
mishap; one of the teamsters struck a boulder and broke a wheel, which
caused delay and we were obliged to cut down a small tree and rig up a
drag to get the wagon back to the camp.

We remained in camp until Sykes's division was withdrawn from
Snicker's Gap and resumed our march east of the Blue Ridge by way of
White Plains and New Baltimore to Warrenton, where we arrived on the
ninth of November. On our march to White Plains we had a wet snow
nearly all day, which made the roads bad. At Warrenton we learned that
General McClellan had been relieved from the command of the Army of
the Potomac and Major General Ambrose E. Burnside placed in command.
General McClellan's enemies in the Cabinet, together with Halleck, the
bureaucratic general, had finally prevailed in their schemes to cause
the President to relieve him. The following day, the tenth, that part
of the army which was at Warrenton was drawn up along the turnpike and
General McClellan's farewell address was read to them; then came
hearty cheering, as the General rode down between the lines of the
troops, bidding them farewell. The army was sad over the loss of a
commander who had their affection and confidence.

Two days later the Fifth Corps had another sad parting scene when
their old commander, Major General Fitz-John Porter, was relieved and
ordered to report at Washington. Major General Joseph Hooker was now
placed in command of the corps.

General Burnside did not seek--nor did he wish--to take the command of
the Army of the Potomac, frankly declaring himself inadequate for that
exalted position. In this he was prophetic, and in a month proved it
to the mournful knowledge of the army and the entire country.

We remained about a week at Warrenton. General Burnside formed the six
corps of the army into what were to be called the Right, Center and
Left Grand Divisions, commanded respectively by Generals Sumner,
Hooker and Franklin. The Right Grand Division was composed of the
Second and Ninth Corps; the Center of the Third and Fifth, and the
Left of the First and Sixth Corps, General Hooker being selected, as I
have mentioned, as one of the Grand Division commanders. General
Daniel Butterfield was appointed to command the Fifth Army Corps,
which Hooker had commanded only for a few days.

We left Warrenton on the seventeenth and went by way of Warrenton
Junction and Hartwood Church to the vicinity of Falmouth, near
Fredericksburg, and parked the Fifth Corps train, establishing a camp
near the Henry house on the twenty-third of November. This march was a
very severe one, as we had a cold rain nearly every day and the roads
were execrable. Wagons were stalled in the mud, teams had to be
doubled to pull them out, the road was blockaded for hours at a time,
and it was very late at night when we caught up with the troops, who
were in bivouac long before our arrival.

It soon became very cold and we experienced the rigors of a winter
campaign. The soldiers built little log huts and shacks, roofed them
with their shelter tents, and built earth and stone fireplaces, the
chimneys terminating in a flour or pork barrel which often caught
fire. For an office and a place to sleep I had a wall tent with a camp
stove in it. We fixed up a kitchen and, with the aid of tarpaulins,
erected a few store-houses for the protection of the commissary
stores, which were guarded by a sentinel. The railroad from Aquia
Creek on the Potomac was quickly repaired and we drew our supplies at
a railroad switch about two miles from the camp.

On evenings when I was at leisure I often visited my regiment to talk
with my comrades. Some sat around camp-fires built in the company
streets, others played cards in their little huts. Tricks were often
played upon the card-players, such as covering the barrel chimney with
a gunny-bag and smoking them out; or some more mischievous man would
throw percussion caps down the chimney, or a few paper cartridges,
which scattered their fire and broke up the game for a while. On some
days when three or four inches of snow had fallen and then melted to a
soft slush, the soldiers were in misery; and at other times they
suffered from cold, which was very severe for that latitude.

As General Burnside had determined to cross the Rappahannock and
attack the enemy at Fredericksburg, I was ordered on the tenth of
December to issue five days' marching rations to the brigade and then
to load all stores into the wagons and be ready to leave camp when
ordered. On the morning of the eleventh, before daybreak we heard the
booming of cannon in the direction of Fredericksburg, three miles
away, where the engineer troops were preparing to lay pontoon bridges
across the river. Shortly after daylight the Fifth Corps began its
march towards the river and the train followed the troops. On our
arrival at the river-bank the corps and train were massed behind the
batteries on Stafford Heights, which overlooked the river, the town
and much of the country beyond, although a heavy fog enveloped the
town during the early morning hours and hid it from view. The
engineers, engaged in laying the pontoons, were opposed by such a
destructive fire from the Rebel sharp-shooters concealed in the houses
and in rifle-pits on the opposite side of the river that they were
obliged to cease operations and retire to cover, although some troops
on our side of the river kept firing on the sharp-shooters.

About ten o'clock General Burnside ordered the one hundred and
forty-seven guns on Stafford Heights to shell the town, which was done
for nearly two hours. The noise was terrific. During this bombardment
I made my way to the front, alongside of one of our batteries, where I
had a good view of the effect of our terrible fire on the city about a
mile away, until the smoke from bursting shells and burning buildings
obscured the view. The Rebel batteries on the heights beyond the town
made little attempt to reply to our fire; only a few long-range guns
could reach us, and they did little damage in my vicinity. When our
bombardment ceased it was found that it had failed to dislodge the
sharp-shooters, as our guns could not be depressed enough for the
shells to hit the houses on the river-bank.

It was after the shelling ceased that the Nineteenth Massachusetts and
the Seventh Michigan regiments, which were at the river-front,
volunteered to cross the river in pontoon boats and drive away the
sharp-shooters. This they did in gallant style, under fire. Two
bridges were completed at four thirty P.M. and troops began to cross,
continuing all night and the following day. Sykes's division was held
in reserve and did not cross until the afternoon of the thirteenth.
Very few wagons were sent over besides ammunition wagons.

Lieutenant Hawkins sent me with a written message to brigade
headquarters about sundown on the same day. I went on foot, past the
Lacey house (which was Burnside's headquarters during the battle and
was also used as a hospital) down the hill to the river and across a
pontoon bridge. I found my brigade halted in one of the streets near
the edge of the town, preparing to march out and relieve some of the
troops on the front line. I delivered my letter to Major Andrews, the
brigade commander, who returned the envelope to me marked in pencil
with his name and time of delivery, as was customary.

On my way back to the pontoon bridge I had time to say a few words to
my comrades in the regiment as I passed them. The streets were dark,
but there was light enough to distinguish the effects of the
bombardment and the burnt houses of two days before. I walked in the
middle of the street while passing through some of the residence
blocks, for the brick sidewalks were littered with chairs, sofas,
bedding and all manner of household goods from the looted houses,
which had been thrown out by some of our soldiers who had bivouacked
in the street the night before. Some of the stragglers were still in
the houses; in one of them I heard some soldiers playing a piano. We
had been told that a number of women and children had remained in
town, hiding in cellars, but I saw none of them, although I did see a
number of corpses lying about on the sidewalks and in the streets, and
wounded soldiers making their way to hospitals which had been
established in the public buildings and many of the private houses.
Nearer the river business buildings and stores had been looted and the
contents scattered over the street. In passing through one of these
streets I picked up a book as a souvenir and when I examined it later
on in camp I found the name of Alexander H. Stevens written in it. He
was the vice-president of the Confederacy. At the bridge I was stopped
by the guard and was obliged to explain my business to the officer in
command and exhibit my envelope before being allowed to re-pass the

The story of the Battle of Fredericksburg covers the saddest pages in
the history of the war. From it we learn how Burnside planned this
battle, then lost his head and followed no particular plan; how he
stubbornly hurled division after division in a front attack on the
impregnable position on Marye's Heights against the advice of his
corps commanders; how thousands were sacrificed in this bloody and
most useless slaughter of the war; the indescribable sufferings of the
wounded to whom no help could be extended, many of whom were frozen
during the winter nights. The rank and file themselves knew the
hopelessness of the attack, and yet bravely made three more charges
after the first had been nearly annihilated.

Sykes's division was not called upon to take part in the direct
assault, but on the night of the thirteenth took up a position which
at daylight proved to be in a depression so shallow that to raise a
limb while lying down or to turn over, meant surely to be wounded; and
some who tried to get to the rear for water immediately fell lifeless,
pierced by many balls. No help could be given to the wounded--they
were obliged to lie and wait until night, when the command was enabled
to creep away. In our brigade eighty men were killed and wounded,
mostly while hugging the cold earth all that day and having no chance
to inflict any damage on the enemy except for a little while the
previous evening.

The army was skillfully withdrawn on the night of the fifteenth during
a violent rain-storm. The First Brigade of General Sykes's regulars,
and General Warren's Third Brigade covered the retreat. When these
troops had crossed some time after daylight on the seventeenth, the
engineers cast the pontoons loose and none remained behind in the
death-trap into which Burnside had led the army, except the many
thousands of our wounded, their surgeons and some prisoners. The army
returned to its former locations and re-established its camps.

The morale of the army was much impaired by this battle; it had lost
confidence in its commander which could never be restored, and for the
first time the Army of the Potomac might be considered demoralized.

Christmas and New Year's passed, celebrated among the volunteers by
the reception of thousands of boxes containing gifts and good things
from their friends at home; but few of the regulars had any friends to
remember them. The only exception to the usual routine on those two
days was the issuing of a gill of whiskey by the commissary.

But we were not yet done with General Burnside. Once more he tried to
surprise the vigilant enemy. On January sixteenth orders were issued
to prepare to march on the eighteenth, then were countermanded and it
was not until noon of the twentieth that the movement started--which
gave the enemy plenty of time to learn of it through their spies and
be prepared for us. The weather had been severely cold for some time
and the roads frozen hard. We marched about five miles towards the
Rappahannock in a direction to bring us above Fredericksburg at Banks'
Ford, not fordable at this time, and halted for the night, when rain
began to fall and continued throughout the night.

The next day when the movement was resumed, the storm was worse. Soon
the roads were blocked by artillery and wagons stalled in quagmire;
and pontoons were upset and laid along the road, the condition of
which was appalling. It seemed as though the elements were determined
that Burnside should not again lead the army into disaster. Before
night the army was literally mud-bound and was unable to advance or
retreat; large details of infantry tried to help pull the artillery
and wagons out of the clayey and sticky roads, ineffectually; then
thousands of men were put to work to fell trees to corduroy and to
build new stretches of road. Though the rain ceased on the evening of
the second day, men and animals continued to suffer greatly while
trying to extricate the teams. Some of the horses and mules that
dropped exhausted in their traces were drowned, so deep was the liquid
mud in places. It took four days of Herculean toil to enable the army
to return to their camps again. My train did not fare so badly as some
others, for we halted at the end of the first day's march and remained
there for three days. During that time we issued some rations of hard
bread and sugar and coffee to replace what had been spoiled by the
fierce rain in the men's haversacks. As the wagons could not move to
get to the brigade, details of soldiers had to come and get these
rations and carry them for miles on their backs to their comrades.
This was "Burnside's Mud March," never to be forgotten by those who
participated in it. The Rebel pickets on the opposite side of the
Rappahannock in derision put up some large sign-boards marked,
"Burnside stuck in the mud!" "This way to Richmond!"

On January twenty-fifth, directly after our return from the "Mud
March," General Burnside resigned the command of the Army of the
Potomac and was later on given a command in the West. There was no
farewell parade, as there had been for Generals McClellan and Porter a
little more than two months before. He had lost the confidence of the
army and the support of the Administration, and had drawn upon himself
the censure of the press and the people for his useless sacrifice of
thousands of human lives.

General Joseph Hooker was now placed in command of the army, "Fighting
Joe Hooker," as the soldiers called him, an officer fairly well liked
in the army but not possessing the entire confidence of the corps
commanders as to his fitness for the position. General Hooker made
many changes. He did away with the Grand Division formation. In the
Fifth Corps he made Major General George G. Meade the commander, in
place of Butterfield, who became his Chief of Staff. We lost General
Warren, the commander of our Third Brigade; he became the Chief of
Topographical Engineers on General Hooker's staff. Distinctive corps
badges were ordered to be worn on the cap or hat of each officer and
soldier; headquarters of each brigade, division and corps had a
standard with a device the shape and color of which indicated at a
glance that part of the army they typified. The badge of the Fifth
Army Corps was in the shape of a Maltese cross of red for the First
Division, white for the second, blue for the third, and green when
there was a fourth division. These badges proved to be very useful
when arresting stragglers and returning them to their command. They
were made of cloth, one and one-half inches square. We wore them to
the end of the war.

After the "Mud March" the soldiers rebuilt their huts and made
themselves as comfortable as possible under the circumstances; but the
winter proved to be an unusually severe one for Virginia. We had much
snow and some very cold periods. Many furloughs were granted,
absentees returned, and recruits arrived. The commissary issued full
rations, often including fresh bread which had been baked in
Washington and could be issued within two days. Some regiments drew
flour and baked their own bread.

After Fredericksburg there was much Confederate money in some of the
camps which had been plundered from the banks and houses. It soon
became widely distributed through poker playing and it was no uncommon
thing to find games for large stakes going on in the tents at night.
Expressions such as "I'll see you, and raise you a hundred dollars!"
were often heard; some had thousands of dollars. Much of this money
was sent away as souvenirs, much of it was lost or destroyed; some, in
a spirit of bravado, lit their pipes with ten-dollar bills--much to
their vexation, when later on a man came along, offering to pay three
cents on the dollar for the Confederate money.

While in this camp Sergeant Clous was promoted, becoming Second
Lieutenant in the Sixth Infantry. He had instructed me so well in my
duties that by this time I was competent to get along unassisted. I
also lost Lieutenant Hawkins, who remained Brigade Quartermaster but
was replaced as Commissary by First Lieutenant William F. Greeley of
the Eleventh United States Infantry, a civilian appointee from New
Hampshire. I got along very well with him and never had any trouble
while he remained Commissary Officer; my only objection to him was
that in many difficult situations he let me find my own way out of
trouble without his advice or assistance. At this time I traded my
rather large gray horse for a smaller dark bay, an intelligent and
kindly-disposed animal of whom I became very fond. I called him Tommy,
and among other tricks I taught him to push his head through the
opening of my tent and beg for a cracker or sugar.

The winter seemed long and dreary. In April reviews were held and
there was much drilling. By the middle of April the Army of the
Potomac had increased in numbers to about one hundred and ten thousand
infantry and artillery, and about eleven thousand cavalry, and was
once more ready and eager for active service.



General Hooker had conceived a corps formation of all the cavalry of
the Army of the Potomac, instead of scattering it by details among the
various corps and divisions where its usefulness was frittered away;
and where it was generally out-numbered and beaten by the enemy, who
had consolidated their cavalry forces long before.

The spring campaign of 1863 was opened on April thirteenth by the
departure of General Stoneman with ten thousand cavalry for the upper
fords of the Rappahannock which he was to cross, turning the enemy's
left, destroying the railroads and severing his connection with
Richmond. But the cavalry moved so cautiously, or leisurely, that they
consumed three days in marching twenty-five miles to the ford, where
they were overtaken by a heavy rain-storm, which swelled the river so
they could not cross and did not do so until the twenty-ninth at Ely's
Ford, along with infantry and artillery. Before the crossing was
accomplished all chance of a surprise was lost and the large cavalry
force was able to inflict only trifling damage on the enemy's

I was ordered to issue eight days' short rations to the brigade, which
the men were obliged to stow away in their haversacks and knapsacks as
best they could, besides some extra rounds of ammunition in addition
to that in their cartridge boxes. Thus, loaded up more heavily than
ever before, without any wagon-train (except to carry ammunition and
forage) and without any regimental baggage or tents for officers, the
army began its march on April twenty-seventh. General Hooker had
divided the army into two parts: the Fifth, Eleventh and Twelfth Corps
marched to Chancellorsville above Fredericksburg, by way of Kelly's
Ford on the Rappahannock and the Germanna and Ely's Ford on the
Rapidan river: the First and Sixth Corps were to cross the
Rappahannock below Fredericksburg; the Third Corps was held in
reserve, but a few days later was sent to Chancellorsville where
General Hooker himself was in command.

The Fifth Corps supply train remained in camp about three days longer
and then was ordered to the United States Ford at the Rappahannock,
where the wagons were parked on the high ground on the north side
overlooking the river and pontoon bridge. The opposite side of the
river was a mass of woods and tangled brush, a wilderness so far as
eye could reach. We could plainly hear the firing on the other side of
the river and sometimes observe the smoke of battle rising above the
trees. We heard Jackson's onslaught on the unfortunate Eleventh Corps
on May second, and General Sickles's midnight battle. The fighting on
Sunday, May third, seemed near the river. The white canvas covers of
our wagons must have been visible to the Rebels, for one morning at
daylight I was awakened by shells from a section of a Rebel battery on
the south side of the river, crashing through our train and exploding
in the woods beyond. They struck only one of my wagons before they
were quickly silenced by one of our batteries nearby.

On the morning of May fourth, I was ordered to issue a day's rations
to the brigade, and as no supply wagons were allowed to cross the
river, they were to be packed on mules. Neither Lieutenant Greeley,
the wagonmaster, nor I understood anything about packing mules.
Fortunately we discovered a few men among the teamsters who had had
some experience in that line; but we had no pack-saddles. We used the
teamsters' riding saddles, as far as they went, and on the remainder
of the mules we strapped blankets. We selected three or four dozen of
the most docile animals from the train and loaded each one with two
boxes of hardtack weighing about fifty pounds apiece, slung across his
back, one box on either side. Others we loaded with sacks of bacon and
bags of coffee and sugar. But the mules were as green at the business
as we were, and most of them resented their treatment vigorously. When
we succeeded in getting the load on them, they tried to roll it off,
which disarranged it so we had to strap it on all over again, a man
holding each mule to keep him from lying down.

After hours of labor, ill temper and strong language, I was at last
ready to make a start with a detail from the train guard, one man to
lead each pair of mules and a few extra men--teamsters--who best
understood the packing. It was an odd-looking procession, in front of
which I rode down the hill towards the pontoon bridge over the river,
amidst the laughter and mirth of the spectators, and I wished that
Lieutenant Greeley were leading the procession instead of me. Before I
had gone fifty yards trouble began again. Through bad packing, some of
the loads shifted forward on the mules' necks when going down hill;
some of the animals fell and would not get up again with their loads
on; they seemed to prefer to roll down the hill the rest of the way.
All this delayed me very much and it was well past noon when the troop
had passed the bridge and entered the woods on the other side.

I was instructed to follow the United States Ford road until I came to
an intersecting road about two miles or more away, near which the
Fifth Corps was posted. The road was level and shady and I got along
fairly well, until I reached a short piece of road which skirted a
ravine, lined with our troops behind breast-works. Here my little
train must have been observed by the enemy, as the road was higher at
this point than the breast-works, for they opened on us with some
guns, before we had all passed this exposed spot. There was confusion
at once. The men leading the mules rushed into the woods with them on
the right side of the road. Only a few shots were fired and no damage
done; but it took me more than an hour to gather the train again and
re-pack the mules that had stripped their burden in going through the
brushwood. At last I found my command and issued the rations. It was
an hour or more until sun-down, and I deemed it best to wait until
dark to return, so as not run the gauntlet of the Rebel battery again,
and sought out my regiment, which was stationed parallel to the Ely
Ford road behind log breast-works which had been constructed the
previous night. I learned from my comrades that Captain S. S. Marsh
was the only man killed on May first and that twenty or more men had
been wounded on that and subsequent days. Just about sun-down I saw
General Hooker, followed by some of his staff, walking very slowly
down the road behind the breast-works. The General had been injured
the previous day (and could not ride a horse, I believe) at the
Chancellor house from a contusion caused by a cannon shot which struck
a veranda pillar near which he had been standing. He was a fine and
impressive figure, walking slowly, bare-headed, carrying his hat in
his hand. Shortly after, I returned with my train of mules and reached
the camp without further trouble.

The next day passed with little firing heard at the front. On the
following day, May fifth, all the supply trains were ordered to return
to their old camps near Fredericksburg. We started on the return march
in the afternoon. Towards evening a rain-storm came on, such as I have
seldom witnessed; it seemed like a cloud-burst--the rain came down in
sheets. In a few minutes my riding boots, which reached almost to my
knees, were filled with water and were over-flowing. The storm still
raged when we reached our camp. During this night the army retreated
across the Rappahannock, Sykes's regulars again covering the retreat
and being the last to cross about eight o'clock next morning,
unmolested by the enemy. The pontoon bridges were immediately taken up
under the menacing protection of our batteries on the hills, and for
the third time the army marched back to its old camps.

Historians agree that General Hooker's plan for an offensive battle
was masterly and skillful, and everything pointed to success until, on
the first day of May, after he had advanced to within a few miles of
Banks' Ford and had but two divisions of the enemy confronting him, he
suddenly decided to fight a defensive battle and marched back to
Chancellorsville to take up an inferior and more perilous position
with one of his flanks in the air. From that time on, it is said, his
conduct was faulty and feeble, and the corps commanders despised his
generalship. The army was forced to retreat, not because it was
beaten, as at Fredericksburg under Burnside--it had not even been all
engaged at Chancellorsville--but through the weak and vacillating
conduct of its commander.

Coincident with the return of the army from Chancellorsville, its
numbers were considerably reduced by the expiration of service of a
number of men who had been enlisted for two years only. Few recruits
joined, enlistments in the Northern states had fallen off alarmingly,
and the enforcement of a draft began to be talked of. This was the
darkest period of the rebellion for the Union, and an exultant one for
the Confederacy. Among the regiments which we lost in our Third
Brigade was the Fifth New York Volunteers, known as the Duryee
Zouaves. About two hundred of the men who originally left New York in
1861 were now discharged and had left for home, their departure much
regretted by the regulars, with whom they had served so long and so
creditably. General Sykes complimented them highly in the general
order for their departure. The remainder of this regiment, composed of
three-year men, was transferred to the One Hundred and Forty-sixth New
York Volunteers serving in the same brigade, and the Fifth New York
Volunteers ceased to exist.

The two armies confronted each other for weeks in their former
positions and the dreary camp life went on without any interesting
events. We continued watching each other, until General Lee took the
initiative on the third of June by sending some of General
Longstreet's Corps to Culpeper, preparatory to his contemplated
invasion of the North. Our cavalry, much reduced in numbers and now
commanded by General Pleasonton, was ordered to make a reconnaissance
in that direction, and on June eighth had a successful encounter with
the enemy's cavalry at Brandy Station.

All became activity again in the Army of the Potomac. The march began
on the tenth, some corps leaving on different days and by divers
routes. The Fifth Corps left on the fourteenth, following the familiar
route by way of Bealton, Warrenton and Manassas on the Orange and
Alexandria Railroad, which we had traversed the previous year on our
way to reinforce Pope. Then we inclined toward the Blue Ridge, where
the Rebel Army was marching north through the Shenandoah Valley, and
at Aldie we began to hear firing, as our cavalry skirmished with the
enemy at the mountain gaps of the valley. We passed Leesburg on our
way to Edwards Ferry, where we crossed the Potomac on a pontoon bridge
into Maryland and arrived near Frederick City about the twenty-seventh
of June. The weather was very hot and we made long marches. I issued
rations several times while on the march and re-filled the empty
wagons at Manassas. The route of the train was not always the same as
that of the troops and we did some night marching to make up for lost
time at Manassas.

Some-one had given me a puppy, while in the winter camp near
Fredericksburg, which I had raised. He was then more than six months
old, and was much attached to me, following me on the march. When
tired, he would beg to be lifted up and ride on the saddle in front of
me. He hated to swim across streams which we forded and insisted on
crossing them on horse-back. When we arrived at the Monocacy river,
which we forded a few miles from Frederick City, our supply train,
which had partly passed, was stopped to allow a battery of our
artillery to cross ahead of the balance of the train. The river was
several feet deep, had a swift current and a gravelly bottom. I sat on
my horse on the river-bank, watching the battery cross, and listening
to the crunching noise the heavy wheels made in the stony river-bed,
when something about our train on the other side caused me to plunge
in hastily and cross without paying any attention to my dog, who had
his forepaws on my stirrup and was waiting to be pulled up. I heard
him bark behind me, and when I had crossed I turned around and saw him
swimming after me; but the current carried him toward one of the
passing gun carriages. He disappeared for a moment among the wheels
and then came up on the other side, emitting unearthly yells. He
succeeded in reaching the shore, and when he left the water I noticed
that all but a few inches of his tail had been pinched off. He gave me
a reproachful look and started up a road like a streak. I galloped
after him, calling and coaxing him, but he ran on howling and paid no
attention to me. After chasing him for half a mile, he ran into a
thicket where I could not follow. I never saw him again. I felt very
sorry to lose him.

We remained at Frederick City for two days, receiving and issuing
rations. There was some militia there, hastily called out and badly
armed--some of them with shot-guns. The Seventh Regiment National
Guard of New York City was also there for another thirty days' war
experience, and was guarding Government stores at the railroad depot.
They looked very jaunty in their neat and unsoiled uniforms, some of
them wearing paper collars, forming a striking contrast to the bronzed
and begrimed veterans of the Army of the Potomac, from whom the
Seventh had to endure much good-natured chaffing in passing.

General Hooker, like McClellan in the Sharpsburg campaign, requested
the then useless garrison of ten thousand men at Harper's Ferry to be
added to his command in the pursuit of Lee's army, and was refused by
the autocratic General Halleck, whose chief concern seemed to be the
safety of Washington; and, finding himself generally thwarted in his
plans by the authorities in Washington, he requested to be relieved of
the command. On June twenty-eighth, while still at Frederick City,
Major General George G. Meade of the Fifth Army Corps was appointed as
the commander of the Army of the Potomac. General Hooker was sent to
the West, where he gained some fame from his "battle above the clouds"
at Lookout Mountain.

General Meade was a man of personal bravery and experience, highly
respected, but not very popular in the army. However, the Army of the
Potomac was loyal to him, as it had been to all its commanders, and
the soldiers proved their loyalty by tremendous sacrifices. It has
been said that this fine army was always better than its commanders,
of whom General Meade was the fifth within less than two years.
McDowell, McClellan, Burnside and Hooker preceded him; Pope had
commanded only a part of the army at the second Bull Run. I have
always held the opinion that, if the unfortunate Army of the Potomac
could have had General William T. Sherman for its commander in its
earlier days, the war would have terminated successfully for the North
much sooner, providing he had been given a free hand to plan his own

Although it was a delicate time to change commanders in the presence
of the enemy, not a ripple occurred to disturb the harmony or
movements of the army. General Meade was a favorite with General
Halleck and took it upon himself to break up the garrison at Harper's
Ferry, which had been denied to Hooker, and no notice was taken of his
action at Washington. On June twenty-ninth the army, which had been
chiefly concentrated at Frederick, was put into motion on several
roads towards Gettysburg.

General Meade's promotion caused some changes in the Fifth Army Corps;
General Sykes became the corps commander; General Romeyn B. Ayres
commanded the Second (Regular) Division; Colonel Hannibal Day the
First, and Colonel Sidney Burbank the Second Brigade. The Third
(Volunteer) Brigade was in command of General Stephen H. Weed. All of
these commanders were good and experienced officers, who had served in
the army before the war.

The supply train of the Fifth Corps followed the troops as far as
Westminster, about twenty miles southeast of Gettysburg, where there
was a branch railroad, connecting with the main road from Baltimore to
Harrisburg. An engagement with Stuart's cavalry had taken place at
Westminster on the previous day, and some dead horses were still
strewn along the road and the streets of the town. The train was kept
at Westminster during the three days' battle at Gettysburg, it is
said, because General Meade intended to fall back to the strong line
of Pipe Creek, not far from Westminster, had he been unsuccessful. On
the third day of the battle we could hear very plainly the firing of
the two hundred and thirty guns, which preceded General Pickett's
famous charge that afternoon. On the evening of the third of July the
supply train left Westminster and, after traveling all night, arrived
at Gettysburg on July fourth and halted in the rear of Little Round
Top, as near to the Fifth Corps as we could get. Here I issued rations
to our brigade and when that was completed I left my horse with the
train and ascended Little Round Top to view the great battle-field. It
commenced to rain hard soon after and continued to do so all day. My
view was very limited, owing to the rain, but I could see burying
parties at work in some of the places where fierce fighting had taken

When I found my regiment I learned that Lieutenant Goodrich had been
killed, three officers wounded, five soldiers killed and about fifty
wounded. The losses in the Fifth Corps had been very heavy on the
second day's battle. The corps had arrived on the field early that

The Fourth of July passed quietly, both armies holding their
positions, but General Lee was sending his trains away; and on the
morning of the fifth General Meade found that the Rebel Army had
disappeared--the same thing that had happened to McClellan at
Antietam. General Lee retreated rapidly by the shortest route to
Williamsport on the Potomac, where he found his pontoon bridges
destroyed and the river so high from recent rains as to be unfordable.
General Meade pursued leisurely by a much longer route. This gave the
Rebels at least four days' time to take up a strong position and
fortify it, when they discovered that they could not cross the

The Fifth Corps left Gettysburg on the afternoon of the fifth of July
and moved by way of Emmitsburg and Middletown across the South
Mountain range at Fox's Gap to Williamsport, where it arrived about
the eleventh. Part of this route was familiar to us, as we had gone
over it the previous year. General Meade directed a strong
reconnaissance to be made on the morning of the fourteenth, which
developed the fact that the enemy had slipped across the Potomac
during the previous night. The authorities at Washington were angry at
the escape of the enemy without another battle; and the army, whose
hopes had been raised to a high pitch by their victory at Gettysburg,
grumbled audibly. General Meade wrote to General Halleck asking to be
relieved of the command of the Army of the Potomac, but his request
was not granted. Military critics claim that in allowing Lee to escape
from Gettysburg and again at Williamsport, General Meade missed the
greatest opportunity of the war to rout the Rebel Army and end the
struggle nearly two years sooner.

My horse, which had become a great pet, grew fat while traveling
through the rich farming lands of Maryland and Pennsylvania, where
there was an abundance of the finest clover and corn. On night marches
I often snatched a little sleep along the road by leaning forward in
the saddle, resting my head on his neck and encircling it with my
arms. Sometimes I fell asleep sitting up straight in the saddle when
slowly jogging along, until awakened by a low branch of a roadside
tree brushing my face or knocking off my cap. At such times the horse
seemed to be asleep also, and moved along mechanically.

The people in this section treated the soldiers kindly; some women
baked bread and biscuits to give away; others sold us bread, butter,
eggs and pies at most reasonable prices. And how good that bread
tasted! I remember reporting for orders at brigade headquarters camp
one evening when the officers were having supper and overhearing the
General remark that he would like to marry the woman who baked the
bread he was eating, no matter what her looks might be. In some of the
small villages and farmhouses the natives understood but little
English and spoke only Pennsylvania Dutch.

General Meade put the army in motion on the fifteenth of July for
Harper's Ferry, where we crossed the Potomac, and I had an opportunity
to see John Brown's Fort. Some of the troops crossed at Berlin, about
six miles below. We marched east of the Blue Ridge, over much of the
same road McClellan had traveled the previous fall, while the Rebels
passed down the Shenandoah Valley, guarding all the passes. At
Manassas Gap the Confederates were overtaken and an attempt was made
to bring on an engagement, which resulted in a lively skirmish until
darkness came on, but next morning the enemy had disappeared. We
resumed our march leisurely, by way of Warrenton, and about the sixth
of August went into permanent camp at Beverly Ford on the
Rappahannock, drawing our supplies from Culpeper on the Orange and
Alexandria railroad.

While on this march, near Centreville, we noticed a horse in a field
some distance off the road. His condition was deplorable, he hobbled
most painfully, and I suppose the greater part of the army had seen
him in passing, but no one cared to have such a lame and sorry-looking
animal. One of my men was curious enough to go out into the field to
look at him, and discovered that his foot was wedged fast into an
empty tomato can; and when that was removed he was no longer lame. The
horse was cleaned and fed and became a useful extra riding-horse. He
was known by the name of "Centreville."

About this time we read in the papers about serious riots in New York
city called the "Draft Riots." Congress had passed an act to enroll
all available citizens of the loyal states for military duty, to
enable the states to furnish their quota, when called upon for
additional troops by the Government. Names were to be drawn by
lottery, and each man so drawn was to serve in the army or furnish an
acceptable substitute. This had to be done; all the two-year
volunteers had been discharged and, after the defeats at
Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, there were few voluntary
enlistments. The regulars were unable to obtain any recruits to fill
up their skeleton regiments, owing to county and town bounties offered
for volunteers. The riots in New York had been controlled for the time
being, but there was much uneasiness in the city as to what would
occur when the actual drawing of names began, for the Government
needed soldiers and was bound to enforce the draft. It was therefore
decided to send the two small brigades of regulars and a few volunteer
regiments to New York city to report there for duty to General John A.
Dix, commanding the Department of the East.

Accordingly on August thirteenth the troops destined for New York
city, under the command of General R. B. Ayres, left their camps for
Alexandria, some of the soldiers going on freight-cars from Culpeper,
while others marched with the supply train to Alexandria. On our
arrival there, after issuing rations, I was ordered to turn over all
Government property to the depot commissary, make out transfers and
take receipts for it for Lieutenant Greeley. It cost me a severe pang
to part with my horse Tommy, to whom I had become much attached. He
was so gentle that often after a hard march when he was unsaddled and
fed he would lie on the grass and I would lie down with him, resting
my head on his neck and we would both go to sleep.

My little staff of assistants was dispersed and sent to their
companies; and so was I, but not to do duty with them, only to be
accounted for. I was still brigade commissary sergeant and was to be
at Lieutenant Greeley's call when needed. We had to wait for
transportation in Alexandria, where my regiment was on a block in a
private street. We stacked arms in the street, and in the daytime sat
on the curbstone under the shade trees or loafed about the
neighborhood. We did our cooking by little fires in the street and at
night lay down on the brick sidewalks in front of the houses. This we
did for two nights. Fortunately it did not rain. In the house before
which my company was stationed there were some ladies who had a piano
and they sang secession songs after dark; and we retaliated by singing
all the Union songs we knew. They kept their blinds closed and we saw
none but negro servants enter or leave the house while we were there.
On the third day we marched to the wharf and embarked on a freight
steamer--the worst old tub I was ever on! As usual, we were crowded
and I preferred to remain on deck and camped near one of the masts.
This steamer was a very slow propeller. The weather was fine and we
got along fairly well down the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay, until
we passed the Capes and entered the Atlantic, when we discovered that
she was a high-roller and hadn't ballast enough. Soon more than half
of the command was seasick. The ship had no bulwarks, only an open
pipe railing through which it would be quite easy to roll over-board.
As I was not seasick I remained on deck, taking the precaution to tie
myself to the mast in the night-time. We were a long time getting to
New York, where we arrived in the middle of the day and landed at a
dock at the foot of Canal Street.

Parts of our brigades, who were on faster boats, had arrived on the
preceding day. The command was scattered throughout the city; some
regiments encamped in Battery Park; others in Washington, Union,
Madison and Tompkins Squares. Some companies were stationed on the
upper part of Fourth Avenue along the New Haven Railroad tracks and
elsewhere. My regiment and another encamped on the block bounded by
Fifth and Sixth Avenues, Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth Streets. This
block was vacant except for a row of four-story buildings on the Sixth
Avenue side, still standing. The block had been filled in and graded
fairly level a few feet above the street, and had a picket fence on
the other three sides. There were few houses in the neighborhood;
close by, on Fifth Avenue, were the foundations of St. Patrick's
Cathedral which had just been begun. The nearest horse-car line was on
Sixth Avenue, where we noticed an occasional car, smaller than the
others and painted yellow, bearing a sign in large letters, on either
side of the car, which read: "Colored people allowed in this car."

We left the dock at Canal Street during the afternoon and marched
up-town by way of Hudson Street, up Sixth Avenue to our destination at
Fifth Avenue and Forty-ninth Street, where the men were obliged to
sleep on the ground without tents that night. I went to my home. We
still had our band, though reduced in numbers. It played during our
march uptown, and we had many spectators and the usual juvenile
following. We did not look as pretty as the militia the people had
been accustomed to see; we were sunburnt, dirty and ragged-looking;
but, nevertheless, we received many cheers on the way. The arrival of
the soldiers from the Army of the Potomac restored peace of mind to
many people in New York and allayed their fears of rioting and
destruction of property, while enforcing the draft. No disturbance
occurred while that went on; if there had been, the rioters would have
received a severe lesson, for we had no sympathy for them.

The next day was a busy one in camp; tents were received and put up;
sinks were dug and a water supply arranged for; and guards were posted
at the gates to keep the soldiers in and the overwhelming public out.
Crowds of people, who seemed to have nothing else to do, lined the
fence and crowded the sidewalks from reveille to tattoo, watching the
soldiers. In the afternoons the nursery-maids with their baby
carriages appeared, and were made love to by the soldiers on the other
side of the fence and forgot their charges. At sunset, when dress
parade took place and the band played, the sidewalks around the camp
were impassable. At night such of the soldiers as were fortunate
enough to possess any money and had not obtained a pass jumped the low
fence where it was not guarded and remained away until the small
hours. The commander was liberal in granting daily passes to a certain
number to be absent from camp.

Lieutenant Greeley made a contract with one of the many caterers who
supplied food to the conscripts, substitutes and recruits while they
were in the city to provide cooked rations for three meals per day for
our brigade for the Government money value of a soldier's rations, as
computed in New York city. This proved unsatisfactory from the start,
the food being poor and insufficient and often cold--being served by
wagons, and at irregular times. In a few days the contract was
cancelled and each company drew its rations direct from the New York
commissary on Stone Street, and were furnished cooking utensils and
fire-wood to cook their own rations in camp. This proved to be another
very interesting item to the loiterers about the camp, watching the
cooking and serving of meals for the soldiers. Lieutenant Greeley gave
me the names and addresses of a few prominent bakers in the city, whom
I was to interview with regard to obtaining fresh bread for the
brigade. Among them I found one named Wall, at that time located on
the lower part of Sixth Avenue, or on Carmine Street, who agreed to
give us eighteen ounces of good wholesome bread for the daily
Government allowance of eighteen ounces of flour, or its money
value--which offer was accepted. I now had no duties of any kind to
perform, except to see that the baker kept up the weight of his
loaves, and I was absolutely free to come and go, when and where I
pleased, during our three weeks' stay in New York. I had some money
with me, also some at home, where I had at times sent part of my pay.
I took advantage of this short opportunity after the arduous field
service to enjoy myself as much as possible.

The brigade's headquarters were in Madison Square, which at that time
was enclosed by an iron fence set on a granite coping, and around this
the crowds were even denser than in my own camp. Here the Fourteenth
Infantry and some other troops were encamped. And here Lieutenant
Greeley, to whom I reported almost daily, had his tent. The
proprietors of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, opposite Madison Square,
generously furnished meals for the officers in this camp free of
charge during their stay. Sergeant William J. Milligan of the Sixth
Infantry, who was acting as brigade quartermaster sergeant, and who
was an old bunkie of mine at Governor's Island, had his tent here,
where I slept much oftener than I did in my own camp. The tent was
under a large tree, facing the main entrance of the hotel, and I
believe that I can still point out the tree.

The drawing for conscripts to fill New York city's quota for the
Government's call for troops was completed without any trouble, and
one morning in September, after a three weeks' stay, we were ordered,
much to our regret, to strike tents and prepare to return to the field
again. A paymaster appeared in camp very early and gave us four
month's pay, which was due us, and which, I believe, had been
purposely withheld until the day of our departure. As we were not to
leave until sometime in the afternoon, I had plenty of time to say
good-by at home and farewell to my friend, Sergeant Milligan, for his
regiment, the Sixth Infantry, was ordered to Fort Hamilton in New York
Harbor and did not go to the field again during the war. All of the
old infantry regiments--the Third, Fourth, Seventh and Tenth--all mere
skeletons, were retained in the forts around New York. For some reason
the Second Infantry, consisting of six companies, not half full, had
to go back to the field again, along with the newer and larger
regiments, the Eleventh, Twelfth, Fourteenth and Seventeenth Infantry.

We sat around, ready and waiting for the order to start, but it was
well along towards evening before we left camp and marched down Sixth
Avenue to Canal Street, the way we had come. Only about one-half of
our officers marched with us; the others were probably having farewell
dinners and knew that the steamer would not leave until daylight next
morning. Many of our men did not have a cent when they arrived. The
four months' pay was burning holes in their pockets, and they were
tempted to have a little fling before going back to Virginia. The
streets were packed with people and it was quite easy to dodge into
the crowd and disappear quickly through the open door of some corner
saloon without attracting the attention of the officers. By the time
we reached Canal Street it was dusk and many slipped away before we
reached the dock. When the roll was called, it was discovered that
more than forty men were missing, among them the drum-major, Lovell,
and one of the color sergeants, named McConnell, who had the
regimental colors with him. A detail was sent out to round up the
absentees; but after a search of several hours, they had only captured
half a dozen. As many more came back of their own accord, in a more or
less muddled condition, and when the steamer sailed in the morning
about thirty men were still missing. All but two or three of these men
rejoined the regiment about a week later in Alexandria. When they
finished their spree, or their money gave out, they reported to the
provost-marshal, who held them and sent them on. They had a hard time
on the steamer with a disreputable lot of conscripts and substitutes,
who were thievish and quarrelsome. The drum-major related that he was
awakened on deck one night by a man going through his pockets. He said
to the thief, "Friend, if you can find anything there, you are welcome
to it!" Our colors remained for two days in a hotel on Canal Street,
but were brought safely back. My regiment had to submit to a lot of
jollying from the other troops about losing one of our colors in New
York; but we never lost them to the enemy, neither did any other
regular regiment in the Army of the Potomac. It was supposed that
these men would all be tried by court-martial for absence without
leave, but directly after our return to the field in the latter part
of September, General Lee attempted a flank movement which kept our
army very busy marching for some time. These were all good and
faithful soldiers, and instead of a court-martial a general order was
issued fining each man a month's pay.

The return trip of the regiment to Alexandria was uneventful. We had a
better boat and made a quicker trip than we did going up to New York.
The two regular brigades remained long enough in Alexandria to be
refitted with a supply train and other necessities. I resumed my
former duties under a new commissary officer, First Lieutenant James
B. Sinclair of the Fourteenth United States Infantry. Of my former
detail I had but one, all the others being new men. I could not get my
old horse back and had to take another which was not nearly so good.
The two brigades then joined the main army near Culpeper, about the
time when the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps were withdrawn from the Army
of the Potomac to serve in the West. The Rebel Army had also been
reduced during the summer by sending Longstreet's corps to Tennessee.

When General Lee learned of the departure of two of our Army Corps, he
put his troops in motion to turn our right flank and rear. This was
the beginning of a campaign of manoeuvres between Generals Meade and
Lee, like the moves in a game of chess. We crossed the Rappahannock
and for about two weeks we marched and counter-marched along the
familiar line of the Orange and Alexandria railroad, the supply trains
along with the troops, until by forced marching we reached Centreville
ahead of the enemy, where General Meade offered battle. General Lee
retreated, however, south of the Rappahannock, destroying the railroad
and burning the stations from Bristoe to the Rappahannock.

For some days we were prevented from following him by a heavy
rainstorm which made Bull Run unfordable and pontoons had to be sent
for. During these marches in the latter part of September, 1863, we
passed one morning through the almost deserted small town of
Brentsville, the county-seat of Prince William County, Virginia. The
street in front of the court house was littered with books or records
and bundles of papers which had been maliciously thrown out through
the open door and windows, probably by some of our stragglers, or
"coffee-coolers," as they were also called. I dismounted and examined
some of the books which I found to contain mainly records of wills and
transfers of property. Some of these books and papers were being
carried off by passing soldiers who, when they examined them at the
next halt, either threw them away or built fires with them. I picked
up a few bundles of the papers and carried them with me until I got to
camp, where I examined them. The greater part of them proved to be
written consents from masters for his slaves, "Caesar and Dinah" or
"Rastus and Lucy" to get married. No surnames seemed to be used for
the slaves. Among the papers there was one, however, which interested
me and is still in my possession. It is a writ for the arrest of
William Murphy, as follows:

    George the second by the grace of God of great Britain, France &
    Ireland, King Defender of the Faith & .c. To the sheriff of the
    County of _Prince William_ Greeting. We command You that You take
    _William Murphy_ ... if _he_ be found within your Bailivic and
    _him_ safely keep so that you have _his_ Body before our H Justices
    of our said County at the Court house of the said County on the
    _fourth monday_ ... in ... _July_ ... next to answer ... _Benjamin
    Grayson Gent of a plea of Trespass upon the Case, Damage ten
    pounds_ ... and have then there this writ witness Peter Wagener
    Clerk of our said Court at the Court house of aforesaid the _XXIII_
    ... day of _June_ in the _XXVIth_ year of our reign 1752.

    P. Wagener.

On the reverse side of the paper is this endorsement:

    Not to be found within my Precinct.

    John Crump

This paper, yellow with age but well preserved, is five by six inches
in size. It is a coarsely executed pen blank with the words in italics
inserted in fine clear penmanship. John Crump's endorsement is written
in a good plain running hand.

                     *      *      *      *      *

The army now took up positions along the north bank of the
Rappahannock, where we encamped for two weeks or more, while the
railroad was being repaired; and during that time we had to haul
supplies from Bristoe Station until the repairs brought them nearer. A
number of skirmishes took place during the two weeks of manoeuvring,
but no battles were fought.

While at this camp I witnessed the impressive sight of a military
execution. A man from one of the new regular regiments had been
sentenced by a general court-martial to be shot for desertion. Near
sun-down the brigade was paraded and formed three sides of a square on
a level field outside of the camp. At the open end of the square was a
rude coffin and a newly made grave. Soon the prisoner and
provost-guard approached, preceded by a band playing a dead march,
passing through the square towards the coffin. There the prisoner,
whose bearing was firm and steady, was blindfolded and made to kneel
on the coffin. A firing party of eight took position in front of the
condemned man at about ten paces. There was a breathless silence for a
few minutes, then suddenly were heard the provost-marshal's commands,
"Ready! Aim! Fire!" and the man fell forward over the coffin. A
surgeon examined him and pronounced him dead; the brigade marched back
to camp, and the man was buried in the grave prepared for him.

On the seventh day of November General Meade again put the army in
motion to force the passage of the Rappahannock. At Rappahannock
Station, where the Rebels were intrenched, there was a spirited
engagement, when the Sixth Corps charged the works and captured about
sixteen hundred prisoners with small loss to themselves. The Third
Corps was also successful in forcing a passage at Kelly's Ford and
capturing some four hundred prisoners. The Confederates, taken by
surprise, retired during the night beyond Culpeper.

Next day the supply trains crossed at Kelly's Ford and the army went
into camp from there to Brandy Station. The railroad had to be
repaired as far as Brandy Station, and an important railroad bridge
crossing the Rappahannock rebuilt, which consumed considerable time.
We supposed that this was to be our winter camp, as the weather grew
very bad and cold, as the season advanced, and the road became worse,
but it was not to be so. The authorities at Washington, unmindful of
the disastrous ending of Burnside's winter campaigns the previous
year, urged upon General Meade to continue offensive operations.
Accordingly General Meade on the twenty-sixth of November, after a
severe storm, broke up the camps and started the army on its march to
the fords of the Rapidan.

The Fifth Army Corps crossed the river on a pontoon bridge at a place
called Culpeper Mine Ford on the same day, all of the supply trains,
except some ammunition wagons, remaining on the north side of the
river. On the twenty-eighth it was discovered that a surprise was out
of the question, the enemy having concentrated all their forces in a
strong position on the west bank of Mine Run.

General Warren, who had commanded the Second Corps since General
Hancock had been wounded at Gettysburg, was ordered to make the main
attack on the morning of the thirtieth. He made an early examination
of the enemy's works and had the moral courage to suspend General
Meade's order to attack, sending him word to that effect. This brought
General Meade to make a personal examination, after which he agreed
with General Warren as to the hopelessness of the attempt. The men of
the Second Corps realized that they were to attack a position as
hopeless as that at Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg and knew that
few would escape. The night before the attack was to be made each man
wrote his name, company and regiment on a piece of paper and pinned it
to his clothing.

On the same night I was sent across the river with a few supply wagons
and reached the front early in the forenoon, when I issued the rations
and rested a few hours. I had a good view of a part of the Rebel
position, which appeared very formidable, in front of the Fifth Corps.
On my return march in the afternoon a cold rain-storm came on, turning
to sleet; then it became so cold that my saturated clothing was frozen
stiff before I reached camp. The sufferings of the soldiers before the
enemy was dreadful. The next day General Meade decided that the
campaign was a failure and began to withdraw the army, which recrossed
the Rapidan unmolested and, thanks to General Warren, without a
useless slaughter, as in the Burnside campaign of the previous winter.

This ended active operations in the Army of the Potomac for 1863. The
troops established winter camps; the Fifth Corps guarded and was
encamped along the line of the Orange and Alexandria railroad, by
brigades stationed at intervals from Fairfax to Brandy Station. The
headquarters of my brigade were at Noakesville Station, a small place
no longer on the map. Colonel Burbank, who commanded the brigade, and
staff occupied a large farm-house situated a few hundred yards east of
the little station on a hill. A small two-story out-house was assigned
to the brigade commissary and quartermaster departments. A few
regiments of the brigade were encamped in the immediate vicinity,
where they made themselves comfortable in their winter huts. I rigged
up a store-house and, together with the quartermaster sergeant and our
assistants, used the little two-story house as an office and for our
sleeping quarters. The house had a good roof, a fireplace and chimney.
There was plenty of wood and we were warm and comfortable. My horse
was stabled along with the brigade staff horses in one of the farm

The commissary depot for the Fifth Corps was at Catlett's Station,
about five miles from our camp. I was sent there once a week with a
wagon-train to draw supplies for the brigade, and was always
accompanied by an infantry escort, as there were guerrillas about. One
morning as I was starting off with my train, Captain Samuel A. McKee,
of my regiment, and Lieutenant Edwin E. Sellers, of the Tenth United
States Infantry, who, with an orderly, were going to Catlett's
Station, asked me to ride with them in advance of my train. They soon
began to ride very fast and I found that my horse could not keep up
with theirs; frequently they were out of sight and I was a quarter of
a mile behind in the lonely woods. Then I thought of the guerrillas,
but we arrived safely at the station. About a week later, April
eleventh, 1864, Captain McKee, accompanied by an orderly, made the
same journey and was shot dead on his way to Catlett's; his body was
found lying on the road, stripped of his arms and valuables and most
of his clothing. The orderly escaped.

About this time many brevet ranks were conferred on officers--the
greater part of them for gallantry in the field; others for efficiency
in various lines of duty; and some for no particular reason that
anyone could discover. So generous was the War Department in
distributing brevet ranks that they seemed to lose dignity and
sometimes became a joke. The army mule was dubbed a "brevet horse" and
the camp follower became a "brevet soldier." Some officers were
advanced several grades above their lineal rank by supplementary
brevets. It was no uncommon occurrence to find a lieutenant who was a
brevet major or colonel; and I know of a few cases where first
lieutenants held the honorary rank of brigadier-general.

Lieutenant Sinclair, the commissary officer, was an easygoing, very
pleasant man, much liked by both officers and soldiers. He was a first
lieutenant and brevet major--a very brave officer, who had the
peculiar experience of being wounded in the same leg in three
different engagements, but never very seriously--each time able to
resume his duties after being discharged from the hospital. He
remained in the service for some years after the war. Lieutenant
Sinclair was a New Yorker. He had been with the Singer Sewing Machine
Co. before the war.

During this winter and spring a large number of recruits joined the
Army of the Potomac, among them many conscripts and substitutes, who
as a class were not the equals of volunteers of 1861 and 1862. The
armies needed still more men and on February first President Lincoln
ordered a draft for five hundred thousand men to be held on March
tenth, and another on March fifteenth for two hundred thousand more,
to be held April fifteenth, 1864. Recruiting for the regular army
almost ceased, owing to the large bounties paid for substitutes, and
the fact that the enlistments among the volunteers were only for three
years, or the duration of the war. I had a short furlough at this time
and spent four days very pleasantly in Washington with comrades of my
regiment, who had been detailed as clerks in the War Department or
were employed as civilians after their discharge from the army.

On March twelfth, 1864, Lieutenant General U.S. Grant was made
commander-in-chief of all the armies of the United States, deposing
General Halleck, to the great satisfaction of many of the officers and
the rank and file in the armies. General Grant visited the Army of the
Potomac for a few days in March, consulting General Meade, its
commander. Soon after many changes and consolidations were ordered.
The five corps were reduced to three, viz: the Second, Fifth and
Sixth, commanded respectively by Generals Hancock, Warren and
Sedgwick. The Fifth Corps lost its old commander, that sterling old
soldier, Major General George Sykes, who had commanded the regular
brigade at the beginning of the war and had risen to the command of
the Fifth Army Corps. We lost him with profound feelings of regret,
which were only compensated by the confidence we had in Major General
Gouverneur K. Warren, who had long been a brigade and division
commander of the corps. Skeleton companies and regiments were
consolidated, brigades and divisions were enlarged. All of the regular
infantry soldiers who remained in the field at this time were placed
in the First Brigade of the First Division of the Fifth Corps, along
with four regiments of volunteers; the One Hundred and Fortieth and
One Hundred and Forty-sixth New York and the Ninety-first and One
Hundred and Fifty-fifth Pennsylvania, which when combined, out-numbered
the regulars considerably. Brigadier-General Romeyn B. Ayres, an old
regular artillery officer, commanded the brigade.

General Meade remained in the immediate command of the Army of the
Potomac, now increased to ninety-nine thousand, four hundred and
thirty-eight officers and enlisted men present for duty, equipped;
while General Lee's army, composed of the corps of Longstreet, Ewell
and Hill, with Stuart's cavalry, was estimated to number about
sixty-two thousand.

General Grant arrived on April twenty-sixth and established his
headquarters at Culpeper; with his coming preparations for a forward
movement were begun; there was bustle and tumult in all the camps, and
a week later, May fourth, the Fifth Corps crossed the Rapidan with the
Second Division in the lead preceded by a division of cavalry.



A few days before the breaking up of our winter camp on the Orange and
Alexandria railroad an order was issued from corps headquarters to
discontinue our brigade commissary department and turn over all
property to the commissary of subsistence of the First Division, Fifth
Corps. Lieutenant Sinclair was ordered to rejoin his regiment as soon
as the transfers were completed, and I expected to be sent back to my
company to shoulder a musket among my comrades once more. I was busy
for a couple of days in making out the transfer papers. When they were
completed Lieutenant Sinclair sent me to Captain M. R. Came, the
division commissary officer, to obtain the necessary receipts and
acknowledgements. Captain Came was an elderly man and very peculiar.
He glanced at the papers and in a drawling voice with a strong
"down-East" accent asked me if I had made them out and if I understood
them, to which I replied in the affirmative. He then slowly and
carefully put on a huge pair of spectacles and taking another short
look at the papers, turned to me and said. "Young man, your threes and
your fives, your sevens and your nines I can tell apart, which is of
great importance; but I have seen better writing."

Then without further examination he signed the receipts on his camp
table and I saluted and departed.

On my arrival at camp I made preparations for my return to my company
on the following day, and was greatly surprised when that evening I
was ordered to report to Captain Came the next day as acting division
commissary sergeant. When I reported for duty the following day he
seemed to be pleased to see me. He asked me to sit down in his tent
and talked with me about the duties I was to perform, telling me to
keep a daily journal for his private use of the marches we made, when
and where we drew supplies or issued them, and of all incidents worthy
of note. Then he told me to go and make myself comfortable and become
acquainted with his "boys," as he called his assistants, of whom, he
said, I was to be the "boss." I kept the journal for the Captain
during the time I served with him and also a copy of it for myself.
When I left him to serve elsewhere I continued the journal as long as
I remained with the Army of the Potomac and I still possess it. I have
often regretted not having kept a diary all through my war service,
which would have made the task of writing this book much easier than
relying upon my memory, after the lapse of half a century.

The Captain's "boys" consisted of a civilian clerk, a relative of his,
to whom the Government paid seventy-five dollars per month and the
allowance of one ration. He was a genial, careless young man, who
hated work and passed his on to an assistant, a soldier of a
Pennsylvania regiment, who was a bright, smart fellow, detailed as a
clerk, and very efficient when he could not get any whiskey. Between
the two they kept the "old man," as he was called, in trouble on
account of delays in rendering reports and accounts to headquarters,
and in having them returned for correction, with which the Captain
himself was not very familiar.

Fortunately my duties did not include the keeping of accounts; I was
to attend to the drawing of supplies from the depots and the issuing
of them at the front and I was also to have a general supervision of
the supply train, under the orders of Captain Came. There were also
four or five soldiers detailed to do the heavy work, and a cook. All
of these men were volunteers; I was the only regular. The "boys"
showed very little respect for the "old man," who familiarly addressed
them by their Christian names. They seldom saluted him and never stood
at attention when he gave them his orders, unless some strange officer
was present. The cook was a good one. He belonged to a Massachusetts
regiment and was an artist on baked beans. He would dig a hole in the
ground and keep up a fire in it all day, and at night put in an army
camp-kettle filled with salt pork and beans, cover it over with earth,
and next morning dig it up with every bean just done to a turn and
none of them burnt.

Captain Came was a native of the State of Maine. He had joined the
volunteer army as a commissary of subsistence and had not served with
any regiment. He was a man over fifty, of medium stature and heavy
build. He wore a grizzled, ill-kept beard and had long gray hair,
which together with his carelessness in dress, gave him the appearance
of a hard-working old farmer. When in camp he wore a soldier's blouse
without any shoulder straps to indicate his rank which, along with an
old felt hat, caused him to be mistaken at times for one of the
teamsters and to be addressed as such by soldiers who did not know

He was an eccentric man, stubborn, but still kind and good-hearted,
especially to negroes in distress, for whom he seemed to have a
special tenderness. He always spoke of them as "colored boys," and
would not tolerate having them called "niggers." On the march we were
sometimes pestered by "contrabands"--negro men, women and
children--slaves--who had run away and followed the supply trains.
These he would care for and feed for days, instead of turning them
over to the provost-marshal. One day I saw the Captain almost shed
tears while listening to a tale told by a sleek, fat wench, who seemed
to be the spokesman for a large party to whom he gave permission to
ride in the heavily loaded wagons, and from which they were presently
ejected, to the Captain's great regret, by Captain Thomas, the
division quartermaster.

He had a negro servant, a lazy, worthless, lying rascal, who imposed
on his kind master shamefully. Often when called, though close by, he
paid no attention; then the Captain left his tent to go in search of
him, calling out "Aleck! Aleck! Alexander Tyler, I want knowledge!"
which was one of the peculiar expressions he used when he wanted
information about anything. If he found "Aleck," and sometimes gave
him a mild reproof, the rascal always had a lying excuse and only
grinned at the old man. We wondered sometimes whether the Captain
bossed the negro or the servant bossed the Captain, for he slept in
his tent and helped to drink his whiskey.

The Captain was rather fond of a little whiskey himself and always
kept it in his tent and carried a flask in the holster of his saddle
when on the march. He was very free with it when officers visited him
and on those convivial occasions he sometimes had me called to his
tent on some pretext of wanting "knowledge," and when he dismissed me
I could overhear him say, "This is my regular." He seemed to be
pleased to have a regular sergeant as one of his assistants. The
Captain was an early riser and on fine warm mornings stepped out of
his tent dressed only in his undershirt and slippers. In one hand he
carried a tin cup containing his "toddy"--whiskey, some sugar and a
little water--which Aleck prepared for him every morning; in the other
hand he held a stick with which he stirred the toddy, while gravely
walking about the camp in his bare shanks and talking to us until
Aleck had his breakfast ready. I never saw the Captain unfit for duty;
he was always attentive to that. The principal effect that drink had
on him was that it made him cranky and ill-tempered at times. The
laxity of discipline in Captain Came's department was to me
astonishing with the training I had had, and I so expressed myself to
my comrades, who cared little about it and were always somewhat
jealous of me.

The supply train, heavily loaded with ten days' rations, in addition
to the five days' rations issued to the troops just before starting on
their march, crossed the Rapidan at Culpeper Mine Ford on a pontoon
bridge on the afternoon of May fourth and proceeded a few miles on the
other side, where we encamped for the night. The train was guarded by
a greater number of cavalry and infantry than I had ever seen employed
for that purpose.

The next morning we marched in the direction of the Wilderness until
well along in the forenoon, when we halted and remained in that
spot for two days; then we made a night march in the direction of
Spottsylvania Court House. From our position we plainly heard the
firing which opened the battle of the Wilderness of May fifth and
sixth, which was the beginning of a series of battles, marching, and
almost continuous fighting which lasted for forty-two days, until
we had arrived at the James river. General Grant, regardless of
tremendous losses, had sent a despatch to Washington in which he used
the noted phrase, "I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes
all summer." He continued his movements to the left to outflank Lee,
who met him on ground of his own choosing and fought a defensive

Of the great battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, North Anna,
Cold Harbor and the historical minor engagements I saw but little, for
my issues of rations at the front were sometimes made at night or
during a lull in a battle, if in daytime. I was always hurried away
quickly, for the white covers of the wagons, if noticed, drew the fire
of the enemy's artillery and on a couple of occasions caused the loss
of some of the wagons and the wounding of some teamsters. Only at
Spottsylvania and at Cold Harbor, while waiting for darkness before
returning, was I enabled to see my regiment in the breast-works and
something of the battle-field and to hear my comrades' stories of the
fight. After the battle of the Wilderness the Army of the Potomac was
reinforced by General Burnside's Ninth Army Corps, numbering about
twenty-two thousand men, mostly newly raised troops, of whom but a
third had ever been in the field.

While the troops were at Spottsylvania the supply train was parked on
Stafford Heights, overlooking the town of Fredericksburg, near a large
spring of fine water which supplied the town; but there was no
fire-wood to be had except by tearing down old and unoccupied houses.
From this place, about midway between the front and Belle Plain on the
Potomac, the new supply depot where we drew rations, we supplied the
troops until they advanced to Cold Harbor. Captain Came was very
energetic in trying to keep up his supplies. He nearly always
accompanied the train to the depot, of which fact I was very glad, as
he could obtain better attention from the officers in charge than I.
The depots were busy places. The rule of "first come, first served"
was not always observed; favoritism was shown, and sometimes when
alone I was unjustly detained for many hours, or an entire day, before
I succeeded in getting my wagons loaded. When rations were to be
issued at the front the Captain remained in camp with the main part of
the train, which sometimes moved before I returned and I had to follow
it up--with great trouble at times.

On our first trip to the depot at Belle Plain the Captain and I rode
ahead so as to arrive early and get our requisition on file. The
Captain rode a large horse named "Ned," to whom he gave commands in a
voice loud enough for a squadron of cavalry: "Halt! Forward! Trot!"
etc., which caused much laughter as we passed through the streets of
Fredericksburg, among the soldiers and citizens, who vainly looked for
a squadron to follow him.

Belle Plain was crowded with shipping, arriving troops and wounded
soldiers, awaiting transportation, as well as prisoners. A long dock,
only wide enough for a single line of wagons, led out to a small
wharf, where there was room for but two boats at a time and little
room to unload; beef cattle were made to jump overboard and swim
ashore. It was after midnight when our last wagon was loaded and we
drove off a short distance and rested until daylight. On this occasion
we lost two lead-mules, who fell off the narrow dock in the darkness
and were drowned.

Reinforcements for the army were being forwarded rapidly. On the way
to Belle Plain we passed the First Massachusetts, First Vermont,
Second and Eighth New York, all heavy artillery, serving as infantry,
and the Thirty-sixth Wisconsin Infantry, full regiments on their way
to the front.

Late on the afternoon of May nineteenth the Rebel General Ewell passed
around the right wing of our army and made a dash for the supply
trains. He captured twenty-seven wagons on the Fredericksburg road,
but they were all re-taken. General Ewell was repulsed and his entire
command came near being cut off from Lee's army, when darkness
afforded him a chance to escape.

Our next supplies were drawn from Port Royal on the Rappahannock
river. On May twenty-second the train was at Bowling Green, a fine
village, almost deserted except for slaves, who were mostly women. We
were now out of the Wilderness in a fine part of the country
containing large plantations, which had not been visited by the
ravages of war. From Bowling Green we went by way of Milford Station
to Chesterfield, crossing the Mattapony river on the way. This river
takes its name and is formed by four small rivers, named the Ma, Ta,
Po and the Ny.

From Chesterfield I was sent with a part of the train to supply
rations to the division at Mount Carmel Church, which the Fifth Army
Corps was to pass during the night of the twenty-sixth. It had rained
most of the day; the roads were bad, but I reached the place and
waited for hours before the division arrived near midnight and halted
until rations were issued, when they resumed their night march. The
mules were fed but not unhitched, for at daylight I started on the
return march. When I arrived at Chesterfield, where I had left the
supply trains, I found that they had been ordered away, and I had to
make a march of thirty miles that day over bad roads to catch up with
them that evening near New Town.

I was kept exceedingly busy during this campaign; every three or four
days the troops had to be supplied and six days' rations had to be
kept in the wagons. This kept me on the go all the time, to the front
or to the depots, which were often far apart. Much of the marching was
done in the night-time, and often the only sleep I got was dozing in
the saddle or snatching a few hours in an empty wagon when almost
exhausted from fatigue.

We had much rain during the month of May and the early part of June.
The roads--some of them bad enough in dry weather--were in a horrible
state. At Spottsylvania I lost two loads of hard bread--the wagons
upset in a deep puddle and one of them we were unable to extricate and
had to abandon. The horses and mules, ill-fed, hard-worked night and
day, and often suffering for water, sometimes succumbed. There were
times when we did not dare to lose time to let them drink while
fording a stream, no matter how they suffered. Often they were hitched
up for forty-eight hours at a time and my horse did not have his
saddle removed.

When the army reached Cold Harbor, the base of supplies was changed to
the White House Landing on the Pamunkey river, a locality familiar to
us in McClellan's time. On our march we passed through Dunkirk,
Aylets, Newcastle and Old Church, a fertile region with many
plantations. In passing through this section many contrabands
abandoned the plantations and joined our train. A few times we took
down fences and parked the train in a great clover-field, which was a
rare treat for our hungry animals.

On our route we encountered General W. F. Smith's four divisions of
sixteen thousand men, of the Eighteenth Army Corps, from General
Butler's Army of the James, whence they had come to the White House in
transports and were marching to reinforce Grant's army at Cold Harbor.
We also met strong regiments of heavy artillery, withdrawn from the
defenses of Washington, marching to the front. The authorities at
Washington had given General Grant a free hand, which no former
commander had had, to recruit his great losses in this campaign.

While the opposing armies faced each other at Cold Harbor for a period
of twelve days, I made frequent trips with supplies from the White
House depot to the front, and on my return journeys, which generally
took place at night, we drove to the field hospitals and filled the
empty wagons with the less seriously wounded and took them to the
White House depot. This was also done at the Wilderness and at
Spottsylvania, the supply of ambulances being inadequate to remove the
great numbers of wounded men. The roads being bad during rainy
weather, and the army wagons having no springs to lessen the hard
jolts, the poor fellows suffered intense pain and I often heard them
cry out in agony as I rode past the wagons. It was pitiful to hear
them. When I was in charge of the train I made frequent halts to rest
them, but this was all that could be done. Sometimes one or two of the
unfortunates died during the night, the body remaining in the wagon
among the living until we reached our destination. Upon arriving at
the White House, the wounded were delivered at the general hospital,
where thousands of wounded soldiers were cared for and rested for a
few days in large hospital tents, before being shipped in especially
adapted transport vessels to Northern hospitals or convalescent camps.

The great depot at the White House was a busy place. The narrow river
was congested with vessels of all kinds, including some gun-boats.
Great quantities of stores for the army were discharged and newly
arrived troops came ashore. Departing vessels carried away wounded
soldiers and Rebel prisoners, many of whom seemed pleased at the
prospect of getting enough to eat; for they had been ill-supplied all
through this campaign, as they informed us.

On June ninth we learned that a change of base to the James river was
to take place. On the following day we loaded the wagons with all the
supplies they would carry and by way of Tunstall's Station proceeded
to the vicinity of Cold Harbor, over ground familiar to us. Some of
the conflict at Cold Harbor took place on the battlefield of Gaines's
Mill, only the position of the two armies was now reversed. After
supplying the division the train left camp at three P.M. June twelfth,
an exceedingly hot day, for the James river.

After dark on the same day the Army of the Potomac was withdrawn from
the trenches at Cold Harbor, where they had such a deplorable
experience that General Grant himself in his Memoirs says: "I have
always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made;
no advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we

On the fifteenth of June the Army of the Potomac crossed the James on
a pontoon bridge at Wilcox's Landing, just six weeks after crossing
the Rapidan. It had failed to capture Richmond or to destroy Lee's
army, and the campaign ended at the James, as in 1862, but with an
immensely greater sacrifice. Conservative historians compute our
losses at 7,289 killed, 37,406 wounded and 9,856 missing; a total of
54,551. Others claim that these figures do not include the losses in
Burnside's Ninth Army Corps and make the grand total upwards of sixty
thousand,--a loss on our side nearly as great as General Lee's entire
army at the opening of the campaign. None of the authorities place the
Confederate losses over twenty thousand, or about one to three. This
sanguine campaign, its awful sacrifices without any advantages, caused
mutterings of discontent and had a gloomy and depressing effect, not
only in the army but throughout the North. The army had lost thousands
of its most capable officers and veteran soldiers, who could not be
replaced, and it no longer seemed to be the same army.

When Generals Grant and Meade, whom I encountered a few times,
appeared among the troops there was but feeble applause, and the
hearty cheers received by some of our former commanders were no longer
heard. At this period of the war the only bright spot was the masterly
strategy and successful campaign of General Sherman against the
Confederate General Joseph E. Johnson in the West from Chattanooga to
Atlanta. In the Histories of the Wilderness,--Cold Harbor campaign,
written after the conclusion of the Civil War by officers still in the
service or on the retired list--histories most carefully
written--there is an absence of criticism of the military strategy in
this campaign. When all participants have passed away, some future
historian will write an unbiased story of the war and its strategy.

Anxiety as to the safe withdrawal of the supply trains was felt, but
they were well protected. So skillfully was the withdrawal of the army
and its trains accomplished that General Lee was unable to determine
for two days whether the objective point of the Army of the Potomac
was the investment of Richmond or a movement to the James river.
Except for some cavalry skirmishes, the march was unmolested.

The train arrived at the Chickahominy on the morning of the fourteenth
and encamped at Wilcox's farm until the following day, waiting for the
pontoon bridge and approaches to be completed, for an insufficient
number of boats had been provided, causing twenty-four hours' delay.
The river is wide and deep at that point. We crossed on the afternoon
of the fifteenth. I counted forty-four large wooden pontoons and
sixteen smaller canvas pontoons, all of which appeared to be spaced at
greater distances apart than usual.

We halted at some distance on the opposite side and resumed our march
at seven P.M., reaching the vicinity of the pontoon bridge over the
James at Wilcox's Point before midnight. We were halted there to allow
the Ninth Army Corps to cross before us. The train commenced crossing
about two o'clock on the morning of the sixteenth of June. It was a
beautiful, clear, moonlight night and I had no difficulty in counting
the one hundred and one pontoons composing the bridge over the James,
more than two thousand feet wide at this point. It was daylight when
we parked in a cornfield on the other side, and men and animals were
glad to get some rest. The teams were not unhitched, for we were
liable to be ordered forward at any moment.

All day long the road was crowded with marching troops and trains
coming across the bridge, and by midnight of the sixteenth the entire
army with all its artillery and trains had reached the right bank of
the James. After sun-down our train was ordered to pull out on the
road, and after proceeding a few hundred yards it was halted and did
not go on again until eleven P.M. After that we moved by fits and
starts and at daylight had accomplished only about three miles on the
congested road.

After daylight on the seventeenth we made better progress; we passed
through Prince George Court House and halted after noon-time in an
oat-field a mile square, which was destroyed in a few hours. There we
fed the animals, after a twenty-four-hour fast, and unhitched them for
a few hours--they had not had their harnesses off for two days. I also
issued two days' rations to our division, which was halted close by.
We plainly heard cannonading in the direction of Petersburg during the

About six P.M. we resumed our march and for the third night in
succession we were on the road until daylight. On the morning of the
eighteenth we encamped within about two and a half miles from City
Point on the road to Petersburg. All the supply trains of the army,
commissary, quartermaster and reserve ammunition were encamped in this
vicinity about six miles from the front at Petersburg; all except what
was called the "Fighting Train," composed of ammunition wagons, which
always followed the troops and supplied ammunition when required, in
camp or during a battle. The supply trains were destined to remain in
this camp for many months, while the long and tedious operations of
the siege of Petersburg went on.

But I was not to remain in camp. A short time previous some further
changes and consolidations had been made and my regiment was again
placed in the Second Division of the Fifth Corps, and three days after
our arrival I was ordered to report at the front as acting ordnance
sergeant. The regulars formed the First Brigade, along with the Fifth,
One Hundred and Fortieth and One Hundred and Forty-sixth New York
Volunteers, under the command of Brigadier-General Joseph Hayes. When
I learned of this change I knew that I would have to leave my detail
in the First Division and expected to be ordered to join my company;
being appointed ordnance sergeant was a complete surprise to me and I
never learned to whom I owed the appointment. I left Captain Came on
the morning of June twenty-first and I think he was not well pleased
at losing his only "regular." He told me to come and see him when I
could, and to call on him for anything I needed in the commissary
line. For my part I was glad to leave the kindly old man, for during
my stay of eight weeks I always felt annoyed at the manner in which my
assistants performed their duties.

First Lieutenant Richard H. Pond, of the Twelfth United States
Infantry, was the acting ordnance officer of the Second Division,
Fifth Corps, to whom I reported at the front. Lieutenant Pond had been
appointed from the ranks in May, 1862, and he understood and performed
his duties very well. He was a pleasant man, with a taste for
literature and spent much of his time in writing.

The ammunition train was encamped close to General Warren's
headquarters, in rear of some of the captured redoubts and
breast-works, and near the Norfolk and Petersburg railroad. With this
train was a permanent detail of a sergeant, a corporal and eighteen
privates, whose duties were to guard the train and to assist me in
caring for, receiving and distributing the infantry arms and
ammunition for the Second Division. There was also a soldier named
Ballard, detailed as ordnance clerk, a very staid, pious man, much
older than I, who read his Bible when not otherwise occupied. Ballard
and I had a wall tent for our use; the ammunition guard had shelter
tents, and the wagonmaster and teamsters slept in the wagons on the
ammunition boxes. I was provided with a riding horse and
accoutrements. I did not like the horse and soon swapped him for a
better one at the corral where extra horses were kept.

My duties, while the siege went on, were much easier than in the
commissary department, and the reports and accounts, which dealt only
with arms, accoutrements and ammunition for infantry, were more
simple. Every morning I sent a wagon loaded with twenty thousand
rounds of cartridges to the front, a short distance away, accompanied
by a file of the guard and sometimes I went with them. This wagon
remained at the front until dark, supplying ammunition when needed;
and when returning to camp, left a supply for the night.

Artillery firing was going on at some part of the long line all day,
sometimes furiously. Picket firing was almost constant along the line
in the rifle pits, and at night when the pickets were being relieved,
the firing occasionally was increased by the men behind the
breast-works on both sides, also by the artillery, until it sounded
like a battle. This sometimes kept up for more than a half hour, when
it suddenly ceased and only pickets' shot were heard. There were some
mortars along our line, firing shells into Petersburg. I watched them
at night, when I could distinguish the burning fuses in their curved
course through the sky like rockets and could hear the shells burst.
After a while I became so accustomed to artillery firing at night that
it no longer awakened me, even if close to our camp. The enemy's
longer range guns sometimes fired a few shells over our camp,
invisible to them, and over General Warren's headquarters close by,
without doing any damage.

The troops manned the breast-works and constructed redoubts,
bomb-proofs and covered ways by brigades and were relieved by other
brigades every few days. When relieved, they retired some distance to
the rear, near division headquarters, a short distance in advance of
the ordnance train's camp. Lieutenant Pond had his tent with the
division staff, where I reported to him every evening about sun-down
for orders, unless absent on other duty.

The weather had become intensely hot, and no rain had fallen since
June fifth. The heavy cannonading failed to bring it on, as it
generally did; with the exception of a few drops from a cloud early in
July, there was no rain until July nineteenth--a period of forty-three
days. At first we got water from a small stream a long distance from
camp, but it soon dried up. We then resorted to wells, as the troops
had to do from the beginning of the siege. Five or six feet below the
porous surface soil, there was clay containing water. We dug pits and
put down barrels with the heads knocked out. As the drought was
prolonged, we were obliged to deepen our wells, digging ten to twelve
feet or more in depth to get a sufficient amount of water for men and
animals. The dust was many inches thick on the roads where, ground
into a fine powder by passing troops and trains, it hung in great
clouds so dense that often a teamster was unable to see his leading
mules. This, and the absence of water along the roads, caused much
suffering to man and beast.

The old Petersburg and City Point railroad was repaired for the
required distance and a new road, called the United States Military
railroad, was connected with it and finally extended south as far as
the Weldon and Petersburg railroad. Very imperfect grading and
ballasting was done in the hasty building of this road. The soldiers
declared that it made them sea-sick to ride on its cars; nevertheless,
it proved to be of great service to the investing army.

Once or twice a week I had to go to City Point, about ten miles away,
to the ordnance depot with some wagons to replenish the supply of
ammunition for our division. By starting early I was generally able to
make this trip in a day, if no great delay occurred at the depot,
returning in the evening, thickly covered with dust.

We presumed that General Grant would order a bombardment and assault
on the enemy's works at Petersburg on July fourth but with the
exception of firing a national salute at his headquarters at City
Point, the day passed without special incident.

A few days later it was discovered that the Rebel General Jubal A.
Early had slipped away and was marching up the Shenandoah Valley, well
on his way to Maryland. The Sixth Corps was hastily embarked on
transports for Washington and arrived there on the eleventh of July in
the nick of time to save the city. General Early had arrived before
the northern defenses of the city at an earlier hour on the same day
and, finding the works but feebly defended, contemplated an assault on
the following day which was frustrated by the timely arrival of the
Sixth Corps, which forced him to withdraw.

Shortly after the arrival of the army at Petersburg, City Point
assumed the appearance of a large and busy town. Great store-houses
and other temporary frame buildings were erected and the wharf
extended. General Grant's headquarters were there, the commissary,
quartermaster, ordnance and medical depots; the general hospital
with its many large tents near the banks of the Appomattox river;
undertaking and embalming establishments, conducted by enterprising
civilians; and a rapidly increasing graveyard for the many sick and
wounded soldiers, who died in the general hospital. The sanitary and
the Christian commissions, sustained by the generosity of the Northern
people, had large establishments. The two commissions were of
incalculable benefit in helping the Government in the care of sick and
wounded soldiers and saved many lives. Many sutlers had tents or
booths near the bank of the James, which looked like a market-place.
It was not until some time later that regimental sutlers were
permitted at the front. The river was so full of vessels that it
resembled a great shipping port.

One day, after loading my wagons, I went to one of the sutler's booths
to buy some crackers and cheese for a lunch before my ride back to
camp. As I stood among a crowd of soldiers, waiting to be served, I
heard one of them demanding something in a voice that sounded familiar
to me. I soon discovered that he was a former drummer of my regiment,
in fact one of the two boys who had accompanied me from Governor's
Island to Carlisle. He was now a bugler in Captain Haxamer's New
Jersey Battery. I was glad to see him again. We conversed a while and
then rode together towards the front, his battery being stationed
about a mile to the right of the main road to Petersburg. He told me
he had a fine flute which he had found in a knapsack on the field of
Cold Harbor, which he desired to present to me, having no use for it
himself. At the parting of our ways he requested me to wait, while he
rode to his camp to get it. He soon returned and handed me a package
which I found, when opened, contained the first two joints of a flute
and a music book. The third joint, usually made in two sections, was
missing. He thought he must have dropped it out of the carelessly
wrapped package, when he mounted his horse in camp to return to me. He
promised to make diligent search for it, and did find the upper
section of the third joint, where he thought he had lost it, and
brought it to me. More than a month later, I met him again. He had
recovered the last section of the third joint and the flute was
finally complete. It appeared that a soldier of his battery had found
this part in camp and kept it for weeks in his haversack as a
curiosity, until one day my friend recovered it. I have treasured this
flute which came to me so curiously in installments; the key on the
last joint shows plainly the imprint of a horse's hoof.

Captain Came's camp was close to the City Point road. I called on him
a few times, when he invited me to his tent and asked me to take a
"little mite," as he expressed it. He seemed pleased to see me, or was
pleased at the excuse I afforded for an extra drink. We chatted, and
he urged me to stay and have dinner with his "boys." On one of my
trips, I fortunately missed by a few hours the explosion of a boat
with a cargo of ordnance stores, at the wharf where I loaded my
wagons. It killed and wounded about a hundred of the negro stevedores
and other persons near-by, demolished some ordnance wagons, and did
great damage to the wharf and adjoining vessels. The cause of the
explosion remained unknown, but it was surmised that Rebel spies were
to blame for it.

Some change in the position of our division caused the removal of our
camp nearer to the Jerusalem Plank road. This caused the digging of
more and deeper wells to obtain a sufficient supply of water, during
the great heat and drought. General Burnside's Ninth Army Corps was on
the right of the Fifth and there I saw the first colored troops join
the Army of the Potomac, observing the arrival of a new regiment of
negroes with their white officers on the road from City Point. Many of
them had taken off their shoes and carried them slung on their
bayonets while trudging bare-footed along the hot dusty road. In the
evening I went to their camp and heard the roll-call of one of the
companies. There were so many Jacksons and Johnstons, that the first
sergeant numbered them as high as "Johnston number five." They
appeared to be very proud of being soldiers and serving with white

There were rumors, late in July, that a mine was being dug at a point
in front of the Ninth Army Corps, where the field fortifications of
both armies approached the closest. On the night of July twenty-ninth,
I was awakened by an orderly who brought me an order from Lieutenant
Pond to have the ordnance train ready to move at three o'clock next
morning. An hour later the order was changed to have forty thousand
rounds of ammunition at the front at daylight. I supposed that the
mine was to be blown up under the enemy's works and that a general
bombardment would take place.

It was just daylight, when I arrived at the front with one wagon
containing the ammunition. I waited, expecting to hear an explosion at
any moment. It was a beautiful morning and all was quiet. I must have
waited for an hour, when suddenly I felt the earth tremble as the mine
was fired, and I heard a dull heavy thud in front of the Ninth Corps
close by. The report had not yet died away when our batteries, mortars
and great guns opened a tremendous fire on the Rebel works which shook
the earth.

An intervening strip of woods prevented me from seeing anything except
the great cloud of smoke which arose over the batteries. The teamster
and two guards were busy trying to keep the mules from running away,
while I endeavored to quiet my horse, which was trying to break the
halter by which I had tied him to a tree. I think it was ten minutes
or more before there was any reply from the Rebel batteries and longer
than that before their fire became general. Occasional shells now
began to fly over us and one of them--a twenty-pounder--landed within
a few yards of me, kicked around and scattered dirt over me, as I
threw myself prone to the ground; but fortunately it failed to
explode. The artillery fire was kept up for more than an hour when it
slackened, but was vigorously resumed for a time about nine o'clock.
By noon it had ceased and I was ordered to return to camp.

We learned later that the springing of the mine was a success,
although it took place an hour later than intended, owing to a damp
fuse which failed about half way into the mine and had to be replaced.
The explosion blew a small Rebel fort, with all its inmates and guns,
about two hundred feet up into the air and made a crater in the ground
about one hundred and fifty, by sixty feet and twenty-five feet deep,
which caused consternation and surprise among the enemy.

It has been conceded that General Meade's plan for a general assault
on Petersburg was skillful and should have been a success, had his
orders been fully obeyed. General Hancock's Second Army Corps had been
sent across the James on the twenty-seventh to make a diversion, which
resulted in General Lee's weakening his defenses by several divisions;
while the Second Corps was to return on the night of the twenty-ninth
to take part in the general assault on Petersburg, which failed to
take place. Owing to deplorable delay and mismanagement of the
division of the Ninth Corps, which advanced after the explosion of the
mine and became huddled in the crater, the attack was doomed to
lamentable failure, which caused the loss of nearly four thousand men.
Some historians have termed this event "the mine fiasco." A week later
General Meade ordered a court of inquiry to investigate the cause of
the failure. This court, after the conclusion of its sessions,
promulgated its opinion as follows:

That General Burnside had failed to prepare his parapets and abatis
for the passage of the assaulting columns and had not given them
proper formation; that he had neglected General Meade's order for the
prompt advance to the crest and had not provided engineers, working
materials and tools, etc., etc. As General Burnside remained at his
headquarters, more than a mile away, during the assault, he had no
personal knowledge of what was taking place. Brigadier-Generals J. H.
Ledlie, commanding the white, and Edward Ferrero, commanding the
colored troops of the assaulting columns, were found not to have
pushed their divisions forward promptly, according to orders; nor did
they accompany them, but remained in the rear in bomb-proofs most of
the time and did not know the position of their troops. Two other
brigade commanders were less unfavorably commented up. Six months
later the congressional committee on the conduct of the war made a
more searching and exhaustive inquiry into the "mine fiasco."

Unremitting picket firing and occasional cannonading went on during
the sweltering first half of the month of August. On the night of the
fifteenth, the Fifth Corps was relieved from duty in the trenches by
the extension of the Ninth Corps to the left. General Grant had
decided to destroy the Weldon railroad, an important means of supply
for Lee's army, some miles to our west, and, if possible, to make a
lodgment there and extend our investing lines to that point. The
Fifth Army Corps was selected for this movement and was to march on
the morning of the Seventeenth, but a torrential rain-storm on the
night of the sixteenth had put the roads into such a condition that it
was impossible to move artillery the next morning.

Just before midnight on the seventeenth some Rebel batteries opened
fire on the Union lines and soon all the guns and mortars on both
sides seemed to be engaged. It was the most furious midnight
cannonading since the beginning of the siege. All the mortars were
firing shells, which made the sky look as though there were a display
of fireworks. It lasted for an hour and a half, when the firing
slackened and then suddenly ceased on both sides, as if by an

A few hours later, at four o'clock in the morning on the eighteenth,
General Warren started the Fifth Corps on the march to the Weldon
railroad. At daylight we broke camp, loaded the wagons and were soon
ready to follow the troops, but remained stationary awaiting orders.
About noon we heard firing from the direction which General Warren had
taken, and by two o'clock the firing had increased enough to indicate
a considerable engagement. The day was very hot, although a heavy rain
was falling. At five o'clock in the afternoon Lieutenant Pond ordered
me to start immediately with nine wagons, loaded with ammunition, for
the Weldon railroad and report to Colonel Fred T. Locke, the
Adjutant-General of the Corps. I started promptly, taking along half
of the guard, mine being the first ordnance train on the road and
keeping in the lead all the way. The roads were in a bad condition
from recent heavy rains. One of the teamsters broke a wagon tongue but
there was no time to improvise a substitute and, as the stalled wagon
could be passed, I left it sticking in the deep mud and hastened on.

I arrived at the Weldon railroad at nine P.M., where I halted the
train and reported to the adjutant-general at the Globe Tavern on the
Halifax road, which runs parallel to the railroad. A lieutenant was
ordered to guide me. He directed me to follow him with three of the
wagons and led me up the road, nearly a mile, to a point between our
line of battle and our pickets. There I supplied the picket reserve
with ammunition. Sharp picket firing from the Rebel side began, as
they heard the noise of my wagons, but it was raining and the night
was pitch-dark and we escaped without damage. I next supplied the
different regiments of the division and at daylight was ordered to
retire and park the wagons half a mile to the rear and to be in
readiness to move at any minute. I sent my empty wagons back to the
old camp; and during the afternoon the remainder of the ammunition
train joined me, also the wagon I had abandoned in the mud. Lieutenant
Pond had remained behind, sick. I did not see him again for nearly a

Attempts to break our line were made soon after daylight on the
nineteenth and at intervals during the day. About five o'clock in the
afternoon the enemy turned our right flank and enveloped a part of our
division, capturing Brigadier-General Joseph Hayes and some hundreds
of prisoners. I saw much of this engagement, but when the enemy got in
rear of our division, I was ordered to fall back hurriedly to save the
train from capture. Reinforcements arrived at this part of the line
and at dark the enemy had been repulsed.

It had rained nearly all day, the roads were now impassable for
wagons, but ammunition had to be supplied. I was furnished with a
large detail of men and, with much trouble, made three trips to the
front during the night with pack-mules loaded with ammunition. About
three o'clock in the morning, I took the saddle off my horse for the
first time in two days and nights, and lay down in a wagon in my
clothing, soaked for two days with rain. I was exhausted, and
succeeded in getting two hours' sleep.

All day on the twentieth we were kept on the alert. The troops on both
sides held the positions they occupied, after the close of the two
days' fighting. The mules had not been unharnessed since we had left
camp three days before and the horses were kept saddled. It had
stopped raining, and our troops were busy strengthening their
breast-works, while the pickets kept up firing. I made one trip to the
lines with pack-mules after dark, and about eleven o'clock reported at
General Ayres's headquarters for orders.

The division headquarters were in a small farm-house. Some officers'
and orderlies' horses were tied to the picket fence in front of the
house. When I had tied my horse and was stepping aside, one of the
other horses landed a kick on my right thigh which sent me sprawling
into the muddy road. Strange to say, I was very little hurt by this
kick, which must have been delivered at too short, or too long, a
range. I considered myself fortunate to escape so easily. Only a week
before one of the teamsters was kicked by a mule and died on the same
day. When I picked myself up and looked around for some means to clean
my hands and clothing, I noticed a kitchen extension behind the house
with a light in it. There I found the general's soldier-cook, who knew
me. Besides being dirty, I was half famished; and he fed me
substantially and gave me hot coffee, which I had been without for
three days. A drink of the general's whiskey and one of his cigars
concluded the most satisfactory and enjoyable feast I think I ever
had, and I still remember the general's cook most gratefully.

The loss of the Weldon railroad was of such importance to the enemy
that General Lee largely reinforced his line of troops, while to our
force was added the Ninth Army Corps, which took position on our
right, closing up a gap towards the Jerusalem Plank road. On the
morning of August twenty-first, a bright sun-shiny day, the enemy made
an attack on our right and center and were repulsed, mainly by our
well-served artillery. At a later hour in the morning, a more vigorous
attempt was made on our left near the Globe Tavern, of which I had a
close view, my train being parked at the edge of the same woods,
beside the tavern. A part of the enemy charged through a gap in our
lines, but were almost surrounded and more than five hundred men and
six flags were captured. The Rebels, repulsed at all points, retreated
to their lines and the battle was over at noontime.

When the firing had nearly ceased, I was ordered out with two loads of
ammunition. My division was stationed behind breast-works, which were
at right angles to and across the Halifax road, nearly half a mile
north of the tavern. As I neared the breast-works, the white covers of
my two wagons were perceived and the enemy's pickets concentrated a
lively fire on the wagons, although they could only hit the tops and
not the mules, owing to the height of the log breast-works. The
teamster of the leading team jumped off his saddle, dropped his lines
and threw himself flat on the side of the road. I seized the bridle of
one of the lead-mules and guided the team off the road to some
depressed ground, followed by the other wagon. There the ammunition
was issued, and I was preparing to depart when the teamster returned,
somewhat shamefaced, saying he was a citizen employee and did not want
to be shot. On our return to camp, we ran the gauntlet of the pickets
at a gallop and were quickly out of range.

The losses in the Fifth Corps, during the three days' battle, were
about thirty-six hundred in killed, wounded and captured. On the night
of this day I got a fair amount of sleep and felt much refreshed the
next morning. The enemy had retired for some distance and our pickets
were advanced a mile beyond our breast-works, leaving us in possession
of nearly all the ground they had occupied.

Lieutenant Pond, who had reported for duty, ordered me outside of the
breast-works during the afternoon of this day with wagons and a large
detail of men to collect the abandoned arms on the battle-field. The
wounded had been removed and the dead buried; only dead horses
remained. After dark I was sent out again to the picket line on the
ground of the first day's battle. There we collected a large number of
arms, remaining until approaching daylight warned us to depart and
avoid drawing the enemy's picket fire. On the following night this was
repeated under a heavy, soaking rain. I collected upwards of fifteen
hundred fire-arms, of which more than half were those of the Rebels.
There were rifles, muskets and carbines; also bayonets, swords, belts
and cartridge boxes. The arms were rusty from having lain on the field
during several days' rain.

It was necessary to classify these arms, make a report of them and
turn them over to the ordnance depot at City Point. This work kept me,
with the assistance of the ammunition guard, occupied for several
days. Arms that were charged had to be fired, or the charges
withdrawn, which was difficult in their rusty state. This work proved
interesting to me and coincided with my own observations when in the
ranks with my company in battle. I found that the ram-rods were
missing from a considerable number of discharged guns, and a greater
number had failed to be discharged on account of defective caps, or a
befouled nipple. Some were doubly charged, and an occasional one had
three, or even four, cartridges in the barrel, indicating that the
soldier continued to load without noticing that his piece had not been
discharged. Others were bursted at the muzzle, showing that the
tompion had not been removed before firing. There were some with
stocks broken by violence, probably by cool-headed men taken
prisoners, who thoughtfully rendered their arms unserviceable. Such of
the guns as had more than one charge in the barrel were fastened to a
tree and, after fresh priming, we pulled the trigger with the aid of a
string, at a safe distance. A few that could neither be drawn nor
discharged, we buried in the ground. It has been said that it takes a
man's weight in lead for every soldier killed in battle. I am inclined
to almost believe that, from my own observations and from the amount
of ammunition I knew to be expended on the battle-field of the Weldon
Railroad, where I noticed innumerable bullet marks on trees standing
on level ground, at height that could only endanger birds.

For the next few days the troops were occupied in further
strengthening their positions and in destroying the railroad north and
south, as far as our picket lines. This was accomplished in sections,
by stationing a few hundred men close together on one side of the
track and lifting the rails at the word of command, some with fence
rails for levers, others with their hands, and tossing them over with
the sleepers clinging to them. Huge fires were then made with the
sleepers and the rails were laid over them. When the rails were
sufficiently heated in the middle they were bent by their own weight.
When there were trees near-by, the heated rails were twisted around
them to make the rails still more unserviceable.

Although we had made a successful and firm lodgment on the Weldon
railroad, the enemy could still use the road beyond our left as a line
of supply and reach Petersburg in one day's hauling by wagons. General
Meade ordered General Hancock with two divisions of the Second Corps
and some cavalry to extend the destruction of the road as far as
Ream's Station, or further. At Ream's Station General Hancock was met
by a superior force of the enemy on the twenty-fifth, and after a
disastrous engagement, in which he lost about twenty-four hundred men,
was obliged to retire.

Next day some shifting of troops took place to secure our left and
rear; the ordnance camp was shifted about half a mile away from the
Globe Tavern. After the middle of August the long drought of midsummer
was replaced by a rainy season, which lasted until the end of the
first week in September and made life miserable in the breast-works
and in camp.

As the result of recent drafts, many recruits now joined the army;
they came uninstructed and without being disciplined. A few of them
were volunteers, but the greater part were drafted or substitutes. All
had received bounties--some of them a thousand dollars or more. This
had a bad effect on the veteran volunteer regiments. In many cases the
recruits out-numbered the veterans of high reputation, and changed the
character of the regiment, to its disadvantage. Many of these recruits
intended to escape at the first opportunity and some deserted to the

August thirty-first was muster day; six months' pay was due us, and
though the army was not very far from Washington and the United States
Treasury, payment to the soldiers at this period of the war was very

Throughout the month of September nothing occurred in front of the
Fifth Corps except picket firing, and but little cannonading. I made
some trips to City Point for ammunition and arms, until the extension
of the United States Military railroad to the Globe Tavern on the
Weldon railroad made that no longer necessary. On the night of the
twenty-ninth, after midnight, I issued ammunition at the division
headquarters, so as to furnish every man with sixty rounds, forty of
which could be carried in his cartridge box, the remaining twenty
rounds in his knapsack or in his pockets. The ordnance train was
ordered a short distance further to the rear, near the Gurley house,
to be in readiness to move at a moment's notice. An attempt to gain
possession of the Southside railroad on our left was to be made. Our
works were largely stripped of troops for this purpose and, for
safety, nearly all other supply trains, except ammunition, were sent
to City Point.

We remained hitched up all day and all night. During the night it
rained and turned cold and continued to rain next day. I turned into
one of the wagons, together with the teamster, to get some sleep.
During the night I was awakened by the mules starting off with the
wagon, and the voice of the teamster who, with his head out of the
back of the wagon, was calling to the wagonmaster, "Oh, Charley! I'm
damned if my mules with tongue and all ain't gone." It appeared he had
neglected to lock the wheels and, in his confused state, mistook the
back of the wagon for the front.

The next morning, October first, I was ordered away with three loads
of ammunition for the division. I passed Poplar Spring Church on the
way and went on to the Squirrel Level road, where General Ayres had
his head-quarters in a house near a redoubt and breast-works, which
the division had taken from the enemy the preceding day. I arrived
there about noon and was ordered to leave two of my wagons at
head-quarters and proceed with the other to the front line about a
mile in advance. There I began to serve out ammunition to the details
sent for it. I had selected a position which I thought would screen
the wagon from the enemy's picket line, but presently an occasional
bullet struck the wagon cover, fired probably by sharp-shooters,
posted in high trees. A man of the detail received a serious wound in
the shoulder and I withdrew to a less exposed position, where I was
able to complete my task unmolested and then returned to

Next morning early there was some firing at the front where our troops
were driving the Rebel pickets further back. A large house, fired by
our skirmishers, was burning; it had harboured Rebel sharp-shooters,
who had done much damage the preceding day.

I was sent out to the lines again at noon and remained there until
evening. My station was next to one of our batteries, which fired an
occasional shell into the enemy's lines without provoking any reply. A
wagon-load of muskets were picked up on the field, which I took back
to head-quarters.

The losses in the Fifth Corps, in what was known as the battle of
Poplar Spring Church, amounted to upwards of six hundred. After a
feeble attempt by the enemy to assault our position on the evening of
October first, the two opposing lines held their position for about
three weeks. Our men strengthened their breast-works and the engineers
built some redoubts. The balance of the ordnance train arrived and we
established a camp. My tent was put up and our duties went on, as they
had at the Globe Tavern. During the latter part of September and the
first week in October, we again had an inordinate quantity of rain
after the long summer drought, which made camp life miserable, the
more so as the nights were getting cold.

In compliance with General Grant's order to extend the left of our
army and gain possession of the Southside railroad, another important
means of supply for the enemy, preparations for the movement were
begun on the twenty-fifth of October. On that day I issued ammunition
to the division; also arms to some newly arrived soldiers. On the
morning of the twenty-seventh the movement commenced; the ordnance and
other supply trains were ordered back to the Globe Tavern, there to
await orders. As the troops marched off at daylight, a heavy rain fell
which bade fair to continue. For nearly three weeks we had enjoyed
beautiful weather and the roads were dry and dusty, until this
movement started. The enemy's right was encountered about nine A.M.
and spirited engagements took place during the day, but the attempt to
gain the Southside railroad was a failure at this time. During the
night of the twenty-seventh, and the morning of the twenty-eighth, the
divisions of the Second and Fifth Corps, engaged in this attempt, were
withdrawn to their former lines at Poplar Spring Church. The losses in
the Second Corps were more than fourteen hundred, while those in the
Fifth were two hundred and seventy-nine.

On the same day I was ordered to return to our camp at division
head-quarters. While at this camp, I saw much of my company which was
doing duty as provost guard at General Ayres's head-quarters. After
the arrival of the army at Petersburg, the six skeleton companies of
my regiment were consolidated into two. Company D, in which I had
served for more than nine years, ceased to exist, and I became a
member of Company C. These two companies, together with the remnant of
the band, then did duty at division head-quarters.

On the thirty-first of October, General Grant ordered that all of the
regular infantry, serving in the Fifth Army Corps, proceed at once to
New York City and there report for orders to Major General Dix. This
was cheering news for us. We presumed that we were to go there to keep
the peace at the coming presidential election, for which Lincoln and
McClellan were the candidates, and that we might be detained there for
a while before returning to the field. I was kept busy for two days in
transferring ordnance stores and making out the necessary papers, then
I rejoined my company. Next morning, November second, 1864, at an
early hour, all the regular infantry boarded a train composed of box
and flat cars, waiting for us on the United States Military railroad,
which conveyed us to City Point. Transports were ready for us, and by
noon-time we were under way down the James river on the voyage to New



The voyage to New York was uneventful. We had the usual transport
discomforts with some rough and cold weather and, on the second day
before the election, we reached New York Harbor. The small battalion
of the Second United States Infantry, consisting of half a dozen
officers, about seventy-five men and a dog, landed at Fort Hamilton
dock, along with about half the other troops on board. The remainder,
as well as those on another transport, were distributed among various
forts in the vicinity of New York. We marched to the fort with flying
colors, but we had no band; the few remaining members of our band were
doing other duty and Sergeant Lovell, the big drum-major, had been one
of the color sergeants for more than a year. My company was quartered
in one of the damp and gloomy casemates which had but a single window,
or porthole, overlooking the bay.

On election day we were not allowed to go outside of the fort. Extra
ammunition was issued and a thorough inspection of arms was held. A
large ferry-boat remained at the dock the entire day to transport us
to the city in case of a serious riot which, however, did not occur.

A few days later several soldiers in the company, including myself,
secured passes to visit the city. We had to walk a long distance
before reaching a horse-car line to take us to one of the ferries from
Brooklyn to New York. While on this leave I visited my old friend,
Sergeant Major Milligan, who was ill with consumption at his mother's
house. The hardships of field service had been too much for his
somewhat delicate constitution. It was the last time I saw him. He
died within two weeks, much beloved, and his death greatly regretted
by his comrades, who erected a modest but appropriate monument to his
memory in New York Bay Cemetery.

During our short stay at Fort Hamilton, we performed regular garrison
duty. I was sergeant of the guard a couple of times and one of these
occasions I am not likely to forget. We mounted a strong guard and had
sentinels posted all around the fort and the adjoining redoubt. The
guard-room and prison were in casemates on the east side of the fort,
on each side of a sallyport. At that time nearly fifty prisoners were
in confinement--the toughest element I ever saw in the army. Some were
general prisoners undergoing sentences--they wore a ball and chain;
others were awaiting trial for various crimes; and there were, also, a
small number of ordinary "drunks." It was customary to parade and call
the roll of the prisoners in the morning when the guard was changed,
and again at retreat in the evening, before they were locked up for
the night.

A few of the prisoners had escaped at times, which made a young and
inexperienced lieutenant, who was officer of the day on my first tour
of guard, so nervous that he ordered most extraordinary and unwise
precautions against a recurrence of escapes. He ordered me to turn out
the guard and all of the prisoners at eleven o'clock at night and at
three o'clock in the morning--hours at which the sentinels were not
relieved. The officer of the day was present at eleven, when I called
out the two relieves of the guard, not on post, and formed ranks in
the sallyport. Then with a corporal and two files of the guard, we
started to turn out the prisoners. They objected strenuously at the
unusual proceeding and cursed and swore dreadfully. It took a long
time to turn them all out and count them, by the aid of a lantern.
They were left standing in the ranks, half clad and shivering, while
the officer of the day ordered me to accompany him for an inspection
of the prisoners' quarters. More than half an hour had been consumed
in the parading of the prisoners.

At three o'clock, when we turned them out for the second time, there
was almost a riot. Some swore they would kill the lieutenant, others
refused to get up and I had to bring in more help to drag them from
their bunks and push them into the ranks, with only a blanket to cover
them. They yelled and shouted and began to throw things at the guards
in the semi-darkness--the only light being from a few lanterns. The
lieutenant drew his sword and threatened to run it through the body of
any prisoner who refused to obey orders, but he prudently remained
outside the doorway. Now all this trouble was needless. A sentinel was
posted outside the prison door and another at the only window. The
prisoners' chances of escape by slipping away in the darkness, while
outside, were better than when locked up. When the post commander
heard the next day about the turning out of the prisoners in the
night-time he ordered that it should not be repeated, and it may be
assumed that the over-zealous lieutenant was admonished to use more
discretion in the future.

About a week after the election, my company (C) received orders to be
ready next morning in full marching order and proceed to Governor's
Island to escort a detachment of Rebel prisoners from there to Elmira,
New York, where the Government had established a large prison camp. As
the other company remained at Fort Hamilton, we supposed that we would
return there when our duty had been performed. We embarked on a
steam-boat and soon arrived at the Governor's Island dock, where about
two hundred ragged and hungry "Rebs," who had been confined in Castle
Williams for a few days, were awaiting us. Each prisoner, as he
stepped on board, received a loaf of bread and a piece of boiled beef
to which he immediately did ample justice. The boat started for Jersey
City where we put the prisoners on the cars of the Erie railroad. It
was a special train, made up of emigrant cars, which made but few
stops. I had charge of one of the cars in which every seat but four
for the guard was occupied by a prisoner. With me were six privates as
guards. I stationed three at each end of the car with their loaded
rifles. When the train halted, one of the guards was stationed outside
on each side of the car, and I also descended.

At Goshen and some other stations where we halted for a brief time,
some of the citizens gave the prisoners fruit, cigars and tobacco,
which we allowed to be passed to them through the car windows. It was
quite late at night when we arrived at Elmira and turned our prisoners
over to some guards, who marched them to the prison camp two miles or
more away. The company passed the remainder of the night in some
freight sheds, while the captain and lieutenant put up at the nearest

Next morning we were vexed and disgusted at learning that we were not
to go back to New York, but were to remain at Elmira to guard
prisoners. The general desire was to go back to the field and see the
close of the war, of which a part of the Second Infantry had seen the
beginning. We had made up our minds that the end was near; prisoners
at the front had told us of the dire straits of General Lee's army for
food and clothing and the rapidly diminishing forces. We felt angry
with the authorities who had condemned us to such an inglorious duty,
after our long and faithful service in the field, where we had lost
more than a third of our number. But there was no help for it. As
soldiers, we had to obey orders. We were not the only ones thus
treated. The companies of the Twelfth and Seventeenth Infantry, who
had left the field at the same time, had arrived here a few days
before and were then doing duty. Subsequently we learned that the
First Battalion of the Eleventh and the Second Battalion of the
Twelfth were returned to the Army of the Potomac, where they remained
to the end and were present at the surrender of General Lee's army.
The company left at Fort Hamilton, together with our small "field and
staff," was sent to Newport Barracks, Kentucky, there to recruit and
reform the Second Infantry for future service.

The company marched from the Elmira depot a long distance beyond the
suburbs of the town to the prison camp, near which we encamped,
alongside of other troops. We put up "A" tents and raided some
hay-stacks for bedding. It was cold, and as wood was furnished for
cooking purposes only, we crowded around the kitchen fire, which had
no shelter, to warm ourselves. All the troops, except the recently
arrived regulars, were sheltered in temporary barracks.

The force guarding the Rebel prisoners, who were all of the rank and
file, was composed of a battery of artillery, nearly a thousand
regular infantry, several regiments of the Veteran Reserve Corps and a
few others. The Veteran Reserve Corps was a new organization,
something like Home Guards. It was composed of men considered unfit
for field duty. In its ranks were a considerable number of men who had
for a time served at the front. The active soldiers named this
organization "The Invalid Corps." Colonel Moore of the Veteran Reserve
Corps, the ranking officer, was in command of all the troops of the
prison guard.

The prison camp near Elmira was established in July, 1864, and, at the
time of our arrival, contained upwards of ten thousand prisoners. They
had been in tents all summer but were then in barracks, within a
stockade enclosing about forty acres. The main front with the
principal gate and guard-house was close to and faced the road leading
into Elmira, the back was near the Chemung river. A platform, from
which the sentinels could overlook the prison yards and dead line,
surrounded the entire stockade.

The site was badly chosen, there was a swamp within the enclosure and
much of it was liable to be overflowed by the Chemung river. A great
amount of sickness prevailed--at times five hundred were inmates of
the prison hospital and as many more sick in quarters. More than ten
per cent. of the prisoners died, while this prison existed; two
thousand, nine hundred and seventeen were buried at the base of the
hills about a mile from the prison. The greatest mortality was during
the hard winter of 1864-'65, when often a dozen or more died every day
and were removed every morning to be buried in trenches without any

The Government allowed a soldier's rations for each prisoner, but that
was considered too much for men who had practically no exercise, and
it was left to the discretion of the prison commander, as to how much
of the ration was to be issued. The saving was to constitute a fund
for building quarters, hospitals, clothing, bedding and other supplies
for the prisoners. At Elmira the prisoners received about two-thirds
of a ration, served to them in two cooked meals daily. This kept them
somewhat hungry, but they were far better off than our starving and
shelterless prisoners in the South. When the inhuman treatment of our
soldiers in the Southern prisons became known in the North, there was
a hue and cry for retaliation; but I think none of it was practised in
the Northern prisons. The suspension of the exchange of prisoners
during 1864 by our Government caused increased suffering and many
deaths of our soldiers in the Southern prisons.

Opposite the prison pen, on land not leased by the Government, several
open-timbered observation towers had been erected by citizens. They
were about forty feet in height with a flat deck on top, which had
stairs leading up to it. From the top of these towers a good view of
the interior of the prison and its teeming inmates could be had for
the payment of ten cents admission fee. On clear days, and especially
on Sundays, many of Elmira's citizens availed themselves of this
opportunity to see the Rebel prisoners. The lower part of these
structures were enclosed and used as groggeries, mainly patronized by
soldiers. These places and some others along the road to town made
trouble for the provost guard and provided inmates for the

On the second day after our arrival, Colonel Moore ordered that one of
the regular sergeants be detailed to act as post sergeant major. I was
selected for the position and ordered to report to the post adjutant
for duty. The adjutant's office was in a temporary building near the
prison gate. It consisted of one large room, furnished with a number
of desks and a stove. There were three clerks employed, all of whom
belonged to the Invalid Corps. I performed the duties of a sergeant
major at the guard-mount parade every morning which was no small
affair, as the daily guard numbered more than two hundred. After
guard-mount, Colonel Moore and the adjutant spent a few hours at the
office, while the clerks and I were busy consolidating the morning
reports of the troops and making out guard details from rosters for
the following day. In the afternoon I was generally free to do as I
pleased, go to town or to my cold camp, for I had to mess with my
company and sleep in my tent. I had a standing pass to go anywhere
about Elmira; but when the weather was bad, I usually remained in the
adjutant's office until it closed in the evening. The hot stove there
had an attraction for me.

One night there was a noisy disturbance and fighting among the
soldiers in one of the groggeries. The provost guard arrested every
one there, including Quinn, the proprietor. Next morning a boy came
into the adjutant's office and handed Colonel Moore a dirty, crumpled
piece of paper on which was scrawled in pencil--

    Kurnell Moore sir i am in the gard hous sir and i dunno for wat
    sir im a sitisen sir and me name is Patrick Quinn sir.

The Colonel was an elderly man with a good sense of humor; he was much
amused by this note and pinned it up on the wall over his desk where
he often called some of the visiting officers' attention to it. As for
"Patrick Quinn sir" he had to be released, as he had a city license
and was not located on Government ground.

On Thanksgiving Day, the ladies of Elmira provided a turkey dinner for
all the soldiers. We marched by detachments to a temporary hall,
neatly decorated for the occasion. There was a band and an abundant
dinner served by the ladies themselves. At its close we gave thanks to
the ladies of Elmira in speech and in rousing cheers.

After Thanksgiving Day we had deep snow, and it became so cold that we
suffered greatly in our camp. Temporary quarters were being erected
for the regulars, but they were not ready until the first week in
December. My company did not occupy them; we were sent to Barracks No.
2, which was on the opposite side of the town, on the outskirts, more
than three miles from our camp. Owing to this move I lost my position
of post sergeant major, which I had held for only three weeks. At
Barracks No. 2 we were fairly comfortable. We had stoves and bunks in
the quarters. A few other companies were quartered there, but no Rebel
prisoners. We did the ordinary garrison duty and had much spare time
to walk around the town, going sometimes to a theatre, when a troupe
came to town. The shows were held in a hall on the second floor of a
building on the principal street. I particularly remember a piece
called, "The Sea of Ice," in which, owing to the limited height of the
pasteboard icebergs on the stage, the actors were forced to stoop low
when trying to conceal themselves from the bloodthirsty Eskimos.

During the winter, which was severe, the first sergeant of my company
reenlisted, receiving a two months' furlough, and in his absence I
acted as first sergeant. I have still in my possession the company
roll, as I then daily called it. Only ten names of soldiers, who had
served on the frontiers, remained; all the others were the names of
men who had joined during the war. Of the officers, there were but
seven in the regiment who had seen frontier service, all of them
serving elsewhere at this time. Not one of these seven officers
belonged to the regiment at the outbreak of the war, they had all been
promoted into it. Captain William F. Drum was in command of Company C,
but left us during the month of February to become the colonel of the
Fifth New York Veteran Volunteers, then serving in the field in the
Fifth Army Corps under General Warren. Captain Drum, whose esteem I
possessed, told me before his departure that, after he took command of
his regiment, he would apply to Governor Fenton of New York for a
commission for me as he desired to have me serve with him after my
discharge, which was soon to take place. A few weeks later he wrote
me, saying he had made the application.

About the middle of March, 1865, we left Barracks No. 2 and again went
into camp near the prison pen, on the same ground we had occupied
previously. The ice in the Chemung river had broken up and melting
snow raised the river until it overflowed its banks and inundated a
part of the prison barrack buildings, causing much suffering among the
inmates. In a few days the first sergeant returned from furlough; but
as I had not many more days to serve, I was excused from guard duty.
At the request of the company commander, Brv't. Captain William Falk,
I devoted the last days of my service to putting the company's books
and papers in thorough order.

On the twenty-fourth day of March, 1865, I received my discharge from
the army for the second time, by no means certain that I would not
rejoin again. I put on my best uniform and disposed of my little
belongings among my comrades. I received my final statements, which I
handed to a paymaster, permanently stationed in Elmira, who paid me in
full. That evening with a few special friends I had dinner at a hotel
in the town, and at about nine o'clock bade them farewell at the
depot. I boarded a train, spent the night on a seat, and arrived in
New York next morning.

I had a letter to Colonel Richard I. Dodge, who was the chief
mustering and disbursing officer in New York city, with the principal
offices at 23 and 25 St. Marks Place. Colonel Dodge employed me at
once as a clerk at seventy-five dollars per month. In a few days I
entered upon my duties under Captain Henry A. Ellis, in whose office
there were half a dozen other clerks, all but one being discharged
soldiers, some of whom I had known in the field. Our duties consisted
in making discharges and final statements for individual soldiers,
regulars and volunteers. Later on, when the army disbanded, we made
out the muster rolls and final accounts for many volunteer regiments,
who were mustered out of the service in New York.

General Grant had put the Army of the Potomac in motion, and on the
first day of April, the battle of Five Forks was successfully fought,
which indicated the end of the Confederacy. All this time I was
anxiously awaiting the arrival of my commission for I ardently wished
to be present at the final stage of the war. General Lee surrendered
on the ninth of April to General Grant, and General Johnston to
General Sherman a week later. Peace was soon declared. The grand
review of Grant and Sherman's veteran soldiers was held in Washington
on May twenty-fourth and, by June first, the Fifth Army Corps had
ceased to exist.

I received the commission from Albany early in June but I wrote to
Colonel Drum informing him that, in as much as the Fifth New York
Veteran Volunteers were likely to be mustered out of service within a
month, I had decided not to be mustered in to join the regiment for so
short a time. I have since regretted that I did not serve as an
officer, even for so short a time. The fact of not having been
mustered in debars me from becoming a member of the Loyal Legion
according to its rules, no matter how much service I had in the field.

We were busy during the summer mustering out troops, and opened a
branch office at the south-west corner of Broome and Elm Street where,
under Lieutenant Netterville of the Twelfth United States Infantry, I
remained for a few months. In the fall I was returned to the main
office, where I continued until the month of January, 1866, when the
mustering and disbursing office was ordered to be closed. This proved
to be my final service for the Government, in or out of the army.
Henceforth I was to be a citizen.


I sometimes ask myself the questions--Was my army service a benefit or
a detriment to me in after life? Would I have attained a better
condition and standing, if I had not been in the military service?
These are questions hard to answer in my case, as I had to struggle
for a living and had no one to give me a helping hand to gain a higher
plane. When I left the army I was not yet twenty-four and totally
inexperienced in earning a livelihood in civil life, which was
rendered more difficult by the fact that a million young men were
released from the army at the same time, all seeking new careers
outside of military service. An element of luck and some of the habits
I had acquired in the army were beneficial to me. The military
training taught me responsibility, promptness and self-control, which
I found useful in my long business career and as an employer. The
out-of-door life for ten years fortified me in health, which has
lasted to the present day and for which I am most grateful. I have
much to be thankful for and little to regret.

I believe that a three years' term of army service would be beneficial
to most young men of good character and habits. To-day soldiers of the
United States Army enjoy many advantages and comforts that were
unknown to the older army in times of peace; the soldiers' pay, food
and clothing are better, and the discipline is less strict. I have
visited a number of home garrisons and those in Honolulu and Manila,
in all of which I found the quarters comfortable, clean and sanitary.
There are libraries, schools and club-rooms; and separate beds with
sheets and pillows are provided for each soldier, a luxury formerly
unheard of in garrisons. I have seen British soldiers serving in India
and those of other nations on foreign service in various parts of the
world; but I think the American soldiers now receive better care and
more liberal treatment than those of other nations. It has always been
a soldier's habit and privilege to grumble. I suppose there is as much
grumbling to-day in the army as there was in former times.


Sergeant, Second U.S. Infantry.

November 17, 1913.


On a recent tour of the northwestern states I visited Sioux City.
There, in September, 1913, I found a large and prosperous city with
many fine buildings, where there had been only a wilderness in 1855.
The river-front was unrecognizable to me. The early houses that once
clustered there had been replaced by a railroad yard.

I had the good fortune to meet Mr. J. M. Pinkney, a congenial business
man who had lived in Sioux City almost from its foundation. He was
well informed and we had a long and interesting conversation about the
early days when the city was a mere frontier settlement. Mr. Pinkney
introduced me at the office of the Sioux City Journal where I was
courteously received. I found the Journal to be a large up-to-date
newspaper such as one would expect to find only in a great metropolis.

I was seized with a strong desire to revisit Fort Pierre, although I
had no pleasant recollections of it. To me it brought only thoughts of
suffering. I left Sioux City on a late night train and arrived at
Pierre, the capital of South Dakota, in the middle of the next
afternoon. Pierre, built mainly on hills overlooking the Missouri
River, is a city of only about three thousand inhabitants, but boasts
a large and magnificent capital building surpassed by few in the
western states. There is also a modern fire-proof hotel, a government
post office, a Carnegie library and other buildings worthy of note. A
substantial railroad bridge crosses the Missouri.

The smaller town of Fort Pierre, the county seat of Stanley County,
South Dakota, is directly opposite on the west bank of the river. A
small motorboat makes hourly ferry trips, communication by way of the
railroad bridge being infrequent.

I boarded the motorboat next morning, September eighth, to go to Fort
Pierre, where I had arrived fifty-eight years ago in the same month. I
found the Missouri River just as muddy and treacherous for navigation
as of yore. A large sandbar made a long detour necessary to reach the
channel on the western side of it. The boat ran aground several times,
and finally it was caught so hard and fast that we had to wait for the
other ferry to haul us off on its return trip.

There were two other passengers on the boat beside myself, one a white
citizen and the other a full blooded young Sioux who had been educated
at Carlisle School. I learned from them that the old stockade fort no
longer existed. It had been a few miles further up the river, but they
could not tell me its exact location. They offered to take me to the
office of Mr. Stanley Philip, the owner of a large ranch near the site
of the fort. Mr. Philip was out, but they introduced me to Mr. C. H.
Fales, a prominent business man of the town, who kindly volunteered to
show me the site of the old fort.

As we were preparing to start, Mr. Philip arrived in an automobile and
invited both of us to go to the place in his machine. He soon set us
down at the site of the old stockade about two and one-half miles up
the river. Not a stick remained of the old fort. It had left no mark
save a depression in the ground where a cellar had been. I recognized
the contour of the low hills on the west and of the higher hills
across the river. There was the same bleak prairie extending back to
the foothills with its colonies of barking prairie dogs, who appeared
to me to be somewhat bolder than of old.

The Indian burial place had disappeared, but the island in the river
below the fort was still there. The most noticeable change was in the
river front. The channel was much further out, and a wide strip of
bottom land, covered with willows and brush, had formed at what was
once an abrupt bank. As I gazed upon this changed scene, I thought of
the time when I had seen the plain dotted with the tepees of thousands
of Indians who had assembled at that very spot to sign a treaty with
General Harney.

After a while we went about a mile up the river to Mr. Philip's large
ranch where he has thirteen thousand acres fenced in for a buffalo
preserve. There are more than three hundred of the animals roaming at
large among the hills and the number is being increased by the annual
addition of some dozens of calves.

Much of the ranch on the high bottom lands along the shore of the
Missouri is under cultivation and is yielding good crops. All this
great estate I had seen as a wilderness that I was glad to get away
from. In those days I would not have taken the whole county as a gift
had I been required to live there. Mr. Philip, who manages his own
ranch, is a young man. His father, a Scotchman, lately deceased, was
one of the early settlers and accumulated the property.

On the way back to Fort Pierre, which is a neat little town of about
one thousand people, with wide streets and cement sidewalks, my
companions told of the discovery on February 17, 1913, of a lead plate
on a hill back of the town, where it had been buried by French
explorers in 1743. It is now the property of Mr. William O'Reilly, a
resident of Fort Pierre. Mr. O'Reilly kindly presented me with a
photograph of the plate and a translation of its inscription. He also
took me to the bank where it is kept in a safe deposit vault and
allowed me to examine it carefully. It is of thick sheet lead about
six by seven inches in dimensions and but little corroded. On one side
is the seal of France above an inscription in Latin. Both are deeply
stamped in the lead and quite legible. A translation of the
inscription follows:

    In the twenty-sixth year of Louis XV's reign, in the name of the
    King, most illustrious sovereign, for the Governor, Marquis of
    Beauharnis, in 1743 Peter Gaultier de la Verendrye deposited this

On the reverse side is scratched rather irregularly the following
inscription in French:

    Deposited by the Chevalier of Laverdendried (Witnesses) Louis La
    Louette, A. Miotte. April 30, 1743.

In a Fort Pierre book store I was able to procure "A Brief History of
South Dakota," written in 1905 by Doane Robinson, Secretary of the
State Historical Society. In this interesting book Mr. Robinson says:

"The first white man that we know certainly to have visited South
Dakota was a young man named Verendrye (de la Verendrie on the plate),
in the year of 1743. He claimed the land for the King of France, and
on a hill near the camp planted a plate engraved with the arms of
France and marked the spot with a pile of stones. To unearth that
plate would be a rich find for some enterprising young South Dakotan.
Taking into account the direction traveled and the time spent in
making the trip, it is most likely that this plate rests within fifty
miles of the state capitol."

The book contains many items of special interest to me. On one of the
maps is shown the location of the winter cantonments of "Harney's
troops in 1856." There is a good picture of "Old Fort Pierre in 1855
and vicinity," also a ground plan of the fort drawn to scale, showing
all of the buildings within it. This plan shows the fort to have been
three hundred by two hundred and fifty feet square, somewhat larger
than I judged it to be from memory. The names of some Indian chiefs
and their pictures printed in the book bring the originals back to my

In the afternoon I bade farewell to the two gentlemen who had been so
courteous to me. I was the only passenger on the ferry when the
boatman vainly tried to make her start. He finally went up the street
to get some dry batteries and returned with another man. They
installed new batteries and took much of the machinery apart and put
it together again. Still the boat refused to budge. Nearly an hour had
been lost and I was beginning to get apprehensive about catching my
train, when another boat arrived from the east shore. The boatman
aboard her soon found what the trouble was and we started for the
other side which we reached without mishap save grounding twice on the

A reporter of a local paper caught me there, but I had time to give
him only a very short interview. I caught the train for the east with
little time to spare. A state fair was being held at Huron, S.D., four
hours' ride from Pierre, and many persons got on at the intermediate
stations. Among them were a few Indians and their squaws. To see an
Indian mount the steps of a car, carrying a suitcase, seemed
extraordinary to me. Surely the Indian as I knew him no longer exists.

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