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Title: John Call Dalton, M.D., U.S.V.
Author: Dalton, John Call
Language: English
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  _M.D., U.S.V._

  Privately Printed

  Copyright, 1892,

_All rights reserved._

  _The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A._
  Printed by H. O. Houghton and Company.

_These pages are the beginning of a narrative of the personal military
experience of John Call Dalton, M. D., Surgeon U. S. V., written during
the last year of his life, at the request of his family, and now
printed for the instruction of its younger generation._

_March, 1892._



IN WASHINGTON WITH THE SEVENTH                      5

THE EXPEDITION TO PORT ROYAL                       35




On the evening of Saturday, April 13th, 1861, the intelligence reached
New York that Fort Sumter, in Charleston harbor, had yielded to the
rebel authorities, after undergoing a bombardment of thirty-six
hours. It was felt by all that this act of violence closed the door
of reconciliation, and dissipated every hope of a peaceful solution
for our political difficulties. Two days afterward President Lincoln
issued his proclamation calling upon the states for seventy-five
thousand troops to reassert the authority of the government, to "cause
the laws to be duly executed," and to "repossess the forts, places,
and property" which had been seized from the Union. The first object
of importance was to secure the safety of the national capital; and
the President had expressed a desire that one regiment from New York,
already organized and equipped, should be sent forward at once for
that purpose.

Learning that the Seventh regiment had volunteered to meet this call,
and that the assistant surgeon then attached to it had resigned the
position, I applied to be taken in his place, and had the gratification
to receive my appointment on Thursday the 18th. The regiment was under
orders to assemble and start for Washington on the following day.

Meanwhile other states had also been exerting themselves to forward any
militia regiments that could be had at short notice; and, as usual,
when called upon to act, Massachusetts was the first in the field.
Within three days after the President's proclamation, two regiments
from that state, the Sixth and the Eighth, were on the move. The Sixth
arrived in New York early on the morning of April 18th, by the N. Y.
& New Haven railroad. The terminus of this road was then at Fourth
Avenue and 27th Street, where I saw the regiment disembark and form in
line, before proceeding on its march through the city. Its ranks had
evidently been filled in some measure by new recruits, whose outfit by
no means corresponded altogether with the regimental uniform. There
were common overcoats and slouched hats mingled with the rest. But they
were a solid and serviceable looking battalion; and it was a common
remark that in such an emergency it was a good thing to see the men in
line with their muskets before their uniforms were ready. This regiment
was followed by the Eighth Massachusetts, which passed through the city
twenty-four hours later.

But at that time every one bound for Washington was too busy with his
own affairs to pay much attention to the movements of others; and the
morning of the 19th was filled to the last moment with indispensable
preparations. Early in the afternoon the Seventh regiment assembled at
its armory, which was then on the east side of Third Avenue, between
Sixth and Seventh Streets. It had received within the past few days
some accessions in new recruits. Its regular members reported for duty
in greater numbers than usual; and when finally ready for departure it
paraded nearly a thousand muskets. From the armory it was marched by
companies to Lafayette Place near by, where the line was formed and I
took my place with the officers of the regimental staff.

Up to this time our attention had not been especially attracted to
anything beyond our own immediate duties; and for a novice like myself
they were occupation enough. There had been visiting friends and
leave-takers at the armory, and in the adjoining streets there was
the usual crowd of idlers and sight-seers about a militia parade. But
when the regiment wheeled into column, and from the quiet enclosure of
Lafayette Place passed into Broadway, the spectacle that met us was a
revelation. From the curbstone to the top story, every building was
packed with a dense mass of humanity. Men, women, and children covered
the sidewalks, and occupied every window and balcony on both sides, as
far as the eye could reach. The mass was alive all over with waving
flags and handkerchiefs, and the cheers that came from it, right and
left, filled the air with a mingled chorus of tenor and treble and
falsetto voices. It was a sudden and surprising demonstration, as
unlooked for as the transformation scene in a theatre. But that was
hardly the beginning of it. Instead of spending itself in a short
outburst of welcome, it ran along with the head of the column, was
taken up at every step by those in front, and only died away in the
rear. As the regiment moved on past one street after another, it
seemed as if at every block the crowd grew denser and the uproar more
incessant. Along the entire line of march, from Lafayette Place to
Cortlandt Street, there was not a rod of space that was not thronged
with spectators; and all the while the same continuous cry, from
innumerable throats, kept up without a moment's intermission, from
beginning to end.

No one could witness such a scene without being impressed by it. It
was like the act of a drama magnified in its proportions a hundred
fold, and with the added difference of being a reality. The longer it
continued, the more it affected the senses and the mind; until at last
one almost felt as if he were marching in a dream, half dazed by the
endless repetition of unaccustomed sights and sounds.

Beside that, it gave us a different idea of the city of New York.
For most of us, especially those of the younger generation, it was
mainly a city of immigration, offering to all comers its varied
opportunities for activity and enterprise. Hardly any one gave a
thought to its local traditions, or believed in the existence of any
unity of sentiment among its inhabitants. But now, all at once, it had
risen up like an enormous family, with a single impulse of spontaneous
enthusiasm, to declare that it valued loyalty and patriotism more than
commerce or manufactures. The time and the occasion had brought out its
latent qualities, and had given them an expression that no one could

When we turned from Broadway into Cortlandt Street the tumult partly
subsided; but after crossing the ferry to Jersey City it began again.
There were demonstrative crowds in the railroad depot, and as the train
moved off they followed it with cheers that were repeated at every
station on the route to Philadelphia. It did not take long to discover
that transportation by railroad train, with a regiment of troops on
board, was by no means a luxurious mode of traveling. With no seats to
spare, many standing in the aisles, and the remaining space encumbered
with arms and accoutrements, there was little opportunity for ease or
comfort; and as for sleep, that was out of the question. Sometime
after midnight we reached Philadelphia, and were transferred to the
cars for Washington, at the depot of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and
Baltimore railroad. But here our onward movement ceased. The train
rested stationary in the depot. Expecting every moment the signal
for starting, we could only wait patiently until it should come.
Nevertheless the night wore away, the gray dawn found us still waiting,
and no locomotive had even been coupled on to the train. What could
be the cause of such delay, when everything demanded promptitude and
celerity? We already knew that the Sixth Massachusetts, the pioneer
regiment in advance, had been attacked the day before in the streets
of Baltimore, and had only forced its way through the mob at the
expense of fighting and bloodshed. Was our own march to be obstructed
at the outset by a rebellious city, standing like a fortress across
the route? Or were the railroad officials in sympathy with secession,
and purposely hampering our movements by pretended friendship and
false excuses? The Eighth Massachusetts, which had left New York some
hours before us, was also in the depot, on board another train,
equally helpless with ourselves, and apparently with as little prospect
of getting away. As daylight came, we began to straggle out of the
car-house and up and down the streets of what was then a rather
desolate looking neighborhood. The necessity of foraging for breakfast
gave us for a while some little diversion and occupation; but that was
soon over, and all the forenoon our uneasiness was on the increase. Who
could tell what might be happening even then at the national capital?
And thus far we had barely accomplished one third of the distance from
New York to Washington. There were interviews and consultations between
the field officers and the railroad authorities; and General Benjamin
F. Butler, who was in command of both Massachusetts regiments, also
appeared upon the scene. But for the rest of us there was little food
for thought beyond rumors, doubts, and surmises. So we kept on rambling
to and fro near the depot, and wondering when this thing would come to
an end.

Toward noon some information began to filter through from headquarters,
and we came to understand, more or less distinctly, what was going
on. In reality the state of affairs was this. The railroad managers
were as anxious as ourselves to facilitate the transportation of the
regiment; but they had no means of overcoming the difficulties of
the situation. The tracks through Baltimore had been obstructed with
barricades, so that the cars could not pass. Even if these should be
cleared away, there was no certainty that the company could retain
control of the depots and rolling stock on the other side of the city.
That would depend on the coöperation of the police and perhaps of the
city militia, neither of which were felt to be reliable. In fact,
the Governor of Maryland and the Mayor of Baltimore had both sent
despatches strongly objecting to the further passage of troops through
the city in its present excited and disorderly condition. Between the
Maryland state line and Baltimore there were two railroad bridges,
crossing the Little Gunpowder and Bush rivers; and both these bridges
had been destroyed by secessionists during the night. To repair them
would need the protection of an armed force, and would be a matter of
further uncertainty and delay. The object of the regiment was to reach
Washington at the earliest possible moment; and for that purpose the
route by Baltimore was evidently impracticable.

The next accessible point was Annapolis on the Chesapeake Bay, where
the grounds of the United States Naval Academy, located at the harbor,
offered an additional advantage. It could be reached by either of two
ways. The Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore railroad runs direct
from Philadelphia to the mouth of the Susquehanna river, at the head
of Chesapeake Bay, where at that time there was no bridge, the cars
being taken across on a steam ferry-boat, the _Maryland_, from one side
to the other. The troops might be carried by rail to this point; and
then, taking possession of the ferry-boat, might go down the bay, past
the harbor of Baltimore, to Annapolis. This was the route selected by
General Butler for the Eighth Massachusetts. Our commanding officer, on
the other hand, Colonel Lefferts, decided to charter at once a steamer
capable of taking the regiment from Philadelphia round by sea to the
capes of Virginia, and so up Chesapeake Bay to Annapolis.

This was accordingly done. The regiment was paraded, marched down to
the pier, and embarked on the _Boston_, a freight and passenger steamer
formerly running between Philadelphia and New York. Her capacity was
just sufficient to receive so large a company with the necessary
supplies; and when all were on board there was hardly more freedom of
space than we had found in the railroad cars. But no more time was lost
in waiting. That afternoon carried us down the river; by sunset we had
entered Delaware Bay; and the next morning, which was Sunday, the 21st,
we were fairly at sea, headed south for the capes of Virginia.

All that day we ploughed on over a smooth sea, with a fair wind, a
bright sun and a clear sky. The scene everywhere was exhilarating;
and the interest of the expedition increased every hour with the
uncertainty of what lay before us. We were approaching a region where
all was on the border line between loyalty and secession, and which
included the most important military and naval positions in the
country,--Hampton Roads, Fortress Monroe, and the Norfolk Navy Yard.
Intelligence from these points was eagerly looked for, and early in
the afternoon, when nearing the capes, we came within hailing distance
of a schooner bound north under full sail. The information she gave us
was that of the destruction of Norfolk Navy Yard and its abandonment
by the United States authorities. This had been done the day before
by order of the navy department, to prevent the ships and ordnance
falling into the hands of the rebels. It was the best thing to do in
the emergency. All the ships left there had been scuttled, the guns
spiked and the buildings burned; and the enemy in possession could not
have made anything serviceable for aggressive purposes under at least a
month. But we were ignorant of these details. We learned only that the
navy yard was lost; and for anything we knew to the contrary, Hampton
Roads might already be patrolled by rebel gun-boats, and even Fortress
Monroe might have shared the fate of the navy yard. In that case, it
would be no place for an unarmed transport, loaded with troops. As we
entered Chesapeake Bay and passed by the suspicious locality, many eyes
were turned in that direction; and when fairly out of reach of Hampton
Roads, all felt relieved that our way to Annapolis was once more clear.

That night our course lay up the Chesapeake, and at dawn on the 22d
we were anchored in the harbor of Annapolis. But to the impatient and
inexperienced volunteers it seemed as though the complications of our
journey were to have no end. General Butler had arrived the day before
from the head of the bay with the Eighth Massachusetts regiment, on
the steamer _Maryland_; and he had rendered good service in saving
the United States school ship _Constitution_ from a threatened rebel
attack by towing her out from shore toward the harbor entrance. But
in doing so his own steamer had grounded on a shallow bar, where she
was now lying hard and fast, with the Massachusetts troops still on
board. The first thing to do was to release her, if possible, from this
awkward predicament. Our vessel, the _Boston_, was again put under
steam, and harnessed with heaving-line and hawser to the ferry-boat.
Then she would go to work like a willing draught-horse, and pull this
way and that for five minutes together, straining every nerve to start
her clumsy load, but without effect. Her paddles only brought up from
the bottom such clouds of yellow foam that it made the narrow harbor
look like an enormous mud-puddle; and with every new attempt we began
to think that instead of floating the _Maryland_ we should, in all
likelihood, get stuck fast ourselves. Finally, much to our relief, it
was decided to land the regiment and stores from the _Boston_, and wait
for another tide to liberate the _Maryland_.

So, in the afternoon the regiment landed and occupied the grounds
of the Naval Academy. There we found that many of the officers and
cadets had left for their southern homes, to side with the rebellion.
Even some of those who remained were by no means encouraging in their
words or manner; they were impregnated with the doctrine of state
sovereignty, as something equal or superior to that of the nation,
and they had an exaggerated idea of the numbers and audacity of the
insurgents who would occupy all roads and dispute every mile of our
advance. One of them told me that he hoped that we would not attempt
it; and declared that if we did so, not half the regiment would reach
Washington alive. I shall never forget the disgust that rose in my
throat, at hearing a man with the uniform of the United States on his
shoulders offer a welcome like that to volunteers who were trying to
save the government that employed him.

The Governor of Maryland, who was then at Annapolis, also protested
against any forward movement of the troops, and even against their
landing. But these official fulminations had no longer any weight.
It was only the physical obstacles in our way that were now to be
considered. In the evening the officers gathered in council round a
fire on the greensward, and it was decided to move forward at once
by the most practicable route. While this was going on, General
Butler joined the group and was invited to speak with the rest. The
extraordinary character of this man's career from first to last, his
many clever successes and preposterous failures, and the furious
denunciations he has received from both friends and enemies, make it
hard to say what place he will finally hold in public estimation.
But the qualities he displayed on that occasion deserve the cordial
recognition and gratitude of all. When he spoke, it was to the
purpose. With a practical insight and ready comprehension that took
in the situation at a glance, he swept away in a few words the whole
pretentious fabric of state rights, local supremacy, inviolability of
the soil, and such like. The capital of the nation, he said, was in
danger from armed rebellion. We were on our way to protect it with
an armed force. That was a state of war; and it created a necessity
superior to every other claim or consideration. All ordinary laws
and authorities in conflict with it must be in abeyance; and, as for
himself, he should lead his troops to Washington, no matter who or what
might oppose his passage. More than that, he should seize upon any
property or means of transportation necessary to accomplish the object,
without regard to governors, mayors, or railroad companies.

I have no doubt that the Seventh regiment would have carried out
its design if General Butler had not been there; but it was certain
that his intellectual promptitude and directness of speech imparted
new confidence to all who heard him. He struck the same chord in his
written correspondence with Governor Hicks. During the day he had
received from the governor a formal communication, protesting against
the "landing of northern troops on the soil of Maryland;"--to which
he said in his reply: "These are not northern troops, they are a part
of the whole militia of the United States, obeying the call of the
President." Now that the question is settled, it seems plain enough.
But at that time it was a great satisfaction to hear the doctrine of
supreme nationality proclaimed in the terse and expressive language of
General Butler.

It was intended that the regiment should march for Washington by the
direct country road, a distance of about thirty miles; and much of the
time next day was spent in scouring the neighborhood for horses, mules,
and wagons, to serve as ambulances and for transporting the baggage
and camp equipage. But in the afternoon dispatches were received from
Washington, directing the troops to come, if possible, by the Annapolis
branch of the Baltimore and Washington railroad, in order that this
important line of communication might be kept open for future use.
This was a single-track road, running twenty miles northwest from
Annapolis to its junction with the Baltimore and Washington line. The
depot at Annapolis was closed and abandoned by the company, and the
track had been disabled for some distance out of town. When General
Butler, with two companies of the Eighth Massachusetts, broke open
the depot, he found there a few passenger and platform cars, with
only one locomotive; and that had been taken to pieces and rendered
unserviceable. But the Massachusetts regiment was largely composed
of mechanics, who were not only good workmen but enterprising and
quick-witted. By a singular chance one of them recognized, among the
fragments of the engine, a piece of machinery which he had himself
helped to make; and he lost no time, with the aid of his comrades,
in putting together again the disjointed limbs of the locomotive,
and making it in a few hours once more fit for work. Others repaired
the railroad track in the neighborhood, and before dawn on the 24th
everything was ready for two companies of the Seventh to move forward
as advance guard on the line of march.

Soon after daylight the whole regiment was in motion. The locomotive
and a couple of platform cars were in front, carrying a howitzer with
its caisson; and one or two passenger and baggage cars served to carry
baggage and camp equipage, and to provide for the transportation of
sick or wounded. The railroad embankment, which was our only route,
ran through a narrow clearing in the woods, with low hills and swampy
lands alternating on either side. The day was still and warm, and
a few of the men were prostrated by the unaccustomed exertion and
heat. About noon we came up with the advance guard, and from that
point, after a short halt, all moved on together. Missing rails and
broken culverts were a constant impediment to our advance; and toward
evening we came to a deep and wide watercourse, where the long trestle
bridge had been burned a day or two before. But these obstacles only
seemed to stimulate the volunteers. Heretofore their annoyances and
disappointments had been from causes beyond their control. Now that
every difficulty was within reach, they went at it with a will, and
thought of nothing but how to overcome it. The ruined bridge hardly
delayed them three hours. The engineer officer and his men went into
the woods on each side, where a hundred busy hands were soon at work,
felling trees and hauling them into place; and before dark, the stream
was spanned by a new bridge of rough-hewn timbers that carried the
train over safely, and our march began again.

So it went on all through the night. The missing rails had often been
thrown, for better concealment, into some deep pool or watercourse
near by. But after a little experience, that was the very first place
where they were sought for and generally found. If the search proved
ineffectual, it made little difference at last; for at every siding the
extra rails were taken up and carried forward on the train, to be used
as they might be needed further on. So the track was made serviceable
for ourselves, and left in good condition for those who were to follow.
There was a line of skirmishers in front and one on each flank, to
beat up the enemy, should he be there lying in wait. Once or twice a
few marauders were sighted, tearing up the rails or reconnoitering our
advance; but they all retreated promptly, without firing a shot or
waiting for the head of the column, and none of them were even seen by
the main body. That was all. The desperate resistance we were expected
to meet with from swarming rebels and armed guerrillas turned out to
be a sham. When the advance guard about daylight occupied the village
of Annapolis Junction, there was no opposition. The regiment took
possession of a deserted station, and the railroad communication with
Washington at last was ours.

It is remarkable how greatly the presence of an armed force conduces
to friendly feeling on the part of the inhabitants. No doubt the
secessionists hereabout had done their best for a few days past to
prevent our ever arriving at Annapolis Junction. But now that we were
there, and especially in need of a freshly cooked breakfast, there was
little difficulty in obtaining one for the officers' mess. The fatigue
and drowsiness that had been almost overpowering during the night, gave
way like magic before the refreshing stimulus of the dawn; and the keen
morning air awakened an appetite that demanded something better than
pork and hardbread from the haversack. Among the neighboring farmhouses
there were some quite ready to supply our wants.

Early in the forenoon a train made its appearance from the direction
of Washington. It had been sent out to meet us, under guard of a
detachment of National Rifles, a volunteer company of the District
of Columbia; and we were soon on board and under way. The cars were
crowded to the utmost; but we were now nearing our destination, and
every discomfort seemed a trifle. For some distance this side of
Washington the road was picketed; and before long we began to see at
intervals the head and shoulders of a National Rifleman, with his fresh
looking uniform and glittering bayonet, peering at us over the bushes
as the train went by. Finally, about noon, the city came in sight. It
was Thursday, the 25th. We had been six days in getting from New York
to Washington. They had been days of doubt and anxiety, of hindrances,
delays, and stoppages. Every hour was precious, and yet we knew that
with all possible dispatch we might still be too late. And even now, at
the outskirts of the city, we could hardly help looking to see whether
the flag of the nation still floated over the Capitol. The train rolled
into the depot, the regiment disembarked, formed in column, marched
to the White House, reported to the President, and our journey to
Washington was accomplished.

There was no doubt about the sense of relief created by our arrival.
After nearly a week of isolation and peril, Washington breathed more
freely. The only troops there before us were the Sixth Massachusetts,
a handful of regulars, and about thirty volunteer companies of the
District of Columbia, mainly recent recruits. The Seventh was a full
regiment, well disciplined and thoroughly equipped. What was of still
more consequence, it had opened the door of Annapolis and reëstablished
communication with the north. The Eighth Massachusetts arrived next
day from Annapolis Junction; and within another week one more regiment
from Massachusetts and four from New York followed by the same route.
After that, the city of Baltimore ceased to be an obstruction, and the
trains came through from Philadelphia as usual. By the middle of May
there were nearly twenty-five thousand troops gathered for the defense
of Washington.

For the first week after our arrival we were quartered in the Capitol
building; but at the end of that time the regiment went into camp a
mile or so north of the city, on Meridian Hill. This was a plateau of
about forty acres, admirably adapted for the purpose. It was on the
direct road to Harper's Ferry, where the rebels were in possession, and
would give security against incursions from that quarter. The camp was
on the east side of the road, where there was a fine suburban estate,
with a large, square-built mansion house and outbuildings. From the
road entrance a well graded avenue led up to the house porch, which
stretched its hospitable covering over the carriage way. The house was
occupied by regimental headquarters and the staff officers. In front
were green fields and orchards, falling away in a gentle slope toward
the city; and beyond was the broad Potomac, with the Virginia shore
and Arlington Heights in the distance. In the rear were the lines of
company tents, and an ample parade-ground, where the regiment was
reviewed every day or two by the President, the Secretary of War, the
general commanding, or some other high civil or military official, who
was usually as much an object of inspection to the troops as the troops
were to him.

By degrees other camps began to spring up round about us. On the
opposite side of the road were three regiments of New Jersey
volunteers, under General Runyon. A field in front of us was the daily
exercise ground of a mounted battery of the regular army; and farther
down, on the left, was the Twelfth regiment of New York volunteers. The
Eleventh New York, under Colonel Ellsworth, was in camp below the city
beyond the navy yard. This regiment was affiliated with our own through
its second officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Farnham, who had been until then
a lieutenant in the Seventh, and had commanded the skirmish line in the
march from Annapolis.

The time was coming when the regiment would have something else to
do than drilling and camp duty. Washington was saved from the danger
that menaced it at the outset; and so long as the troops were there,
it was secure from a sudden inroad. But it had no permanent defenses.
The Potomac River was the limit of its territory. On the opposite
shore the rising ground of Arlington Heights commanded all approaches
from that direction; and every day, with a good spyglass, we could see
the fluttering of a secession flag in the little city of Alexandria,
only six or seven miles away. This was a precarious situation for the
seat of government and centre of military operations; and no one was
surprised when it made an attempt to burst its shackles.

On the 23d of May, at midnight, the regiment was put in motion and
marched down through the city, to the neighborhood of the Long Bridge.
Its departure had been quiet and noiseless, as if the expedition
were a secret to all but the commanding officer. It soon appeared,
however, from signs that the uninitiated are not slow to comprehend,
that something more was going on than the night march of the regiment.
The order to halt came from other sources to our own commander.
After some delay, a part of the New Jersey brigade came up from the
rear and passed on in advance; and there was riding here and there
of officers and messengers, going and coming in various directions.
Nevertheless, everything was done in silence. Not even the occupants of
the neighboring houses seemed to be awakened or disturbed; and it gave
to the scene a mysterious kind of interest to feel that we were on some
errand that neither friends nor enemies were to know of until it was

Again our column was on the march, and we soon found ourselves at the
entrance of the Long Bridge. We passed between the two guard-houses,
under the black timbers of the draw-frame, and over its three quarters
of a mile of roadway to the Virginia shore. It was the first hour of a
moonlight night, and half a mile farther on, at daybreak, the regiment
was halted and went into bivouac on an open field by the roadside.

Not long after sunrise a horseman came clattering along the road
from the direction of Alexandria, and as he galloped by toward the
bridge, he flung out to us the news, "Alexandria is taken, and Colonel
Ellsworth is killed."

This was one of the minor events in the early part of the war that
excited a wide-spread interest, mainly from the dramatic features of
the incident. The Eleventh New York had reached Alexandria by steamer,
and landed there about daylight. Immediately after disembarking,
Colonel Ellsworth had left his regiment, and with a small squad
hastened to secure the telegraph office, to prevent communication with
the south. That done, he noticed, flying above the principal hotel
in the town, a secession flag. It was the flag we had seen so often
for the last fortnight from the direction of Washington. The colonel
effected an entrance, and with his companions mounted to the roof,
hauled down the flag, and brought it away with him. When about halfway
down he was shot dead by the keeper of the hotel, who was lying in
wait for him with a double-barreled gun. Instantly the soldier next
him discharged his musket in the face of the homicide, and, driving
his bayonet through his breast, hurled his body down the remaining
stairway; so that within a minute both the colonel and his assailant
were dead men. None of those in the hotel knew of the arrival of the
regiment, and probably thought they had to do only with a few raiders
from abroad.

This news of the occupation of Alexandria was our first intimation
of the actual extent of the movement we were engaged in. The truth
was that between midnight and dawn about 12,000 men had crossed the
Potomac by the two bridges at Washington and Georgetown, beside the
Eleventh regiment which went by steamer. They were to hold and fortify
a defensive line extending from below Alexandria, around Arlington
Heights, to the Potomac River above Georgetown; comprising, when all
complete, a chain of twenty-three forts, for the permanent security of
the city on its southern side. Our own destination was a locality not
far from our first bivouac, and where the New Jersey troops, who had
gone before, were already breaking ground for the trenches.

Next day the men of the Seventh were also set to work with pick and
spade and barrow, excavating the ditch and piling up the rampart along
the lines laid down by the engineers. One fatigue party followed
another, all doing their best, like so many ants on an ant-hill; and
before night the place began to look something like a fortification.
When finished it was the largest of those on the south side of the
river, occupying a space of about fourteen acres. It was an inclosed
bastioned work, covering the two forks of the road; one leading south
to Alexandria, the other southwest toward Fairfax Court House. It
defended the Long Bridge, and secured its possession for ingress and
egress. It was named Fort Runyon, in honor of the general commanding
the New Jersey brigade.

After a few days on the Virginia shore, the regiment was ordered back
to its camp at Meridian Hill. It had been mustered into service for
one month, to meet an emergency which was now past. Orders for its
return north were received on the 30th of May; and on the 31st it broke
camp and embarked for New York, arriving there on the 1st of June. It
was then mustered out of service, having been under arms forty-three

This was the "Washington campaign" of the Seventh regiment. It was a
campaign without a battle, and the regiment was not once under fire
from the enemy. Its only casualties were one man killed in camp by the
accidental discharge of a musket, and another wounded in the leg by his
own pistol. But it came to the front at a time when one battalion for
the moment was more needed than a brigade afterward. Though mustered
out as a regiment, it at once began to supply material for other
organizations. Of its members in 1861, more than six hundred entered
the service during the war; over fifty became regimental commanders;
from twenty to thirty, brigadier-generals; and more than one reached
the grade of major-general. With all this depletion, its ranks were
kept tolerably full by new recruits, and it was twice afterward called
into the field for temporary duty, once in 1862, and again in 1863.


After my return from Washington in 1861, I resigned my commission in
the Seventh regiment, and looked for an opportunity of more permanent
connection with the service.

The most attractive position which offered was that of surgeon of
brigade, recently established by act of Congress; and, a medical board
having been convened for the examination of candidates, I appeared
before it, passed the examination, and in due time received my
commission as Brigade Surgeon of Volunteers.

At that time each volunteer regiment had its surgeon and assistant
surgeon, who were in general quite competent to the work they had to
do. Like other regimental officers, they received their appointments
and commissions from the authorities of their own state, and were
permanently attached to their particular regiments, without being
either authorized or required to go elsewhere.

But when the volunteer army came to be organized into brigades, under
command of brigadier generals with a general staff, it was found that
there were no medical officers to correspond. They were needed to
receive and consolidate the regimental reports, inspect the health of
the commands, establish field hospitals, and perform in every way the
duties of a general medical officer. Such places were filled, so far as
possible, by the surgeons and assistant surgeons of the regular army.
But these were too few in number to provide for the large volunteer
force suddenly called into action; and for that reason the new grade of
brigade surgeon was created. My commission was dated August 3, 1861.

But it was not until the first week in October that I received orders
to report in Washington at army headquarters. On arriving there, I was
directed to join General Viele's brigade and report for duty to that

General Viele's brigade was at Annapolis. So, as soon as possible, I
proceeded, with my horse, baggage, and camp equipage, to Annapolis
Junction, and thence, by the branch road that I had traveled with
the Seventh, to Annapolis. There I found the general and his staff,
quartered in the old St. John's College, a little outside the town. A
locality always looks different when you are arriving and when you are
going away; and, notwithstanding my brief acquaintance with Annapolis
six months before, now that I was coming to it from a different
direction and for another purpose, I should hardly have known it for
the same place.

The building where we were quartered was a plain brick edifice, several
stories in height, facing the town, with a distant view of the harbor
beyond. In front was the college green, where some of the regiments
were paraded for the presentation of flags. One of these presentations
was made, a week after my arrival, by Governor Hicks, who had now seen
his way clear to support the Union. In the rear and to the westward
were the regimental camps.

It soon appeared that the troops were gathering at Annapolis in
considerable force. In all, there were three brigades: General
Viele's, General Stevens's, and General Wright's,--the whole forming
a division of a little over twelve thousand men, under command of
General W. T. Sherman. In General Viele's brigade there were five
regiments,--the Forty-sixth, Forty-seventh, and Forty-eighth New
York, the Third New Hampshire, and Eighth Maine. This brigade was
the earliest on the ground and ranked first in the division. General
Stevens's was the second brigade, and General Wright's the third. Each
had a brigade surgeon; and a chief medical officer, from the regular
army, was attached to the staff of the division commander.

It was also claimed that we were going somewhere. Already a number of
transports were in the bay, and others continued to arrive, evidently
for our accommodation. Orders from the commanding general or his
adjutant were dated: "Headquarters, Division E. C." These cabalistic
letters were supposed to indicate in some way our future destination,
though I do not remember ever seeing them, either written or printed,
except as initials. After a time they were understood to mean
Expeditionary Corps; but that hardly made us much wiser as to how far
or in what direction we were bound.

At the end of a fortnight all was ready. One by one the transports
came into the harbor and took on their load of stores, artillery,
ammunition, and wagons; and finally the troops embarked. Our own
vessel, occupied by General Viele and his staff, was the _Oriental_,
an iron-built ocean steamer of nine hundred tons, formerly a packet
running to Havana. She also carried provisions and ordnance, and one or
two companies of soldiers belonging to the brigade.

After saying good-by to Annapolis, our vessels steamed slowly together
down the broad highway of the Chesapeake, past the mouth of the Potomac
river, almost as broad, and the next day came to anchor in Hampton
Roads. So far, our voyage was only a preliminary. We had arrived at
a second rendezvous, where the remainder of the expedition was in
waiting; and we now began to have an idea of its real magnitude.
Grouped around us over the ample roadstead, there were war vessels of
all grades and dimensions, from a steam frigate to a gunboat. Whether
they were all to go with us we knew not, but the number of coaling
schooners lying about seemed to indicate that most of them were under
sailing orders.

However, there was more waiting to be done before the final start, and
we passed a week without shifting our anchorage. Not being responsible
for anything outside our own brigade, we devoted ourselves mainly to
cultivating the virtue of patience. Yet we could not help feeling that
such a military and naval demonstration, gathered at such a point,
could not long remain a secret; and that, wherever we might be bound,
if it were any object to arrive without being expected, the sooner
we could get away the better. For medical officers there was another
cause of anxiety, which I began to appreciate almost as soon as our
anchor was down. When soldiers are on land it is always possible to
care for their sanitary condition. Camps can be cleansed and drained,
or shifted to better ground; and the sick can be placed in hospital,
or isolated at a respectable distance from the rest. But how to do
this with troops confined within the narrow quarters of a ship? And
what if some contagion should break out among them, like smouldering
fire in a haystack? Every exertion was made to keep the transports
in fair condition as to cleanliness and ventilation, and to watch
for the appearance of any suspicious malady. But every day made it
more difficult to do the one, and added to the danger of the other.
Fortunately, we got through without any serious mishap of this kind.

Meanwhile, we had some entertainment in watching our naval colleagues,
and trying to learn what and who they were. They were in frequent
communication with each other or with the shore; and their trim barges,
with the regular dip of their oars, and a kind of scientific certainty
about the way they went through the water, contrasted well with the
rather sprawly fashion of our own boats and their soldier crews. The
commander of the naval force was Captain Dupont.

His flagship, the _Wabash_, a double deck steam frigate of forty guns,
was the most imposing object in view. Then came the sloops-of-war
_Mohican_, _Seminole_, and _Pawnee_, with gunboats of various sizes,
and the great transports _Atlantic_, _Baltic_, and _Vanderbilt_, each
of about 3000 tons burden; making altogether, with the additional
transports and supply boats, a fleet of nearly fifty vessels.

At last the preparations were complete, and on Tuesday, October 29th,
the signal for starting was given. Away from Hampton Roads, through the
mouth of the Chesapeake, past the capes of Virginia, and then at sea,
with prows toward the south, the stately procession moved along, every
vessel in its place. The flagship led the van, with other men-of-war
trailing behind, like ripples, in two diverging lines. Then came the
transports in three columns, formed by the three brigades, and lastly
a few gunboats brought up the rear. The vessels of the first brigade
formed the right column, and as the sun went down the Virginia shore
was just sinking out of sight. The weather was favorable, and every one
felt pleased to see the expedition now fairly on its way.

Our progress was not very rapid. Many of the war vessels were
slow-going craft, and the rest had to accommodate their speed to the
leisurely rate of five or six knots. We were fully twenty-four hours
in making Cape Hatteras; and, notwithstanding the bad reputation
of this locality, we found there hardly enough wind and sea to be
uncomfortable. The main topic of talk was our destination. No one in
the fleet knew what that was except the two commanders, Captain Dupont
and General Sherman. The commanding officer on each vessel brought with
him sealed orders, which he was not to open unless separated from the
rest. But all were at liberty to guess; and in our discussions there
were three objective points favored by the knowing ones; Bull's Bay
on the coast of South Carolina, Port Royal entrance about a hundred
miles farther down, and Fernandina in Florida. As I knew them all
only as so many names on the map, and had no idea why one should be a
more desirable conquest than the other, I listened for entertainment,
without caring to choose between them. Our military family was made
up of various elements, but all were good-natured and companionable,
and promised to grow still better on acquaintance. General Viele was
a graduate of West Point, and we all looked to him for information in
regard to military affairs.

The order of sailing became somewhat deranged after a time, though at
the end of two days we were still in sight of the flagship, with from
thirty to forty others in the horizon. So far, the weather had given
us no trouble. But on Friday, November 1st, it began to be rough. The
sky was overcast, the ship rolled and pitched, and the wind howled in a
way that gave warning of worse to come. As the day wore on, there was
no improvement, and before nightfall it was blowing a gale.

There is a difference between a storm and a gale of wind. A storm is
disagreeable enough, with the driving rain, the lead-colored sky, the
sea covered with foam, and the wet decks all going up and down hill.
There is not much pleasure while that lasts. But in a gale of wind,
discomfort is not what you think of. After the tempest has grown and
gathered strength for five or six hours together, it begins to look
threatening and wicked. The sea is a black gulf around the ship; and
the great waves come rolling at her, one after the other, like troops
of hungry wolves furious to swallow her up. A thousand more are behind
them, and she has to fight them all, single handed, for life or death.
She must keep her head steady to the front, and meet every billow as
it comes without faltering or flinching; for if she loses courage or
strength and falls away to leeward, the next big comber will topple
over her side and she will go under.

When a good ship is wrestling with such a sea, she does it almost like
a living creature. She sways and settles, and rises and twists, and her
beams groan and creak with the strain that is on them. But her joints
hold, and she answers her helm; and the steady pulsation of her engines
gives assurance of undiminished vitality and motive power. So long
as she behaves in this way, you know that she is equal to the work.
But what if the sea should grow yet fiercer and heavier, and buffet
her with redoubled energy till she is maimed or exhausted? She is a
mechanical construction, knit together with bolts and braces; and the
steam from her boilers is to her the breath of life. However stanch and
true, her power of resistance is limited. But in the elements there is
a reserve of force and volume that is immeasurable; and when they once
begin to run riot, no one can tell how severe it may become or how long
it will last.

So it was on board the _Oriental_. All that evening the wind increased
in violence. Every hour it blew harder, and the waves came faster and
bigger than before. The sea was no longer a highway; it was a tossing
chaos of hills and valleys, sweeping toward us from the southeast with
the force of the tornado, and reeling and plunging about us on every
side. The ship was acting well, and showed no signs of distress thus
far; but by midnight it seemed as though she had about as much as she
could do. The officers and crew did their work in steady, seamanlike
fashion, and among the soldiers there was no panic or bustle. Once in
a while I would get up out of my berth, to look at the ship from the
head of the companion way, or to go forward between decks and listen to
the pounding of the sea against her bows. At one o'clock, for the first
time, things were no longer growing worse; and in another hour or two
it was certain that the gale had reached its height. Then I turned in
for sleep, wedged myself into the berth with the blankets, and made no
more inspection tours that night.

Next morning the wind had somewhat abated, though the sea was still
rolling hard, under the impetus of an eighteen hours' blow. The ship
was uninjured and everything on board in good condition. But where
was the fleet? Of all the splendid company that left Hampton Roads
four days ago, only two or three were in sight, looking disconsolate
enough and pitching about like eggshells. We knew afterward that two
of them had gone down, one had thrown overboard her battery of eight
guns to keep from foundering, and others had turned back, disabled, for
Fortress Monroe. But on the whole, most of them had escaped serious
damage, and, like ourselves, were again making headway toward the
south. Nevertheless it was a lonely day, and at nightfall we had no
more companions about us than there were in the morning.

By this time we knew our destination. The sealed orders were opened and
the ship put on her course. The next day, Sunday, was bright and clear,
with a smooth sea. Other vessels began to appear, moving in the same
direction; and before noon we were off Port Royal entrance, with ten or
eleven ships in company. Stragglers continued to come up as the time
passed, and on Monday morning when the flagship arrived, there were
already twenty-five or thirty sail around her.

Any land looks pleasant from the sea, when you have been knocking
about for some days in bad weather; and the South Carolina shore had
a particularly attractive appearance for us, partly no doubt because
we knew it would still be rather hard work getting there. It was ten
miles away, but the mirage made it visible; and the long stretch of
beaches and low sand bluffs, with their rows of pines, all sleeping in
the quiet sunshine, had a kind of luxurious, semi-tropical look, at
least to the imagination. Every light-house and buoy had been removed,
and not a sign was left for guidance over the bar. But soon a busy
little steamer was at work, sounding out the channel and placing buoys;
and in the afternoon all except the deeper-draft vessels went in. We
were among the first of the lot; and of those that followed, many
showed the marks of their rough treatment at sea. The big sidewheel
steamer, _Winfield Scott_, came in dismasted, and with a great patch
of canvas over her bows, looking like a man with a broken head. Others
had lost smoke-stacks, or stove bulwarks or wheel-houses. But when all
that could get over the bar were collected inside, they still made a
respectable fleet. The heavier vessels had to wait for another tide.

That was early next morning, when the _Wabash_ came in, followed by
the rest. A weather-beaten old tar was standing in her fore channels
outside the bulwarks, feeling her way with lead and line; and as the
great ship moved slowly by, we could hear his doleful, monotonous
chant, "By the ma-ark fi-ive," telling that she was in thirty feet
of water and going safely along. She passed through the fleet of
transports and war vessels to her position in advance.

Meanwhile several gunboats had gone up the harbor, to learn something
about the forts. They were firing away now and then, either at the
enemy on shore or at the rebel gunboats hovering about beyond. We
supposed that their errand was only preliminary, and felt no surprise
at seeing them return after an hour or two and again quietly come to
anchor. But in the afternoon, when the flagship herself got under
way, we expected something more; especially as she had undergone a
transformation and was now in fighting trim. Her topmasts were sent
down, and all her lofty tracery of spars had disappeared. As she moved
off, looking like a champion athlete stripped for the fray, every eye
followed her in eager expectation. Soon a puff of smoke from one of
the rebel batteries, followed by the dull reverberation of the report,
and then another from the opposite shore, spoke out their defiance, as
if they would like nothing better than to begin hostilities at once.
But there was no answering gun from the frigate. On she went, in the
same leisurely fashion, as if she had seen and heard nothing. More guns
from the forts, more smoke and more reverberation. Now she will surely
open her ports and show these blustering rebels, at least with a shot
or two, what it is to fire upon a United States frigate. But no. She
seemed to pause awhile as if in doubt, then turned and came slowly back
toward the fleet, followed to all appearance by the parting scoffs of
the enemy. It was impossible to repress a certain feeling of chagrin at
seeing the flagship apparently chased out of the harbor, on the first
trial, without even firing once in reply.

That was because we had been looking at something we did not
understand. After getting the reports of the gunboats, the flagship had
gone up to obtain for herself a few more particulars as to the location
and outline of the forts. The cannonading was at too long range to do
her any harm, and her expedition was meant for business, not for show.

However, the next day must find us ready; and perhaps it would be
none too soon. We had now been four days, off and on, at the harbor
entrance; and by this time all South Carolina knew where we were and
what we had come for. Every additional twenty-four hours gave the enemy
more time for preparation, without any advantage to us; and the longer
the enterprise was deferred, the more difficult it would become. But
the next day there was rather a high wind, with considerable sea; and
accordingly matters again remained _in statu quo_. That was another
disappointment. It seemed almost impossible that it should be so. Were
these old sea-dogs, after coming six hundred miles on purpose, to be
delayed in their work by a little rough water?

Well, yes. This was to be a contest between ships and forts. The forts
are planted on the solid ground, and their guns are mounted on level
platforms, with every angle of inclination sure and uniform. But the
ships are afloat; and if rolling about with the sea, and their decks
tipping this way and that, their aim must be uncertain and much of
their metal thrown away. Of course, a fort is not to be reduced by
firing guns at it, but by having the shot penetrate where it is meant
to go. Captain Dupont was a man who had come to win, not to fight a
useless battle with no result; and the way he went to work after the
time arrived made it plain to all that he knew equally well when to
stop and when to go ahead.

On the morning of Thursday, November 7th, everything was favorable.
The sea was smooth, with a gentle breeze from the northeast. About
nine o'clock the war vessels began to move forward between the forts.
The transports were drawn up as near as possible and yet be out of
the line of fire. Our own vessel, the _Oriental_, was the second in
position, General Sherman's being the only one in advance of us. As
for myself, I climbed into the fore cross-trees, and then, seated on
the reefed topsail, with my back against the foot of the topmast, I
had a view that commanded the entire scene. It was a bright, clear
day, with hardly a cloud on the horizon. Before us lay the broad
harbor nearly two and a half miles across, guarded on each side by the
enemy's earthworks. On the right, at Bay Point, was Fort Beauregard,
and on the left, at Hilton Head, Fort Walker, the stronger and more
important of the two. A little to the north of Fort Walker was a high,
two-story house, with a veranda in front, the headquarters of the rebel
commander; and away beyond, moving about in the adjoining creeks, we
could see the tall smoke-stacks and black smoke of the rebel gunboats,
watching an opportunity to capture vessels that might be stranded or
crippled, or to chase them all, should they be defeated.

And now the battle began. The naval force in a long line of fifteen
ships, passed up midway between the forts, receiving and answering the
fire from each. Near the head of the harbor, five or six were thrown
off for a flanking squadron, to engage the rebel gunboats or enfilade
the enemy's works from the north. The rest, including all the larger
vessels, then turned south, and, passing slowly down in front of Fort
Walker, gave her, one after the other, their heavy broadsides, turning
again, after getting fairly by, to repeat the circuit. From my position
I could see every shell strike. When one of them buried itself in the
ramparts or plunged over into the fort, its explosion would throw up a
vertical column of whirling sand high in the air, followed by another
almost as soon as the first had disappeared. When one from the rebel
batteries burst over the ships, it appeared suddenly like a white ball
of smoke against the sky, that swelled and expanded into a cloudy
globe, and then slowly drifted away to leeward; while a few seconds
later came the sharp detonation of the exploded shell. On both sides
the conflict was unremitting, and along the whole sea-face of the fort
its guns kept on belching their volleys against the fleet.

About this time we noticed on our left, close in shore, a gunboat that
seemed to be engaging the fort on its own hook. It was a two-masted
vessel, probably of six or seven hundred tons, but it looked hardly
larger than a good sized steam tug; and on its open deck was a single
big gun, firing away at the southeast angle of the fort. It was
the _Pocahontas_. She had been kept back by the gale, and had just
arrived in time to get over the bar while the fight was going on. Her
commander was Captain Percival Drayton, a native of South Carolina,
but one of the stanchest and most gallant officers in the navy of the
United States. The commander of the two forts was his brother, General
Drayton, of the Confederate army, whose plantation on the island was
only two or three miles away.

When looking at the new comer, I could not help thinking how much
expression there may be in such inanimate things as two pieces of
ordnance. The way the gun on the _Pocahontas_ was worked certainly gave
the idea of skill, determination, and persistency; while that which
answered it from the fort was equally suggestive of vexation, haste,
and a little apprehension. No doubt it was natural for the defenders
to feel so, when, in addition to the cannonading in front and on one
flank, another enemy should appear, to harass them from the opposite

Through all this hurly-burly, the movement of the war vessels was a
masterpiece of concerted action. Round and round they went, following
the flagship in deliberate succession, pounding at the fort with one
broadside going up and with the other coming down. So far as we could
see, not one of them fell out of line, or failed to do her full share
in the engagement. It had been going on now nearly four hours. The
fire of the fort was somewhat lessened, but it was still enough to be
doubtful and dangerous. One great gun in particular, on the southern
half of the sea-front, kept working away with dogged energy, as if
determined to inflict some deadly blow that might retrieve the fortunes
of the day. After a while there seemed to be a cessation. The _Wabash_
stood motionless before her enemy. She fired a single gun, to which
there was no response. Then a boat shot out from under her quarter;
and pulled straight for the shore. An officer landed, and went up the
bluffs to the fort. For a moment we could see his dark figure running
round the parapet, then down and out by the sally-port, and across the
intervening field to the two-story house, where it disappeared in the
doorway. A few moments later, at the flagstaff on the roof, a flag
mounted swiftly to the top, and then, in sight of all, the stars and
stripes floated out with the breeze, over the coast of South Carolina.

What followed was a kind of pandemonium. Cheers from the vessels all
over the harbor, with the tooting of steam whistles and music from the
regimental bands, mingled in long reiteration till every vocal organ
was exhausted, and the notes of the "Star-spangled Banner" had traveled
over the Bay Point and back again. The transports began to move in,
and were soon collected as near the beach as they could safely come.
In an hour or two I went ashore with General Viele and others of his
staff, to take a look at the surroundings. The fort was naturally our
first object of interest. Three of its guns dismounted, with their
gun-carriages standing wrong end upward, the parapet and traverses
seamed with shot and shell, and the ground strewn with pieces of
exploded projectiles, told of the hard struggle it had gone through.
The few dead left by the enemy had been decently removed by the marines
who first took possession. A day or two afterward the surgeon of the
fort was found in one of the galleries, dead, and covered with sand
from a bursted shell. In the rear of the fort was a stretch of open
plain, also covered with fragments of shell, over which the fugitives
had passed in their final rout, leaving behind arms, knapsacks,
blankets, and everything that could impede their flight. Traveling over
this field, half a mile or so from the fort, I came upon the body of
a stout fellow, who had been struck down while running for his life.
There was a gaping wound in his breast, into which you might have put a
quart pot; but his countenance was as serene and quiet in expression as
if he had laid down by himself for a few moments' rest.

General Wright's brigade was landed that afternoon. But it was slow
work, with a shelving beach and no wharf; and the rest of us postponed
disembarking till the next day. When all were on shore, General
Wright's command was located at and about the fort, and that of General
Stevens some distance farther on, near the crossing of a tide-water
creek. Our own brigade, which held the advanced position, was about two
miles northwest of the creeks, on the main road from that direction.
The fort at Bay Point was abandoned by the enemy without further
resistance, and was occupied by a detachment from the second brigade.

I have understood that this battle made some change in current opinion
as to the efficiency of ships and forts against each other. A fort, or
at least an earthwork, would seem almost impregnable against artillery.
It has no masonry walls to crumble or batter down. Solid shot may bury
themselves in its ramparts without doing the least harm; and when a
shell explodes there, it only throws up a volcanic eruption of earth
and sand, that settles back again nearly in the same place. The day
after the battle at Hilton Head, the walls of the fort were practically
as good as ever, and within a week or two its scarred outlines were all
smoothed over again. On the other hand, a frigate or a sloop-of-war
is vulnerable throughout. A single shot at the water line will make a
leak, hot shot will set her on fire, and exploding shells may derange
her machinery. Her oaken sides are a slight bulwark compared with the
twenty feet of earth in the ramparts of a fort.

All this was thoroughly appreciated by the enemy, who were prepared for
the attack and confident of success. Captured letters and documents
showed that they had entire faith in their works and guns, and fully
expected to sink the Yankee vessels and teach them a lesson for their

But in one thing ships may be superior to forts; that is, in their
power of defensive action. What decides the day more than anything else
is the number of guns in service and the rapidity of their fire. Ships
may be brought from various directions and concentrated at a given
place, so that their united batteries will far outweigh the armament
of a fort. At Hilton Head the _Wabash_ alone fired, in four hours, 880
shot and shell; and from the entire fleet no less than 2000 projectiles
must have been hurled upon the fort within that time. The earthwork
itself may withstand this tempest, but its defenders cannot continue to
work their guns. After a time their fortitude must give way under such
a trial, and, as it was in Fort Walker, the moment comes at last for a
final stampede. Of course, this implies that the ships are present in
sufficient force and do their work in the right way.

But perhaps the victory was due, more than anything else, to the
practical skill and originality of Captain Dupont. He saw at once
that the work at Hilton Head was the important one, and that if that
were reduced, the other would be untenable. When first leading his
ships up the harbor in mid-channel, he engaged both forts at about
two thousand yards distance. On making the turn and coming down again
towards the south, he passed in front of Fort Walker at eight hundred
yards. This distance was of his own choosing, and he had the range
beforehand. But the guns of the fort had to be sighted anew, in the
heat and excitement of actual conflict; not an easy thing to do, even
for the most experienced. After going again toward the north at longer
range, he once more made the turn and repassed the fort on his way
back, this time at six hundred yards. So, the vessels were always in
motion, and after every turn presented themselves to the enemy at a
different distance. It was this second promenade of the ships, pouring
into the fort their terrific broadsides at the short distance of six
hundred yards, that did the effective work of the engagement. At this
time, according to nearly all the commanders' reports, the enemy's shot
mostly passed over the ships, injuring only their spars and rigging.
Throughout the battle none of them were struck more than ten times in
the hull, none were seriously disabled, and two of them were not hit
at all. Captain Dupont said afterward that he believed he had saved a
hundred lives by engaging the fort at close range.

After the first rejoicings were over, there was a singular feeling of
disappointment in the North at the seeming want of result from the
victory at Port Royal. It was expected that the troops would move at
once into the interior, capture the important cities, and revolutionize
the states of Georgia and South Carolina. One of the newspaper
correspondents wrote home, a few days after the battle, "In three weeks
we shall be in Charleston and Savannah;" and in the popular mind at
that time the possession of a city seemed more important than anything
else, in the way of military success. So when the months of November,
December, and January passed by, without anything being done that the
public could appreciate, there was no little surprise manifested at the
inactivity of the army in South Carolina.

In reality the military commanders were busy from the outset. The
day after the battle, Captain Gillmore, the chief engineer, made a
reconnaissance to the north side of the island, and laid out there
a work to control the interior water-way between Charleston and
Savannah; and before the end of the month he had commenced his plans
for the reduction of Fort Pulaski, which in due time were brought to
a successful issue. But these movements, and others like them, were
after all secondary in importance to the main object of the Port Royal
expedition, namely, the permanent acquisition of Port Royal itself, as
an aid to the naval operations on the Atlantic coast.

The government at Washington was by this time fully alive to the
magnitude of the contest and its requirements. One of the most pressing
of these requirements was the blockade; which must be maintained
effectively along an extensive line of coast, exposed to severe
weather during a large part of the year. The vessels of the blockading
squadron must be supplied with stores and coal at great inconvenience
and from a long distance; and when one of them needed repairs it must
be sent all the way to New York or Philadelphia to get a new topmast
or chain cable. This involved much expense, long delays, and the risk
of temporary inefficiency in the blockade. It was important that the
fleet should have, near at hand, a capacious harbor, where store-houses
and workshops might be established, and where shelter might be had for
the necessary inspections and repairs. Port Royal was such a harbor;
and it also served, in course of time, as a base for further military
operations. It had been selected by Captain Dupont and General Sherman
in joint council.


The sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia are grouped in a nearly
continuous chain along the coast, between the mainland and the sea.
They are flat, with only a few slight elevations here and there; and
there is not, over their whole area, a single boulder, pebble, or
gravel bed, nor any spot where the ledge rock comes to the surface.
The soil at first seems to be sandy; but you soon discover that it
has mingled with it a fine black loam and is extremely productive.
It yields the "sea-island cotton," a variety of long fibre, formerly
much valued for certain purposes of textile manufacture. There is no
sod or turf, like that of the Northern states, but the fields not
under cultivation produce a tall thin grass, which is soon trampled
out of existence by passing wagons or by soldiers on the march. In the
clearings are the live oak and the great magnolia, both evergreen.
The palmetto is also a conspicuous object, and the dwarf palmetto
grows abundantly under the shadow of the pine woods. Everywhere there
is a large proportion of hard-wood shrubs and trees with polished,
waxy-looking, evergreen leaves.

There are many extensive plantations, where the owners often remain
during a large part of the year. Their houses are not grouped in
villages, but scattered at a considerable distance apart, each on its
own plantation, with the negro cabins usually in long lines at the rear
or on one side. The roads from one plantation to another run through
the pine woods, or over the plains, bordered on each side by cotton
or corn fields, and marking the only division between them. There is
seldom to be seen such a thing as a rail fence, and of course never a
stone wall.

Hilton Head, where we were now encamped, was one of the largest of
these islands. It was twelve miles long, in a general east and west
direction, and about five miles in extreme width, north and south. At
its Port Royal end, the sand bluffs rose to the height of eight or
ten feet above the beach, giving the name of "head" more especially
to this part of the island; elsewhere they were generally much lower.
Along its sea-front there was a magnificent beach, ten miles long,
broken only at one place by a creek fordable at half tide. At frequent
intervals on this route there were marks of the slow encroachment of
the sea upon the land. Often you would come upon the white, dry stump
of a dead pine, standing up high above the beach on the ends of its
sprawling roots, like so many corpulent spider legs. Once it grew on
the low bluffs above high-water mark, as its descendants are doing now.
But the sea gradually undermined its roots and washed out the soil from
between them, till it gave up the ghost for want of nourishment, and in
time came to be stranded here, half-way down the beach. It looked as
if the tree had moved down from the bluffs toward the water, though in
reality the beach had moved up past the tree. The same thing was going
on all along the coast in this region. There were trees on the very
edge of the bluff, with their roots toward the sea exposed and bare,
but with enough still buried in the soil on the land side to hold the
trunk upright and give it sap; while here and there was one already
losing its grip and slowly bending over toward the sea. When it has
nothing more to rest on than the sands of the beach, its branches and
trunk decay, but its roots and stump remain for many years whitening in
the sun, like a skeleton on the plains.

The chain of islands from Port Royal toward Charleston harbor included
Parry, Saint Helena, Edisto, John's and James islands; in the opposite
direction, toward the Savannah river, Daufuskie, Turtle, and Jones'
islands. Inside these were other smaller islands, the whole separated
from each other and from the mainland by sounds and creeks, sometimes
broad but oftener narrow and tortuous, through which small steamers
could find an inside passage from Charleston to Savannah. This
communication was of course cut off when our troops occupied Port Royal.

At Hilton Head I first made the acquaintance of the southern plantation
negro. Every white inhabitant had disappeared, leaving the slaves alone
in possession. Their inferior appearance, habits, and qualities, their
curious lingo and strange pronunciation were in amusing contrast with
those of the blacks and mulattoes we had seen at the north. When I
met one of them near the Jones plantation and asked him whether he
belonged there, his answer was this: "No mawse, I no bene blahnx mawse
Jones, I bene blahnx mawse Elliot." Not having any idea what he meant,
I repeated the phrase to General Viele, who had some familiarity with
the southern negro, and who gave me the interpretation as follows:
"No master, I did not belong to master Jones, I belonged to master
Elliot." Mr. Elliot was the owner of another plantation near by. Soon
after we took possession of Hilton Head, negroes began to come in from
the neighboring islands, seeking shelter and food. They generally
appeared to rate themselves at the value set upon them by their
former masters. One morning a young black, of the deepest dye and
most cheerful expression of countenance, presented himself at brigade
headquarters, and on being asked whether any others had arrived with
him, he said with a delighted grin: "Yes, mawse, more 'n two hundred
head o' nigger come ober las' night." Most of the field hands were
of this description. But on each plantation there was usually one
man noticeably superior to the rest in manner and language. He was
generally the leader in their religious exercises, and had the gift of
the gab to no small degree; though his uncontrollable propensity to the
use of long words and incongruous expressions often gave a ludicrous
turn to the effect of his eloquence.

But whatever their grade of capacity or intelligence, the negroes
agreed in one thing. They were well satisfied to live on the
plantations, without control of their former owners, so long as
the crops of the present season would supply them with food. Their
liberation they knew was owing to the success of the Union troops, and
they showed a much more intelligent comprehension of the causes and
probable results of the war than they had been supposed to possess. But
as for doing anything themselves to help it on, that did not appear to
form part of their calculations. They would work for their rations when
destitute, would obey when commanded as they had been accustomed, and
they would aid the Union cause whenever they could do so in a passive
sort of way. But we soon found that we must not look to them for
anything like energetic or spontaneous action. This seemed a strange
indifference to a contest involving the freedom or servitude of their
race, and no doubt accounted for much of the aversion afterward felt by
our troops to the project of transforming some of them into soldiers.

But if we had remembered where the negroes came from, perhaps we should
not have been so much surprised. Their ancestors had been brought to
this country from the coast of Africa by slave-traders who had bought
them there. They were slaves already, when they were taken on board
ship. They had been captured in war, or seized by native marauders, who
took them for the purpose of reducing them to slavery and selling them
for profit. They were consequently from the least capable and least
enterprising of the negro tribes in Africa; and their descendants in
this country were of the same grade. If they could not resist being
made slaves by other negroes, how could they be expected to take part
in a war between whites, even to recover their own freedom?

Of course there were exceptions to this. In the month of May following,
a boat's crew brought away from Charleston harbor the barge of the
Confederate General Ripley, and escaped with it to the naval vessels
outside; and not long afterward the negro pilot, Robert Smalls, and his
companions ran the gauntlet of the forts in the night-time with the
steam-tug _Planter_, and delivered her safely to the blockading fleet.
But these were rare instances, and nothing of the kind happened at
Hilton Head.

What the sea-island negroes appeared to excel in more than anything
else was handling an oar, which they did in a way quite their own. In
their long, narrow "dug-outs," hollowed from the trunk of a Georgia
pine, each man pulling his oar in unison with the rest, they would
send the primitive craft through the water with no little velocity. In
lifting and recovering the oar they had a peculiar twist of the hand
and elbow that no white man could imitate; and their strange sounding
boat songs seemed to give every moment a fresh impulse to the stroke.
These songs had no resemblance to the half-humorous, half-sentimental
"plantation melodies" known to theatre-goers at the north. They were
more like religious rhapsodies in verse. At least, they had many words
and phrases of a religious character; but mingled together, in a kind
of incoherent chant, with many others of different significance, or
even none at all. It was not its meaning that gave value to the song;
it was its sound and cadence. Sometimes the verse would open with a few
words of extempore variation by the leader, and then the other voices
would strike in with the remaining lines as usual. Oftener than not,
the song was a fugue, every one of the half dozen boatmen catching up
his part at the right second, and chiming in all the louder and lustier
for having kept still beforehand. Once in a while the passenger would
be startled at seeing an oarsman suddenly strike the one in front of
him a smacking blow between the shoulders, at the same time injecting
into the melody a short improvised yell, by way of stimulus and
encouragement. Altogether, I have seldom witnessed a more entertaining
performance than one of these semi-barbarous vocal concerts in a South
Carolina dug-out.

Our brigade camp was in a large cotton-field lying across the road to
the northwest. At the time of our arrival it was covered with tall,
scraggy bushes, their white balls still ungathered; and for a night or
two we bivouacked in the deep furrows between them. But they were soon
removed and the surface quickly trampled down into a serviceable parade
ground, with the regimental camps extending along one side. Brigade
headquarters were in advance of the parade ground, opposite the right
of the line. At one end was the general's tent, fronting upon an oblong
space, enclosed on its two sides by the tents of the staff officers,
orderlies, and employees. Within the enclosed space was a single
live-oak, under which we gathered in the evening round a fire, to
smoke our pipes and talk over arrivals, reconnoissances, or projected

For some weeks pork and hard-bread were an important part of our fare.
Our private stores from the _Oriental_ were soon exhausted, and much
of the commissary supplies on the transport fleet had been lost or
damaged on the voyage down. Foraging on the plantations did something;
and the general even secured a cow, which he stabled alongside our
camp. But she was of very unprepossessing appearance. Her only fodder
was dry cornstalks; and the milk she gave, in the opinion of most, was
worse than none at all. The same verdict was rendered, after trial, on
the native beef. The most successful venture of this kind was a young
kid, secured in a day's tramp, which I butchered and dressed myself, as
being the only one of the staff entitled to rank as sawbones. After a
time supply ships and sutler schooners reached Port Royal, and our days
of short commons were over.

But the most gratifying arrival was that of our horses. They had
been shipped with many others, at the starting of the expedition, on
the steamer _Belvidere_, which was among the missing when the fleet
reassembled at Port Royal; and hearing nothing of her, we had given her
up for lost. In reality she had been very roughly handled in the gale,
and many of the animals cast loose, trampled on and thrown overboard;
but she had managed to keep afloat and make her way back to Fortress
Monroe. Here, after some delay, the remainder of the live stock was
reshipped and sent down to Port Royal on another steamer. Fortunately
our own horses were among the survivors.

The process of getting them on shore was something of a novelty. The
ship could hardly approach nearer than a quarter of a mile from the
beach; so they had to be dumped into the sea and make a landing for
themselves. The way it was done was this. A gangway was opened in
the ship's bulwarks, on the side away from shore; and a gang-plank
with cross cleats laid over the deck to the opening. The animal was
then placed at one end, prepared to "walk the plank" like a pirate's
prisoner. As he would never do this of himself if he knew what was
coming, he is half persuaded into it and half forced. One man starts
him with a little gentle solicitation by the head-stall. At the same
time two strong fellows clasp hands behind him, just above the hocks,
and as he steps forward they follow him with increasing pressure toward
the gangway; so that by the time he comes in sight of the awful void
beyond, his motion is too rapid for effectual resistance and over he
goes with a final splash.

Most horses, on coming to the surface, after a short reconnoissance
make straight for the shore, where they are taken in hand by men
waiting for them. But some lose their heads and swim away in the wrong
direction, so that they must be followed by boats and captured or
turned back; and a few will persist in getting upon some marshy island
or mud flat, where they flounder about until rescued with no little
trouble and difficulty. So we took the precaution, for our own horses,
to have a boat in waiting alongside the ship, with a long halter shank
attached to the head-stall, by which they could be guided to a safe
landing. On first coming up from his involuntary plunge bath, the
animal's expression is one of unbounded astonishment and indignation
at the outrage; but he soon follows willingly in the boat's wake, and,
once on shore, is quite contented to find himself again in friendly

Every one in a brigade camp thinks his own horse the best of the lot.
He listens kindly to the eulogies of his comrades on their respective
mounts, but with full persuasion that every one of them would exchange
with him if he would allow it. My own animal was a bay stallion,
hardly more than fifteen hands high and slab-sided as a ghost; and the
deep hollows over his eyeballs proclaimed that his tenth birthday was
already past. But he had plenty of lightning in his veins, and there
must have been royal blood in his pedigree, though it was a stolen
one. He would go over broken bridges wherever there were timbers enough
for a foothold; and I have taken him out on a flatboat to the middle
of a wide creek and then walked him up a gang-plank to the deck of a
steamer without his showing the least hesitation. Notwithstanding his
slender build, his power of endurance was extreme, and the oddities of
his disposition were an unending source of surprise and entertainment.

The next enterprise of the expeditionary corps was the siege of Fort
Pulaski, at the mouth of the Savannah river. It was a formidable
casemated work, situated just inside the entrance, and guarding
the approach from below to the city of Savannah. It could not be
successfully attacked by the navy, owing to its size and strength
and the narrow limits of the river channel giving no room for the
evolutions of a fleet. The only place where land batteries could be
planted against it was Tybee island, between it and the sea, where
there were but slender facilities for such an operation. The island was
half sand and half marsh. On its sea-front was a shelving beach, backed
by a low ridge with a few stunted pines and bushes; and on the land
side there was little more than a wide stretch of trembling morass, in
full view of the fort and commanded by its guns. Nevertheless Captain
Gillmore reported that the thing could be done; and early in December
the Forty-sixth regiment was detached from our brigade and sent to
occupy Tybee island. The city of Savannah was fifteen miles above the
fort, on the south side of the river.

The part assigned to General Viele was to establish a blockade of the
Savannah river, between the city and the fort. In the month of January
we struck camp at Hilton Head and moved southwest to the farther end
of Daufuskie, the last of the islands in that direction suitable for
occupation by troops. From Hilton Head in direct line it was only
fifteen or sixteen miles; but by the circuitous water route through
Port Royal harbor, Scull creek, Calibogue sound, Cooper river, Ramshorn
creek, and New river, it was nearly twice that distance. In its general
features the island was similar to Hilton Head. Our quarters were on a
slightly elevated point, overlooking the lowlands and waterways toward
the Savannah river, which was about three miles away. In that whole
interval there was absolutely nothing to break the uniform level of
the landscape. It was at Daufuskie and thereabout that we came to know
the singular network of land and water communication that marks the
region. From the knoll in front of our headquarters you might see, some
distance away, the masts and smokestack of a gunboat apparently sailing
along through the meadows. Her spars and perhaps her bulwarks might
be visible, with nothing to be seen around them but a wide expanse of
grass-covered flats. Go where she was, and you would find her in a
creek hardly wide enough for her to turn in, but with ample depth of
water and straight vertical sides of black mud, like an enormous ditch.
Passing through one of these creeks in a row-boat at half tide, with
nothing to be seen on either hand above the brink, and other channels
opening into it every half mile or so, all looking alike, it would
be the easiest thing in the world to get lost, and almost impossible
to find your way again without a guide. Steamers of light draft and
not too great length could pass through most of these channels at the
proper tide.

On one occasion, after going down to Hilton Head for some business
connected with the medical department, I took passage at my return on
the steamer _Winfield Scott_, carrying one of the regiments destined
for Daufuskie. She left Hilton Head at an early hour, and in the
forenoon reached the sinuous channels northwest of Calibogue sound. She
was rather a large vessel to attempt the passage, but with due care
and a flood tide the pilot hoped she might get through. On coming to
a bend in the creek she would run her nose against the opposite bank,
then back a little and try again, turning slowly meanwhile, edging
round by degrees and rubbing the mud off the banks, bow and stern,
till she was clear of the obstruction and ready to go ahead again.
At last she came to a turn that looked rather easier than the rest,
but where there was a narrow spit at the bottom running out from one
side toward the other. In trying to pass, the vessel grounded on this
spit. It was still flood tide, and with vigorous pushing she might get
over. So at it she went, with all steam on and her paddles doing their
best. At each new trial she gained a little, but it was harder work
every time; and she finally succeeded, at full high water, in getting
exactly half-way over. Fifteen minutes later there was no chance. She
was stranded, helpless, on the bar, bow and stern both sinking slowly
with the ebb and weighing her down past hope of deliverance. In an
hour or two her main deck began to crack open, and it was all the men
could do to get a few horses across the widening chasm to be landed on
the neighboring flats. Then we all disembarked and made ourselves as
comfortable as possible while awaiting other means of transportation.
But the _Winfield Scott_ never left that place till she was taken away
piecemeal. She had weathered the November gale at sea, to be wrecked on
a sunshiny forenoon in Ramshorn creek.

The troops at Daufuskie were a part of the old brigade, together with
the Sixth Connecticut, two or three companies of artillery, and a
detachment of the First New York Engineers. The last were extremely
useful, as much of the work to be done was of an engineering character.
The spot selected for the first blockading battery was a part of Jones'
island called "Venus Point," on the north shore of the Savannah river,
four miles above Fort Pulaski. To reach it from Daufuskie we had to
pass by boats through New river and Wright river into Mud river, and
thence across the marshy surface of Jones' island to Venus Point, a
distance altogether of nearly five miles. The opening from Wright river
into Mud river was an artificial passage called Wall's Cut, excavated
some years before to enable steamers from Charleston by the inside
route to get into the Savannah river. It had been obstructed after the
battle of Port Royal by an old hulk placed crosswise and secured by
piles, to prevent the passage of our gunboats. A company of the New
York Engineers, under Major Beard, opened the passage again by removing
the piles and swinging the hulk round lengthwise against the bank,
where it now lay, a dismal looking object, abandoned at last by friend
and foe.

Military operations often seem to be going on very slowly, especially
to those at a distance who are unacquainted with the local conditions;
but the work required for an enterprise like the investment of Fort
Pulaski, as we soon found, cannot be done in a hurry. First of all
there must be night reconnoissances by capable and well informed
officers, through intricate waterways and over pathless islands, to
learn the position of the enemy, the obstacles to be encountered, and
the available points for occupation. After that begins the labor of the
troops. Wharves must be built and roads cleared, before the barges and
steamers can be used to advantage for transportation. Jones' island,
the intended location of the battery, was like its neighbors, a marshy
flat covered with reeds and tall grass. Its surface was so treacherous
that a pole or a stick could be thrust down through its superficial
layer of tangled roots into a fathomless underlying quagmire of
soft mud. Twice a month, at the spring tides, it was flooded almost
everywhere to the depth of several inches; and at no time would it bear
with safety a horse, a wagon, or even a loaded wheelbarrow. For the
transportation of anything weighty over its surface to Venus Point, it
must have an artificial causeway.

Early in February the troops on Daufuskie were set to work in the pine
woods, cutting down saplings of the proper size, and carrying them on
their shoulders to a newly built wharf on the west side of the island.
Ten thousand of these poles were thus brought from the woods to the
water front, there loaded on flatboats and towed round to the landing
place at Jones' island. There they were laid crosswise on the surface,
to form a corduroy road, about three-quarters of a mile in length, to
Venus Point. Then sandbags were carried over, to make something like
firm ground for the gun-platforms, and a dry spot for the magazine. All
the work at this place had to be done in the night time, as it was in
full view of the rebel steamers passing every few days up and down the

At last all was ready for taking over the armament of the battery. In
the afternoon I went over the corduroy toward Venus Point, and at my
return about dusk, two of the guns were starting on the same road. It
looked then as if the officers and men in charge would have no easy
time of it, but their difficulties turned out much greater than I
supposed. It took all that night and the next to get the guns over and
put them in place. With the carriage wheels guided on a double row of
planks laid end to end, taken up in the rear and laid down in front as
the procession moved on, the shifting tramways were soon covered with
the island mud, smooth and slippery as so much mucilage. When a wheel
happened to get over the edge of its plank, down it would go, hub deep,
in the soft morass; and then the men must set to work with levers to
lift it out again, themselves immersed up to their knees in the same
material. Many of them encased their feet and legs in empty sandbags
tied at the knee, for protection against the all pervading mud. It was
an exhausting labor, sometimes almost disheartening; but perseverance
at last prevailed, and on the morning of the twelfth the six guns were
all in position.

The next day I paid another visit to the work at Venus Point to see
how it looked. It could hardly be called a fort. It was only a place
where some platforms had been laid down and guns mounted, enclosed by
a low parapet, not so much to repel an enemy as to keep out the tides.
Nevertheless it was named Fort Vulcan, perhaps because it was better
fitted for aggression than for defense.

While I was there it happened that the rebel steamer came down on her
usual trip from Savannah to Fort Pulaski, and the battery opened on
her for the first time. She was an ordinary river steamboat, painted
white; and her name, the _Ida_, could be read with a good glass upon
her wheelhouse. She evidently suspected something new at Venus Point
and hugged the farther edge of the channel. After some shots had been
launched at her, the artillery officer in charge invited me to try
my hand at the game. So I sighted one of the guns as well as I could
guess at her speed and distance, pulled the lanyard, and watched the
effect of the discharge with no little interest. It was the first time
I had ever had the opportunity of firing at a steamboat. As might be
expected, I failed to make a hit. At that distance she seemed to be
moving very slowly, though she was no doubt making the best of the
time so far as she was able; and while my thirty pound projectile was
traveling across the river, she was going down stream fast enough to
be quite out of its way when it got there. Apparently she escaped all
the shots without serious damage, for she kept on her course toward
Fort Pulaski; but she did not venture to risk it again, and returned to
Savannah by a circuitous channel farther south.

A week later the passage was more effectually closed by a second
battery established on Bird island, opposite Venus Point and near the
south bank of the river. This was the same kind of low-lying flat with
the other islands in the neighborhood. When I made a visit to the work
some days afterward, it was at the period of a spring tide, and nearly
everything beyond the parapet was submerged. I was taken to the tent
of Major Beard, the commanding officer, in a row-boat. The plank floor
of the tent was just above the water level; but the major was lying,
high and dry, in a bunk of rough boards, smoking his pipe with an air
of supreme satisfaction. He had been from the start most active and
efficient in the work of establishing the blockade, and he now held the
advanced position, where it hardly looked as if he had ground enough to
stand on. He was commissioned as field officer in the Forty-eighth New
York, but had been detached for some weeks on special service at Hilton
Head and Daufuskie.

During this time we had at brigade headquarters several officers of the
regular army, whose acquaintance I greatly enjoyed. Captain Gillmore,
chief engineer of the expedition, then about thirty-seven years of
age, was with us from the first. Cheerful, hearty, enterprising, and
wholly devoted to his work, he was the moving spirit throughout. He
knew every detail of the engineering and artillery service, and his
knowledge was exact and thorough. It was his examination and advice
that determined the plan for the reduction of Fort Pulaski, and he
fixed upon the location of all the batteries on Tybee island. The river
blockade from Daufuskie was a part of his scheme, and while there he
spared no pains or fatigue to superintend everything and make sure
that it was done right. After this was completed, he returned to Tybee
island, to push on the works at that place with the same unremitting
persistency. The capture of the fort was the occasion of a well
deserved advancement in rank, and before the close of the war he became
major-general of volunteers.

Lieutenant James H. Wilson, topographical engineer, and Lieutenant
Horace Porter, ordnance officer, were both busy under Captain
Gillmore's direction. Neither mud and water, nor rain or darkness
seemed to discourage them; and they would come in, after a night on
Jones' island, wet, weary, and famished, but as lively and talkative as
ever. Wilson was afterward a cavalry general, and it was a part of his
command that captured Jeff Davis in his flight through Georgia in 1865,
the last brilliant exploit of the war. Porter also became a general,
and served on the staff of General Grant through the Petersburg
campaign. Both were transferred to the batteries at Tybee island after
finishing their work on Daufuskie. General Viele's troops remained, to
keep up the river blockade, and prevent further supplies reaching Fort

Our own headquarters had been shifted by this time to a dwelling-house
on the extreme southernmost point of Daufuskie, about a mile from the
regimental camps. It was a spacious well-built mansion, and from a
sort of open veranda on the roof there was a wide prospect, including
the mouth of the Savannah river, with Tybee island and Fort Pulaski on
the opposite shore, a little over three miles away. I sometimes went
up into this crow's nest before sunrise, to watch the strange effect
of the morning mist. At that hour the landscape for miles around was
often covered by a low-lying bank of white cloud, with a few clumps
of trees or small hillocks emerging from it here and there like so
many scattered islands, and everything looking cool and still, without
a sign of animal life or human habitation. Afterward, when the warm
sunbeams began to touch the surface of this cloudy sea, the mists
would slowly melt away into vapor, and I could see the outlines of the
roads and fields and inlets and watercourses coming out, one after
another, like the markings on a map. On two sides of the house was a
flower-garden with carefully trimmed beds and walks, that had evidently
been a favorite with the owner. Roses and camellias were in full bloom
there in February and March, and many other flowering shrubs followed
as the season went on. The cardinal grosbeak nested among them almost
within reach of the windows, and the brown thrush and mocking-bird
reared their broods but a short distance away.

There was a similar house toward the eastern side of the island, which
we occupied for a brigade hospital. After obtaining the necessary
stores and appliances from Hilton Head, it made a very convenient and
useful establishment. Here we placed all the sick or disabled men,
likely to need a prolonged treatment; thus relieving the regimental
hospitals of all but their temporary cases, and giving the chronic
invalids a better chance for convalescence and recovery.

We had a new topic of interest about this time in the rebel iron-clad
steamer _Atlanta_, said to be approaching completion at Savannah.
The country had just passed through a spasm of terror and relief
at the unexpected performances of the _Merrimac_ and _Monitor_ at
Hampton Roads; and after that, every one had a realizing sense of
the devastation an iron-clad might accomplish in case there were no
_Monitor_ to oppose her. We knew that such a vessel was getting ready
at Savannah; and for some weeks it appeared doubtful whether our
control of Venus Point and Bird island might not at any moment come to
a sudden termination. As a matter of fact, the _Atlanta_ was getting
on very slowly, and it was not until some weeks after the fall of Fort
Pulaski that she could be put in condition to move. By that time the
monitor _Weehawken_ was in waiting for her; and on her approaching
and opening fire, disabled and captured her in fifteen minutes.
Nevertheless she was the cause of no little foreboding on Daufuskie
during the months of March and April.

Meanwhile Captain Gillmore was erecting his batteries on Tybee island
along the western side of the sand ridge, toward the fort. Every
night, under the cover of darkness and silence, his working parties
traversed a narrow causeway of fascines and brushwood to the advanced
positions, returning before daybreak to their camps on shore. As the
low parapets and bombproofs gradually rose above the surface, they were
shielded from view by clumps of bushes carefully distributed along the
front; and lastly the heavy guns and ammunition were transported with
the same precautions to their destination. After seven weeks of this
labor, everything was ready. Eleven batteries, mounting sixteen mortars
and twenty guns, were arranged along a sinuous line following the
edge of the morass. From the lookout on our house-top all was in full
view, Fort Pulaski on the right and Tybee island with its concealed
batteries on the left. At that distance nothing was visible to show the
preparations on either side; but the first gun would be seen and heard
from our position almost as well as on the spot.

Early on the morning of April 10th it began. A mortar at one of the
batteries gave the signal, and the rest chimed in, one after another,
as fast as the gunners could get their range. By ten o'clock all were
in operation, mortars, columbiads, and rifled guns throwing their
shells at the parapet or into the interior of the work, or battering
its nearest wall, at the rate of four discharges per minute. They were
answered with equal activity by the guns of the fort. This kept up all
day long; the volumes of white smoke rolling out from both sides, and
the reports, mellowed a little by the distance, following each other
across the river in almost uninterrupted succession till nightfall.
Then the heavy cannonading was suspended; but every five minutes a
shell from one of the mortar batteries was sent into the fort, to keep
its defenders uneasy and prevent their repairing the damages of the day.

From our point of observation we could not tell what effect had been
produced thus far on the walls or parapets of either side; but neither
the fire of the fort nor that of the batteries appeared seriously
impaired. It seemed likely that several days might pass before a
decisive result, and we waited patiently to see what the morrow would
bring forth. We could not cross directly to Tybee island without coming
under the guns of the fort, and could only get there by the circuitous
route of Hilton Head, which would take far too much time, and would
not, after all, give us so good a view of both sides as we already had.
Moreover, a new mortar battery was to be established that night, from
General Viele's command, on an island above the fort, to bombard it
from the rear.

Next morning the music of the great guns began again. Neither side
seemed disabled or disheartened, and the cannonading went on much as
it had done the day before. But we had our own duties to perform, and
however interesting the spectacle we could not watch it continuously.
Early in the afternoon I was at a little distance from the house, when
I missed all at once the sound of the guns. One five minutes passed
by, and then another, but the silence continued. What did it mean?
Were the batteries silenced, and the game played out and lost? That
was hardly likely, because then the fort would no doubt become the
attacking party and keep on worrying the batteries till they could be
abandoned at nightfall. Still this was only a surmise, and we knew
not what reason there might be against it. Hastily regaining our
observatory on the roof, every available telescope was leveled at the
parapet of the fort, where a white flag was visible in place of the
rebel ensign. Pulaski had surrendered.

I do not think any one expected the end so soon. The fire of the fort
had been nearly as vigorous the second day as the first. Its means of
active defense were evidently far from exhausted; and yet it had given
up the fight, as it were on a sudden, while still able to hold its own
and perhaps tire out the enemy at last. But there was a reason for
this, which we learned soon afterward on our visit to the place.

Of course every one was anxious to see the captured fort. On the
following day General Viele with his staff went on board a small
steamer and started for the trip. This time we were no longer obliged
to take the crooked route through Wall's Cut and around Jones' island,
but steamed directly down into the Savannah river opposite the fort. As
we approached this frowning stronghold that had so long held us at bay,
its effect was something to be remembered. Its massive walls covering
five or six acres of ground, and its double row of heavy guns, seemed
well able to repel intruders. For nearly three months we had looked
at it with a mingled feeling of desire and dread. It would have been
dangerous at any time to show ourselves within a mile of it; and it
would have been a prison to any who should venture within a few hundred
yards. Now we could tie up at the steamboat landing, and walk over the
long pathway to its gorge, unchallenged by any but our own sentries.
Inside, it was a strange sight; the parade ground was scored with deep
trenches to receive the falling shells, and the interior walls were
fenced with great blindages of square hewn timbers at an angle of
forty-five degrees. For the garrison had been at work on their side,
almost as hard as the besiegers. In many places the blindages were
splintered by shot and shell, and the passage-ways beneath obstructed
with the torn fragments.

The main effect of the cannonading was to be seen at the southeast
angle of the fort. The outer wall was crumbled and ruined to such a
degree that two of the casemates were open at the front and their guns
half buried in the fallen débris; and the ditch, forty-eight feet wide,
was partly filled with a confused heap of shattered masonry. Here it
was that Captain Gillmore had concentrated the fire of his breaching
batteries. As an army engineer, he was acquainted with the construction
of Fort Pulaski; and he knew that the powder magazine was located at
its northwest angle. This would bring it, after the breaching of the
opposite wall, in the direct line of fire; and when the shells from his
rifled guns began to pass through the opening and strike the defenses
of the magazine, no choice was left to the garrison but surrender. They
found themselves in momentary danger of explosion, and wisely lost no
time in bringing the contest to an end.

The siege of Fort Pulaski was a very different affair from the battle
of Port Royal. One was a naval, the other a military victory. At
Hilton Head the troops could not have landed anywhere except under the
protection of the navy; and after the reduction of the forts there
was no longer any enemy to oppose them. At Pulaski the troops took
possession of Tybee island, which the rebel commander had neglected
or thought it unnecessary to protect, and planted their batteries on
the only ground from which the fort could be attacked. Some valuable
assistance was rendered by the gunboats in patrolling the neighboring
sounds and inlets, but the main part of the work throughout was that of
the artillerist and engineer.

I do not know why the enemy failed to interrupt this work by shelling
the narrow strip of land, more than a mile in length, over which all
the material for the batteries had to be transported. They must have
known that something of this kind was the sole purpose for which our
forces had occupied Tybee island; and their elaborate preparations for
defense inside the fort showed that they were fully aware from what
direction the attack would come. Perhaps after the fort was invested
from above, they wished to economize their ammunition for the final
struggle. Still one would think that a few shells expended while the
batteries were in progress would be of more service than an equal
number after their completion.

But perhaps the enemy were not very well acquainted with Tybee island,
and supposed that our troops could reach the front by some other route
than the one they were really compelled to follow. Notwithstanding the
proximity of the island, it is possible that the rebel commander did
not know its important features for military operations. In General
Barnard's Report on the Defences of Washington in 1861, it appears that
at that time the engineer corps of the regular army had no accurate
surveys of the region south of the Potomac river opposite the national
capital; so that the proper location for a number of the defensive
works could not be fixed upon until after our troops were in possession
of the ground. He even says that many of our engineer officers were
more familiar with the military topography of the neighborhood of Paris
than with that surrounding the city of Washington. If the defenders of
Fort Pulaski in 1862 were equally ignorant of Tybee island, it might
account for their apparent inactivity during the siege operations.

Captain Gillmore did not rest satisfied with the reduction of Fort
Pulaski. He made it the means of further information in gunnery and
military engineering. His records showed the number of shots fired from
each gun and mortar during the bombardment, the percentage of those
which were effective or failed to reach the mark, and the depth of
penetration of the different kinds of projectiles in the walls of the
fort; and he compared the results with those given by the best military
authorities. It was the first time that rifled cannon had been used
in actual warfare against masonry walls; and he found that they could
do more execution at longer range and with less weight of metal, than
any of the older forms of artillery. He showed that, with such guns,
walls of solid brickwork, over seven feet thick, could be breached at
the distance of nearly one mile; more than twice as far as it had ever
before been thought practicable. Had it not been for his confident and
steady persistence in this design, it is likely that the occupation of
Tybee island would have been a useless enterprise.

After the fall of Fort Pulaski the troops on Daufuskie island were
released for other duty. General Viele was ordered north, and became
the military governor of Norfolk on its recapture from the enemy early
in May. Before the end of that month, I was again at Hilton Head,
acting as medical director for the troops at that point.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Here the manuscript ends, unfinished.]

_After Surgeon Dalton's service with the Seventh Regiment of Infantry
of The National Guard of the State of New York, he was commissioned
by President Lincoln, August 3, 1861, Brigade Surgeon of Volunteers
(afterwards Surgeon United States Volunteers); served as Surgeon
in Chief to General Viele's command in South Carolina; as Medical
Inspector of the Department of the South; and as Chief Medical officer
on Morris Island, South Carolina._

_His health became seriously impaired by his long continued service in
the malarial regions of the South, so as to incapacitate him for duty,
and he consequently resigned from the Army, March 5, 1864._

_As soon as his health, never fully restored, permitted, he resumed
his work as Professor of Physiology at the College of Physicians and
Surgeons of New York; resigned in 1883; was elected President of the
College in 1884, and so continued until his death, which occurred in
New York, February 12, 1889, at the age of sixty-four years and ten



  _As shown by the records on file in the Office of the Surgeon General
    U. S. Army, War Department, Washington, D. C._

August 3, 1861:

    Appointed Brigade Surgeon of Volunteers from New York.

September 22, 1861:

    Reports from New York as awaiting orders.

September 23, 1861:

    Assigned to General McClellan's command, Headquarters Army of
      Potomac, S. O. 257, A. G. O. September 23, 1861.

September 30, 1861:

    Reports awaiting further orders. [Had asked to be assigned to
      General Viele's command.]

October 8, 1861:

    Reported at Headquarters, General Viele's Brigade, Sherman's
      Division, Annapolis, Md., by orders from A. G. O. to November,

December 31, 1861:

    Is reported at Hilton Head, S. C., with General Viele's command.

January 31, 1862:

    Is reported sick at Washington, D. C.

February to June, 1862:

    On duty at Daufuskie, S. C., and in South Carolina with Viele's

July 2, 1862:

    Transferred from Brigade Surgeon to Surgeon U. S. Vols.

July to August, 1862:

    Acting Medical Director at Hilton Head, S. C.

September 8, 1862:

    To report to Medical Director in New York. S. O. 228, War
      Department, September 8, 1862.

September 20, 1862:

    Reports from Boston, Mass., as being on sick leave of absence.

September 30, 1862:

    Still sick at Boston, Mass.

October 18, 1862:

    Reports to Medical Director at New York city, and is assigned to
      duty as Medical Director of Transportation to August, 1863.

August 26, 1863:

    Ordered to report to the Department of the South by direction of
      the Medical Director Department of the East, New York, August 26,

September 8, 1863:

    Reports from Morris Island, S. C., that he has reported to Medical
      Director of the Department of the South.

September 15, 1863:

    Medical Director C. McDougall, Department of the East, requests
      that Surgeon Dalton be returned to that Department as soon as the
      public interest will permit.

September 30, 1863:

    Dr. Dalton reports from Morris Island, S. C., as Chief Medical

October 10, 1863:

    Reports that he has been relieved from duty in the Department of
      the South and ordered to report to Medical Director Department of
      the East at New York.

October 15, 1863:

    Reports at New York city.

October 24, 1863:

    Forwards copy of order relieving him from duty in the Department
      of the South and ordering him to report at New York city. [S. O.
      558, dated Department of the South, Headquarters in Field, Folly
      Island, S. C., 10th October, 1863.]

October 31, 1863:

    Reports that he is stationed at New York city and assigned to duty
      as Medical Attendant on Volunteer Officers, and Medical Director
      of Transportation.

November 30, 1863:

    Same as above.

December 31, 1863:


January 31, 1864:

    Reports on duty at New York as Examining Surgeon of Recruits, and
      Medical Director of Transportation.

February 29, 1864:

    Same as above.

March 7, 1864:

    Resignation accepted by the President; to take effect March 5, 1864.

  Transcriber's Notes:
  Page 20
    regimeet would have carried _changed to_
    regiment would have carried
  Page 62
    reconnaisance to the north _changed to_
    reconnaissance to the north
  Page 70
    and their decendants _changed to_
    and their descendants
  Page 73
    arrivals, reconnoisances, or projected _changed to_
    arrivals, reconnoissances, or projected
  Page 75
    after a short reconnoisance _changed to_
    after a short reconnoissance
  Page 82
    must be night reconnoisances _changed to_
    must be night reconnoissances
  Page 104
    On duty at Dawfuskie _changed to_
    On duty at Daufuskie
  Page 104
    with Veile's command _changed to_
    with Viele's command

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "John Call Dalton, M.D., U.S.V." ***

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