made up the Union army.
tThis was another of J. E. B. Stuart's phenomenal attacks. It was a
part of the campaign which ended at Gettysburg. He actually came
within less than five miles of the District line. There were 125
wagons in the train, whose subsequent keeping, it is claimed, hindered
Stuart's progress and so contributed to Lee's defeat; really, then, a
blessing in disguise.
56 NINTH NEW YORK HEAVY AETILLERY.
their horns till some prisoners who were brought in later de-
clared they thought the sound came from a brigade aggrega-
tion. It was the colonel's idea that music might encourage
soldiers as well as charm the savage ear.
On the very first day of July, a part of Company C goes to
Battery Vermont, and later twenty-five men from each company
go daily to Fort Simmons for fatigue duty. Seemingly the
regiment was having an opportunity to turn over, at least once,
the soil of the entire District, with some of Maryland's besides.
It was in this month that Colonel Welling had some passages
at verbal arms with Colonel Morris, commanding the brigade.
Our colonel intimated that his men were having more than
their share of the digging to do, and that he would like to see
other organizations equally pressed. In such a contest, one
need not be told where the sympathies of his soldiers were.
In another bout with the colonel of the 7th, in a fort directly
under the latter's command. Colonel Welling saw one of his
men doing police duty wearing ball and chain. He at once
asked Colonel Morris why the man should be thus punished
without his own knowledge. Morris flew into a passion at
once and challenged ^^â– clling, saying, "Choose your weapons."
Our oflScer replied that all the weapons he wanted were those
that God had given liim. but a pugilistic encounter did not
appear to be to the older ofiicer's taste, and the two colonels
separated. Welling going back to his camp. While a fight
with the weapons furnished by nature might have been exciting.
and whose details might enliven these pages, we can not heli>
rejoicing that both men had good substrata of common sense.
Before sunset, the 9th Heavy man was released and sent back
to his own quarters.
Of course the warm weather warranted more out-of-doors
living and an accompanying change of fare. The boys who had
made griddle-cakes and pies in the winter now tried their
hands at custards and Dutch cheese, but even these did not
save some of them from the grip of nostalgia, or homesickness.
There are men living to-day who would have died as soldiers
had not their discharges been given, yet the most careful
diagnosis could discover nothing wrong with bodily functions.
Their troubles were of the head and heart, and Shakespeare
discovered that it was impossible to administer to minds dis-
eased. The homesick man had not much sympathy from his
FORT FOOTE. 57
comrades; lie may even have received their ridicule, but he
was not cured, and while other reasons may have been as-
sijrned for tlie discharge, the real one was an irresistible desire
to see the old home and the loved ones.
In the regular chapter of accidents, James Allen of Company
K unfortunately shoots himself on the 27th. and dies in just
one week, his wife arriving on the morning of his death. His
comrades paid the expenses incident to sending his body home
to the town of Galen, where, in the cemetery at Furguson's
Corners, it was laid away for the eternal sleep.
August arrives with its blistering heat, and still the routine
is little varied. On the Gth was observed the day of thanks-
giving, praise and prayer, proclaimed by the president in token
of the signal victories won at Vicksburg and Gettysburg. One
private who had a pass to Washington on this day remarked
on the closing of all places of business. He might just as well
have stayed in camp, so far as benefit from his trip was con-
cerned. On Sunday, however, he fared better, for then he went
into the country and dined with a citizen, who quite won his
heart through refusing to take pay for his hospitality. Many
firm friendships were established in this way.
The 13th Companies B and K exchanged places, B going to
Fort Gains and K to Fort Mansfield. The day before had been
promulgated the most important order for many a long month.
It was to the effect that Companies C, D, E and G, forming a
battalion, the 2d under the command of Lieutenant Colonel
Seward, should proceed to a point south of Washington, and
there construct a large fort. Accordingly at 5 A. M. on the
14th, accompanied by the regimental band, these companies
set forth, and from the wharf at the foot of D street took a
boat for Roller's Bluff, where a landing was made at about
CHAPTER V I IT.
For the ensuing nine months there is to be a pretty effectual
separation of the 2d Battalion from the other two. which re-
mained in their former quarters. In addition to Lieutenant
58 NINTH NEW YORK HEAVY ARTILLERY.
Colonel Seward the detachment is accompanied by Major Taft.
The site selected for the fortification is a very steep bluff 100
feet high, four miles from Alexandria, eight from Washington
and on the same side of the Potomac. It was to be the only
defense between Fort Washington and the District line. It
proved to be one of the very largest of the cordon of forts
which encircled the city. It was wholly outside of the District
and faced the mouth of Hunting creek, on whose south bank
was the nearest considerable neighbor, viz.. Fort Lyon. Alex-
andria became the base of supplies, whence also came a daily
mail and other necessities. Corporal E. W. Newberry of Com-
pany D, who had pulled many an oar on Great Sodus bay,
became the post's ferryman, and with his crew semi-daily he
rows to and fro for his comrades. The locality, though elevated,
was particularly malarial, so much so that by the neighboring
inhabitants it was called the grave-yard of Prince (Jeorge
county. Nor did it belie its name, as the long list of sick and
dead from tyjihoid fever and like diseases bore ample testimony.
Assistant Surgeon Dwight W. Chamberlain accompanied the
battalion, and by his care of the ailing won the regard of all.
Those who had served so extended an apprenticeship at dig-
ging in the northern part of the District were now to have an-
other and extended opportunity to develop their muscle and to
assist in rendering secure the most talked of city in America.
Apparently the new fort is of special interest to General J. G.
Barnard, who had in charge the laying out of the majority of
Washington's defenses, for on the 21st, just one week after
the arrival of our boys, he came down with no less distin-
guished guests than the president. Secretary Stanton, Generals
Heintzelman and Haskins.with many other oflBcers and citizens?.
If all that they saw was not in proper order, let us hope
that every defect received its proper ascription.
This is the season of peaches and melons. If the men of the
Ninth make long marches, by no means forced, all along the
Potomac shore of Maryland, it is not on topograjjliy bent, but
rather to afford a home market for the special products of
that favored locality. There is no diary of this period that
does not teem with records of luscious fruit and juicy melons,
the very recollection of which, to this day, makes the veteran's
mouth water. As offered for sale in the camp, everything is
surprisingly cheap. A haversack full of peaches costs but
FORT FOOTE. 59
twelve aud oue-half cents, and that receptacle would bold well
towards a peck. The weather is extremely warm, but this does
not delay the work, a large part of which is done upon the road
leading up from the river to the camp and fort. The hours of
toil are not made more agreeable by the stories that visitors
from Fort Simmons tell of the restful, quiet times they are
having there. Early in September, 150 men from the four
companies are working ten hours each day, but just how hard
some of them labor may be inferred from their taking a stint
on the Sth, which they complete before 10 A. M. Men are only
boys of a larger growth. About this time the malarial climate
began to get in its work, and by the 10th nearly or quite one-
half of the officers and men are on the sick list, among them
Major Taft. who is so badly off that even drums and bugles
are suppressed. As he convalesced ten days later, the major
was carried to a neighboring farm-house, thinking that he
might improve more rapidly there. On this very day, the 21st,
our lieutenant colonel is taken down, and ou the following day
his father, the secretary, comes and has him removed to Wash-
ington; so weak is the colonel he is borne from the camp to the
boat upon a stretcher. The hospital record for these
autumnal days is a sad one of sickness and death.
To unacclimated people the river's shore was often pestalen-
tial. In this year, 1S9S, when so much is said of suffering
soldiers in Cuba, it is not amiss to remember that equally
great affliction was had along this Potomac river in the years of
the Eebellion, and very little note was made of it, the death loss
in battle being so much more consjjicuous.* The funeral march
became the one most often heard. Just before Major Taft was
attacked, the camp was moved down the river, hoping thus to
find a healthier place. Meanwhile warlike preparations go for-
ward, and the earthworks slowly arise for the reception of
guns, and on the 25th their carriages begin to arrive. The 25th
gladdens many a heart, for on this day the major returns to
camp, though he has to ride back in an ambulance.
*Wliitelaw Reid, historian of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, says
that the 169th, which spent its 100 days at Fort Ethan Allen in 1864,
had 200 men in that time die or be permanently disabled through dis-
ease alone. More than fifty died. At the same time the 133d, an-
other 100-day regiment, stationed at Fort Powhatan, on the James,
had 300 men down with fever. If the public knew this at the time, it
has certainly forgotten it in the clamor over Cuban malaria.
60 NINTH NEW YORK HEAVY ARTILLERY.
October 1st is a memorable day, for then Secretary Seward
and friends appear and give the works their name, and those
who hear it are not disappointed, for that of Commodore
Foote,* the river hero of Forts Henry and Donelson, was al-
ready a cherished one in America. Sickness causing the ao-
sence of the field officei's, who had been helped from the camp,
Major Snyder came down on the 4th and took command. An
immense 200-pound Tarrott gun arrives on the 13th, and on
the 22d has its first trial, at which time Secretaries Chase and
Welles (of the Xavy), Generals Barnard and Augur with nu-
merous others came to witness the event.
The hospital is a very important part of the camp, and has
dimensions, 20x100 feet; none too large for the increasing num-
ber of sick. On the 31st no less than twenty-two men are
furloughed home, that they may vote in the November elec-
tions. Persimmons follow peaches, and those who know how
to wait for the ripening fruit till Jack Frost has touched them
find them a most enjoyable dainty, but the injudicious adven-
turer who. lured by their tempting yellow skin, tasted them
out of season, has ascribed any subsequent oral difBculties to
that early indiscretion.
While, November 3d, voters at home are recording their polit-
ical opinions, there is nothing more for soldiers to do than to
just express their feelings, whicli many of them do. One care-
ful observer says, "There are few Democrats in the army, or
if there are they are ashamed to own it." On the fith comes
the big fifteen-inch gun, which is rolled, not carried, to the fort.
The 11th marks the completion of barracks for Companies C
and G, and on the Ifith those companies with E move in. On
the 19th 1) followed. The 22d, Sunday, Sergeant Devoe of
Company G preached in the hospital. The 28th marked the
advent of stores for cook-house and barracks, though the
quantity is pronounced iusuflicient; more came later.
December 22d four Russian war vessels are noted moving up
the river. Winter settles down ui)ou the men, some of whom
reflect that they are not doing much for the war, "but some
one must stay here." The mess-house, 16x40 feet, is opened on
*Andrew Hull Foote, born in New Haven, Conn., September 12th,
1806, died in New York city June 26, 1863. Named for one naval hero,
served his apprenticeship under Porter, another, â€” what wonder that
he made his own name a proud one in his country's annals.
FORT FOOTE. 61
the 10th. Christmas, so lively and jolly at home, is dull enough
here for many, though some, haying made acquaintances
among the near-by citizens, find home sensation in calling,
eyen if there secesh notions abound, for youth ever rises supe-
rior to political and sectional feelings. Eomeo and Juliet were
from opposing houses. Then there were cases of fun and jollity
right in camp, since in Company D Captain Lyon ordered ten
gallons of oysters and twelve dollars' worth of poultry. Henry
Porter of ^lodus Point and J. J. Vickery of Lyons went out with
guns and dogs and secured a buck deer weighing 200 pounds,
all of wliich served to brighten the surroundings not a little.
January brings very little variety to the camp, though drill
of all kinds is kept up regularly with accompanying inspections
and dress-parades. In these quiet days and this secluded place,
the oflScers have an excellent opportunity to study regulations
and tactics, which some of them conscientiously seize. Mean-
while the weather becomes very cold, and the Potomac freezes
so hard that, on the 8th, the boat makes landings on the ice.
The next day. men cross the river on the ice to Alexandria.
Cleanliness is maintained, and in spite of the weather the bar-
racks are regularly scrubbed and kept in the best of order.
Those who can obtain permission to visit Forts Simmons, Reno
and other old stamping-grounds, just for the maintenance of
friendly relations and the return of courtesies, for the officers
and men from those parts as often as possible came down to
Though as good as the average soldiers, all of the Ninth's
men were not angels and court-martials were not unknown,
though it would puzzle some, after this lapse of years, to tell
what they were all about. However important then, they have
been forgotten in the hurry of later living. The ice reign con-
tinues in the river and boats have to break their way through.
Officers are responsible for the care of company funds aris-
ing from the use of government appropriations for rations.
Instead of dealing out to each man his portion, all combine
and live in common, thereby saving so much that luxuries
otherwise impossible are obtained, and, besides, the individual
is spared the necessity of preparing his own food, certain ones
from each company being quite willing to serve in the capacity
62 NINTH NEW YORK HEAVY ARTILLERY.
of cooks for all. Whatever there might be over and above the
cost of rations could be applied to the purchasing of better
equipment for the mess-tables. A strict accounting was re-
quired from the officer in charge, and while no scandal ever
arose in our regiment there were those, during the war, whose
officers had no end of trouble in making clear their relations
to the respective funds.
Captain William Wood made out on the 16th no less than
ten discharge papers, for disability incident to the situation
is great. Fever germs still linger, and there are few men at
the post, notwithstanding the cold weather, who do not use
a deal of quinine. To crown all these disadvantages, on the
19th of January Post Adjutant Eedgraves is taken down with
the small-pox. But there are diversions for those who call
themselves well, and catching rabbits in the snow is great fun
for the boys; the feelings of the victims are not recorded.
February 1st was made noteworthy in Company D by the
change from tin dishes to earthenware, all through the hus-
banding of the company fund. The other companies were
likewise equipped, then or later. As Chaplain Mudge had re-
mained with the larger part of the regiment, preaching was
had on Sunday by different men, the Christian Commission
occasionally sending a minister. There are some indications of
home life, for several officers and men have their better-halves
with them, and calls on St. Valentine's day are on record.
On the 17th there is ice three inches thick on the river. Wash-
ington's birthday marks the taking command of Company D by
Captain Bacon, Captain Lyon having resigned. The latter de-
parted fur home on the 27th, and in going away made a good
speech, which the boys cheered to the echo.
The great Rodman gun is still a curiosity, and has to have a
drill of its own. The 27th two shots were fired from the 2t)0-
pound Parrott and three from the 15-inch Rodman, solid globes
of iron weighing 4.33 pounds. Crowds of visitors beheld the trial.
To take the places of the many discharged and to bring the
companies up to the maximum limit, numerous recruits come
in during these weeks, occasionally to be stigmatized as "small
boys" by those longer in the service; some even say, "No good."
Time will tell whether such judgment is right or not. Lieuten-
ant Colonel Seward returned to his duties on the 19th, and
his hand is soon evident in everv direction. His illness had in
FORT FOOTE. C3
no way impaired his vigor. On tlie 29th, Leap year's day, the
battalion was mustered for four montlis' pay.
Another Mardi is not witliout tlie expected characteristics
of the month. The biggest snow-storm of the season came on
the 23d, and New York boys were reminded of their own Lalie
Ontario region. In addition to the regular physical ills of this
locality there came an epidemic of sore throats. The 18th ot
March brings forty-two recrnits to Company G. Secretary Sew-
ard does not forget his boy, and frequently drops down the river
to see him and the hitter's men. On the 13th he came with cer-
tain foreigners as guests, possibly Prussians. In his honor the
big flag was hung out, but the strong wind with so much sail
was too much for the staff, and it broke above the upper splice.
Then the soldier carpenters had to repair it. which they were
abundantly able to do as well as to build docks at the river's
edge, and to make anything that ws needed. Officers main-
tain an evening class to perfect themselves in military knowl-
edge. The iJ4th a target was set up across the river, the dis-
tance having been ascertained by computation, for the Ninth
was ready for any sort of exaction.
As it has ever done, whiskey gets men into trouble, and the
army was a particularly fine field for evidencing its power.
One of the battalion, noted for his love of the intoxicating cup,
gets drunk, makes a raid into the neighboring country, and
winds up his carouse with a musket ball in his leg, sent there
by an irate countryman, whom he had most grievously offended.
This same soldier was noted for his range of trii-ks and pranks;
he was the man who once smuggled a quantity of liquor out
of Alexandria by putting his flasks in a child's coffin and then
with a sad face, such as a bereaved father might be expected
to wear, he bore his spirits, by no means departed, across the
river and into camp. The closing incident of the month was
the adventure of a Company E drummer, who rowed a boat to
a low island in the river, and leaving it unfastened, with the
rising tide it floated off; and he on account of the same tide
had to spend the night in a tree, an experience he never forgot,
though he had an unexampled opportunity to reflect on the
Darwinian theory which ascribes to early humanity traits that
were decidedly arboreal.
The following is a fair presentation of daily routine, the
same being from notes made at the time:
64 NINTH NEW YORK HEAVY ARTILLERY.
Reveille at day break.
Breakfast at 7 o'clock.
Fatigue from 7.30 to 11.30.
Dinner at 12 M.
Fatigue from 1 to 5 1'. M.
Supper at 6 o'clock.
For tbose who were not laboring there was drill from 2 to 4
P. M. In the evening, there were whist or other diversions
till 9 o'clock; then came taps, and sleep till the next reveille
called to wakefulness and work. With plenty of quinine to
keep off the chills, there was no trouble as to appetite.
April, the month of budding hopes, finds the battalion still
preparing. On the first, or All Fools' day, a large party comes
down from Washington to witness the workings of the big
guns. The great Rodman is fired at 25 degrees elevation, three
miles' range. On the 6th comes the first skirmish drill here,
of which there is afterwards frequent recurrence. Scarcely
a day without some additions to the ranks by way of recruits.
The 17th, Sunday, Episcopal service is conducted by an army
chaplain, not ours.
The event of the month was the presentation, on the 23d, of
an elegant sword costing $350 to Lieutenant Colonel Seward.
This amount was raised by his fellow soldiers, and was made
an inspiring occasion by the presence of many friends, includ-
ing ladies from Washington, the regimental band, etc. In the
presence of the battalion. Captain William Wood of Company
G spoke eloquently as follows:
"In this time of peril, of suspense, and of doubt, when the
shifting fortunes of war, and the stern duties upon every citi-
zen in consequence, render it uncertain whether those who, as
comrades in battle stand shoulder to shoulder in the defense
of their country to-day, may not, by the relentless decree of
fate or the imperative necessity of their country's good, be
separated to-morrow, to meet again, never; if it is fit for them
to give expression to their affectionate regard, especially is it
fit for soldiers to give expression to their devotion to their
commander; and that which in the quiet times of peace would
be a tame and meaningless ceremony is big with interest and
earnest feeling. Colonel Seward, reluctantly, because con-
scious of my inability to perform in a befitting manner the com-
plimentary office assigned me, I appear, in behalf of the 2d
FORT FOOTE. 65
Battalion, to say to you that the oflBcers and men, that every
officer, and every man, now or recently connected with it, un-
less so recently attached as to have been deprived of the privi-
lege, have an interest in making the request of you, that you
will accept this steel from donors who are happy and proud
to bestow it, as a memorial of their high appreciation of your
impartial justice, their confidence in your unflinching courage
and their admiration of your exalted leadership. Take it, and
join with them as they know you do in reverential trust that
the Omnipotent Disposer of all things will give success to our
tinance, and success to our arms. Take it and join with them,
as they are sure you do, in the firm and fixed resolve that the
stars and stripes shall never permanently cease to float over
one inch of territory where it ever waved. Take it and be
assured that with it^ you have, without dissimulation, the
hearts ever true of the officers and men of the 2d Battalion.
It is from zealo.us and willing men to their energetic and effi-
To these words Colonel Seward made fitting response, touch-
ing feelingly on the cordial relations so long existing among
them, and all felt that the da^' was a precursor of one when
the regiment might reverse the Scriptural sentence and so
transform their picks, shovels and other instruments of hus-
bandry into those of war.
The next day drill was resumed as usual, and one man
records four roll-calls. Obviously, no man guilty or otherwise
was to be allowed to escape. In firing a 200-pound Parrott the
26th. a shell exploded at the muzzle of the gun. Luckily no
one was hurt. The month ends with a large party of men
building a road through some neighboring woods.
May is to end the stay of the battalion in Fort Foote, a place
in which its members had been so long that some of them
actually began to refer to it as home. Coming events were
making themselves felt, if not by forecasted shadows, at any
rate in more drill in the extensive assortment that was dealt
out to all heavy artillery regiments. May 7th Companies E
and C left for forts across the Eastern Branch, a long way
around by water, but only a little distance had there been
means of communication by land. Extensive preparations are
making in all the companies for an active campaign. Extra
clothing is packed for storage, or is sent home. On the 10th D
66 NINTH NEW YORK HEAVY ARTILLERY.
and G take their departure, going direct to Alexandria. The