General Federation of Women's Clubs. Biennial Conv.

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THE AUTHOR.



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On the Parallels



or



Chapters of Inner History

A Storv of the Rappahannock

Bv Benjamin Bprton



Country's broke the boundary line,

Steady now, believers 1
North and South we're feelin' flne„

Steady now, believers !



One flag's flyin' where we roamv

Steady now, believers!
North and South we're all at hornet

Steady now, believers:

*****

— Atlanta: Cbnrtlt'uttoir.



1933:

MONITOR-REGISTER PRINT"
WOOD8TOWN, N. J.



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PUBLIC Li. ■ A

574761

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Copyrighted by Benjamin Eorton.
1903.



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55



TO ALL THOSE WHO DIED

AND THOSE WHO SUFFERED

FROM THE EFFECTS OF THE GREAT CIVIL WAR

THIS STORY IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED

BY THE AUTHOR.



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A NOTE TO THE READER.

A FEW years previous to the preparation of
this story, the writer published for local
circulation a narrative of his recollections
while serving a brief time in the Union army.

Encouraged by the good words spoken by
the readers of that work, the idea of a revised
and enlarged edition with some new features
added resulted, after many months of leisure-
hour study and patient labor, in the production
of tB^ present volume, and as it is the last pub-
lication the author will ever offer to the reading
public, his hope is that all defects in its com-
position and preparation will be charitably
overlooked by the literary critic.

To make these new chapters of serious history
readable without deflecting from the truth, and
that a careful perusal of them will tend in some
degree to re-unite more closely and make
stronger the bonds of brotherhood between the
participants and their kindred of that long
fratricidal strife, is the writer's sincere and
fervent hope. B. B.



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CHAPTER I.

A PROPHECY, AND WHAT FOLLOWED.

THE nearer one can get in touch with the
participants or witnesses to important
events of years long gone by, all the more fasci-
nating and impressive are the stories of their
varied experiences.

The author of this narrative once listened to
an account of a lecture by an aged relative he
remembered hearing delivered by an old French
officer, who had followed Napoleon into Russia
in the year 1812, and was present at the burn-
ing of Moscow and witnessed the terrible scene
at the crossing of the Berisina in the subse-
quent disastrous retreat of the French army.
That word picture made a most lasting impres-
sion upon my memory.

If the personal recollections of all the actors
in the great Civil War could be placed on



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10 ON THE PARALLELS.

record, no two of them would be precisely
alike.

No sooner had many of the volunteers
reached the seat of war, when they fell sick
and died, or were sent back to the hospitals,
where, by reason of permanent disability, they
were discharged from the service. Some were
so desperately wounded in their first battle,
that they never rejoined their regiment. The
more fortunate soldiers who escaped the dan-
gers of scores of battles and skirmishes, and
endured the hardships and privations of active
campaigning from the commencement to the
close of the conflict, saw more than those who
stayed in the field but a short period.

The author's experience in military life was
very brief; consequently, he saw compara-
tively little to relate, but that little is given to
all who will take the time to peruse these
pages.

Since the close of the war between the
States, acquaintances have been made, and
warm friendships formed between the Blue



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ON THE PARALLELS. 11

and the Gray and their kindred, which will
endure as long as life shall last. In my inter-
views and correspondence with those who wore
the gray, I have found them to be just what a
Northern writer declares they are, "A warm-
hearted, impulsive people are those South-
erners."

So, therefore, to render my plain narrative
more entertaining, I have sought to weave
into the recital of my own personal recollec-
tions some reminiscences of those who were
my opponents in the two great engagements
it befell my lot to witness between the oppos-
ing armies, while confronting each other on
the banks of the Rappahannock.

Willingly, cheerfully, from their own lips
and pens were my requests for information
granted, for which valued favors sincere thanks
are hereby tendered, and here begins my story.



Before a political assembly at Bloom ington,
in the State of Illinois, on May 29, 1856, in



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12 ON THE PARALLELS.

what is known as "Lincoln's Lost Speech,"
are these words :

"We are in a trying time. It ranges above
mere party, and this movement to call a halt
and turn our steps backward needs all the
help and good counsels it can get ; for unless
popular opinion makes itself strongly felt and
a change is made in our present course, blood
will flow and brother's hand will be raised
against brother."

In less than five years after the utterance of
that prediction the alarm of war was sounded.
Military companies were organized in every
city, town and rural hamlet in the North and
South ; thousands and tens of thousands of
sturdy men and well grown youth turned out
for drill practice to prepare themselves for the
impending conflict. Speeches at public mass
meetings added fuel to the fiery war spirit and
patriotic enthusiasm knew no bounds. Into
late hours of the night squads paraded the
streets, keeping step to the beat of drum at the
head of the line. In our mental ear the sound



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ON THE PARALLELS. 13

of that drum is ringing yet. Drum, drum,
der-um, drum, drum. We hurry to the front
door to see the men march by, cheering lustily
as they go. Long after they are lost to view,
growing fainter and fainter in the distance, is
heard that measured beat : Drum, drum, der-
um drum, drum.

The blow was struck. Brother's hand was
raised against brother, and when the enlisted
volunteers had deserted the village streets, and
commenced their march to the front, then it
was that the nation began to realize the terrible
fact that blood would indeed soon flow; but
little realizing at the beginning of the struggle
that, in magnitude, fierceness and appalling
loss of life, it would exceed all wars known to
the most learned historians.

So many years have elapsed since the close
of that long and sanguinary conflict, that the
yet surviving participants can hardly reconcile
themselves to the fact that the generation of
full-grown, able-bodied young men of to-day
have not only no personal recollection of those



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14 ON THE PARALLELS.

stirring times, but were then unborn. The pages
of popular history contain graphic accounts of
all the important events connected therewith,
but the histories within a history — I mean the
individual experiences of all the actors, and
sorrows of those who suffered thereby — the
world will never know. These personal experi-
ences, some long, some short, extended through
a space of years, beginning from the time of
the President's first call for seventy-five thous-
and volunteers after the surrender of Fort Sum-
ter, until the last battle had been fought and
every soldier had left the field, turned in his
gun and gone home,

There to tell and tell again

The story he oft has told ,
Of the field and camp and marching men,

Through the years while growing old.

To the rising generation in this, the early
dawn of the twentieth century, these stories of
a war so long before seem to sound more like
fairy tales than narratives of truth. But the
most glorious truth of all to place on record is



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ON THE PARALLELS. 15

the permanent restoration of peace between the
North and the South, and the men who were
once foemen now mingle together in universal
brotherhood.

Commenting upon the author's story as first
written, Mr. R. D. Haislet, then editor of the
Staunton, Virginia, u Daily News," wrote thus :
"The perusal of this volume convinces us that
more and more, as those terrible days recede
into the dim past, the passions that were then
at play will have lost their fire, and it will be
possible and practicable for both sides to accept
a history of times that will do justice to the
motives and achievements of both, and that
each side will prefer to have the exact facts
told to coming generations. Sensible men
know there is no sense and no justice in having
a peculiarly Northern history or a peculiarly
Southern history. What we want is a history
— one with the stamp of the everlasting truth
on it. Such is being gradually evolved, both
North and South ; two parallel straight lines,
that will meet at infinitv and be so near alike



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16 ON THE PARALLELS.

that it will be a matter of indifference which
line you follow to get to the meeting point."
Dear reader, to the construction of one of
these parallel lines the writer of these pages,
who marched in the rear rank of one of the
regiments sent to the front, contributes in a
plain way his little share. It is only a frag-
ment of that inner history which no penman
w T ill ever be able to complete. -



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ON THE PARALLELS. 17



CHAPTER II.
LEAVING HOME — FIRST LESSON IN WAR.

AT the close of a cloudy October day in the
fall of 1861, I saw the Ninth Regiment,
New Jersey Volunteers, march off a steamer at
Washington street wharf in Philadelphia, on
its way to the seat of war. Being the first
military organization I had ever seen in my
life, the scene to me was one of exciting curi-
osity. The regiment numbered eleven hundred
and fifty-nine men, all hardy-looking fellows,
too, capable of performing arduous duties. But
a great many of the volunteers at that period
of the Rebellion regarded the deadly work
before them to be little more than a grand
military picnic. By formidable numbers they
anticipated enjoying the pleasure of seeing the
Rebels awed into submission ; then, that accom-
plished, begin their homeward march.



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18 ON THE PARALLELS.

In reply to a question I put to a tall, hand-
some-looking soldier guarding one of the army
wagons on the wharf, in a tone of perfect
assurance, he said : "I expect to eat my next
Christmas dinner jat home."

Christmas came ; winter passed, then spring,
then summer, and still the war continued. I
have often since wondered whether that too-
hopeful guard ever returned home to partake
of his coveted Christmas dinner.

One summer afternoon, while standing at
the foot of Market street in the same city, I
noticed a couple of soldiers coming dpwn to the
ferry. Before crossing Delaware avenue they
halted at the corner, leaned their muskets
against the building, flung off their knapsacks
and sat down for a brief rest. Their browned
faces and soiled uniforms showed they were
from the front, and I watched them with unusual
interest.

u Jim, got any more of that tobacco about
you?" asked one of the other.



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ON THE PARALLELS. 19

"Yes, help yourself," answered his com-
panion as he handed out a huge plug of the
weed.

" Jim, that's tip-top stuff, I tell you. Where
did you get it?"

"From the pocket of that dead man at Mal-
vern Hill," answered Jim.

The clang of the steamboat-bell stopped
further conversation, and, as the two men
hurried across the avenue and disappeared from
view in the ferry house, in fancy I looked far
away southward — somewhere — upon their un-
fortunate comrade lying dead at Malvern Hill.

The Union army having sustained severe
losses in the u Seven Days" battle at Malvern
Hill under General McClellan, President Lin-
coln issued a call for three hundred thousand
more volunteers. The war had then been
going on over a year. I was not twenty-one
years of age, but resolved to enlist and take a
hand in the contest for the preservation of the
Union.



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20 ON THE PARALLELS.

So bidding loved ones good-bye, I set out
for the nearest recruiting station, some twelve
miles or more from home. On the way I joined
company with a young man traveling to the
same town for the same purpose — to enlist
Our conversation, of course, was upon the
object of our journey, and I never forgot the
remark my friend made on the way.

" Ben," he said, " I want to be a captain of a
company and help to garrison a fort where
there will be no fighting ; but I cannot get a
captain's commission until after I enlist."

We enlisted. But my companion's expecta-
tions were not realized, for he was kept in the
ranks and assigned to more active duty than
lounging in an isolated fort. Recruits came
in rapidly, and in a few days two hundred men
had signed their names to the muster-roll.

One pleasant August morning, in the sum-
mer of 1862, the two hundred volunteers for
the Union army formed in line, in front of the



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ON THE PARALLELS. 21

Court House in the busy city of Salem, New
Jersey. From there, under an escort of home
guards with a band of music, we marched down
Broadway to the steamboat landing, and on
board the Major Reybold. The wharf was
crowded with men, women and children, who
had followed us from the Court House to bid
the departing ones a last good-bye.

When the steamer moved away from the
landing the writer, silently and with somewhat
lonesome feelings, listened to the farewell
words and saw the handkerchiefs waving on
the receding shore, knowing that none of those
well-wishing salutes were for him, because to
every person on that crowded wharf, and to
every man on that crowded steamer save a
slight acquaintance with one of the volunteers,
he was an entire stranger. It is not at all un-
likely that many of the women, who saw their
husbands or lovers start away that beautiful
summer morning, retraced their steps home-
ward with tear-dimmed eyes and hearts sadden-
ed by a feeling that the husband or lover might



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22 ON THE PARALLELS.

never return, and to some those fears were real-
ized. The loved one lies buried somewhere in
the South among the many thousands marked
" Unknown."

On our way up the river another Company
of recruits was taken on board at Pennsgrove.
Reaching Philadelphia, we were transferred to
the steamer Edwin Forrest, which conveyed us
up to the grand camping-ground at Beverly, on
the Delaware, where, using stones and blocks
of wood for pillows, we spent our first night
from home on the bare floors of an abandoned
factory, and where for the first time we missed
the soft bed and comfortable surroundings of
the homes left behind us.

Ah, little does the inexperienced soldier feel
the serious responsibility he has assumed. No-
matter how strong his loyalty may be for the
cause he has volunteered to aid and defend, he
ponders not the fact that he has sacrificed every
enjoyable home comfort, as well as all the con-
genial associations round about it Nor is this
all. Under the authority of a strict military



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ON THE PARALLELS. 23

power, he is expected to obey uncomplainingly
and promptly every command of his superiors
in rank, and by his willingness to perform every
duty, whether arduous or dangerous, are his
qualifications as a true and faithful soldier esti-
mated. At the time of which I write, the en-
livening music of fife and drum, military dis-
play and desire for adventure, was taking young
men by scores and hundreds from their peaceful
homes in the North and South to the army
camps ; there drilled and trained for active war-
fare, then marched to the front to become, oh,
so many of them, food for powder or victims
to disease. But true to their principles, loyal
to the cause they had gone forth to aid, those
hardy volunteers in both armies fought long
and well ; four long years the most fortunate
ones endured the hardships and privations of
active campaigning, escaping the foeinen's fatal
bullet on many a strongly contested field.



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~ X THZ PARALLELS.

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^ tloon as it appeared
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•to^raph.



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24 ON THE PARALLELS.



CHAPTER III.

ON TO WASHINGTON — UNION REFRESHMENT

SALOON — ARRIVE AT THE CAPITAL —

IMPRESSIONS.

ON September 16th the regiment to which I
was attached, the Twenty-fourth New Jer-
sey Volunteers, having a full complement of
men — thirty-nine officers and nine hundred
and forty-six non-commissioned officers and
privates, nine hundred and eighty-five in all —
was regularly mustered into the United States
service in command of Colonel William B. Rob-
ertson. After thirty days of exciting camp life
at the Beverly rendezvous, known as Camp Cad-
wallader, where for a time three thousand troops
were quartered, our regiment was equipped with
Belgian rifles and other accoutrements and



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Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon as it appeared

in 1864 No trace of the building now remains.

From au old photograph.



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T^flll— ^l.L> ^ .- * - '



v' 'iGRK-

:S!:ARY



r NOX AND
J N CATIONS.



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ON THE PARALLELS. 27

ordered to Washington. Arriving at Philadel-
phia by steamer, we marched across the same
wharf where I looked on at the Ninth Regiment
ten months before. Stopping at the Union
Volunteer Refreshment Saloon at the foot of
Washington street, we all partook of a bounte-
ous dinner provided by the committee. This
refreshment saloon was the first of its kind in
the United States, having been organized May
27, 1 86 1. Hundreds of thousands of enlisted
men were entertained here on their way to and
from the seat of war. Here many a volunteer
spoke his last farewell to his loved ones and
friends who never saw his face again. Up to
August 28, 1865, the committee of the Associa-
tion reported having furnished meals to 665,000
passing troops and soldiers from camps and
hospitals near the city; 137,000 meals to refu-
gees, freedmen and Confederate deserters. As
returning troops were continually passing
through the city, the work was continued until
December 1st of that year, when there were no
more soldiers to be cared for. During those



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•28 ON THE PARALLELS.

three months 15,991 more men were fed, making
a grand total of 817,991. No traces of the .
former existence of either the Union or Cooper
Shop eating saloon now remain.

After enjoying our last home-made meal we
again formed in rank out in the street, ready to
resume our journey. Crowds of citizens had
collected to see the "new regiment," and until
^we started to march out Washington avenue
there was no little amount of boisterous merri-
ment, blended with a continual hum of voices
exchanging well wishes and tearful good-byes.
While standing in the ranks, a man in Company
C hired a boy to take his canteen to a nearby
saloon to have it filled with whiskey, and
•entrusted him with a five dollar bill to pay for
the same ; but to this day that soldier never
again beheld the same canteen nor the boy who
liad charge of his five dollar bill.

Crowding into a long train of freight cars
out at the depot, the regiment started south-
wards. Although thousands after thousands of
soldiers had passed aver the same road before .



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ON THE PARALLELS. 2*>

us, the citizens living along the route had not
become the least bit weary of manifesting their
loyalty to the Boys in Blue. From the win-
dows and front yards of farm houses, in the
streets of the towns through which we passed,,
the lookers-on, with handkerchiefs, flags and
hats, waved us a friendly good-bye, and now
and then a salutation from a crowd of watchers
would be answered by a volley of rousing cheers
from the merry soldiers on board the rapidly
speeding train. Their enthusiasm was great*
Some one in the car commences a war song,,
and a score of voices join in. It was a familiar
melody in every Northern camp. I have for-
gotten every word except the chorus :

<4 Oh, we belong to the zoo, zoo, zoos ;
Don 't you think we oughter ?
We're going down to Washing-town
To fight for Abraham's daughter."

When night obscured the landscape and only
the flickering lights in the country houses and
towns could be seen, our thoughts dropped into-


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