Henry F. W. Little.

The Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion online

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men of Company E, First S. C. (Confederate) Infantry.
The " Weehawken " got afloat about 4 p. m., and was but
slightly injured.

The boat attack by the land forces was made as contem-
plated, by the way of Vincent's Creek, and was under
command of Colonel Osborn, of the Twenty-fourth Mas-
sachusetts, and Maj. O. S. Sanford, of the Seventh Conn.
Volunteers. The troops detailed for this purpose were the
Twenty-fourth Massachusetts and the Tenth Conn. Vol-
unteers, and one hundred additional men tor oarsmen from
the Seventh Connecticut, One Hundred and Fourth Penn-
sylvania, and the Third N. H. Volunteers. The naval
continorent was under the command of Commander Thomas
H. Stevens, of the monitor " Patapsco,"' and consisted of
sailors and marines. The attack occurred shortly after
midnight, and was discovered by the garrison in Fort
Sumter in time to make the necessary preparations to repel
the assault, and the boats were compelled to retire with a
loss of about one fourth of the attacking force. It seems
that our signals had been read during the day by the Con-
federates, who in anticipation of the attack had run an
iron-clad, the " Chicora," down near Fort Sumter, under
cover of the darkness, which aided materially in driving
away the boats.

The Seventh was now engaged in picket duty and fa-
tigue duty at the north end of the island, sometimes at
Fort Wagner and sometimes at Fort Gregg. Our batter-
ies kept up a constant yet slow fire upon Sumter and the
batteries around the harbor, while the iron-clads engaged
Fort Moultrie and Battery Bee on Sullivan's Island, with
occasional shots at Sumter and the batteries on James
Island. September 17, we had one of the highest tides of
the season, occasioned by the heavy rain and storm of the


History of the Seventh Regiment

night before. Some of the camps were almost washed
out, and those nearest the beach at once constructed d3'kes
around their tents, in readiness for another storm.

September 13, which was Sunday, a large detail was
made from the regiment and sent up to the front under
command of Capt. G. P. Mason, of Compan}- B, to dig
out a road between Wagner and Gregg, that ammunition
micrht be hauled to Cumminffs Point without so much ex-
posure as was incurred by going up the beach. On the
20th, another detail was made for the purpose of complet-
ing the road. This detail was under command of Capt.


"NEW ironsides" AND MONITOR.

Joseph Freschl, of Compan}- I. At night when the moon
was at or near its full it was almost impossible to go up the
beach without being shelled by Fort Moultrie or Battery
Bee, and to overcome this ditficulty a road was dug
through the sand-hills back of the beach. The nights
were getting quite cool, but during the day ^^•e often suf-
fered with heat.

October 4, General Terry disbanded the sharpshooters,
and they were ordered to report to their respective com-
mands. On the night of the 5th, a rebel torpedo was
exploded against the " Ironsides," but the damage was



Brainard Cumminos,
Co. A.


George F. Corson,
Co. B.


Michael Cahile,
Co. B.


Zenas p. Alden,

Co. C.


Robert Miller,
Co. C.

/// // '/ \

H.\!M,^ < .'■!' .. I

\; . (7/4- J '

GiLLMOKi-: Medal.



Martin V. B. Perkins,
Co. F.


Samuel P. Sargent,
Co. F.


Franklin W. Randall,
Co. G.


Stephen H. Price,
Co. H.


Otis A. Merrill,
Co. H.


George Parker,
Co. D.


Clinton P. Wells,
Co. D.


Henry Kimball,
Co. E.


Robert A. Brown,
Co. E.

reverse side.


George Weaver,
Co. L


John H. Smith,
Co. L


Alonzo G. Dudley,
Co. K.


George Rainey,

Co. K.

New Hampshire Volunteers. 189

reported slight ; the commotion incident to this attack ex-
tended to the shore, and the troops were all put under
arms, the long roll calling them out about 10 p. m., and
after remaining in line until midnight they were dismissed,
and the rest of the night was without disturbance. Octo-
ber 10, a terrible accident occurred in Fort Wagner by the
premature explosion of about two hundred shells, which
resulted in killing and wounding six men. The real cause
of this accident has never been satisfactorily explained.
On the 26th, the new batteries being in readiness, firing
upon Fort Sumter and all other objective points was
resumed, and three shells were landed in the city. Forts
Wagner and Gregg now joined in the fight, and the navy
assisted in good earnest.

An order issued by General Gillmore, on the 28th, pro-
vided for medals to be given for gallant and meritorious
conduct during the operations before Charleston, to not
over three per cent of the aggregate strength of the various
regiments, companies, and detachments that had been in
action or on duty in the batteries or trenches. The candi-
dates for these honors to be nominated by their company
officers and sent through the usual military channels. The
whole list to be reviewed by a board selected for the
purpose, but the medals were not all given out until the
next summer. The same order announced the fbllowincr
changes in the names of the various forts captured or built
by us, in honor of the brave men who had fallen : Fort
Gregg to be Fort Putnam ; the new battery next on its
right to be Battery Chatfield ; Fort Wagner to be Fort
Strong ; the new battery at the south end of Morris Island
to be Fort Shaw ; the battery at Oyster Point to be Batter}^
Purviance ; the battery on the north end of Folly Island to
be Fort Green.

On the 8th of October, while a large detail from the
regiment was at Fort Gregg on fatigue duty, under com-
mand of Captain Cotton, of Company A, a shell from Fort


History of the Seventh Regiment

Moultrie exploded immediately over tiie tort, killing Corp.
William Shaw, of Company F. The writer of this was
on the detail, and very near the corporal when the piece
of shell struck him. He had covered, as he supposed, when
the lookout had called " cover, Moultrie," but a heavy
piece of shell found him.

On the 9th and loth, the regiment got both days in
camp, which was something unusual at this time, and on
the 17th, our diar}' savs Surgeon Brown arrived from New^
Hampshire, where he had been on sick-leave for thirty
da3's. The men in the regiment were very much pleased
to have the surgeon with us again for he was loved and
respected by the whole regiment.

New HaxMpshire Volunteers. 191

On the 29th, the regiment moved their camp, which oc-
cupied the greater part of two days, and once more we got
settled down under our canvas tents, and got our bunks
arranged and our cook-house in running order.

There were a few changes in the regiment during the
month of October among the commissioned officers.
Capt. Jerome B. House, of Compan}- C, died of wounds
in New Hampshire, October 25, which he received in
the second assault on Fort Wagner ; and First Lieut.
William C. Knowlton, of Company D, was promoted to
the captaincy of Company C, to date from October 26.
First Sergt. Samuel Webster, of Company F, was dis-
charged by order of the War Department, to accept a
commission as first lieutenant in the First N. H. Heav^y
Artillery. First Sergt. Ferdinand Davis, of Company C,
was promoted to be first lieutenant of Company D, to date
from October 27.

November 3, Colonel Abbott arrived from New Hamp-
shire, where he had been on leave of absence for thirty
days. On the 7th, a shell from our three-hundred-pounder
Parrott gun at Battery Chatfield struck an iron column in
Fort Sumter, causing a large pile of masonr}^ to give way,
and burying thirteen men in the ruins, all of whom lost
their lives.

On the 5th, Private James O'Brien, of Company C,
Third N. H. Volunteers, procured a large number of
canteens, which he fastened around his body under his
arms, and attempted to desert to the enemy ; but owing
to the peculiar manner in which they were fastened
about him they did not serve their purpose, and he was
drowned while trying to cross the creek between Morris
and James Islands ; his body was floated by the tide to
Block Island, where it lodged, and was found by members
of his own compan}-, who were at that time cutting wood
upon the island, and were temporarily quartered there for


History of the Seventh Regiment


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New Hampshire Volunteers.


a few days. The canteens were taken from his body and
broken open, and in one was found a very accurate plan
of our defenses, the location and number of our guns, and
gav^e the number and strength of the regiments upon
Morris Island. He was one of the substitutes who had
arrived with others in the month of October.

Our batteries at the north end of Morris Island were now
trained upon the City of Charleston, and the line of fire
was directed against the white spires of St. Michael's and
St. Philip's, and in the neighborhood of St. Finbar cathe-
dral, and by night the harbor was beautifully lighted by a
powerful calcium light, which gave us a splendid oppor-
tunity to direct our artillery fire with accuracy against
Forts Sumter and Moultrie, and other prominent objects in
the harbor. The fleet had already shelled and nearly des-
troyed the little village of Moultrieville, on Sullivan's
Island, in the immediate vicinity of Fort Moultrie.

On the i6th, the Seventh received a consignment of two
hundred and sixty-eight substitutes, which were about
evenly distributed among the different companies. Com-
pany D receiving tw-enty-four, and the other companies in
like proportion, and in our diary we find the entry, "A
tough looking crowd." The original men generally looked
with suspicion upon all substitutes and conscripts, but
above all the substitutes, and, as it was afterwards fully
demonstrated, a very few proved themselves to be of good
material, but a large majority were wholly worthless, as
one old grizzled veteran facetiously but irreverently re-
marked, " they were not worth the powder it would take
to blow them to h — 1." Their only aim or ambition seemed
to be to get out of the service as speedily as possible, but
the chances for escape from Morris Island, surrounded by
water as we were, proved so difiicult that only in one or
two instances was it ever attempted.


194 History of the Seventh Regiment

On the i8th, we commenced drilling the substitutes, in
order that they might be made effective for duty as soon
as possible. On the night of the 19th, an attempt was
made to surprise the garrison in Fort Sumter by an expe-
dition made up of the land and naval forces in boats, but
the garrison was apprised of the movement by the barking
of a dog belonging to one of the soldiers, as the advance
boats drew near, and the alarm being thus given and the
garrison found ready to receive them, the expedition was
ordered back.

On the 23d, by a Department Order, the brigade tbr-
mation on the island was wholly reorganized, and the
Seventh was assigned to the First Brigade, together with
the Third and Fourth New Hampshire, and the Ninth and
Eleventh Maine, all under command of Brig. Gen. Charles
G. Stevenson. The forces on Morris Island at this time
were composed of two brigades of white troops and one
brigade of colored troops.

November 26 was Thanksgiving Day away back in
New Hampshire, and the New Hampshire contingent serv-
ing upon Morris Island were allowed to celebrate the day
in such manner as was possible under the circumstances.
During the forenoon we were paid, and consequently, the
sutlers on the island furnished most of the Thanksgiving
suppers, which were principally on this occasion canned
chicken. At i o'clock p. m. we were formed in column
by division and listened to prayers by the chaplain.
Heaw firing was still kept up on Forts Sumter and Moul-
trie and on the City of Charleston ; the forces on the
island had been so much diminished in numbers that it
became necessary for the remaining regiments to go to the
front nearly every day, either on picket or fatigue duty.

On the 30th, the weather became quite cool, and the
ground froze slightly at night ; it was very uncomfortable
without a fire and the men began to devise means to heat

New Ha:mpshire Volunteers, 195

up their tents. In the tent which the writer occupied
with two others, an old sheet-iron mess kettle was made
to do duty as a stove, by tinming the mouth of the pail
down, and setting it on a sheet ot" iron ; we cut a small
round hole in the bottom of the kettle, which was now the
top of the stove, turning up a flange just large enough to
fit one of the oyster cans sold b}' sutlers, the funnel was
m.ade of numerous oyster cans put together sto\'epipe
fashion, and entering a chimney made bv fastening three
barrels together, making it somewhat higher than our
tent, and then cutting a damper hole in the kettle near the
ground we were read}' for a fire. We skirmished far
and near for everv little sliver and chip of wood and
every old barrel and cracker-box we could obtain ; with
this little contrivance we made ourselves ver}- comfortable
during the cold, chill}' weather which we now began to
experience occasionally at this season of the year. The
only difficulty we experienced with this heating apparatus
was the occasional melting of the solder on our oyster can
stovepipe whenever we chanced to heat the stove a little
too much : but our success was so well established in heat-
ing our tent that when, a little later, we left the island, an
officer of the Third New Hampshire made us an offer of
five dollars for our old mess kettle-— for it was very hard
to obtain one — but we could not think of parting with it,
and smuggled it in with the regimental baggage when we
broke camp, and that was the last we ever saw of our
heater ; but such losses were frequently met with during
our service.

We shall never forget the terrible stench arisingr from
dead bodies and fragments of bodies which the large shells
from our monitors, Parrott batteries, and heavy mortars
had unearthed from the trenches where the dead had been
buried up close to Fort Wagner. It was, indeed, terrible,
and, on that account alone, we never attached anv blame to

196 History of the Seventh Regiment

the Confederates for evacuating the earthwork, even
though they might possibly have held out another hour ;
just in rear of Wagner, on the north side, where most of
those of the rebel garrison who had been killed, were
buried amidst the low sand-hills, our shells had made sad
havoc among the graves.

At one time when the regiment was passing up the
beach toward Fort Wagner, where they were detailed to
do picket duty for the night, they discovered the skeleton
of a soldier which had been washed upon the beach by the
tide, and around the bones there was still clinging a por-
tion of the army blue clothing. The bones were gathered
up and reverently buried in the sand-dunes farther back
from the sea.

The Confederates continued shelling severely the fatigue
parties who were at work reconstructing the earthworks
and batteries at the north end of the island, and at times
the shelling was actually terrific, keeping ever}' one under
cover except the sentries who were stationed as lookouts at
convenient places for observation, and whose duty it was
to watch the batteries of the enemy, and if a puff of
smoke was seen to at once cry out "Cover, Bull of the
Woods," or "James Island," or " Moultrie," as the case
might be. So accustomed did the men get to such warn-
ings that they would at once seek the nearest cover with-
out looking to ascertain whether or not the lookout was
right or wron^, and the habit became so confirmed, that
at this day, more than thirty years after, quickly sing
out "Cover, Moultrie," in the presence of a soldier who
served during that memorable siege, and ten to one he will
strike for the nearest cover.

Amidst all these trials and dangers to which we were so
often exposed, there were many bright, sunny moments,
and many jovial characters, and as memory reverts to
those days, now so far away in the past, we cannot sup-

New Hampshire Volunteers. 197

press the smile that will force itself upon us. For once, we
shall never forget the difficulties which attended the efforts
of some of our comrades and " chums" who endeavored
to make an extra dollar in the beer business. We remem-
ber one day, a man in Company F, by some means ob-
tained an old vinegar barrel, and put in the ingredients
which were composed of Jamaica ginger, molasses, and
water — with about fourteen parts of water to one part of
everything else. The owner was seemingly careless
about the vent, and the decoction was going through the
process of fermentation, when all at once the old vinegar
barrel exploded, and the beer was a total loss ; the barrel
had the appearance of having been struck by one of the
fifteen-inch shells from a monitor. The men would manu-
facture the decoction and sell it to their comrades at five
cents per pint, measuring it out in the regulation coffee
dipper, sutler's checks being just as good as coin in pay-
ment thereof. We well remember Sergt. Lyman H.
Cheney, of Company D, was in the business, his tent
being next to the one occupied by the writer, and he kept
his barrel between his tent and the one we occupied, so
after we found he and his tent-mates were asleep, Corp.
James F. Tate, of our tent, — who, by the way, was one of
the best tent-mates we had while in the service, — would
go to the barrel, draw out a pailful, substituting the same
amount of water, which he poured in through the bung-
hole at each time, until at last it got so weak that clear
water was preferable, and the amount of his sales rap-
idly fell ofi'; he was unable to tell why his beer was so
poor and weak, as he made it according to the formula
used by others who were in the same business. Then
there was Musician Miner, of Company C, who was always
around camp when off duty, ^^'ith raisins and cigars, and
did quite a thriving business. We must not forget our
little tailor, William S. Roach, of Company E, always

19S History of the Seventh Regiment

known among the men as " Billy Roach, the Tailor." He
was one of the best of workmen, who would make a
large overgrown uniform fit splendidly, after cutting it
over, and he could do this the nicest of any man we ever
saw. He fitted up the unitbrms of many of our " non-
coms " so tastily and so nicely that the colonel gave them
the name of " rear rank ornaments." Then there was
Private William Ramsey, of Company G, whom every-
body in the regiment well knew, and it would be wholly
useless to attempt a description of him at this late day ;
even as we write his name we can seemingly hear his
hearty "Aye, me bovvld Amerikin," ringing in our ears.
He was always getting off some quaint expressions, a
good-natured yet odd character, who would always make
one smile. Company G had lots of fun with him, as did,
really, the whole regiment. x\gain, there was Charley
Rideout, of Company H, who at this time run a sort of
cider mill. We never knew his receipt nor saw his mill
work, but from dried apples and molasses purchased from
the commissary, and water trom the company well, we
knew he used to manufacture a pretty good article of
Jersey cider. It seems as though we could hear him now
selling his essence of weakness for a five-cent check.

Our rations at this time were ver}^ good and we had
issued to us onions, dried apple, molasses, flour, and fresh
beef, in addition to the hard bread, mess pork, and salt
beef, and the orders were strict that the fresh beef should
be boiled and not fried, but the men loved it fried much
the best, and many a time the cooks fried it, while the men
stood guard tor the approach of officers. Our cooks con-
verted much of the flour ration into hot doughnuts, which
were at this time quite a treat and highly appreciated, and
when we got a good cook into the cook-tent we kept him
there as long as possible. Sundays for breakfast we
nearly always had baked beans, when it was possible to

New Hampshire V'olunteers. 199

have them, baked in iron mess kettles in the ground,
and in no other way of cooking can they be made so pal-
atable. Comrades will all admit this, as it is a solid fact,
and almost every Sunday our diary chronicles "baked
beans for breakfast."

December i at Meridian, a salute of one hundred guns
was fired by our batteries in honor of glorious news from
the Army of the Cumberland, in Tennessee. On the 5th,
there was a grand review by Major-General Gillmore,
which included all the troops on the island. At about 2
o'clock p. M. the monitor " Weehawken " sunk at her an-
chorage. As nearly as could be ascertained the cause was
a removal of too much ammunition from the after part,
which let her down by the head without the fact being for
the moment perceived. As soon as it was noticed that she
had begun to settle, assistance was signaled for, but she
went down in about ten minutes after the danger was dis-
covered. The loss of lite by this most singular accident
was four officers and twenty men. About two feet of her
smoke-stack and her flag were visible above water. On
the morning of the 12th, a large detail from the regiment
came down from a tour of picket duty at Fort Wagner, and
encountered the highest tide we had ever seen on the
island, owing to heavy rains and strong winds which blew
a gale, driving the waves completely across the island in
two places — one a little north of the sand-hills, and the
other a little south of Wagner — and most of the men on the
picket detail got into the water all over in getting back to
camp, among whom was the writer ot this. Those ot the
regiment who had to come to camp that morning will
not be likely ever to forget their experience. There were
places where the island was completely under water, which
was half way to our shoulders, where it had been dry
walking the night before when we went up ; besides
this the weather was quite cool and we were a cold, shiver-
ing lot of half-drowned soldiers upon our arrival at camp.


History of the Seventh Regiment

New Hampshire Volunteers. 201

About 9.30 A. i\r. on the morning of December 11, a
magazine in Fort Sumter was blown up, the casuahies
being eleven killed and forty-one injured. Among the
killed was the Confederate Commissary Frost, who was in
the act of distributinix rations.

As soon as the sea had subsided so we could see the
beach we found it to be strewn with wreckage, composed
principally of the obstructions to navigation placed by the
rebels across the entrance to Charleston harbor, and now
released by the storm and driven upon our beach as a sort
of tell-tale evidence of what had been intended by the Con-
federates. The beaches along the whole length of Morris
and Folly Islands were thickly covered with all sorts of
stuff which was supposed to be parts of the rebel harbor
obstructions, which consisted in part of logs and timbers
linked together, and in some places there were found eight
or nine large logs, about twent}- feet long by one and one
half feet in diameter, fastened together by three huge iron
links that were eighteen inches long. One great mass of
stuff appeared to be a part of what was once a floating bat-
tery, and it was said to be a part of the floating battery
built at Charleston by the rebels, to operate against Fort
Sumter in 1861. Among other things in this mass of
wreckage we noticed a number of heavy iron rails, from
some railroad, which were twenty-two feet long, hooked or
linked together by the ends being turned.

On the 14th, Captain Chase, of Company D, arrived
from New Hampshire, where he had been on sick-leave
since July 23, and at once assumed command of his com-
pany : on the 15th, a few more substitutes and recruits
arrived for our regiment, including among them a former

Online LibraryHenry F. W. LittleThe Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion → online text (page 16 of 52)