Henry F. W. Little.

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

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musician of Company D, who had been discharged at
Fort Jefferson, Fla., and had again enlisted as a drummer
in his old compan}-, and who later on was mustered-out
again, but in quite a different way.



202 History of the Seventh Regiment

On the 17th, the regiment was ordered on grand guard,
and after guard mounting at 2,30 p. m., we were drawn up
in line with all the other troops on the island to witness
the execution of a substitute, Private John Kendall by
name, of Company G, Third N. H. Volunteers, who was
to be shot to death for the crime of desertion. It seems he
had endeavored to desert to the enemy on James Island,
but lacking in a geographical knowledge of the country
he was intercepted in the creek near Pa3'ne"s Dock, by
our picket boats and captured. After being taken to the
provost guard tent on Morris Island, he was recognized
b}^ members of his own company, although he attempted
to pass as a rebel deserter. He was promptly tried by a
general court martial, and was sentenced to be shot to
death. This sentence was approved by General Gillmore,
who in General Orders, No. 11 1, December 14, directed
that he be shot within forty-eight hours after the order had
been received by General Terry, who commanded the
forces on Morris Island. This being the first execution of
this kind the Seventh had seen, it has without doubt been
vividly remembered by the men who witnessed it, as at
that time it created no little sensation.

The troops were drawn up in line, forming three sides
of a hollow square, the open side of the square facing the
ocean. It was about 2.30 in the afternoon, and the tide
was at ebb, consequently the beach was very wide and
roomy. Through this square was brought the prisoner in
an army ambulance, reclining upon his coffin, which was
a plain pine box stained red. He was drumming on the
coffin seemingly unconcerned as he kept time to the dead
march, and was chewing tobacco in an apparently careless
manner. The ambulance was preceded by an armed pla-
toon of provost guards headed by the provost marshal, and
was followed by two firing parties and the chaplain of his
regiment. The men detailed for the firing parties were



New Haisipshire Volunteers. 203

from the provost guards, who were all from the Third
N. H. Volunteers, which was at that time on provost duty.
Arriving near the centre of the open side of the square
next the ocean, the coffin was placed upon the beach, and
the prisoner was made to dismount from the ambulance,
take ot^' his coat — which revealed a white shirt with
a large black ring marked over the heart as a target for
the detail to tire at — then blindfolded, and made to kneel
upon his coffin with his back to the sea, the first firing party
taking position a short distance in front of and facing him,
and taking the position of aim. The provost marshal,
a short distance on the right of the prisoner, then read the
finding and sentence of the court martial, at the close of
which the marshal let drop a white handkerchief, as a sig-
nal to fire. The volley was fired, the prisoner toppled
over, and the bullets went singing on over the incoming
waves. He assumed the air of a bravado from first to last
and seemed to feel proud to think he could show how
gamey he could die.

At this ti^e we experienced another heavy gale, and it
was reported that six men of the navy lost their lives by
the upsetting of boats. This storm was very cold and dis-
agreeable, and until it passed away w^e were very uncom-
fortable.

Firing was still continued at intervals, and was occa-
sionally replied to by the rebel batteries. Our batteries
now commanded enough of the harbor to prevent blockade-
running, for the main channels were in our possession, but
owing to the obstructions the fleet was prevented from
moving up to the city, and the land forces could now ac-
complish nothing without its aid ; therefore it was found
expedient to hold what we already occupied, and in the
meantime organize a couple of expeditions, one to operate
in the rear of Charleston and to approach by way of Poco-
taligo Bridge, and another up the St. John's River to



204



History of the Se\'enth Regiment




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New Hampshire Volunteers. 205

Jacksonville, Fla., and up through that state toward Lake
City and Tallahassee, while others of the troops not then
needed, were sent to Virginia, and the siege of Charles-
ton had practically ended until Sherman's march to the
sea, and up through the Carolinas, when the city fell into
the hands of the Union forces.

December 19, we learned that the regiment had been
ordered to St. Helena Island, S. C, which seemed rather
severe, for we had just got cosily settled down for the
winter ; but the men were up early on the morning of the
20th, packing and getting ready to move, as they had been
told that they could take along among the baggage all of
their tent furniture; at 3 p. m. the "assembly" was
sounded, the line was formed, and all were " present or
accounted for," and eager for a start ; although the knap-
sacks we carried would have done credit to Patagonian
giants, and many a stripling of a lad was in danger of
becoming bow-legged under such a huge load of blan-
kets and clothing. In fact, this seemed to be the experi-
ence of about every man in the regiment, as they were
allowed to take nearly everything with them which they
had been hoarding up on the supposition that they would
remain during the winter on Morris Island, and as all
these little extras w^ould tend especially to make our camp
life far pleasanter in our new quarters, for the weather was
now quite cool, and it seemed probable that we might
remain for some time on St. Helena Island, the officers
favored us in the baggage line all they possibly could
under existing circumstances. A person who was never a
soldier would be very much astonished to see how great a
pile of traps, consisting of tent furniture and extra clothing,
soldiers will accumulate when stationed for a number of
months in one place ; but when ordered to field duty all
this, almost invariably, had to be thrown away or des-
troyed. Yet, the first great problem a soldier figures



2o6 History of the Seventh Regiment

upon after going into camp is how to get everything he
can possibly lay hands upon to make himself comfortable,
and if there is anything within a day's march of his camp
he will find it regardless of consequences, and the men of
the Seventh w^ere not much behind their neighbors in that
particular.

As soon as the line was formed we were marched b}'
flank out from among the sand-hills to the beach, and it
was with sad memories that we marched down the beauti-
ful beach to the point at Lighthouse Inlet, where we had
crossed some months before with full ranks, following our
victorious colors ; as we cast a last, 3'et lingering, look
behind we could still see the white smoke puffing from the
embrasures of Fort Putnam, which told us that comrades
were still pouring their shells into Charleston, while heavy
guns still boomed an answer far away under the shadow
of the white spires of the doomed city.




New Hampshire Volunteers. 207



CHAI^TKR XIV.

IN CAMP AT ST. HELENA ISLAND, S. C. DRILL AND

PICKET DUTY. IN GENERAL HAWLEy's BRIGADE,

EXCHANGE ENFIELD RIFLED MUSKETS FOR SPEN-
CER REPEATING CARBINES. ORDERED TO PLORIDA.

EXPEDITION UNDER COMMAND OF GENERAL SEY-
MOUR. THE SEVENTH ARE ORDERED ON BOARD THE

STEAMER "BEN DEFORD." THE FLEET RENDEZVOUS

AT THE MOUTH OF THE ST. JOHN's RIVER. THE "BEN

DEFORD" GETS STUCK ON THE BAR. — ARRIVAL OF THE
REGIMENT AT JACKSONVILLE, FLA. -^ ORDERED OUT
TOWARD LAKE CITY, ON THE FLORIDA CENTRAL RAIL-
ROAD. THE BIVOUAC AT BALDWIN'S STATION. IN

CAMP AT Barbour's plantation on the south fork

OF THE ST. MARY's RIVER. ARRIVAL AT SANDER-
SON'S station. THE REGIMENT ORDERED ON A RE-

CONNOISSANCE TOWARD LAKE CITY.

After crossincr in boats to Follv Island we marched to
Pawnee Landing, a distance of four miles from Lighthouse
Inlet, where we arrived about dark. In our journey across
this island we could hardly recognize the place where we
had been formerly drilled, and worked upon fortifications,
in preparation for the battle of Morris Island, so great had
been the change. That part of the island which had been
heavily wooded at the time of our occupation was now
wholly divested of its timber. Upon our arrival at the
Landing, a portion of our regiment was ordered aboard
the steam transport " Atlanta," which at once steamed out
to sea ; while the remainder of the regiment was ordered



2o8 History op' the Seventh Regiment

aboard the steam transport "Sentinel," which, in starting
out, had the misfortune to strike a mud-bar, and could not
be gotten off until lo a. :m., the next day ; and again at
Stono Inlet we were delayed a few hours waiting for the
flood-tide, that our crazy old craft might again pass a
mud-bar. Passing the deserted old village of Legares-
ville, we got on very well and without incident, and
reached St. Helena Island at 4 o'clock on the morning of
the 22d. Here we found the Seventh Conn. Volunteers,
and four companies of the First N. Y. Volunteer Engi-
neers already encamped and all under command of Col.
Joseph R. Hawley, of the Seventh Conn. Volunteers, in
whose brigade we were at once installed. Then com-
menced a series of drills which were very tiresome, with an
exceptional tour of target practice with our new Spencer
repeating carbines, for on the 26th we were ordered to turn
in our Enfield rifled muskets and to take in exchange
therefor these carbines, and they afterwards proved to be
one of the best arms in the service. By this change in
arms it was rumored that we were to be organized as a
regiment of mounted infantry.

We now settled down to drill, with a small detail each
day for picket duty and camp guard. We had company
drill in the forenoon and battalion drill in the afternoon,
all of which kept us well occupied during six hours each
day.

On the 31st of December, Second Lieut. Calvin Shedd,
of Company A, resigned his commission and left the serv-
ice; on January i, 1864, Capt, William C. Knowlton,
of Company C, left the regiment, and was honorably
discharged from the service, to date from January i, 1864.

January 21, we received another lot of substitutes, sixty
in number, and it is only a matter of justice to say that the
personnel of this lot was no improvement upon those who
had heretofore joined us. They were evenly distributed





CAPT. NATIIVN M. AMES,
Co. H.



LIEUT. JOHN U. WORCESTER,
Co. H.




LIEUT. CHARLES H. FARLEY,
Co.H.



LIEUT, JAMES S. FRENCH,
Co. H.



New Hampshire Volunteers. 209

among the different companies, and quite a number were
invariably in the guard-house for disobedience and unruly-
conduct, and being under guard seemed to have no terrors
for them, in fact they rather liked it, as it took them away
from all duty.

February 3, Capt. Jonathan F. Cotton, the ranking line
officer of the regiment, whose company. A, in conse-
quence thereof, had always occupied the right of the line
since our entry into the service, resigned his commission,
was mustered out of service, and left the regiment at this
place.

By the way everything was being pushed and renovated,
we surmised that an expedition was really to be sent out
from our place of rendezvous, and we were not long kept
in suspense, for, on February 4, we received orders to go
aboard transports on the morrow, leaving all tents, bag-
gage, and all our sick behind ; much excitement pre-
vailed, but as we could not find out the place of our
destination we simply obe3'ed orders and awaited further
developments. At 2 o'clock p. m. on the 5th, we went
aboard the steamer " Ben Deford,'' together with the
Seventh Conn. Volunteers, and at once proceeded to Hil-
ton Head, S. C, where the expedition was to rendezvous.
It was here that we first learned that the Florida cam-
paign of 1864 was about to be inaugurated and that the
Seventh New Hampshire was to form a part of this expe-
dition.

On the morning of the 6th, we weighed anchor and ran
along dowui the coast, at night coming to, and laying off,
the bar of the St. John's River on the coast of Florida, un-
til daylight on the morning of the 7th, when the steamer
tried to cross the sand-bar at the mouth of the river, but,
instead of crossing, the regiment found that the steamer
had got stuck so fast that she was obliged to lie there until
flood-tide at night when another attempt was made to

14



2IO History of the Seventh Regiment

cross the bar, but without success ; to hasten matters the
left wing of our regiment was placed on board the hos-
pital boat " Cosmopolitan," which had already crossed the
bar, and awaited orders to proceed up the river.

At sunrise on the morning of the 8th, the " Cosmopoli-
tan" had orders to proceed, and we steamed up the St.
John's River as far as Mayport Mills. On our journey up
the river we found the water very shallow and the channel
so crooked and narrow that the utmost caution was needed
in the navigation of our craft to prevent running aground,
which we finally did at a place called Yellow Bluffs. Here
we were obliged to stop until the morning of the 9th, at
flood-tide, when our steamer was again floated, and we
started for Jacksonville, Fla., where we arrived without
further mishap about 8 o'clock.

The journey up the St. John's River on these clear,
sunny, February days was really beautiful: the green,
marshy lowlands on one side reaching far inland and
skirted by w'oodland of still darker green, while on the
other hand, the low, broad landscape was frequently
broken by precipitous bluffs and ranges of heav}- timber
on rolling upland. The channel was so narrow in places
that the sides of our steamer would rub the marshy banks,
and was, withal, so serpentine in its course that our boat
was steered at almost all points of the compass in rotation,
in its course up the river to Jacksonville.

Upon our arrival at this place, we found the city under
the control of the advance guard of the expedition, w-hich
had arrived before us, on Sunday, the 7th, and greatly sur-
prised the people who were at church when our forces
landed and drove out or captured all of the rebel pickets
and guards. We found the city very prettily situated ;
partially built of brick, and in time of peace it must have
been a prosperous and lively city in point of business. A
portion of the place had been burned, as we were informed



New Hampshire Volunteers. 211

by Union troops on a forn^er reconnoissance. Here we
founci the expedition was to be under the command of
General Seymour, the troops consisting of the brigade to
which our regiment belonged, a small portion of the First
Mass. Cavalry, and one regiment (the Fortieth Massa-
chusetts) of mounted infantry, a portion of two batteries,
a part of the First N. Y. Regiment of Engineers, and a
small brigade of colored troops. At dark we commenced
our march in the direction of Baldwin's Station, which is a
small country station on the Florida Central railroad, at
the point where the railroad from Fernandina to Cedar
Keys crossed at almost a right angle. In our march out
from Jacksonville we followed the turnpike alongside and
near the Florida Central railroad. We found the turnpike
in ver}' good condition excepting where it ran through a
timbered portion of the country- when it would be found
quite muddy.

Shortly after midnight we bivouacked on the roadside
near the rebel camp, " Finnegan," whose occupants had
adroitly "skedaddled" at the approach of our advance,
which consisted of a few companies of the First Mass.
Cavalry and the Fortieth Mass. Volunteers, as mounted
infantry, under Col. Guy V. Henry. The morning sun
was shining brightly in through the openings of the forest
to the east of us, rapidly dissolving the heavy white frost,
ere we were in line and ready to resume our march, which
was along the same turnpike, and making no halt until
noon. We then filed into a shady grove close by a stream
of clear, cold water, w'here we were halted and allowed
"twenty minutes for lunch," which consisted of hard-tack,
with water from the stream near by to wash it down. In
half the time allowed we had dined, and the remainder we
devoted to rest, which, with some of the men, was devoted
to dreaming of " home and mother," and an occasional
veteran tugged away for dear life at the stem of some old



212 History of the Seventh Regiment

" T. D." or briarvvood pipe filled with good tobacco, while
many of the men amused themseh^es by reading letters
from the rebel mail, which, among other things was cap-
tured back at Camp Finnegan, and had gotten promiscu-
ously scattered about. Resuming our march we reached
Baldwin's Station in the early evening, after wading sev-
eral small creeks or brooks, and wearily plodding through
mud and water along some portions of the turnpike over
which we had marched, and, in fact, we had tramped with
wet feet nearly all day, and the men had become very
tired ; the weather being quite cool our condition was any-
thing but comtbrtable. Here we encamped for the night,
and had but just got ready to rest for a few hours when a
cold, drizzling rainstorm set in, which added not the least
to our comfort. It is at this place that the railway from
Fernandina to Cedar Keys crosses the Florida Central,
and owing to its railroad importance we had supposed or
imagined that we should find a flourishing inland town ;
but instead it consisted of a very cheap and sadly demor-
alized depot, and only a few old dilapidated buildings,
one of which had been used as a store. Some of our
men who were never too wet or tired to forage, discovered
some fine tobacco in plugs, stowed away inside the store-
house, and they bountifully helped themselves and then
supplied their comrades with the weed.

At daybreak on the morning of the nth, the regiment
was again on the march, our objective point being now
Lake City, Fla., — so we were quietly informed by some
of our superiors who, we had reason to believe, had been
correctly informed. We next reached Barbour's Planta-
tion about noon, where, after resting for a few moments,
we resumed our march in the direction of Sanderson's Sta-
tion, which we reached about 9 o'clock in the evening,
and found that like most Floridian inland towns in those
days, it could boast of only a twelfth-rate depot and two



New Hampshire Volunteers. 213

cabins. As we approached Sanderson's after nightfall,
the darkness was intense, and for many miles our route
lay through tall, heavy timber, mostly pine, which,
perhaps, we should rightfully denominate "turpentine
orchards," as nearly every tree had its pitch bowl chopped
out at one side at the base, and also numerous diagonal
incisions made from it up some five or six feet high in
order to conduct the resinous gum to the bowl below,
which in many cases was overflowing, as the pitch had
not been gathered, apparently, for a number of days, ow-
ing no doubt to the near proximity of the Union forces.
Ever and anon some rascally fellow would slip out from
the ranks and set fire to the collected pitch, which in a
few moments would be blazing up the tree to the height
of forty feet or more, and would then quietly resume
his place ; this was repeated so often that our whole
route became well lighted. The weird-like appearance of
our grotesque-looking columns as they wound their way
along in their serpentine course, was a sight never to be
forgotten. Standing under the shadow of a tall pine by
the roadside the writer took in the whole scene ; and as
company after company of the diflterent regiments filed
past, whole battalions would be singing "The Star Span-
gled Banner," " Finnegan's Ball," and "John Brown,"
until the air was fairly rent with the chorus. It still con-
tinued wet and rainy, and bivouacking on the ground was
very uncomfortable.

On the morning of the 12th, a portion of the troops, in-
cluding the Seventh, were ordered out on a reconnoissance
toward Lake City. The enemy was not encountered in
any great force, however, and the few pickets who were
met made a hasty retreat ; the expedition having fulfilled
the object for which it was sent out, again reached their
camp at Sanderson's at dark, and the Seventh came in
very tired and hungry. A picket guard had been left



214 History of the Seventh Regiment

around the camp at Sanderson's during the day, and the
company cooks had generally been left in camp, and had
hot coffee ready for their respective companies upon their
return, which at this particvdar time was duly appreciated.

As soon as hard-tack and coffee had been served, the
men in one of the regiments began discharging their
pieces in order to clean them, and the men in other regi-
ments hearing the noise commenced discharging their
pieces until, somehow, the firing became general among
nearly all the regiments, and instead of discharging the
single load in the piece, each man must have fired well
on to a hundred rounds before morning. The camp
became a perfect pandemonium.

For a time it seemed as thou^ih the officers of the difter-
ent regiments had lost all control of their men. The noise
was mostly confined to those regiments having muzzle-
loading arms, and we were very happy to know that Gen-
eral Hawley's brigade, in which was the Seventh, was not
concerned in this noisy demonstration, and that it was
almost wholly confined to the troops belonging to the
other brigade. To one on picket outside of the camp,
as was the writer of this, it had all the appearance and
sound of a heavy battle raging in camp, and more than
once we thought the " rebs " had surely come up in our
rear and struck our camp. Our orders, as pickets, were
very strict, and we could not leave our picket line for a mo-
ment ; but long after midnight an officer came out to our
part of the line and informed us of the cause of so much
tumult and firing ; it was not wholly quelled until near
morning, and not until General Seymour had issued orders
to shoot the first man who discharged his piece without
orders. If the enemy in our front did not think we had
been attacked in our rear they must have thought we were
having a mighty big row among ourselves. Altogether it
was a disgraceful affair and reflects upon the command-



New Hampshire Volunteers.



215



\nir officers of the different regiments concerned that such
a tumult and such a wanton waste of ammunition was for
a moment tolerated.

Our troops engaged in this expedition had, since leav-
ing Jacksonville, Fla., captured and destroyed large
quantities of turpentine, cotton, and tobacco, besides some
provisions, camp equipage, clothing, etc., back at Camp
Finnegan, where a permanent camp of the Confeder-
ates had been established.




CAVENDISH PLUG.



2i6 History of the Seventh Regiment



CHAPTER XV.

the left wing ordered to exchange their spencers

for springfield rifled muskets. the muskets

were without bayonets and were unservice-
able. the return of the expedition to

Barbour's plantation. — an advance ordered

towards lake city. the battle of olustee.

the retreat to jacksonville. the casualties

in the seventh are two hundred and nine.

GENERAL SEYMOUR's FORCES CONCENTRATE AT

JACKSONVILLE AND FORTIFY. REINFORCEMENTS AR-
RIVE. ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-THREE OF THE

ORIGINAL MEN RE-ENLIST FOR ANOTHER TERM OF
THREE YEARS AND ARE FURLOUGHED FOR THIRTY
DAYS. THE TENTH ARMY CORPS ORDERED TO VIR-
GINIA. THE SEVENTH LEAVES FOR GLOUCESTER

POINT, VA.

On the 13th of February, the left wing of the Seventh
New Hampshire w^as ordered to exchange their new Spen-
cer repeating carbines for old and much-abused Springtield
rifled muskets belonging to the Fortieth Mass. Volunteers,
who were then serving as mounted infantry. This trans-
action had the effect of dampening the ardor of the whole
battalion of the Seventh, and was anything but creditable
to General Hawley, our brigade commander, who, in-
stead of ordering the exchange to be made with his own
regiment, the Seventh Conn. Volunteers, ordered Colonel
Abbott to make the exchange, taking the carbines from
the left wing of the Seventh New Hampshire, which.



New Hampshire Volunteers. 217

much to the chagrin of the men, was acceeded to ; and we



Online LibraryHenry F. W. LittleThe Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion → online text (page 17 of 52)