Henry F. W. Little.

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

. (page 19 of 52)
Online LibraryHenry F. W. LittleThe Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion → online text (page 19 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Finnegan about noon. Here the stores which our troops
had captured at the time of our advance, consisting of
bacon or smoked sides, tobacco, sugar, and clothing, were
dealt out promiscuously to all the troops, the men of the
Seventh managing to get a goodh' share of the bacon and
tobacco. What was not used or taken b}' the men was
destro3^ed. We rested here only a few moments, and
again started on our march, reaching a place on King's
Road about six miles out from Jacksonville that night,
where we went into camp temporarily, and were at once
ordered on picket duty.

The regiment stopped at this place until the next after-
noon, when we were ordered into line of battle and were
kept in line until about 4 o'clock, the pickets having re-
ported a body of the enemv's cavalry approaching ; we
were then ordered into Jacksonville, where we arrived
about 9 o'clock that night, and found a number of regi-
ments occup3-ing the place, among which was the Fourth
New Hampshire, which with others had been ordered to

230 History of the Seventh Regiment

Jacksonville as soon as the news of the Olustee disaster
had reached the headquarters of our department ; but they
had reached Florida too late to be of service to our
expedition. We found them engaged in throwing up
earthworks and otherwise fortifying the place.

On our arrival at Jacksonville we at once commenced
work on the 3'et unfinished earthworks around that city.
At sunset on the 27th of February, all of the original
members of the Seventh who were then present were
paraded before Col. Aaron F. Stevens, of the Thirteenth
N. H. Volunteers, who had been sent out from the State
of New Hampshire by the governor to offer inducements
to the veterans in the tield to re-enlist, and he at once pro-
ceeded to fulfill his mission b}' making a nice little address
to the regiment. At'ter we were dismissed and returned
to our quarters, the men began to talk it over. The terms
offered us were $400 government bounty and $2 premium,
of which $62 was to be paid upon our muster-in, together
with one month's pay ; and the few months we had yet
to serve were given us on our first three-year term, and
our second three-year term was to commence from date
of enlistment, and we were to be paid the $100 bounty on
the first term of enlistment the same as if we had served
out the full three years. The State of New Hampshire
paid $150 for each re-enlistment, and the bounties paid
by the different cities and towns in the State varied from
$150 to $300, and this was to be paid before the furloughed
men — for they were to receive a furlough of thirty da3's
— left the State for the front. They were also to receive
commutation of rations for the time they were on furlough.
Some of the men wanted the furlough of thirty days far
more than they claimed they wanted the bounty, and
taking everything into consideration, it was by far the
greatest inducement offered ; and there is no doubt but
that it w^as largely the furlough that caused one hundred

New Hampshire Volunteers. 231

and eighty-three of the original members to re-enlist.
The re-enlistments were all made within a few days, but
most of the men from the different companies, who had
determined to re-enlist, marched up to the enrolling officer
in squads and signed the roll on the 2Sth and 29th.

On the 1st of March, we were ordered into line, and a
portion of the troops had a lively skirmish with the enemy
a few miles out, who were reported strongly entrenched
at Baldwin's Station and numbering about eight thousand
men. The skirmish was contined to the picket lines and
their reserves. The Seventh was not engao-ed at this time.
Immediately after the skirmish all the troops were ordered
to move their camps inside the entrenchments, except the
mounted troops and flying artillery. As soon as we got
again settled down inside the trenches, an oven was built,
and the regiment soon had plenty of soft bread and baked
beans for a chancre of diet.

On the 3d of March, the regiment was ordered to move
its camp outside the entrenchments again, and the time was
now^ mostly spent in drills and doing picket dutv. On the
13th, we had religious services in the regiment tor the first
time since leaving Fernandina, Fla., in June, 1863. On
the 17th, the re-enlisted men got orders to be ready to
go aboard the steamer " Ben Deford"' at 10 a. 31. the next
day, and they felt quite happy to think there was a possi-
bilit}- that they might see home and their loved ones once
more. At the appointed time on the iSth, the veterans
fell in without arms, and taking leave of their comrades,
who would not and of those who had not been long
enough in the seiwice to re-enlist, marched to the wharf in
Jacksonville, under command of Maj. A. W. Rollins and
Captains Mason, Fogg, and Cain, and at once proceeded
aboard the steamer, which started at 11 a. m. for the
mouth of the St. John's River. Instead of the "Ben
Deford,"' the steamer proved to be the "Beaufort," and

232 History of the Seventh Regiment

quite a different craft, a sort of a crazy old boat ; and it
will be remembered she struck several times in crossing
the bar, but \Nithout other mishap reached Hilton Head,
S. C, at 7 o'clock the next morning, where they at once
went ashore and went into camp near the Sixth Conn.
Volunteers, who kindly loaned them tents for shelter for
the few days that they were to stop at this place while
waiting to be mustered out and again mustered in for
another term of three years.

On the 2 2d of March, the}' experienced an old-fashioned
line-storm, making it ver}- disagreeable to get far from
the quarters. On the 24th, the re-enlisted men were all
mustered and paid, and received the first instalment of
their veteran bounty ; and at 5 o'clock in the afternoon of
the 25th, went aboard the large steam transport " United
States," bound for New York.

On the 27th, when off Cape Hatteras. N. C, thev
experienced a terrible storm, and the veterans will never
forget it, nor will they forget how the bunks between
decks were wrenched to pieces and the lumber thrown
promiscuously' about the deck, and in the midst of all this
tumult a barrel of mess-pork broke loose from its moorings
and did much damage before it was secured. It was the
greatest wonder that none of the men got broken legs by
it. The captain of the steamer, in conversation with some
of the men, said that he had followed the sea for thirty
years, and had never been caught in so bad a blow.

The next morning the gale had broken up and the
weather was clearing and cold, with a stifi', raw breeze
from the northwest, and all this was found out by looking
up through the hatchway from between decks, for scarcely
anyone had been able to go on deck during the storm, it
being almost impossible to get a permanent hold with
either feet or hands : but it could be seen that the weather
had cleared up, and by the middle of the forenoon some

New Hampshire \^olunteers.


of the men ventured on deck and took observations.
Considerable debris was found to be scattered about over
the face of the boiling deep, which upon a closer inspec-
tion was found to be lumber of various kinds, which had
probably comprised the deck loads of some schooners
which had rode out the storm in that vicinity. The
steamer " Arago " was passed, from New^ York, bound
for Hilton Head, with a large three-masted schooner in


a similar type of the steamers "Arago" and "Fulton," which plied regularly
between New York and Hilton Head, carrying- troops, stores, and mail.

During this trip the rations consisted of hams, cooked
by steam in large copper vats, and the men will remember
how the meat on those hams slipped from the bones when
the cook tried to take them from the vats. The coffee was
cooked by the same steaming process, and for bread the
well known arm}- hard-tack was turnished, a little tougher,
perhaps, for being thorough)}- drenched with sea-water
durincr the late blow.

234 History of the Seventh Regiment

The next day, March 29, the steamer was running along
the Jersey coast, with the weather cloudy and much
colder, and about 5 o'clock p. m. reached the North
Hampton pier at the foot of Canal street, New York.
The orders from Major Rollins were to sleep aboard the
steamer that night, which a few of them did, and the next
morning these men were granted passes to go ashore and
enjoy themselves, which everyone did to the best of his
ability. Orders were given that every man should be
aboard at 4 o'clock p. :\i., and at 5 o'clock they were
transferred to the Sound boat "City of Boston," bound for
Norwich, Conn., where they arrived on the morning of
the 31st. Here they found a special train awaiting to
convey the detachment to Concord, N. H., where they
arrived at i o'clock on the morning of April i, and
there tbund Adjt. Gen. Natt Head and his assistants on
the alert to receive them. The men were at once con-
ducted to the State House, where ham sandwiches were
dealt out for a lunch, and they were given shelter until
daylight, when, by order of Governor Gilmore, they were
conducted by General Head to the Eagle Hotel, where a
substantial breakfast had been prepared. During the day
the business of making out the thirty days' furloughs was
properly attended to, and towards evening the men were
scattering in ditferent directions to surprise the loved ones
and the " old folks at home." Every one of those vet-
erans now living can remember to-day just how kind and
generous that greeting was, and it seems to the historian,
as he recalls from memory the share awarded him, that it
was one of the brightest of those happy days long since
gone forever. Only a comrade who had been at the front
constantly since the commencement of the Rebellion could
fully appreciate the amount of pleasure these veterans
crowded into those thirty days, free from all of the
restraints of camp life.

New HAMrsHiRE Volunteers. 235

After the re-enlisted men had left for home, the regi-
ment continued at Jacksonville, being employed almost
constantly on picket duty until the 14th of April. The
disastrous defeat of our troops at Olustee had practically
ended the Florida campaign of Gen, Truman Seymour,
and the larger portion of his command was soon ordered
to Virginia, where, with other troops, they were to form
the Army of the James, under Maj. Gen. B. F. Butler.

On the 23d of March, the regiment drilled for the tirst
time by bugle calls, as skirmishers, which was an improve-
ment which the men were much pleased with, and the
large fields and open tbrest around Jacksonville made
exxellent drill ground. On this day the regiment turned
out under arms before daylight for the last time while in

x\pril I, the regiment received new Springfield rifled
muskets of the 1863 pattern, which exchange was gladly
made by the men who were in possession of the old
dilapidated Springfield rifled muskets that they had re-
ceived from the Fortieth Massachusetts, while the men
w'ho had the Spencer carbines (seven-shooters) were
sorry to make such an exchange. The duties of the reg-
iment during the remainder of its service at this place
were quite severe, the men being on guard or fatigue duty
nearly every day, and the small amount of time not
so occupied was utilized in drilling. The fortifications
around the city were reconstructed on a shorter line, that
the}^ might be held by a less number of troops, and the
old works, to a large extent, were leveled down, to prevent
their being of any use to the enem}-.

On the 1 2th, orders were received to make preparations
tor leaving, and on the 13th, the regimental baggage was
all placed on board the steamer " Cossack" ; at 8 o'clock
on the morning of the 14th, the regiment went aboard the
steamer, and were soon steamfing down the St. John's

236 History of the Seventh Regiment

River on the way to Hilton Head, S. C. At i o'clock
p. M. we reached the mouth of the river and at once
crossed the bar. The weather outside was rough and
grew so much more so that the captain of the steamer
decided to run into Fernandina Harbor, where we remained
anchored until 5.30 a. m. on the i6th, when another start
was made for Hilton Head ; and as we steamed out of the
harbor and down the river to the sea, we were quieth' tak-
ing our last view of Florida, where we had been so much
of the time during our army life that we felt quite at home
within her borders, but we were destined never to return
to this state during the remainder of our service.

The passage from Fernandina was quite rough and just
before reaching the Harbor of Hilton Head, S. C, we
encountered a severe squall, and a little before sunset
came to anchor in the harbor for the night. In the
evening we signed the pa3 - rolls, and were paid for two

At the time of our embarkation it was generally sup-
posed among the men that we were going to \"irginia, and
upon reaching Hilton Head we learned for a certainty
that, with other troops, we had been ordered to Virginia;
and it afterwards proved that the whole Tenth Army
Corps had been ordered north, and General Gillmore v/as
relieved of the command of the Department of the South
and was ordered to accompan}- the troops as corps com-

On the 17th, the "Cossack" steamed up to the wharf
at Hilton Head, where the regiment with its baggage was
transferred to the large Aspinwall mail steamer " Northern
Light." The Forty-seventh and One Hundred and Fif-
teenth N. Y. \^olunteers also came on board to share with
us the trip to Virginia to join the armies under General
Grant. It took all day to get the baggage aboard and to
get read}- to sail.

New Hampshire Volunteers.


The morning of the iSth dawned beautifully clear.
Brig. Gen. Alfred H. Terry came on board, and at 10
o'clock the steamer swung from her moorings and started
for Fortress Monroe.

As we bade farewell to Hilton Head we recalled the
last two times we had sailed out of this spacious harbor —
once to go to Morris Island, S. C, and again to go to
Olustee, Fla., at each of which places we had left many
of our brave comrades who had fallen while bravely
fighting for their country ; and we recalled yet one other

depart:\ient iieadoliarters, hieton head, s. c.

time when we had so happily steamed up to the beautiful
little City of Beaufort, S. C, where we had lost many of
our best men, who were suddenly stricken down by disease
during a midsummer sojourn there, and it was with a feel-
ing of sadness that we noticed the now fast receding
shores of Hilton Head and remembered that the graves of
comrades of our regiment la}' scattered the whole length
of the Department of the South, which we were now
leaving, marking so plainly the pathway of our regiment
and contributing so largely to its service record.

With the three regiments of infantry and the usual
amount of baggage aboard, the steamer was fairly loaded ;

238 History of the SeveiXTH Regiment

the weather was beautiful, and the vessel made good
headway. On the 19th, the wind began to increase about
9 A. M., and b}' noon it was raining hard and the wind
had increased to a gale. We were now oft' Cape Hat-
teras, N. C. Many of the men were sea-sick, and most
ot" the others were glad to get into their bunks and wait
for the appearance of pleasant weather. We recall one
man who lav in his bunk singing hymns and reading
psalms for his own consolation and for the entertainment
of sea-sick comrades, but who, when the storm was
ended, at once turned his penitence into profanity and his
fear into bravery.

We had a bit of e.\xitement on this day, which was
occasioned by David Burke, an exceedingly large man,
a substitute belonging to Company C, getting hold of
whiskey in some way and getting intoxicated. When
sober he was one of the best dispositioned men in the
regiment, but when under the influence of liquor he was
one of the uo-Hest men imaginable. He commenced break-
ing up the Springfield rifled muskets, and at the same
time threatened the life of an}- man who should attempt to
arrest him. General Terry ordered Colonel Abbott to
have the man arrested, and if he could not be arrested, to
have him shot. While in the act of raising a musket
over his head for the purpose of breaking it, Burke acci-
dentally let it fall, the hammer striking him on top of the
head and knocking him senseless on the deck. He was
then placed in irons by Captain Freschl, who was then
officer of the day, and later was court-martialed, and
served out the remainder of his time at hard labor at the
" Rip-Raps," near Fortress Monroe, Va.

New Hampshire Volunteers. 239


the arrival of the regiment at glolx'ester point,










On the morning of the 20th, the storm had ceased, and
in the evening we reached the entrance to Chesapeake
Bay and anchored for the night. On the morning of the
2 1 St, the steamer ran up to Fortress Monroe, where orders
were received to proceed up the York River to Gloucester
Point, \'a., where we arrived in the afternoon; and the
Seventh at once disembarked and stood for the first time
on the '• sacred soil" of Virginia, where we bivouacked for
the night.

The formation of the Army of the James was at once
begun, and we found that troops enough had been ordered
to this rendezvous to form two divisions of three brigades
each, and the Seventh was brigaded with the Seventh and
Sixth Conn. Volunteers and the Third N. H. Volunteers,
under command of Col. Joseph R. Hawley, of the Seventh

240 History of the Seventh Regiment

Conn. Volunteers. These regiments constituted the Sec-
ond Brigade, First Division, Tenth Army Corps ; the
division being commanded by Brig. Gen. A. H. Terry;
Maj. Gen. Q^ A. Gillmore commanding the corps. Di-
rectly across the river trom the camp of our corps was
historic old Yorktovvn, and there other troops were already
forming the Eighteenth Corps, under Maj. Gen. " Baldy "
Smith, — the two army corps being styled the "Army of
the James," and the new department thus created was
called the Department of Virginia and North Carolina,
and included in its jurisdiction the small Union force in
North Carolina, which was at this time occupying the
eastern shore of that state, with headquarters at or near
New Berne. This department was to be under command of
General Butler, who made his headquarters either at Fort-
ress iMonroe or in the tield with the iVrmy of the James.

The grounds at Gloucester Point were nice and level
and admirably suited to the purpose of battalion drills,
which kept us constantly busy. The extra baggage of
the whole command was sent to Norfolk, Va., for storage,
and the troops were reduced to the use of the smallest
amount of luggage possible, and were at once placed in
light marching order. Much personal baggage was sent
North, especially by the officers. Clothing was issued to
all who required missing parts ; and each man was re-
quired to have an extra pair of shoes. The regimental
books and records and the dress-coats and hats of the
men were placed in storage, and as far as could ever be
ascertained, none of this property was ever again in the
possession of the regiment. Undoubtedly, the books and
records were turned over to the War Department, near the
close of the war, and the other baggage and stores were
very likely condemned and destroyed.

Each day was now busily occupied by drills and inspec-
tions, and we all concluded that something was about to

Co. H.

Co. H.

Co. I.

Co. I.

New Hampshire Volunteers. 241

happen, but of course we did not know exactly what.
However, we were not long kept in suspense.

April 30, the regiment was mustered and inspected by
Major Santbrd, of the Seventh Conn. Volunteers, Division
Inspector, and the Tenth Army Corps was reviewed by
Major-General Butler, commanding the Army of the

May 2, the regimental baggage was loaded on a
schooner, to be sent to Norfolk^ Va,, for storage, and the
same day we experienced a heavy thunder shower, with
hail and high winds. On the 3d, orders were received for
the regiment to be ready to move at 4 o'clock the next
morning, with four days' rations and ninety rounds of am-
munition. A few minutes past that hour the men were in
line, and about 10 o'clock a. m. the regiment w^ent aboard
the steamer "Matilda," which had already taken on board
the Seventh Conn. Volunteers, and then la}^ at anchor in
York River. Earl}^ on the morning of the 5th, before
daylight, the steamer left Gloucester and reported at For-
tress Monroe, where, in conjunction with the rest of the
expedition, consisting of about one hundred vessels of
all sizes and descriptions, they at once proceeded up the
James River, reaching Bermuda Hundred a little past 7
o'clock in the evening, where w^e anchored for the night.

The following dispatch from General Butler to General
Grant gives a correct idea of the magnitude of the expe-
dition :

City Point, Va., May 5, 1S64.

We have seized Wilson's Landing. A brigade of Wild's
colored troops are there. At Fort Powhatan Landing two
regiments of the same brigade have landed. At City Point
Hinck's Division, with the remaining troops and a battery,
have landed. The remainder of both the Eighteenth and
Tenth Army Corps are being landed at Bermuda Hundred,
above the i\ppomattox. No opposition experienced thus
far. The movement was apparently a complete surprise.


242 History of the Seventh Regiment

Both army corps left Yorktown during last night. The
monitors are all over the bar at Harrison's Landing and
above City Point. The operations of the fleet have been
conducted to-dav with energ}' and success. Generals
Smith and Gillmore are pushing the landing of the men.
General Graham, with the arm}- gunboats, led the advance
during the night, capturing the signal station of the rebels.
Colonel West, with 1,800 cavahy, made several demon-
strations from Williamsburg yesterday morning. General
Kautz left Suffolk this morning with his cavalry for the
service indicated during the conference with the lieuten-
ant-general. The " New York," flag of truce boat, was
found Iving at the wharf, with four hundred prisoners,
whom she had not had time to deliver. She went up yes-
terday morning. We are landing troops during the night,
a hazardous service in the face of the eneni}-.

Benj. F. Butler,
To A. F. Puffer, ^^^J' ^^''^' Covimandmg.

Cap. and A. D. C.

The reiximent landed at davlig-ht on the morning of the
6th, and about 9 o'clock the brigade to which we belonged
was marched out about seven miles towards Ware Bottom
Church, where the troops encamped for the night: and it
was near this place that the main line of earthworks was
afterwards constructed and known as the '' Defenses of
Bermuda Hundred."

When we halted that night our regiment, excepting the
one on the skirmish line, was in the advance, and we had
just boiled our coflee and were drinking it and eating a
couple of hard-tack when General Butler and staft' rode
through the lines ; as he passed we cheered him heartily,
and he returned our cheers by taking oft' his hat. He
continued his ride up the road and out through our skir-
mish line, and was soon fired upon by some Confederates,
who were in ambush waiting for our men to advance.
The general and staff' came back much faster than they
had advanced, and our regiment was at once ordered to

New Hampshire Volunteers. 243

advance. We were deployed as skirmishers, and advanced
as far as Ware Bottom Church, which was an old building-
situated in the woods. Some of the men of Company I
captured a mounted rebel. Not finding any further signs
of the enemy, we were posted as pickets and remained
out all night.

At Bermuda Hundred the time was passed for the next
two days in skirmishing for the purpose of finding the
enemv's position, and throwing" up earthworks, which the
comrades will remember was no " sott job,*' as they
worked away with pick and shovel, throwing up that

Online LibraryHenry F. W. LittleThe Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion → online text (page 19 of 52)