Henry F. W. Little.

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

. (page 23 of 52)
Online LibraryHenry F. W. LittleThe Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion → online text (page 23 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Fla., where our original sutler left us, preferring to stop
at that post rather than be at the expense of being obliged
to move so frequently to keep with the regiment.

July 18, Gen. A. H. Terry was placed in command of
the Tenth Army Corps, relieving Gen. W. T. H. Brooks.



284 History of the Seventh Regiment

On the iSth of July, Colonel Abbott was granted a
leave of absence for twelve days. The night before
starting he came out on the picket line where the regi-
ment were on dut\', to bid them good bye, and asked
them in case of an attack to hold their ground, aYid keep
up the good name the regiment had received at Chester
Station (Lempster Hill) and Drury's Bluff.

On the 22d of July, Surg. W. W. Brown resigned,
which was really a serious blow to the regiment, for he was
loved by all of the officers and men, was a good, kind,
fatherl}' man, and had the largest amount of sympathy for
those who chanced to be sick and had to place themselves
under his care.

On the 23d, Maj. Gen. David B. Birney assumed com-
mand of the Tenth Army Corps, relieving General Terry,
of the First Division, who was temporarily in command.
General Birney had been assigned to this command b}'
General Grant on the 21st.

On the 25th, the badge of the Tenth Army Corps was
designated by General Birney, and was to be the " trace
of a four-bastioned fort," to be worn on the top of the cap
or the side of the hat : to be cut from red cloth for the
First Division, white cloth for the Second Division, and
blue cloth for the Third Division : the baggage and
wagons of the divisions to be marked in stencil with the
same colors.

Among the men who were wounded in our regiment on
the i6th of June, we had occasion particular!}^ to notice
the case of Private Jacob Follansbee, of Company D ; as
we record his name, even at this late day, memory brings
to our mind a laug^hable incident in which Comrade Fol-
lansbee bore a conspicuous part, and, in fact, was the
chief figure-head. He was a genuine Yankee, tall, stoop-
shouldered, with an awkward gait, sometimes termed a
hunter's lope, and had a fist, as the men used to say, as



New Hampshire Volunteers.



^85



BADGES OF THE DIFFERENT ARMY CORPS.




1a

1^



5^ ^ C





SAME
AS

20^ AC.






6 "< AC.





7*^ AC




€3-










X





|^~r-^C. HANdJCK'S Z-'' AC 3-*^ AC. 4^ AC;




A C. S^ AC.



10 ^AC. ||*^AC a^^ A.L IJ^AC /^''•AC.




^
^



15^ A,C IG"*^ AC. n'^AC. 18"^ AC. l^«^Ac.




(no BaDC£^
21'^AC. ZZ-^^AC. ZS^^C. Z-J^AC.




2i"^y»C LhH.Umh^ WILSONS C.AV EMG. ^ MECH SlG. CORPS




3




'3dhl-TUt:<







EN&IAJEERS ARMrorwfsr vA. (1 oivisiow i^ed) (zd/visio/v ivh/ie) ^division Blue)



286 History of the Seventh Regiment

ugly looking as a hedge fence : but withal, a heart as
large apparently as some men's whole body. His dis-
position was one of the best we ever knew. He was. a
Urst-class shot with a rifle, and he was one of those fellows
whom, in cases of emergency, 3'ou could always depend
upon. He had served one term of imprisonment, having
been captured near St. Augustine, Fla., in the early part
of the war. One evening while stationed at the above-
named city, a small row occurred over in the quarters of
Company F, owing, perhaps, to the presence of too much
" black-strap." Jake thought he would go over and see
the fun, and mixing with the crowd, was soon, as he sup-
posed, a " casual observer," when someone gave him a
blow square between the eyes and powerful enough to fell
an ox. Picking himself up quite a distance from the
crowd where he had been standing, he started for his
quarters, where he found some of his comrades, to whom
he related his adventure, and requested them to do all in
their power to prevent his eyes from showing the effects
of the blow, as he thought the men might laugh at him
for getting mixed up in the row when they saw the effects.
Therefore, after trying various things, one comical fellow
proposed that a piece of " old salt horse," raw, be brought
from the cook-house, split, and bound across the bridge of
his nose, and should be worn until morning. An eight or
ten-pound chunk was produced and properly bound over
the huge proboscis ; for a couple of hours he bravely
endured it, the drippings of brine from it filling his eyes
and making him howl fearfully, besides getting into his
mouth and at times nearly suffocating him. Every time
Jake howled, the men in the room where he quartered
w^ould stuff another corner of blanket in their mouths to
keep him from mistrusting that an\-one had put up a job
on him.

Any comrade who ever knew Jake will never forget



New Hampshire Volunteers. 287

him, for he was as quaint a land-mark as was Corp.
Heber C. Griffin, of our regiment, who went b}' the
singular cognomen of " God's tongs." Why he was
dubbed thus we never knew, but it was said that he was
one of the tallest men and had the longest legs of any
man in the regiment. He was also of Company D, and
was discharged at Beaufort, S. C, in the early part of
our service.

August I, Edwin D. Rand, of Company F, was ap-
pointed sergeant-major of the regiment, in place of Wil-
liam McL. Moore, who had been discharged from the
service.

Nothing of an}' material consequence occurred to break
the monotony of our regular tours of duty on the picket
line, until August 9, when we heard a terrific explosion
down the river in our rear, and surmised that rebel tor-
pedoes had destroyed some one of our large gunboats that
lay in the James River; and from the way the Confeder-
ates cheered along their line, we thought it possible. We
were on picket, and the explosion occurred about noon ;
but we soon learned that the report was caused by the
explosion of a government ammunition barge at City
Point, killing and wounding about 200 men. The cause
of this explosion has never been fully explained.

Nearly every day we could hear heavy artillery firing
south of the Appomattox, near Petersburg. It v/as the
Army of the Potomac gradually closing in on the Cockade
City, and it had advanced about two miles beyond the
lines occupied by General Gillmore on the 9th of June.
In justice to General Gillmore, we could now see the
excellent judgment displa3-ed by that officer at that time,
although it is said he was severely scolded by General
Butler for not doing what General Grant with the Army
of the Potomac and assisted by the Eighteenth Army
Corps, from the Army of the James, had thus far failed to



288



History of the Seventh Regiment



accomplish, namely, the capture of Petersburg, although
many lives had been sacrificed in the attempt.

The rations we had been receiving during the months of
May, June, and July were what were styled half-rations,
but such as were generally served to men during a cam-
paign. Each live days' rations consisted of soft bread
one day and hard-tack four days ; fresh beef one day and
the remaining four days salt beef, pork, or bacon, with
one ration during the five days of potatoes, sour krout,
vinegar, sugar, and cofiee. There was enough to satisfy
our hunger, but more vegetables would have been accept-
able.




VERY IMPORTANT PART OF A SOLDIER S KIT.



New Hampshire Volunteers. 289



DUTCH GAP CANAL. THE REGLMENT ORDERED TO DEEP

BOTTOM. DEATH OF LIEUT. COL. THOMAS A. HEN-
DERSON. RETURN OF THE REGIMENT TO BERMUDA

HUNDRED. ORDERED TO PETERSBURG. LIFE IN

THE TRENCHES. AT PITKIN STATION. EN ROUTE

TO THE NORTH SIDE OF THE JAINIES RIVER. THE

CAPTURE OF FORT HARRISON AND NEW MARKET

HEIGHTS. OUR CHAPLAIN TAKEN PRISONER. THE

SEVENTH WITHIN A .AIILE AND A HALF OF RICH-
MOND. THE BATTLE OF LAUREL HILL. AFTER

THE BATTLE. CONGRESSIONAL MEDALS OF HONOR.

About the loth of August, those of the recriment who
were fortunate enough to get on picket away on the right,
on the south bank of the James, could see the details of
men working away on General Butler's Dutch Gap canal,
and could also plainl}^ see the rebel rams which would
steam down from the direction of Richmond, and attempt
to shell out the working parties. Sometimes a gun from
the Howlett House rebel battery, which was onl}- a short
distance in front of our picket posts on the river banks,
would be trained in the direction of the canal, but an ever
vigilant Union gunboat in the James would almost imme-
diately silence it. The rams were too far away for the
ordnance of our gunboats to reach. Meanwhile the troops
detailed for fatigue duty at this place, which comprised
both white and colored troops, kept steadily at work, and
it seemed to us that the canal would surelv be a success.



290



History of the Seventh Regiment



Upon our arrival in camp from the picket line on the
evening of August 14, we found that marching orders
awaited us, and after a hasty preparation the regiment
was ordered into line at 11 o'clock on that evening, and
marched towards Deep Bottom. Somehow an under-
standing seemed to prevail among the men that the regi-
ment was to go to Bermuda Hundred Landing, and there



c-> 'g^f '




PONTOON BRIDGE AT JONES S LANDING, JAMES RIVEIl, VA.



go ahoard transports ; consequently many men fell into
line that were on the sick-list and did not wish to be left
behind, yet could not endure a march, and who were
obliged to fall out of the ranks after going a short dis-
tance. The regiment, however, marched to Jones's Land-
ing, on the James River, and crossed the pontoon bridge
at that place with less than three hundred men for duty.



New Hampshire Volunteers. 291

As soon as we were over on the north side of the river,
we were ordered to the right of Hawley's brigade, and,
passing the earthworks at Deep Bottom, formed in line of
battle at 4 o'clock the next morning on the left of a road,
where we remained until after da3'light, when the First
Brigade of our division drove in the pickets of the enemy,
capturing quite a lot of prisoners, and were advanced to
an open tield, where, by order of Colonel Hawley, we
were formed in double column, en masse. We remained
nearly in this position until about 4 o'clock p. m., when
we moved to the right about a thousand yards, and there
rested in line of battle. During the hours that we lay in
that open tield it seemed one of the hottest days we ever
experienced in the South. Man^'of the men were carried
to the rear from the elfects of the sun, and one man died.
About this time General Terry rode along our lines, and
when opposite our regiment said, " Boys, I am going to
put you in by and by and give you a chance, and I want
you to do as well as you did up at Chester Station "
(Lempster Hill).

In our front uas a large fort and a line of earthworks,
with abattis in front, and it did not seem to us as a very
inviting point at which to make an assault. (General
Paine took this line of works with colored troops, Septem-
ber 29, 1864.)

While lying here on the ground General Grant rode
past, stopping a few moments to survey the situation.
This was the first time most of us had seen the f]freat
leader of the Union forces.

About 10 o'clock that night we were marched to Deep
Bottom, and there rested for the night ; about 9 o'clock
the next morning we proceeded along the New Market
road for about three miles, and again rested in line of
battle until 4 o'clock p. m., when we were ordered about
two thousand yards to the right, and took position behind
sliiiht entrenchments for the nicrht.



292 History of the Seventh Regiment

On the morning of the i6th, our troops were formed in
three lines of battle, and about 9 o'clock our regiment was
ordered out on the right, and at the same time our artillery
opened on the Confederate works. Upon arriving oppo-
site their lines, we found skirmishing going on quite
briskly in our front. We were halted, and a few moments
later we heard cheering amidst the volleys of musketry,
which came from our men who were engaged in captur-
ing the Confederate picket line. Our regiment was then
hurried forward in line of battle through the woods, and
as soon as we had pressed their picket line in to their
main works, we were ordered to lie down on the ground
for the purpose of being in readiness to support an assault
on the works in our immediate front.

While here General Hawley addressed us in substan-
tially these words :

" Attention, Second Brigade ! There is a division in
our immediate front that are about to assault the rebel
works. You are to lie down on the ground, and in case
they are repulsed and fall back, you are to let them pass
over you ; in case they are followed by the enemy, you
are to rise and to withstand, if necessary, the whole
world."

In a few moments we received the order, "Attention,
Second Brigade ! Forward march ! " and our brigade at
once moved forward, our regiment still remaining on the
ground while the others advanced (there were no other
troops in front of us). When the advancing line reached
the slashing in front of the enemy's works, the bullets
whistled past our heads as thick as ever hailstones were
seen to fall. The Contederates held their works until
our men were on top of their parapets, and then re-
treated to their next line of defenses. We were then
advanced to the front and right for the purpose of protect-
ing the right flank. As we passed through the slashing.



New Hampshire Volunteers. 293

it seemed by the number we noticed that there was a dead
or wounded man for every tree. The troops in our front
were finally driven back, and while we were holding the
earthworks just captured, the rebels made two assaults for
the purpose of retaking their line, but failed to dislodge
us ; but we were soon outflanked, and were ordered to
fall back, the bullets at that time coming from three
directions.

It was during one of these assaults that Lieut. Col.
Thomas A. Henderson fell, struck near the hip by a rifle-
ball, from which wound he died in about four hours, hav-
ing literally bled to death, falling while faithfully per-
formincr the duties of his office. We then retired across
some ravines, and with the remainder of the brigade re-
formed near the entrenchments we had occupied on the
night of the 15th.

While we were on the rising ground in the open field,
a rebel sharpshooter took a position in a pine tree top in
our front, and every time he fired his rifle a man was sure
to fall inside our lines. His place of concealment was
soon discovered by the little pufls of smoke that were seen
to rise from each discharge of his piece. A section of
light artillery was at once brought to bear on the tree,
when he was seen to beat a hasty retreat.

We again advanced, crossing a ravine in the direction
of the enemy's works, where we at once took position and
commenced to entrench. During all this time the regi-
ment had performed its share of picket and fatigue duty.
About dark on the iSth, the rebels made a fierce assault
upon our lines, in order to dislodge us, but were hand-
somely repulsed.

Durinrj the night the Seventh was withdrawn from this
position, and was ordered, with the rest of Hawley's
brigade, about two miles in a southeasterly direction, on
the Chickahominy road, where we remained until 5 o'clock



294 History of the Seventh Regiment

p. iM. on the 20th, when we were again ordered back to a
point on the New Market road, where we had rested on
the night of the 15th. Upon onr arrival at this place,
our regiment was immediately detailed for picket duty,
and in conjunction with the Fourth New Hampshire and
One Hundred and Fifteenth New York, held the front of
the Tenth Corps. The day had been cloudy and muggy,
and at night a drizzling rain set in, making it anj'thing
but comfortable or pleasant for the whole expedition.

About 10 o'clock that night orders were received from
Maj. Gen. D. B. Birney, who was now in command of
the Tenth Army Corps, to withdraw the pickets and
retire by regiments to the lower pontoon bridge, and
recross the James River. As one of those on picket at that
time, we can remember just how very difficult a matter the
withdrawal of that picket line seemed, and it is really a
great wonder that one half the men were not left to be
captured by the enemy the next day. The night was so
dark and foggy that it was almost impossible to see any
object three or tour feet away, and how we managed to
find all those picket posts during such darkness is sur-
prising, for a person passing from one post to the other
was more than liable to get otf" in a wrong direction.
However, none were left who belonged to the Seventh.
How it fared with the other regiments we never knew.

The order for our departure was quietly executed, and
the troops were put in motion, the Seventh bringing up
the rear, covered by a detachment of the Fourth Mass.
Cavalry. Just rain enough had fallen to make our route
to the river very disagreeable. The clayey consistency of
the soil made the marching extremely hard, and the men
went slipping along, gaining headway slowly. After
crossing the pontoon below Jones's Landing, we marched
up to Jones's Landing on the south bank and made a halt,
where we rested until daylight, when we again renewed



New Hampshire Volunteers. 295

our march, reachin«- our former camp in the rear of the
defenses of Bermuda Hundred early on Sunday morning,
the 2ist, having lost, since leaving camp on the 13th, one
otficer and two men killed in action and thirteen men
wounded and missing.

Sergt. Frank W. Shannon, of Company C, in a letter
regarding the assaults made by the enemy on our lines at
Deep Bottom, on August 16, says that he was in command
of his company that day, and he had but a few men who
were on duty with the company at that time, among whom
was Fred W. Sleeper, who was for a long time company
clerk, and says that later in the day he was severely
wounded, and that Corp. Harrison W. Mann, of that com-
pany, who was with the colors, was killed during one of
these assaults. Sergeant Shannon received a furlough for
thirty days trom General Gillmore, while on Morris Island,
S. C, for good conduct in the assault upon Fort Wagner.

The following report of this movement will be read
with interest, as it will be found to be correct in details,
although not made until the third day after our arrival
back at our old camp at Bermuda Hundred :

Headquarters 7TH N. H. Vols.,

August 24, 1864.

Lieut. E. Lewl'^ Moore, Acting Assistant AdjuicDit-

Gcncral :

Sir, — I have the honor to submit the tollovving report of
the part taken by the Seventh N. H. Volunteers in the
movement on the north side of the James River, com-
mencing August 13 and ending August 20 ultimo :

At II o'clock p. M. of August 13, with twenty-one
officers and three hundred and sixty men, I marched from
camp at Bermuda Hundred, and took the road to Deep
Bottom. Owing to an understanding that the corps was
to march to Bermuda Landing, and there embark on
transports, many men were reported for duty who were
not able to endure a march or a campaign. In conse-



296 History of the Seventh Regiment

quence there was an unusual amount of straggling, and I
crossed the pontoon bridge at Deep Bottom with less than
three hundred men. After passing over the pontoon
bridge, my regiment, occupying the right of Hawley's
brigade, passed by the earthworks at Deep Bottom, and
formed in line of battle on the left of a road. At this time
the Seventh Conn. \"olunteers formed on its left, and my
line was a prolongation of Pond's brigade, which was on
the right of the road. Soon after daylight, our forces
having pressed in the enemy's pickets, I advanced to an
open field fronting a line of the enem^-'s earthworks,
where, by order of Colonel Hawley, I formed in double
column, en masse, on the right of the brigade. Nearly
this position I occupied until about 4 o'clock p. m., when I
moved to the right about one thousand 3"ards, and rested
in line of battle. This position I left at about 10 o'clock
p.-M., and marched to Deep Bottom, where I bivouacked
for the night. At about 9 o'clock on the morning of the
15th, I marched from Deep Bottom along the New
Market road about three miles, and rested in line of
battle in the rear of a piece of woods, m}- front being
towards the west. At about 4 o'clock p. m. I moved about
two thousand yards to the right, and took position behind
slight entrenchments during the night. On Tuesday, the
i6th, I was detailed and entered upon duties as corps
officer of the da}', the command of the regiment thereby
devolving on Lieutenant-Colonel Henderson ; but at the
request of Colonel Hawley, I was present with the regi-
ment, and did in fact exercise the command during the
day. At about 10 o'clock a. m. of the i6th, still occupy-
ing the right of Hawley's brigade, I moved about one
thousand 3'ards to the right b}- flank, and then advanced
in line of battle, changing the point of direction gradually
to the left, across a ravine, where the whole was halted.
The assault on the enem3"'s works having been com-
menced, and the outer works carried, I advanced to the
line of those works. Upon reaching the works, by order
of General Terry, I passed beyond them, changed front
to the right, and advanced about one hundred yards,
taking position so as to intercept a flank movement of the
enem}' from that direction. As the action progressed,
flndincT that the brigades that had ad\-anced were falling



New Hampshire Volunteers. 297

back, and that there were movements of the enemy on my
left flank which promised to be serious, while there was
very little in my front, I recrossed the entrenchments and
took position on a line with it. The position I occupied
during the remainder of the fight. While here portions
of Hawley's brigade retired from the advanced position
and took position on my right, while portions of other
brigades occupied the line of works on my left. Nearly
all the time while in this position m}' command sustained
an annoying fire on the left flank, with some slight fire
from the right. Two distinct charges were also made by
the enemy in my front, which were handsomely repulsed.
At leno-th, findinp" the extreme left of the line giving wav,
and myself the ranking officer on the line, I became
solicitous for orders. Accordingly I passed a short dis-
tance to the left, then throucrh the slashincr to the rear, with
the design of finding either General Terry or General
Birnev. Not succeedincr, I was returning by the same
path, when I found that the enemy were already occupy-
ing that portion of the entrenchments. Making a detour
to the right, I reached the slashing, where, finding an
aide of Colonel Hawdey, I sent the order for the line to
retire. Thus my regiment was one of the very last to
retire from the line of rebel works. While at these works
Lieutenant-Colonel Henderson fell, having been struck
near the hip by a rifle-ball. He died in about four hours.
He was a most valuable and useful ofiicer, and fell in the
faithful performance of his duty. The regiment retired
across the ravines, and with Hawley's brigade reformed
near the entrenchments, which they occupied on the night
of the 15th. Thence advancing again across one ravine
in the direction of the enemy's works, my regiment took
position, erected entrenchments, and remained until about
II o'clock p. M. of the i8th. During the time it did its
share of picket and fatigue duty, and in repelling the
attack made by the enemy on the works about dark of the
i8th. Withdrawing from this position, as above stated, I
took position with Haw^ley's brigade about two miles to
the southeast, on the Chickahominy road, where I re-
mained until 5 o'clock p. m. of Saturday, the 20th.
Having been detailed as corps ofiicer of the day, I again
marched to the point near where I rested on the night of



298 History of the Seventh Regiment

the 15th, where my regiment was placed on picket, and in
connection with the Fourth N. H. Volunteers and One
Hundred and Fifteenth N. Y. Volunteers, held the front
of the Tenth Corps. At 10 o'clock p. m., by order of
Major-General Birney, I withdrew the pickets, re-formed
the regiments, with my regiment in the rear, covered by
a detachment of the Fourth Mass. Cavalry, retired to the
lower pontoon bridge, and crossed it, making a halt near
Jones's Landing until daylight. I reached my former
camp at Bermuda Hundred early on Sunday morning, the
2ist. It is gratifying to be able to speak in terms of
commendation, both of officers and men, during this brief
period of somewhat severe service. Upon the whole, I do
not know that any regiment could be expected to perform
its duties more faithfully or with more alacrity under like



Online LibraryHenry F. W. LittleThe Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion → online text (page 23 of 52)