Henry F. W. Little.

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

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circumstances. My loss during this movement (a list of
which is hereto appended) w'as as follows : killed, one
officer and two men ; wounded and missing, no officers
and thirteen men.

I am, sir,

Very respectfully.

Your obedient servant,

Jos. C. Abbott,
Colonel Seventh ~V. H. Volunteers.

On the morning of August 22d, we were again ordered
out with one day's rations ; but whatever enterprise was
intended for us was given up, for after waiting in line an
hour we were informed that our marching orders had
been countermanded, and we were again dismissed to our
quarters.

On the morning of the 24th, we received orders to have
everything in readiness, with two days' rations and in
heavy marching order, to move at any time after 12 o'clock
M. At 3 o'clock p. :\i. we began our march to Petersburg
to relieve the Eighteenth Army Corps, crossing the Appo-
mattox River above the Point of Rocks on a pontoon
bridire. After dark the marchinfr was verv hard, as the



New Hampshire Volunteers.



299



roads were wet and muddy, and many troops belonging
to the Tenth Corps were in advance of us. We linally
reached our destination on the line of our entrenchments
about midnight, nearly exhausted, having marched ten
or twelve miles. As soon as we arrived the regiment
was detailed for picket duty. The picket lines of each
side at this place were within a few rods of each other,
and in some places not more than ten or fifteen feet apart,
and the earth which was thrown out from the pits on
each side almost touched at several points. We had been




BATTERY NEAR DUTCH GAP, VA.



in the trenches but a few moments before the rebels
wanted to know what regiment we belonged to, etc. A
continuous fire was kept up between the two opposing
lines, and it was not safe for a man to show any portion of
his body above the top of the trenches or pits, and one
man from Company B was about this time shot through
the head. The regiment was relieved from the picket
line about 10 o'clock p. 31. on the 25th, and were obliged
to remain in the main earthworks for several days before
we had any tents which we could pitch.



300 History of the Sp:venth Regiment

The night of the 23d, a large detail from the Seventh
went on picket at the front, between the James and Appo-
mattox Rivers, near Bermuda Hundred, and when relieved
in the early evening of the next da}', they found, upon
arriving in camp, that the regiment had been gone since
3 o'clock in the afternoon, having been ordered to Peters-
burg ; a half-hour later found ovu" picket detail on its way
t6 the same destination. After crossing the pontoon bridge
at Broadway Landing on the Appomattox River, we biv-
ouacked on the heights above until 2 o'clock the next
morning, when we were again routed up, and started on
the trail of the regiment, whose headquarters we reached
about 9 o'clock on the morning of the 25th. The men
were at once ordered into the main line of earthworks,
and about dark orders were issued to prepare for an
assault, but for some reason it was deferred.

Those who were present with the regiment at this time
will not forget the duel between the coehorn mortar bat-
teries on both sides on the evening of the 27th, when
there seemed to be one or more shells constantly in the
air making their passage to the opposite lines. One man
was killed and one wounded in Company I at this time.

Asst. Surg. Sylvanus Bunton was promoted to surgeon,
to date from August 24, 1S64. No better arrangement
could have been made to fill the position which had been
vacated by Surg. W. W. Brown, whose continued ill
health had compelled his retirement from active service ;
and it was with sadness that the men took their leave
of Doctor Brown when, after his resignation had been
accepted, he hastily made preparations to go home, for he
had been with us from the first and was well known to
many of the comrades previous to the war, as he had
been a physician for many years, and had attended many
of us in sickness in our schoolbov da\'s and long before
our enlistment. He was one of the kindest-hearted men



New Hampshire Volunteers. 301

we ever knew, always so kindly disposed toward the sick,
and ever watchtul over the health of the whole command ;
and so much were such rare qualities in the service appre-
ciated, that the men respected to the utmost the fatherly
care and attention which they received from him. A
better successor than Doctor Bunton could not have been
appointed to fill the vacancy, for he, too, had been a good
physician before the war, and had been somewhat known
to many of the men or their tamilies back in New Hamp-
shire. He, also, had a kindly disposition, and took great
pains in caring for our sick and wounded men, and in
turn they appreciated his kindness and loved him tor it.

Captain Freschl was another officer whom the whole
reo'iment had learned to love. Owing- to ill health he had
been compelled to resign his commission, his condition
being such as not to permit further service in the army.
Regretfully we had parted with him, for he, like Doctor
Brown, had been with us since our organization, and was
a favorite among both officers and men.

George T. Perry, a civilian and a resident of New
Hampshire, was commissioned as assistant surgeon, in
place of Assistant Surgeon Bunton, promoted.

On the 30th, we moved to the left, and went into camp
in the woods. One of the peculiarities of this camp was
the constant patter of the leaden bullets against the trees,
from the rebel picket line at night, while none were heard
during the day, showing conclusively that the firing of
soldiers at night is invariably high.

On the 31st, the regiment was mustered for pay tor the
months of July and August.

We were on duty in the trenches constantly durincr all
of our stop at Petersburg, and a portion of the time were
in the trenches by night as well as during the day ; were
subjected to heavy artillery fire a large portion of the time,
and the sharpshooters on either side kept nearly every-



302



History of the Seventh Regiment



thing down below the top of the entrenchments. It was
almost sure death to raise one's head above the earthwork
during daylight, and the pickets or videttes could only be
relieved after dark ; on a bright moonlight night they
could not on some portions of the line be relieved at all,
and at such times had to take rations and water enough to
last for two or three davs. The lines of heavy earthworks
were, at some points along the line, but a short distance




EARTHWORKS AND AI5ATTIS IX FROXT OF PETERSBURG, VA.



apart ; both lines had heavy batteries built at short inter-
vals, and quite often indulged in some of the heaviest
artiller}' duels ever heard. In many places it was difficult
approaching the earthworks from the rear, as the artillery
and sharpshooters of the enemy so effectually swept the
ground. During our duty here the weather was quite
showery : when not raining it was intensely hot, with
heavy dews at night, and the puddles of rain-water stood
almost constantly in the trenches.



New Hampshire Volunteers. 303

Many nights, as we sat in the trenches, with our equip-
ments on, our rifles in our hands, and with our backs
against the immensely solid earthwork, we would get so
drowsy, and the zip and ping of the rebel bullets was the
weird music that sang us to sleep, to be awakened later
in the middle of the night or in the early morning hours
before daylight, by the screeching and bursting shells
from some rebel battery close by, which made further
sleep an impossibility.

September 14, Capt. Granville P. Mason, of Compan}-
B, left for the North on recruiting service, and the same
day Second Lieut. Charles A. Lawrence, of Compan}' D,
was wounded in the hand by a piece of shell, as he sat
just outside his tent reading a newspaper, and a man in
Company E was also wounded at this time.

On the iSth, Asst. Surg. George T. Perry reported to
the regiment, and was assigned to duty under Surgeon
Bunton.

While in front of Petersburg our whole brigade (Haw-
ley's) was turned out to see Private John Rowley, of
Company D, Seventh Conn. \'olunteers, hung for murder.
It was indeed a sad sight. It was said that this man had
shot and killed a fellow-soldier during the battle of Olus-
tee, Fla., February 20, 1864, and his conscience smote
him so that he confessed his crime, and sentence of death
had just been pronounced.

Besides our picket and trench duty we had plenty of
fatigue work, as our line of advanced trenches were being
considerably straightened and otherwise improved. Much
time had also been consumed in constructing a line of
railroad aloncr the rear of our lines. It was called the
military railroad, and was built without constructing any
grade, but running the rails through fields and ravines,
selecting the route wherever the grade would be the
easiest, and connecting with the City Point railroad. It



304 History of the Seventh Regiment

was really a great factor in moving the supplies for the
army : and as our lines were being constantly extended
around towards our left, a distance of about nine miles, its
construction was of the greatest importance in placing
troops, ammunition, or rations at any point along the line.

Another novel feature witnessed by our brigade was the
"drumming out of service" of a man belonging to the
Sixth Conn. Volunteers, who had a large placard fastened
to his back, with the word "coward" prominently thereon,
which to the whole brigade was self-explanatory. It was
here that we first found out that what was called the
" Petersburg Express" was a thirteen-inch mortar, mounted
on a platform car, which was fired nightly, changing its
position occasionally along the line of the military railroad
in the rear of our works.

About 5 o'clock on the 21st, the big mortar was fired
several times in quick succession, and then every battery
took it up in regular order, and the banging that occurred
for about an hour was only occasionally heard during the
war. This was a salute intended to celebrate recent
Union victories in the Shenandoah valley, but the rebels
thought it must be simply announcing an intended attack,
and at the lirst sign of cessation they sprang to their guns,
and replied quickly and fiercely. But as they found there
was no stir among the troops, the firing soon died away,
except the frequent popping of small arms along the picket
lines.

About this time Brig. Gen. A. H. Terry was brevetted a
major-general of volunteers, which seemed a very deserv-
ing compliment to a ver}^ deserving and efficient officer.

On the 24th, Second Lieut. Joseph A. Jacobs, of Com-
pany G, resigned his commission, and was honorably
discharged from the service. On this day we had orders
to move, and about 10 o'clock in the evening we were
marched to the rear about three miles, near a place called



New Hampshire V^olunteers.



305



Pitkin Station, where the whole of the Tenth Army Corps
went into camp. While here we again exchanged our
Springfield rifled muskets for Spencer carbines (seven-
shooters), on September 27.





3o6 History of the Seventh Regiment

Here we pitched tents the next morning, and were pre-
paring to get our camp-ground in fair shape again, when,
on the 28th, we got orders to move with two da3-s' rations ;
at 3 o'clock p. M. were again headed for the Appomattox
River, and in the evening of that day we reached Broad-
way Landing, where a pontoon bridge was kept laid,
on which we at once crossed, and pushed for the James
River, our route lying in the rear of our former position
in the defenses of Bermuda Hundred. At 2 o'clock on
the morning of the 29th, we halted inside the fortifications
on the north side of the James, having crossed that river
on a pontoon bridge laid at Jones's Landing. The Tenth
Corps, under General Birney, crossed at this place during
the night, while the Eighteenth Corps, under General
Ord, crossed at Aiken's Landing, eight miles above.
This heavy movement of troops was conclusive evidence
that some aggressive expedition was intended. At day-
licrht we moved out on the New Market road, the reajiment
at this time occupying the left of the Second Brigade of
Terry's division, our lines in front of both corps being
about ten miles in length, and our brigade occupied the
right of the line.

Line of battle was at once formed, and the troops ad-
vanced upon the enemy's works at New Market Heights,
which offered but slight resistance, their artillery being
withdraw^n as our skirmishers advanced. We had one
man wounded while the regiment w^as crossing a ravine
and brook. Meanwhile the battle raged fierce!}^ on our
left, and we could plainly hear the heavy firing, and soon
learned that our forces had assaulted and carried Fort
Harrison and the rebel entrenchments at Chapin's Farm,
our losses being quite heavy. This assault, made by
General Paine's colored troops at New Market Heights,
was one of great importance as it effectuall}' demonstrated
that they could fight well. A portion of our command



New Hampshire Volunteers. 307

could plainly see them as they were starting in ; but they
were soon out of our sight owing to the uneveness of the
ground. Among the general officers killed was General
Burnham. Generals Ord and Stannard were amonfr the
wounded, the latter losing an arm, and Colonel Donohoe,
of the Tenth New Hampshire, was severely wounded.

Pushing on toward Richmond, the Tenth Corps was
halted just outside the enemy's second line, which had
then been abandoned by them, near Laurel Hill ; at 3
o'clock in the afternoon we were marching out on the
Darbytown road, and arrived at a point within three miles
of Richmond, but returned during the evening to the
vicinity of Laurel Hill, near the place where we had
halted earlier in the da3^ During the dash on New
Market Heights the chaplain of our regiment, Joseph C.
Emerson, was captured near the right of our lines, he by
mistake taking a road or path which led him into the rebel
lines, which were but a few rods away at that time.

The following dispatch was sent from General Grant to
General Halleck :

Chapin's Farm,
10.45 A. M., 29 September, 1S64.

Ord's corps advanced this morning and carried strongly
fortified, long lines of entrenchments below Chapin's
Farm, capturing fifteen pieces of artillery and about three
hundred prisoners. Ord wounded. Birney advanced at
same time from Deep Bottom. Carried New Market
road and entrenchments, and scattered the enemy in every
direction, but captured but few. Birney now marching
toward Richmond. Whole countr}- filled with field forti-
fications thus far.

The following day, the 30th, the regiment was moved
about a half-mile to the left and just outside the enemy's
abandoned line, which had been temporarily altered and
reversed by our troops. Maj. Augustus W. Rollins was
at this time promoted to lieutenant-colonel, and Capt.



3o8 History of the Seventh Regiment

Jeremiah S. Durgin, of Company E, was promoted to
major.

On the ist of October, the regiment took part in a
reconnoissance towards Richmond, and being deployed as
skirmishers, one pace apart, advanced under a very sharp
artillery fire to within about one and one-half miles of the
city, and within a few hundred yards of its defenses,
where it was halted in a position partially concealed by
woods until ordered to fall back. We were in sight of
Richmond, but owing to the dense fog could not discern
anything. It was on this reconnoissance that First Sergt.
George F. Corson, of Company B, one of the best men in
the command, was severely wounded, losing his left foot
by a solid shot from artillery. He was in the act of lacing
his shoe, had stepped out of the ranks for a moment
for this purpose, and had raised his foot to facilitate the
operation, placing it upon a log or stump, when it was
struck by the solid shot. Private John Brown, of Com-
pany D, better known among the men as "Whitehead,"
on account of the color of his hair, lost his left arm, and
Sergt. Charles B. Wallace, of Company E, was severely
wounded, these men being noticed in particular by the
writer. Among those who were captured by the enemy
from our regiment on that day, we remember Sergt.
Charles J. Bickford, of Company F : Cyrus G. Caverly,
of Company A; Augustus H. Green, of Company I, and
Sergt. Charles H. Worcester, of Company H. The cases
we have cited were only those whom the writer happened
to know personally, but our total loss on that day was six
wounded and eleven missing.

The regiment marched back inside the breastworks at
Laurel Hill that night, wet and hungr}-, for during the
afternoon it had rained quite hard, completely drenching
us. Here the regiment labored for the next few days
building and strengthening a line of earthworks that



New Hampshire Volunteers. 309

extended from Laurel Hill away to the left towards Fort
Harrison, which had been captured by our forces on the
29th of September.

On the 6th of October, we were paid, and the paymaster
was not quite done paying some of the troops at this place
on the morning of the 7th, when the enemy was reported
as advancing on our position in force. The men who
were present on that particular morning will remember
that the lirst alarm was given while the dit^erent com-
panies in the regiment were at breakfast, which, by the
wav, the men alwavs spoke of as "being at crrub," the
principal dishes of such a feast being invariably " hard-
tack " and coffee, with occasionally a small piece of " salt
horse " ; and sometimes, for a change, " soft-tack," which
was in reality hard-tack softened by the "gentle rain from
heaven," while carted about in an uncovered wagon in the
rear of some expedition, for perhaps a week or more.

About the first notice we received regarding the alarm
was the cavalry pickets coming in at full gallop, some of
them bare-headed and minus a portion of their clothino-.
The outposts were about a mile and a half from our main
body of troops, and were out on the Charles City road on
our right. They consisted of a portion of Kautz's cavalry,
and were supposed to be strong enough to make consid-
erable opposition to an advancing force, thus giving the
troops back at the main line ample time to get prepared to
resist an assault. We soon began to hear scattering shots
far out in front near the picket line, and knew^ then it was
the enemy's skirmishers advancing. The cavalry came
rushing in without as much as an attempt at opposing
their skirmish line, and without apparently trying to dis-
pute a single rod of the ground over which they were
stampeding.

As soon as the cause of all this tumult was ascertained,
our forces were quickly disposed along our earthworks,



3IO History of the Seventh Regiment

extending from Fort Harrison northward to Laurel Hill
and on to the Charles City road and beyond. At the
point where the New Market road came in contact with
the line of Confederate works as we found them, a new
line of works was thrown up across an open field, at right
angles to the old works, and running in a northeasterly
direction to the edge of a piece of woods, the old works
having been reversed by our forces. In front of the new
line across the field, the ground was clear for about a third
of a mile to some farm-buildings, near which some rebel
artillery was afterwards placed. General Terry's division,
to which we belonged, was taken from behind the earth-
works, and its place was made good by the men stretching
out their line so as to be only one rank deep. We were
marched to the right of, and continued the line beyond,
the breastworks ; the left of our regiment rested on the
breastworks, which were also defended by the Forty-
eicrhth N. Y. Volunteers.

It was in this open field that our artillery was placed ;
on the right of the artillery was a tract of timber of very
thick growth, and this part of our line was near a slight
elevation called Laurel Hill. In the edge of this timber
was posted the Seventh New Hampshire, as the left regi-
ment of Hawley's brigade ;♦ on our right was the Third
New Hampshire ; still further along the One Hundred
and Forty-eighth N. Y. Volunteers, a new regiment tem-
porarily attached to our brigade ; and on their right were
posted the Sixth and Seventh Conn. Volunteers and the
Sixteenth N. Y. Heavy Artillery. We had but one line
of battle, and no troops in rear of us for support; if this
line was broken, it would let the enemy in our rear to the
James River, giving them a fine opportunity to capture
everything in their way.

As soon as we could form our regimental lines, a line
of skirmishers was at once sent forward, the different



New Hampshire Volunteers. 311

regiments were placed in position along our line, t'acing to
the northward, all our artillery was at once ordered up,
and our skirmishers were soon disputing the advance
of the enemy ; but on they came, charging in two solid
lines by brigades, developing two heav}^ lines of battle,
supported by artillery on their right and about opposite
our own artillery, which was posted on our left. The
assaulting columns were composed of the Confederate
brigades of Field's division. of Longstreet's corps, and
nobly they performed their work, charging up to within
nearly a hundred feet of our line at some points, which
was pouring in a rapid and destructive tire from the
Spencer carbines or seven-shooters, with which our bri-
gade was armed. Their right advanced through an edge
of an open field until they struck a belt of woods in front
of our regiment, while their left was under cover of thick
woods much of the time.

The advance of the rebels was so rapid as they gained
the cover of the dense growth of pines in our immediate
front, that many men of our brigade on the skirmish line
failed to iret back to their different regiments. As soon as
our own line of battle began firing, the only safety of our
skirmishers from the shots of their own men was in seek-
ing such cover as they could find, and many lay flat on
their faces and let the charging columns pass over them.
Some were seen and captured ; others, as soon as the
rebel onslaught was repulsed, arose from their cover and
captured many prisoners.

As soon as the rebel line had emerged from the thick
undergrowth which partially concealed them from view,
they received a terrific fire from our brigade, on whose
front the rebel brigades were pitted. Upon receiving our
fire they faltered just a moment, and then lay down
behind stumps and fallen trees, for they found it as diffi-
cult to retreat as they did to advance, and were apparently



312 History of the Seventh Regiment

waiting for us to stop and reload, when they could get a
chance to withdraw with less danger ; but finding that our
fire did not in the least slacken, they broke for the rear as
fast as they could, leaving their dead and wounded in our
hands. It was at this moment that an order for our line
to advance quickly for a few hundred feet would have
given us many prisoners, but the order to advance just
this short distance was not given, and the golden oppor-
tunity to gather them in was lost.

Just across the field obliquely on our left, and partially
concealed in the edge of another piece of woods, we could
plainly see the colors of still another division of Confed-
erates drawn up in line, said to be Hoke's division of
Longstreet's corps, apparently ready to rush into the break
which they expected Field's division to make ; but as that
division failed to break our line, they took no active part.
The attack took place just east of and at right angles
with, and at the right of, the New Market road. The
rebel artiller}' fire was principally directed against the
Union batteries stationed on our left, in the open field,
who lost some men and a number of horses. But little
attention was paid to our infantry lines, and very few shells
were exploded near us, as the rebels supposed our forces
were outflanked and routed at the first onset, and that they
would have nothing to do but pass around our right and
attack us in the rear ; and when a regiment broke farther
upon our right, their advancing column saw the opening
and at once made for it, but the gap was quickly closed
and the enemy repulsed. Their infantry fire was heavy,
although the majority of their shots seemed to pass over
the heads of the men in our line.

Nobly our brave brigade held its ground, and by its
rapid and steady fire repelled the assault upon its line.
It was a real " stand-up-and-take-it " fight, for we had no



Online LibraryHenry F. W. LittleThe Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion → online text (page 24 of 52)