Henry F. W. Little.

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almost constantly.

On the 3d, the Tenth and Eighteenth corps were dis-
continued, but the order did not reach us until the 5th,
when we found ourselves in the Twenty-fourth Army
Corps. General Order, No. 297, from the War Depart-
ment, dated the 3d, made important changes in the Army
of the James. The white infantry of the Tenth and
Eighteenth Corps were to constitute the Twenty-fourth
Army Corps ; the corps stafTand artillery of the Eighteenth
to belong to the Twenty-fourth Army Corps ; the corps
stall' and artillery of the Tenth to belong to the Twenty-
fifth Army Corps. Maj. Gen. E. O. C. Ord was assigned
to the command of the Twenty-fourth Army Corps, and
Maj. Gen. Godfrey Weitzel to the Twenty-fifth Army
Corps. The Seventh still remained in the Second Bri-
gade, First Division, but in the Twenty-fourth Corps.
The Twenty-fifth Army Corps was composed of the col-
ored troops belonging to both the Tenth and Eighteenth
Army Corps.

On the 5th, our brigade got marching orders, with two
days' rations, but for some reason the order was counter-
manded. Upon further reflection, we are inclined to
believe this order to be ready to move was in anticipation
of sending us with the expedition to Fort Fisher, N. C.
On the lOth, the rebels came down upon our pickets from
the direction of the Darbytown road, and drove our cav-
alry pickets on the right back to our infantry support.

New Hampshire Volunteers.


During the morning a corporal of the Third New Hamp-
shire captured a rebel lieutenant, who had accidentally-
wandered inside our lines while scouting. For this piece
of gallantry the corporal was allowed to keep the crest-
fallen rebel's sword and belt. The enemy continued to
press our lines all day, and in anticipation of an attack the
troops were all ordered into the trenches. It was a cold,
sleety day, dismal in the extreme, but we fell in lively and
manned the formidable breastworks in our immediate
front. Qiiickly pushing out a heavy skirmish line, the lost
ground was regained, and the cavalry outposts once more
established, although three successive attacks were made
on different portions of our line, resulting only in a loss to
the enem}- of quite a number killed and wounded and
some prisoners. The Seventh remained out that night in
the breastworks, and were only dismissed after daylight
on the morning of the nth, and after everything at the
picket line was reported quiet.


342 History of the Seven'th Regiment















On the 13th, a portion of the Army of the James, con-
sisting of General Ames's division of the Twenty-fourth
Corps, and General Paine's division of the Tvventy-tifth
Corps (colored), or about sixty-five hundred in all, were
ordered to Fortress Monroe to take part in the expedition
to Fort Fisher. They were to rendezvous at Fortress
Monroe, there to be joined by Admiral Porter with thirty-
seven vessels, carrying an armament of five hundred
guns, which made the most formidable fleet assembled
for any special expedition during the war. This was
the first expedition to Fort Fisher. This expedition sailed
on the 1 8th for its place of rendezvous twenty-five miles

New Hampshire Volunteers. 343

east of Fort Fisher. General Butler went with the expe-
dition, and placed Maj. Gen. Godfrey Weitzel in immedi-
ate command.

The weather had now become quite cold, and was at
times severe, and a good fire seemed our only comfort.
We had commenced drilling again, and on the 20th, one
hundred and eleven recruits arrived for the Seventh ;
among them were a few drafted men for one or two years'
service, the rest being "subs," of about the eighteenth
grade, as we judged b}^ their appearance — at any rate
they were bad enough. These recruits were about evenly
distributed among the different companies — the company
to which the writer belonged received thirteen. The pre-
vailincr custom in such distributions was for a non-com-
missioned officer from each company to report to the
adjutant, who would count off the number to be assigned
each company, commencing on the right, delivering each
squad in turn to each of the non-commissioned officers,
who at once marched his particular assignment to his
company quarters, where they were apportioned quarters,
and at once became part of the company.

On the morning of the 21st, three brigades, including
ours, were ordered into line under arms, and were
marched outside the earthworks into a large open field to
witness the execution of five men who belonged to the
First Connecticut Battery, who were to be shot for the
crime of desertion, they having been tried and sentenced
by court martial. Arriving at the allotted place we were
placed in such manner that our lines formed three sides
of a large hollow square, one end remaining open.
Shortly after getting into position we heard the rattling of
chains, and soon saw the condemned men marching in at
one corner of the square, carrying the heavy iron balls
and chains which were attached to their persons, and also
upon one of each of the prisoner's shoulders rested one

344 History of the Seventh Regiment

end of his coffin, the other end being supported by one of
the provost guards, a detail of which, under the direction
of the provost marshal, were escorting the prisoners to
their several positions beside the newly dug graves at the
open end of the square formed by the troops.

As we gazed upon that sad-looking procession, trudg-
ing along down through the centre between the long lines
of troops, with the mud ankle deep at every step, the sky
overcast and gloomy, the atmosphere chilly and damp,
with not a single ray of sunshine to light their way — for
the sunlight had really gone out to those condemned men
forever — no friend near to say "farewell," we thought it
really a most dreary and dismal time for a mortal to look
his last upon life and the face of mother earth. Upon
their arrival at the place where five graves had been
newly dug, each prisoner was assigned a position beside
one of these open graves. The charges, findings, and
sentence of the court martial were then read b}- the pro-
vost marshal. The prisoners were then blindfolded, while
the detail for the execution, consisting of exactly a dozen
men, were quietly marched into position under command
of a corporal, some thirt}- paces in front of and facing the
prisoners, while a reserve detail of the same number was
posted a few paces to the right and rear in order to be
readily accessible in case the fire of the first detail did not
prove fatal. A chaplain then invoked a blessing upon
their souls, at the conclusion of which the provost marshal
dropped a white handkerchief from an extended hand, the
carbines belched forth as one report, the echo resounding
on either side, and the bullets went singing on their errand
of death. It seemed like a different song from that we
had ever been accustomed to hear in the trenches and on
the skirmish line. We remember, as though it was but
yesterday, just the sound those bullets made. We looked
towards the graves, but to our astonishment each man yet

New Hampshire Volunteers. 345

remained standing, showing conclusively that the detail
had fired high. The second or reserve detail was at once
marched into position while the first detail retired to the
place occupied by the reserve, and at the same signal the
smoke pufied from their carbines, and their fire proved
more accurate, but not entirely etiective. The prisoners
all fell. Three were dead, while two were trying hard to
rise again, and one of them even got upon his knees,
when a bullet from the revolver of the provost marshal
sent him down. Again he attempted to rise, getting upon
his elbow and raising his body nearl}' to a sitting posture,
when a second bullet in the head from the marshal's revol-
ver suddenly extinguished what little lite was left and a
third shot put out the life of the second prisoner, thus end-
ing the execution. It seemed sad for us to witness such
scenes, but the regiment was occasionally ordered out for
this purpose during that winter in Virginia.

On the evening of this day, December 21, 1S64, all
those original members of the Seventh, both officers and
men, numbering in all one hundred and ninet3'-five, and
of which number some were absent sick, who had not
re-enlisted, and whose term of service had expired were
ordered into line without arms, forming on the left of those
at dress parade who were to stay, which was to be really
the last parade of the old Seventh ever to be held by the
comrades who had known each other so long and well,
and who had so thoroughly proved each other on many
a hard- fought field, in some reckless charge, in a forlorn
hope, or at the extreme front, in the deadly skirmish,
shoulder to shoulder, supporting each other with patriotic
enthusiasm even unto death. And as the men stood in
that line patiently awaiting the orders to be published by
the adjutant, hardly a visage belonging to the men who
were to remain and see the war to the end, but was down-
cast with sorrow, and tears copiously trickled down those

346 History of the Seventh Regiment

bronzed weather-beaten, manly faces, at the thought that
the time had come when they must bid "farewell" and
and perhaps "forever farewell," to those who had become
endeared through associations formed amidst the trials and
dangers of warfare, and which it seemed almost impossi-
ble now to break asunder.

The following was Colonel Abbott's farewell order :

Headquarters Seventh N. H. Volunteers,

Laurel Hill, Va., December 19, 1864.
General Orders, No. 65.

Officers and Soldiers, — The term of the original
members of this regiment having expired, they are about
to be mustered out of the service of the United States.
Companions in arms for three years, that relation now
ends, and you look back upon an experience as honorable
as it is varied. Since that night when the first tap of the
drum was heard in Camp Hale, you have traversed twenty
degrees of latitude, and performed duty from New Hamp-
shire to the Gulf of Mexico. This rent standard, these
thinned ranks, these browned faces, are witnesses alike of
the conflicts in which you have participated, and the hard-
ships which you have endured. It is now your undisputed
privilege to know that you have served your country when
her safety was menaced, and that you have thereb}- con-
tributed to the support of good government, of liberty, and
the rights of men, and you now bequeath to history and
tradition the story of Wagner, Chester Hill, Drewr3''s
Blufl', Deep Run, New Market Heights, Richmond, Lau-
rel Hill, and Darby town Road, as well as those skir-
mishes, marches, and bivouacks, running from the 17th of
June, 1863, down through an almost uninterrupted cam-
paign to the present date.

To those officers and men' who, having thus faithfully
performed their duty for three years, now return to their
homes, I bid God speed in their after journey of life.
When you return to the duties and opportunities of citizen-
ship, I admonish you not to forget what, to each free man,
to each commonwealth, to the continent, to letters, to the

New Haimpshire Volunteers. 347

arts, to civilization, is involved in this great controversy of
arms ; to cherish still recollections of this old standard ; of
the number now faintly emblazoned upon it ; of that gal-
lant and intrepid spirit who led us to the tragedy of Wag-
ner, and those who there fell with him ; of others still who
have fallen upon other fields, and whose bones now lie
scattered in distant and remote places ; of the weary
marches by day and by night, the flaming line and the
ensanguined sword ; and, lastly, of us who remain, still
following in the path which you have trod, until we may
return, as you now do, to the pursuits of peace, but in a
country which is at peace.

This is not the occasion to advert in detail to merits or
deficiencies. It is rather proper for me to say that in
those three years I have witnessed so much in you of
patience in hardships, so much of fidelity in duty, so much
of cheerful obedience to authority, and so much of genu-
ine bravery in the field, that I sink ail of criticism and
proffer to you unreserved thanks. Officers : I thank you
for the uniform courtesy of your official and social inter-
course with me. Men : I thank you for numberless acts
of personal kindness, and for that confidence which has
enabled me, through you, to serve our country without

It is thus that I address those of this re^riment who now
return to their homes. You who remain demand no word
from me now, for before you is still that duty which no
soldier can mistake, and that honor to which all can confi-
dently aspire.

And upon all I invoke the aid of that God who rules in
the afiairs of men, and in whose trust these words of part-
ing are uttered.

By order of the Colonel,

(Signed) John Green,
First Lieutenant and Adjutant.

The officers who fell in to go home with these men
were : Company A — Capt. Charles Hooper, Second
Lieut. Mansel Otis; Company B — Second Lieut. James
A. Cobb ; Company C — First Lieut. William F. Spalding ;

348 History of the Seventh Regiment

Company D — Captain James M. Chase, First Lieut. Fer-
dinand Davis; Compan}' E — First Lieut. Robert Burt;
Company F — Capt. Charles Cain; Company G — Capt.
Penuel C. Ham, First Lieut. William W. W. Walker;
Company H — Capt. Nathan M. Ames; Company I —
First Lieut. Hazen G. Dodge; Company K — Capt. Le-
ander W. Foaxs First Lieut. William A. Hill, Second
Lieut. George AL Chase.

Of these officers, First Lieut. Ferdinand Davis, of Com-
pany D, had been continually on General Ha\vle3''s staff
since the Florida campaign of February, 1S64, and was
severely wounded at the battle of Olustee, Fla., February
20, 1S64 : First Lieut. Robert Burt, of Compan}^ E, was
detailed with the ambulance corps during the campaign in
Virginia; First Lieut. William A. Hill, of Company K,
had been severely wounded June 18, 1864, at Bermuda
Hundred, Va. ; Second Lieut. George M. Chase, of Com-
pany K, served for a long time in the signal corps, on
detached service ; Captain Hooper, of Company A, and
Captain Ham, of Compan}' G, had both been wounded.
Captain Chase, of Company D, and Captain Ames, of
Company H, were the only two officers in the regiment at
this date who were mustered in as captains at the organi-
zation of the regiment. It was with feelings of regret and
sadness that the officers and men of the original Seventh
saw these comrades depart.

Immediately after dress parade on the evening of De-
cember 21, the men whose term of enlistment had expired
at once filed off toward Jones's Landing, on the James
River, under command of Captain Ames — Captain Chase,
the senior officer, being on the sick list — and as the men
tiled past us, each gave some parting word ; and as Sergt.
"Tom" Langlan and Corp. "Sheltie" Burtt. of Company
D, in particular, bade us a cheerful "good bye," we more
emphatically remarked the smiling faces and lighter step
of the comrades who would be with us no more.

New Hampshire Volunteers. 349

As a matter of courtesy to the original members of the
Seventh who were about to leave the service, we will leave
the regiment in the held and proceed homeward with the
detachment in order that the incidents and events of their
journey and muster out may be duly chronicled, and may
become a part of the history of this regiment.

A drizzling rain had set in during the afternoon of the
2 1st, and the road to the landing, over which the detach-
ment had to pass, had become a perfect mud-hole. The
only and easiest way to get to the river was to go across
lots, and by marching in single hie on either side when-
ever they came to the roadway, they managed to pull
through. This mud was nearly half-knee deep for a
large portion of the way, and the men carried no small
quantity of that mud, which so tenaciously adhered to
their clothing, to their New Hampshire homes. About
the only way to get it off their boots was to let it wear off.
About dark the landing was reached, and there a steamer
was found in waiting to convey them to Fortress Monroe,
where they arrived the next day ; here a stop of two or
three hours was made. While at this place, the officers
had to hunt around considerably tor something to eat, but
were fortunate enough to tall in with some of the employes
of the Sanitary Commission, and finally got a good square
meal. The detachment was then ordered aboard the reg-
ular Baltimore boat, arriving in that city early the next
morning. Upon learning that they would have to wait
some hours before they could take the cars for New York,
many of the men devoted this time to "seeing the sights,"
while others who were just as anxious to see as much as
possible, but could not do so without bidding everybody
" good bye,"' did not forget, in the short time allowed, to
visit and take a parting drink at nearly every " gin-mill"
within reach, and in most cases everything was free to
these returning veterans. Finally the train was made up

35© History of the Seventh Regiment

about the middle of the forenoon, and the men were
marched aboard the cars — and such cars ! Old cattle-
cars that had been constantly in use for a fortnight would
have compared favorably with these, and for cleanliness
would certainly have surpassed them. In these lilthy
pens called passenger cars, the detachment went directly
to Philadelphia, arriving there that evening. They were
at once transported across the city in horse-cars, again
taking steam cars for New York city, which place was
reached shortly after midnight, when they were at once
marched through the city to the Harlem depot, which
was found to be closed for the night. The men then
scattered, piling into saloons, hotels, or any other place
where they could get in. They found the hotels gen-
erally full : but they were allowed the privilege of lying
upon the floor, thereby getdng a tew hours' sleep or rest
until morning, when they again took the cars direct for
Worcester, Mass. From there they went directly through
to Concord, N. H., by rail, without accident or delay,
reaching there at midnight. Here they found Adjt. Gen.
Natt Head awaiting their arrival, who at once escorted
the detachment to a hall where the}' were furnished
rations and a place where the}- could rest until morning,
when thev were siven a substantial breakfast, after which
came the business of mustering-out, discharging, and
paying off the men. By order of the mustering otficer in
the field the rolls had been made out with only the names
of those men upon them whose term of service had expired.
These rolls the mustering officer at Concord, Capt. A. B.
Thompson, would not accept, although he said he would
muster-out and discharge the men on them. So the men
were discharged, to date December 22, 1S64, and paid;
then the officers had to send one of their number back to
the front to make out a new set of muster-out rolls, which
had to have upon them the name of ever\- man who had

New Hampshire Volunteers. 351

ever belonged to the different companies. First Lieut.
Ferdinand Davis was detailed for this duty, and not until
his return and the acceptance of the new rolls by the mus-
tering officer, could the officers be mustered out. This
was finally accomplished, and the officers were mustered
out and paid, and this detachment of the original Seventh
became a matter of history.

Returning to the camp of the Seventh at Laurel Hill,
Va., we find them still engaged in drill and frequent tours
of picket duty. As soon as the men and officers whose
term of service had expired had left the regiment, arrange-
ments regarding promotions began at once to be made, in
order to fill the vacancies which had been caused by muster-
out. Second Lieut. Henry F. W. Little, of Company E,
had been promoted to first lieutenant in the Fourth U. S.
Colored Troops, to date from October 7, 1864; Second
Lieut. Calvin Brown, of Company G, had been promoted
to first lieutenant of Company H, to date from December
13, 1864; Second Lieut. Charles P. Dennison, of Com-
pau}- H, had been promoted to first lieutenant of Company
A, to date from December 13, 1864.

The new recommendations made to fill these commis-
sions were nearl}- all from the non-commissioned officers
who had re-enlisted. The following recommendations for
promotions were made, and the commissions issued accord-
ingly :

First Lieut. Charles P. Dennison, of Companv A, to
be captain of same company, to date from December 22,

Second Lieut. George F. McCabe, of Companv C, to
be captain of same company, to date from November 30,

First Sergt. Grovenor A. Curtice, of Company D, to
be captain of same company, to date from December 22,

352 History of the Seventh Regiment

First Lieut. John A. Coburn, of Company H, to be
captain of Company E, to date from December 12, 1864.

Second Lieut. George Roberts, of Company F, to be
captain of same company, to date from December 22, 1864.

Second Lieut. Charles A. Lawrence, of Company D, to
be captain of Company G, to date from November 2, 1864.

First Lieut. William W. W. Walker, of Company G,
to be captain of Company I, to date from October 28, 1864.

First Lieut. Paul Whipple, of Company A, to be captain
of Company K, to date from December 12, 1864.

First Sergt. Clement F. S. Ames, of Company C, to be
first lieutenant of same company, to date from December
22, 1S64.

Sergt. Charles B. Wallace, of Company E, to be first
lieutenant of the same company, to date from December
22, 1S64.

First Sergt. George W. Dicey, of Company G, to be
first lieutenant of same company, to date from December
22, 1864.

First Sergt. Josiah H. Gage, of Company K, to be first
lieutenant of same company, to date from December 22,

Private James A. Hills, of Company K, was promoted
to quartermaster sergeant, non-commissioned staff', to date
from December 22, 1S64.

On December 25, Christmas Day, we were visited by
Adjt. Gen. Natt Head, of New Hampshire, who was very
popular with all the soldiers from the old Granite State.
We were all very glad to see him, and made his visit of a
tew hours as pleasant as possible. On the 26th, a man
belonging to Company G, Third New Hampshire, w'as
shot for the crime of desertion. In the afternoon of this
day the news of the fall of Savannah reached us, and we
learned that General Sherman had " marched to the sea."




New Hampshire Volunteers. 353

Such good news caused much shouting and cap-throwing,
and we knew that General Sherman had grappled the
throat of the Confederacy with an iron hand.

On the 30th, the troops who went on the first expedition
to Fort Fisher were arriving back to their camps, the
expedition having proved a failure. Owing to a severe
storm and other delays, it seems the troops were not
landed until the 24th ; and then, after a careful survey,
General Weitzel had decided, with the approval of Gen-
eral Butler, that the fort was impregnable by a direct
assault, the terrible precedents of Fort Wagner and Port
Hudson being strong arguments to substantiate his opinion.
Badly mortified by this unexpected result, after so much
preparation, the expeditionary corps returned to their
former positions north of the James River. General
Grant, however, not feeling disposed to acquiesce in the
decision in regard to Fort Fisher, had ordered a second
expedition to be prepared, which was to be under the
supervision of Gen. A. H. Terry, while Brig. Gen. Adel-
bert Ames was to personally command the troops, which,
as far as we knew, were to be augmented by Colonel
Abbott's brigade, which was entirely armed with seven-

On January 3, 1865, the regiment received orders to be

Online LibraryHenry F. W. LittleThe Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion → online text (page 27 of 52)