Henry F. W. Little.

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

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State than the bounty of ten dollars paid to each of the

During the latter part of November, and during the
most of December, the weather was at times severe, con-
sequently many colds and a few fevers prevailed.
Measles broke out among the men, and the month of Jan-
uar}" came in more vigorous than ever. It was not to be
wondered at that the men many times heartily wished
themselves South, outside of the rifjors of a northern win-
ter, tor we were not as yet accustomed to tent life under
such severity. To accommodate the sick of the regiment
w^ho were at this time numerous, owing largely to the
inclemency of the weather, suitable halls were procured
in the city, and the necessary attendants and nurses de-
tailed to care for them. All the medical assistance possi-
ble was rendered, and nothing was left undone toward
making the condition of the sick as comfortable as possible.

The regiment was now drilled in earnest, four hours
each day, except in stormy weather, and discipline was
more rigidly enforced. The officers were held to a strict
account for the conduct of the men, and guard mounting
and company drill were closely watched by the colonel.
Roll-calls were reported, and all absentees arrested and
punished. Army regulations were read to the men,
strict courtesy was required to be observed toward all
officers, and all misconduct and petty offenses were pun-
ished in a military manner. As soon as discipline com-

i6 History of the Seventh Regiment

menced, it was noticed that the number of inmates in the
guard-tent materially increased, and there were at times a
dozen or more under guard for various offenses.

The tent where the prisoners were confined, was at the
entrance to the grounds — near the tents apportioned for
the use of guards — and the men confined there were up
to all sorts of tricks, even to setting their tent on fire,
which they did one night, completelv destroying it. One
of the prisoners procured in some way a ramrod, and heat-
ing it nearly red hot, came to the door of the tent, and call-
ing a corporal of the guard whom he disliked for some
reason, asked him if he would please take the ramrod
away as they did not want it in there, at the same time pass-
ing it with the heated end toward the corporal who grasped
it and very suddenly dropped it, much chagrined to think
he had been so mercilessly imposed upon. At another
time they pulled the guard-tent down, and in many ways
tried the patience of the officers of the guard.

The rations lurnished the men were now of the reirula-
tion diet, and consisted of hard bread, or better known
among the men as " hard-tack," mess-beef, pork, coffee,
and occasionally a very coarse black tea, and the men de-
tailed as cooks tor the different companies had hard w'ork
at times to give satisfaction, owing partially to inexperi-
ence in properly cooking and preparing the beef and
pork. The beef was familiarl}^ known among the boys
as " old salt horse,'' and was sometimes not properly
freshened by changing the water while being boiled.
If supper or dinner was not on time the men would occa-
sionally get up a row with the cooks, and it did not take
much to start such a row, when the cooks would be
changed, and everything would go on quietly for a while,
or until some negligence on the part of the cooks caused
another outbreak, but after a time the cooks took more
pains and the " grub " was much more satisfactory, and
the men became more affiliated to the armv rations.


New Hampshire Volunteers. 17

The regiment was now getting into shape, and the
officers were required to furnish themselves with regula-
tion uniforms and equipments, which they at once pro-
vided, a few having their swords and belts furnished by
friends. It was a very uncomfortable day for any officer
Colonel Putnam caught on inspection who was not properly
uniformed and equipped according to army regulations ;
and as each commissioned officer was allowed one copy
of the "Army Regulations,", he was without excuse.

In fitting the men of the different companies to uniforms,
much trouble was experienced, as there was an occasional
man whom no ready-made uniform could possibly fit.
There were some very tall men who had to get their
trousers made in town. One sergeant in Company D,
who was six feet, four inches in height, tried about every
pair of trousers in the storehouse, and the longest ones
were about four inches too short, while some of the shorter
men had to cut off as many inches or more from each leg
of their trousers. It was a common sight to see a man
with his blouse sleeves so long that he had to take a tack
in each of the sleeves, and there were others where the
blouse would fit a man twice his size in circumference,
while in other cases, it would not (lo half wav round.
Hats, caps, and shoes were not quite so difficult to fit, yet
there were a few upon whom the largest pair of shoes
made a very tight fit. Some of the hats required large
amounts of paper wads inside the lining and many had to
be stretched to fit the different shaped heads.

December 12 was a gala day in camp, especially for
the officers, and preparations were going on all day long
for a grand ball, which the officers gave in the evening,
the men calliu"; it a " shindio-." It was held over in a large
commissary tent, enlarged and floored for the purpose,
the floor being carpeted largely with army blankets, and
covered with heavy ducking. Many friends of the officers

i8 History of the Seventh Regiment

came up from the city and the ball was a magnificent
affair, and lasted into the " wee sma' hours ayant the
twal." The ladies were brought up Irom the cit}- and
returned in hacks, and all appointments and arrangements
were made regardless of expense.

The next day the colonel gave the men a holiday, excus-
ing all formalities excepting dress 'parade and roll-calls.
This holiday was much appreciated b\" the men, and was
mostly spent in pla3'ing games of all kinds, singing, and
visiting each other in camp, and it was a good time in
general, all through the camp.

The officers of the regiment were now kept busy pre-
paring muster-rolls, company propert}* books, descriptive
books, making out returns, and the usual requisitions for
rations. Each captain was allowed to detail one man
from his company as a clerk to do this writing, and it was
no small job, as the name of every man in the company
had to be entered in each book, and an account of his
clothing which had been issued, made and charged to
him, and, in the descriptive book, a description of each
man recorded ; this was all kept in a consolidated
form, in a book, by the adjutant of the regiment. This
work was considerable, and often occupied the hours until
well into the night, as the writer of this has good reason
to remember, he having been one of those detailed for
company clerk.

On the 17th, at the battalion drill in the afternoon,
Colonel Putnam gave the regiment its first march of any
consequence, the route being westerh', over the Amoskeag
brido-e to the village of Amoskeag, thence about a mile
down the river on the west side to Piscataquog, over
the 'Squog bridge and east to Elm street, then up
Elm street to camp, a distance of about three and one half
miles, the regiment making a fine appearance. Most of
the companies having nearly the full complement of men

New Hampshire Volunteers.


in line made the line look as large as whole brigades, as
some of us saw them three years later. December 21, the
regiment had another short march over in the direction of
the reservoir, which was at that time northeast of the citv.
A person going over the same routes to-da}', would
hardly believe the}' were the same, so radical have been
the changes, and the limits of the city have in each case
extended far beyond.

December 23, Private Marcellus Judkins, of Company C,
died, which was the first death that had thus far occurred
in our regiment. He was from Cornish, N. H. In the
hospital which had been temporarily established in
Brown's block, down in the city, we had thirty men sick
from severe colds and fevers, and measles which had
broken out in a malijjnant form.

The routine of camp life went on as usual, and with the
advent of the new year, 1862, \\'ith the deep snows of win-
ter, which made our camp life still more uncomfortable,
we often wished ourselves farther south.

January i, there was another death in the regiment, and
on the 2d another one died, and as the weather grew
colder the death-rate seemed to increase. January 2, the
regiment was reviewed by Governor Berr\' and staff, and
Senator John P. Hale, who had taken a great interest in
the formation ot the regiment, and the Fisherville cornet
band came down with the governor and staff to furnish
music for the occasion. The governor complimented our
colonel upon our fine appearance.

On the 4th, we were again reviewed b}-^ Maj. Gen. Ben-
jamin F. Butler, who was organizing an expedition to go
South. It was one of those " Arctic days," with the ther-
mometer down to zero, and the general kept the bovs out
so long that many frozen ears, noses, or feet were the sad
consequences, and from that day on General Butler
probably had fewer admirers in the regiment than ever

20 History of the Seventh Regiment





January 12, orders were read at dress parade for the
regiment to proceed to the front, and everyone seemed
highly pleased at the prospective change of situation.
Many of the men who lived near the camp got furloughs
for the next day, as the orders were for the regiment
to start on the 14th and the furloughs were only given
for twenty-four hours. During the 13th, the men were
busily engaged in packing knapsacks, and arranging
ever3^thing ready for the journey on the following morn-
ing ; and many of the men received visits from their
parents, wives, brothers, sisters, friends, and acquaint-
ances, who, having heard of the orders for the departure
of the regiment, came to bid them good-bye, and wish
them a pleasant journey and a speedy and safe return.
Some of those scenes at leave-taking were very touching,
and caused many a stout, brave-hearted comrade to turn
his head and brush away a falling tear. The comrades
who are living to-day will remember those scenes better
than anyone can possibly describe them. Many letters
were written in camp on this day, informing friends,
where it was impossible for them to come and see us off,
that we were about to depart, and bidding them, so fondly
and lovingly, a written good-bye. Only about a dozen
men in each company could receive leave of absence, and

New Hampshire Volunteers. 21

that only for twenty-four hours, and as very few could get
to their friends in so short a time, the favor M'as hardly
worth asking for ; but where it was possible, our families,
sweethearts, and friends came to see us off. Officers
were very busy packing their chests and the company
property, and supervising the cooking of the two days'
rations we had been ordered to take with us. In the
quartermaster's department the regimental property was
being packed, and everything put in readiness for imme-
diate shipment, and the men in camp finally settled down,
late at night, for the last night's rest in Camp Hale, and
at taps that night, the lights went out, never to be re-
lighted again b}' those comi-ades on that beautiful camp-

The morning of the 14th was cold and sharp, and we
broke camp at 7 o'clock, according to orders, and it was
wonderful to see how happy the men seemed, to think
they would now have a change in location. They were
up and out early, had their tents struck on time, and
at once proceeded to rake all the straw into heaps and
burned it, together with what furniture the}- did not give
away to the Eighth Regiment, in camp just south of us.
At last, everything being in readiness, the line was formed
in heavy marching order, at 10 o'clock, and in columns
of fours, right in front, we started for the railway station,
escorted by the Eighth Regiment, where a train was in
waiting for us. Camp Hale, our hrst militarv rendezvous,
was a thing of the past, but the many pleasant hours we
passed within its limits will never be forgotten, and the
cherished memories and fond recollections of that first
encampment will never fade from our view^

We were soon at the railway station, where we were at
once ordered aboard the train, and amidst the final leave-
taking of our families and friends, and the cheers of those
patriotic people who had gathered to wish us "God

22 History of the Seventh Regiment

speed,'' the command, " all aboard," was given, the engi-
neer pulled gently at the throttle-valve, and slowly yet
surely, we were off for the war, at just ten minutes past
twelve o'clock, at noon.

Our orders w^ere to proceed by rail to Allvn's Point,
Conn., thence by boat to Jerse}^ City, and from there
again by rail to Washington, D. C. Arriving at Nashua
our train was switched over onto the Nashua & Worces-
ter railway, and nothing of material interest occurred,
excepting the almost total disappearance of snow through
the State of Connecticut. When we neared the City of
Norwich, it did not seem that we could realize that it was
in the winter season, and that we had only a few hours
before left heavy snow-drifts away in New Hampshire.

We arrived at All3m's Point about 9 o'clock in the
evening, and at once went on board the sound boat " Con-
necticut," with orders to proceed to Jersey City, N. J.
On Long Island Sound everything went smoothly until
about 2 oclock a. m. of the 15th, when the weather became
squally, and the boat pitched badly. Many of the men
who had never before experienced a trip by water, soon
found out how people felt when under the influence of
sea-sickness. All around the bulwarks appeared a measl}'
looking crowed, and every mother's son of them seemed to
have a lot to say about New York, but our destination was
then Jersey City.

In the morning at daylight we found the weather had
set in foggy and stormy. Atter considerable beating
around we steamed up to Jersey City and laid by there a
number of hours, the cause for this soon after became
apparent. A telegram from Washington, D. C, awaited
us, ordering the regiment into barracks in the City of New
York. Consequently w^e crossed over to the South
Hampton and Havre pier, at the foot of Canal street,
where we disembarked, and were marched up Canal

New Hampshire Volunteers. 23

street to Broadway, down Broadway, and to 79 White
street, near the corner of Broadway, where there was
a building formerly used for storage purposes, six sto-
ries in height, including basement, which had been
leased by the government as a depot for troops awaiting
orders. Our regiment was at once marched inside and
occupied the upper floors, the officers occupying a part of
the first or ground floor, reserving the other portion for
guard mounting : and every dav when the weather would
permit, we were drilled on- Washington Square, in com-
pany or battalion drill.

x\fter a few days bunks were built throughout the build-
ing, and mattresses were furnished, making sleep seem a
little more comfortable, at any rate. At first guards were
only placed at the entrances to the building, but as soon
as the bo3's found they could not get out without a pass,
they began to barter with outsiders trom the windows, and
we often noticed suspicious looking bottles going up to one
of the upper floors, suspended from a line. From other
windows they were hauling in small baskets or boxes
loaded with pies, cakes, fruit, or clothing, the price of the
articles having been previousl}^ thrown to the venders on
the ground. It was soon evident that considerable " black-
strap," as the men called it, was gaining admittance, and
the more etTectually to stop it, an order was issued to
station guards or sentinels at each window, which almost
wholly ended our traffic with the outside world. For our
convenience a corner was fenced in on the lower floor and
a sutler established therein, and venders of pies, cakes,
fruits, and Yankee notions were ever afterwards denied
admission. The men who had money to spend for tobacco,
or eatables, were given the chance to patronize the
regimental sutler, who was at that time a man formerly
from New Hampshire, by the name of William Ridell,
who employed tor his clerk a man by the name of Marble.

24 History of the Seventh Regiment

Everything went on ver}' smoothly for a while, but one
da}', the men thought the sutler was charging too much
for his eatables — more than was charged by the venders
outside the building — and they became so enraged that
they gathered quite a crowd, and arming themselves with
the long iron hooks used for cleaning the grates to the
coal stoves, made a rush for the sutler's caboose, and came
near pulling it over. They probably would have cleaned
him out entirely of his stock in trade had not the officer of
the guard come to his aid bv orderincj two reliefs of the
guard to fix bayonets, and charge upon the crowd and
clear the room, which at once dispersed the crowd, and
drove the men up stairs. Ever after that guards were
stationed near the counter of the sutler's booth.

The contract for feeding the regiment while here was
awarded to a New Yorker, who had the basement floor
set with long benches which served for tables, with lower
benches for seats at either side. The tin plates, dippers,
knives, and forks from each company were gathered in to
furnish the tablew^are. The companies were marched in
order to this dininjx-room in the basement, and the guards
were marched in a bod}^ tor their rations, all under the
supervision of the officer of the day.

For a time the rations furnished were passabl}' fair, and
then they began to grow poorer, until the men would eat
but little of the food as it w^as placed before them, which
began to grow scanty as well as poor. It will be well
remembered in particular, that w^e got bean soup very often,
and that it tasted ver}- smoky, and sometimes as though the
pork used in the preparation of the soup was slightly
tainted or rusty. The men would file along to their places,
face the table, take their plates of bean soup, turn them
upside down, and file quietly back to their quarters.
Then the order of things was slightlv changed, and we
got mutton soup, which must have been made from the


Seventli N. H. VoluiiteiM's.

New Hampshire Volunteers, 25

very poorest and strongest kind of mutton, to judge by the
smell of the article, to which, under the circumstances,
the men did not take kindly. Consequently, when they
got down at the tables and could sniff the peculiar flavor
from the cook-room, they knew what was coming, and
at once set up such a continuous bleating that one would
think a large western sheep ranch had arrived, and at a
given signal, over would go the plates, soup and all.
But after a time the quality of the rations was in a meas-
ure remedied by the officer' of the da}- p^iying more atten-
tion to his duties, being present at each meal, to see if the
rations were fairly issued and of good quality, and that
a plentiful supply was set before the men.

Often for supper, we v.ould have a slice of wheat bread
and cheese, and sometimes a very small portion of poor
butter, perhaps a piece about the size of a walnut for each
man, or a piece of cheese about the size of a brass army
button, along with a tin dipper of coffee or tea. The men
will remember that, in order to get a decent ration of
butter or cheese to go with their bread, they were often
obliged to "gobble" up several rations of the articles as
they tiled along toward their end of the table. Those
who were " out" of their rations would hail the officer of
the day, who not knowing that any had been placed there,
would order more to be brought forward. That little
game had to be played rather extensively, in order to get
food enough, and in after years we found this an accom-
plishment not to be despised, in order to get all the rations
allowed us, and more if possible. It was a good thing for
the government, as well as the men, when they had ar-
rived at that state of perfection where it was. possible to
take twice as many rations out of a cook-tent as the
cTovernment furnished.

For amusements we were ver}^ well provided, as a num-
ber in each compan}^ were granted passes each day or

26 History of the Seventh Regiment

night, to go sight-seeing, or for the purpose of attending
the theatres or " Barnum's Museum," and nearly all the
men took in " Barnum's." Often a string band of " gem-
men ob color" would gain admission, and the boys would
fix up a temporary stage by placing a few boards on the top
end of some upright barrels, and handing up a few
cracker-boxes for seats. They generally made lots of fun
for us, and at the first sound of roll-call would take up a
collection, which was always very generously responded
to, and depart. Oftentimes they played as well as many
troupes of traveling minstrels.

A few days after the regiment arrived in New York,
the Sons of New Hampshire living in the city, gave the
officers of our regiment a supper. The men in the ranks did
not like it because all were not invited. On the evening of
the banquet George W. Fisher, of Company I, was one of
the guards at the officers' quarters, and the Sons of New
Hampshire were to come and escort the officers over to the
banquet rooms. The orders to the sentinels were not to
pass anyone unless accompanied by an officer. Fisher
told his comrade, who was on guard with him, that he did
not know the Sons of New Hampshire from a side of sole-
leather, and that he did not propose to let anyone in with-
out an officer for escort. Among others that appeared and
wanted to go in was a man with a gray coat, who was kept
waiting with the others. After a while, Adjutant Henderson
came out and told the guards that they had kept Horace
Greeley out in the cold tor fifteen or twenty minutes, to
which they replied that they were obeying orders. A ser-
geant was then detailed to pass in the visitors.

Occasionally some patriotic citizen would come up to
headquarters and ask permission to go in and take out a
few of tlie men to a theatre or lecture, and many life-long
acquaintances were thus made by our New Hampshire
bo\'s with citizens of the great metropolis. The men who

New Hampshire Volunteers. 27

were thus favored passed many pleasant hours with their
whilom chaperon.

On the 31st, we were paid by the United States for the
first time since our enlistment, which included pay accord-
ing to our rank, from time of enlistment up to December
31, inclusive. This was a great day in our lifetime, as
we were lor once with a moderate amount of funds in a
great city, where there was every inducement possible to
entice us to part with our money, and as is usual in such
cases, some of the men improved the opportunity and got
through their pile inside of a few hours.

We had quite a number of men sick while here, and
many of the serious cases were taken to the City Hospital.
The most prevalent diseases were colds and fevers, the
fevers in a few cases proving fatal. The weather during
most of our stay in these barracks was gloomy in the ex-
treme. Snow or. rain fell nearly every day, and the air
seemed chilly and damp, making it anything but comfort-
able to be away from the coal stoves in the barracks.

On the I2th of February orders were issued for the regi-
ment to get ready to go aboard transports on the morrow,
theretbre we prepared bv packing what we could conve-
niently carry, and by smashing everything else. It took
about all night to smash up the glassware, which was
composed largely of empty bottles, — a work which the
men seemed to delight in doing. Where they came from
was a mystery. It seemed as though ever}^ man had a
half-bushel or more, especially stored up for the occasion.
How it was possible to have such an accumulation under
the immediate eye of a vigilant guard was a mystery, but
sure enough they had them, and not contented with
making all the noise possible with the bottles, they
would take boards from the bunks, which were the length
of two bunks, or about fourteen feet long, and stand them
up endwise until the top end touched the ceiling, then

Online LibraryHenry F. W. LittleThe Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion → online text (page 3 of 52)