Henry F. W. Little.

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

. (page 31 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

their main defense and it failed, I rather expected the men
would be disheartened, but they fought with redoubled
vigor. As soon as the sailors and marines retreated, I
moved the whole of my available infantry, some eight hun-
dred men, to dislodge the enemy, who had captured the left
salient, two gun chambers adjoining, and were busy en-
trenching inside my work. The heroic General Whiting,
who had rushed to the parapet and encouraged the troops to
repel the naval brigade, now led the van: and receiving
two wounds in endeavoring to reach a Federal standard
bearer, was carried to the rear. A hand-to-hand fight on
the parapet and over a traverse ensued ; while in the
work, from behind everything that would yield the slight-
est protection to my men, a rapid fire was poured into the
advancing three brigades. The enemy halted in the face
of our desperate assault. I then had the two heavy guns
on the mound, and two from another battery on the sea
face, turned on this column ; and these, with the two guns
of Battery Buchanan, seemed to have a demoralizing
effect, as their fire slackened and their flags disappeared
from the tops of the traverses. Believing that General
Bragg would now attack, I telt that a determined charge
on our part would cause a retreat of the enemy, and we
could regain the work. I passed down the lines, and
officers and men with the wildest enthusiasm promised to
follow me. The forward movement stopped with my fall,
and afterward the enemy, having been strongly reinforced,
began an advance, which, though stoutly and even reck-
lessly resisted for five hours (until all of the ammunition

New Hampshire Volunteers. 391

had been expended), resulted in the capture of the whole
work. Afy appeals to the officers and men to continue
the strugo-le after I had fallen, was because General Lee
had sent me word that the fort was necessary to keep open
the gateway to supply his army with food and clothing
from abroad ; and I desired to prolong the resistance so
long as there was a chance for Bragg to come to our
assistance and recall the enemy to its own defensive line."

General Whiting and staff arrived at the fort on Friday
afternoon, the 13th, amidst a terrific bombardment. To
the charcre of Bragg, that the garrison of Fort Fisher had
a pecuniary interest in the blockade-running business,
Colonel Lamb, after denying the charge, says at one time
he was notified that ten bales of cotton were at Liverpool
subject to his order, and he immediately ordered it sold
and the proceeds to be used in buying two one-hundred-
and-thirty-pounder Whitworth rifled guns, and ammuni-
tion for the same for Fort Fisher. He got part of the
ammunition, but the guns only got as far as Nassau.
Alter the repulse of the first expedition under Butler,
Colonel Lamb asked Bragg for hand grenades, and sub-
marine torpedoes to place where the fleet had anchored,
neither of which he ever got. During the sixty hours of
continuous battle his men were unable to provide a single
meal, but subsisted upon uncooked rations and corn-meal
coflee. They had lost their blankets and overcoats at the
attack of the first expedition, by the destruction of their
quarters, and requisitions for their replacement were

One account of the assault on Fort Fisher says : "About
the time that it was evident that the naval attack was not
to succeed, there emerged from the scrubby wood north of
the fort the troops destined to assault the place. These
were veterans from the Army of the James. Rough-
looking, with I'rowsy clothing and disheveled hair and

392 History of the Seventh Regiment

beards, after long and hard experience on the transports,
these soldiers had their arms clean and bright and car-
tridge boxes filled with forty rounds, while they aligned
and dressed in line of battle as coolly and precisely as if
on parade. Probably not a man among them who had
not been 'in' a dozen times betbre. There was but little
fuss about it, and no noise of either bugling or verbal com-
mands. Then suddenly at a ' right shoulder shift' and a
' double-quick,' the line swept across the sandy plain."

Ames's division was selected for the assault. Paine's
division and Abbott's brigade were with the defensive line.
(Abbott's brigade was withdrawn from the defensive line
and put into the fight at the critical moment and completed
the victory. )

In Major Trickey's (Third New Hampshire) account of
the assault, speaking of the assaulting column, he says :
" Night was now closing around them. Curtis, Penny-
packer, and Bell have fallen — the latter died next morn-
ing ; the others are thought to have received their mortal
wounds. The commander of near!}- every regiment is
killed or wounded. The desolation among the heroes in
the ranks is frightful. Fighting ceases for a moment
from mere exhaustion. Reinforcements are now the one
thing needful, and speculation as to the result without that
important element will do no sort of good. Terry is equal
to the emergency. With the sailors and marines he
relieves on the right of Paine's line his old brigade, veter-
ans of twenty bloody battles and four desperate assaults.
[This was Abbott's brigade, and was composed in part of
the Seventh New Hampshire, under command of Lieuten-
ant-Colonel Rollins.] This brigade enters the fort by
the postern gate just as darkness is shutting down. Upon
arriving inside the fort we open fire with our Spencers
(seven-shooters), soon silencing the enemy in our imme-
diate front. Then charging the rebels we drove them

New Hampshire Volunteers. 393

from one traverse to another until nine more are in our
possession. The brigade was now placed in proper posi-
tion and charged the whole line, with a momentum no
power could stop."

According to the report of Admiral Porter the fleet fired
about fifty thousand shots and shells and had as many
more on hand. His source of supply was Beaufort, N. C,
which could be reached by two different ways in ten
hours. He claims that he was verv short of coal, and had
he not been supplied b}- the arm}- transports the expedi-
tion would have been a failure. Nearly every rifled gun
in the fleet burst. Two fifteen-inch guns burst on the
monitors. A few days after the surrender of Fort Mala-
kofl' to the combined armies of the French and English,
which they had been months in capturing, he visited that
stronghold, and saj's it was not to be compared with Fort
Fisher. It is said the "Ironsides" did the most accurate

To prevent the rebels reinforcing the garrison of Fort
Fisher, eleven of the gunboats were directed to greatly
elevate their guns so as to drop shells into the river beyond
the fort.

The historian of the Third New Hampshire says :

"It was currently reported at the time that 'Private
Miles O'Reilly ' was in New York city when the good
news reached there. He was now a citizen, but full of
military spirit — and possibly of other kinds. [He was
formerly Lieut. Col. Charles G. Halpine, of the Forty-
seventh N. Y. \"olunteers, and was at one time acting
assistant adjutant-general of the Department of the South,
and well known in the old Tenth Corps.] He at once
courted the muses and produced a quantity of poetry [for
which he had always been especially noted] apropos to
the occasion :

394 History of the Seventh Regiment
sherry terry porter.

" Let us drink in golden slierry.

As we oft have drank before,
Let us drink to General Terry,

Long of head and body — very ;
To our own dear Alfred Terry,

Of the old Tenth Army Corps.

Fill to Porter and to Terry —

They are names that we adore ;
From Connecticut to Kerry,

Some in grog and some in sherry —
' To the admiral and Terry!'

Deep libations let us pour.

" ' Private Miles O'Reilly' led a large crowd of adher-
ents into a convivial place : and though the police had
been sent for, they kindly permitted him to repeat his
poem, treat his personal admirers; and then, forming a
procession, they (and he) marched to the police station ! "

At the terrible explosion in the fort early on the morning
following its capture, it is reported that upwards of a
hundred of Bell's brigade were killed, and many were
buried never to be exhumed. There were also about
thirty wounded rebels. Besides these, there were about
ninety wounded by the explosion, not buried b}'' it. The
One Hundred and Sixth-ninth New York was the greatest
sufferer, losing about forty killed and sixty wounded.

It was reported that the price of i\our in Richmond the
day before the capture of Fort Fisher was $i,ooo per
barrel ! This had advanced to $1,250 on the iSth, while
gold was $70 and calico was $25 per yard.

The part that the Seventh New Hampshire took, par-
ticularly in this second attack upon Fort Fisher, is also
told by the adjutant of the regiment. First Lieut. John H.
Horsfall, in his diary written each day. It is an authentic
record, and commences with the regiment settled down

New Hampshire Volunteers. 395

quietly in camp at Laurel Hill, Va., and as was at that
time presumed, in winter quarters. It gives the position
of the regiment on January i, 1S65, as in camp near
Laurel Hill, Va., on the left of the line of the First Divi-
sion of the Twenty-fourth Army Corps, joined on our left
by Ames's division of the same corps, and situated about
five miles from Jones's Landing on the James River.
The Seventh was in the First Division (Terry's), while
Ames's division on our left was the Second Division.
Our camp was about seven miles from Richmond, on the
right of the New Market road. We picketed our own
front. We w^ere also the left of the Second Brigade
(Hawley's). On January 2, the diary states that the
troops composing the first expedition to Fort Fisher had
just settled dow'n again in camp, having been unsuccesstul.
At 3 o'clock A. M. on the 3d, marching orders were
received, and the company commanders w-ere notified by
Lieutenant-Colonel Rollins, in his quarters. The diary
says that at 11 o'clock a. m. the line was formed in heavy
marching order, each man taking a piece of shelter tent ;
at 12 M. moved by the right flank, passing brigade head-
quarters, marching tow'ards Jones's Landing, the brigade
under command of Colonel Abbott, and Lieutenant-Col-
onel Rollins in command of the regiment. Crossed the
pontoon bridge at 2 o'clock p. m., and here a heavy snow-
storm set in, which made the march very uncomtbrtable.
Bivouacked in the edge of a piece of woods at 5 o'clock
p. M., near Bermuda Hundred, and about tu^o miles from
the landing. The night was cold and uncomfortable, and
the men got very little sleep. The regiment lay in the
edge of the wood all day on the 4th, waiting for orders.
The troops of the Second Division and the colored troops
were embarking all day at the landing. On the 5th, at 3
o'clock a. m., received orders to "fall in"; did so, and
marched to Bermuda Hundred Landing, where the regi-

396 History of the Seventh Regiment

ment arrived about 7 o'clock a. :m., and at once embarked
on the steamer " General Lyons." Just previous to the
embarkation, Adjutant Horsfall says he visited a place
called " Union Dining Saloon," and found live men of our
regiment in bed, who were taken on board, losing their
arms and equipments, which had been left in the bivouac
in the woods. Sailed at 9 o'clock a. m., and at 7 o'clock
p. M. arrived off Fortress Monroe. On the 6th, sailed
from Fortress Monroe at 4 o'clock a. m., and passed Cape
Henry Light at 8 o'clock a. m., with a steady sea, but
towards evening the sea became heavy, causing much
sea-sickness among the men.

On the 7th, still at sea and very rough, causing the
steamer to roll considerablv- Guards were mounted daily,
the Seventh and Third New Hampshire furnishing them
alternately. The Third were aboard the steamer with
us. It was found that clothing and sutler's stores were
disappearing rapidly, and also commissary stores in the
hold, especiallv sugar, and everyone seemed to be eating
it below. Still at sea on the Sth ; arrived off Beaufort,
N. C about 7 o'clock a. m., and a portion of the naval
fleet were in full view to the southeast, the remainder
being in Beaufort Harbor. At noon received orders to
anchor until further orders. Received a signal from the
steamer " Eliza Hancox," if rough, to move nearer the
bar. The weather was very cold, and the steamer rolled
heavily. Several cases of fever and ague were reported
among the men.

On the 9th, weighed anchor at 7 o'clock a. m., and
steamed around nearly all day, keeping about twenty-flve
miles from and south of Beaufort, N. C, and about tifty
miles from New Inlet, Cape Fear River. Had inspection
by companies on board, and some of the ammunition was
found to be wet and in bad order. Furloughs were
received for J. Lynch, of Company G, and J. A. English,

New Hampshire Volunteers. 397

of Company E, to go to Massachusetts to testify in regard
to enlistment trauds. The sky was clear overhead, and a
slight swell of the ocean was noticeable at noon. Cape
Lookout Light was in plain view at 4 o'clock p. m., as
was also Fort Macon. Still at sea on the loth, with
rising wind from the southeast at noon, with a very heav}^
sea. Still at sea on the nth; at 2.30 o'clock a. m. the
cry was raised of a man overboard, which proved to be a
man named Brown, belonging to the Third New Hamp-
shire. He was lost. At sunrise slight westerly wind,
with sea not so rough. Clear sky and quite pleasant.
At 10 o'clock A. M. anchored olf Beaufort, N. C, and at
2.30 o'clock p. M. the steamer " C. W. Thomas," General
Terry's dispatch boat, came alongside and announced
" Dispatches," which were received by Captain ^Nloore,
of our brigade stall'. The orders were to sail in line, pre-
ceded by the steamer "Prometheus"; also to land the
men in heavy marching order, with three days' rations.
Anchored all night by order. Still at sea on the 12th.
At 7 o'clock A. M. naval fleet in full view, the monitors
taking the lead out of Beautbrt harbor. A smooth sea
and tine overhead. At 9 o'clock a. :m. received orders for
our steamer to get into line, which was done. A man in
Company K, Charles A. Norton, shot himself through
the hand and wrist, and the forearm was amputated by
Assistant Surgeon Kimball, of the Third New Hamp-
shire. The transports and naval i\eei in line w-ere a tine
sight. Anchored about midnight at a distance of about
seven miles from shore.

On the 13th still at sea. Raised anchor and steamed
into line as before. Came in sight of Half Moon Battery,
on the North Carolina shore, about six miles north of Fort
Fisher, about 7 o'clock a. :m. ; at 8 o'clock a. .m. the navy
opened on the battery and woods adjoining. The firing
was very rapid for a short time. At 11 o'clock a. m. the

398 History of the Seventh Regiment

regiment was transferred to the gunboat " Nansemond."
Were landed about noon from surf-boats, and many got
completely wet through. The regiment was at once
formed on the beach and moved to a point near the Half
Moon Battery, and in the evening were moved nearer
Fort Fisher and bivouacked. A heav}- bombardment of
Fort Fisher was kept up by the naval fleet. On the morn-
incT of the 14th the weather was cloudy. The regiment
lay about five miles from Fort Fisher. The bombardment
of the fleet continued. Our forces captured a small stern-
wheel steamboat on Cape Fear River, loaded with ammu-
nition and corn meal, and was a novel looking craft. The
siecre train was being landed to-day. The regiment is sta-
tioned about a half-mile from the picket line facing Wil-
mington. A little firing occurred on the picket line
during the day, but three shots fired fi'om a gun in the
Half Moon Battery silenced the firing on the picket line.
At night the detail for fatigue was tw^o hundi-ed men. At
11.30 p. M. the regiment bivouacked for the night. The
detail for fatigue was for the purpose of assisting in the
construction of a heavy line of breastworks, extending
from the Atlantic Ocean to Cape Fear River.

Sunday, the 15th, the weather was fine and warm.
The morning report showed eight commissioned officers
and two hundred and ninety-seven enlisted men present
for duty. At 8.30 a. m. the regiment was moved towards
Fort Fisher, and at 10 a. m. the regiment was deployed
in single file in the breastworks running across the penin-
sula, and facing north towards Wilmington, relieving the
Third Brigade (Colonel Bell), Second Division (Ames's),
at 12 M. The fire from the fleet on Fort Fisher w^as very
heavy. The skirmish line of Curtis's brigade within one
hundred feet of the fort, and commanding the enemy's
cruns. The sallv-port of the fort cannot be closed on
account of the heavy fire from the navy. The inside of

New Hampshire Volunteers. 399

the fort can be seen by the advance line. At 3 p. m. the
Thh-teenth Indiana with Spencer carbines on the counter-
scarp of the tort, and the guns in that portion of the fort
cannot be fired in consequence. The enemy were dis-
covered landing troops at Battery Buchanan from Cape
Fear River. Some of our gunboats commenced shelling
their advance, thereby preventing the landing of all of
them. About 4 p. m. the fire from the fleet slackened.
The marines and seamen in line and form a part of the
assaulting column. Ha\"e just visited the flying hospital
near by, and found the surgeons and their assistants very
busy with lance and saw.

Noticed a newspaper correspondent (Merriam), glean-
ing information from one of General Ames's staff" officers
who had been wounded in the leg. x\bout 5 p. m. received
orders to "fall in," which we did at once, the Seventh and
the other regiments of Abbott's brio-ade, leaving; their
knapsacks, marched out of the works down the beach
toward Fort Fisher. Were relieved in the breastworks
by the remnant of the body of marines and sailors who
had survived the assault. Arrived at the sally-port of the
fort about 7 p. m., having moved rapidly, where we were
halted to await further orders. Here three men were
wounded on the bridge crossing the ditch, which sur-
rounded the fort. At 10 p. m. received orders to enter
the fort, where dismounted cannon, dead bodies and
wounded men met our gaze ; in fact, it was sickening, but
we could not linger, as we had orders to move rapidly.
The Seventh ascended the stairs over the fifth traverse,
and moved inside the stockade. Charged the northeast
angle and three traverses in good shape, driving the rebels
out and capturing man}- prisoners. Corporal Peterson, of
Company B, here captured a flag. At the base of the last
traverse formed in line and w^ere joined by the Sixth
Conn. Volunteers, when we moved on the Mound Battery,

400 History of the Seventh Regiment

where Captain Edgerly, of the Third New Hampshire,
hauled down and captured the garrison flag and gave it
to Colonel Abbott, he gave it to General Terry, who
accompanied us. The Seventh then advanced on Bat-
tery Buchanan, throwing out Lieutenant Whipple and ten
men as skirmishers. Arriving at the battery it was at
once surrendered by one of General Whiting's statf' officers,
with its guns (four spiked ), and about tifteen hundred
officers and men as prisoners. Here Lieutenant-Colonel
Rollins and Adjutant Horsfall each procured a horse,
formed the prisoners in line and marched them to General
Terry's headquarters, arriving in camp at 5 a. m., of the
i6th. There were tifty-six guns captured in the fort proper,
one of which was an Armstrong, one-hundred and tifty-
pounder, reported to have been a present to Jeff. Davis.
The rebels had comfortable quarters in the bomb-proofs,
and their rations consisted of one third of a pound of bacon
or pork and one pound of flour or corn meal. The pris-
oners expressed themselves, generally, as tired of the war.
The Seventh lost in the action of the 15th : two men killed,
eight wounded, and one missing, supposed killed. An
explosion occurred in the fort early on the morning of the
i6th, caused either through carelessness or electricity by
the enemy, resulting in the loss of over two hundred men,
one hundred and seventy -five of whom belonged to Colo-
nel Bell's brigade. They w'ere, as far as practicable,
taken up and buried. The Seventh is still in the line of
detensive works, facing Wilmington.

On Tuesday, the 17th, the weather was fine and clear.
Visited Fort Fisher, and saw large fatigue parties removing
the sand and debris caused by the explosion. So far they
had got out about one hundred and fifty bodies which were
being buried. One of the traverses was completely filled
with sand. Some of the bodies w-ere quite warm. The
One Hundred and Sixty-ninth N. Y. Volunteers suffered

New Hampshire Volunteers.


the heaviest by the explosion. Saw a large number of
naval officers visiting the fort ; on the iSth, the diary says
that Lieutenant-Colonel Rollins visited Fort Fisher and
Battery Buchanan ; he had a conversation with Major-
General Whiting and Colonel Lamb, of the Thirty-sixth
N. C. Volunteers, who were prisoners of war, and who
expressed themselves as very much surprised at our dar-
ing attack, and could not imagine what our hopes were ;
but he told them it was our way of doing things.

After the battle of Fort Fisher the Seventh was busily
engaged for some days guarding prisoners who were
aw^aiting transportation north, atl;er which they were en-
gaged in skirmishing and doing picket duty. Fort Ander-
son on the Cape Fear River, and nearer to Wilmington, was
still in the hands of the Confederacy. Sherman was then
on his way up through South Carolina, and would advance
on the east side of the river, our troops being on the same
side ; it was also necessary that the gunboats, the best
flanTcers that an army ever had, should advance up the
river about the time the troops moved, but the gunboats
could not run up until the torpedoes and other obstruc-
tions had been removed from the river and its several
approaches. Meanwhile many blockade-runners were
being signaled in, and had to be taken care of.


402 History of the Seventh Regiment

CHAPTER x:x:ii.

the engageinient at half ]moon battery. — :marching
toward wilmington. arrival of the twenty-







Adjutant Horsfall's diary further informs us that on
January 19 the Seventh received orders at 10.30 a. m. to
"fall in," in light marching order, and moved out of the
line of works and up the beach on a reconnoissance, and
were halted near Half Moon Battery, where a full supply
of ammunition was procured and distributed to the men.
The rebels on the other side of the lagoon to which the
Seventh had arrived, moved rapidly into their rifle-pits.
Colonel Abbott immediately communicated with a naval
officer whose vessel was on his flank, who at once opened
fire upon the enemy's works. Companies H and K were,
with fifty men of the Seventh Conn. Volunteers, at once
deployed as skirmishers, being armed with Spencer car-
bines, and they immediately commenced crossing the
lagoon ; upon reaching the opposite side, the firing became

New Hampshire Volunteers. 403

quite rapid, and two men of the Seventh Connecticut
were wounded on the skirmish line. Our recriment was
moved nearer the skirmish line, with the left near a piece
of woods. Arrivintv near a small collection of buildings,
about one and one hall" miles from the beach, our advance
engaged the rebels, and drove them into their rifle-pits.
Our men got near their lines, and Lieutenant Whipple
was ordered to take seventy men and flank the enemy's
position : Companies A, B, H, and E w^ere detailed,
advanced rapidly along the edge of the woods, and on the
double-quick flanked the rifle-pits, capturing fifty pris-
oners and driving the remainder into their main works,
killing and wounding several. The remainder of the reg-
iment immediately advanced into a cornfield, and formed
line facing the woods ; here pickets were posted, and the
regiment remained until 6 o'clock p. m., when orders
were received to fall back. The pickets were at once
relieved, and after burning a house near our lines, the
regiment started on the return, reaching camp about 7.30
o'clock p. .Ai., in a heavy rain. At 3 o'clock p. m.