Henry F. W. Little.

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

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Sergeant Dickey, of Company D, had been sent to com-
municate with the right of General Paine's division, who
were supposed to be on our left ; he found them some two
miles distant and tailing back, which, of course, neces-
sitated the withdrawal of the troops on his right. The
Seventh lost seven men wounded and two missing.

The 20th was very wet and uncomfortable. The cap-
ture of two blockade-runners was reported, which was
accomplished by means of a pilot of a captured vessel,
who knew the code of signals used by the Confederates.
The detail for picket duty on this date was one officer and
ninety men. The 21st was very wet and showery. The
men began feasting on fried mullet, which were caught
in large quantities by fishing parties detailed for the pur-
pose. On the 22d, the regiment was engaged in rebuilding

404 History of the Seventh Regiment

their quarters. There was some firing on the picket line.
Commenced placing abattis in tront of the line of breast-
works facing Wilmington, which have been rebuilt and
put in good shape for defense. On the 23d, the regiment
was engaged on their quarters and on the breastworks.
The detail for picket was two officers and sixty men. On
the 24th, it was fair and cool. Private Thomas Smith,
of Company C, deserted from the picket line, and is sup-
posed to have been killed while doing so, as he was shot
at several times by Sergeant Brown and other pickets
near by. The regiment was still at work on the breast-
works, engaged in covering the works with turf, on the
25th, and the picket detail was two officers and sixty
men. On the 26th, the regiment was at work on the
breastworks and abattis. The detail for picket was twenty
men. From the 27th to the ^ist, there was nothing of
any particular interest, the regiment furnishing the usual
details for picket and fatigue duty, and through the success
of the fishing detail were furnished with plenty of fresh
fish almost dail}'.

The commissions issued during the month of January
were : Sergt. Maj. Edwin D. Rand, to be captain of
Company B, to date from January i, 1865 : Sergt. George
W. Page, of Company B, to be first lieutenant of same
company, to date from January i, 1S65 : Sergt. John A.
Rand, of Company F, to be first lieutenant of same com-
pany, to date from December 29, 1864. Henry S. Bunton
was enlisted and appointed hospital steward, to date from
December 28, 1864.

It seemed as though we had never seen our troops in
such good spirits as we noticed during the past month.
On the other hand, we found the rebel prisoners generally
down-hearted and tired of fighting. Many of them said
they had done their last fighting, and were ready to take
the oath of allegiance to the United States. Among

New Hampshire Volunteers. 405

other troops captured at Fort Fisher was the remnant of
the Twenty-first S. C. \"olunteers (Confederate), which
had fought us at Morris Ishmd, Chester Station, Drury's
Bluff, Bermuda Hundred, and Deep Bottom. Whenever
we had captured prisoners from this regiment, they had
always been strong rebels, and seemed to sincerely and
heartily espouse the cause of the Confederacy, and were
read}' to fight the Union armies to the last ; but when we
captured the remainder of this regiment at Fort Fisher,
we found there had been a great change with them in this
respect, and most of those with whom we conversed were
ready to take the oath of allegiance and come back into
the Union.

Again in the adjutant's diary we find that February i
the weather was fine and warm, the usual details for duty
were made, and that owing to the success of the party
detailed for catching fish, the regiment had fried mullet
and garfish for supper. Corp. Matthew Brady, of Com-
pany A, and Private Charles Moore, of Company E,
deserted near Fort Fisher, and were supposed to have got
off on some of the vessels in the river.

On the 2d, commissions for Captains Coburn, Whipple,
Lawrence, McCabe and Lieutenants Dennison and Brown
arrived. The regiment still at Federal Point. The
weather was colder ; owing to a northeast wind, the water
was quite rough, and the fishing detail caught only catfish
and garfish, these fish driving away the mullet. Twelve
men were detailed to cut abattis for the earthworks. No
detail for picket ; on the 3d, an application was made to
have all members of the regiment who were on detached
service relieved and returned to duty. One officer and
sixty men detailed for picket. There was some shelling
between one of the monitors and a rebel battery on the
south side of the river. Privates Patrick Curtis, of Com-
pany A, and Henry McCabe, of Company D, deserted

4o6 History of the Sp:venth Regiment

from the picket line. February 4, the weather was q[uite
warm. An order was issued for all pickets and guards
who had been relieved from a tour of duty, to discharge
their pieces at 9 o'clock a. m. A detail to cut abattis and
for fishing purposes was made as usual. Nothing of
material interest occurred from this date until the 7th,
when a large number of transports appeared off the shore,
loaded with United States troops, which proved to be the
Twenty-third Army Corps, under command of Major-
General Schotield, whose flag-ship was the steamer " At-
lantic." On the 8th, Company C and Privates Henry
Jones, of Company I, and John M. Wilson, of Company
E, were ordered to report to Captain Lamb, assistant
quartermaster, for detached service to guard a w^agon
train. Two officers and sixty men were detailed for
picket duty. One and one half hours' drill in the morn-
ing and the same for atternoons was ordered daily. Pri-
vates Peter Sinclair, of Company H, and John Gannett,
of Company B, deserted from the picket line. On the
9th, Captains Lawrence, Whipple, and Coburn were
mustered, according to their respective commissions, by
Capt. F. A. Kendall, of the Fourth N. H. Volunteers,
who was acting; chief musterino- officer on the staff' of
General Ames. On the loth, Lieutenant Dennison was
mustered on his commission. The regiment still at Fed-
eral Point. At II o'clock p. :si. received orders to move
in heavy marching order, with three days' rations.

At 8 o'clock on the morning of the nth, the regiment
fell into line with the other troops and marched up the
beach, the Third New Hampshire and Seventh Conn.
Volunteers, being deployed as skirmishers. They drove
the rebel pickets in and took fifty-four of them prisoners.
At this place our troops lay before the rebel works all day
establishing a line of pickets where the rebel picket line
had been. At night the troops fell back to Flag Pond

New Hampshire Volunteers. 407

and established a new line of works. It had been found
impracticable during the day to make an assault upon the
rebel works, as there was a creek running through a
swamp which extended all along their front — to cross
which would necessitate wading up to our waists in water,
besides there were bushes and briers to impede our prog-
ress, all this would have to be done under a heavy tire
from the enemy. This line of works extended from Cape
Fear River to an inlet from the ocean, and separated from
it by a narrow strip of land. The Cape Fear River being
in our possession w^e had the advantage of a tiank fire
from our gunboats on the rebel lines. jNIajor-General
Schofield with the larger part of the Twenty-third Army
Corps w'ere on the west side of the river, while the forces
that came with Brigadier-General Terrv were on the east
side of the river, and all were under command of General
Schofield. The forces on the west side were very suc-

x\gain turning to the adjutant's diary we find that on
February 11, at 8 a. m., the regiment broke camp and
formed line and filed out of the breastworks and moved
across Flag Pond, with the Seventh Connecticut as skir-
mishers in advance. The Third New Hampshire captured
about sixty of the enemy in their rifle-pits. The regiment
was then moved up to a piece of woods, and Companies
F, I, G, E and K, were ordered out as skirmishers. Cap-
tain Lawrence advanced with Companies G and I, and,
with Captain Whipple with Company K, found the enemy
and drove them into their main works. Captain Coburn
commanded the reserve for the skirmish line. Skirmished
all day, when we had orders to fall back to Flag Pond, at
6 p. M., leaving the Third New Hampshire, Seventh Con-
necticut and Sixteenth New York in the rifle-pits. The
casualties were : Privates Louis Herpin, Company G,
wounded in the wrist; x\bel A. Hibbard, Company G,

4o8 History of the Seventh Regiment

wounded in the head ; William Hugo, Company I, wounded
in the side: Corporal James F. Spiller, Company I,
wounded in the ankle. The regiment bivouacked that
night upon the beach.

On the 1 2th, the regiment was ordered on picket, reliev-
ing the Third New Hampshire, Seventh Connecticut, and
Sixteenth New York. There was no firing on the picket
line, from which we got a good view, and could see them
making embrasures in their works. About 9 o'clock p. m.
the Third Division of the Twent3*-third Army Corps were
seen moving down the beach, which caused considerable
alarm until it was learned who they were. The weather
was very cold. On the night of the 12th, an expedition
was sent up the beach for the purpose of getting in the
rear of the enemy, but were prevented from accomplishing
their purpose owing to the depth of water in the inlet.
Later, a portion of a pontoon bridge was sent up for their
use, but getting stalled on the beach before reaching its
destination, it was ordered to be returned, and the troops
of the expedition returned before daylight on the morning
of the 15th.

While encamped at this place, an incident occurred that
was quite interesting at the time. Colonel Rollins wanted
to get hold of a rebel newspaper, and as the pickets
seemed on good terms he shook a paper over the breast-
works to call their attention : they held up a newspaper in
answer to the colonel, who asked his orderly to go out and
make the exchange. The orderly was a "sub," but was
a good man, had been severely wounded through the
shoulder, and had once been a lieutenant in the Prussian
army. He took the paper, jumped over the breastworks,
and started to meet a "Johnny," as he supposed, from the
other side, when the crack of a rifle was heard and a
bullet plowed through the orderly's hair on top of the
head, causing him to return at once to the colonel, who

New Hampshire Volunteers. 409

coolly remarked, "I guess the 'Johnnies' don't like
Dutchmen"; while the orderly was indignant and thought
the remark " poor pay " for the danger he had just

On the 13th, the regiment was relieved from the picket
line by the Sixth Connecticut, and went into camp at
Flag Pond, between the pond and the beach, which was a
very uncomfortable place. On the 14th, the morning
report showed eight officers and two hundred and tifty-two
men for duty. Detail for picket was three officers and
one hundred and fifty micn. Quite a body of troops were
moving up the beach, with a pontoon train, and it looked
as though thev were to attempt to cross a lagoon beyond
our right. On the 15th, Surg. Sylvanus Bunton was
detailed at the Base Hospital by Special Order No. 32,
February 14, 1S65, Headquarters U. S. Forces, Federal
Point, N. C. On the i6th, the Twenty-third Army Corps
moved across the river, and the pontoon train moved from
our left. Detail for picket, three officers and one hundred
and fifty men. On the 17th, the regiment received orders
to be prepared to move at a moment's notice, and on the
i8th, had a detail for picket of five officers and two
hundred men.

At da3'light on the morning of the 19th, our pickets
found that the Confederates had evacuated their works
during the night. About 2 o'clock a. m. our pickets were
advanced beyond our lines, and took five prisoners. The
regiment broke camp at 10 o'clock a. im., and moved
to the picket line; about 2 o'clock p. m. advanced in
force, the Second Brigade marching over the Masonboro
Sound road, and occupied the right of the Union lines,
while the colored troops who marched over the Telegraph
road occupied the left. During this march Company D
was on the advance guard as far as the bridge, about ten
miles from Wilmington, but found no enemy. Along the

4IO History of the Seventh Regiment

line of our march we passed many houses, the occupants
being mostly women and children, who Ictrgely professed
to be on the Union side. One hundred and tifty men
were detailed for picket duty, but were relieved about 8
o'clock p. M., when the regiment fell back a short distance
and entrenched, completing the earthworks at midnight.

On the morning of the 20th, the recriment had breakfast
at 4.30 o'clock, and formed line at 7 o'clock a. m. ; at 9
o'clock A. M. moved across the bridge, marched about
four miles on the Masonboro Sound road, then crossed over
the Telegraph road on the left, over which we marched in
rear of the Second Division. General Ames's and Paine's
divisions were in advance. The regiment formed line of
battle about four miles from Wilmington, bivouacked for
the night, and were held in reserve. Earthworks were
thrown up by Ames"s and Paine's divisions. There was
some skirmishing and some artillery firing by the rebels.

February 21, an issue of fresh beef was made to the
regiment, and we moved into the line of works constructed
the previous night. Ames's division moved to the lett,
and advancing, found the enemy, who at once retired.

In the direction of Wilmington dense clouds of smoke
could be seen rising all the atlternoon, and a few shells
were tired by the rebel artillery, who seemed to think they
annoyed us in that way.

On the 22d, Washington's Birthday, the regiment fell
in at 7 o'clock a. m., and advanced with other troops
toward Wilmington, our brigade at the head of the col-
umn, the Third New Hampshire in advance and on the
skirmish line, and the Seventh next in line. We entered
Wilmington about 10 o'clock a. m. without opposition,
passing through the heavy fortifications, which seemed to
us to be the strongest field works we had seen during the
service. They were constructed with a broad, deep moat
in front, which was filled with water, and the works were

New Hampshire Volunteers. 411

very heavy. The white inhabitants seemed apparently
enthusiastic, and the colored people, who were the first to
greet us, were jubilant. We entered the city with colors
flying and music from our drum corps, and General Terry
and stafl' rode at the head of the column. The streets
through which we marched were lined with people — both
white and black, of all ages and conditions — and at two
diflerent houses on our line of march the women hung out
the stars and stripes, which were heartily cheered by our
men as the}' passed by. The owners said they had kept
them hidden away since the commencement of the w-ar.
One woman was noticed with a large tray tilled with
cooked sweet potatoes and fried ham, wdiich she dealt out
to the men as the}' marched by.

We found the government property, such as machine-
shops, most of the saw-mills, and military stores in ashes,
the ruins of some of them still smoulderincj'.

We were halted on the north side of the city for a short
rest when skirmishers were thrown out and advanced to
Smith's Creek, and soon discovered the bridge at this
point to be on fire ; our skirmishers at once became engaged
w'ith the rebel rear fjuard who had been left to insure the
destruction of the bridge. A couple of pieces of artillery
were sent forward and soon sent the rebels away. The fire
on the bridge was soon extinguished by the skirmishers of
the Third New Hampshire, and the troops soon crossed
over in pursuit of the retreating enemy. After crossing the
bridge and advancing a short distance we were halted for
about two hours, and the Third New Hampshire was re-
lieved on the skirmish line by detachments from the Sixth
Conn. Volunteers, and from the Seventh New Hampshire.

When within about a mile of the river at North East
Ferry, skirmishing had commenced and lasted until about
S o'clock in the evening. In the rear guard of the Confed-
erates were about fifty cavalry. Our skirmishers reached

412 History of the Seventh Regiment

the river about 7 o'clock p. m., but the raih-oad bridge at
this place had been burned, and the enemy's pontoon
bridge was not to be seen, the rebels having cut it loose
on our side and the current of the river had swung it
around to the opposite side where it was discovered next
morning. For an hour the tiring was kept up by the
skirmish line at the river.

That portion of the regiment not on the skirmish line
was halted in line of battle a short distance before reach-
ing the river, on the right of the road and in a cornfield.
After stacking arms the men built up fires and began cook-
ing their coffee preparatory to eating their supper which
consisted of hard-tack and coffee. Many of the men had
not 3-et finished their frugal meal, when, about 9 o'clock
p. M., the rebels opened on us with a heavy volley of mus-
ketry from the opposite side of the river. Undoubtedly the
men were a tempting mark as they stood around the bright
fires in the darkness. The men were not long in putting
out the fires and getting into line. Fortunately the fire of
the rebels was high, and but one man was slightly
wounded. Colonel Rollins at once took a detachment of
one hundred men down to the river bank but found no
enemy and soon returned to the bivouack in the cornfield.
On the 23d, the regiment lay on the bank of the North
East River all day. Received orders at night to go into
camp where breastworks were thrown up, and had the
usual picket detail. At night it commenced raining.

Resuming the narrative of our history, we find that
when everything was in readiness an advance was ordered,
and kept up until Wilmington fell into our hands, Feb-
ruary 22, 1865, the Seventh New Hampshire being the
second regiment that entered the city. The sights we
saw that day are seen but once in a lifetime, and then
only by a fevv. One little Union flag particularly, gen-
uine stars and stripes, was seen timidly fluttering from the

New Hampshire Volunteers. 413

second-story window of a house, and w-as lustily cheered
by the troops. We really wanted to know the history of
that flag — exactly how it came there, just when it last
saw the sunlight, and who it was that had so sacredly
kept it for so many years, fondly hoping for just such an
event, that it might once again wave " o'er the land of the
free.'* But the orders to '' keep the ranks "were strictly
enforced, consequent!}' our curiosity was never satisfied.
Again, the unbounded joy of the colored people could
only be appreciated by being seen. It was expressed
according to their different temperaments ; some by sitting
on the ground, rocking to and fro, lustily shouting,
" Bress de Lord! Bress de Lord I We knowed you 's
comin' ! We knowed Massa Linkum's sojers would
come ! " Others were shouting and singing, dancing and
hugging each other, and showing the gladness of their
hearts in various ways ; while many, and by far the most
intelligent of the race, exhibited their happiness in a more
business-like manner, by confiscating all the tobacco they
could get their hands on and at once giving it to the
"Yankee soldiers." Some were noticed, who stood like
posts and seemed utterly dumb wath amazement. And all
this demonstration brought forcibly to mind that during
the entire period of the war no colored man ever pla3'ed a
Union soldier false, for they were instinctively our friends.
On this march the rebels who were retreating had a
strong rear guard of cavalry, which gave us considerable
trouble by dashing suddenly down on our skirmish line,
often causing our reserves to be brought up on the double-
quick. Several companies of the Seventh were upon this
skirmish line all day, as they pushed on and through
Wilmington, Company D occupying a position on the
extreme right; many times they were compelled to go
on more than a double-quick, as the line of skirmishers
went swinging around to the left at different times on the

414 History of the Seventh Regiment

course of its march, as it followed the retreating rebels out
beyond Wilmington. When the regiment started out in
the morning on this skirmish and march, many of the men
were without shoes, and this we noticed in particular in
Company D ; but before night most of these men had
supplied themselves from the rebel cavalrymen who had
been killed during the day on the skirniish line.

Skirmishing along in this manner, North East Ferry,
on North East River, ten miles above Wilmington, was
reached about dark, and just as our line was nearing the
banks of the river, they received the first infantry fire they
had encountered that day. Our line at once dropped upon
the ground and did some rapid firing, which seemed a fit-
ting ending of the day's work, for they had been constantly
marching and fighting since sunrise in the morning. The
attack by the rebels was a determined one, and the volle3's
of musketry were quite heavy, but fortunately did very
little harm, as the rebel bullets went singing on over our
heads on their way to the rear, for which we were pro-
foundly thankful. It soon became apparent that some-
thino; more than a skirmish line was in front of us to
dispute the passage of the river; the brigade supporting
us at once formed in line of battle, charged over us to the
front, and soon had the rebels flying across their pontoon
bridge, barely allowing them time enough to cut loose the
end of the bridge, which was swung around by the
current to their side of the river.

This was really the last fighting the Seventh ever did,
and their carbines belched forth their deadly contents
towards the enemy for the last time as the men lay on the
crround near the banks of the river that niorht, just as the
darkness was gathering around, and they were doing
their level best to drive the enemy " over the river." We
did not realize this fact at that time, for it seemed so
foreign to the events to which we had become so well

New Hampshire Volunteers. 415

After stopping at North East Ferry a short time, doing
picket duty and building earthworks, the regiment, with
the rest of General Abbott's brigade, was ordered back to
Wilmington to form a part. of the provost guard in that
city. The men were allowed to pull down some old
unoccupied buildings, and use the lumber tor camp pur-
poses, consequently we soon had very comfortable quar-
ters, which seemed a great luxur\- : tor during the past
3'ear we had lived a large portion of the time under a
shelter tent, and much of the time without even that,
being manv times compelled to lie down, after a weary
march, on a muddy roadside or on the edge of some old
plowed field, where the ground was nearly as soft and
muddy as the roadwav ; and as we are often reminded
by cringing pains and stit^ened joints of the exposures
and hardships of those campaigns, it does not seem so
very strange that the survivors look old and grav, and
doubled up in a crooked wa}- — a twinge of rheumatism
in each limb, every inch of mucous membrane catarrhal,
with dyspeptic stomachs, and chronic diseases which must
hurry them to the grave.

While the regiment was stationed at North East Ferrv,
negotiations were carried on by a flag of truce, for the
bringing in of a large lot of Union prisoners, as it was said
that arrangements had been made for the exchange of ten
thousand prisoners ; our troops made quite extensive prep-
arations to receive them, building arches which were
appropriately trimmed with flags at the landing connected
w^ith the pontoon bridge, which had now been properly
replaced, and by the advance of the Twenty-third Army
Corps on our left, the enemy had continued their retreat,
leaving us in full possession.

It appears that the rebels had concentrated at Wilming-
ton a large number of our men, transferring them from
prison pens larther south, on account of the advance of


IIis'j'OKY OF 'j^iiE Seventh Regiment

Sherman, and just bt-toi'e tlie evacuation ot' Wilmington
thev sent a llag of truce to General Terry otTerino- to
exchange a few hundred. Supjiosing it a ruse to gain
time, and not knowing there were any prisoners there,
Terrv declined to negotiate ; therefore, upon the advance
of our forces, all who could walk were started further
n(jrlh bv the rebels, the others, numbering about three
hundred, were paroled and were in hospitals or cared for

Online LibraryHenry F. W. LittleThe Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion → online text (page 32 of 52)