Henry F. W. Little.

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

. (page 34 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

streets running alongside the track, and about fifty of the
men jumped off and went into the store ; in a few moments

430 History of the Seventh Regiment

they came out loaded with goods, and if the proprietor
had anything left after that visit, it must have been
because he carried a tremendous stock of goods to begin
with. But as near as we were able to judge, the store
was cleaned out, even to the wrapping-paper. At about
the same time a darkey with a mule and cart loaded with
melons hove in sight on the other side of the train, and
another fifty jumped oft' and went for the melons, which
were all landed on the cars, but somehow we quickly lost
sight of the driver and team.

All day Sunday the regiment stopped in Raleigh, and
on Monday left for Petersburg, Va., via Gaston. The
rails from Gaston to Ream's Station had been relaid from
the old rails, which had been torn up and bent by our
cavalry during the war to prevent their being relaid, and
consequently they were very crooked after the}' were
down, it being almost an impossibility to straighten such
terribly crooked rails so as to make them of much use
permanently. But for the time being they were made
to answer, although the trains were obliged to proceed
very slowly and cautiously in order to keep on the irons at
all. From Ream's Station to Petersburg, a distance of
thirteen miles, the rails had not then been relaid, conse-
quently the regiment was obliged to march that distance,
arriving in Petersburg at 9 o'clock that evening. At noon
on Wednesday, the 26th, the regiment left Petersburg for
City Point, where they embarked on the steamer " Nor-
folk " for New York, where they arrived at quarantine at
9 o'clock p. M. on the 28th, and the next day the steamer
proceeded up to the wharf for coal and water.

While the " Norfolk " lay in quarantine oft' New York,
some of the men managed to get ashore, as they some-
times will do, even though very strict orders may be
issued and the utmost vigilance observed ; however, they
got pretty happy by the time they were again aboard, and

New Hampshire V^olunteers. 431

those who were on the " Norfolk " that night will never
forget the antics of the man belonging to Company K,
who went up to the masthead. The orders of the officers
for him to come down availed nothing, until an order was
issued to shoot him if he did not come down at once,
when he descended pretty lively, not even stopping to
take a last look around the harbor before commencino- his
descent. And then there was a little " unpleasantness,"
caused b}' a couple of " non-coms," who refused to obev
orders, thinking they were so near home that thev were
no longer under military restraint or discipline. Again
there was ''old Burke," of Company C, who wanted to
light the whole regiment, as usual when he got pretty
happy. He somehow got hold of an old sword and a
ramrod, and felt equal to any emergency ; and the officer
of the day, at that particular time, can vouch for the fact
that Burke was a very ugly customer to handle that night.
But like all other seemingly long nights it came to an
end, and at 7 o'clock the next morning we were in New
London, Conn., the steamer having had orders to proceed
to that place in the early part of the evening. Here we
were again in old New England, returning over the same
route we had traveled when we went to the front, a full
regiment strong.

How gladly the old veterans welcomed the sight of the
hills and stone-wall fences of our dear old New England I
How really good it seemed to look once more upon such
old-time familiar landscapes I It had been a long three
years since many of us had seen New England scenery,
and many an eye, that had been as dry, apparently,
during the whole enlistment, as the sands of Morris Island,
moistened at the sight.

Here we at once took cars, which were found in wait-
ing, and proceeded via Worcester, Nashua, and Manches-
ter, arriving in Concord, N. H., at 3 o'clock p. m., where

432 History of the Seventh Regiment

we were met by the state officials and the many friends of
the regiment, and were given a hearty welcome, and an
address tendering the thanks of the State, by Gov. Fred-
erick Smyth. The regiment then went into camp to await
hnal discharge and payment, which was not accomplished
until August 8, 1865 ; and then, bidding each other an
affectionate good-bye, the comrades separated, going
" hither and yon," each in the direction of his respective
home, to meet again ncvc?-, with few exceptions, on this
side of that mysterious river which all must sometime
cross, and where many of our comrades, who came not
then with us, had long been awaiting our arrival " over the
river," and undoubtedly those comrades are yet watching
the ferry until the last one of our old regiment shall have
crossed over, and the formation again be complete on the
"other side." And one by one we are surely going,
but a few more years at most will be needed to accomplish
the purpose. The Seventh New Hampshire had ceased to
exist as quickly and quietly as though each comrade had
"folded his tent and silently stolen awa}'."

The regiment had been in twenty-two engagements,
besides numerous skirmishes, which, at times during our
service, were of almost daily occurrence. These engage-
ments and skirmishes were fought in Florida, North and
South Carolina, and Virginia. But one other regiment
from New Hampshire suffered as severely in loss of offi-
cers killed in action, during its entire service, as the
Seventh New Hampshire ; only two other regiments from
the State lost as many men killed in action : more men
from the Seventh died in rebel prisons than from any
other regiment from New Hampshire ; the Seventh lost
more officers than any other Union regiment in any one
engagement during the war. The whole number of men
mustered into the regiment was seventeen hundred and
nineteen, of which five hundred and ten were mustered

New Hampshire Volunteers. 433

out at the expiration of their term of service ; two hundred
and eleven died of disease. The regiment on its return to
Concord numbered three hundred and twenty men and
twenty-two officers, and of these less than one hundred
were original members who left the State in 1861. Of the
original field and staff only one remained.

The following members of the Seventh were commis-
sioned into other organizations :

Private John M. Thompson, of Company E, commis-
sioned as first lieutenant First S. C. V^olunteers (colored),
March 19, 1863 ; Private H. H. Summers, of Company
H, as second lieutenant Fifth N. H. Volunteers, July 24,
1863 ; Private jMahlon E. Davis, of Company C, as cap-
tain First S. C. Volunteers (colored), June 5, 1863 ; Pri-
vate C. A. Dow, of Company C, as second lieutenant U. S.
Colored Troops, August i, 1863; Sergeant George W.
Darrah, of Company K, as second lieutenant Eighteenth
N. H. Volunteers, October 20, 1864; First Sergeant John
Brown, of Company G, as captain of the Sixteenth N. H.
Volunteers, December 12, 1862; Corporal Thomas F.
Dodge, of Company B, as second lieutenant of the Eight-
eenth N. H. Volunteers, November 11, 1864 ; Second Lieu-
tenant H. F. W. Little, of Company E, as first lieutenant
Fourth U. S. Colored Troops, October 11, 1864, and first
lieutenant and adjutant Twenty-ninth U. S. Colored
Troops, January i, 1865, breveted captain and major ; Ser-
geant William J. Harding, of Company A, as first lieu-
tenant Thirty-eighth U. S. Colored Troops, March 8,
1865, and was afterwards promoted to captain.

During its service the Seventh New Hampshire was at
Camp Hale, Manchester, N. H., from October 16, 1861,
to January 14, 1862 ; at White Street Barracks, New York
city, 79 White street, from January 15 to Februar}- 13,
1S62 ; at Fort Jefferson, Fla., from ^^larch 9 to June 16,


434 History of the Seventh Regiment

1862 ; at Beaufort, Port Royal Island, S. C, from June
22 to September i, 1862: at St. Augustine, Fla., from
September 3, 1862, to May 10, 1863, (five companies,
under Colonel Putnam, were attached to the Second Bri-
gade, Terry's Division, Tenth Army Corps, from April 4
to 12, 1863) ; at Fernandina, Fla., from May 10 to June
7, 1863 ; at Hilton Head, S. C, from June 8 to 16, 1863 ;
at Folly Island, S. C, from June 17 to July 10, 1863,
(attached to the First Brigade, Vodge's Division, Tenth
Army Corps, June 20, 1863) ; at Morris Island, S. C.
from July 10 to December 20, 1863, (attached to the Third
Brigade, First Division, Tenth Army Corps, July 19,

1863 ; and First Brigade, First Division, Tenth Army
Corps, November 23, 1863) : with the United States forces
at St. Helena Island, District of Hilton Head, S. C, from
December 21, 1863, to February 4, 1864 ; in Florida, from
Jacksonville to Olustee, from February 8 to April 14,
1864, (attached to the Second Brigade, First District of
Florida, February 4, 1864) ; in Virginia from April 21,
1864, to January 5, 1865, (attached to the Third Brigade,
First Division, Tenth Army Corps, April 23, 1864; Sec-
ond Brigade, First Division, Tenth Arm}- Corps, May 3,
1864; Second Brigade, First Division, Twenty-fourth
Army Corps, December 4, 1864) ; in North Carolina from
January 13 to July 24, 1865, (attached to the Second Bri-
gade, First Division, Tenth Army Corps, March 27,
1865). During the regiment's service in Virginia, it was
in the Army of the James, and during a portion of the
time the Seventh was in North Carolina, it was in the
Army of the Ohio.

New Hampshire Volunteers. 435

official list of battles and engagements in which
the seventh new hampshire participated.

Morris Island, S. C. . . . . July 10, 1863

Fort Wagner (first assault) . . . July 11, 1863

Fort Wagner (second assault) . . July 18, 1863

Siege of Fort Wagner, Morris Island,

S. C July 10 to Sept. 7, 1863

Siege of Fort Sumter, S. C. . Sept. 7 to Dec. 20, 1863
Olustee, Fla. ..... Feb. 20, 1864

Chester Station, Va. .... Ma}- 9, 1864

Lempster Hill (near Chester Station), Va. May 10,1864

Drury's Bluff, Va May 13-16, 1864

Bermuda Hundred, Va.,

May 18, 20, 21, June 2-4, 18, 1864
Near Petersburg, Va. .... June 9, 1864
Ware Bottom Church, Va. , . . June 16, 1864

Deep Bottom, Va. .... Aug. 16, 1864

Siege of Petersburg, Va. . Aug. 24 to Sept. 28, 1864

New Market Heights, Va. . . . Sept. 29, 1864

Near Richmond, Va. .... Oct. i, 1864
New Market Road (near Laurel Hill, or

near Chapin's Farm), Va. . . . Oct. 7, 1864

Darby town Road, Va. . . . Oct. 13, 27, 28, 1864
Fort Fisher, N. C. .... Jan. 15,1865

Half Moon Battery, Sugar Loaf Hill,

near Federal Point, N. C. . . Jan. 18, 19, 1865

Sugar Loaf Battery, N. C. . . . Feb. 11,1865

North East Ferry (near Wilmington),

N. C Feb. 22, 1865

In concluding the history of the Seventh New Hamp-
shire, I again cordially thank those veterans and comrades
who have so kindly rendered me all the assistance in their
power, and I am under great obligations to the comrades
of the regiment for the patience they have manifested
toward me while I have been preparing the book, which I


History of the Seventh Regiment

can well assure them is a work of no small magnitude.
The history has been accomplished under almost unsur-
mountable ditiiculties, in order that the surviving members
of our regiment and the families of our deceased comrades
may have an historical record of the regiment, the memory
of which will ever be dear to their hearts, and will be
fondly cherished by their posterity.

Seventh Ne\v Hampshire, the regiment of Putnam
and Abbott, and, dear reader, your regiment and mine,


New Hampshire Volunteers. 437




JOHN H. Worcester's sword. — the recruits of



The men will nearly all remember Private Charles G.
Pyer, of Company D, who was one of the original mem-
bers of the regiment and stuttered badly ; in fact, his was
one of the worst cases we ever knew. He once very
earnestly requested us to assist him in breaking the habit,
and we commenced by advising him to hold a small stick
firmly between his teeth while attempting to converse.
He got along ver}- well until the conversation became
exciting, when he would invariably drop his stick, and
return at once to the old jaw-breaking method. Once
while the regiment was at Fort Jefferson, Fla., he hap-
pened on a guard detail of which Sergt., afterwards
Lieut. William F. Spalding was in charge. It was at
that time customary for the newly mounted guard to
appear in their dress uniforms ; after guard-mount the
first relief would at once be posted, and the second and
third reliefs would go to their quarters two or three at a
time, with the permission of the officer "of the guard or of
the sergeant in charge of their respective reliefs, and don
their fatigue dress tor the remainder of the day. The
first relief was allowed the same privilege upon being
relieved at the end of the first tour. On this day Pyer

438 History of the Seventh Regiment

had been posted with the first relief, and was, of course,
off duty as soon as the second relief was posted. Sergeant
Spalding being in charge of the first relief, Pyer went
to him for permission to go to his quarters to change
his dress, and approaching him and saluting, began as
follows :

" S-s-s-s-s-sergeant, c-c-c-c-can I g-g-g-g-go — "

The sergeant, who quickly anticipated what was wanted,
and who was too nerv}^ to desire the prolongation of the
query under existing circumstances, at once replied when
Pyer had proceeded thus far :

"Yes, for God's sake, go!" which answer was taken
by Pyer in good part, as it saved him much time and lots
of chin-work.

There was also, in Company H, a man by the name of
Dwinnells, who had an impediment in his speech, which
was not in the form of stuttering, but in the shape of
horrid contortions of the mouth before articulation of the
words he was about to speak ; and really, he could not
get over the English language much, if any, faster than
P3'er. It was very amusing to see those two men get
together at Fort Jefferson, Fla., and attempt conversation.

Private Pyer was mustered into the United States serv-
ice November 6, 1861, and re-enlisted February 28, 1864 ;
while on his furlough he was taken sick and never returned
to the regiment, and was afterwards discharged. Private
Warren P. Dwinnells was mustered into the United States
service December 14, 1861, and was discharged for dis-
ability at Fort Jefferson, Fla., June 20, 1862.

Swain, of Company D.

His rank was that of private ; a generous, good-hearted
fellow, whose motto was, "My comrades first, myself and
strangers afterwards." His was not an isolated case, for
we frequently met similar characters in the different

New Hampshire Volunteers. 439

branches of the service ; but his peculiarities went far
toward making the soldier-life of his companions merry in
the extreme, both on the march and in the held, and
caused many a ray of sunlight to flit across the dull,
monotonous routine of camp and garrison duty. Many
times after a long and tiresome march have we been
induced to forget our weariness and indulge in a hearty
laugh at some of the many mishaps of this mischievous
fellow. Nothing suited him better than an order to forage
upon the enemy, and a brigade composed of men of his
stamp would have sufficed to transfer the whole South to
the Provinces at short notice. He was one of the very
few in our corps who, when the army was on the march
through some of the dreary portions of the enemy's
country, always put in an appearance with his haversack
and canteen filled with the best the country afforded for
miles around ; and if extra or tresh provisions were called
for, he could almost invariably furnish them.

At one time when we had been at the front constantly
driving the enemy, and having no facilities for obtaining
rations, after suppressing our hunger thirty-six hours, we
were regaled by Swain with a feast consisting of raw
ham, uncooked rice, and broken corn cake, all of which
he had filched from the retreating enemy, who in their
hurried flight had divested themselves of everything but
gun and ammunition. Whenever we pitched our camp in
any settled portion of the country, or as soon as we would
become settled down in garrison, his quarters were sure to
be furnished at once with all the delicacies of the season,
without regard to the markets. We can never forget the
hearty laugh at his expense, and the mingled look of
regret and chagrin which pervaded his countenance one
nicrht down in Florida, where our command was at that
time doing garrison duty. It was in old St. Augustine.

440 History of the Seventh Regiment

Our company had conceived the idea of keeping a few-
swine for the benefit of our larder, and Swain was depu-
tized to procure them as best he could.

In one of his private scouting expeditions he had dis-
covered the coveted porkers at a place about two miles out,
the owner of which had peremptorily refused to sell any-
thing to a "mud-sill." But armed with an old flour bar-
rel, our man started one dark night on his " confiscation"
errand, and deftly eluding our picket posts, was soon on
his way back with two little porkers nicely ensconced in
the barrel ; but when nearing our lines some unusual noise
elicited a challenge from the nearest picket, when his
haste caused him to make some evolutions not laid dowm
in the regulation tactics ; the bottom of the barrel at that
moment dropping out gave the porkers their liberty, and
our hero, after wading a half-mile of saltmarsh, fording a
creek, and tearing his uniform into tatters in trying to
force his wa}- through the chaparral and Spanish bayonet,
found his way into the barracks just in time to answ^er to
his name at reveille in a hurried and crestfallen manner.

At another time, one of the companies belonging to the
command had arranged to have a barbecue, after a nearly
obsolete Southern fashion, and had procured a medium
sized pig, which, after being dressed, was to be roasted
whole in the lariie o-arrison oven : but iust before the feast
the oven was found to be empty, and not the least clue to
the whereabouts of their property. But it was a remark-
able fact that the company to which Sw^ain belonged, had
roast pork for two or three days after.

Having been stationed at old Fort Marion one winter, it
so happened that on the detail on one of the tours of guard
duty, our name and that of Swain chanced to appear upon
the same relief, or division, w^hich, in a military manner,
was promptly posted, and during the "wee sma' hours
avant the tw^al," we took occasion to visit each sentinel in

New Hampshire Volunteers. 441

an official capacity. Arriving at post No. 12, at the basin
or boat landing, we found the only resemblance to any-
thincr on dutv was an Entield rifled musket sticking by the
bayonet in the sand, fitted up with cap, blouse, and equip-
ments, and one of the boats was found missing. Know-
ing our man so well, the misdemeanor was not reported,
and taking the musket we stood duty in his stead until
about time for a relief, when a commotion was observed
on the water-side, and we captured the runaway sentinel
and a larcre boat load of fresh fish. For the largest one
in the lot we agreed to be silent, and the men had as man}^
dishes of fish that day as the cooks could devise ways to

At this fort there was also a large oven, where the dif-
ferent companies of the command put in their pork and
beans, brown bread, etc., each Saturdav night, that they
might have a real New England breakfast on the follow-
ing Sunday morning, each company contributing its share
of the wood for heating. The beans were ahvays placed
in large iron mess-kettles, and the letter of each company
chalked thereon. Now it so happened that on one partic-
ular Saturday night the kettles marked " D" were the last
ones put in the oven, unknown to Swain, prior to sealing
the door for the night. In the early morning, before day-
light, Compan}- D was quietly awakened and invited to
partake of hot baked beans and bread. They did the
repast justice, and then threw the kettles into the sea to
obliterate all chances of detection. When our cooks went
for rations in the morning there was nothing for Compan}'
D, and the joke was so good there was never anything
said about that breakfast afterwards. A portion of the
brown bread stolen belonged to Company A.

In astonishment we saw Swain drive up to the quarters
one da}', after one of his usual scouting expeditions, in
possession of a mule team and a load of wood which he
captured ten miles outside of St. Augustine, Fla.

442 History of the Seventh Regiment

At the battle of Olustee we missed him. He was taken
prisoner early in the fight, and after undergoing the
starvation process which was so cheerfully meted out by
the so called Confederate Government to our men in the
prison pen at Andersonville, he succumbed to disease, and
grave No. 7,040 marks the last resting place of Private
Charles Swain, of Company D, of the Seventh New
Hampshire, whose memory will ever be cherished, his
many adventures kept fresh in mind at the annual reunion
of our command, and forgotten only when the last com-
rade shall have passed to "that bourne from whence no
traveler returns."

Sergt. Martin M. Bowles, of Company C.

A very quiet, as well as unique, character was Sergt.
Martin M. Bowles, who enlisted as a private in Company
C, was mustered into service in that company December
3, 1S61 ; was promoted to corporal July 4, 1862 ; was
wounded on Morris Island, S. C, July iS, 1863 ; was pro-
moted to sergeant December 28, 1863 ; was captured at
Olustee, Fla., February 20, 1864; escaped from Ander-
sonville prison, and returning to his regiment was mus-
tered out with the original three years' men, December 22,

The following account of his escape from the prison pen
at Andersonville will be very interesting to the survivors
of our regiment, amona; whom Sergeant Bowles was well
known, and will, perhaps, refresh the memory of man}^ of
the comrades who were at that time captured, and were
fortunate enough to live to be eventually exchanged or
paroled, and as very few ever succeeded in escaping we
will relate the incident as Sergeant Bowles related it to
the historian.

At the battle of Olustee, Fla., it was the misfortune of
Sergeant Bowles to be taken prisoner of war by the rebel
soldiery, the situation at that moment being such that he

New Hampshire Volunteers. 443

was obliged to submit quietly, although very reluctantly ;
and with many others ot" the Union army was marched to
the rear of the rebel lines under a strong escort, after
having been robbed of their money and other personal
effects, and having undergone the usual catechism of
interrogatories by those who seemed to be in authority,
being heartily cursed, of course, for the very unsatisfac-
tory replies made thereto, and subjected to many gross
insults, unbecoming even a military rabble, and especially
the representatives of the so called Southern chivalry.
He was then ordered to be confined in the nearest jail,
from which, after a few days, he was taken to Ander-
sonville and duly incarcerated within that noted prison
stockade, where the worst of trials and hardships were
forced upon the prisoners ; and as the days passed wearily
by, many of them became convinced that a sentence to
the infernal regions could not have been a worse fate.

After a time, being placed in command of a "squad"
of prisoners, according to the prison rules, he was entitled
to an extra ration ; but a double dose of the uncooked,
tilthy stuff issued by the rebel government to the prisoners
was not enough to half satisfy the hunger of a sick man,
to say nothing of a healthy person. x\t1:er a few weeks of
this duty he was fortunate enough to get detailed as one
of a party to collect wood and unload and deliver rations ;
and had the privilege granted him, while on this duty,
of sleeping near the garrison cook-house, just outside the
stockade. While on this detail he made the acquaintance
of a sergeant belonging to a Georgia regiment at that time
composing a part of the rebel garrison, who, in a very
gentlemanly sort of way, furnished many little courtesies
whereby he was enabled to gather much information
regarding the topography of the country about him, the
direction of certain routes, and the distance to the Union