Henry F. W. Little.

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

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lines or outposts, etc. Recruits were coming in, also,

444 History of the Seventh Regiment

from Sherman's arm}-, from whom he gathered much
information, all of which was carefulh' stored in his
" knowledge box " to serve on a future occasion.

After a time an order for exchange for those from
Sherman's army was issued, and a copy of a newspaper
was placed in his way by one who was friendly inclined
towards him — for the prison rules strictly prohibited
papers — and he learned that a train would be dispatched
upon a certain night and would arrive at Andersonville, to
be at once loaded with the required freight, viz., Sher-
man's men, and started immediately for the front, where,
by the cartel, the prisoners were to be exchanged. Upon
mature deliberation he thought this might be his only
chance, and at once determined to take advantage of it.
Accordingly he made all the arrangements possible under
the circumstances, taking good care, meanwhile, to avoid
suspicion, and having been presented with a small pocket
compass by a Western soldier who had been exchanged,
he hoped by its aid and the intbrmation already gathered,
to be able to make his way through the countr}- to
Atlanta, Ga.

The train arrived at the appointed time, and it so hap-
pened that his detail was at work at a storehouse near
by loading rations, it being quite dark ere the duties were
completed and the storehouse locked. While marching
from there to the quarters in the darkness, which was
the more intense owing to a fine, drizzlincr rain, tliree of
the detail, including Sergeant Bowles, who had resolved
to make the attempt, took advantage of this favorable
opportunity while crossing the railroad, and ensconced
themselves in one of the many freight cars comprising
the train, which was awaiting the arrival of the prisoners ;
finding a long, wide board lying loose upon the bottom of
the car, they very quietly placed themselves under it and
on the side farthest from the open door, and soon had the

New Hampshire Volunteers. 445

pleasure of hearing the roll-call of the prisoners to be
exchanged. From the noise without Sergeant Bowles
became convinced that guards vvere searching the cars to
see if all were empty. They soon appeared at the car
door, and his courage went down below the freezing-
point, but again revived as he saw the guard make a
hurried search, occasionally thrusting his bayonet into the
remotest corners, while the dim flashes of the corporal's
lantern outside but partially lighted up the interior. The
car was pronounced empty, and the prisoners crowded in,
but the three escaping prisoners kept very quiet until the
train was under full headway and well away from the
stockade, when they quietly raised themselves to a "living
perpendicular" and mingled with the crowd. They hoped
their absence from their usual quarters would not be ascer-
tained until morning, as kind comrades had volunteered to
personate their voices at roll-call, and by that time they
would be on their march beyond the terminus of the

Shortly after sunrise the train was stopped, and all
hands were ordered out and given in charge of a cavalry
escort, who were to march them to the place of rendez-
vous. The appearance of this cavalry was extremely
wretched, but they carried a sort of a self-confident air,
and seemed to borrow no trouble about any of the prison-
ers trying to make their escape.

At noon they were halted near a plantation for a short
rest, and to give the guards time to eat a lunch of corn-meal
porridge and refill their canteens with water from the plan-
tation well. Sentinels were stationed around them, the time
being occupied by the prisoners about as they pleased.
Going to the well for water, someone carelessly asked the
guard stationed over the bucket how far they were from
Atlanta. Upon learning the distance, one of the prisoners
asserted that it was in a certain direction, while another

446 History of the Sev'enth Regiment

purposely disputed it; the guard innocently settled the
dispute by pointing in the right direction. This was
enough, and the three supernumerary prisoners at once
started out awkwardly to see how railroads were con-
structed in the South, as one lay near them, although it
had loner since been useless on account of some of the
rails being gone and others partly twisted and crooked in
various ways, they were told, by raids of the Union
cavalry. Almost before he could realize it. Sergeant
Bowles and his two companions had carelessly blundered
outside of the line of sentinels, and the attention of those
nearest having been called in another direction, they were
not for the moment noticed, and at once took advantage of
these circumstances to secrete themselves in a low culvert,
which extended under and across the railway. Once
under cover they made the quickest possible time until
the}- reached the bank of a small creek a few hundred
yards away, when, proceeding a small distance up stream,
they crossed and struck out for a small piece of woodland,
closely following a line of hedge for better concealment.
Upon reaching the cover of the woods they stopped a few
moments to rest, and, from their hiding-place, could
plainly discern the party they had so unceremoniously left
about twenty minutes before. With much gratification they
heard distinctly the orders given them to "fall in," and
watched them move slowly away. As soon as the column
had disappeared the fugitives commenced their journey,
relying wholly upon the compass in possession of Sergeant
Bowles for direction ; proceeding cautiously forward they
kept under cover of woodland b}' day and avoided roads
by night. Finding a turnip patch, adjoining a large plan-
tation, they confiscated all the rations they could conven-
iently carry after appeasing their hunger. Thus fortified
they made the best of their way, crawling into some dense
thicket for sleep at midday.

New Hampshire Volunteers. 447

Twice they narrowly escaped capture. Once when they
had just stowed themselves away for sleep, a large cav-
alry patrol passed in the immediate vicinity. At another
time, coming to the brow of a hill at midnight, and taking
observations from one of the tallest trees, they found, to
their astonishment, a long line of picket fires in their front,
which caused them to make a long detour to the left, and
thev only managed to pass them after man}- observations
by working their way through a piece of marshy ground,
lying between two picket posts, which, upon closer investi-
gation, they found to be picketed by rebel cavalry. They
had now to proceed with greater caution for fear of meet-
ing their videttes.

After some hours of tedious travel they noticed what
appeared to them to be a picket of the Union army, and
upon nearer approach at daylight, from a perch in a tree,
they saw^ a line of bluecoats as far as the eye could reach,
and even then they dared not trust their eyes until some of
the ofiicers were seen moving about, when they became
convinced that they were near the Union outposts. With
lighter steps they then approached one of the picket posts
near a deserted plantation house, for they had resolved to
defer their usual midday sleep until they were inside of
those lines, and although the course led them directly
across an open field, they were not discovered until a detour
had been made to the right and around the house, and
they came up in the rear of the pickets, who were as much
astonished on seeing them as the escaping prisoners were
upon observing the lack of good discipline under which
the pickets were laboring, as Sergeant Bowles affirmed
that he could easily have captured the whole picket post
which comprised a sergeant and three men belonging to
an Ohio regiment which had been mustered for one hun-
dred days' service.

448 History of the Seventh Regiment

Being now safe from recapture or starvation, they
greedily partook of rations otiered, and after a short rest
were conducted to the rear where they were delivered to a
provost officer who duly receipted for, and at once sent
them into Atlanta, feeling highly jubilant to lind that they
had out-marched the prisoners for exchange with whom
they had started from Andersonville, who arrived twelve
hours later. i\fter the usual trials and tribulations of
being knocked around provost guard-houses, and of being
turned over and receipted for from one officer to another,
each one was, as soon as circumstances would permit,
forwarded to his respective command, thereby saving the
so called Confederate Government the trouble of exchang-
ing them or making a record of the number of their

William Mason.

Private William Mason, of Company D, was one of the
unique characters, who, at the commencement of the war,
drifted into the army. He was mustered in with Company
D, No\'ember 6, 1861 ; and at Fort Jefferson, Fla., was
detailed to act as regimental armorer ; was for a time
detailed as tireman to run one of the huge " condensers,"
with which the garrison was provided with fresh water.
He was detailed as regimental armorer on Morris Island,
S. C, and re-enlisted for another term of three years on
March 14, 1S64 ; served with his company during the
summer of 1S64 ; was promoted to sergeant, January i,
1S65 ; was mustered out with his company, July 20, 1S65,
and died at Great Falls (now Somersworth), N. H., a few
years ago.

At the time of his enlistment we remember his hair was
partially gray, and it was said that he was an old man-ot-
wars-man, having served many years in the British navy,
and he had all the appearances that went to make up such
a character.

New Hampshire Volunteers.


At one time when we were in Virginia, and after a hard
day's labor in rolling up ponderous logs with which to
build a line of breastworks — for we had just established
a new line of defense, after severe fighting on the north
side of the river James — we gathered around our camp-
fire, and it being in the month of October, the heat from
the fire of hard-wood logs was quite comfortable, for the
evenings were beginning to be rather chilly. After par-
taking of our coffee and " munching " a few old " B. C. 1 "
hard-tack, with a goodly slice of salt pork, fried or broiled
on the end of a ramrod, we took to our pipes and story
telling ; as we had quite a number of new men who had
lately joined us — mostly '' subs," however — some one of
them had brought with him a couple of pairs of boxing-
gloves, and by the light of our fire some of the men
proposed that we have a little sport with them. Many of
the " subs," being from the large seaport cities and gen-
erally hard tickets, had been somewhat familiar with the
rules and exercises of the prize-ring before their entry
into the service. Of course such sport soon gathered a
crowd from all the regiments near us. A man would step
out, put on a pair of the gloves, and call upon anyone to
put on the other pair and stand before him, w^hen one or
the other would soon get knocked into the middle of the
regiment next to us, when the standing man would call for
another comrade to come before him. So the sport went
on until a good share of the crowd around the fire had
been the standing man, and in turn been unceremoniously
knocked out of time, when a tall, sinewy, hard-looking
"sub" had the "floor," and kept it for several rounds.
Finally, after much persuasion. Private Mason, w^ho had
been sitting quietly by the fire enjoying the sport, con-
sented to put on the gloves. As he had been in the navy
before the war, we mistrusted that he pretty well under-
stood the "manly art of self-defense," but as yet he had




kt-pl •' shath',"" not caring;", exick-nth'. to take ]")art in the
programme. Me had alway cornphiined of partial blind-
ness after chirk, and by daylight was rather short-sighted,
ha\'ing to wear ghisses to aid him most of the time. After
makincr some remarks al)out not seeing his adversar\- very
jilainly, owing to the darkness, he squared oil", and after
a few parries made a quick pass, knocking his man end
o\'er end for a number of rods, with a blow that would
have stove in the end of a Dutch regiment, at the same
time saying that if he had his spectacles along with him.
he thought he could do better. This higly elated the
men. and now, ha\'ing found that he was an expert, no
one cared to face him, and our " Bill" was " boss ot the
yard,"" and was never afterwards bantered to put on

Tin-: Expedition to Charleston. S. C, and the
Attack on Fort Sumter, in April, 1^63.

The following description of this expedition is given by
Sergt. Otis A. Merrill, who was present with his compan}'.
H. one of the companies of the Se\"enth Xeu' Hampshire
ordered from St. Augustine. Fla., where the regiment was
at that time stationed, under Colonel Putnam, to join the
expedition :

"On Frida\', March 27, 1863, the steamer 'Cossack"
arrived at St. Augustine, Fla., trom Hilton Head, S. C,
with orders for Colonel Putnam to take live companies of
his regiment and proceed at once on the steamer to Hilton
Head, to join an expedition, the objective point being, as
we supposed, Cliarleston, S. C, Companies B, F, H, I,
and K, were selected and ordered to be in readiness for
inspection the following da\' at 10 o'clock a. m., and go
aboard the 'Cossack." Adjt. H. G. Webber and Asst.
Surg. Henry Boynton of the regimental stafT were to
accompanx' the battalimi. The men were ordered to take,

New Hampshire Volunteers. 451

besides their arms and equipments, one change of under-
clothing, their overcoats, and blankets, leaving their dress
coats, hats, and other things at St. Augustine. The
weather was so rough on Saturday that the battalion did
not go on board the steamer until Sunday afternoon, when
they at once started for their destination. Thev had pro-
ceeded but a short distance when a severe squall came up,
and, before the}- had reached the bar, thev were obliged to
anchor. As soon as the squall had abated so that it was
safe to raise the anchor, the steamer was taken back to St.
Augustine, and anchored ot^' Fort Marion, where she
remained until toward night on Monday. In the mean
time the storm had been ver}- severe and the water on the
bar was exceedingl}' rough. Colonel Putnam was very
anxious to obey orders and report promptly at headquar-
ters of the department, and on this account, no doubt, the
steamer started sooner than her captain or the pilot
thought it prudent. The 'Cossack' was a crazy old boat,
and the rough sea outside was liable to materially change
the channel over the bar, which was composed of quick-
sand and liable to change under such circumstances.

" The captain of the steamer, who seemed to be a rough
old sea-dog, desired to wait a day or two longer for the
sea to become smoother, but the colonel was bound to go,
and the old native pilot said he would pilot them over.
On reaching the bar, the waters were white with foam as
they rolled up the shallow channel, which was only
eleven feet deep at high tide, while the steamer, which
was quite heavily loaded, drew nine feet.

"The pilot got into his dory to ' flag' the steamer along
the channel over the bar. The engineer of the boat was
heard to say, 'Shall I put on all steam, captain?' the
captain in his grufl' voice replying, 'Yes, if we've got to
go to hell, let us go quick ! '

452 History of the Seventh Regiment

"Twice the old steamer struck on the sand-bar with a
thump, as she came down in the trough of the sea, and
the men began to wonder if this was to end their soldier-
ing. The steamer and the pilot were alternately hidden
from each other as they were tossed up and down on the
rough waves, which frequently broke over the deck of the
steamer. Getting safely over the bar, they at once pro-
ceeded on their rough voyage toward Hilton Head, stop-
ping at Fernandina, Fla., the next day, long enough to
take on board five companies of the Seventh Conn. Vol-
unteers (Colonel Hawley's regiment).

" They arrived at Hilton Head about noon, Wednesday,
April I, and were at once ordered ashore. New 'A'
tents were issued to the men, and they went into camp
near and north of the hospital. Sunday morning, April
5, the battalion left Hilton Head on the new headquarters
dispatch steamer ' General Hunter,' and proceeded at
once to Stono Inlet, S. C, to await the result of the bom-
bardment of Fort Sumter by the iron-clads of our navy.

" It was a beautiful sight to see the sixty government
vessels of which the expedition was composed, as they
steamed along toward Charleston. The vessels arrived at
Stono Inlet about dark or a little after, and went in over
the bar as fast as they could be piloted.

" Tuesday, April 7, was a beautiful spring day, and one
in which the iron-clads of our navy were to be severely
tested by the forts in Charleston Harbor. The attack of
the iron-clads, consisting of the ' New Ironsides ' and
eight monitors, on Fort Sumter commenced at 3 o'clock
p. M., and continued for about two and one half hours.
Stono Inlet is about ten miles from Fort Sumter, and each
discharge of the artillery and the bursting of the shells
could be distinctly heard, and at that distance at times
seemed like one continuous roar. The discharge of the
heavy guns jarred the steamers at Stono Inlet the same as
a house is often jarred by heavy thunder.

New Hampshire Volunteers. 453

" The attack by the navy on Fort Sumter and the other
forts in the harbor was a failure, but not a disaster. We
lost but four men and one vessel, the ' Keokuk.' All
the other vessels could be easily repaired. Two guns on
Fort Sumter were disabled, one burst, and the rebels had
one man killed and a few wounded. On the fleet engaged
there were about one thousand men and thirty guns,
fighting against several times as man}- men, in what was
probably the best fortified harbor in the world at that time.

" The men remained on board the transports several
da3"s, expecting the attack on the forts to be renewed
again, and were much surprised when they received
orders to return to Hilton Head. The battalion of the
Seventh was transferred to the steamer ' Convo}',' and at
8 o'clock on Wednesday morning, April 15, Colonel
Putnam with his men returned to St. Augustine, Fla.
They sustained no loss and appeared in good order, and
all seemed to have well enjoyed the trip.

" While at Hilton Head on the return trip, the men
saw the yard-arms manned on the U. S. steam frigate
'Wabash,' which is at present the receiving ship at the
Charlestown, Mass., navy yard. There were about one
hundred and seventy-five in number. At the word of
command they ran up the rigging at almost lightning
speed, collected around the masts, and in an instant, at
another word of command, deployed out on the yard-arms,
each of which had the appearance of having a company
of soldiers upon it in perfect line, and some of them were
nearly an hundred feet in the air. It was a sight that but
few of our men ever saw except at that time, and we
were told that it was done in honor of the admiral, who
had come on board the Iriofate at that time."

^;;4 History of the Seventh Regiment


(Jii the 2Sth of October, 1S63, General Gillmore, full of
i^ralitude to the rank and file of the regiments which had
taken so prominent a part in the siege of iNIorris Island,
issued General Order No. 94, Headquarters Department
of the South, providing for department medals of honor
tor gallant and meritorious conduct during the operations
before Charleston, to not over three per cent of the aggre-
o-ate strength of the various regiments, companies, and
detachments that have been in action or on duty in the
batteries or trenches. Candidates for these honors were
to be nominated by the company otlicers, and sent through
the usual military channels.

The following named men of the Seventh New Hamp-
shire were recommended for Gillmore medals by a board
of officers appointed in orders of November 25, 1S63, from
Headquarters U. S. Forces, Morris Island, S. C, under
the provisions of General Order No. 94, Headquarters
Department of the South :

Sergt. Brainard Cummings, Company A : Sergt. George
F. Corson, and Private Michael Cahill, Company B:
Privates Zenas P. Alden and Robert Miller, Company
C : Privates George Parker and Clinton P. Wells, Com-
pany D ; Privates Henry Kimball and Robert A. Brown,
Company E; Corp. Martin V. B. Perkins and Private
Samuel P. Sargent, Company F ; Private Franklin W.
Randall, Company G; Privates Stephen H. Price and
Otis A. Merrill, Company H ; Corp. George Weaver and
Private John II. Smith, Company I : Sergt. Alonzo G.
Dudley and Private George Rainey, Company K.

No record of the dates of the issue of the medals recom-
mended by this board of ollicers can be found in the rec-
ords of the War Department.

These medals were called '' Gillmore Medals," and
were of broiize, and bear on one side a representation in

New Hampshire Volunteers. 455

relief of Fort Sumter in ruins, and upon the other a fac-
simile of the general's autograph, while upon the bar
above the medal, to which the medal is attached, appears
the name, rank, compan3% and regiment, of the soldier
receiving the same. A certificate was also issued with
each medal. Those awarded to the men of the Seventh
were not all issued and presented while our regiment was
on Morris Island, some of them being received by the men
during the summer of 1S64.

Though all regiments participating in the siege were
invited by General Gillmore to send in the names of
deserving soldiers, a few regiments declined the otfered
honor on the basis that every man of the regiment had
been " gallant and meritorious."' However this may be,
the recipients of those medals may proudl}" wear them, for
they were faithfully earned.



After the muster-in of Company H, and just before its
departure for the front, friends of Lieutenant Worcester,
appreciating his patriotism, bought and presented him a
sword, which, at the time of his capture at Fort Wagner,
fell into rebel hands, and nothing was ever heard from it
until the winter of 18S7, when the following letter came
one day to the postmaster at Hollis :

Plantersville, S. C, February 23, 1887.
To the P. M. of Hollis :

Dear Sir, — I am anxious to be put in communication
with Lieut. John H. Worcester, of Company H, Seventh
Regiment N. H. Volunteers, for so he was December 20,

If he is not alive, can you give me the address of any
member of his family? I have just come across a sou-

456 History op' the Seventh Regiment

venir that mav be \'alued 1)}' himself or his family, and
will be obliged to }'ou if you will assist me.

Mrs. J. Harleston Read,
Plantersville P. O., Georgetown, S. C.

This letter was at once referred to Mr. Franklin Wor-
cester, of Hollis, a brother of Lieutenant Worcester, who
at once replied and received the following letter :

Plantersville. March 4, 1SS7.
Mr. Franklin Worcester :

Di-:ar Sir. — Your prompt and satisfactory answer to
my letter of the 23d was receixed last evening, and in
reply I will state it is a sword of your brother's that I have.

Mv husband, while on service in the Confederate armv.
was stationed for a time on Morris Island, near Fort
Wagner, and while there bought the sword from a private
who had no use for it. Alter the war it was put aside
in a lumber room, with his other army luggage, and
there it has been forgotten until my boys grew old enough
to take an interest in such things, when thev brought it to
me and drew \y\\ attention to the inscription on the band
of the scabbard :

CO. H, 7TH REG"t N. H. \'.,

i;y his friends in hollis,

DEC. 20, 1S61."

When we rtad it we felt that there must have been true
worth in Lieutenant Worcester to be so valued hx "his
friends in Hollis." and so with my husband's consent I
decided to write as I did for some information.

We feel sad to think it is not to be returned to the lieu-
tenant himself, as we had hoped, but as he is now " at rest,"'
I will send it to vou as soon as I hear from you, if your
express address is the same as your post-office one, or like
ours, entirely dillerent, the express office being seventeen
miles awaw

New Hampshire Volunteers. 457

Not from curiosity, but with real interest I ask, was
Lieutenant Worcester a young man, and did he leave a
widow and children?

The sword is of no value in itself, as the handle is

Online LibraryHenry F. W. LittleThe Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion → online text (page 35 of 52)