Henry F. W. Little.

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

. (page 7 of 52)
Online LibraryHenry F. W. LittleThe Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion → online text (page 7 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

structed very much like a prison on the lower floor, while
the second floor would invariably have a balcony project-
ing out over the street. Even the little gardens which
surrounded the houses, in many instances, were protected
by a wall six or seven feet high, and the top of the wall
was often capped with a thick layer of broken glass bottles,
in order to prevent anyone from climbing over. It was said
that in the early days of the city, at which time many of
the most substantial buildings were constructed, Indians
would occasionally raid the place, and consequently, when
building, the inhabitants fortified accordingly.

In the centre of the city we found a prett}' square, with
the remains of a neat fence 3-et partially around it, and our
comrades will recall to mind the rows of men they have
seen sitting on that fence while waiting for orders to form
on dress parade, for our regiment alway held dress parade
and guard mounting on the " Piazza de Constitucion,"
and the fence would become loaded with just one man too
many, when down would go a length or two of it, tumbling
the men into a promiscuous heap. In the centre of this
square was a monument with the inscription "'Piazza de
Constitucion," and surrounding it on the north side was
the old stone cathedral with its quaint old chime of bells,

Copyright, 1874, by The Century Co.


New Hampshire Volunteers. 69

which were wont to toll the curfew as evening shades ap-
peared. On the west stood the old-time court house,
while on the south side was a pretty church of the Uni-
versalist denomination, a private dwelling or two, and a
building used as a store ; on the east side stood the
market, a peculiarly Southern institution. All along the
sea front of the town was a good substantial wall, the top
of which was topped with large granite slabs, which had
been brought all the way from Qiiincy, Mass., by the
U. S. Government, in completing the construction of this
sea-wall, which made a splendid promenade, being about as
wide as an average sidew^alk, and tor a mile or more of its
course ran nearl}' straight, with the exception of a couple
of detours around basins made to accommodate small
boats. The description of this wall ma}' possibh' bring to
the minds of many of the comrades some of the flirtations
indulged in along this beautiful promenade.

Nearl}' all the white male population had left "berry
sudden " early in the war, and only a few old men and the
colored people were left, or remained to see that the
women and children were in a measure cared for. Reli-
gious services were held at the cathedral everv Sabbath,
and there was also a convent of the Sisters of jNIercy, and
a cloister of Christian Brothers, of the Franciscan order, all
of which were under the immediate supervision of Rev.
Father O'Briel, whom the men of the regiment will well re-
member. Many of the families who had long resided here
had fled when they found the place was to be occupied by
Union troops, leaving their houses vacated, which were
soon taken possession of by some of our officers. Nearly
all of the inhabitants who remained were dependent at once
upon the Federal commissary for rations, and they U'ere
not backward in making applications for relief to a gov-
ernment they pretended to despise : but ihey were obliged
to take the oath of allegiance to the United States before
their wants were supplied.

70 History of the Seventh Regiment

On the 9th, the seven companies of the Fourth N. H.
Volunteers embarked for Beaufort, S. C. We had good
mail facilities, a steamer leaving^ everv week for Hilton
Head, S.C., and some of the time oftener, giving us an
opportunity to send letters home quite often.

As soon as practicable a series of squad, compan}^ and
battalion drills were inaugurated, which, with our camp
guard and picket duty, kept us quite busily employed ;
besides, we made man}^ improvements about the place.
For one thing, a detail was made and kept at work until a
new wharf was completed, the timber for which was cut
northwest of the city and was floated down a creek on the
west side of the city, to the bay and around to the wharf.
During the time the timber was being cut a company was
stationed out in the torest with the lumbermen, to protect
them from attacks from guerrillas or bands of Confeder-
ates that might be prowling about, each company in turn
remaining out twenty-four hours, until the job was com-
pleted. The logs were cut from the southern pitch-pine,
which was the only available timber for this purpose.

At the south end of the city, down below the barracks,
was a nice large plateau which we used as a drill ground,
and a splendid place it made, as it was almost level and
well grassed over. Near the centre of this large tield was an
old arsenal building which the rebs had gutted when the
war commenced, and which belonged to the United States
Government. It stood in a very dilapidated condition when
we arrived ; but someone — and it won't do to call names
— set tire to it one very dark night, and what had been
left by the rebels was completely destroyed. We always
thought the men who stood picket on the post nearest it
knew more about its destruction than they were willing to
make known. Near the north end of this beautiful
plateau was buried Major Dade and his comrades of the
Regular Army, who were massacred during the Seminole




New Hampshire Volunteers. 71

On the creek along the west side of the city, where once
had been a bridge, was one ofotir picket posts — for we had
a chain of them around the town, on the land side — and
when the tide was in, and unusually high, the road leading
from the town to this bridge, which was some twenty rods
across the marsh, was always overflowed, so that the water
would be sometimes two or three feet deep along the road.
Whenever it was flood-tide at the time of the " rounds "' by
the officer of the day, the men delighted in halting him at
the farthest edge of the marsh, making him dismount, and
leading his horse, wade through the water to the post to
give the countersign, especially if it was an officer with
whom they desired to balance accounts ; and many of these
officers made the "rounds" without an escort or orderly
at that time. The same conditions also applied to the
next post south.

But the most agreeable picket duty we had was the fre-
quent tours on the reserve, out at the old McCarthy house,
on the Jacksonville road, about a half-mile north of Fort
Marion, which consisted of one company; they gener-
ally remained at this house all night, and during the day
were stationed at the Fairbanks place, a mile further out,
and sometimes sent out scouting parties for a few miles
outside the pickets. It was while out on these expeditions
that Company H and Company D drew their fresh beef
without a requisition, the writer of this often helping to pole
in two quarters of beef at a time. Others in the regiment
wondered where these two companies got so much fresh
beef, and we wondered why they were not equal to the
occasion as well as these two companies, and never at any
time supposed it was honesty that kept them in the back-
ground, but it might have been. Sometimes a detachment
from the company whose turn it was for a tour on reserve
picket, would get out ten or twelve miles, making sure,
however, to return before dark. Occasionally a band of

72 History of the Seventh Regiment

Finnegan's bushwhackers would hang around, but they
kept at a respectful distance. Captain Dickinson had a
Confederate company patrolling the country between St.
Augustine and Palatka, and if a small detail got very far
from camp or reserve, there was a liability of their being

It was at this post that we came in contact w^ith plenty of
sweet oranges, limes, and pomegranates, and we had
sweet potatoes in plenty, and the best of fresh fish, oysters,
and quahaug clams in abundance. Some of the compa-
nies detailed a man to fish, and also procured and kept a
team for the purpose of getting wood for the cook-house.
This team consisted invariably of a horse or mule and a
two-wheeled cart, and the wood was procured outside the
pickets, on the Jacksonville road. The company had a
man detailed to drive and care for the team, and a pass
from headquarters allowed him to go out for wood and
return as often as he wished, during daylight. Two trips
each day was all that could be accomplished, and this
only during fair weather. Company D in some way came
in possession of one of these teams, and as the}' were
quartered at the barracks at the southern extremity of the
town the team was generally fed at noon in front of the
cook-house, while the teamster went inside for his dinner.
One day the team was driven up to the door just as the
company had been marched up for dinner. It so hap-
pened that boiled or stewed rice was to be served that day,
and it had been burned just enough in cooking to spoil the
taste of it for us ; besides, we had been served that way
several times before, and consequently the men felt a little
sour over it. So every man took his ration of rice and
had his gill of West India molasses poured over it upon
his tin plate by the cook who attended to the delivery of
the ration, until the last man had been provided for, when
in filing around the team to return to quarters, someone at

New Hampshire Volunteers. 73

the head of the company remarked that he thought the
old horse needed the rice more than the men, accompany-
incf his remarks bv throwing his ration of rice and molasses
at the head of the faithful horse, which example was fol-
lowed bv each man in turn as the company hied past, com-
pletely besmearing him with the rations. It was a long
time before the cooks of that company ventured to cook
rice again.

The men will all remember old Carr, w^e can never for-
get him, who kept the hardware store and a little of every-
thing else. In fact, it was hard to name any article which
he would acknowledge he did not have in stock. He was
very deaf, and, consequently, ver}- funny mistakes would
occasionally occur. If you wished to purchase an article
you would have to scream in his ear, " How much for
this, Mr. Carr?" His answer invariably being, "Two
bits, take it or leave it." Some of the men were in there
one day and thought they would name something he did
not have in stock, so they asked if he had an}- second-
hand pulpits. Carr was equal to the occasion, his reply
being, " Yes, ves, got one up stairs, had it this ten years."
One morning Lieutenant Fogg and two or three other of-
ficers chanced to be in his store, when, leeling a little more
liberal than usual, he invited them into the back part of
the store to "take suthin'." After filling their glasses,
Lieutenant Fogg, who was quite a wag, raised his glass
and said in a moderate tone, looking at and directing his
conversation to Mr. Carr, " Here's wishing you were in
hell." Carr catching the word "hell," supposed he had
said, " Here's to your health," and quickly and heartily
responded, " Same to yourself and all your family, sir";
and Lieutenant Fogg never heard the last of that for
many months. Had Mr. Carr heard plainly every word
he could scarcely have made a more fitting response.

74 History of the Seventh Regiment

" Sugar cane and mullet" was what the men always de-
clared the natives lived on almost exclusivelv. Many of
us will never forget our old friend, Jo. Manusa, an old
settler, who had passed most of his life in this quaint old
city, who had Spanish blood in his veins. He was
invariably found at the barracks evenings, with a large
basket of "■ roe mullet" and "sweet lemonade," that is,
fried fish, and the mullet is one of the sweetest little fishes
known, and a sort of lemonade made from limes. Some-
times for a change he had sweet potato pone and cigars.
Among other things sold us by the inhabitants we shall
never forget the bottled sweet cider we used to get at the
little store of Antonio Bravo, who was always getting the
confidence of many of the men because he had been an
" old line Whig." But the sweet cider ! perfect essence of
weakness I Made of dried apples, bought at our commis-
sary's, which being soaked in water awhile, the juice then
pressed out, sweetened, and bottled, and named " sweet
cider." Shades of New England ! But we drank it for
the name only.

The cigars sold us by the natives were excellent, for
every citizen of Spanish origin residmg in the extreme
South understands to a degree of perfection the art of
manufacturing good cigars, and the selection and produc-
tion of the finest flavored tobacco. One evening we
missed our old friend Manusa from his usual trips to the
barracks with his basket of merchandise, for he had almost
become a fixture, and some of the men went to his home,
which was not far from the barracks, where they learned
with sadness that his wife had departed this life and left
the old man to pull through his few remaining 3'ears with
a helpless son for whom he tenderly cared, and we aided
the family all in our power in their hour of bereavement.

Many families got onto the business of making corn
pone and sweet potato pone, and it always found a ready

Copyright, 1S74, by The Century Cii


New Hampshire Volunteers. 75

sale, as our sutler's checks passed the same as silver and
gold among the inhabitants ; but after a time some of the
venders began to grind up the hard-tack which they drew
as rations from our commissary department, as we sup-
posed to keep them from starving, and mixing it with the
potato, sold us a very inferior article, and from that time
the pone business was almost entirely killed.

At the northern extremity of the town were quartered
four companies, three of whom, A, C, and I, were sta-
tioned inside of Fort Marion; one, Company H, was
quartered just outside the fort but inside the water batteries,
and having procured some old lumber, this company
erected for themselves some very comfortable quarters.

Upon their arrival at the fort, the men from curiosity at
once commenced a series of explorations in and around
this quaint old fort. Some of the men in Company H
found a huge old chest in one of the many curious " holes,"
which abounded in Fort Marion. The chest was about
eight feet in length by four feet in height, and of a propor-
tionate width, made of mahogany plank three inches
thick, and having three heavy brass locks to secure it, be-
sides being heavily strapped. The onl}' explanation
regarding it that we ever heard was the information
obtained from an old citizen of the city, who said that in
times of war, in 3^ears agone, it had been the custom of
the Spanish and French inhabitants to bring their valua-
bles, plate, jewelry, etc., and secure them in this chest
inside the " Castle of San Marco," as the fort was at that
time called.

Old Fort Marion, at the northern extremity of the city, is
worthy of more than passing mention. Built of the beau-
tiful " coquina,'' a sort of stone composed of shells and shell
fragments, and which was principally quarried on Anas-
tatia Island, where, as history informs us, for more than a
century, hundreds of men toiled in the quarries, wresting

76 History of the Seventh Regiment

out the material now contained in its massive walls, which
have withstood both the attacks of time and armies, it
stands a grand old monument of past ages. It was a noble
fortification, requiring one hundred cannon and one thou-
sand men as its complement and garrison. It was built in
the form of a trapezium, with walls twent3 - one feet high,
and enormously thick, with bastions at each corner. On
this structure the Appalachian Indians labored for sixty
3''ears, the garrison also being required to contribute to the
work, and convicts were brought from far-otf' Mexico to
aid in its completion. Over the main entrance is plainly
seen the arms of Spain, and an inscription showing that in
the year 1756, Field Marshal Don Alonzo Fernando
Herrara, then governor and captain of the City of San
Augustine de la Florida, completed the " Castle of San
Marco," as it was then called, Don Fernando Sixth being
then king of Spain. Thousands of hands must have been
employed for more than half a century in transporting
those huge blocks of coquina across the bay, and raising
them to position in its massive walls. It has never been
taken by a besieging enemy.

At either corner were quaint little Moorish sentrv turrets
or towers, and across the draw-bridge, just outside the
main entrance, was a formidable little fortification for the
protection of the bridge and gateway. Since the United
States Government has come into possession it has turther
strengthened the place by constructing a water-batterv.
On the sides next the sea could still be seen the holes
where the cannon shot had entered and now lay embed-
ded ; the effects of some of the many severe bombardments
it had undergone. The old casemate in the fort is yet
shown where, during one of the Indian wars, " Billy Bow-
legs," a celebrated Seminole chief, escaped while confined
as a prisoner, by crawling through an aperture used for
ventilation, and through which it had been thought wholly

)i Pii


New Hampshire Volunteers. 77

impossible for anyone to escape. Since the occupation of
the phice by Union troops the fort had been put in proper
trim, and several heavy guns were in position, mounted en
barbette, a few howitzers, and a few light field-pieces
were also in position, ready for any emergency.

September 16, an alarm gun was heard at Fort Marion,
causing all of the companies at the barracks to double-quick
to the fort, but upon investigation it proved to be an acci-
dental discharge, and consequently a false alarm ; but the
orders were to gather by companies at the fort at the sound
of the first gun. On the 22d, there was another alarm,
which proved to be a gun fired for the purpose of ascer-
taining how quickly the companies at the barracks could
reach the fort.

About a half-mile or more north of Fort Marion, out on
the Jacksonville road, an earthwork was constructed, with
a bastion, in which was mounted an old howitzer; a few
rounds of ammunition were kept there for immediate use,
and it also was to ser\'e as an alarm gun. As most of the
regiment had been pretty thoroughly drilled in artillery
practice at Fort Jeflferson, we could handle it pretty well
if occasion required. A picket detail at this post con-
sisted of a sergeant and three men, and the reserve was
immediately in their rear, making this road efiectually
guarded at night, the line extending right and left from
the road and bastion.

During our stop here quite a number of people sought
admittance to the city by the Jacksonville road, and also
from the Palatka road which ran directly west from the
city and crossed the creek by a bridge, the top planks of
which had been torn up before our regiment arrived.
Nearly all those who came in were refugees, and deserters
trom the Confederate army, of which there were many,
and finally so many \vere coming in to be fed by our gov-
ernment that an order was issued to all, including the

78 History of the Seventh Regiment

families and friends of those who were in the rebel armies,
that they must take the oath of allegiance to the United
States or leave the city for the rebel lines, and the oath
wds administered b}- a staff' officer iVom Hilton Head in
the Baptist church to those who chose to take it. Those
who did not take the oath were taken to Hilton Head, and
afterwards sent under flag of truce within the rebel lines.
By this action quite a number of the wives and families of
rebel soldiers were sent away from the city.

At the barracks, which were large and spacious, were
stationed companies B, D, F, K, and E, and Company G
occupied for their quarters a building south of the bar-
racks, nearer the large open field used for the drill-ground.
At the barracks there were splendid con\"eniences, good
roomy kitchens, large dining-rooms, and open fireplaces
in each room, making the quarters look cheerful and
homelike in the evenings, and when the weather was cool
w^e always had a rousing fire, which made much more
comfortable the hours we passed in the different rooms of
the barracks between our supper-call and tattoo.

Many of the companies bought or tbund boats, and
some of the squads in companies owned their little
" yachts," in which they enjoyed many pleasant hours
when oft' duty. Colonel Putnam had a splendid boat, and
a crew was detailed from the regiment, all under com-
mand of Corp. Henry S. Palmer, of Company F, and as
every approaching vessel or steamer had to be boarded b}'
the officer of the day out at the bar, some two miles from
town, chances for boat-rides were frequent. Some of the
men of Company H, under the leadership of First Sergt.
William ¥. Spalding, bought and owned a beautiful
little boat, schooner rigged, and named it the "Union,"
with which, when the wind was favorable, they sometimes
went out over the bar and up the coast, finding many
relics, and many large logs of mahoganv, some of them

New Hampshire Volunteers. 79

two feet in diameter, which were probabl}" washed there
from vessels wrecked near there years before ; at one time,
venturing too far up the coast they were tired upon by

September 18, a squad of recruits arrived for our regi-
ment, and were assigned to Company E for rations and
quarters, this company being at that time on provost
guard; about October i, the recruits were finally as-
signed to the ditferent companies, E receiving sixteen,
H twelve, and D six of the thirt3 - eight, and on October 3,
another lot of sixteen recruits were received for the regi-
ment, which were assigned to the companies who received
but few or none from the squad that had previousl}' ar-
rived, Company D receiving but one, and companies A,
B, C, F, G, I, and K receiving the balance.

October 5, near midnight, an alarm gun was fired from
Fort Marion, caused by an alarm on the picket post on the
Jacksonville road, and ail the companies responded to the
long roll which was immediatel}' sounded in all the com-
pany quarters, and the six companies at the south end of
the cit}' went on a double-quick to the fort. Upon investi-
gation it was found that the pickets had fired at what thev
supposed to be mounted men, but which proved to be some
loose horses which were approaching the post in single
file, and one horse was found dead and another so badly
wounded that he had to be killed. The companies were
soon marched back to quarters, and the excitement for
that time was over.

A few of the companies who had boats detailed a man
to fish tor them, and many were the splendid meals offish
chowder and fried fish they enjoyed, besides, it saved
them the money they had been in the habit of paying out
to the native fishermen. The waters around St. Augus-
tine abounded in the best of fish, such as bass and trout, a
species quite large in size, found in the salt water, and

8o History of the Seventh Regiment

which were easily caught. For a change we occasionally
had fresh venison, which we bought of the native hunters,
who procured passes and hunted tor deer outside our lines,
often making their hunting trips remunerative ; and some-
times, tor a further change, we enjoyed chicken stew, and
not always, if ever, were the chickens purchased from the
natives. Towards autumn, as the nights grew longer,
small lots of poultry found their way into the quarters of
the men ; the writer remembers he was awakened one
very dark night, about midway between two days, in one
of the rooms in the quarters of Company D, at the bar-
racks, and found that he was detailed by a chosen few of
the men to arise and help dress the poultry, with which
they had come in loaded. We worked lively, and at
daylight had everything well cared for. AVe mistrusted
that a visit bv the officer of the day or of the guard would
be one of the first things in the morning, for we surmised
that a complaint would be made at headquarters. In look-
ing over the premises to see what hiding place could be
found for our birds, we noticed a small patch of plaster
gone on the side of one of the walls, and removing a few
pieces of the laths we tied strings to our poultry and
dropped them down behind the partition, tying the ends of
the strings around some of the remaining laths. Then
hanging a gum blanket over the place, as tor the purpose

Online LibraryHenry F. W. LittleThe Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion → online text (page 7 of 52)