He probabl}^ ought not to have fought the battle
of Olustee with his small army, but we believe him
to be a brave and a true man.
The following extract from one of the Hilton
Head papers places the matter in its true light.
"We cannot say too much in praise of General
Seymour's conduct in the fight. He handled the
troops in a splendid manner, and directed the battle
personally regardless of danger. When it was
finally deemed prudent to retire, the whole force
was withdrawn in the best order, with none of the
confusion of a rout. The results of the engagement,
embracing as they do, a forced retreat and the loss
of many good men, are of course to be regretted,
but we see nothing disheartening about them, and
are happy to say that the morale of our troops re-
mains unimpaired, with a strong desire throughout
the force to meet the enemy again on more equal
88 The Iron Hearted Regiment.
teriible suffering among the wounded.
The poor fellows who were wounded had a terri-
ble time. All who desired to escape southern dun-
geons and the cruelties of the foe, were obliged to
go a distance of nineteen miles without help.
Many were badly wounded and could not stir,
and they were left to the tender mercies of the
For nearly three hours I escaped injury, and
when I saw my comrades shot down around me
and myself uninjured, I began to conclude that I
was bullet proof.
Suddenly a stinging sensation w^as felt in my
right side, and I realized that I was w^ounded. I
remained with the company a short time, but be-
ginning to grow faint I informed my captain and
started for the rear. In a short time I came across
a surgeon w^ith about twenty wounded lying around
him, and saw that he was engaged in the bloody
w^ork of amputation.
Just then a cruel shell burst in their midst, and
sent the mangled remains of several of them fl^'ing
in all directions.
I turned away from the sickening sight with
I next approached the quarter of our own sur-
geon, and found him surrounded by fifty wounded,
his sleeves rolled up, his arms crimsoned with
blood, and himself engaged in cutting out balls.
With the stream of wounded men from difterent
regiments I hurried on towards Sanderson.
The Iron Hearted Eegiment. 8^
Some lay clown along the road and declared tl^at
tliey could go no farther. Others were fast bleed-
ing to death, and some fell down exhausted to die.
At last I reached Sanderson, nine miles distant^
Several of us who concluded that we could go no
farther, ^vent into a hotel and lay dow^n on the floor.
A surgeon soon came in and said that unless we
made all possible haste towards Barber's we would
all be captured, as the rebels were close by.
'We all concluded that it would be better to die
walking or even crawding towards freedom, than to
starve to death in rebel dungeons ; so we moved
off towards Barber's.
A company of the 40tli Massachusetts Mounted
Infantry, came along and generally dismounted,
helping thirty of our boj^s on their horses. This
saved almost all of the party from capture.
The animal w^hicli I rode carried me a mile with
great difficulty, and then lay down in the mud to
I started on again, when pretty shortly a mounted
officer approached, and after enquiring my name,
rank, and regiment, assisted me in mounting his
horse which I rode two miles, when I was again
forced to try the virtue of '' shanks' horses."
I reached Barber's at 3 o'clock in the morning,
nearly dead, and found the remnant of the regi-
I sat down on a cracker box to warm m3'self by
a camp fire, w^hen I ftiinted away and pitched into
it headlono;. There were but four cars at Barber's
90 The Iron Hearted Eegiment.
t9 carry the many hundreds of wounded, but I was
fortunate enough to get on one.
The cars were terribly crowded ; as many as
seventy being on a small platform, and several of
us had to hang together to keep from falling off.
They were drawn by mules and went very slowly.
We were the whole of Sunday and until 12 o'clock
Sunday night reaching Jacksonville.
Some of the poor fellows suffered badly. They
had nothing to eat or drink, were so crowded that
they could not sleep, and no chance to change their
cramped and painful positions.
At Jacksonville the wounded were all placed on
hospital boats and sent to Hilton Head and Beau-
fort, one hundred and sixty miles away.
COMMENTS OF THE UNION PRESS.
The following are some of the comments of the
press, in relation to the gallantry of the 115th Eegi-
ment at Olustee.
[From the iV. Y. Tribune.l
"Desperate assaults on the Union right failed to
drive in the brave 115th N. Y., holding the ex-
tremity of the line.
The genial and chivalrous Col. S. Sammons was
wounded in the foot ; Major Walworth's shoulder
strap was cut away by a bullet. They lost dread-
fully. Among the killed were Second Lieut. Shef-
fer, Co. G, and Second Lieut. W. Tompkins, Co. C,
Captain G. Van Derveer was wounded in the leg
and breast ; Second Lieut. J. Davis, Co. A, was
The Iron Hearted Eegiment. 91
fatally wounded in the breast, and was left on the
retreat at Sanderson to be treated by the rebels.
Second Lieut. E. Smith, Co. B, got a shot in the
right shoulder; Capt. W. "W. French, Co. F, had
his ancle shattered ; Second Lieut. Clark, Co. H,
was hurt in the shoulder. As an instance of what
the 115th endured, Co. F may be cited. Out of
fifty-nine men brought into the fight, three were
killed and twenty-nine wounded.
[^From the Amsterdam Desj}atch.'\
THE 115th n. y. vols.
This noble band of heroes was sorely dealt with
at the late '' Seymour slaughter " in Florida.
Joseph Allen, who was left behind the regiment
at Hilton Head, writes :
" I have been over to see Colonel Sammons, who
is severely wounded in the foot ; he says the loss
of the regiment is three hundred and four in killed,
wounded and missing. The boys fought bravely
and desperately, and the Colonel says, have the
hearty commendation of the General commanding
for their determined bravery. The regiment went
into the fight with sixty rounds of cartridges, used
them all and then sought a supply from their fallen
\_From the Mohawk Valley American.'\
From the letters received here we glean the fol-
lowing facts :
Col. Sammons wounded in the foot.
92 The Iron Hearted Regiment.
Captain Van Derveer, Co. H, of tliis village, re-
ceived a flesh wound in the hip, in the early part
of the engagement, but kept at his post until he
was hit by a ball just inside of the left shoulder,
which passed out near the spine, when he was car-
ried off the field on an army blanket.
He is supposed to be mortally wounded. Lieut.
John W. Davis was mortally wounded in the bow-
els ; the boys carried him seven miles, and then as
he was dying left him on the field.
[From the Troy Times.']
It is stated that the One Hundred and Fifteenth
regiment, which was in the advance in the late
Florida expedition, lost three hundred in killed,
wounded and missing. Col. Simmeon Sammons
was wounded in the ancle, and it is feared amputa-
tion may be necessary. Captain Van Derveer and
Lieut. Davis, of Co. A, were badl}^ wounded and
left on the field. Captain French, Co. B, was
wounded in the leg; and Lieut. Shefier, of Co. G-,
was also killed with other non-commissioned ofli-
The following comments are from the rebel pa-
[From the Tallahassee Floridian.'\
Some 200 Yankee wounded have been brouo-ht
to this city since the battle of Olustee, mostly for-
eigners and negroes; the foreigners were miserable
looking fellows, not a bit too good to be put on an
The Iron Hearted Regiment. 93
equality with the nogToes ; and in the hospital in
OYCvy ease, whites and negroes were laid side by
side, in order to give the whites a taste of the
equality they are fighting for. More than one
tlioiisand (?) dead bodies of Union soldiers have al-
ready been buried on the battle field, and the Con-
federate dead only numbered one hundred and
thirty-five, exclusive of thirty who afterward died
from their wounds. GenerqJ Gardner, command-
ing the Confederate troops in Seymour's battle, has
assumed command of all the Confederate troops in
[^From the Savannah Eejmblican.l
A correspondent writes ; "I participated in the
battles around Richmond and upon the Peninsula
as I have in this, and have never witnessed a more
stubbornly contested field. The engagement lasted
upward of four hours, during about three of which,
the enemy contested inch by inch very manfully,
the advance of our troops."
The Savannah Republican also stated, that a large
number of amputations had been performed among
the Yankee wounded at Tallahassee, and that a
majority of those operated upon had died.
ARRIVAL OF THE WOUNDED AT BEAUFORT.
"WHien a boat load of wounded arrived at Beau-
fort, the generals and surgeons were mostly at-
tending a ball; and the following account from the
Free South, shows that it aftected the pleasure party:
"Everything went merrily on until the news came
94 The Iron Hearted Eegiment.
of the arrival of the ''Cosmopolitan" with the
wounded from Florida. Although war has har-
dened our hearts, and rendered us callous to its
horrors in a great degree, yet few could look upon
such a scene of festivity without being struck with
its incongruity, when within a few hundred yards
of it lay groaning and dying men.
Generals Gilmore and Saxton left the room and
went aboard the Cosmopolitan, and upon consulta-
tion, it was thought best to close the ball at once.
Though a great disappointment, it was borne with
commendable patience by those who had devoted
so much time, labor and money, in the affair.
GENERAL SEYMOUR TO THE ARMY.
After the battle, the following order was issued
to the troops :
Headquarters, District of Florida, ^
Department of the South, y
Jacksonville, Fla., March 10, 1864. j
General Orders, 'No. 13.
The Brigadier General commanding, recurs with
great satisfaction to the conduct of his troops in their
late battle, and desires to convey to them in the
most public manner, his full appreciation of their
steadfast courage on that well contested field.
Against superior numbers, holding a position
chosen by themselves, you were all but successful.
For four hours you stood face to face with the
The Iron Hearted Regiment. 95
enemy, and when the battle ended, and it ceased
only with night, you sent him cheers of defiance.
In your repulse there was perhaps misfortune ;
but neither disaster or disgrace ; and every officer
and soldier may forever remember with just pride,
that he fought at Olustee.
By order of Brig. Gen. T. SEYMOUR.
R. M. Hall, A. A. A. G.
CO. H ON A SCOUT.
For a long time Captain Smith had resolved to
pay a visit to some rebels in the interior of eastern
Florida; and on the morning of the 1st he concluded
his arrangements, and succeeded in playing the
"April fool" on the "Johnnies" in a practical way.
Early in the morning before the sun had crim-
soned the eastern sky, he selected twenty-five men
from company H who were armed with the de-
structive Spencer repeating rifle, and one of his
most trusty native scouts, and embarked on a little
gun-boat provided for the purpose.
The object of the expedition was to endeavor to
capture a rebel picket post, known to be stationed
thirty-two miles from Piladka, far into the interior
of the enemy's country.
It was a very dangerous and risky undertaking,
but the captain with just confidence in his own skill
and the bravery and gallantry of his boys, was con-
fident of success.
The little boat carried them safely through the
96 The Iron Hearted Eegiment.
river, up creeks and across small lakes, until tliey
were within five miles of the place.
It was now necessary to march to the point of
attack ; and for that purpose they started forward
in good spirits, and after wading through a dense
swamp occupied by snakes and alligators only, at
last came within sight of the post. The rebel guard
were foand to consist of cavalry, and were in the
second story of a house, while all their horses and
equipments were in a barn close by.
The captain now went quietly at work and formed
his men for the attack. They were thrown around
the house in a circle so that none of the rebels could
The horses were secured and taken a short dis-
tance into the woods.
Everything now being ready, the order to move
forward was given.
The boys started with a wild yell, and closed in
upon the house. The rebels were so surjDrised and
terrified that before they recovered from their con-
sternation or had time to seize their loaded muskets
standing against the wall, the boys charged up the
stairs like a flash, and took the whole party pris-
"Surrender!" they all cried.
a y^Q g[yQ in^" replied the rebels.
"April fool !" thundered all the boys in a single
breath, gathering around the wondering rebels.
" I thought the hull Yankee army was a comin*,
The Iron Hearted Eegiment. 97
and I reckon we're April fooled right smart," said
one of the prisoners.
"Three cheers for the Union !" suggested one of
company II. It was given with a will.
"What's this?" inquired another Union hoy,
holding up to view a sheet of dirty looking letter
paper that had evidently just heen written on.
"It's a letter I reckon, Yank, an' I was a writin'
on't when you'ns come up here," answered a reb.
"Well — yes, I see," continued Union. "Let
me see : you wrote that all was quiet along the
lines, and the ink wasn't dry on the paper when
we were after you like a thousand of brick. Ha !
From the appearance of things the captain be-
gan to think that some of the guard must be absent
from the post; so selecting one of the prisoners he
took him aside and said :
" Sir, I am going to ask you a question, and your
fate hangs on your answer; lie to me and your
doom is sealed. Are not a part of your men ab-
"Well, captain, I don't dare to tell, for if they
find out they '11 murder me."
"J^o sir; they shall never know it," said the
" W-e-1-1, yes — I reckon they are," hesitatingly
replied the prisoner.
"How many of them are there ?"
"A sergeant and one man, I reckon."
98 The Iron Hearted Hegiment.
" Where can they he found ? Tell me the truth."
"Won't ye'r tell on me, capting?"
" Then I will tell yer, although I kinder reckon
how I ort'nt. They are up the road ahout two
Believing hy his manner that he told the truth, *
our guide was dressed in the uniform of a Georgia
cavalryman, mounted on one of the captured horses,
and thus attired he started to look after the missing
gentry, with a dozen of the hoys ''armed to the
teeth" following on behind.
Suddenly he came close to them in the road, and
found them well armed and mounted. They took
a hurried glance toward the guide, and observing
that he rode one of their horses, and was dressed in
grey the same as themselves, supposed that he was
one of their own men, and allowed him to ride up
The guide suddenly drew a revolver and cried at
the top of his voice, " Surrender, you cowardly
whelps, or I'll blow you into eternity in an in-
The argument was quite convincing, and just at
that moment the boys came out of the woods with
a noise that made the rebels think that a whole
regiment was upon them. So they surrendered at
" By heavens ! I've got you now, you heartless
rascal," said the guide, shaking his revolver under
the nose of one of the prisoners. " You're the man
The Iron Hearted Kegiment. 99
who conscripted my brother and then murdered
him because he tried to escape to freedom."
"Don't be too fast, guide," said one of our boys,
observing the rebel trembling with fear.
"Yes," continued the guide, "^^ou're the man
who consigned me to prison, and drove my family
beggars to the swamps. I'll have vengeance now ! "
and he sprang upon his foe, but before he had a
chance to draw a dagger, or cock a revolver, the
boys had him secure.
It was now time to be moving toward home ; so
after gathering up their traps, the procession moved
off. They had captured one sergeant and nine men,
with arms complete, and thirteen horses and equip-
Upon reaching the boat the horses and prisoners
were conveyed through a swamp for one mile and
a half, where no white man had ever before trod-
den ; and more than all this, the horses were made
to swim the St. John's river.
On the way down, a valuable rebel mail was cap-
tured and taken along with the other captured pro-
The scouting party reached Piladka at sundown
with their prisoners and boot}^, much to the surprise
One of the company got lost in a swamp, and for
three days and nights subsisted on sweet oranges
and berri-es. He finally reached the St John's river,
and getting upon a log, pushed out into the stream
and floated for nearly thirty miles, escaping the
100 The Iron Hearted Regiment.
rebels, alligators, and torpedoes, reaching Piladka
safely with his gun and equipments.
The general commanding issued the following
order in relation to the expedition, and it was read
before every regiment and detachment in Florida.
Headquarters, District of Florida, ^
Department of the South, y
Jacksonville, Fla., April 3d, 1864. J
General Orders, Ivlo. 19.
The Brigadier General commanding desires to
make known to his command, the successful ac-
complishment of a daring and difficult expedition,
by a detachment of twenty-five men of Co. H, 115th
E". Y. Vols., commanded by Capt. S. P. Smith, of
the same regiment. This little party sent from
Piladka to a point thirty-two miles from the post,
surprised and captured a picket of the enemy, con-
sisting of one sergeant and nine men, with their
arms, and thirteen horses and equipments complete.
To bring off the horses it was necessary to swim
the St. John's river, and force them for a mile and
a half through a swamp previously considered im-
practicable. The energy, intrepidity and skill
with which this expedition was conducted, demands
the praise of the commander of this district, and
the imitation of troops hereafter detached on simi-
lar expeditions. •
By Command of
Brig. Gen. J. P. HATCH.
The Iron Hearted Eegiment. 101
February 24, to April 13.— From the 24th of
February to the 9th of March, the 115th remained
in the vicinity of Jacksonville, skirmishing fre-
quentl}' with the powerful rebel force in front of
the Union army, and aiding in checking their
On the evening of the 9th they embarked on a
transport with other troops, sailed seventy miles
up the St. John's river, through a terrible thunder
storm, passing torpedoes and rebel batteries in
safety, and occupied the old TJ. S. military post at
Piladka on the morning of the 10th, without oppo-
While at Piladka they did an immense amount
of hard work of various kinds.
Several skirmishes were had with the rebels, and
a portion of the regiment scoured that part of the
state, rescuing hundreds of Union men, women
and children, from the swamps.
They also hunted down rebel conscription agents,
captured rebel mails, picked up stray rebel soldiers,
and kept the rebel camp in constant commotion.
A2)ril 13. — Orders received to evacuate the town.
The troops engaged in packing up.
April 14. — Troops began 'to embark at daylight.
All the Union refugees were placed on boats, so
that they could accompany the army. Just before
dark, the 115th being deployed as skirmishers to
cover the evacuation, company H fired the breast-
works, and under the cover of night the whole fieet
sailed for Jacksonville, protected by gun-boats.
102 The Iron Hearted Eegiment.
April 15. — "We reached Jacksonville at 10 A. M.
The General Hunter, one of our boats, was
blown up by a rebel torpedo, and two lives lost.
We camped in one of the city squares, cooked
four days rations, and received one hundred rounds
of ammunition each. Embarked on board a trans-
port at dark, and lay at the dock until the next
April IQ. — Sailed at 10 a. m., the band playing
" To the Mississippi I am going."
Ap>ril 17. — Reached Hilton Head at daylight.
The troops left the vessel and marched to the
beach, where arms were stacked. The regiment
engaged in changing baggage and stores to a larger
vessel. Officers ordered to leave behind all trunks.
Camped on the ground at night.
April 18. — The 115th and three other regiments
are crowded on board the steamer Northern
Light, and on their way to Fortress Monroe.
General Terry is on board, and he has summoned
the officers together, telling them to allow no
smoking during the voyage, as fire is our greatest
enemy, and in case of fire nothing can save a great
portion of those on board the vessel from destruc-
April 19. — Sea rough. Officers and men mostly
all sea sick. Drifted one hundred miles out of our
course at night. Have not left ni}^ bunk for forty
April 20. — Passed the light-house off* Fortress
The Iron Hearted Regiment. 103
April 21. — Reached Fortress Monroe in the
morning. Sailed to Gloucester Point, opposite
Yorktown, and at 4 p. M. were conveyed to the
shore on ferry boats. We encamped at night on
a rise of ground back from the river. The hills
are all white with tents belonging to the 10th Army
Apiil 22 to 30. — On the 22nd engaged in pitch-
ing tents and making ourselves comfortable. On
the 23rd the regiment worked hard in unloading
boats. From the 24th to the 29tli the whole army
was constantly drilling. All camp and garrison
equippagc, and old tents, were sent to E"orfolk for
storage, and the men received shelters. Fifty sail-
ors from the 115tli enlisted in the navy. On the
29th the best regiment in the brigade was ordered
on picket, and the 115th was complimented by
Ajml 30. — 10th Corps reviewed by General But-
ler. The troops looked splendidly and the line is
three miles in length. Ordered to keep four days
cooked rations constantly on hand.
3Iaij 4. — Marching orders. The 10th Corps have
been all day and all night embarking. The 115th
managed to get a place in the fleet at midnight,
after waiting seven hours in the cold.
May 5. — The great fleet composed of five iron
clads, twenty gunboats, ninety-two transports,
forty-two schooners, and seventy canal boats and
barges, containing the army of the James, sailed at
daylight to Fortress Monroe, thence up the James
104 The Iron Hearted Eegiment.
river to City Point and Bermuda Hundreds, which
places were occupied by the Union forces.
May 6. — We landed at Bermuda Hundreds this
morning and lay for a couple of hours in a wheat
field. A rebel Signal Corps was captured. Took
U23 the line of march at noon. The day was hot,
and the soldiers suffered severely. Almost all of
the men threw away their blankets, overcoats,
spare shoes and knapsacks, and the road was com-
pletely carpeted with army blankets ; while negroes
and rebels drew them away by the load. I saw
one man have a wagon box full of new shoes. At
one place the woods were burning, and the regi-
ment was obliged to walk between two walls of
fire. Halted in the evening in a large corn field
and camped for the night.
. CHAPTER V.
BATTLE OF CHESTERFIELD HEIGHTS.
On tlie morning of May 7th, Barton's Brigade
(ours) received orders to cut the Petershurgh and
Richmond rail road at Port Walthall Junction.
We left camp early in the morning, leaving be-
hind all who were unable to march.
The brigade was in light fighting order, and
marched over the dusty roads and through the hot
sun quite rapi-dly.
After a great amount of marching and counter-
marching, we finally reached a point near the rail
The rebels held a strong position on the side of
Chesterfield Heights with their artillery planted on
the crest of the hill. They were there to prevent
us from tearing up the track, and under orders to
hold their ground at all hazards.
At one o'clock our skirmishers advanced and
encountered the enemy's picket. We then moved
up, and as soon as the enemy caught sight of our
column, they opened upon us with artillery. We
pressed forward and at last gained a position in a
dense piece of woods on a hill fronting the rebels,
sufiering a slight loss.
Our men took posts behind trees and stumps, and
106 TfiE Iron Hearted Eegiment.
"peppered" the rebels pretty lively, and soon sent