Joseph W Grant.

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At the earnest request of many of my comrades of
the Twelfth Rhode Island Volunteers, I am induced to
publish this narrative, which, with very little addition or
alteration, I have copied entire from my private journal.
This was written under many disadvantages during a
campaign of unusual hardships and privations. Hoping
it mgey prove of use, as a reference, to many of my com-
panions, who from the very nature of the campaign,
found it impossible to keep a record, is the only apology
I have to offer for publishing a work of this nature.

Diamond Hill, R. I., August, 18G3.



On the 16tli day of September, 1862, the
author of this, narrative was duly enlisted as a
volunteer in the service of the United States ;
and, on the 22d of the same month, reported
at Camp Stevens, Providence, R-. I., for duty.
At this place, the Twelfth Regiment Rhode
Island Volunteers was organized ; and in this
city, on the 13th day of October, 1862, it was
mustered into the service of the United States,

for a period of nine months.

As a member of this regiment, your sub-
scriber was duly elected, and from the 13th of
October, 1862, until the 29th of July, 1863,
was known as J. W. Grant, private. Company
F, Twelfth Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers.
Our regiment was under the command of
Colonel George H. Browne, and as yet no


lieutenant-colonel or major had been assigned
us. The following were the company officers :

Comjmny A. — Captain, Edward S. Cheney; 1st Lieu-
tenant, ; 2d Lieutenant, John S. Koberts.

Co7npany B. — Captain, James M. Longstreet; 1st
Lieutenant, Oscar Lapham ; 2d Lieutenant, Albert W.

Com^mny C. — Captain, James H. All-en; 1st Lieu-
tenant, Jales Macharet; 2d Lieutenant, Mathew M.

Comjmny D. — Captain, George C. Almy; 1st Lieu-
tenant, William H. King; 2d Lieutenant, George H.

Company E. — Captain, John J. Phillips ; 1st Lieu-
tenant, George F. Bicknell ; 2d Lieutenant, Christopher
H. Alexander.

Company F. — Captain, William E. Hubbard ; 1st Lieu-
tenant, George F. Lawton ; 2d Lieutenant, George

Company G. — Captain, ; 1st Lieutenant, Wil-
liam C. Rogers ; 2d Lieutenant, James Bowen.

Company H. — Captain, Oliver H. Perry ; 1st Lieu-
tenant, ; 2d Lieutenant, Edward P. Butts, Jr.

Company I. — Captain, George A. Spink; 1st Lieu-
tenant, Stephen M. Hopkins ; 2d Lieutenant, Munson H.

Company K. — Captain, ; 1st Lieutenant, Ed-
mund W. Fales ; 2d Lieutenant, James M. Pendleton.

John L. Clark, of Cumberland, was appointed Quarter-
master, and John Turner, of Bristol, Adjutant.


On the 21st day of October, at six o'clock,
P. M., the Twelfth Rhode Island Volunteers
formed for its last parade, on Camp Stevens,
and at seven, P. M., of the same day we were
aboard the cars, and hurrying on our way
671 route for Washington, by way of New York
and Baltimore.

We reached Groton at half-past nine, went
aboard the steamer Plymouth Rock at this
place, and at eleven were moving down the

It was rather an unpleasant night ; the wind
blew fresh from the south, rolling up the clouds
in heavy masses, with every appearance of its
raining immediately. However, at daybreak,
the wind changed to the north-west, the clouds
began to disperse, and at sunrise the sky was
perfectly clear.

Just beyond Hurl Gate we passed the steamer
Great Eastern lying at anchor, and had as good
a view of her as we could desire to have. She
appears to be a beautifully modelled vessel, of
tremendous size and power.

We arrived in Jersey City at eight, A. M.
Disembarking from the Plymouth Rock, we
reembarked on the steamer Kill Yon Hull,
and at ten, A. M., were steaming towards


Elizabethport, the wind blowing a gale, dead
ahead. Passed by Staten Island, which by the
way is one of the most beautiful places I have
ever seen. The land rises from the bay to a
very great height, and is covered with groves
of beautiful trees, interspersed with houses
here and there. I should think, from the
appearance of Staten Island, that it must be a
delightful place. As we sailed along, close by
the shore, the people came from the houses to
salute us, waving flags and handkerchiefs ; in
the groves and upon the house-tops we saw and
heard them cheering us. We arrived at Eliza-
bethport about twelve o'clock. I should think
it to be a place of some importance as a depot
for the shipment of coal, there being every
convenience in the line of railways and wharfs.
It is a small place, however, nothing doing
except in connection with the coal trade. We
started from this place at three, P. M., en route
for Baltimore, by way of Harrisburg. The soil
at Elizabethport, and all the way through New
Jersey, by rail to Phillipsburg, Penn., is a red-
dish brown clay, and for the first twenty-five
miles beyond Elizabethport the country appears
quite monotonous, a vast level plain, with here
and there a shrub, and a few houses, but no


good farms. The only fruit trees I saw worth
mentioning were quinces ; these were of large
size, and many of them were loaded down with
fruit. I should suppose this road ran through
the most barren part of Jersey, as I could see
uo signs of thrift and industry.

Upon entering Phillipsburg we came upon a
most beautiful country, abounding in hills and
valleys, covered with forest trees, with here and
there an excellent farm. The hills are high
and smooth — -no rocks to be seen upon the sur-
face — thereby affording some of the finest situa-
tions for farming I ever saw. The scenery is
most beautiful all the way through Pennsyl-
vania on this line. In consequence of the
unevenness of the surface through this part of
the country, the railroad cuts are very frequent
and extensive, some of them extending for a
mile or more, and so deep that we could hardly
see the top of the bank from the car window.
The road, also, of necessity crosses ravines,
some of them one hundred and fifty feet in
depth. We arrived at Phillipsburg at five
o'clock, P. M. ; halted the trains, filled can-
teens, and relieved four or five apple trees of
two or three bushels of fruit. Stopped at
Phillipsburg until after dark, to allow trains of


coal to pass, this being the great thoroughfare
over which vast quantities of coal pass to
EHzabethport, from the coal districts of Penn-
sylvania. After starting from Phillipsburg we
moved along very slow, stopping often, and
passing frequently tremendous long trains of
coal, drawn by powerful locomotives, two loco-
motives attached to many of the trains.

We arrived at Easton at nine o'clock Wed-
nesday evening. Here I saw canal boats run-
ning for the first time, passing and repassing
one another, and learned we were upon the
Schuylkill River, — and crossed this beautiful
stream immediately after leaving this place.

After leaving Easton, we slept in the cars, as
well as we could. Passed through Eeading in
the night, and the next morning found our-
selves close by, and at sunrise entered Harris-
burg, the capital of Pennsylvania. It is not a
very large place, but it is pleasantly situated,
the neighborhood abounding in beautiful scen-
ery. Stopped at this place, got out of the cars,
crossed the canal, and formed in line ; called
the roll in the streets of Harrisburg, went
immediately aboard of the cars again, — and,
after a series of running ahead and backs, into
and out of the depot, finally started, changing


direction for Baltimore. The bridge crossing
the Susquehamia at this place is a very fine
structure ; I should think it to be nearly a
mile in length, and crosses the river at a height
of nearly seventy feet above the surface of the
water. The road lay close by the river for a
long distance, affording us a fine view of this
celebrated stream. I looked forward, with a
great deal of interest, to the time of crossing
the line into Maryland, expecting to see quite
a change in the looks of things upon entering
a slave state, judging from what I had heard.
We crossed the line about twelve o'clock, and
I found myself agreeably disappointed in the
appearance of things. Instead of seeing an
abundance of negroes I hardly saw one. The
houses are small and cheaply built, most of
them, as they are indeed all the way from New
York, but I could see no difference in the
people ; all I saw, on the whole route from
New York, were not as well dressed, or as neat
in appearance as they are in New England.
The scenery, all the way to Baltimore, con-
tinued to be most beautiful, and the country
appears to be well adapted, in all respects, to
farming operations. I saw quite extepsive
fields of corn in Maryland and Pennsylvania ;


the corn was being carried outside of the fields,
to be husked there, most of it, I should think,
as I saw men busy in many places stripping off
the husks and carrying it away. They manage
to get their corn off in time to sow the same
piece to grain. Several of the fields were
already cleared of the corn, the grains sown
and already up two and three inches high.
There seems to a New Englander a great lack
of barns and other outbuildings in these States,
but with the crops they raise perhaps they are
not necessary.

We journeyed along very slow after leaving
Harrisburg, stopping often for wood and water,
also for trains to pass by us, &c. The road we
found to be strictly guarded, long before we
came to Baltimore, passing company after
company on picket duty along the road, who
cheered as we went past. Feeling our way
along, we came into Baltimore just at dark,
Thursday evening, the 23d. Got out of the
cars, the regiment was formed, and we pro-
ceeded through the streets of this city to our
resting place for the night. Halted at the
general rendezvous for soldiers long enough to
take refreshments ; sat down, un slung knap-
sacks, and commenced our supper, which con-


sistcd of coffee, white bread, beef, ham, tongue,
sour krout, &c. Slung knapsacks, went from
there to the depot, unslung knapsacks again,
and camped for the night upon the depot floor.
Drums beat at six o'clock, A. M., the 24th, for
roll call; tumbled out of bed — the regiment
was formed, and we went to breakfast, at the
same place where we took supper the night
before, which was but a short distance from
the depot. After breakfast we marched back,
formed in line in front of the depot; rested
there until ten o'clock, then marched
through the principal streets of the city ;
visited Washington Monument, a beautiful
structure of white marble, surmounted by a
statue of the Great Chieftain. Halted to rest
around the base ; then marched back, visiting
the monument erected to the memory of those
who fell at Fort McHenry in 1812, and formed
in line where we started from, to wait and
take the cars for Washington. Baltimore is
indeed a fine place — no wonder the rebels
envy us the possession of it. I saw some
splendid buildings in the Monumental city.

We finally got aboard of the cars, and
started for Washington, at five, P. M. Just
before dark passed the " Relay Station," where



the Massachusetts Eighth were encamped in
1861. Passed picket after picket, guarding
the road, their camp fires burning, lighting us
up as we passed along, and finally reached the
great capital, at eleven, P. M. We proceeded
immediately to our quarters, unslung knap-
sacks, then marched about forty rods to the
" Soldiers' Retreat," where we took supper ;
then marched to our quarters, and at one
o'clock, A. M., turned in. At half-past six we
arose to look about us. It was indeed a pleas-
ant morning, the sun was shining brightly,
and every thing betokened a pleasant day.
The first object that struck my eye was
the Capitol, not more than quarter of a mile
distant. It is yet unfinished, but nearer com-
pletion tlian I supposed it to be from what I
had heard. At nine, A. M., with a few others,
I went inside ; stopped in the rotunda a while,
to look at the paintings, and then passed up a
flight of marble steps leading into the right
wing of the building, to get a view of the
House of Representatives. We passed through
entrys, and by reception rooms, the floors of
which were of " stone mosaic," looking to all
appearances like beautiful carpeting. The ceil-
ing overhead was supported by marble pillars


of exquisite design and finish, situated just
inside of niches in the walls. The " House of
Representatives " is a magnificent room, en-
tirely beyond my powers of description. From
thence we proceeded to the rotunda, and en-
tered the left wing of the building by a flight
of stairs, corresponding with those we had just
left, the style of finish being the same along
the whole passage as of that leading to the
House, in the other wing. This passage leads
to the " Senate Chamber.'^ This room is some-
what different from that of the House, but
rather plainer in its general appearance. The
pillars supporting the galleries and ceiling are
very numerous, of Egyptian marble, or some-
thing similar in appearance. The walls and
arches overhead are covered with frescoe paint-
ings, of great beauty and variety. We had
but a short time allowed us to visit this place,
and consequently did not see but a small por-
tion of it. I had understood, that apart from
the Capitol, the city was a miserable looking
place. I do not see it in that light. There is
certainly a great deal to do — a great deal yet
unfinished — but it is certainly more of a place
than it has been represented to be. A few
years more and this will be a beautiful city ;


the present war already begins to tell upon it.
The business doing here necessarily in carrying
on this war is creating a stimulus ; buildings
are going up, improvements are being made,
and men of real business talent are encouraged
to come here. The ball is set in motion, and
this place, in a few years, will present a far
different appearance from what it does at the
present time.

I was hoping we might stop in Washington
two or three days, but was disappointed. At
eleven o'clock Saturday, the 25th, we formed
in line, passed in front of the Capitol, down
Pennsylvania Avenue, turned off to the right
in the direction of Long Bridge, passed Wash-
ington Monument, leaving it to the left of us,
and forming in line opposite General Casey's
head-quarters, to whose division we were as-
signed, gave him three hearty cheers, and at
twelve o'clock passed on to Long Bridge, and
into Dixie.

The Potomac is very broad and shallow at
this place, except in the channel. It has the
appearance of the flats on the sea coast, the
water being but about six inches or a foot deep
at the time of our crossing, showing a smooth,
muddy bottom, covered with weeds, &q. After


crossing, we proceeded about a mile up a hill,
and came to a halt upon a plain. It was quite
a warm, dusty day, and a rest at this time was
very acceptable to us. Stopped half an hour,
started again, proceeded about a mile farther,
filed to the right, and forming our camp upon
an eminence within sight of the ttome of the
Capitol, we pitched our tents, Saturday night,
just in time to shelter us from the rain, which
the next day (Sunday the 26th) commenced
pouring in torrents, and continued through the
day and night.

We had twenty-two in our tent Sunday
night ; two of them slept immediately in the
centre of the tent, just under the " cap." This
" cap " is a circular piece of cloth (peculiar to
the " Sibley Tent ") ingeniously contrived for
the purpose of ventilation ; it is easily moved
by means of ropes which hang upon the out-
side, and the aperture which it covers can be
made larger or smaller, at the pleasure of the
occupants. As it happened it blew a gale in
the night, and the ''cap" not being properly
fastened on, blew off, and the rain came down

upon T n and J s, who turned out in

the morning in rather a dilapidated condi-



Monday the 27th the storm blew over ; at
noon the sun came out ; we dried our blankets,
and Tuesday, the 28th, re-pitched our tents in
regular order.

Sunday, November 2d, we received orders
to move. Packed knapsacks, and at eleven,
A. M., bade farewell to " Camp Chase," filed
out into the road, and turning to the right,
passed on up a hill, and continued on in the
direction of Fairfax. Passed the Seminary
buildings at twelve, M. These buildings, so
often spoken of in connection with this rebel-
lion, are built of brick, with some pretension
to beauty in their architecture ; connected
with the main building is a fine looking tower,
from the summit of which the country can be
seen for many miles around. Upon an emi-
nence, and almost hidden from view by the
thick grove of trees surrounding them, they
stand objects of interest to all acquainted
with the history of this war. Six miles to the
north of here, and partly in view, is the capi-
tal, from which place the course of the Potomac
can be discerned for many miles, as it bears
away to the south and east of us.

Leaving this place we descended a hill, and
passed the Common, which is a short distance

journal; 19

south-east of the Seminary. This Common is
now used as a burial place for soldiers. Each
grave has a neat wooden slab, with the name
of the deceased, the regiment and company to
which he belonged painted upon it. Con-
tinuing along one-half a mile farther, we filed
to the right up a steep hill, and at two, P. M.,
formed our camp again, and pitched our tents
upon the top of it, on a level space directly
between two large houses, the owners of which
are now in the rebel army, having left this
beautiful situation to be occupied by our
troops, and their houses to be used as hospitals,
for the comfort of our sick and wounded sol-
diers. The road from " Fairfax Seminary "
passed along close by, on the side of the hill,
our camp facing it towards the east. The city
of Alexandria is one and a half miles to the
east of us, and partly in view. The great
highway from Alexandria to " Fairfax Court
House," and Manassas, passed our camp, run-
ning east and west, not more than fifty rods
south of us, at right angles with the road
passing from the north, and connecting with it.
This road was lined with ambulances, bag-
gage wagons, &c., going to and from Alexan-
dria, Fairfax Court House and Manassas, in


the vicinity of wliicli a portion of our army
were at that time encamped. The railroad
from Alexandria to Manassas was half a mile
to the south of us in the valley, and ran par-
allel with the wagon road for two miles — then
bore away farther to the south, as it rose the
hills beyond. The trains were running night
and day, carrying reinforcements and stores to
our army. These roads were in full view of
our camp for three or four miles. We could
see the trains as they started from Alexandria,
and could watch them as they continue their
journey far to the west of us. The level
space on the top of this hill covers an area of
perhaps six or seven acres, of an irregular
shape. Our tents were pitched upon the south-
ern point, and those of another regiment upon
the northern part of the space, at an elevation
of perhaps two hundred feet above the level of
the Potomac, which flows along in full view of

Across a deep valley to the north-west, and
perhaps half a mile distant, was Fort Worth,
and to the south of this fort, upon the wagon
road, were '' Cloud's Mills," so often spoken of
during this rebellion.

The descent of the hill, towards the south


and west was very steep. Its side was covered
with springs, which afforded us plenty of
water ; and at the bottom of the valley, to the
west, was a fine stream, running towards the
south, originating in a spring at the foot of the
hill, south of the Seminary buildings. The
Seminary, Fort Worth, and our camp, were all
on about the same elevation, forming half of a
circle — the Seminary at the north, our camp
on the south-eastern, and Fort Worth on the
south-western point. Taking into considera-
tion the surroundings and associations con-
nected with the situation, I think we could not
have chosen a more pleasant or interesting
place for our camp.

Monday, November 3d, the next day after
forming our camp, we packed haversacks, and
had our first experience in picket duty, our
Company and Company G being detailed for
that purpose. At half-past eight we filed down
the hill, turned to the right, on the road to
Manassas ; passed " Cloud's Mills " at nine,
A. M., and continued on as far as " Bailey's
Cross Roads," a place become familiar to us all
in the history of this war. At this place we
stopped, and fixed our quarters ; posting our
pickets along the road. We were fortunate in


having pleasant weather while we were upon
this duty.

The next day, at eleven, A. M., the reserve
formed in line to receive the " New Guard,"
and at twelve o'clock we started for camp.
Stopped when within half a mile, and dis-
charged our pieces, which were heavily loaded
with ball and buckshot, and at two, P. M.,
arrived again in camp, bringing in two pris-
oners, who by the way, however, proved to be
loyal soldiers, without passes.

Our camp was named " Camp Casey, near
Fairfax Seminary," and we, with three other
regiments, were encamped close to one other,
formerly the first brigade of General Casey's
Division, commanded by Colonel Wright, acting
Brigadier-General. Our regiment was en-
gaged in drilling, doing fatigue, picket and
guard duty, which kept us busy. Fifty of
our regiment were detailed November 7th to
do fatigue duty in Fort Blenker, digging,
shovelling, &o. The boys going out, came in at
ten, A. M., driven in by the storm which was
raging there. It commenced storming the
6th, and at ten, A. M.,the next day it had cul-
minated into an old-fashioned New England
snow storm. The wind blew a gale ; the air


was very cold, and the snow, whirling about
us, made our situation very uncomfortable,
especially to those who were on guard, and
exposed to its fury. B. was the only one from
D. H. happening to be on guard, except W. S.,
who volunteered to take another man's place
for 11.25. I think he earned his money.



The snow storm of November 7th came
upon us quite unexpectedly, leading us to
think we had journeyed in the wrong direc-
tion, and instead of being in " Dixie " had
approached the north pole, and were already in
the immediate vicinity of it. There were some
wry faces about the camp, though most seemed
amused at this unlooked for event, joking
among themselves at the idea of making
snowballs in Virginia before Rhode Islanders
could get the necessary material — " enlisting
under false pretences," &c.

From November 8th to the 12th, nothing of
unusual interest occurred, our time being taken
up in drill, and in other necessary duties con-
nected with camp-life. November 13th, the
entire regiment was ordered to be in readiness
the following •morning, for picket duty, with
two days' rations. The appearance of the sky,
the night of the 12th, was threatening, making
us already feel, in imagination, the discomforts
of this duty in a storm, with no other shelter


but the broad canopy of the heavens, except-
ing, perhaps, a paltry one of bushes, affording
indeed but little protection from the pitiless

The morning of the 13th came ; the roll of
drums at six o'clock, aroused many a drowsy
soldier of the Twelfth from his humble couch,
and interrupted many a pleasant dream of
home, to awake him to the stern reality of
other duties and associations. It did, indeed,
rain in the night, which proved a benefit to us,
raining just enough to lay the dust. The
morning broke upon us with the assurance of
a pleasant day. With cheerful hearts and wil-
ling liands, we began our preparations. We
took breakfast at the usual hour, half-past
seven, filled our haversacks with beef and hard
crackers, our canteens with water, strapped our

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Online LibraryJoseph W GrantMy first campaign → online text (page 1 of 8)