William P Derby.

Bearing arms in the Twenty-seventh Massachusetts regiment of volunteers infantry during the civil war, 1861-1865 online

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* ; - - 1883.. .



WHILE our chief purpose has been to write a history of
give the work more general interest, we have thought best
to include an account of co-operative movements, and the
varied fortunes of the places which it was the lot of the
regiment to capture or garrison. We gladly acknowledge
our indebtedness to Congressman GEORGE D. ROBINSON for
such official documents as were needed, as well as for a full
set of thirty-two volumes of the "United States Roll of
Honor," by which much of the fullness and value of our roster
became possible ; to C. M. LEE of Springfield for a scrap-
book of newspaper notices of the regiment during the war ;
to E. T. WITHERBY, Esq. (formerly a member of the
Twenty-Fifth Massachusetts) of Selma, Ala., for information
through Southern sources ; to Capt. E. L. PECK for personal
memoranda covering the entire term of the regiment ; and
no less to Surgeon D. B. N. FISH for the list of casualties,
and to him, with Dr. GEORGE E. FULLER of Monson, for
our valuable medical record. We have also to acknowledge
the favor of hosts of correspondents and friends.



The work has received, in advance of publication, the
criticism of many prominent officers and men of our regi
ment ; and, while it is not claimed to be perfect, it is hoped
it may escape exacting criticism.

As the History is issued under the authority of the regi
ment, by their unanimous consent, it is heartily dedicated to



Major Gen l Ambrose E. Burnside, .
Major Gen l John G. Foster,
Brevet Brig. Gen l Horace C. Lee,
Brevet Brig. Gen l Luke Lyman,
Colonel Walter G. Bartholomew,
Major John W. Moore,
Captain Henry A. Hubbard,
Captain Ira B. Sampson,


Opposite page 29

" 36

" 202

" " 469

" " 483

" " 73

" 239

Major Wm. A. Walker, . 1

Chap. C. L. Woodworth, . !

Surgeon Geo. A. Otis, . ^-opp. page 497

Surgeon D. B. N. Fish, .

Asst. Surg. Samuel Camp, J

Capt. M. H. Spaulding,
Capt. Edwin C. Clark,
Capt. Henry C. Dwight,
Lieut. W. Chapin Hunt,
Lieut. John H. Judd,

Capt. P. 8. Bailey, .
Capt. P. W. McManus,
Capt. T. W. Sloan, .
Capt. J. L. Skinner, .
Capt. Geo. Warner, .

opp. page 101

opp. page 26

Capl. Sherman P. Cooley, ""

Capt. Edwin L. Peck, . i

Capt. C. D. Sandford, . ^> opp. page 264

Lieut. Pliny Wood, . . j

Lieut. James H. Fowler, . J

Lieut. H. Smith Newell, .
Adj. Joseph W. Holmes, .
Cnpt. Edward K. Wilcox,
Lieut. Edward D. Lee, .
Lieut. Edgar H. Coombs,

opp. page 313

Lieut. Fred k C. Wright, , ~\

Capt. Justus Lyman, . I

Hocp. St d Geo. E. Fuller, ^ opp. page 510

Warren S. Buxton, . . j

Chas. R. Fay, . . . J

Geo. P. Clark, . . . ^

Sylvester 8. Hooper, . I

Wm. B. Watts, . .

Wm. P. Derby, . )> opp. page 157

Alvin A. Gage, . . . I

Newton E. Kellogg, . . i

Newton E. Wallace, . . J

Cyrus A gans, .
W. I. Burghardt,
Chas. N. Cook, .
Eldad E. Moore,
John Shoals,
Leverette Clarke,

Simeon E. Preston,
Franklin Elwell,
Wm R. Montague,
John E. Cushman,
Lineus C. Skinner,
John D, Parsons,

. opp. page 190

opp. page 301



Geo. Welcome, .
Dan l W. Bates,
Walter R. Madison, .
Hiram G. Everton, .
Lafayette Babb,
Chas. W. Roberts, .

opp. page 342

John W. Bartlett,
Chas. H. Rust, .
Solon M. Allis, .
Chas. Geckler, .
Rob Roy McGregor,
Fred k Kurtz,
Thomas C. Allis,

>opp. page 141


Signal Corps.

Lieut. Win. Barrett,

Henry J. Bardwell ^ opp. page 516

S. Parkman Janes,

Drum Corps 226

Map Dep t of North Carolina, 99

Map Bermuda Hundreds and vicinity, 252

Chart of New Berne and its fortifications, 117

Chart of Washington, N. C., and its fortifications, 168

Chart of Battlefield of Drewry s Bluff, 291

Chart of Gum Swamp and vicinity 460




Roanoke Island, N. C., Feb. 7, 8, 62.

New Berne, N. C March 14, 62.

Core Creek, N. C. June 17, 62.

Dover X Roads, N. C., . July 28, 62.

Bachelor s Creek, N. C., Nov. 12, 62.

Kinston, N. C. Dec. 14, 62.

Whitehall, N. C., Dec. 16, 62.

Ooldsboro, N. C Dec. 17, 62.

Rocky Hoc Creek, N. C March 23, 63.

Siege of Washington, N. C., March 30 to April 16, 63.

Gum Swamp, N. C., April 28, 63.

Gum Swamp, N. C, . . . . . - May 22, 63.

Walthall Junction, Va., May 6, 7, 64.

Arrowfield Church, Va., May 9, 64.

Drewry s Bluff, Va., . May 13 to 16, 64.

Bakehouse Creek, Va., May 23, 64.

Cold Harbor, Va., June 2, 64.

Cold Harbor, Va June 3, 64.

Cold Harbor, Va . . . . June 1 to 12, 64.

Petersburg, Va., June 15, 64.

Petersburg, Va., June 18, 64.

Mii e, Petersburg, Va July 30, 64.

Siege of Petersburg, Va., June 15 to Aug. 24, 64.

Gardner s Bridge, N. C., Dec. 9, 64.

Foster s Mills, N. C., Dec. 10, 64.

Butler s Bridge, N. C., Dec. 12, 64.

South- West Creek, N. C., . . March fj, 65.


Trenton, N. C - . . . . July 25 to 27, 62.

Tarboro, N. C., Nov 1 to Dec. 2, 62.

Goldsboro, N. C., Dec. 11 to 20, 62.

Kenansville and Warsaw, N. C , . . .. . . . July 4 to 8, 63.

Rocky Mount, N. C , July 17 to 20, 63.

Magnolia Salt Sulphur Springs, Va., ....... March 4 to 7, 64.

Blackwater, Va ^~: . . April 12 to 15, 64.

Rainbow Bluff, N. C., "~. . . Dec. 4, 64, to Jan. 7, 65.



Life in Dixie. Camp Warner. Bachelor s Creek. Hospital. Rein
forcements. Battle of Camden, N. C. Siege of Fort Macon. For
tifications of New Berne. Beyond the lines. Military Governor.
Grand review. Premature rejoicings. Departure of Gen l Burn-
side. Burnside s plan. Trenton Expedition. Capt. Sandford at
Gum Swamp. Killed by lightning. Washington, N. C. attacked.
Companies A, C, and I ordered to Washington ; B, D, E, F and G
to Newport Barracks. H and K at Bachelor s Creek. Depart
ment of North Carolina. Defences of Washington. Defences of
Plymouth. Naval Combat on the Blackwater. Wingfield and
Sh iloh 98-133


Tarboro Expedition. Nine months 1 troops. Rhalls Mills skirmish.
Advance to Rainbow Bluff. Detour to Tarboro. Council of war
and return. Attack upon H and K at Bachelor s Creek. Lieut.
Wood s strategy. 134-144


Kinston, Whitehall and Goldsboro. Our force engaged. Skirmishing
by the way. Battle of Kinston. Battle of Whitehall. Field and
battle of Goldsboro. Clingman assaults Lee s Brigade. Casu
alties. R.ibel force. Incidents. . . . . . 145-158.


South Carolina Expedition. Regiment at Washington, N. C. Co s G
and H go to Plymouth. Mail steamers and mails. Hyde County
guerrillas. Fort Anderson attacked. Siege of Washington, N. C.
Demand for its surrender. Commodore Hull. Ceres runs the
blockade. Aground under the guns of Rodman s Point. Spinola
retreats. Nailing the flag to the staff. Cotton Battery and Hill s
Point. Steamer Escort runs the blockade. General order. Gan
nett declines to assault. The Siege raised. Incidents. Engagement
at Rocky Hoc Creek. . . . . . . . 160-188


Gum Swamp. Engagement at Dover X Roads. Gen l Palmer loses his
temper. Gum Swamp under Col. Jones. A Night in the Swamp.
A grand Success. Following Col. Pierson in a swamp. Lieut.
Hunt and his men at Core Creek Bridge. Attack upon Bachelor s
Crock. Col. Jones killed. What was it ? 189-201



Col. Lyman resigns. Life in New Berne. Attending a colored Church.
Foster General Hospital. The Forty-Sixth Mass. Kenansville and
Warsaw Expedition. Rocky Mount Expedition. Gen l Foster
commands the Department of Virginia and North Carolina. Gen l
Peck commands in North Carolina. Veteran Reserve Corps. Capt.
Geo. Warner. Guard for Conscripts. Negro wedding. 202-217


Gen l Foster calls for his old Brigade. At Newport News. Gen l Foster
relieves Gen l Burnside at Knoxville, Tenn. Provost duty. Re-
enlistment. Review of 1863, . . . ; . . .. 218-221



Veterans at home. Mayor Alexander s Address. Col. Bartholomew s
reply. Census of Norfolk Contrabands. Our Drum Corps. Helping
in colored schools. Julian s Creek. Organization of the Red Star
Brigade. Death of Adj t E. D. Lee. . . . .. 222-231


Department of North Carolina in danger. Attack upon New Berne. A
terrible Revenge. Plymouth attacked. The ram Albemarle. Death
of Lieut.-Com. Flusser. Plymouth surrendered. Capt. Sampson.
Washington, N. C., evacuated. A fierce Naval Combat. Hoko
attacks New Berne again. His hasty Retreat. . . 232-241


The Army of the James. General C A. Heckman s special Report.
Bermuda Hundreds. Battle of Walthall Junction ; losses. Walthall
Junction, May 7th; losses. Gen l Grant s Instructions to Gen l
Butler. Battle of Arrowfield Church. Mudsills vs. Chivalry ; losses.
Retire to Cobb s Hill. Lieut. Pliny Wood. Drewry s Bluff. Sharp-
shooting. New position. Company D on picket. Battle of Drew
ry s Bluff. Beauregard s Instructions; how executed. The Enemy
repulsed. Attacked in the rear. Loss of Colors and Prisoners. What
the Enemy say of the Battle. Casualties. Capt. C. D. Sandford.
What Gen l Butler has to say. Letters from Major-Gen ls Smith
and Weitzel. Letters from Gen ls Heckman, Pickett and Lee.
Reorganization of the Regiment. New Commanders. Ordered to
the Army of the Potomac. . . . . . ".. 245-293



The Army of the Potomac. White-House Landing. March to New Cas
tle and Cold Harbor. Promptly at work. Battle June 2 ; losses.
Charge of June 3. Opinions of the Charge. Losses. Major W. A.
Walker. Capt. E. K. Wilcox. Lieut. Samuel Morse. Lieut. F. C.
Wright. Truce to bury the Dead. Means to recognize the Dead
Sanitary and Christian Commissions. New movement. 294-327


Siege of Petersburg. Battle of the loth ; losses. Matter in dispute.
Assault June 18 ; losses. Incidents. Gen l Smith s Address. Gen l
Stannard s farewell. Chaplain Woodworth resigns. The Enemy s
works. 328-348


A Summer before Petersburg. Experiences at the front and at the rear.
Casualities. Tri-monthly Report. Aggregate Strength of the Regi
ment during the Summer. Fleas, sandflies, etc. Extremes. Picket
line. Gen l Smith s farewell. The Mine fiasco. The Rebels mine
our position. Interchange on the picket line. . . 349-366


Return of the Veterans. The Regiment ordered to Noi th Carolina.
Col. Lee interposes. Tri-monthly Report Sept. 9. The Veterans at
Springfield. Mayor Alexander s Address. Ex-Mayor Bemis Ad
dress. Col. Lee s response. Col. Bartholomew s response. 367-377


Andersonville. Lack of Shelter, Fuel and Water. A wonderful Provi
dence. Libby Prison. Arrival at Andersonville. Surgeon s call
Burial of the Dead. A Fast of nearly four Days. Two sides of such
life. Leaving Andersonville. Railroad Accident. Savannah. Mil-
len. Blackshire. Andersonville again. Abandoned in Florida.
What was endured. Personal Incidents. Forgiven but not for
gotten. . . . . - . . -.;;:>-, . . 378-407



Officers in Prison. Useless requisitions. Specimens of Chivalry. Greet
ings at Camp Oglethorpe. Under fire at Charleston, S. C. Sav
annah, Ga. Line officers at Charleston, S. C. Camp Sorghum, Col
umbia, S. C. How Escapes were made. How Money and News
were obtained. A stampede of officers. Escape of Capt. Nutting
and others. Capt. Nutting gets solicitous. Not anxious for ac
quaintance. New Difficulties. Under the Stars and Stripes. Es
cape of O Connell and others. Friendship of Negroes. Drifting out
to our Fleet. 408-434


Return to North Carolina. Torpedo Explosion. Military Execution.
Yellow fever. Volunteers for hazardous duty. Destruction of the
Ram Albemarle. Recapture of Plymouth, N. C. Successful for
aging. Marching orders. . . . . . . 435-445


Rainbow Bluff. Gardner s Bridge. Foster s Mills. Butler s Bridge.
Fun all on one side. Col. Frankle s movements. Tri-monthly Re
port. Major Moore belligerent. Ordered to Beaufort. Ordered to
New Berne. Expeditions against Fort Fisher. Red House and
Rocky Run 446-458


South-West Creek. Marching orders. Col. Bartholomew s little Speech.
At South-West Creek. Being flanked. Battle of South West Creek.
Hardly a fighting chance. Rallying around our Colors. Defeated ;
casualties. Col. W T . G. Bartholomew. Incidents. Adjt. J. W.
Holmes. Story of the prisoners. A speedy release. . 459-477


Close of Service. The Soldier s life. The Last Ditch found. Disband
ing of the Army. Muster-out of the Regiment. The fearful Cost
Personal Notices of Officers and Men. . . . 478-495



Medical. Surgeon Otis. Surgeon Otis Letters. Hospital Department.
On the way to Annapolis. New Berne Battlefield. Asst.-Surg. s
Camp and Hubon. Hospital funds. Effect of large Bounties. Dr.
G. E Fuller. At Cold Harbor, Va. Around Petersburg. Return
to North Carolina. Yellow fever. Hamilton Expedition. South-
West Creek. Final service. Signal Corps. Our Men in that Corps.
Its Advantage to the Army 496-519


Twenty-Seventh Massachusetts Regimental Association. Its object.
Discovery of the captured Colors. How recovered. A Jubilee of the
Regiment at Springfield. How the Flags were received. Press re
ports. Flags deposited at the Springfield City Library. Letters of
regret ; longing to be with us. Fraternal Greetings. . 520-531

ROLL OF HONOR, . . 533



OXE of our most eminent statesmen has said, "All gov
ernments must pass through three ordeals before having a
confessed standing in the family of nations ; first, the knowl
edge of and declaration of independent rights ; second,
defending rights and territory from foreign aggression ; and
lastly, maintaining itself against insurrection and treason
within its domain." Two of these ordeals had been suc
cessfully passed by the United States, but in the last the
nations of the world predicted its ruin. "We had no
cohesiveness or power to enforce our laws, and at the
first shock would fly to pieces like a torpedo from forces
within. At best, a republic based on universal suffrage
and intelligence but nourished the causes that Avould prove
its ruin." These predictions showed the bias of the nations,
and their acts became so unfriendly at the outset of our
contest, as to justify our noble President Lincoln in saying,
in his annual message in 1862, " Every nation distracted by
civil war must expect to be treated without consideration by
foreign powers." Count De Gasparin, a writer of acknowl
edged ability, said, " Suppose Europe not to exist, and
America a duelling-ground in which no one can interfere,
you cannot imagine a continuance of the struggle. Four
months would suffice for the reduction of the South from the
day it ceases to count on Europe."


It is proper to recount a few of the leading causes of the
war as an introduction to the services and sacrifices of
those who battled for the integrity of our Union. Headley
in his History of the civil war says, " It is easy to see that
it will be vain for either North or South to attempt to prove
itself entirely guiltless before impartial history ; " a declara
tion which means that, although the North was right in its
determined opposition to slavery, the South was in a meas
ure justified in recourse to arms, from the methods by which
their pet institution was antagonized. Such a statement
may be soothing to a neutral mind, but lacks the vigor and
honesty of the truism that right is always aggressive against
evil, and must be in loyalty to itself.

The loyal North had endured banterings and insults until
forbearance ceased to be a virtue. For the sake of peace,
they had submitted to a long series of dominations, result
ing in the admission of Texas as a slave State, and render
ing effete the Wilmot Proviso, by the terms of which slavery
could not be introduced into acquired territory. After a
bitter struggle, slavery was legalized in Missouri under the
Missouri Compromise, providing that henceforth slavery
should be prohibited north of the thirty-sixth degree of
latitude. To repeal this compromise, Squatter Sovereignty
had been the rallying cry, and this declared it the right of
those settling in a territory to decide its domestic institu
tions. To vitiate State sovereignty, as in Kansas, they
appealed to border ruffianism, and invoked the military
power of the government to crush out and destroy the
opposing sentiment. Still dissatisfied, they obtained the
famous Dred Scott decision from the Supreme Court, which


declared, "There is no difference between slaves and other
kinds of property, * and that " All American citizens may
settle everywhere (in our domain) with their property."
With the patronage of the government at their command, its
marshals were employed in recovering fugitive slaves, and
both houses of Congress passed stringent laws, ordering all
the forces of the States, both public and private, to assist
in capturing and returning the fugitives to bondage. Es
pionage was placed upon the mails, and all literature
assailing slavery prohibited therefrom. Social ostracism
against persons from the free States at the South, was
exacting and intolerable, individual opinion overawed, and
any expression of opposing sentiment was followed by a
notice to leave, or by personal violence. Prominent men in
all departments of government were playing fast and loose
with treason, and distrust was justified on every hand.

Although a Massachusetts senator had been stricken
down at the National Capitol, and these changes been en
dured, there was no intention to interfere with the institution
of slavery, otherwise than by legislation, though secession
and nullification had been openly advocated at the South.

The election of Abraham Lincoln furnished an occasion
rather than a cause for the South ; and the weakness or
duplicity of James Buchanan, the opportunity to unveil
their treasonable plans. South Carolina passed an ordi
nance of secession Dec. 20, 1860, and seized all public
property within her State, under the plea of eminent
domain. This was repeated in all the cotton States, until,
upon the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as President,
March 4, 1861, seven States had passed ordinances of se-


cession. Each in turn seized the public property, Florida
and Louisiana ignoring their purchase by the government
at a cost of about sixty millions of dollars, and Texas the
fact that her place in our constellation had been secured by
upwards of two hundred millions of dollars, and large num
bers of valuable lives.

Friday, April 12, 1861, at half-past four in the morning,
a shell from a mortar battery near Fort Johnson, Charleston,
S.C., described a curve high in air, and fell within Fort
Sumter, then occupied by Major Robert Anderson, with a
garrison of one hundred and twenty-eight men. After a
bombardment of thirty-six hours, by forces under General
Beauregard, the fort was surrendered and evacuated April
14th. Thus was treason consummated, and a conflict in
augurated, which, in gigantic proportions, and far-reaching
results, must ever stand as one of the boldest monuments in
political history.

These acts narrated, resulted in a proclamation for con
vening Congress July 4, 1861, and a call for seventy-five
thousand troops for three months. Virginia, North Caro
lina, Tennessee, and Arkansas, now cast their lot with the
.South, while Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri refused
their quota, and notified the government, " Troops could
not pass over their domain to coerce the sovereign States."

By this accession, the seceded States embraced a popula
tion of five and a half million whites and three and one-half
million blacks, with a territory of five hundred and sixty-
four thousand square miles. Cotton had been king, yielding
to these States upward of two hundred millions annually, in
addition to immense revenues from other crops, and from


mines and forests of ship-timber. The conflict must be
waged, if at all, along an inland line of upwards of twelve
hundred miles well suited for defence, and twenty-four hun
dred miles of seaboard, containing the best harbors and
strongest fortresses of the Union.

From the Potomac to the far West, all was chaos and
lurking treason when Congress met. An insurgent army
was gathered at Manassas, Va., threatening the national
capital. Kentucky had decided to remain in the Union, but
Buckner and Breckenridge, and other leading men were
secretly plotting to lead it into the rebellion ; Missouri was
rent in twain by treason and contesting forces, and its gov
ernor and the rebel General Price, were actively at work
to force it into the Confederacy. Privateers sailing under
letters of marque were destroying our merchant marine
upon the high seas, while the nations of the Old World
pointed with scorn at one more failure of a republican gov

Even while Congress was debating the right or advisa
bility of coercion, the battle of Bull Run was fought; and
the retreating, demoralized Union army of twenty-eight
thousand five hundred and sixty-eight men, as it fell back
upon the national capital, awoke the two houses from sen
timentality to a conception of duty. The needed appropria
tions were quickly made, and the call for five hundred
thousand volunteers was authorized.

Before a step could be taken to retrieve our national
honor, this army must be enlisted, equipped, and drilled.
A great danger also threatened the 1 nation in the expiration
of the term of the three months troops ; but, thanks to their


unwavering loyalty, these troops volunteered to remain
until such time as new levies could replace them. Fortu
nately, the call for volunteers was met by an uprising and
response without parallel, exceeding by two hundred and
fourteen thousand one hundred and forty the number called
for, a sight which startled the nations of the world, and
awoke in our enemies a new conception of the conflict they
had precipitated.

Suspecting that the national government would be forced
to resort to arms with eminent wisdom Gov. John A.
Andrew, of Massachusetts, had issued his General Order
No. 4, Jan. 16, 1861, requiring the commanding officer of
each militia organization, to perfect, recruit, and equip his
command with men ready for service at a moment s notice ;
and to discharge such as were unfit and unwilling to enter
active service.

By virtue of this forethought, Massachusetts was able to
respond so promptly to the call for troops, that the unfading
honor of the first response to the nation s call, belongs to
her, and to the valiant Sixth Massachusetts Regiment. The
morning following the call, the Sixth Massachusetts Regi
ment mustered on Boston Common, and the evening of the
17th was en route for Washington.

The President s first call was met with such an uprising
that but a small proportion of the volunteers could be ac
cepted ; but after the battle of Bull Run, with a more vivid
conception of the conflict before it, the government once
more appealed to the States for help, and Governor Andrew
issued his proclamation, "Your country calls you to the
post, where the heroic soldiers of April hastened with gen
erous alacrity and sublime devotion."



AUGUST 28, 1861, Horace C. Lee, City Clerk of Spring
field, a gentleman of large experience in the Massachusetts
State Militia, received a telegram from Governor Andrew,
offering him the lieutenant-colonelcy of the Twenty-First
Massachusetts Regiment, then in camp at Worcester. He
telegraphed his acceptance, and the next morning went to
Boston for instructions, when he was informed that five
additional regiments were to l>e raised, and that the gov
ernor had decided to authorize him to organize one of these
in the western part of the State.

September 3d, he received written authority from Gov
ernor Andrew to organize a regiment, to be recruited in the
four western counties. It was then supposed that the regi
ment would be called the Twenty-Fifth Massachusetts Regi
ment, and all its earlier orders were so given.

Colonel Lee at once communicated with fifteen o- e ntlemen


of former prominence in the militia, oifering commands and

Online LibraryWilliam P DerbyBearing arms in the Twenty-seventh Massachusetts regiment of volunteers infantry during the civil war, 1861-1865 → online text (page 1 of 46)