Alfred Davenport.

Camp and field life of the Fifth New York volunteer infantry. (Duryee zouaves.) online

. (page 14 of 39)
Online LibraryAlfred DavenportCamp and field life of the Fifth New York volunteer infantry. (Duryee zouaves.) → online text (page 14 of 39)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


snoring away as if they had not a trouble in the world : some
were sitting on barrels, asleep in the cellar, which led olT from
the room ; others on the window-sill, and I saw one fellow trying
to crawl under a refrigerator ; in fact, it would have taken a New
York detective to have ferreted them all nut. In one corner of
the room sat H., looking full of mischief; he is one of the lead-
ing spirits. Butch, the " head devil," was not to be seen ; he
was (hiubtlcss stowed somewhere in a comf.irtable place, if there
was such a thing to be fouiul. Fuel beromin.;- short, and the
boys JKuiiig burnt up several cot bedsteads, H. said, " t^,oorgc,
just put that mantcl-jjiece on the fire ; there are some more of
them up-stairs, I will bring them down." No sooner said than



The Peninsular Cani/^ai^n — Yorktozvn. 165

done ; the mantel-piece threw out its cheerful blaze on the
s'\-ne. Just then a crowd of officers of all yradcs filled the door-
way, with alarm depicted on their countenances, saying- that the
chimney was on fire. The boys looked at one another, as if to
sav, " We have done it this time." We did not care whether
the whole house was burned to ashes or not, as far as its loss
was concerned ; but, in truth, it was a dangerous accident, for the
rebels, guided by the light, could have shelled us easily to our
great loss. The chimney, however, was soon bumt out, and
everything fortunately went on without interruption.

A little while before this, the innocent H. and the missing
"Butch" had been "scouting" on their own account to see if
anything could be made. They found a pig-sty with a squad of
the boys asleep in it, but no genuine pigs. They soon afier dis-
covered the pigs running about at large. They ran one down ;
H. seized it, and " Butch " drew his knife across his throat
in the dark. H. loosened his hold, saying, " He is a dead
pig," when the bristly quadruped made off on the " double-
quick." " Butch " discovered that, in the hurry and darkness,
he must have used the back of his knife. They turned back to
find the others, but they were all missing.

Trotting along, not in very good humor at the loss of fresh
meat, "Butch" spied a blind horse in a field. Determined to
have a sensation at least, he drove him into a barn where a lot
of the boys were sleeping in the stalls and on the floor. Roused
by the new-comer, and half frightened out of their senses, it was
some time before they could believe that the enemy were not
upon them, and that they were not all prisoners. This is the
Nv.iy in which some of the " red devils" amuse themselves at
every opportunity that is presented either for frolic or mischief.

The battery we were working on is one of great importance ;
it is supported by gabions, and will mount two two-hundred and
five one-hundred-pound Parrotts. It was commenced and put up
\\ilhin two or three days, and was masked. The gans are
brought up at night by a large truck drawn by from fifty to one
hundn-d horses, and will be mounted hv to-morrow. .-Mtiiough it
''.IS stormed a rolcl north-caster, with rain for two cla^s, the woik
''•IS b-.cn carried on unceasiiigly, and, in fact, cverjbody is busy
doing somcthiiig, etc. D.



Soon after the arrival of the regiment in front of York-
town, John G'. and two others slii-ped out of camp. a:ul
went on a foraging expedition on their own account. In'
their rambles they discovered a barn, under which a half-grown
hog had taken refuge; they tried all their artfid and win-
ning ways to induce him to come out, but he was evidently
a shrewd pig, as all their allurements failed, and only
elicited a knowing grunt. Finally, a bright idea occurred to
John, who was a famous forager. He went o% and soon re-
turned with half a dozen ears of corn, one of which he
l)laced about two feet from the barn, and several more at
intervals of a few feet further away. The trio, armed with
clubs, John having a stout whiffletree in one hand antl a
dirk-knife in the other, took up strategic positions around
the corners of the barn, and waited patiently for further de-
i velopments.

Presently the pig was heard approaching the nearest ear
of corn, with grunts of satisfaction, and cautiously advancing,
seized it, and retreated, having soon devoured it. He came
from his covert the next time with more contulence, and
munched on the other ear further from his base of retreat ;
and not seeing an} thing alarming in the situation, tinaily
went for the others. At t!ie proper moment the trio made
a grand charge to cut off the porcine retreat, but he was on
i the alert, and retired on a run. They threw their clubs at

1 him, John throwing his witii more energy than skill, whicii

r. sent him sprawling on the ground, his club doing more harm

[ to the side of the barn than to the pig-; but he scrambled

I along on all-fours, and succeeded in catching his victim by

'! the hind leg, and in his anxiety to secure him, commenced

|. stabbing him in the only part of the animal that was i)re-

sented to his \iew. but which did not liapiicn to be a very
I vital one. This uuiiignilicd procecdin- called forfli fi oni

tlie pig a luotest sliiill enough to wake the (K-mI. P.ut rein-
forcements were at hanil, and the pig was dispatched. He



The Peninsular Campaign — Yorktoivn. 167

was cut up, skinned and divided, and Joiin made for camp
with liis share of fresh jiork ; but, unluckily for him, he ran
.'.cross an officer of the provost-guard. He was halted, and
.i>ked where he got his meat. " Bought it ; where do you
tiiiiik I should get it?" That was "too thin." and John
was put under arrest ; but soon after he saw S. going
hy, who had been out on a little forage for himself, but was
returning empty-handed, not having met with any luck. He
c.iUed to him, and at the same time threw his meat toward
hiMi ; the officer called to S., and said that if he took
tiie meat he would arrest him also. But S. took chances,
grabbed the perk, and legged it. John was put under guard
in a tent ; but after half an hours detention, seeing an op-
]'->rtunity, he crawled out under the rear of the tent, and
uiade his way back to camp. He did not eat any army
i.uions that day or the ne.\t, but ate pork-choi)s morning,
r.ooii, and night, to repletion, and thought that it was the
■Mveelest meat that he had ever eaten, because, as he said,
"it was corn-fed."

Tuesday, April 22. — The siege operations were some-
^'•!ut delayed by the frequent and heavy rains, but the prep-
■ir.itions proceeded with unwearying inihistry, rain or shine,
'■'>^\\\. and day, without cessation. The battery No. i, which
' ■•-• Fifth and ist Connecticut erected on the bank of ^'ork
^-^vcr at the i\iouth of Wormley Creek, in front of the
' .'.irnholt House, was the heaviest mounted of thetn all. It
'":nujinded the water-front of Yorktown and (jloucester
I'oirit, and the extreme left of the enemy's massive wor.ks.
1? w.is distant 5,000 yards from Gloucester; 4.S00 from
' "iktown wharf ; 4,000 from the center of Yorktown, and
^.^30 from the enemy's "big gun." It was garrisoned
• -1 detail from the ist Connecticut Artiller_\-. under the
•' u:'nd of C;ii)tain lUuke and Major Kellogg. Thi.-^ regi-
'■'■ uas under the conuuand of CoU)nel T_\ler, and was justly
' ^iMdercd one of the tinest ors-aiii/ations in the service.



1



l6S Fiftii Neiv York Volunteer Infantry.

We were visited by a north-east storm which lasted tvvo
days, and directly afterward by a south-easter, which floodc'l
the country and made our camping-ground a large pond part
of the time ; but it was well ditched immediately aftersvard,
and made comfortable. All of the companies that could be
spared were detailed to corduroy the road to Shipping Poiin,
as it was full of deep holes, in some of which the mules sunk
breast deep.

On Thursday, the 24th, some of the companies were de-
tailed to make gabions. The weather was cold and the sky
overcast, and appearances indicated the approach of one of
the usual hard rains. We were also short of rations, and had
only one cracker apiece, a cup of coftee and a small piece
of bacon for breakfast, with small prospect of having any
hard-tack for dinner or supper.

On Tuesday, the 29th, four companies of the ist Connect-
icut were relieved from the duties of unloading shot, shell,
and n)ortars at the landing by two companies of the 5th New
York ; battery No. 10 was garrisoned by two companies of
the Fifth, under command of Cai)tain Winslow. This work
was situated in the middle of the first parallel, between
"Right Branch" and York River. It was distant from the
fort 2,550 yards ; from right redoubt, 2,150 yards ; from high
redoubt, 1,500 yards. Its armament was three loo-pounder
Parrotts ; one 30-pounder do. ; and seven /our and a halt
inch rifled siege guns. One conijiany of the Fifth garrisoned
battery No. 11, and were employed in getting out timber
and hewing the same for sea-coast mortar-platforms. It was
situated at the head of a ravine, distant from Gloucester
4,700 yards ; from Yorktown wharf, 3,650 yards ; from the
fort, 2,600 yards ; fVom exterior works, 2,400 \ ards ; from
^Vynn's Mills, 3.300 yards. Its armament was to consist ot
fonr lo-iiicli sea-roast mortar^.

On Wednesday, the 30th, at 2 p.m., battery No. i opened
for the fust time, and thundered its eloquent protests against



The Pcnhisular Campaign — Yorktozi'n. 169

iiL-ason with a power worthy of the cause in which it s[)oke,
\''.-.c lire was first directed at the wliaif at Yoiktown, wliere
:i-.e enemy were busily engaged in discharging six or seven
^chooners ; the vessels were soon driven oft". In all, thirty-
■.me shots were fired, which were replied to by the eneni\',
twenty-three of whose guns coidd be brought to bear on this
work ; but such was the engineering skill expended in its
(instruction, that the fire of the enemy produced no effect
of a damaging nature. One shot per hour was fired during
ilie night, and morning of May ist, to prevent the enemy's
transports, which had been driven away, from landing.
Coni[)anies G and F were ordered to [)roceed to Chees-
Mian's Landing, about three miles from camp, and assist the
('tiler two companies there in unloading shell and mortars
from the vessels, for- the purposes of the siege. One com-
pany was onlered to garrison battery No. 12. It was situ-
.'.tcd on Peninsular plateau, behind "Secession Huts," and was
distant from exterior earthworks 2,000 yards; from fort,
J, 600 yards; from burnt house, 925 yards. Its armament
<-'ul;^isted of five lo-inch and five 8-inch siege mortars. The
•.•nemy kept up a continuous fire on the men in the trenches
•It tile front.

On Friday, the 2d, battery Xo. 13 was garrisoned by two
'"oinpanies of the Fifth, under the command of Captain Cam-
I'rciling. It was situated right of Boyau, in front of Moore's
IxHise, and was distant from Gloucester Point 3,000 yards ;
-"oni exterior works. 2,400 yards; from tort, 1,300 yards,
''•i armament was six 3o-pou!uler Parrotts. Sixty shots
«t - re fired during the day from battery Xo. i with eftect.
1 lie largest gun in the enenn's works, a ritled sixty-eight,
' ^i'loded on its twenty-eightii discli.\r_L;e.

■"^ '.Uu\la\-, the 2>*-^, tlamd the nv.-n .-till har^.l at work at their

. -'^ of dul}'; they were lum-^r)- and rations were scam.

'■'•■ity four shots were firctl fiuui Xo. i ; two of the shells,

^^•"ich were badly directed, droppei.! into battery Xo. 10, one

S



170 Fifth Nczu York Volunteer Infa7itry.

of which exploded, fortunately without ir.jury to any one.
During the night the enemy kept up a heavy fire of artillery,
and at the same time were evacuating their works, which
were occupied at daylight, on Sunday, the 4th, by the Union
troops. Some of the Fifth who were detailed in battery No.
13, at the front, were among the first in the Confederate
works, not by orders, but on their ov/n responsibility, while
the rear guard of the enemy were discharging shell into the
evacuated works. " Brockey," of Com])any E, had hold of
the halyards that hoisted the Stars and Stripes on the statf,
where a few hours before had floated the rebel ensign.

General Magruder had under his command at Yorktown,
fifty-three thousand men.

The enemy left fifty-three heavy guns, all of which they
had spiked, besides several that had burst ; also a large
quantity of cotton, tobacco, flour, beans, and other stores.
Torpedoes that had been planted in the ground exploded,
killing and wounding a number of the soldiers.

The 6th day of May, at daylight, was the time that had
been appointed to open a general bombardment of the
enemy's works from all the fourteen batteries, and it was
the opinion of the experienced ofticers of the engineer and
artillery corps that the works would have been untenable in
twelve hours thereafter.

On Mondiy, the 5th, the scattered companies of the
Fifth were united once more, and the regiment received two
jnonths' pay from Major Hoops, the Paymaster, and their
clothing account was settled.

Brigadier-Cleneral W. F. Barry, Chief of Artillery, says in
his report :

"The difficulties attending tne placing in position the un-
usually hea\y machinen,' us<_'d in this sic^e were ver}' much in-
creased by the pecuharitirs of the soil, and by the continuance
of heavy rains during tlio greater portion of tiro operations.
Oftentimes the heavier guns, in their transportation of three



The Pt7iinsular Campaign — Yorktoivn. 171

n.ilcs from the landing- to the batteries, would sink in the quick-
> ;n(!s to the axletrees of their traveling carriages.

'• The efforts of the best trained and heaviest of the horses of
;hf artillery reserve were of no avail in the attempts to extricate
t'lcm, and it became necessary to haul this heavy metal by hand,
liic cannoneers working knee deep in mud and water. In these
i.i:).)rs the officers and men of the ist Connecticut Artillery and
the 5th New York Volunteers exhibited extraordinary perse-
verance, alacrity, and cheerfulness. It finally became necessary
to construct a heavy corduroy road, wide enough for teams to
piss each other, the whole distance from the landing to the
.l/p6t.

" In conclusion, I beg to present the names of Colonel Tyler,
Majors Kellogg, Hemmingway, and Trumbull, and Captains
I'crkins and Burke, ist Connecticut Artiller)^ ; Major Alexander
Doull, 2d New York Artiller}- ; Colonel Warren, Lieutenant-
Colonel H. Duryea, Major Hull, and Captain Winslow, 5th New
York V^olunteers, as conspicuous for intelligence, energ}-, and
•r;ix)d conduct under fire,"

The following letter was read off at evening parade :

Office Chief of Artillery, Army of Potomac, )
Camp Winfield Scott, before Yorktown, \'a., >•

May 5, 1862. )

Colonel G. K. Warren, Commanding Ne^v York ^th Rtgz-

ment I ^olunteers :

Colonel : — In transmitting to you the enclosed copy of Spe-

>-i.il Order No. 135, Headquarters Army of Potomac, relieving

;'ur regiment from its temporary service with the siege train

^■'M<:r my command, it gives me«gTeat pleasure to state that the

'•'■itifs which have devolved upon it, in landing, transporting, and

;•• H-ing in position the extremely heavy material to be employed

!"'thc siege of Yorktown, Itave been performed with cheerfulness,

' rity, and intelligence. The highest praise is due to yourself,

'■ •! o'lficers, and enlisted men, for the very creditable manrcr

''■■ >Ai:ich your very arduous (and at one or two points hazardous)

•■ Hjps have been performed.



17- Fifth Ncio York Volunteer Infantry.

Should circumstances again render siege operations neces-
sary, I shall be much gratified to have your regiment again placed
under my orders.

I am, Colonel, very respectfully,
.' , . ; - Your obedient servant,

William F. Barrv,
Brig.-Ccn., Chnf of Artillery.

We received orders at tattoo to march at i a.m., with four
days' rations. A battle was raging, and heavy and con-
tinuous firing was heard in the direction of Williamsburg.
We marched at about midnight. It was raining, and was
so dark that one could not see the man in front. After pro-
ceeding a short distance, sliding and sli[)ping about in the
n)ud and water, the order to march was countermanded,
and v/e returned to camp.

At 3 o'clock on the morning of Friday, the 9th, the rev-
eille was sounded, and we marched at seven. We passed
by tliree separate burying-grounds, where some four or five
hundred pine slabs denoted the resting-places of as many
soldiers. While marching through Yorktown-, the men were
surprised at the extent, strength, and beauty of the enemy's
fortifications. The weather was very sultry, and the roads
were dry and dusty, and as the men carried about sixty
pounds weight on their backs, their sufferings were great.
The hot sun beat down on their heads, and quite a number
of them were sun-struck. On the march we passed the dif-
ferent fields where skirmibhing had taken place on the pre-
ceding days. The action at Williamsburg was very seven.',
the place being strongly fortifi*ed, and many a gallant fellow
was cut down before the enemy was dislodged. The trees
on the outskirts of the open plain in which the enemy luul
built their works, and which partially protected our forces,
were coiap'crcl}- iiJ,'.i!cd witli bullets, and the small saitlin^s
were cut d(jwn cntircl}-. The hosintals and cluuclics of Wil-
liamsburg were still filled with the wounded and dyinc The



»• The Peninsular Cmnpaigii. 173

regiment marched through the latter place in com]:)any front,
and the men were much amused at the looks of disgust which
were portrayed on the faces of many of the inhabitants.

There were also some sad sights. A lady dressed in
mourning, and holding a little child by the hand, stood view-
ing the troops from a balcony, as they passed by, and was
weeping ; she had probably lost a husband or some near
relative in the late battle.

The conunand was halted for the night about four miles
beyond the city, having marched twenty-two miles. After
spreading their ponchos on the ground, and wrapping them-
selves in their blankets, all, except the pickets and camp
guard, were soon fast asleep.

Saturday, May loth, we turned out at sunrise, wet and cold
from the heavy dew, and somewhat stiff from the previous
day's exertions ; marched at S a.m., at rather a dragging step
at first, and halted at 2 p.m., after traveling about eight miles,
and went into bivouac at Camp Warren. A squad of men
were detailed for guard at General Sykes' headquarters.

Sunday, May ii. — The wagons arrived last night, and for
the first time in three days we were blessed with the sight ot
coffee. At i p.m. we slung knapsacks, marched about four
miles and bivouacked at Camp Buchanan, six miles from
West Pomt. The men made their coffee in their tin cups,
feasted on hard- tack, smoked their pipes and chatted, and
tlion spread themselves on the ground and went to sleep.

Monday, May 12.— There was a heavy dew during the pre-
vious night, which wet the blankets and chilled the men.
Tiiey made coffee and awaited orders. The reveille awoke
the regiment at 3 .\.m. on the 13th, and we marched at six.
In the afternoon we fell into the wrong road, were halted
i^'.iiidenly, and t)rdcrcd to unsling knai^sacks. w'.iich were left
i;^ t'le woods ; after wliich we wore ordered oft" down a road
fir ^ome distance on a donble-qnick, and into an open Held
to the left, where the regiment was quickly drawn up in line



174 FiftJi ^^t-zu York Volunteer Infarttry.

of battle, facing a wood, to support the cavalry who had en-
countered the enemy, and dejiloyed skirmishers. We re-
mained under arms in readiness for two hours, our interest
stimulated by squads of cavalrymen who kept filing in from
the front, each and all agreeing that the enemy were in force.
At dark we were relieved by some infantry and artillery, and
countermarched to get the knapsacks. Our gait was consid-
erably accelerated by the sight of dense clouds of smoke
which arose from the vicinity of the spot where they had
been placed, and alarmed for their safety, as it was soon
discovered that the woods were on fire. Fortunately, the
knapsacks had been cared for by some of the drum corps,
drummers Jenks and Verney being complimented by Colonel
Warren for their efforts in saving them.

The regiment resumed the march, and after a tedious
stretch of thirteen miles, running well into die nigiit, we sud-
denly struck the camp at Cumberland, on the banks of the
Pamunkey River. It was a magnificent sight as it burst upon
the view of the weary men.

Below them, stretched over an immense plain, were en-
camped an army of eighty thousand men. Innumerable
camp-fires could be seen in every direction, which became
smaller as the eye scanned them in the distance, until at the
outline they seemed like mere star points of light. We ar-
rived in camp about ii p.m., and immediately went into
bivouac. A storm which lasted two days came upon us,
which made the men extremely uncomfortable, as they were
without shelter. On the r5th, all the troops were drawn up
in an immense square, and reviewed by Secretary Seward.
It was a splendid spectacle, notwithstanding the rain.

The country through which the regiment marched to this
camp was desolate and descried. Not a cow, horse, or cart
were to be seen on the farms, nor indeed a livhig animal ot
any kind. Many of the houses were dismantled and deserted,
and the few that were occupied were inhabited by old men,



' •' The Peninsular Campaign. 175

women, or invalids, who hung out a white rag for protection ;
but not an able-bodied man or a grown boy was to be seen.
'J'hey were all in the Confederate army. Very few negroes
wore found, nearly all having been driven into the interior
by their owners. While staying in this camp, considerable
traffic was kept \.\\i by a few soldiers of trading dispositions.
'1 hey obtained passes to the landing on the river, and laid
out their money in cakes, cheese, and butter, and on their
return disposed of tl-.eir commodities to their comrades at a
l)rofit of five hundred per cent. So eager were the men to
buy, at any price, that they fought, pushed, and shoved their
way through the crowd, with their money in their fists, and
exchanged it for the coveted luxuries without regard to long
or short measure. Their princii)al an.xiety was to get some-
thing, reckless of cost. One of the men managed to buy a
barrel of cider, on which he cleared about fifty dollars when
it was only two-thirds gone. A raid was made upon it by
some of the "red devils," who tumbled him, with the cider
and all of his customers, into a promiscuous heap, and in
consequence none of the raiders got enough to wet their
lips with.

On Saturday, the 17th, we marched five miles, and bivou-
acked near the White House. General Sykes' division of
regulars, including the Fifth, were assigned to the Fifth Army
Corps, under command of General Fitz John Porter. Seven
\\agoners were killed by guerrillas between New Kent and
Cumberland.

Who were the guerrillas ? When the army was marching
along a road, occasionally an old, grizzly-bearded man might
be seen hoeing away at a patch of ground near his cabin, ap-
I'arently so much absorbed in his work as to scarcely notice
•anything else; nor did he attract any attention in return,
^•iit the main bo.ly luiving iias>etl along, were t"oi!o\\-od by
I'le stragglers, at fiisl inuneruiis, but gradually decreasing in
numbers until now and then only one perhaps miiiht be seen



176



FiftJi Xciv York Volujitcer Infantry.



at considerable intervals. Xow, that apparently harmless
old man has dropped his hoe for his ritie, perhaps the same
that his grandfather used in the Revolutionary struggle for in-
dependence. He is lying in wait, behind some stone wall or
convenient clump of bush, or perhaps near his barn, where
some belated or sick soldier may seek rest for the night.

At the company roll call in camp next morning a man is
reported missing. He is never heard of again by comrades,
family, or friends. He is on the army records as a " deserter."
That is all that will ever be known of him on this earth ; but
that old man could solve the mystery if he would.

One morning, just before the regiment started on its day's
march. Colonel Warren said he had a remark to make to the
men, which was about as follows: He had noticed on the
previous- day a great deal of straggling, and it must not oc-
cur again. " Now, to-day," said he, " I intend to act as
doctor, and for such as are disposed to lag behind, I have



Online LibraryAlfred DavenportCamp and field life of the Fifth New York volunteer infantry. (Duryee zouaves.) → online text (page 14 of 39)