Alfred Davenport.

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

. (page 25 of 39)
Online LibraryAlfred DavenportCamp and field life of the Fifth New York volunteer infantry. (Duryee zouaves.) → online text (page 25 of 39)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

were too nuich disposed to underrate them. Afany of them
did not seem to reflect that the Southerners were fighting for
what they were brought up to believe was their right, and
for their homes and firesides, and were of the same flesh and
blood as themselves; and I venture to say that the proi-'or-
tion oi native born was much larger than in the army oy-
posed to them. They were the descenthmts of the men
who, under Generals Greene, Sumter, Marion, .Morgan, and
the inur.ortal Washington himself, fought and suffered in tin-
struggle tor mdependence against the power of Great Ikitain,
and in the wars in wluch the country had since then been


fiTt'.K 3l'1 'lc> ■ (/j-Mfj 'u!" " 1 ,'i) T.,'

Second Battle of Bull Riui. 291


Sergeant Francis Spellman the writer had every opportu-
nity to know well, as he was one of his messmates for some
tinie in Baltimore. Afterward, when there was a vacancy
in tlie color-sergeantcy, he conversed about it ; he was very
quiet and calm when he spoke, and with a resigned air, as if
he should never think of refusing any duty that might be im-
posed upon him as a soldier. He said: "Several of the
men have been talked of tor the vacancy on the colors, and
I am one of them. I don't care for the honor, but I -won't
refuser That sentence was the utterance of his nobility
and courage ; for he knew that the position entailed, besides
the honor, almost sure death, sooner or later. In all his
associations, in the mess or out of it, he never had a.quarrcl
or a cross word with any one. He was no ordinary man ;
being quiet and retlective, spending his leisure hours in read-
mg or discussing military questions from Hardee's " Tactics,"
and was ^Qxy quick to see through their complications ; and
if he had lived, his merit and ability to command would have
been discovered by such an observant officer as Colonel
Warren. He was always gentlemanly, and there was nothing
vulgar in his composition ; extraordinarily neat, his rit^e al-
ways shone like silver, and he was one of the most perfectly
drilled men in the regiment. But beneath his outward and
even-toned temiierainent, one could see in the deep blue eve
that lighted his face the truest kind of courage. When he
was discovered in a hospital in Washington (by what means
lie was conveyed there was never learned), his right arm had
been taken off near the shoulder. He was shot through the
side in several places, and had a ghastly wound through the
"eck, his throat being so much swollen that he could only
"i-ike a humming noise. The following letter wa. written
1 ;« a tnend and former messmate of Spellman, AIoii.-:o Ameli,
of Company G, and addressed to his brother ; and was copied
from the original by the author :

'..■■■'I. A |pu. .- /. ■ •- J'.'


ntrfl rit.-

19-! uni, •■ ''U! -^i. ;^i


/' V.', ...1^,.o:;

292 Fifth Ncnj York Volunteer Infantry.

Baltimore, Jan. 30, 1863.
Last week I received a letter from the Rev. W. W. Winches-
ter, who attended Frank Spellman in his last moments, and
he said that being- interested in him, he strove to learn his name,
and mentioned over several names to him, to all of which Frank
shook his head ; then taking his memorandum book he held it
up, and feeble and trembling poor Frank tried to write his name
upon it. When he got through he said, " Francis } " and he
nodded yes ; then he wrote again, and the minister said " Spell-
raan ? " receiving an al'firmative nod. .He said he tried to find
out where he lived, but the left hand fell upon the bed, and he said
he could not urge the poor, brave man to any more exertion. Then
he prayed with him, and when he left, Frank was humming a tune
very faintly, which he says was a hymn. In a few hours he called
again, and he found him sinking rapidly from his severe wounds,
but he was happy, and soon after died. Noble Frank ! He was
indeed a true friend, a cheerful companion, and a brave soldier.
I have copied his name just as he wrote it upon tht; leaf of the
memorandum book.

Spellnian died a few days after the battle, and sleeps in a
soldier's grave, near Washington, among an army of others
who died under the old Hag, for the honor of which they gave
up their lives. He had not a relative or a friend in this
country outside of his army comrades, and there was no one
at home to watch his career, or who would feel proud of his
honorable deeds, and from whom he could expect paens of
praise, or who would mourn over him if he should fall. All
the honor he could expect would be that from his comrades
in arms and his officers, and the consciousness that he was
performing his duty. His actions proved that his whole
thought was nobly fixed on the trust he had accepted, when
he singled out from those around him a comrade whom he
knew to be a brave man and a soIOIlt. and who would ac-
C:'[)t the flag he was no longer able lo UL'fcnd. And in his
agony of mind, far above iiis bodily pain, he called out :
"Chambers! for Gff//'s sake, don't let them take my jhii; .'"


;t..'A M\A L<JS

':?i ; !•: ';. iiT J >l->'^v ViJ

w , , ri-.i? (iL- |i;T ^ri >)..■' ,;!i'i i

Secotid Battle of Bull Run. 293

A nioniiiiient should be erected to his memory, and no
more fitting words could be inscribed upon it, than the dying
words of the hero, as an example to future generations.


William H. Chambers enlisted, when he was only seven-
teen }e3rs old, in the English army, and in the course of his
service was in the Crimean war. He came to this country
a short time before the breaking out of the Rebellion, ami
immediately enlisted in the 5th Regiment as a private, and
was mustered out with it as a Major by brevet. May 14, 1S63,
having never been absent from sickness or serious wounds — an
honor accorded only to one other Captain. Re-enlisted with
the 5th Veterans as a private,'commanded by Colonel Wins-
low. He was promoted on the field for bravery, and served
till the end of the war, and was again breveted Afajor. He
was offered the position of Orderly Sergeant in the regular
army, with the i)romise that he should be promoted to a
commission at the first opportunity, but he declined to accept
anything but a commission.

I omitted to state that the first officer he met after cross-
ing the brook with the llag he had saved, was Lieutenant
Hoffman, who was wounded ; the next was Colonel Warren.


Among those who lay dead on the battle-field, was William
McDowell, the Orderly Sergeant of Company (/, to wliich
jiosition he was appointed from the ranks, thus stepiiing
over all the intermediate Corporals and Sergeants, and no
man better deserved it. He had been offered, and re-
fused to accept, .\\\ inf'-tior appointment. He was a.
nicni!)t.r of A\'ashini;ton Truck Coinpan}-. No. 9. \\<lnr.!err
I'ire Department, New York City, wiien he enli>ted, iu
April, 1 86 1. (Three members of this fire company were


:;J '!o 't




.)■.);. M'l J' J .'.fUi.i. i>




) c ' ■'




.;fr?OJ ■'


14" ■


294 Fifth Neiv York Volunteer Infantry.

killed in this battle). He belonged to a family noted for their
fine physique, and stood six feet two and a half inches in
height, and was well-proportioned. He was as brave in the
hour of need as he was kind and gentle in his social relations
among his comrades and friends. A large party of members
of the Volunteer Fire Department enlisted together, one of
whom was Wm. McDowell, and it was their fortune to serve
together in Company G. When he became Orderly, it soon
began to be understood among his former associates that
they must not presume on old acquaintanceship to shirk any
duty, or expect any partiality, even among his own messmates,
in the line of duty. When a man's turn came to go on a
detail of any kind, go he must, no matter who or what he
was ; and often when a man tried to evade it by managing
to be in some other than his own quarters, I have seen ]V[c-
Dowell take a spade or pick in his hand and stand in the
shirker's place until he could be hunted up, rather than put
a man to duty outside of his regular turn. When the delin-
quent was found, he would quietly remind him of his duty in
such a way as to mak^ him thoroughly ashamed, and the
men of the company soon began to dread, a lecture from
" Billy," or " Pop," as he was sometimes called, more than
they did the guard-house. He very seldom reported any one,
because under his management it was not necessary. When
off duty it was just the opposite; anything that he possessed
he would share with the men, but the majority respected
him too much to attempt to take any undue liberti*.'s with
him, and those who were wanting in the latter quality, did
not care to rouse his lion nature, as he was known to pos-
sess great physical power and undaunted courage. He had
a tine sense of honor, and would never run guard himself nor
allov.- any one to pas'^ him svlieii he wa^^ a i rivatc on post.

At the second battle of Bull Run, McDowell was one of
the number that would not run or surrender. It was seen
that he was wounded in the body, and had f:illen back a few

V!\v.>5,\n i ' 'XV/'. x\\\r\ |.s

^>v. '.ri


; .- 3U»

,0 ■' 01 [."XT' '.r' . n"rf,i,- i"»)V. f,,|.; ; ;.tw
... ! ...i.'|.' j>-r .,( (./:ij i-^iliO Cjd;.^'. I i 30 '.^r

Second Battle of Bid I Run. 295

paces, and was facing the enemy when they came out of tlie
wood. After the most of the remainder of the regiment had
made for the rear, a ball struck him in the forehead, and he
fell dead, with his feet to the foe, and in this position he was
found and buried by Jack Whigam, of the same fire company, '
who went with the detail under tiag of truce. Thus died as
brave and noble-hearted a man as ever lived. The men of
his company felt his loss keenly, and mourned for him, as
they looked up to him as their father. They could have
another Orderly, but there was only one Sergeant McDowell.
The following tribute to the memory of Sergeajit AfcDowell
appeared in the New York Leader :


" We notice that in the battle of Bull Run, at the head of his
company, Wm. McDowell, First Sergeant of Company G, Dur-
yt-e's Zouaves, fell, nobly leading his command. He was one of
nature's noblemen, well known in the Department, standing over
six feet two inches high, of heroic courage, [assessing an innate
modesty and kindness of heart that made each one love the fnan.
A native of this city, he^ possessed the conlidence of his employ-
ers, and the highest esteem of his brother firemen as a member
of Washington Truck Company, No. 9.

"His towering frame might have been seen in the front rank
of the Dur^ce Zouaves on leaving New York, one of the very
first to go forward to guard the emblem of our country, and to
put down the traitors to his beloved flag and the institutions he

" His company was in many battles. He was forem'^st in en-
couraging his comrades, offered promotion tor his gallantn-, but
ever declining. He died like the brave ever like to die, and he
now fills a patriot's grave, leaving an aged mother to mourn the
loss of an affectionate and brave son. God protect and con-
sole the widowed mother! His companions deeply mourn his
luis, and will ever h.olj his memory in grateful remembrance."

Another of tho>e who would not leave the held, was Ser-
geant Philip L. Wilson, oi Company C>. He was a direct

.>-A \.^^<,■


u -.'5}! : /,A.

, <'-'A'

->i>'i ...iV . li.CffTl.

/I J/ 'J !


296 Fifth Nt-c York V-hmlrcr Infantry.

contrast to McD. i'^ b:.:c, social oi :>iiion, and education. Coin-
ing from the hij^lier v-alks oflife, ii:}u though still suffering from
his wounds, is at jnesei:!t a lawyer of standing in N. Y. City.
He stood to the last, and had rect-ivid two scratches, and as
'the enemy were to inng from the wcod;, fired at one of them,
and saw him clip '>:.s hands on hi:, abdomen and fall. He
went about forty iMces further to i'.i- rear, at the same tiuie
endeavoring to \o'\C\ IiIs rille, and the charge was partially
down in the barrel, vrhen he heard a Confederate officer give
vent to an opprobrious epithet, r.ijd t-xclaim : " My children,
kill every Yankee you can hrd.' Tl,is stirred Wilson's
blood, and he turned reward thiNn, at the same time endeav-
oring to ran) home t!ie charge, for he was determined to kill
that officer if possible, when his right leg was knocked from
under him, and he tcil with an ugly wound, which perma-
nently crijjpled

Before the regi' went on tlie field of battle they came
to a Iialt and rested on the banks of a beautiful stream of
water. Many of the men availed themselves of the op[)ar-
tunity to wash tiienr ••jvcs, among whon; was Captain Hager,
of Company F, wlio v.-as tlie only commissioned officer in the
regiment at the time who wore tlic full Zouave uniform.
After he had washed and completed his y^reparations. he said
to tlie company, " Ivoys, how do I look?" "You look
nobby," said one ; " You look bully," said another. " Well,"
replied the Captain, •■ cion't you think I'd make a fine-look-
ing corpse?" A s'.cMt time afterward ho was lying dead on
the battle-field. lij was a favorite wiih his company, and a
brave, cool soldier. He enlisted in tlie regiiiient as a private.
The irrej-.ressi !■!•.• '• !;i:lch" Saplier was in the serious
difficulty of his w!: ,!.• service, and he was awaiting sentence
of court-martial f r ^"ik;:;:: an f ir.rrr ;u Harrison's Landing,
and the probabiiitW s u^re, that iiotwitii.sianding his many
good o.ualities .as a [.rave and cool-hoa.led soldier, and the
life of the regimenf, l^;,•.^ t-e would be shot. Notwilhstand-

f'oidv; X^'


:: n;:!r ■•■,->tf

i;.'- c. ;'t:-v

.11-,'//" VXM

V.-.- Second Battle of Bull Run. 297

ing his dliemtna he must have lis amusement. He had on
an old white-felt hat he had picked up somewhere, with
the crown torn out, his hair, or •' scalp lock " rather — for that
was all he would allow to grow — was standing up above it,
and over his shoulder was a stick, with a bundle tied to tiic
end of it ; this was just before the battle, and he had " come
up to take a hand in." A shell came bouncing along, and
struck close by him ; he did not budge a hair, but taking off
his apology for a hat, he bowed very gracefully, saying,
"Good-morning; may you all strike in the same spot,"
which made a laugh all about him, among the officers as well
as the men. For two or three days after the battle nothing
was seen of " Butch," and it was supposed that he had either
been killed or had disai)peared to avoid the sentence of tlie
court-martial. When the regiment arrived at Hail's Hill, a
strange character was seen approaching at a distance, but on
getting closer, it was perceived that it was our missing " Butcli .'
mounted on a mule, with three or four ritles strapped to liis
back, together with a surgeon's knapsack of n)edicines. He
had taken them from a cowardly hospital steward who ii:ul
run away, and been captured by "Butch," who stri[iped
of the stores, and it appears he had been rendering iiivalu-
able services to the surgeons and among the wounded. The
first words he said were, " Come here, all you that are sick,
and I will give you physic." Nothing more was heard of the
court-martial. He was a very powerful man, and had served
an apprenticeship in the navy, before the war, and was
marked in India ink with the usual devices of anchors, shiiis,
etc. He could hold a fifty-poiind shot at arm's length, with
ease, in either hand, and was always full of fun and mischief;
could sing comic and sentimental songs, etc., and was a great
favorite with officers and men.

One of tlie wounded who was l\ing on the field st:Urd
afterward that the Confederate General, " Stonesvali" Jai k-
soii, came over the ground where the regiment had been

'• -''•■• 'i

<■■■ ■ r : ■ ' ■ '.'■ ■:)■ ' :<■■ J-'- '. .'■ , ; ';, ;. c-r. h^;/;;.' .-f!:
.it;,) :i>VT;''*'-'ii/ ,"1 . *><,;% -li; .ff;lnrffv:r-!lfr"-.

298 FiftJi Nciv York VohiUtecr Infantry.

engaged, and he heard him say to the Confederates, " Be
careful not to hurt any of the enemy's wounded, as they must
be regarded as our friends."

Charles Taylor, of Company G, was lying badly wounded
near the brook, and he asked one of the Fifth, who laid
down under the enemy's fire and became a prisoner, to fill
his canteen with water from the brook a few feet off. He
replied that he was afraid that the enemy would shoot him.
A Confederate came along, and not only tilled his canteen,
but bathed his wounds himself.

Among the recruits who joined the regiment at Newport
News, twelve days before the battle, was James Cathey, a
young man of high spirit and strong principle. The last
words he said were to Patterson, who stood near him in the
line, and who knew him and his tamily in New York, before
they went into the tield. They were these : " Look out for
Siss." He was killed.

A prominent member of the Afasonic fraternity, who is
irietor of a well-known house of refreshment in the
: er part of New York City, and was also well acquainted
with Cathey, told the writer that the day he left for the front,
he came into his house in full uniform, and bade him and
some friends good-bye. Before he went, he took out a
copper cent from his pocket, and cutting a nick in it, said,
" Keep this until I come back." The barkeeper stuck it
up on the wall behind the bar. On the day of the battle,
and at the precise hour, as was afterward ascertained, that
young Cathey's spirit had fled, a few friends were talking
about the war and the absent ones ; among them were men-
tioned the many good qualities of Cathey. They were com-
menting on the circumstance of his leaving the penny when
he went away, whicli was still sticking on the wail,,
wiiliout any apparent cause, it dropped to the tloor. They
thought it was ominous of evil at the time, and in a few
days their forebodings were verified. Cathey was dead.

:.■. ^^^A aQs

,^^-y' -jd

(• ,vob


.-w-l-l iO t)c

iifvi 0..' iXUi ^uu

"■'•■ Second Baitle of Bull Run. 299

A ball passed tlirough the canteen, haversack, a blank
book (three-fourths of an inch thick), a tin plate, and a
large piece of pork, and embedded itself in the hip of First
Sergeant Geo. A. Afitchell, of Conii)any F, occasioning a
painful, but not dangerous wound. This circumstance, tri-
fling as it may appear, shows at what close quarters the men
received the fire of the enemy.

James Patterson, of Company G, was lying with four
wounds made by one ball, and perfectly helpless. A Con-
federate cavalryman came along, and was robbing the dead,
and not even sparing the wounded. He said to Patterson,
" You won't live anyhow, and I guess PU take what you
have got." He took his shoes off and two dollars in money.
The wounded man begged him to till his canteen with water,
but he refused, and said that he didn't need any water, as he
could not live anyway, for he was all shot to pieces. As he
left, the rebel told him that Jackson was in Washington, and
waving the bill in his face, said, " I am going there too, and
will not fail to drink your health with this note when I get

Pollard in his histor)' says :

" The scenes of the battle-field were rendered ghastly by an
extraordinary circumstance. There was not a dead Yankee in
all that broad field who had not been stripped of his shoes and
stockings — and in numerous cases, been left as naked as the hour
be was born. Our barefooted and ragged men had not hesitated
to supply their necessities even from the garments and equip-
ments of the dead. So numerous were the wounded Yankees,
that in four days' 3,000 had not been attended to."

The following is from a narrative by a Confederate Lieu-
tenant :

" The fight was by far the most horrible and deadly that I
have seen." "Their dead (Union) on the field were left in such
numbers as to sicken even the veterans of Richmond and the

A\, 'd ^uv'>->V

■ t .'.' .;•■ \'^'

it:. • ;. (V,' V ,^:

r;> •nr-A.'ui ni'j/ii (u !«:

J '■u.rjb>\(uO /I yd

30O F'iftJi Nciv York Volunteer Infantry.

Shenand <i>h S^-iUey;" "they left 2,000 dead, rotting clay, and
almost iur. iiu'j'-.ible wounded." '"Their discipline and night
saved th> m rr.nii a rout."

The Confederate losses, by their own reports, were 1,090
killed, (^',134 vounded, in the one hundred and fourteen
veginients of infantry, and among their artillery battalion,
engaged. The greatest loss appears in the brigades that
first charged, especially among the officers ; the 5th Texas
lost 239 in killed and wounded, among whom were all of
their field and acting field officers, and after the battle the
regiineiU was imder the command of a Captain. The loss
in Porter's twenty-four regiments in killed, wounded, and
missing, was 2,164, about one-fourth of the number of his
forces engaged.

The dead of the Fifth Regiment had not generally been
stripped, as their uniform was not of any use to the Confed-
erates, but th.ey took their shoes and stockings in most in-
stances, and in many cases their fez caps, and of course
whatever money or valuables any of them chanced to have
on their persons. The badly wounded lay on the tield for
two or three days, among the festering corpses, before they
were removed by their comrades, who were sent to their re-
lief under a Hag of truce. The latter buried 79 of the
Fifth, and there were others who could not be recogniztd on
account of the loss of their uniforms, or who had crawled
into the woods and died there, whou) they could not reach,
as they were restricted by a Confederate guard to a certain
boundary. But the immber killed and wounded that I have
heretofore stated— 297, the names of whom appear in the
Appendix — have been taken from the company rolls, and
no pains have been spared to have them veritied by comrades.
It IS geiier.ill}- sujijiosed that the loss was even greater, as
some names appear on the rolls as dropped lor desertion
trom the dale of the battle, who have never been seen since
by any of their comrades or friends. -

) i»f{: OJ ■) ' ;r ' lo >'. ri.H ni n.ii^ ti'jdt •. . Dvt^j.ite

.1 lo ct i'

■/ ,;iii fi:

Second Battle of Bull Run. 301

Sergeant Henry Bulhvinkle, one of the original nicnibers
of the regiment, and who served all through witli it, was as
cool as he was brave, as all those that served with him can
testify. He was one of the last to leave the field on the
left, as the enemy came out of the woods. He had received
one bullet through his fez cap, grazing the side of his head.
As he fell back, he took deliberate aim at a color-bearer,
and saw him fall. As he was running ott", he received a shot
through his pantaloons, grazing his thigh ; another cut
through a leather leggin grazing the bone, and tlie balls
whistled lively about his ears. Something struck his blanket,
which was rolled up and hanging over his shoulders, [xW of
the men were carrying their blankets in this manner, having
left their knapsacks at Harrison's Landing). He could liear
the cursing and abuse of the enemy. He fell on the ground
and they stopped their fire, but he juinped to his feet again
and succeeded by great agility in crossing the brook at the
foot of the hill. He halted in the bushes on the otiier side.
and reloaded his piece, when seeing a group of mounted
officers he took steady aini and fired, and had the satisfac-
tion of seeing one of the officers fall from his saddle. He
then ran toward a battery of four guns on a hill, the men
of which were making frantic gestures for him to get out of
the way, as they were about to fire. He succeeded in
reaching it and going by it, and the battery immediately
oiJened on the enemy, who were now at close range.

Reuben P. Sturgess, a young man, only eighteen years nf
age, and one of the first to enlist in the regiment, picked up
Colonel Warren's ca^), which had fallen to the ground, and
handed it to him. This was about the time of the crisis of
tl:e onslaught of the enemy, and the men liad been ordered
to fill back, but they woidd not leave. Colonel Win en

Online LibraryAlfred DavenportCamp and field life of the Fifth New York volunteer infantry. (Duryee zouaves.) → online text (page 25 of 39)