Alfred Davenport.

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

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a^ked him his name, and what company he bcloii-red to.
He replied, "Company C." "Well; you get to the rear ;
this is no place for Company C ; " instead of retreating he

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302 Fifth New York Volunteer Infantry.

fired a shot at the enemy, and stood, and again re-loaded his
piece. The remnant of the regiment were now trying to
save themselves by falling back. The next day, Colonel
Warren inquired for young Sturgess. " Missing," was the
answer. " Then," said the Colonel, '• tliat brave young man
is dead or wounded." It was too true — he had received a
mortal wound.

Joseph H. Tyndall, of Company D, finding himself sur-
rounded by the enemy and unable to escape, threw down
his rifle at the feet of a Confederate, who was charging upon
him with the bayonet, in token of submission. The latter,
however, contrary to the rules of civilized warfare and the
common instincts of humanity, was about to run him through,
when Tyndall by a quick movement eluded the thrust, seized
the weapon, and by a powerful movement wrenched it from
his grasp, amid the jeers and gibes of the Confederate's

Sergeant Robert Strachan, of Company I, supi)orted
James Cochrane, who was bleeding from four wounds, to
the rear, and endeavored to halt one of the ambulances on
the road, which were all full and moving off at a rapid
pace. But none of the drivers would take any notice of
his urgent appeals. Finally, one of them dashed rai)idly by
him, drawn by four horses. He called to the driver to stop ;
but the only response he received was a curse. Strachan
was a determined man, and feeling that he must adopt a
decided course of action, knowing that there was no time
to spare, as the enemy were coming on, he leveled hii.
Sharp's ritle at the head of the driver, and said, '• Halt ! o.'
I vvill drive a bullet through your skull." This mandate was
obeyed, and he lifted "Jim" by mam strength and th.rew
liiin into the wagon on tO[) of the wounded, and the aini'ii- tlaslicd olt". l!y liiis means Cochrane was saved fiDiu
being left to fall into the hands of the enemy, and probably
owes iiis life to Strachan's decision.

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^ Second Battle of Bull Run. 303

Corporal George Huntsman, a young cf great prom-
ise, who was receiving an acatlemic education before liis
enlistment, left his pleasant home at Flushing, Long Island,
and .went alone to Baltimore and enlisted in the 5tii Regi-
ment, October 19, iS6r, to serve for three years, or during
the war. He was promoted Corporal for good behavior
and soldierly conduct, May 11, 1S62, and was in active
service with his company up to the engagement of Second
Bull Run, August 30, 1862. In this battle he received a
mortal wound, and died four days thereafter in the Wolf
Street Hospital, Alexandria, Va. His remains were trans-
ported to his parents' residence at Flushin .,^ and the funeral
took place on September nth.

This young patriot, an only son, whose life was thus sac-
rificed at his post of duty at the early age of nineteen, was
beloved and respected by all his comrades. Sergeant E. L.
Pierce said : " He was one who shared with nie the perils
of campaign life, and who by his pleasant and brotherly
manner, endeared himself to me and made it much easier
to bear."

On a beautiful monument erected in the town park by
the citizens of Flushing, in memory of those who fell fot
their country's sake in the war of the Rebellion, may be
seen engraved with eighty-six others, the name of Corporal
George Huntsman.

He was a son of Professor George Washington Hunts-
man, of the College of the City of New York. His great-
grandfather on his father's side fought in the war of the
Revolution, to estabhsh the Independence of the States
^igainst the unjust exactions of Great Britain ; two of n the battle-fields of the Border States.

Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri were to be
tlie camp-grounds and the arenas where the question should
be determined, and while the men of the Border States
fought for their own soil, the Cotton States men fought that
the battle should not be transferred to theirs.

Virginia especially was to be made the great theater ui war,
and by massing all the power of the Confederacy on lu;r soil,
the rest, and especially the more remote States, could '' con-
tinue to grow cotton in peace." The Old Dominion was
tile victim of a -bloody stratagem of stat(>sinanshii), wlien {he.
<'aiMtal of the Confcdcrac)- was transferred from Montgomery
to Richmond.

The resolve to 1,'reak the power of the Union, and to die-

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312 Fifth Nezu York Volunteer Infantry.

tate terms of separation, at the doors of the national capital,
for the sake of preserving the rest of the Confedc^racy from
the ruin and waste of war, gave to the Penins-ular canij^aign
the extraordinary fury and the sanguinary and fearful disasters
of that dark period in our history.

How high the price that was paid for these hopes, and
how disastrously they were ultimately defeated, was written
in the broad and bloody seal of death, and the heaps of slain
who gave up the bounding life-blood of their heroic hearts, and
laid down to die on the field or the hi,hwa\-, to be intrenched
in the numberless graves, dug in a momentary pause by other
thousands who were rushing on to fall into kindred cemeteries
on other fields. If nations and governments have nioral re-
sponsibilities, where does the responsibility rest for these ?

Each day's march found us further from the scenes of Bull
Run, and brought us nearer to the impend ng struggle, in
which, at least, the tide of success of the Confederate arms
was to be tested and turned.

On Sunday, the 14th of September, we took up our line of
march at 8 a.m., proceeding eight miles, passing through
Middletown, and bivouacked. On the march the battle of
South Mountain was raging, and we could see the snioke as
it floated into the blue sky over the field, while the diapason
of the booming guns was heard a few miles in advance on
the road. We passed General McClellan on the march,
who was enjoying a cigar, and observing the troops as tlu-v
filed by. He said to us : " Boys ! we are pressing tiic
enemy back, and will keep doing so."

P'arly on the morning of the 15th we resunied our march
4hrough Turner's Gap, South Mountain, where the Con-
federate dead of D. H. Hill's division lay behind a stone
wall which ran along on the top of the mountain, at rigii'i
angles with and commanding the ro.ul. They also were
lying on the main road on the other side of the pass. Tlu-v
were piled in heaps, lying three or fjiir deep at the intersec-

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Battle of Antietaj)i. 313

tion of the road and turnpike. It was an impressive re-
minder of the words of Longfellow —

" Art is long and time is fleeting.

And our hearts, though stout and brave.
Still like muftled drums are beating
Funeral marches to the grave" —

and we could not help the consciousness, that in all proba-
bility before another setting sun many of us would be lying
on the bosom of mother earth in the silent companionship
of the dead.

After marching about nine miles, the division deployed on
the left of the Sharpsburg turnpike, near Antietam Creek,
being on the left of Richardson's division, which was the first
to arrive in advance.*

The Fifth deployed as skirmishers, and advanced through
woods on the left. The enemy had opened with their artil-
lery, and were throwing shell, some of which fell among us,
but fortunately did not burst. Tidball's 2d United States
and Petits' ist New York artillery returned the fire. The
enemy were posted "in a strong position on the high ground
on the opposite side of the creek, front of and to the right
and left of Sharpsburg, which town was in the rear of tiieir
center ; their tlanks and rear being protected by the Po-
tomac River and Antietam Creek, it being naturally a strong

On Tuesday, the i6th, we changed position, and were un-
der arms all day. The army was all up and massed eaeh
side of the Sharpsburg turnpike. The mass of the enemy's
infantry was concealed behind the oi)posite heights.

General Lee's army of invasion comprised about one hun-

* C;eneral McCIelL^n's Report (p. 3-'4l : " Tlic division of Rlc).ar.!->n,
r IliTAin- cl.i^c rn tl\e heels of the retrealinj; foe, IialleJ .uid ilei.Ioye^! Ar.'.let.'ni
Kiier. on ihe ri^ht of the Sharpsburg roai). (".eneral Sykc; leaJini; or. the di\i-i n
of regulars on the oKl Sharpsburg road, came up and deployed to the left of General
Richards )n, on the left of the road."


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314 Fifth N'nv York Volii?ifecr Infant ry.

dred and seventy-seven regiments of infimtry, besides cavalry
and artillery, including General A. P. Hill's division, which
was temporarily detached for the purpose of making an at-
tack upon Harper's Ferry. After this post was surrendered
to General Hill, he, by a forced march, came up late in the
afternoon of the 17th on Lee's right, in time to repel the
hitherto successful advance of General Burnside's 'corps,
and which had been delayed too long.*

The regulars were posted near bridge No. 2, and in the
center with the reserve artillery. General Burnside's corps
(of four divisions), comprising the left, took position on the
left of Warren's brigade, their right covering stone bridge
No. 3. The day was spent principally in maneuvering for
positions, skirmishing, and artillery engagements.

The following day, Wednesday, September 17th, was ren-
dered memorable in our annals by the engagement at An-
tietam. The action was commenced at daylight by the
skirmishers of the Pennsylvania reserves on the right, and the
whole of General Hooker's corps soon became engaged,
and drove the enemy. Soon afterward the 12th corps en-
gaged, and General ^^ansfield, its commander, was killed.
General Hartsuff, of Hooker's, was badly wounded. General
Williams took command of the 12th corps. The battle
raged furiously for two hours. General Crawford, connnand-
ing the ist division. T2th corps, was wounded and left the
field. General Sedgwick's division of Sumner's corps en-
gaged, and Generals Sedgwick and Dana were wounded.

• Colonel Ford, commanding Maryland Heights, an impregnable position, gar-
risoned by 3,975 men, gave orders to spike and dismount the heavy guns, and to fall
back upon Harper's Ferr>'.

Dy the cowardly evacuation of this stronghold, which commanded our works at
Harper's Ferry, Colonel D. S. Miles, who was in command of the latter post, was
ait.icked on all -ijcj by the Confederates, and wa5 himself mortally wounded. On
I'.o 15th. the po-l with all it- gnus, store-;, and :i;nmunition, and force uf9,'joo men,
was surrendered to tlie enemy.

After an examination by a cuurt of inquiry, Colonel Ford was dismissed from llie
service of the United States.

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^. r, ;' • Battle of Antictain. • "• ' 315

General Hooker was also wounded and obliged to leave the
field. The divisions of Generals French and Richardson,
which completed all of Sumner's corps, were engaged. Gen-
eral Meagher was disabled, and General Richardson was
mortally wounded. At i p.m. a part of General Franklin's
corps engaged. General Porter's 5th corps, consisting of
Morell's and Sykes' divisions, Humphrey's division not yet
having arrived, and all of the reserve artillery, were directly
opposite the center of the enemy's line. " It was necessary
to watch this part of the line with the utmost vigilance, lest
the enemy should take an advantage to assault and pierce
the line, which would be fatal."

All the supply trains were in the rear of this corps, and
here were the headquarters of General McClellan and start.
In case of a retreat or last resort, Sykes' division would
have been obliged to do their best. Toward the middle of
the afternoon, two brigades of iMorell's were ordered to rein-
force the right. Six battalions of Sykes' regulars had been
thrown across Antietam bridge on the main road, to attack
and drive back the enemy's sharp-shooters, w.ho were an-
noying Pleasonton's batteries in advance of the bridge.
Warren's brigade was detached to hold a position on Burn-
side's right and rear, so that Porter was left at one time with
only a portion of Sykes' division, and one small brigade of
Morell's, numbering but a little over three thousand men, to
hold the center.

Sykes' division had been in position since the 15th, ex-
posed to the tire of the enemy's artillery and sharp-shooters.
The 2d and loth regulars comiielled the cannoneers of one
of the enemy's batteries to abandon their guns ; but being
few in number and unsupi)orted, were not able to bring
them off. General Burnside passed by the regiment several
ti:iies, and the men expected to be urtlered to chaige the
stoi5e bridge No. 3 and get wiped out.

General Burnside attacked at 3 p.m., and fought until

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3i6 Fifth Nov York Volunteer Infantry.

dark, reaching the outskirts of Sharpsburg, where General
Rodman was mortally wounded.

After General Biirnside's forces advanced across the river,
several companies of the Fifth were stationed in turn as
look-outs near stone bridge No. 3, which was thickly strewn
with the dead of the 5rst New York and the 51st Pennsyl-
vania, who first successfully charged across it. Its passage
•had been defended with great obstinacy by the 2d and 20th
Georgia regiments, under the command of General Toombs,
who were posted on a wooded height that commanded it,
aided by the batteries of General Jones. We obtained a
fine view of the engagement, and watched the progress of
the 9th New York, Hawkins' Zouaves, with an exciting in-
terest, and were sorry to see that gallant body of men sutler
so severely on the field where they played so noble a
part. They captured a battery on the outskirts of Sharps-
burg, but not being properly supported, were forced to aban-
don It, after suffering a fearful loss. Late in the afternoon, the
brigade was employed in collecting stragglers from the im-
mediate front and forming them into battalions.

Darkness finally put' an end to this hard-fought and scien-
tific engagement, in which 140,000 men and 500 pieces of
artillery had been enijiloyed since daylight, and in which
about 25,000 were killed, wounded, and missing. The tired
Union troops slept on their arms conquerors.*

About 2,700 of the enemy's dead were, under the direc-
tion of Atajor Davis, Assistant Inspector-General, counted

• General McClellan's Report (p. 393) : " Night closed the long and desperately
contested battle of the irth- Nearly 2i»,coo men and 300 pieces of artiller>- were
for fourteen hours en^.i,-cd in this memorable battle. We had attacked the enemy
in a position selected by the experienced engineer, then in person directing their
operations. We driven them from their line on one (lank, and securing a foot-
ing within it on the other. The .Vrmy of the Potomac, notwiths andln^ the moral
etijct incident to [.revlviiN reverses, had .achieved a victory over an adversary in-
vested with the prcui-e uf recent success. Our soldiers slept ni^ht c M.q.icr-
ors, on a field won by their valor, .ind covered with the dead and wounded of the

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• ■ ■ - • Battle of A ntictaui. 3 1 7

and buried upon the field of Antietam. A portion of their
dead had previously been buried by the enemy, 13 guns,
39 colors, 15,000 stand of small arms, and more than 6,000
prisoners were the trophies of South Mountain, Crampton's
Gap, and Antietam. Not a single gun was lost on the Union

The Confederate force engaged in this battle comprised
136 regiments, besides the division of D. H. Hill and Rodes'
brigade, and the artillery. Their reports show a loss in every
regiment of from one to 253.

We remained in position on Thursday, the 18th, the enemy
requesting an armistice, under a flag of truce, to look after
their wounded and bury their dead, which was granted, and
of which they took advantage and retreated by night across
the Potomac.

On Friday, the 19th, we marched at 9 a.m., passing through
Sharpsburg. Along the route the dead were strewn in every
direction and in all conceivable positions. One was caught
in the crotch of a tree in falling, and held in an upright posi-
tion ; one young lad, of not more than fifteen years of a^e,
was lying among some others, with his thighs terribly mangled.
His long curls fell down over his shoulders, and his face bore
a heavenly smile ; his lii)s slightly parted disclosed a set of
teeth of remarkable beauty, while his features were the hand-
somest, and bore the happiest expression, of any corpse that
I have ever seen. Ho was a young Southerner, probably the
pride of some aristocratic family, who had sent him willingly
to the war.

After marching through the town and nearing the ford on
the Potomac, skirmishers were deployed, and a battery with
us opened on the enemy across the river. The fire was re-
turned by them, and the shell flew thick and fast. One of the
shot killed Colonel AVarron's orderly, but the men found
partial shelter under a hill. Two brigades of the corps crossed
the Potomac about dark and captured four of the enemy's

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3i8 Fifth NrtV York Volunteer Infantry.

guns. "Warren's brigade took position on the higli ground
near the river, and opened on the enemy on the other side,
which obliged them to crawl out of the bushes and run for
the cover of a wood further to their rear. We advanced
and took position on the tow-path of the canal on the banks
of the river, and kept up a scattering fire on the enemy op-
posite, remaining on picket all night and the next forenoon.

In the afternoon of the 20th, a large force crossed the
river on the right, and the 5th Regiment were ordered to
ford the river to cover their left flank. Before crossing, the
regiment, which numbered less than 400 men, two-thirds of
whom were comparatively new men, being drawn up in line
on the tow-path of the canal, alongside the river, Colonel
Warren said, " Men, we are about to cross the river," and
drawing out his revolver, added, that "if any man did not
want to cross, let him step out."

We took off our body -belts, slung our cartridge-boxes over
our shoulders, and waded into the river. It was difticult and
tiresome work to ford a stream. 200 yards wide, up to the
waist, with a rather strong current, the bottom being covered
with slippery stones. Some of the men lost their balance,
and had an involuntary bath, and to "get otT the line of the
ford," meant to go down overhead in the water. After
reaching the opposite bank, the men climbed an almost per-
pendicular bluff, eighty feet high, covered with bushes and
trees, and were obliged to employ both hands and feet to ac
complish the task. Skirmishers were deployed a short dis-
tance, when suddenly the enemy opened in heavy force from
the wood beyond the open ground in front. The skirmishers
were called in, and the men ordered to keep covered below
the bank of the bluff, which they were perfectly willing to do,
for the fire was very heavy, and tlicy occupied a critical i)osi
tion, with the river in their rear. But several battcri-js
opened from the high ground on the opposite side of the river,
over the heads of the men, which covered their retreat across,

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which was accomplished in safety. Captain Whitney, in
command of Coniuany I, was ordered to remain with his
company, and keep u;) a fire on the enemy to make them
think that the bank was still occupied, and to prevent any
of their sharp-shooters from creeping to the edge of the bluff
and shooting the men as they forded tlie river on their return.
He misunderstood the order, so he said, and did not carry it
out, but fortunately the batteries prevented the enemy from
advancing. Colonel Warren was much provoked with
him, and threatened to shoot him on the spot. The Colonel
took command in person, and waded the stream, on foot,
with the rest,, and on the return stood in the center, and con-
tinually warned the men not to get off the line of the ford.

This was the battle of Shepardstown, in which the troops
on the right had a severe engagement with Gregg's, Pender's,
and Archer's brigades, and lest some Soo in killed, wounded,
and prisoners. The enemy's loss was 261. After recrossing
the river we took up a position on tlie canal and remained
on picket on the banks of the river, exchanging shots with
the enemy during the 21st and 22d. While reuiaining on
this post one afternoon, Colonel Warren gave the regiment
a drill on the tow-path of the canal, while the enemy's pick-
ets amused themselves by tiring at the men and officers. He
also sent a squad of the drummers across the river, for pun-
ishment for being timid under fire, under command of Lieu-
tenant Guthrie, to bring over a twelve-pound brass piece left
by the enemy in their late retreat. The Lieutenant armed
himself with a ramrod to give the boys a gentle reminder
once in a while if it was necessary. The boys came back
in good order, dragging the cannon after them, and reported
that they saw some of the enemy. Subsequently, Sergeant
Crowley, of Coaipar.y K, with a - quad of Iiis company, was
sent over to a burnt mill, to bring i.vor a caisson, wliile the
regiment in the meantime drew up on the bank to cover
them. They had no sooner landed on the other side than

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320 Fifth New York Volunteer Infantry.

some shots were fired at them, and a brisk skirmish ensued
around the mill, in which the Sergeant received a bad wound
in the leg, but his men succeeded in recrossing, carrying him
with them.

On Tuesday, the 23d, we were relieved by the regulars,
after three days and nights of not very pleasant duty, during
which it rained part of the time. We went into camp, with-
out tents or shelter of any kind, near Sharpsburg, about
three-fourths of a mile from the Potomac. General McClel-
lan had his headquarters about a mile from Sharpsburg, and,
as usual, Sykes' division lay in the immediate vicinity.

After the battle of Antietan-» a recruit, one of those who
had joined the regiment about a week previous, wandered
off to see what he could discover that was new. In his
rambles he came to a large house, and seeing an open win-
dow, he approached it to gratify his curiosity as to what was
inside of it, when, as his head raised above the sill, the gory
stump of a man's arm was thrust in his flice, with the re-

Online LibraryAlfred DavenportCamp and field life of the Fifth New York volunteer infantry. (Duryee zouaves.) → online text (page 26 of 39)