Alfred Davenport.

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

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mark, "Young man, take this away and bury it." That
recruit returned to the. regiment a sick man. ' He had ran
across one of the hospitals where the wounded were being
attended to.

On Wednesday, the 24th, at evening parade, the following
list of promotions was read to the regiment : f ^"-vic-,*. f..

Headquarters Fifth Army Corps, \
Camp near Sharpsburg, Md., \
September 23, 1S62. )

{Special Ortirfs, A'o. 150.]

The following-named persons are hereby appointed to fill the
vacancies existing in the Filth Regiment, New York Volunteers,
occasiont-d hy losses in battle, resignations, promotions, etc.
These appointments are made for gallant and meritorious con-
duct on the fitld of battle. These officers will be obeyed and
respected accordingly:



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: Camp near SJiarpsburg. 321

Captain Cleveland Winslow to be Major, vice H. D. Hull,
promoted.

First Lieutenant James H. Lounsberry to be Captain, vice G.
Carr, promoted.

First Lieutenant H. G. O. Eichler to be Captain, vice Winslow,
promoted.

First Lieutenant T. W. Cartwright to be Captain, vice Lewis,
killed in battle August 30.

First Lieutenant R. E. Prime to be Captain, vice Hager, killed
in battle August 30.

Second Lieutenant Henry Keyser to be Adjutant, vice Sovereign,
killed in battle August 30.

Second Lieutenant A. S. Chase to be First Lieutenant, vice
Lounsberry, promoted.

Second Lieutenant T. R. Martin to be First Lieutenant, vice
Eichler, promoted.

Second Lieutenant R. M. Gedney to be First Lieutenant, vice
Cartwright, promoted.

Second Lieutenant \Vm. HofTman to be First Lieutenant, vice
Prime, promoted.

Sergeant G. W. Wannemacher to be Second Lieutenant, vice
Dumont. resigned.

Sergeant George Guthrie to be Second Lieutenant, vice Keyser,
promoted.

Sergeant \Vm. H. Chambers to be Second Lieutenant, vice
Chase, promoted.

Sergeant Philip L. Wilson to be Second Lieutenant, vice
Martin, promoted.

Private Gordon Winslow, Jr., to be Second Lieutenant, vice
Gedney, promoted.

By command of

FiTZ John Porter.
Fred. T. Locke, .\rajor-Gc7ieraL

Assistant Adjutant-General.

On Thursday, September -5th, the loth New York Regi-
ment was transferred to .Max Weber's brigade. During
the time they had been in coniiiany with die Fifth we had
always harmonized and worked well together. We had
14*






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322 Fifth New York Vohuiteer Infantry.

passed through some pleasant as well as some very hard
experiences, and the men heartily wished their late comrade^
success.*

Colonel Warren left on a flying visit to New York via.
Washington. Lieutenant-Colonel H. Duryea had just
returned from his furlough, having been dangerously ill.
We were glad to see him in command again, notwithstanding
the strict discipline he always maintained, as we knew it was
for the common good ; but especially so, as we were relieved
from a number of impracticable orders that were issued by
the Major. These were : calls every half hour through the day,
which made the men feel that they were treated worse than
a lot of convicts, and without cause. For instance, in order
to wash ourselves, we were obliged to procure an order to
pass to the spring, signed by the officer in command of the
company, and countersigned by the Adjutant, or Major.
The consequence was, that it 0[)erated as a prohibition to
wash at all. Water-calls were sounded several times a day.
When those who wished to fill their canteens or the iron
pails, holding several gallons, for cooking purposes, they
were obliged to fiiU in line, and march single file, under com-
mand of an officer, keeping step down to the sj^ring and
back again ; to obtain wood, we were obliged to go through
the same form, and he was actually driving men to desert
every day, to escape this petty and unwarranted tyranny.
Discipline should be enforced ; but these acts were crushing
out all the self-respect and manhood of an intelligent an<l
educated body of men, who felt that they were treated like
galley-slaves.

Since leaving Harrison's Landing, August r4th, when the

» The Tenth sub'-ectuently foiij;ht br.ivcly at Frederick^nircr, and when tlicv
\vcre mu-itercd out after tw,) yt ir-!," >cr^ice, six cnitip.inics u<-rc rocruiied to scr\e it
threr year.-;, or diiriii- the wrir. and, under Colonel floyipcr, ao.iuin.-d .in exceUent svnr
record, and served till the collapse of the Rebellion. Colonel Hopper served all
through tlie war, and was the only otTicer of the old organization who was mustered
out with the three years' battalion at the end of the war.



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* Camp near SJuirpsburg. 323

knapsacks were sent away on a vessel, the men had been
without a change of clothing. All they possessed was on
their backs. They were destitute of soap for about a month,
and sometimes had nothing to eat. Only a tew had shelter
tents, and consequently they passed the nights miserably, as
the temperature after the sun went down was chilly, accom-
panied with heavy dews ; and in addition to all these dis-
comforts, they had not received any pay for five months.
The men all being in rags, presented a very grotesque ap-
pearance. Their own clothing being worn out, they were
dressed up in the cast-off clothing of other regiments ; some
were dressed in dark-blue and others in light-blue pants ; some
in jackets, some had long-tailed coats and blouses, and others
boasted of noticing but a few rags to cover their under-clothes.
We mustered, all told, including recruits, 350, of which only
93 were original two years' men. There were several hun-
dreds on the rolls, but they were lying in hospitals, detailed,
etc. They ])elonged to that army, all in good condition, ac-
cording to General Halleck (who was comfortably seated in
Washington, planning campaigns on paper), who were ready
and eager to march immediately on a winter's campaign and
take Richmond, from the vicinity of which they had been re-
called, probably by his advice, some two months previous,
when they were in better condition and spirit to fight than
they were at this time.

On Friday, the 26lh, we were reviewed by the President.
Abraham Lincoln. He looked care-worn. He was in
company with General iMcClellan, who was smoking a cigar.
The men had overcoats on, which had been distributed a few
days previous, to hide the rags. The President expressed
his approbation to the commanding officers at the rajjidity
with which the different movements were executed. The
bayonet drill p.irticularly engrossed his attention.

Our camp at Sharpsburg remained quiet for some time,
and the men wore in fair spirits. We drilled for five hours a



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324 Fifth Neiu York Volunteer Infantry.

day, for which we had to thank the recruits. About the 5th
of October we received a piece of soaj), but its size was an
aggravation — it was half an inch thick, cut from an ordinary
bar, two bars having been allowed to a company. The offi-
cers and men anxiously expected the Paymaster, and the
sutlers scented him afar oft', and were plenty, but still there
was no money to buy with, and no credit. Every few hours
some one varied the decorum of our situation by raising a
false alarm, and shouted, "Here comes the Paymaster!"
Forthwith there was a rush out of holes and burrows, only to
find it a good-humored joke. Those who used tobacco —
which was the case with nearly ail the regiment — were sufter-
ing for the want of it, and no change of clothing having yet
come to our relief, our condition was getting to be juore
than ever a serious matter.

The "status" of the men under this state of things, trom
the long-continued use of their garments without change, is
more appropriate for the recollection of the sufferer, than for
description by the historian. It is enough to say that part
of the daily employment of the men, in the retirement of the
Avoods, stripped of their clothing and hunting for vermin, was
more picturesque than poetic, and is left to the imagination
of the reader.

On Saturday, Oct. 4th, an order came to discharge all
who were physically disqualified for effective service ; a few
of the original men of our regiment were of this class, and
some of the latest recruits. An order had also been jjro-
mulgated from the \Var Department, directing that all who
had not been accounted for during the past sixty days, be
dropped from the rolls as deserters. This placed the word
" deserter " against the name of many brave men who lost their
lives in battle. There may have been a " military neces-
sity" for sucli an order, but it worked a great injustice lo
many who died alone and unknown in by-places where tb.ey
lingered out weary hours, perhaps days, of pain before their



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^\ Camp near Sharpsbtirg. 325

eyes were closed in death, beyond the relief that never came
— and others who died unrecognized in the hospitals or the
prisons of the enemy. It is past now. God grant tliat no such
"necessity" may ever again overshadow the republic. An
order to shoot deserters and cashier absentee othcers would
have strengthened the army materially, and saved money as
well as many valuable lives.

Near our camp was a farm-house, whose occupant was
supposed to be a good Union man. The enemy had cleared
out all his horses, cattle, wagons, etc., and the Union troops
burnt his rail fences for fuel ; so that between the two armies,
he was a heavy sufferer. Near this house was a spring which
supplied the regiment, and one day a dilapidated-looking turn-
out, driven by a countryman, made its appearance. Some of the
boys were there tilling their canteens from the spring, when they
asked him what he had in the wagon ; for, being a covered
one, they could not see into it. He stopped and said that
he and the old woman had concluded to go into a bread spec-
ulation, and he had his wagon full to sell to the " sojurs."
Bread being a great luxury compared with the hard-tack,
two or three of the boys got around him and asked the price.
" Let's see the size of the loaves ? is it fresh ? " said one of
them, as he bit off a large piece from a loaf. Just then the
old man's attention was drawn to the rear of his cart, by see-
ing about a dozen hands, each clutching a loaf of bread. He
skipped around, when the boys in front made a levy, ami
so it was kept up, until in sheer desperation he sj^rang into
his wagon and drove oflf down the road at his best speed.
One of the boys called out: " Here, mister ! aint you going
to stop for your money ? " But he only went the faster, and
one called out : " Well, if you aint got time to wait, just
send in your bill to Company J, it's all the same."

The decline of the year was bringing the aulunuKil chaiigc
in the season. The weather was becoming colder, and we
were visited Sunday, Oct. 12th, by a rain-storm, which add-



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326 Fifth Nc-.o York Volmitccr Infantry.

ed nolhiiig to the comforts of the camp. The regiment was
under arms, and the men ordered not to leave their company
strectr-,. as Stuart's cavalry were in the rear of the army.

Oil 'J'hursday, the i6[h, we marched at i p.m. to Black-
hu-.n'^ Ford, on the rotomac, for picket duty. Detachments
from the corps made a reconnoissance on the other side of
the river. It rained hard during the night, and the men
passed a disagreeable tour of guard duty. The following
day we were relieved from picket at 6 p.m., after being on
duty for thirty hours, and we returned to camp.

A detail from the regiment went on picket again on Sun-
da\-, the 19th. The Lieutenant-Colonel was absent again
sick, and Major Winslow was in connnand. The men were
happy, having received a supply of clothing, and confidently
^vent through a general inspection. Captain Burnett, senior
Captain, and Lieutenant Agnus, had resigned, the latter to
accei)t a Captaincy in the 165th ^&\v York, 2d battalion of
Duryce's Zouaves. Adjutant Marvin was on a visit to New
York to recruit himself and the regiment.

On Friday, the 24th, we were visited by a severe storm of
rain, v>i,ich lasted for two days, but the men were all in fine
spirits notwithstanding, as they had received four months'
pay, .md could purchase some luxuries (so-called) from the
sutlers, who had been patiently waiting to relieve them of
their spare cash.

Tiiirteen men deserted on the capital they had obtained,
having money enough to pay their way. Monday, the 27th,
was cKar and cold, after the storm, blowing hard, and nearly
ail tiie men were full of spirits. During the night, the officers
were s'.irpnised to hear an unusual noise in the usually quiet
camp, and the officer of the day, as well as the guard, were
astoundcl It was very evident that the men had procured
whi4:y somewhere, :ind in large quantity. Tlie sutlers weic
not allowed to sell it, and the men had not been out of
camp ; there had not been any suspicious persons about, and



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Camp near Skarpslmrg. 327

•where did they get the whisky ? Such a complete demoral-
ization had never happened before, not even in Baltimore,
where the facilities of a large city afforded every opportunity
for a debauch. Fighting, singing, and general uproar i)re-
vailed, even " taps " being almost entirely unheeded. The
next morning empty quart bottles were lying about in pro-
fusion. The officers never knew the secret of it ; but a partv,
being no other than the well-known " Nicaragua Riley," had
been around a little while before with a wagon-load of bread,
and a part of the loaves had been cut open and examined,
but nothing had been found inside of them. Yet this was the
man who had supplied the liquor used the night before. Two
barrels containing quart bottles of whisky were sold for two
dollars a bottle in that very camp. It had cost him thirty-
five cents a gallon, and he had come around to get liis
money "in a lump," as much as to sell his bread; it was
handed to him by an Orderly Sergeant.

The clear and bracing morning of Tuesday, the 28th, found
us under marching orders. We had been drilling hard every
day under Major Winslow, who followed in -the steps of his
predecessors. But the exercise kept the men warm, and
they liked it on that account.

While staying in this camp one of the regiments in our
corps, and, moreover, one of the best fighting regiments in tiie
service, between whom and our own great respect was recip-
rocated, came over to drill on a tield next to that which the
Fifth used for the same purpose. They were doing their best.
Our Major looked upon the proceeding as a challenge — the
men certainly did. Accordingly the drill-call was souiuled.
and after forming, we were marched out, and were soon going
through the movements like clock-work. It was not five
niinutes before the commanding officer of the otlurr regiment
was so much interested in the movements of the I'lUh that he
ordered his men to a rest, and thuy remained spectators, ai;d
drilled no more. At the guard-mount of the Fifth there was



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328 Fifth New York Volunteer Infantry.

always a concourse of officers from different regiments to
witness it.

The benevolent party who sold the bread to the men came
around again to sell pies, which, however, were in a greatly
demoralized condition, having sutifered fearfully by the trans-
portation ; the materials were there, but somewhat mixed.
It was dealt out at twenty-five cents for a handful of the
luush, which consisted of about a dozen different kinds of
pastry, and there was great jiushing and scrambling to pur-
chase it. He was closely watched, but that did not prevent
the necessary arrangements trom being n)ade for another
smuggle of whisky, under the cover of darkness.

It was clear and pleasant the next day, the 29th. The
officers and men were light-headed. We had company drill
in the morning, and battalion drill in the afternoon, to straight-
en up. A great deal of drunkenness was noticed in camp the
previous night, the underground railroad having evidently
been running its train again. But the engineer made no
money by this venture. When he came around for it, having
nothing to sell, he was told by the orderly, who had acted on
the previous occasion, that the stuff had been seized, and
that he was suspected and ordered to be arrested. On
hearing this, he left in a very disrespectful and hasty man-
ner, without waiting to hear any further explanations. He
had tasted military justice before, on at least one occasion,
and wanted no more of it. The orderly quietly pocketed
the money, and went into his tent to take a drink.

We left camp on Tiuirsday, the 30th, at 4 p.m., at the close
of a warm and cloudy day, marched until 2 a.m. of the 31st,
and bivouacked in Pleasant Valley, near Brownsville, after
a .slow and tedious march of nine miles over the mountains.
The night was cold and disagreeable, but the morning was
clear and warm. We started again, moving at 6 a.m. about
three-quarters of a mile, when we haltetl four hours on the
road. Orders to advance being given, we again fell in, and



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Snicker s Gap. 329

after marching about eight miles, passing through Brownsville,
we bivouacked near Weverton, Md. We had a bayonet drill
on dress parade. We were mustered in for two months' pay,
and Captain Prime's resignation was announced, to enable
him to accept a Lieutenant-Colonelcy in another organiza-
tion.

Saturday, November ist, found us in marching order at
7 A.M. ; wc crossed the Potomac on a pontoon bridge at
Harper's P'erry, where we stopped, and were supplied with
knapsacks, which we had not seen since leaving Harrison's
Landing, two and a half months before ; we picked up the
genial "Butch" and some others, who had been sent from
the former camp to labor on the public works, to \)ay for a
" frolic." We resumed our march and crossed the Shenan-
doah, and after tramping eight miles through Loudoun Val-
ley, bivouacked on the Leesburg turnpike, near Neversville.
We were joined by the 140th New York, Colonel O'Rourke,
a. regular officer and a graduate of West Point. He was a
fine officer, and was subsequently killed at tlie battle of
Gettysburg, in the terrible hand to hand conflict with Hood's
Texans on the summit of Little Bald Top. They were a fine
body of men generally, but new to the service ; they were
enlisted from the northern part of the State, and were at tliis
time about 850 strong. Sunday, November 2d, marched at
7 A.M., passing through Hillsborougii and Snickersvile, ami
relieved Sumner's corps at Snicker's Gap, arriving there
about II P.M., after a tedious stretch of sixteen miles. We
bivouacked in line of battle behind stacked arms, on top
of the mountain. It was a very cold, windy nigl.t. Sykcs'
division was ordered to hold the pass over the Illuc Ridge
through the Gap. The roads over which we hail marciied
were rough and :,tony, water was scarce, anci the List two
miles being on the ascent all tiie way, was very tirc>iinie
work after a full day's marching. At one time before reacli-
ing the loot of the mountain we were deployed in line of



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330 FiftJi New York Volunteer Infantry.

baUle, expecting a skirmish with the enemy who were in the
viciiiity. Three men tlropped out on the last two miles to
make their coffee, after which they kej;t on. An officer on
horseback hailed them by a sudden challenge, and asked
them where they v/ere going and what regiment they belonged
to. It was so dark he could not see their uniform. When
tne}' answered him, he told them they would soon be in the
hands of the enemy on that road, and gave them jiroper di-
rections. He had been placing pickets. They lost their way
iii the darkness, and lay down by a stone wall to rest. While
dozing into sleep, one of the pickets close by made a chal-
lenge, and receiving no answer, fired his piece. Thev heard
a cry, '• I am shut ! " and " Corporal of the Guard ! " A
straggling soldier who failed to answer the challenge had
been fatally shot. Our boys found they had made a narrow
escape. The 3d was a cold, blustering day, and we were
still in line of battle, with strong pickets posted, expecting an
attack. The men killed a lot of sheep found running at
large about the mountain tops, and had plenty of mutton for
the first time in eighteen months. Boxes of crackers were
ccrried three-fourths of a mile by details of men on their
backs from the wagons, as they could not ascend any further.
One of the companies went down the mountain toward the
Shenandoah River, and liad a brush with the eneniy's pickets
wlio were on the other side of it.

'i'biC following morning broke clear and we had a pleasant
day. The enemy was in sight in the valley, and heavy firing
was heard in the east in the direction of Warrenton. A
rcconnoissance was made down the mountain, under the
connnand of Colonel Sargent, of General Porter's statT, to
Castk-mau's Ford, Slienandoah River. He had with him a
p>ii;av]ron of th'- isi M.i.-saclutsetts cavalry (Caprain I'rattV
t'.\o battalions ui" iho i4ih, and batlahous of the 6lh and
7tl; U. S. Infantry. When they had i>roceeded about two
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Snicker s Gap, ' 331

posted on the other side of the river. After some prelim-
inary skirmishing, Captain Pratt was shot through the heart,
a Lieutenant of the 14th Infantry was wounded, and about
forty of the men were killed or wounded ; but they ad-
vanced to the river. The Fifth were ordered under arms at
the first firing, but their services were not required.

The regiment was on picket duty on the 5th, and we could
see the enemy, and were obliged to be extremely vigilant.
Very heavy firing was heard in the direction of Ashby's Gaji,
south of us. In the expectation of a night attack, double
pickets were posted. The night fell on us cold and cloudy.
Notwithstanding the apparent preparations for an attack,
everything remained quiet during the night, and at 7 a.m.
on Thursday, the 6th, we commenced a march of about
eighteen miles, passing through Middleburgh, and bivouacked
about one mile distant in the woods. While passing through
the town, which was thoroughly secessionist, an old lady
stood at her door leaning on a cane, and called out very
earnestly, in a cracked voice, and shaking her head, that " it
was no use to go that way, you will all come back again."

No males were seen in the town except cripples, paroled
and wounded prisoners, in Confederate uniform, awaiting
exchange. All the other male inhabitants were in the Con-
federate army.

We marched the next morning at seven o'clock. It com-
menced snowing at nine, and continued through the day.
We marched about eight miles, and, after the usual insiicc-
tion of arms, encamj^ed near White Plains. Company -V



Online LibraryAlfred DavenportCamp and field life of the Fifth New York volunteer infantry. (Duryee zouaves.) → online text (page 27 of 39)