Alfred Davenport.

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

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and other officers, and, as it became older in the sen'ice, arrived
at a still greater state of proticiencv, especially in field tactics
and bayonet exercise ; so that when it became a part of the Army
of the Potomac, it was generally acknowledged to be the most
perfect volunteer regiment in general drill in the 5th corps, and
probaljly in the whole army ; but in bayonet exercise it was
without a rival.

On May 27, 1S61, Colonel Duryee was placed by General
Butler in command of Camp Hamilton, as acting Brigadier-
General— his brigade consisting of the ist, 2d, 3d, 5th, and loth
Regiments Xi w York \'oluntters. General Pierce, of Massa-
chusetts, luiviiig arrived at Fortress Monroe, Colonel Duryee v>-as
superseded by lliat otf.cer, June 4th, v.hen he again assumed
command of his regiment.

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Per Sony. I SketcJies. 427

On the loth of June he took part with his regiment in the at-
tack on Big Bethel, where he exposed himself, without flinching,
to the enemy's fire.

General Pierce having been relieved, Colonel Dur\-ee again
assumed command of the brigade, with the addition of Colonel
Baker's California regiment and the 20th New York. On the
31st of August, Colonel Dur)Oe was com.missioned a Brigadier-
General of Volunteers by the President, and ordered to report to
General Dix ; and he was assigned to the command of the 17th
and 2ist Massachusetts, 7th and loth Maine, 21st Indiana, S/th
and I nth Pennsylvania, 2d, 3d, and 5th Maryland, and the 5th
New York — the latter being assigned to the right of the brigade.

When General McClellan made his advance on Richmond via
the Peninsula, General Dur) ce, with part of the troops under his
command in Baltimore, was ordered to Washington, where he
arrived and reported to General McDowell, and his command
was assigned to General Ricketts' division of the ist corps.

General Duryce served under General Pope in his campaign
of 1863, and was engaged in the battles of Cedar Mountain.
Rappahannock Station, Thoroughfare Gap, Groveton, Second
Bull Run, arid Chantilly.

The following are extracts from the official report of General
Pope's Virginia campaign.

General Pope says : " General Dury.'^e commanded his brigade,
in the various operations of this campaign, with ability and zeal."

General McDowell, in his report, says: "General Ricketts,
who, at Cedar Mountain and at Rappahannock Station, was
under my immediate command, and rendered valuable service
with the division, speaks in high terms of the gallantry of Gen-
erals Duryee and Tower, both at Thorougiifare Gap and the bat-
tle of the 30th, in which the former was slightly and the latter
severely wounded." — Exec. Doc. No. 81, ^d Sess. y]fh Co>ii:^rcss.

In General Ricketts' report of the second battle of Bull Run,
we find the following :

"At sunrise on the 30th, ordered hv vou to send two hrig:i(les
to report to General Kearney, and conducted the ist brigade,
Gcncr.d Duryce; 4th brigade. Colonel Thorburn ; wiiich reliev-
ed a portion of General Kearney's division. General Duryee's

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428 Fifth Nciv York Volunteer Infantry.

brig-ade advanced into the woods, driving the enemy along- the old
railroad excavation until directly under their guns. While occupy-
ing this ground General Dur^'ce was subjected to a heavy fire of
artillery and infantry, in which he received a slight wound and a
severe contusion by a shell, but remained at his post animating
his men, who behaved admirably. On recapitulating the services
of brigade commanders, I would make particular mention of
Brigadier-General Duryie for his noble conduct at Thoroughfare
Gap, and his indomitable courage displayed at Bull Run while
holding a tr\'ing position." — (Gen. Ricketts' Report, p. 70).

"General McClellan again assuming command of the army,
General Dury-ee served under him in the campaign in Maryland.
He reinforced General Meade and fought under that officer at
South Mountain, driving the enemy to the sanguinary field on
Antietam, where he fought in the famous corn-field, where he
was wounded and his horse shot under him ; a psortion of the
time he commanded the division, owing to the wounding of Gen-
eral Hooker, who was compelled to retire from the field."—


General Meade's report of the battle of South Mountain speaks
highly of the promptness of General Duryee in ascending the
mountain in support of the Penn Reserves, which resulted in the
def(;at of the enemy.

General Ricketts says in his report of the battle of Antietam :

'• I commend the general good conduct of the division, and
would mention i)articularly Brigadier-General Duryee, Colon -Is
Coulter and Lyk-, and Captains Matthews and Thompson of the
artillery; indeed, both officers and men displayed courage under a
severe fire."

General Dury'-e resigned his commission in the early part of
1863, and again retired to private life. He was breveted Major-
Gcneral of Volunteers hy the President, March 13, 1865. Gov-
ernor Fenton, in forwarding tlie commission, says: "Conferred
by the President, in recognition of your faithful and distinguisiicd
services in tiie late war." And added : " In behalf of the State,
allow me to thank you for the gallantry and devotion whirli
induced this conspicuous mention by the General Government."

From the New York Times, i865:

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Personal Sketches. 429

"At a meeting- of the field officers of the seven reg-iments com-
posing the \\.\\ brigade, 1st di\iiion, N'. G. S. N. V., held pursuant
to orders from General Headquan^ rs, State of New York, at the
armory of the 22d Regiment, X. ■",. S. N. Y., General Abram
Dur\-ee was unanimously elected Brigadier-General of the brigade,
vice General John Ewen, resigned.

" The General's many years experience as Colonel of the 7th
Regiment, National Guard, afterward Colonel of the famous 5th
Regiment, New York Volunteers (Dur\-ee's Zouaves), which has
given a Warren, Kilpatrick, and Winslow to the army, and final-
ly as Brigadier-General of Volunteers, eminently qualify him for
the command."

In 1073 General Duryee was appointed Police Commissioner
by the Hon. W. F. Havemever, and during his term of service
devoted himself to the discipline and etticiency of the department.
On the 13th of January, 1S74, the formidable assemblage of Com-
munists at Tompkins Square took place. General Dur^ce, with
a small body of police, attacked the vast crowd with impetuosity,
capturing their blood-red Hags, destroying their inflammatory
banners, and drove them in utter confusion from the park.


GouvKRXF.UR K. W.VRREN was bom in Co'd Spring, State
of New York, January S, 1S30. He graduated second in a class
of forty-five at the early age of twenty, from the L'nited States
-Military Academy at West Point. Breveted Second Lieutenant
in the Engineer Corps, he was employed in the survey of the
.Mississippi Dt-Itn, under the present General Humphreys. He
remained here for three years, and then took th.e place of Robert
E. Lee, subsequently the military' chief of th : Rebellion, who had
charge of the rapids of the Mississippi at Rock Island and Des
Moines ; and Joseph E. Johnston, whose fame is linked with the
I'listory of t'le attempt to desMov the Uni n-., succeeded liim. !n
i>j54 he was employed und r j-ff r?rn D.ivis in tiie .M- -..-iissijipi
railroad office. " In 1S55 he served under Harney in an expedition

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430 Fifth NrtV York Volunteer Lifantry.

against the Sioux Indians, and had two engagements with them,
in which many were killed. In 1856 and '57 he explored Ne-
braska Territor)-. The Smithsonian Institute published his re-
port of Geological Explorations."

" Afterward he was transferred to West Point, and in 1859 and
'60 he was Assistant Professor of Mathematics. In 1S54 he was
promoted to the rank of a full Second Lieutenant, and First
Lieutenant in July, 1856."

When the war broke out, he asked leave of absence to serve
in the Volunteer Army,*and in April, i86i, was appointed Lieu-
tenant-Colonel of the 5th New York Regiment. He was pro-
moted Colonel, September 11, 1861, and to the grade of Cai>-
tain in the regular army. On September 27, 1862, he was
commissioned Brigadier-General, and breveted Lieutenant-Col-
onel of the regular army.

When Hooker took command of the army, February, 1863,
General Warren was made Chief Topographical Engineer, and
rendered efficient service at the battle of Chancellorsville, and
was appointed Topographical Engineer-in-Ch.ief. During the
battle of (^lettysburg, while under a heavy fire, a bullet cut his
chin undcrm-ath. inflicting a slight wound. In speaking of that
battle, Swinton^= says: " Sickles' line of battle was drawn up on
the low ground front of Round Top, his left covering that point.
Little Round Top was a commanding spur of Round Top Moun-
tain, a rugged and wild spot, covered with huge boulders.
Warren, while moving about in the performance of his duties as
Engineer, on the morning of the second day visited this spur, on
which some of the signal corps were stationed, and found that
they were gathering their flags together preparatory to vacate.
He discovered a body of the enemy, who were Hood's Texans,
that had got around Sickles' left flank, and were advancing to
occupy this important point. He immediately saw the strategic
position with the eye of an engineer, and ordering the men to
continue waving their lings boldly, to deceive the enemy into
the belief that it occupied by a force of troops, dashed otT
to bring troops to occupy it. He met Banies' division of Sykes'

• " Army of Potomac," p. 346.

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Pcrso7ial Skclc/ics.


corps, which was marching to the relief of Sickles, who was
hard pressed, and on his own responsibility detached Colonel
Vincent's brigade, composed of the i6th Michigan, Lieutenant-
Colonel Welsh ; 44th New York, Colonel R:ce ; 83d Pennsyl-
vania, Captain Woodward ; 20th Maine, Colonel Chamberlain,
and Haziitt's battery; the 140th New York, Colonel O'Rourke,
accompanied the latter, which by great labor was dragged and
lifted up the hill. As the troops rushed up the height. Hood's
Texans were coming up on the opposite side without skirmish-
ers ; they met face to face, and a terrible conflict ensued ; they
fought hand to hand with the bayonet, officers grasped ritles
from the hands of the fallen, and after half an hour's desperate
struggle, the Union forces secured the position, until reinforced
by Weed's brigade of Ayres' division. Lateral night, three regi-
ments occupied Round Top proper. The loss was a fearful one ;
among the ledges of the rocks lay many hundred of the Union
soldiers. General Weed, a regular officer, was killed, and Hazlitt
fell dead over his body, while trying to catch his last words;
Colonels Vincent and O'Rourke, the latter a regular officer,
were killed. This was the key of the position, as it enfiladed
Cemetery Hill, and if Warren had not acted as promptly as he did,
Gettysburg might have been one of those fields that decide the
issues of war."

Warren was made Major-General of Volunteers August 8,
1863. and received the brevet of Colonel in the Regular Army to
date from Gettysburg, and given the co:r.mand of the Second

"When in the following October, Meade lay along the Rapi-
dan, Warren was accustomed to put on a private's uniform, ;ind
reconnoiter the enemy's position. In this garb he could ap-
proach very near the enemy's lines, and gained much valuable

"When Lee suddenly outflanked Meade, compelling him to
retreat in great haste, Warren commanded the rear guard.
Near Bristoe Station the enemy made a sudden and heavy onset
upon him. and at first, having all their hatterits plante.l, pos-
sessed greatly the advantage. But Warren, who now for the tirst
time had an opportunity to display his great abilities as a strate-

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432 FiftJi Neiv York VoliDitecr Infantry.

gist, soon reversed this state of thing's ; and the manner in which
he chose his position, handled his troops, and planted his bat-
teries, and for five hours repelled every effort of the enemy to
advance, and finally drove him to cover, showed him to be per-
fect master cf the art of war, and called forth a congratulatory
order from General Meade. He captured in this engagement
five guns, two colors, and four hundred and fifty prisoners. The
precision, promptitude, and sagacity he exhibited on this his first
field, on which he commanded separately, made him at once a
conspicuous man in the army. Dash and daring do not go so
far with militar\- men as with the public, and a battle so com-
pletely planned and perfectly fought as this, could not escape the
observation of such men as Meade and Grant."*

Swinton,t in his sketch of the ]Mine Run move, says that
Warren, who was in command of the Second corps, and two
di\ isions of French's, was to attack the enemy on their right.

" Looking at the position with the critical eye of an engineer,
but not without those lofty inspirations of courage that overleap
the cold dictates of mathematical calculation, Warren saw that
the task was hopeless ; and so seeing, he resolved to sacrifice him-
self rather than his command. He assumed the responsibility of
suspending the attack.

"His verdict was that of his soldiers — a verdict pronounced not
in spoken words, but in a circumstance more potent than words,
and full of a touching pathos.

" The time has not been seen when the Army of the Totomac
shrank from any call of duty. Recognizing that the task now
before them was of the character of a forlorn hope ; knowing well
that no man could here count on escaping death, the soldiers,
without sign of shrinking from the sacrifice, were seen pinning on
the breasts of their blouses of blue, slips of paper on which each
had written his name."

" That this judgment of General Warren, and of his troops,
was correct, General Meade himself became convinced, on riding
over to the left and viewing the position." " It was. in fact, even

* " Cr.uU uiii, lluir <.':iiiipai^ns and Gencr.iU."— J. T. Hkadlev.
t "Army of Potomac," pp. 396-'7.


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more formidable than the line of the Rapidan, which it had been
considered impracticable to assail by a front attack."

When the army began its great campaign against Richmond
the next spring, Warren, at the head of the Fifth Corps, held the
center, one of the three grand divisions of the army as reorgan-
ized under Grant.

Swinton says : " Warren, young in the command of a corps,
owed his promotion to the signal ability, proofs of which he had
given, first, as a Brigadier, then as Chief Engineer of the Army,
and, latterly, as the temporary commander of the Second Corps.'
Of a subtle, analytic intellect, endowed with an eminent talent tor
details, the clearest military coief> d'ceil, and a fiery, concentrated
energy, he promised to take the first rank as a commander."

" In the teiTible battle of the Wilderness,* his command acted
a conspicuous part. The second day, in reinforcing the hard
pressed wings, he reduced his corps to two divisions, yet with
these he firmly maintained his position. At Spottsylvania, Rob-
inson's division of the Fifth Corps was terribly cut up, and tht-ir
leader having fallen, were breaking in disorder; when this intel-
ligence reached Warren, he put spurs to his horse, and dashing
forward, seized the colors and planted them amid the rebel fire!
and by his voice and gallant bearing, rallied the-division, but in
the daring act had his horse shot under him. In the flank move-
ment at the North Anna, and in the severe fight that followed,
he handled his troops with such skill and success, and punished
the enemy so severely, that Meade complimented him publiclv.
All through that terrible advance, until the army sat down before
Petersburg, he exhibited a tactical skill and fighting power unsur-
passed by the oldest General in the field, and equaled bv few.

" In the fore part of December, with his own corps and a part
of the Second, he moved out of his camps and destroyed twenty
miles of the Weldon Railroad, besides station-houses and bridges.
On his return he burned Sussex Court-house, in retaliation for
brutal treatment and murder of some of our stragglers ; and was
back in his old quarters before the enemy had fliiriy waked up to
see what a terrible blow had been struck them.

' Grant and Sherman, their Campaigns and Generals."— J. T. Hii.\DLEV.


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434 Fifth New York Volunteer Infantry

f "In the final movement of the campaign of Grant, when Gen-

\ eral Sheridan took the advance on the extreme left of Dinwidtiie

i Court-house, he came upon the enemy a few miles beyond, at

i ' Five Forks,' and was defeated and compelled to fall back to

I Dinwiddle. =^ Warren's corps was at once sent to his relief. It

I had been fighting all day (one division, Griffin's, had been en-

(^' g^ged also the day before, and the corps had suffered a loss of

eighteen hundred in killed and wounded), yet he sent a portion
t of it forward immediately, which marched all night, reaching

i: Sheridan ne.xt morning. The rest of his corps rapidly followed,

|; and Warren, as ordered, reported to Sheridan on his arrival, who

I assumed entire command. Sheridan now being strong, advanced

f against the enemy, and at ' Five Forks ' found them at bay,

I strongly intrenched. Warren was ncnv directed to move with

I his whole corps on the enemy's left flank while the cavalry

(: attacked in front. With his usual skill and promptitude, he

I advanced on the strong position in three lines of battle, and

r sweeping steadily down, carried everything before him, capturing

\ the rebel artiller)-, which was attempting to move north, and

\ many prisoners. Finding the Confedenite front still holding its

i|: ground against Sheridan's cavalr}-, he, without waiting to re-form,

\ swept down on the hostile line, breaking it to fragments, and

I g^'^'in? the cavalry a chance to dash in and finish the work.

I Warren in this last movement rode with his staff in the front,

\ and was still there just at dusk, his men shouting the victorv,

when he received Sheridan's order relieving him of command,
and directing him to report to General Grant. Before doing so,
he sought a personal inten'iew, and asked the reason oi his being
relieved. With strange discourtesy and injustice, the latter
refused to give him anv."
; How Grant viewed this proceeding may be inferred from tlic

^ fact that he immediately ])laced Warren in command of the

defenses of City Point and Bermuda Hundred.

In May he was assi.gned to the command of the Mississippi
Department, but he did not retain it long, and offered his resig-

« Extract frtm iii<iu!L:h—Gener;il SheriJan to Gen-.-ral Grnnt, March 31, li''; :
"This force is toj .str-jiitj for us. I will hold out at Diiiwkidie Court-house until I
am compelled to leave."

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Personal Sketches.


nation as Major-General of Volunteers, but retaining his rank in
the Engineer Corps.

He asked for an investigation, but Grant replied that it was
impossible, in the disturbed state of affairs, to assennble a court
of inquir>' at the time, and so the matter dropped.

" Although this was unjust to Warren, perhaps it was quite as
well it should rest so. The war was over, the coantn- jubilant
and filled with praises of Sheridan, who had fought nobly, and
contributed largely to the capture of Lee. A court of inquiry
would, of course, have been compelled to censure him — an un-
gracious task just then ; while his condemnation would have
changed the opinion of scarcely any one in or out of the army.
The people felt that it was an act of injustice, born of sudden
impatience and excitement, such as he has often committed, and
were sorr>- that he had been guilty of it, but preferred to forget it
in consideration of his gallant services ; while among military
men, if it had any effect at all, it only raised Warren higher in
their estimation. A court of inquiry-, therefore, would have had
no effect on his reputation, though, as an act of justice, it was
demanded. He could much better afford to let it pass than
Sheridan can. A sudden act of injustice may be pardoned ; per-
sisting in it constitutes its chief criminality."

"Warren at this time' was about thirty-five vears of age. By
those most qualified to judge, he was considered one f)f the best,
if not the best, tacticians in the army. With a nervous, quick
temperament, balanced by strong reflective powers, and perfect
knowledge of his profession, he combines all the qualities of a
great General."

The author is indebted to Headley's work for manv of the
facts above given, with which he has incorporated his own notes
and the statements of other writers. F'or a detailed account of
the " Battle of Five Forks," and all the movements of Genenil
Warren with the Fifth Corps, with maps and copies of his orders,
see " Warren's Defense." published by D. Van Nostrand (iS66).

General Warren was breveted Major-General in the Regular
Army, March 13, 1S65.

In speaking of Warren's attack, S\vint(;n says in his History:
" After the first success, the men halted. Seeing this hesitation.

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436 Fifth Neiv York Volunteer Infantry.

Warren dashed forward, calling- to those near him to follow,
Inspiied by his example, the color-bearers and officers all along
the front sprang- out, and, without more firing, the men charged
at the pLis de course, capturing all that remained of the enemy.
The historj' of the war presents no equally splendid illustration
of personal magnetism. Warren led the van of the rushing lines ;
his horse was fatally shot within a few feet of the breastworks,
an orderly was killed by his side, and he himself was in imminent
peril, when a gallant officer. Colonel Richardson, of the Seventh
Wisconsin, sprang between him and the enemy, receiving a se-
vere wound, but shielding froin hurt the person of his loved com-

" A charge of cavalry completed the rout ; there were captured
many colors and guns and about 5,000 prisoners ; the Fifth
Corps capturing of these, 3,244 men, with their arms, eleven regi-
mental colors, and one four-gun batteiy, with its caissons. The
cavalry- loss was a few hundred, that of the Fifth Corps, 634
killed and wounded,"

General Warren says in his " Defense " — " General Sherirlan
says: 'I therefore relieved him from the command of the Fifth
Corps, authority for this action having been sent to me before the
battle, unsolicited.'

" From the time that authority reached him, he, apparently,
sought occasion to use it. I say this with regret ; but the tone
of the report toward me, and his hasty action, indicate that it
was so. If a victory- won by my command, under my direction,
could not gain me credit, where the plans made were, as he says,
' success/ u/ty executed,' and where my efforts and directions were
known to almost every- one, then nothing could."

An incident that occurred at the re-union of several of the
Army Corps will indicate the opinion of the soldiers, as well as

Online LibraryAlfred DavenportCamp and field life of the Fifth New York volunteer infantry. (Duryee zouaves.) → online text (page 35 of 39)