Alfred S. (Alfred Seelye) Roe.

The Twenty-fourth regiment, Massachusetts volunteers, 1861-1866 (Volume 2) online

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Regimental Committee on History

Charles B. Amory John C. Cook

George Hill





CopyriKlit. T.wii. I)y


i)> Ut- U.



For the war to preserve the Union, Massachusetts sup-
plied forty so-called "three years" regiments. Of this
large number only one, the Thirtieth, saw longer service
than that of the Twenty-fourth. Whether recruited earlier
or later, every regiment, except these two, was at home
before the end of September, 1865, yet the Twenty-fourth
and the Thirtieth lingered on till January and July
respectively, 1866. Perhaps no regiment from the Bay
State went through regular campaigns in so many states
as did the one whose record this volume embodies. Save
for brief trips into INIaryland and Pennsylvania, as at
Atitietam and Gettysburg, the Army of the Potomac fought
entirely in Virginia; the Twenty-fourth, counting its
service in Boston Harbor and at Annapolis, is justified in
claiming no less than six states as its several theatres of
operations, for, in addition to Massachusetts and Maryland,
were the Burnside Expedition to North Carolina, the long
siege of Charleston in South Carolina, the winter's cam-
paign in Florida, and the crowning trial with the Army of
the James in Virginia.

The book itself is in no sense a history of the war,
seldom generalizing, never moralizing nor discussing what
might or what ought to have been, but always confining
itself to what the officers and men of this regiment saw,
said, thought and, above all, did. For many years it had
been a dream of the survivors of so many years of service
that their history would be written, and one of their number
was long ago designated as historian, but nothing came of
waiting and watching till in January, 1906, Major Charles
B. Amory, John C. Cook and George Hill were appointed
a committee to take the matter in hand, and to them was

4 Twenty-fourth ^Massachusetts Re(;lment.

given power to act. After due consideration and inter-
views, they eini)l()yed as the writer of their story one win*
had had some experience in snch work. Sending out, in the
month of ^March. 1906. circulars to all survivors, as far as they
could be found, stating the purpose in hand and requesting
contributions of everything that would add to the interest
of the history, the Avork began. The ansAvers from recip-
ients of the circular were of the most satisfactory character,
so much so that in preparing the story it has been to some
extent a question of what must be left out rather than of
searching for material.

Notwithstanding the excellent character of the officers
and men of the regiment, very little had been put out in
book or pamphlet form concerning it. The memorial volume
of General Thomas G. Stevenson, printed soon after his
death; "The Captured Scout," by Chaplain H. Clay Trum-
bull of the Tenth Connecticut, published in 1869, detailing
the adventures of Henry H. ^Manning, Company G, together
with the privately printed sketch of his OAvn military career
by Major Chas. B. Amory, originally of Company F, and
his Roster of Conq:)any I, of which he was subsequently
Captain, constitute the entire list of such matter till the
issuing, late in 1906, of the proceedings incident to the
dedication of the Stevenson bronze in the State House.
Such scarcity of duly credited matter was not owing to
lack of incident and collection, but rather to a widespread
expectation that some other one would undertake and go
ahead with the task.

The framework of the history is made from the diaries
and letters of General Francis A. Osborn, who had the
fortunate foresight to make regular records of the daily
happenings of the several years of his service. These have
proved invaluable in the compilation. Covering and orna-
ment to this substantial skeleton structure have been found
in the reports as made to the proper authorities and are now
published in the Official Records of the War of the Rebel-

Preface. 5

lion, along Avith the incident and anecdote as jotted down
at the time by the active participants, and on request were
forwarded for use in these pages. Especially valuable in
this connection were the diaries of John M. Spear, Jr., of D,
of (4eorge H. Howard and John Thorne of G, and the
sketches of active army life furnished by H. B. McLellan of
A, C. P. Chase of B, C. T. Ford of D, Wm. E. Clark, A. H.
Knowles and C. G. Robinson of F, James Armstrong of I.
and E. B. Lyon of K.

The thorough drill and discipline to which the regiment was
subjected resulted in unusual demands upon it for officers
to serve in a detached capacity, and for officers and men
for promotion in other organizations. For the latter purpose
the Twenty-fourth lost no less than ten commissioned officers
and thirty enlisted men, very many of whom attained high
rank in their new organizations. The quality of the regi-
ment's personnel is indicated ])y the fact that the following
names, borne on the list of brigadier-generals from jNIassa-
chusetts, were at first on the rolls of the Twenty-fourth :

Thomas G. Stevenson, Colonel; Brigadier-general,

December 26, 1862.
Francis A. Osborn, Colonel; Brevet Brigadier-general,

March 13, 1865.
Robert H. Stevenson, Lieutenant-colonel; Brevet Brig-
adier-general, March 13, 1865.
Albert Ordway, Lieutenant-colonel; Brevet Brigadier-
general, March 13, 1865.
John F. Anderson, Adjutant; Brevet Brigadier-gen-
eral, April 2, 1865.
J. Cushing Edmands, First Sergeant Company K,
Colonel Thirty-second Massachusetts; Brevet Brig-
adier-general, March 13, 1865.

Samuel A. Green, Surgeon, who ranked as Major during
his service, was brevetted Lieutenant-colonel March 13, 1805,
an honor conferred on onlv two other Bay State surgeons,


accoi'din*? to Colonel T. W. Higj^insoii in liis "Massachusetts
in the Army and Navy."

In addition to these instances of preferment during the
war, it should be stated that others remaining in the State
military service enjoyed recognition for manj^ a year.
Thomas F. Edmands, whom many have called the beau
ideal of soldiers, and who came home in 1866. command-
ing what was left of the regiment, was the commander of
the First Corps of Cadets till within a very few weeks of
liis death in August, 1906. Nathaniel Wales, who was the
First Sergeant of Company G, gained the position of Major
in the Thirty-fifth Massachusetts, and the brevet rank of
Lieutenant-colonel and Colonel, becoming Brigadier-general
subsequently in the State Militia. Captain John N. Partridge
in ]868 entered the Twenty-third Regiment, N. Y. N. G.,
and, after successive promotions, became Colonel, holding
the position some eight or nine years, resigning in 1894
after more than twenty-five years of service.

The rank and file that followed such officers were worthy
of their leaders ; confident in them and above all in them-
selves, they never lost a standard nor showed the white fea-
ther for an instant. They were always ready for any exac-
tion ; forlorn hopes never lacked volunteers, and when they
fought side by side with other regiments, the latter had a
sense of security in such proximity. The fatalities of the
Twent.y-fourth in the field did not reach the arbitrary num-
ber, one hundred and thirty, established by Colonel "Wm. F.
Fox, in compiling his famous "Three Hundred Fighting
Regiments," an invaluable volume, productive, however, of
more heart-burn than any other compilation of statistics
extant. Yet, if the reader carefully follows the record as
given by the Colonel, he may spare himself some bitter
refiections, for it is distinctly stated there that many regi-
ments not included in the list may have been better
fighting organizations than some of those mentioned, for,
through their careful handling or other adventitious eircum-

Preface. 7

stance, the lives of the men were spared to continue the
fight on other occasions. The extreme discipline to which
the Twenty-fourth was accustomed was an absolute pre-
ventive of panic or confusion of any sort, and with an array
of officers possessing unusually cool heads and excellent
judgment, and a most faithful and effective medical staff
to repair the casualties of combat, there was no needless loss
of life, hence the result, just a little under the aggregate
assumed in the book as the standard of admission to the
thrice one hundred, selected from the more than two
thousand regiments in the Union Armj^ during the great

At this period of time, more than forty-two years beyond
Appomattox, the great majority of those who made the
splendid record of the regiment are afar from earthly
interests, but the minority yet this side the final camping-
ground, their friends and families as well as those of the
many who have ceased from this life, are desirous of seeing
in book form the story of the camps, marches and battles
of long ago. Fortunately the liberal and patriotic policy
of the Commonwealth renders this possible, even though the
day be far spent and the crossing is near. In sending out
the result of much comparing of notes, reading of letters,
diaries and contemporary written and printed matter, the
compiler has had the efficient aid of Generals Osborn and
Stevenson, Majors Kichardson and Amory and Surgeon
Green in a supervisory eapacitj^ so that only well-proven
facts should find place in the volume, and to them for their
painstaking services thanks are hereby rendered. Grateful
acknowledgment is also made to all those who by the
lending of portraits, views and pictures of men and places
rendered the illustrating of the history possible. Among the
many thus helpful should be mentioned those already assisting
in other ways, with Captains R. F. Clark. James Thompson,
Jas. M. Barnard, J. N. Partridge, Robt. Carruthers, Wm. F.
Wiley, Lieutenants P. E. Wheeler and Geo. A. Higgins,


together with IMiss Louisa ]\[.. daughter of Lieutenant-
colonel Chas. H. Llooper, and Adjutant-general J. C. R.
Foster of Tallahassee. Florida, son of IMajor Davis Foster.
In the same list should be included the names of Wm. H.
Cundy of Gilmore's Band; Sewell S. Tn<iraham and J. H.
Atwood of the regimental band; John C Cook, long Secre-
tary of the Veteran Association ; E. II. Gilford and Samuel
Willis of C; Thos. Fanning and C. A. Fitch of D; D. H.
Cunningham and S. A. Edgerly of E; B. Pettee and F. H.
Bullard of C ; W. H. Austin, Peter DeLane. Wm. H. King and
E. M. Tucker of I : Chas. E. Grant and A. J. Viniug of K.
Geo. AY. Dickinson of Worcester lias kindly lent data pertain-
ing to his father and brother; Mrs. M. E. O'Brien of Boston,
photograph and facts concerning her husband, the late
Sheriff J. B. O'Brien; Miss Annie R. Spear, portraits and
views ; while outside of the regiment and immediate friends,
acknowledgments are due for favors to Captain Daniel El-
dredge of the Third New Hampshire Regiment, Mr. James B.
Gardner, Forty-fourth Massachusetts ; John Gray, Twenty-
third ^Massachusetts, and Captain A. F. Slate of the Tenth
Connecticut. C. B. Tillinghast, S. A. Green and S. S. Green,
librarians respectively of the State. INIa.ssachusetts Historical,
and the Worcester Public Libraries, have kindly aided in
granting the use of said collections, and the uniformly kind
and courteous usage in the Adjutant-general's Department at
the State House is gratefully remembered.


Worcester, ^Massachusetts, November, 1907.


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In 1861 the New England Guard, a Boston military organ-
ization, was neariug its half-century mark. Organized in
1812, for almost fifty years it had been one of the best drilled
eompanies in the Commonwealth. From the beginning its
personnel consisted of the very finest material afforded by the
foremost city in New England, men who w^re capable of
appreciating and, if need be, exemplifying its motto, viz.:

"our nation's honor the bond of union."

When 1861 l)egan, the Guards, under the command of
Captain Harrison Ritchie, constituted Company B of the Sec-
ond Battalion of Infantry. In those days military spirit ran
high, for war between North and South seemed innninent.
Captain Ritchie having resigned to accept a position on the
staff of Governor John A. Andrew, George H. Gordon, a
graduate of West Point and an officer in the Mexican War,
was made his successor. March 11 of the same year the
Guards became Company A of the Fourth Battalion and a
new Company B was raised. Captain Gordon being promoted
Major in command. Thomas G. Stevenson, who had been
First Sergeant in the old company, was elected Captain of the
new one, and Francis A. Osborn, Gordon's First Lieutenant,
succeeded to the connnand of Gompany A. By this time the
fray had begun and volunteer regiments were forming or, at
any rate, were in contemplation. The Sixth Regiment was
on its way to Baltimore when Major Gordon, mindful of his
militarv training received from the government, on the 18th of

10 Twenty-fourth Massacpiusetts Regiment.

April tendered his services to the (jroveruor and at the same
time resigned his command of the Fonrth Battalion. It is
claimed that this pi-oifer of the snbseciuent Colonel of the
Second Keg-iment was the very first received by (ilovernor
Andrew .

Toward the last of April, it liecame apparent to the
anthorities that Fort Independence in Boston Harbor, then
.guarded only by an ordnance sergeant, .should not be allowed
to continue in an unprotected state. The patriotism of the
Fourth Battalion was appealed to in a request that it should
garrison the fort without pay, ])eing furnished rations by the
State. The l)attalion promptly and cheerfully assented, and
on the 2r)th of April proceeded to the fort and took charge of
it. As senior officer. Captain Stevenson was in command, and
on the 4th of May he was unanimously elected Major, his
brother, Robert H. Stevenson, succeeding to the captaincy of
Company B. This promotion, l)y no means sought by Major
Stevenson, was accepted with reluctance, but his associates
had sensed, as perhaps he did not himself, the preeminent
military genius already indicated. How well he continued the
excellent work l)egun by Captain (lordon was early shown in
the proficiency exhibited by his connnand in all its work.
Nor did the merit of R. H. Stevenson, the youthful Captain
of Company B, pass unrecognized, for his followers procured for
him an elegant sword, which they duly presented, ])ut it was
surmised that the gratitude of the officer was considerably
alloyed l)y the fact that he had to make a speech of acceptance,
and while he acquitted himself with credit, as he always did
everywhere, his admiring friends were all agog to hear what
he might have to say, as action rather than words Mas known
to be the Captain's forte.

So far as known the unrequited services of the l)attalion
in thus garrisoning the fort were unique, and really only such
an organization as this could afford to serve for nothing, get-
ting only its board in return. As a visitor remarked, "These
young men are for the most part the sons of wealthy mer-

New England (4uard and Fort Independence. 11

chants in Boston, and on this account are inclined to be sensi-
tive, fearing that the peculiar service to which they have been
called will be construed as an indication of their desire to play
the gentleman soldier and an unwillingness to be called into
the field, which is far from the case. * * * These soldiers at
Fort Independence are by strict discipline perfecting and
inuring themselves in preparation for the real hardships of
war and active service into which they may soon be called."
Many observers at the fort, during the single month of the
battalion's stay, commented on the rare spirit of the soldiers,
their evident desire to acquire all that could be given and the
masterly manner in which they were taught by those who led.
At the same time it would be unfair to these patriots,
many of them still in school or college, to think that they were
prematurely old or that they did not have their quantum of
fun. This excellent story is told of a young Harvard man, in
later life to adorn the bench of the U. S. Supreme Court, and
whom his father was to seek, after Antietam, in "My Hunt
after the Captain." It appears that his fellows were giving
him a butcher-boy cut of his hair and had clipped the locks
closely from one side of his head when some one sang out,
"Here comes the Doctor.'' Whereupon the man with the
shears refused to work further. The greeting of " Boy " and
his merry ' ' Dad ' ' may be imagined by those who have read of
the Holmeses, father and son. That Thomas G. Stevenson's
was the master mind in this preparatory period no one ever
questioned for a moment. Said a writer of these days, " He
was fairly idolized by his men, and it is doubtful if any one
less peculiarly fitted for the position could have maintained as
strict discipline." So strict and thorough were discipline
and drill and so loyal the spirit of the men that out of the one
hundred and sixty-one who were on duty at Fort Independ-
ence in the spring of 1861, before the close of the year one
hundred and sixteen had been commissioned and several had
enlisted in the ranks. Out of the entire number, as stated by
one of the members, all but fifteen went into the army.

12 Twenty-fourth ^Massachusetts Regiment.

From what stock these soldiers came appeai-s when it is
learned that on the very day that Captain Georg-e H. Gordon
resigned one position and offered himself for another, IMiss
Hannah E. Stevenson, aimt of the snbseqnent Brigadier Gen-
eral, Thomas G. Stevenson, in behalf of three hnndred Boston
ladies, called on Governor Andrew and expressed their will-
ingness to go to the front as nurses if needed. IMiss Steven-
son afterwards went to the front and did good service in the

The stay at Fort Independence, though of infinite utility,
Mas brief, for on the ^.Ith day of May the battalion was re-
lieved and returned to the city. At this time comes the first
mention of Patrick S. Gilmore in connection with the men
before so many of whom his delightful strains were to sound
in coming months, since on this day was heard for the first
time the" Fourth Battalion Quickstep, ' 'arranged by this prince
of nnisicians and to whose enlivening air these men in the
future were to march many a mile. Comments by the Boston
press on the appearance of the returning soldiers were of the
most flattering character. It was generally asserted at the
time that no other military organization had made so credit-
able a display, and this was less than two years after the visit
of Colonel Ellsworth and his inimitable Fire Zouaves from
Chicago. The men could hardly have been accorded a more
enthusiastic reception if they had been returning victorious
from the field of battle. The streets through which they
marched were lined with a dense throng, which manifested the
utmost enthusiasm, applauding and cheering at every step.
To the great credit of the discipline of the men it is recorded
that all this excitement did not in the least shake their steadi-
ness, nor cause any turning of the heads from side to side in
recognition of friends. The Connuon was densely packed with
crowds of people, consisting largely of friends of the men
themselves, and here the enthusiasm was in no way less
ardent than that accorded the battalion in the streets.

Could the tliousands who applauded the return of these

Regiment Projected. 13

embryonic soldiers have turned their sight to the future and
there beheld' what was in store for many of these gallant
men, tears had blinded eyes that then rejoiced at the exhibi-
tion of manly excellence. The shadow of a hundred battles
was over that devoted band, yet neither man nor friend beheld
it. Names of combats, tierce and bloody, as yet unknown to
fame, through the deeds of these and others like them will
become household words for a thousand years. That ideal
soldier who is the cynosure of all lieholders, the leader, in so
short a time will fall, star- bedecked, in the l)attle- whirl of
Spottsylvania. Antietam, Gettysburg, Wauhatchie and Fort
Wagner are also there. In the ranks is marching a col-
lege boy, on leave of absence, who, often wounded in coming
years, will be in the thick of the fight at Ball's Bluff, York-
town where he loses a leg, at Port Hudson, the Wilderness,
at the Mine in front of Petersburg; always the bravest of the
brave, he will come home to a few brief years of feebleness
and an early death. How that great company had shouted
had they foreseen all this as Wm. F. Bartlett passed! And he
with characteristic frankness said this of his one month's
experience at Fort Independence, ''What have I gained
during the last month? I have learned more military than
I could have learned in a year in the Armory or from books.
* * I value the knowledge acquired in the last month more
highly than all the Greek and Latin I have learned in the
last year. * * I look back on the past month as one of the
pleasantest and most useful that I remember."


Amid such scenes and labors were evolved the plans which
resulted in the Twenty-fourth Regiment, Massachusetts
Volunteers. A significant name for the birthplace of a
regiment is Fort Independence. No sooner had the New
England Guard returned to Boston than ^lajor Stevenson,

14 Twenty-fourth jMassachusetts Regiment.

the commander of the battalion, and Captain Osborn of
Company A called upon Governor Andrew and offered their
services as officers of volunteers, expressing the wish that, if
he thought them worthy, he would commission them respec-
tively as Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel of one of the Massa-
chusetts regiments. Profiting by the experience of some of
the organizations already effected, they explained to the
Governor the plan by which they thought they could raise a
regiment which, in point of efficiency, should be second to
none that the State might send out. They represented that
there were in the Fourth Battalion from one hundred and
sixty to one hundred and seventy young men of education,
intelligence, ability and courage whom they had known for a
long time, and whose capacitA' they had had a most admirable
opportunity to stud}' through the month's serious military
work at Fort Independence. They were certain that from this
body of gallant young men, they could pick out a select list
of officers and that, in this way, they could form the cadre or
framework of a regiment, leaving the officers thus selected to
fill up their respective companies. In this manner there
would be secured a homogeneous body of officers, all trained
in the same school, who would be on the best of terms with
each other and, for this reason, would work harmoniously
together for a common purpose. Such a corps would have
the further advantage of occupying a position which from
the very beginning of acquaintance with, their men would
be one of superiority and would not be embarrassed by any
previous relations of friendship or comradeship: relations
which might make the officer reluctant to assume the strict
attitude of command which his duty required and might
lead the man to be impatient of the control to which he was
bound to submit.

Governor Andrew acknowledged the superiority of the plan
and said he should be very glad to commission the officers
at once and give them the authority asked, but he added that

Regiment Projected. 15

the general government was calling for troops, that Massa-

Online LibraryAlfred S. (Alfred Seelye) RoeThe Twenty-fourth regiment, Massachusetts volunteers, 1861-1866 (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 47)