George Lewis.

The history of Battery E, First regiment Rhode Island light artillery, in the war of 1861 and 1865, to preserve the Union online

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Online LibraryGeorge LewisThe history of Battery E, First regiment Rhode Island light artillery, in the war of 1861 and 1865, to preserve the Union → online text (page 1 of 50)
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Col. George E. Randolph at 40.



First Regiment Rhode Island
Light Artillery,

IN THE WAR OF 1861 AND 1865,

BY /



Illustrated with Portraits and Map.

r Pf AY 7 c :
Snow & Farnham, Printers,


Entered according to act of Congress, in theyear 1S91,


in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.



AND TO THE Tender ivlemory

Brave arid Loyal Dead

The Author at 60.


AT a reunion of the First Regiment Rhode Island Light
Artillery Veteran Association held at Rocky
Point August 9, 1888, a historian was appointed from
each battery to prepare material for a history of the regiment.
It becoming evident that the plan of a regimental history
would prove a failure, the author of this volume was requested
by his comrades to write the history of Battery E. When
the work was nearly completed a petition was presented
to the legislature for an appropriation to publish the work.
Before this was acted upon by the General Assembly the
executive committee of the regiment appointed a special com-
mittee to ask the legislature to so amend the petition of
Battery E as to include the other batteries of the regiment.
A resolution to that effect was passed March 20, 1891, which
authorized the purchase of two hundred copies of each bat-
tery history by the state at two dollars and fifty cents ('1l'2.5o)
per copy whenever approved by the Secretary of State.

The author of this volume makes no claim to possess
special qualifications for the work assigned him. Being en-
gaged in daily labor in the employ of a business firm he had
only his spare hours to devote to his task. This necessarily
delayed the progress of the work. Every precaution has
been taken to assure the trustworthiness of the history.
Yet some errors must be expected in this as in all histories
covering the details of so many important events. Doubtless
a few dates in the roster will be found incorrect as the re-
cords from which they were taken have not always agreed.

The work has been prepared with a view of meeting the
wants of those not in possession of a large number of war


The writer has endeavored not to bring the honorable part
borne by Battery E in the Army of the Potomac so much to
the front as to make its claims appear egotistical. Neither
is it claimed that the battery was superior to the other excel-
lent Rhode Island batteries that served the state so honora-
bly during the war. Many volumes of standard authors
have been read, and no expense has been spared in order to
substantiate every statement made. A large number of dia-
ries kept by the men belonging to the battery have been
kindly loaned to the writer. These daily records have inva-
riably agreed upon every important event. Besides these
and other sources of information the Official Rebellion
Records have been consulted so far as they have been pub-
lished. As a rule in all cases of variance preference has been
given to the Official Records.

After three years of labor performed as stated above the
author presents this volume to the surviving members of the
battery and to the friends of its fallen heroes.

I desire to express my obligations to Adjutant-General
Dyer and his assistants and to Colonel Randolph, Major
Rhodes, Captain Bucklyn, Lieutenants Jastram and Hum-
phrey, Dr. Hill, Sergeants Remington, Millen, Slocum and
Hargraves, Corporal Butts and Comrade William H. Phinney,
for valuable aid and material. I am also indebted to Mrs.
Mary H. Clarke, sister of Lieutenant Gardiner, also to Mrs.
James A. Tanner, Charles H. Williams, son of First Ser-
geant Williams, and to the widow and son of Comrade George
F. Lord for the loan of diaries left in their possession. To
many others whose names are not given my obligations
are due.

I am especially indebted to Rev. Augustus Woodbury,
Lieutenants Jastram and Humphrey, Colonel Bliss and M.
S. Lewis for assistance in revising the work.


Januakv I, 1892.


Chapter I.
September-October, 1861.


Organization and Departure, ..... i

Chapter II.

October, 1861.

Camp Sprague, . . . . . . . . 9

Chapter III.

October 29, 1861, to March 14, 1862.
Camp Webb and Artillery Camp, .... 17

Chapter IV.

March-April, 1862.

Departure for the Peninsula, and Siege of Yorktown. 34

Chapter V.

:\Iay, 1862.

Battle of Williamsburg, . . . . . . 41

Chapter VI.

May-June, 1862.

In Pursuit of the Enemy and Battle of Fair Oaks, . 45

Chapter "V^II.

June, 1862.

In Front of Richmond and Battle of Glendale, . . 53


Chapter VIII.

July, 1862. p^^^

Battle of Malvern Hill and Retreat, • . . 66

Chapter IX.

July-August, 1862.

Harrison's Landing and Battle of Kettle Run, . 76

Chapter X,

August, 1862.
Second Battle of Bull Run,

Chapter XI.
September, 1862,
Battle of Chantilly and Death of General Kearny,

Chapter XII.

September-October-November, 1862
Arlington Heights, Poolesville.- Pursuit of Lee's
Army to Fredericksburo-

&' • • • • ,

Chapter XIII.

November-December, 1862.
Camp Pitcher and Battle of Fredericksburo-

Chapter XIV.
December 17, 1862, to April 27, 1863
Camp Pitcher Resumed, Burnside Second Failure, Win-
ter Quarters, Camp Sickles,

Chapter XV.

May, 1863.

Battle of Chancellorsville. -Return to Camp Sickles, 154







Chapter XVI.

May-June-July, 1863. page

Campaign of Gettysburg, . . . . . .177

Chapter XVII,
July 17th to November i, 1863.
General Lee — Recrosses the Potomac — Camp at Sul-
pher Springs — Lee Pursued to Culpepper — Meade
is Flanked and Retires to Fairfax Court House, . 226

Chapter XVIII.
November, 1863.
Battles of Rappahannock Station — Kelley's Ford —

Payne's Farm and Mine Run, .... 236

Chapter XIX.
December, 1863, to May, 1864.
Winters Quarters at Brandy Station — Re-enlistments
— Change of Battery Officers — Preparation for
^Summer Campaign, ...... 253

Chapter XX.

May, 1864.

Battle of Wilderness, 281

Chapter XXI.

May, 1864.

Battle of Spottsylvania, ...... 289

Chapter XXII.
May-June, 1864.
Crossing the North Anna. — March to Hanover Town

— Battle of Cold Harbor, 301


Chapter XXIII.

June, 1864. Page.

Crossing the James River — Assaults upon the Intrench-

ments of Petersburg, ...... 320

Chapter XXIV.
July-August, 1864.
Embarked for Washington and Return. — The Mine

Explosion, ....... 338

Chapter XXV.
August-September, 1864.
Battles of Deep Bottom Run. — Weldon Railroad, and
Reams Station — Fort Rice — Thirty-three Men Re-
turn Home. . . . . . . -3 53

Chapter XXVI.
September 26 to December 20, 1864.
Battery Re-organized. — Hatcher's Run. — South Side
Railroad — Death of General Birney — Presiden-
tial Election — Captain Rhodes on Sick Leave —
Lieutenant Parker in Command, . . . 3/7

Chapter XXVII.
December 20, 1864, to March 26, 1865.
Fort Wadsvvorth — Winter Quarters — Weldon Rail-
road — Lieutenant Bucklyn and Captain Rhodes
Resign, 396

Chapter XXVIII.
March 26 to April 9, 1865.
Richmond and Petersburg Surrendered — Pursuit and

Capture of Lee's Army, . . .412


Chapter XXIX.
April-May-June, 1865. page.
Camp Near City Point — March to Alexandria — Re-
turn Home and Muster Out of Service — Biogra-
phical Sketches, 429

Appendix, ......... 463

Roster and Battery Index, ..... 483
Index to Officers and Persons Mentioned not Belong-
ing to Battery, 533








































of Col. George Engs Randolph, . Frontispiece

of the Author, . . . Opposite Preface

of Capt. George Engs Randolph, Opposite page lo

of Capt. Walter Otis Bartlett, . ■■ ■ ^

of Lieut. Israel R. Sheldon,

of First Lieut. Pardon S. Jastram,

of Lieut. Charles A. Brown,

of Capt. John K. Bucklyn,

of Lieut. Joseph S. Milne, .

of Lieut. Lester S. Hill,

of Lieut. Herbert F. Bennett,

of First Lieut. George W. H. Allen,

of Brevet Maj. William B. Rhodes,

of Lieut. Allen Gardiner,

of Israel Riley,

of Ordnance Sergt. William Millen,

of P^irst Sergt. Charles P. Williams, )

of P'^irst Sergt. James Donnelly, [

of Sergt. James A. Tanner, [

of Sergt. Arthur W Hargraves, j

of First Lieut. Benjamin Freeborn,

of Lieut. Edward A. Chandler,

of First Lieut. Ezra K. Parker,

of Capt. Jacob H. Lamb,

of Capt. William Albert Arnold, \

of Lieut. James F. Allen, \

of Lieut. Hezekiah Potter, )

of Lieut. George Humphrey,

of Lieut. George Lewis, )

of Lieut. William S. Blair, [

of F'irst Sergt. William E. Bowen, )

of First Serst. Charles S. Winslow,

of O. M. Sergt. Benjamin N. Remington,

of Sergt. John Slocum,

of Corporal Francis B. Butts,

E Monument, .... '












" 471
In rear of book.


September— October, 1861.

Organization and Departure.

THE great struggle between the admirers of the barba-
rous system of American slavery and the believers in a
higher civilization commenced at Charleston, S. C,
when the secessionists opened fire from Sullivan's Island
upon the feeble but brave garrison at Fort Sumter, April
12, 1861.

Three days later President Lincoln issued his first procla-
mation for seventy-five thousand three months troops. On the
following day, Governor Sprague, of Rhode Island, responded
to the call by offering, in addition to her quota of one regi-
ment of infantry, one battery of light artillery, which was
promptly accepted by the War Department.

Such was the energy displayed by Governor Sprague and
his assistants that the Marine Artillery, of Providence, was
organized in three days for three months' active service, and
on the 1 8th the battery, under command of Capt. Charles H.
Tompkins, embarked on board the Empire State for Jersey
City. Thence it proceeded, byway of Elizabeth, to Easton,
Pa., for a week or two of drill. It arrived at Washington on
the 2d of May, and, on the 7th, it was mustered into the ser-
vice of the United States. Lieut.-Gov.-elect Samuel G. Arnold
accompanied Captain Tompkins. The battery was followed
on the 20th by the first detachment of the First Regiment,
under Col. Ambrose E. Burnside, and four days after by the
second detachment, under Lieut. -Col. Joseph S. Pitman.
The regiment and battery were temporarily quartered at the
Patent Office. In the meantime. Camp Sprague was being
built for the headquarters of the Rhode Island troops, and
on the 18th of May the battery moved into this new camp.


The President, on the 3d of May, issued another call for
additional troops. This call was for 42,034 volunteers to
serve for three years, unless sooner discharged ; 22,714 regu-
lars, to serve for five years ; and 18,000 seamen.

In anticipation that a call for another regiment from Rhode
Island would soon be made, recruiting had been going on
ever since the First Regiment left for the front. On the 7th,
Governor Sprague authorized the organization of another bat-
tery, to be known as Battery A. Their camp was located on
Dexter Training Ground, in Providence, and bore the honored
name of Camp Burnside.

The regiment being rapidly completed, was mustered into
the United States service June 6th, and on the 19th took pas-
sage on the State of Maine, at Fox Point, for Washington,
where it arrived on the 22d, encamping in Gales's Woods,
near Camp Sprague. Battery A was recruited at the same
time and place as the Second Regiment, and accompanied it
on the Kill von Kidl. It went into camp, after arriving in
Washington, at Camp Sprague, and was assigned to General
McDowell's command.

Aug. I, 1 86 1, the Secretary of War authorized Governor
Sprague to equip a battalion of artillery, to consist of three
batteries, one of which. Battery A, was then in the field, and
Capt. Charles H. Tompkins was promoted to major to com-
mand the battalion.

Battery B was rapidly recruited under Col. William H.
Parkhurst, who was appointed its captain, but he declining the
appointment. First Lieut. Thomas F. Vaughan, of Battery A,
was given the command. The battery left Providence for the
seat of war on the 13th of August.

Governor Sprague issued an order on the 12th of August,
for the organization of the Third Regiment Rhode Island
Heavy Artillery. Its camp was on the Spring Green Farm,
on the Old Warwick road, in Warwick, and was called Camp
Ames. The regiment was recruited and drilled here until
September 7th, when it left for Providence, sailing from there
on the Commodore for Long Island, N. Y. From that place
it was sent, in October, to Fortress Monroe, and encamped
near Hampton, Va., where it remained until the 23d, when
it embarked with the expedition under General Sherman and
Admiral Dupont, for Port Royal, S. C.


The recruiting for Battery C followed rapidly, and on
August •25th was mustered into service, under command of
Capt. William B. Weeden, who had been promoted from
second lieutenant of Battery A. The battery left for Wash-
ington on the 31st, and during the month of September its
headquarters were at Camp Sprague. Early in October it
crossed the Potomac River, encamping near Fort Lyon, Va.,
at Camp Randolph, so called in honor of Lieut. George E.
Randolph, who a few days after assumed command of Bat-
tery E.

While Battery C was being recruited. Governor Sprague
asked permission of the War Department to add two more
batteries to the battalion, which request was granted, and in
less than one week after Battery C left for the seat of war,
Battery D was mustered into service under the command of
Capt. J. Albert Monroe, who had been promoted from first
lieutenant from Battery A. It reached Washington on Sep-
tember 15th, remaining in Camp Sprague, perfecting its
drill, until October 8th, on which date it crossed Long Bridge
into Virginia and became a part of the division under the
command of Gen. Fitz John Porter. It remained in camp
at Upton's Hill until March, 1862.

Two days before Battery D reached Washington the War
Department granted Governor Sprague the privilege of in-
creasing the number of Rhode Island batteries to eight, the
whole to be known as the First Regiment Rhode Island
Light Artillery.

Before proceeding further with the artillery companies, I
will refer briefly to the Fourth Rhode Island Infantry, whose
first squad of recruits was sent into camp Sept. 5, 1861. It
was organized under the command of Col. Justus I. McCarty,
of the regular army, who was soon after superseded by Col.
Isaac P. Rodman, and by the last of the month was reported
full. No regiment that preceded it had been better drilled,
and the expectations of its friends were never disappointed.

The next in order of the Rhode Island troops was Bat-
tery E. The battery was recruited at the armory of the
Marine Corps of Artillery, on Benefit Street, Providence.

The camp selected for the headquarters of the battery
during its enlistment was the same as that occupied by the
Fourth Regiment, Camp Greene, named in honor of Gen.


Nathanael Greene, of Revolutionary fame. The camp was
situated about eight miles from Providence, a short distance
from what is now known as Hill's Grove, the Stonington
railroad running just east of the camp. It was a level piece
of land and well suited for the object for which it was used.
It was a healthy and pleasant locality, w^ell situated for the
transportation of troops, and easy of access for the friends
of the soldiers, whose daily visits were a great pleasure to
those who were about to leave home, perhaps never to

The first squad was sent to camp September 5th, and con-
sisted of four persons, namely : Francis B. Butts, Charles A.
Brown, Silas A. Brown, and Charles E. White. For several
days, according to the statement of Francis B. Butts, they
had no duties to perform except to prepare for the recep-
tion of additional recruits. They made themselves comfort-
able, and sought amusement in any way they pleased.

In a few days additional recruits were forwarded from Prov-
idence, also guns, horses, and equipments, for the purpose of
drilling the men. Capt. Henry B. Brastow was in command
of the artillery part of the camp.

Soon after the camp was instituted, William A. Arnold,
who had asked for a commission in the artillery, was ordered
to report to Captain Brastow^ Other men, who had expected
to receive commissions, were occasionally present, among
them being Walter O. Bartlett and John A. Perry.

The battery was rapidly being filled and daily drilled in
field and foot movements. William Millen, Amasa A. Dar-
ling, Joseph S. Milne, Jacob H. Lamb, and others, who were
expecting warrants as non-commissioned officers, assisted in
drilling the recruits in the various artillery movements.

After the battery was nearly full, Lieut. William A. Arnold
was put in command of the men, and Captain Brastow com-
menced the formation of another battery. John K. Buck-
lyn was appointed acting quartermaster-sergeant by Lieu-
tenant Arnold, which appointment was aftei'wards confirmed.

On Tuesday, September 24th, Lieutenant Arnold received
orders to move the battery near the city. The place selected
was on the west side of Mashapaug Pond, near its northern
termination, and was christened Camp Perry, in honor of
Rev. John A. Perry, who was active in recruiting men for the


battery and who was soon after commissioned as one of its
first lieutenants.

The daily drills were continued as before, and the battery
had now nearly completed its organization. It was at this
camp that the writer dates the birth of his military experi-
ence. The rations which were supplied to the men consisted
principally of potatoes, corn beef, bread and coffee, and they
were not always prepared with that regard to personal taste
that many would desire. It was, doubtless, one of the iirst
home sacrifices that they realized. The regard for cleanli-
ness in its preparation, which we had seen at home, was too
plainly omitted to suit us.

As the time approached for the departure, permission to
pay the last visits to their homes and friends was often asked
by the men, which was seldom refused. Many of those who
had families near by went home every night and returned to
camp the next morning. The dear mother, and loving wife
accompanied by her little ones, were daily seen in camp, ex-
pecting every visit to be the last, and possibly the final
"good bye" to a dear husband or son would be spoken.
Only those who have experienced the soldier's parting " good
bye " can realize the emotions of such a separation, and the
members of Battery E were not long to remain without the
experience, for September 30th, the day set for their being
mustered into the United States service for three years, if
not sooner discharged, had arrived.

Previous to being sworn in, the men drew their uniforms
from the quartermaster, and many of them realized that but
little regard had been given to the size or form of its occu-
pant, and no doubt many were not well pleased with their
appearance. But there was no remedy, and they bore the
dissatisfaction with as much grace as possible.

On September 30th Col. Justus I. McCarty reported at
the camp to muster in the battery. The men were formed
into line, and the oath of fidelity to our superior officers and
the demands of the service, was administered. After the
regular muster, orders to leave for the seat of war were
hourly expected.

The fifteen dollars bounty promised by the State was paid
us on the 4th of October, and not a few turned the small
pittance over to their families, who doubtless were in need of


it, and, although we had disposed of it well, we soon learned
that it would have been of great service to ourselves.

In anticipation of future needs we began to supply our-
selves with every conceivable article thought to be necessary
during our service ; our knapsacks, of course, were not neg-
lected, and their contents, if all were placed together, would
have made quite an inventory for starting a small junk shop.
To the supplies received from the quartermaster were added
several pairs of socks, handkerchiefs by the half-dozen,
needles, scissors, thread, buttons, bottle of ink, pens, envel-
opes, portfolio filled with paper, brushes and shaving material.
Some had Bibles from anxious friends, others carried a small
photograph album filled with 77>zV^i- of dear and loving friends,
and those who were smokers did not forget pipes, tobacco,

Add to these the necessary haversack filled with rations,
supplemented with cakes, pies and cookies, obtained from
home ; knife and fork, tin plate and cup, water filter and
other supposed needed supplies for our new life, and the can-
teen filled to suit the owner. Doubtless many thought that
other articles should have been taken. What a contrast
when compared with our stock on hand ten months later,
when we were minus knapsack and contents, with nothing
left but the suit of clothes on our back.

Saturday, October 5th, came and with it the order to pack
up and start for the seat of war. The "assembly" was
sounded for the last time at Camp Perry, and, mounted upon
our limber chests, we started, with the exception of the
camp guard and a few others, on our journey.

When we reached the city we were joined by the Fourth
Regiment, who had previously arrived from Camp Greene,
and with them marched through High, Westminster and
South Main streets to Fox Point, where we embarked, the
Fourth Regiment on the CommodoTc, and the battery on the
Kill von KulL* At the wharf the battery was joined by the
guard, who had left the camp shortly after the battery.
During the march through the city the men were loudly
cheered by their friends and citizens, and by them many a
hearty wish was given for their safe return to friends and
home. At five o'clock v. m. the lines were cast off, the boat
swung slowly away from the wharf, and, amid the thundering

* The Kill von Kiill was totally destroyed by tire at Elizabetliport. X. J., on the niijlit
of March 3, 1SS9. It then bclonj^'od to the N'ew Jersey Central Railroad.


of cannon, mingled with tlie cheers and tears of our friends
and relatives, we took our departure.

That night will never be forgotten, at least by sons who
had left behind them aged parents, or by fathers who left
wife and children, who were dependent upon them for sup-
port and protection.

We passed the night as best we could under the gloom of
separation from home, and the morning found us well on our
way to New York.

On our way up the sound, we were delayed by a hot shaft,
and consequently did not reach New York until about noon,
but we did not stop, going directly to Elizabethport, N. J.,
arriving there about the middle of Sunday afternoon.

Boarding the cars on the Central Railroad, we slowly
crossed the State of New Jersey, followed by the Fourth
Regiment, and reached the Delaware River about sunset.
Continuing our journey on the East Pennsylvania Railroad,
we passed Allenton, thence to Reading on the Schuylkill
River, reaching Harrisburg, Pa., at sunrise on Monday, the
7th instant. We could see but little of the enterprising
country through which we passed, except when the lightning

Online LibraryGeorge LewisThe history of Battery E, First regiment Rhode Island light artillery, in the war of 1861 and 1865, to preserve the Union → online text (page 1 of 50)