Gilbert] [Thompson.

Report of the reunion of the veterans of the U. S. Engineer battalion, at St. Louis, Mo., September 26-29, 1887 online

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II. S. Knafiiieei' Rc'^ttc'^lioii

At St. Louis. Mo.. September. 26-29. 1887.




Rjeuiiiou af the Yy.t^i*ujyti

II, S. li^i 1^'i ii<e«er 1 >,'i tt.'i 1 i( ) m ,

At St. Louis. Mo.. September. 26-'29. 1887.

The National luK"imi)iiieiit of the Grand Army of the Re-
public, at St. Louis, Mo., opening on September 26, 18<S7, was
also made the oeoa.sion of a Reunion of those who had served in
the U. S. p]noineer Battalion, and whatever success attended it
may be attributed entirely to the untiring efforts of Comrade
F. Vog'l, ^I. D., Junction City, Kansas, who after a great deal
of correspondence and the conse((ucnt obtaining of about 2-5<>
addresses of former Kngincer soldiers, issued a call accordingly
of (late ot September 7, 1887, a preliminary circular havin<;
been sent out of date of July 1, 1887. An invitation was also
extended to such of the officers of the Corps of Engineers under
whom they had served, in part as follows :

"On behalf of the Comrades we would most respectfully
tender you a hearty and soldierly invitation to be with us at
that time.

The men always felt pi'oud of their officers, aiul probabh-
t\\o officers always had reason to feel proud of the rank and
lileofthe IJattalion, conscfpiently the men would led pleased
to shake hands with their officers once more. '^ * :?: * *

J. H. Putman, Geo. W. Lovejoy, Robt. Gregory,

John Couglilan, Chas. E. Mix, Chas. Burns,

Gilbert Thompson, J. G. Savage, Wm, T. Galjbert,

Thos. Moloney, W. F. Sutherland, John W. Knight,

0. H. Cobb, A. G. Alvord, Isaac Sanborn,

C. D. Spencer, H. G. Elvans, Thos. AMiittaker,

AVm. Longstreet, E. M. Wells, F. Vogl.

Lieut. Col. Charles R. Suter, Corps of Engineers stationed
at St. Louis, Mo., as also 1st Lieut. Thos. H. Bingham, Corps
of Engineers, took great interest in the matter, and tents, etc.,
were furnished by them for the occasion.

The Department of Kansas G. A. R. had their encampment
in Washington Park, and they extended a cordial and fraternal
welcome to the " Engineers," and gave them a camping place,
as also a pron^inent position in their formation for the grand
parade. Over the reunion tent were appropriate flags and a
prominent sign, " Headquarters Battalion U. S. Engineers."
Comrade Gilbert Thompson, also brought with him from Wash-
ington, D. C, an old Engineer flag, which was displayed at the
Headquarters of the Array of the Potomac, during the war of
1860-1865. ^Vmong the most interesting things exhibited was
a map prepared by Comrade Thompson, showing the routes of
march and camps of the Battalion from Feb. 1861 to April, 1865.
It was regretted that no souveneir of the service in Mexico was
obtainable, and John Coughlan was the only representative
present of the time previous to the organization of the Battalion.

The following Comrades were present, and their military and
civil history is also included as of interest, and to date of June
.30, 1887.

Black, James H. (S) First enlisted in 8th Michigan Vol. In-
fantry at drand Rapids, Mich., September 3, 1861. Took part with regi-
ment in the engagements at Hilton Head, S. C, November 7, '61. Coo-
sa-cu River, S. C, Fori Pulaski, ]Viliiiiiiq;ton Island, Ga., James Island,

NoTK. The small figure in pai-entlie;.is refers to their position in the photograph taken
Sept. 29, 18S7, beginning at the top at the left, and su on successively. Comrade Dougan
unfortunately being absent.

.S". C. Srroitd battle of Ihtll Run, aud Chaittilly, V\x., South Mountain
and . httietaiii, Md. Knlisfed in I'. S. Knjjineer Battalion. October 26,
1S62. Re-enlisted I'ebruary 19, 1S64. Made Corporal Fehrnary, 1S67.
Discluirj^ed at e\])iration of service l''el)ruary 19, 1S67. (Credited on bis
discliartie as havin.i; l)i.(,ii in se\'eiilei.-n l):iUles \\]iil(,- in Uie Uallalion. 1
Carried on farming since to date.

COUgfUlail, Jollll. (4) I'irsl enlisted November 15. 1859. in Co.
A (detacbnienl) at San Juan Island, \Vas]iin,!.jton Territory. Was on duty
at tbe inauijuratiou of .\braham Lincoln. Transferred to Co. I) July 4.
1S62. ]\Iade Corporal and tben vSertjeant, I)ecend)er i, 1S62. Re-enlisted
at Brandy Station, Va., February 23, 1.S64. Discharged al Willets' Point.
N. Y, to accept commission as Lieutenant in 12th V . S. Infantry.
Mustered out at Nashville, Tenn. with regiment January 16, i,S66. Fol-
lowed mercantile ])ursnits since^that date. Now member of the Council
and Town Treasurer of I^a dro Townshi]), Indiana.

Doug-ail, Arcllibald. luilisted in 21! N. V. State Militia (S2 N.
V. \'ols. afterwards I. .\rnved at Washington, D. C. in April, 1861, and
crossed Long Bridge in May ; was in the battles oi First Hull Run (Tylers
advance July iS, '611, lialVs />'lujf\ Yorkto'n'n, West ]\ii)it, Cjaine's Mill,
Savaii'C Station, Jlali'ern Hill, Sout/i Mountain awA. Antietam ; was
wounded twice. Enli.sted from the volunteers in Co. B, V . vS. Engineer
Battalion, October, 1S62. Re-enlisted February 8, 1864, and was dis-
charged at close of service at Willets' Point, .N. V. ; and followed trade of
miller since that date.

Evans, H. O. (91 b'irst enlisted in Co. A, 27th Indiana \'ol. In-
fantry. Arrived at Washington, I). C. in .September, 1861. This regi-
ment came up to the Ball's Bluff battle but was not engaged. Was in the
Valley campaign under Gen'l Banks, the \'irginia campaign under (ieiri
Pope, and in the Maryland cam])aign under C.en'l McClellan, and was on
duty at all the battles. Enlisted in the V . S. Ivugineer Battalion, October,
1862, and re-enlisted in I'ebruary, 1864, and was made Corporal in 1864.
Honorably discharged at expiration of service at Willets' Point, N. V.,
with twenty-seven battles to his credit. He was during a portion of his
term of service detailed as Battalion ])rinter, and has since followed the
same profession and joiunalism. Is a member of the ('.. A. R.

Feriiald, CassillS Itl. i i 1 I'inst enlisted November 20,' 1861 at
Portland, :\Iainc, in Co. B, Y . S. Engineers. Transferred to Co. I), July 4,
1862. Promoted to .\rlificer November i, 1862. Was present for duty
continuously, until March 22, 1864, when he w;is examined for a coni-
mision before Examining Board. Washington, I). C, under charge of
Gen'l Ca,sey, and March 25, 1864, was ordered by War Dei)artment to re-

port to Gen'l N. P. Banks, at New Orleans, La., for appointmeut in
" Corps d'Affrique." April 23, 1864, appointed 2d Lieut, in 97th U. S.
Colored Infantry, but owing to status of regiment did not report for duty
until July 1864. On Jul}- 29, 1864, was honorably discharged from IT. S.
Engineer Battalion to accept promotion as 2d Lieut. Co. B, 97th V. vS.
Colored Infantry. August 18, 1865, promoted to ist Lieut. April 6,
1866, mustered out of service at Mobile, Ala., with regiment. After leav-
ing the Battalion, April 21, to July 9, 1S64, was on detached duty at New
Orleans, La., with Capt. John J. Smith's Co. of sappers and pontoniers.
Jul}- 9, to November 3, 1864, on special details at New Orleans and Dau-
phine Island, Mobile Bay, and acted as Adjutant of regiment. Engaged
upon repairs and construction of Eort Gaines, Mobile Bay. November
14, '64, to February 16, '65, with regimentat Barrancas, Fla., and on lixpe-
d if ion to Pollard, Ala., where large quantities of stores were destroyed.
Regiment lost heavy in killed and wounded. Assisted in the construc-
tion of the earthworks at Fori Barrancas, Fla. February 16, to May 1,
1865, took part with regiment in the Capture of Mobile, Ala., and regi-
ment performed signal service in fighting fire and restoring order at time
of the great explosion, and afterwards engaged in construction of large
forts on " vSpring Hill." Since 1865 has been engaged in general com-
mercial business, and is now resident of St. Paul, Miun., member of the
G. A. R.

IvOngfStreet, '^^m. L,. (6) First enlisted iu 8th Michigan Vol.
Infantry, August 18, 1861. Enlisted in Co. D, U. S. Engineer Bat-
talion October 25, 1S62, and was in the field during entire term of service
except a furlough during Winter of 1863. Re-enlisted Spring of 1864.
Made Corporal January 1, 1865, and acted as Sergeant to date of dis-
charge by reason of expiration of service in 1S67. Is engaged extensively
in the lumber business at date, and is a member of the G. A. R.

Moloney, Xlioilias. 171 Enlisted September 24. 186], in 8th
Michigan Volunteer Infantry. !\Iade Corporal December 28, 1S61. Took
part in the battles of Hilton Head, S. C, November 7, 1861, Coosaic
River, Siege of Fort Pulaski, M'ihnington Island, James Island, June
16, 1862, Second Bull Run, Cliantilly, South Mountain, and Antietam.
Enlisted in Co. I), October 24, 1862. Made Corporal September 2, 1864,
and Sergeant July i, 1865. Received discharge by vS. O. No. 501. War
Dept. A. G. O., September 19. 1865, at Willets' Point, N. V. Engaged
in building construction since tliat date. INIember of the G. A. R.

Sutherland, "W. F. (51 Endeavored to enlist in the ist and 5th

Maine \'olunteer Infantry in April, 1861, but being only 15 years old was
not accepted. By his parents' cofisent enlisted in Co. B, U. vS. Engineers,

October iS, 1.S61, at Portlaiui, Maine. Re-enlisted I'ebruary S, 1S64, at
Brandy Station, \'a. !\Iade Corporal, sprinjf of 1S65. and Serj^eant No-
vember ;,, 1865. Rec-on)inended for a connuission iu the I'. S. Infantry,
but no vacancy occnrrinfj was dischart^ed at exj)iration of service, I'el)rn-
ary 8, 1S67, at Wiilets' Point, X. V. En^jaged in commercial pursnits
since. Was on the slalTof vS. S. Uiirdelte, Commander in Chief, (i. A. R.

TllOIlipsoiI, Cwilbert. \:-,i Enlisted in Co. A, W S. 'rojjograph-
ical luii^ineerN al Ikislon, I\Iass., November 22, 1S61. Transferred to Co.
n, r. S. Engineers, January, 1.S62, and to Co. D, Juh- 4, 1862. !\Iade
Corporal December 17, i8h2. Discharged at close of service at front of
Petersburg, Va. Having been previously engaged u])on topogra])hical
duty at General Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, remained there on
same duty as assistant engineer to of active operations and as a
civilian on topographical <huy, was several times under fire. Engaged
afterwards on various surveys under direction of Gen'l N. Michler, Corps
of Engineers. June, 1S72, became topographer in Office Explorations
West of the looth Meridian, under direction of Capt. Geo. M. Wheeler,
Corps of Engineers. IMay 1, 1880, became topogi^apher in the office of
the r. S. Geological Survey, Clarence King, Director, and became Geo-
grapher, July I, 1S83. Is a member of the G. A. R.

"Vog"l» Kred. (2) Enlisted in Co. C, Boston, Mass., January S, 1862,
transferred to Co. D, Ju>y 4, 1S62. Was in the field throughout his term
of service. Discharged at expiration of service at Camp Woodbury, front
of Petersburg, Va. Afterwards engaged in commercial pursuits, then
studied medicine and is now a practi.siug physician. Has been G. A. R.
Post Commander, and Assistant Inspector, Dept. of Kansas.

Ivxtracts from the many letters received can only be given, among
which are the following :

Bkic.vdikr Gknl J. C. Di AXK, Chief of Eiigitierrs, ( '. S. A : " Be
assured that I shall always recur with pride and pleasure to the ])eriod of
our association, and hold it in happy remembrance."

Colonel G. H. Mknoeij., Corps of Engineers, I'. S. .1 : " I liave
always remembered the men of the Battalion and their services with the
greatest appreciation which will increase as years pass by. There was no
more intelligent or faithful body of troops in the army. They were
always ready for the duty which awaited them, and performed it with

Note. — Only the engagements are given in the military record of the comrades, in
which they took part, when in other troops. Some of those who afterwards
.served in the Hattalion were on the Slar of Ihr /fV^y, Charleston Harbor, S. C, Jan-
uary 10. 1S61. The ten comrades present took part in forty different battles.


cheerfulness and intelligence. In point of discipline few organizations
equalled them, if indeed there was any, and certainly none excelled them.
■•'■ ■'■ ■•■' Be good enough to express to them my friendly feelings
and my wishes for their hajipiness and prosperity in whatever callings
they mav now be pursuing. 1 trust they may all live many years
and have the pleasure of fighting their battles over again, not only with
their comrades, but with their grand children on their knees in serene
old age."

LiivUT. Coi.ONKi, (tEO. L. CiLLESi'lK, Corps of /:';/<,' /;/<^v7-\. / '. .V. , /. .•
" I sincerely trust that the good soldiers have proven no less
good citizens, and that prosperity has vi.sited you all. These meetings
encourage loyalty and fidelity in the succeeding generations, and also
empha.size the fact that those who meet the enemy face to face in actual
conflict now demand that the war shall be recognized as a righteous one,
and that the results shall ever be to the honor and glory of those who
brought them al)Out. '■■' ""' "

Brigadier (tExerai, R.\nai,i> vS. Mackenzie, / '. .V. ,/., although
too ill to write himself desired, to be rememl)ered. It was the pleasure
of the Secretary in 1882 to meet him while in command of the Cavalry at
Fort Wingate, New Mexico, and he recalled with vivid recollection, the
time when he was an officer of the Battalion, and related many incidents
of that time with great pleasure, giving the names of the oftlcers and
soldiers as though it was but yesterday, and a stirring career had not

IMajok W. H. H. Benvauri), Corps of Engineers, I'. S. ./., desired
to be remembered, and since that date has furnished the vSecretary with
information concerning the Battle of the Wilderness, May 6, 1864, and
many will recall his coming down the line of the companies at the time
of the "break of the .Sixth Corps," and bringing them back between the
front of the I'ifth Corps (now faced to the rear) and the enemy, liable
to l^e fired upon by one or captured h\ the other.

Lieut. Col. J. W. Barlow, Corps of /-'.iigiiu-rrs, I '. S. . I., very kindly
referred to the "old Battalion."

COMR.\i)E M. Hackett, the first in every way First .Sergeant of Co. B,
" present my thanks and congratulations to all the ' old boys " who were
once ])roud to wear the castle. '■'■ Am active at 65 years, happy and

contented on the retired list."

J. H. PrTM.\x, M. D., "Serg't Put. of I). Co. fi)rever." " I would enjoy
meeting you and taking each b\' the hand, and look once more into those
eyes that once witnessed scenes never to be forgotten, I shall be with

vou in thought, ami expect my ears will tingle at times at some of the
reminiscences of the ])ast. * •■ "

M. H. IJUTUER, I'irst Serg't C. Co., 1863-4. " I am glad that some one
has arranged for a reunion of the men of the old Battalion, and your let-
ter awakens old memories too dear to be forgotten, and yet so full of
sorrow that I scarce know how to express my thoughts — as though the
great panorama of the past were suddenly unrolled. -Slay yon have a
happy reunion and ])eaceful and pros])erous careers to green old age."

C.M'T. Rob'T AviCK.s, tlif I'irst Orderly Sergeant of D Co., regrets that
he cannot be present, and staling that he yet feels the effects of ser-
vice at Fort Pickens, April, 1S61, writes: " Fort Pickens ! Ah! what
memories the name brings up ! .As I pass in long retrospective review tlu-
men, the scenes and the labors of those days I find no better, or more
earnest country-loving men than the officers and soldiers of the Fn-
gineers ; and some were left there on theglacis, and man}' were just able to
be carried away. Twice since then have I visited the spot. In 1864 I
walked there from Macon, C,a., — I learned to walk in the Engineers — I
learned there sapping and mining also, and mined out of Macon prison
and took this 560 mile marc^i and all by night — as an Engineer in peace
and war learns also to march well at night ! In 1884, as a tourist, with my
wife, I revisited Pickens, and probably for the last time. ■•' I remem-

ber well our line of battle across the road in White Oak Swamp, {.Malz'cr?!
J /ill battle, July i, 1862, G. T.,) the determined look of those splendid
men as willing to fight and die on any occasion as any troops that ever
trod. * "" When I went to the 19th U. S. Infantry — having received a
commission — I had some misgivings as to my capabilities as an officer in
such a sturdy fighting regiment, but I was given a company on the field,
{CJiickaDiauga battle, G. T.) wasa veteran in an hovir and Adjutant in a
month ; and because I had learned my duties correctly and ivell in the
Fngineers. '■' Come to my town on' your way home, — house with a

flag-staff on the lawn, Ayres in command of the garrison, and will fur-
nish you quarters and rations without formal recjuisition, and now once
more " God bless you ! "

Bknj. C. Sparrow. Co. C, 1S61-1864, now vSupt., Life .Saving Station,
Fast Orleans, Mass., wrote as follows : — •■' * " It is true that we are
growing older daily ; and as we reach the time, where the glance is to-
wards the past rather than to the future, there is for the boys of ('61 ) no
])oint to which memory reverts more quickly than the ilays when banded
together we — through thick and thin — bridged the water-courses and
made firm the miry places which interposed between the sturdy old Army
of the Potomac and the object of its march. Tedious as were those years
and terrible as were those battle-days, I have yet to meet the comrade

Avlio has ever regretted, that he bore his part in the grandest trial to
which free institutions ever have been or can be subjected. * ■ I hope
that all of yon though removed fram the "tented field," have not been
unmindful of military honors anfi* with promotion always in view you
have been for many years " l"iela-Marshals of Infantry," so that should
danger to the republic impend and the President of the United vStates.
but stamp his foot, sufficient "Sons of veterans" would fly to arms to
fill the ranks of the Battalion to its maximum strength, who imbued with
the spiiit of their father's youth would assure the veterans of silvery locks
and shining poll the reputation of the engineers wovdd suffer no depletion
b\' the transformation. As for myself, in case of a call for active service,
I should view the situation with extreme complacency, as too old to ' get
in the draft ' myself, and with my boys all .girls, I would not have to even
feel in my pockets for commutation money, but my hand has to go there
all the same, as my eldest is taller than the "girl I left behind me ' in "61,
and the youngest is so near the same elevation that I am constantly re-
minded of what an old fellow I am getting to be. '■■ Comrades ! It
is not necessary for me to tell you that our patriotic duties were not all
done when the wars were over. •■ .\s we stood for law and order in
the old Battalion, so do we stand now. Our associations and all others
banded together in fraternitv, charitv and lovaltv fullv attest that fact.
* * When the last of us shall have answered the final roll call the mem-
bership must be filled with our descendants, pledged to follow our ex-
ample by stepping to the front when the occasion shall come."

There were other letters and none so short as to fail to start either a
smile or a tear, but space forbids further extracts.

It would be an impo.ssibility to record or describe the warm
and hearty greetings on this occasion, niinuled with surprise at
the changes wrought in each ones appearance in over twenty-
two years. " Boys " had become comparatively venerable, while
those who were matured in 18(31 not much change was apparent,
but the '' old bi'lts " when brought out were found l:ir and lai'
away from the "last hole/' and it was gravely suggested that
"eight days rations" had been drawn and immediately eaten to
give more room for ammunition in the knapsacks. How old
stories were re -told and received a little of the inevitable finish
and addition, which in time will render them perfect. With
the record and inquir_v of the living was mingled the memories


ofthe past aiul ol'tlic dead, of "Uravc old Captain Cross," and
t>thors, and by the sort i)i" freo-niasonry whieli exists between
" old regulars," the tent was s^aon the point of attraetion for
many of tlieni, and tales were told of Mexico as well as of ISdl.
(^uite a number of Volunteer Kngineers also found there con-
ii'enial company. Xo one was more welcomed than tin' vener-
able lather of f'irst Serot. J. H. Putnam, who althouiih 77
years of age, and during inclement weatlK^r, honored us with a
visit. Several regular re-union meetings were held, and time
seemed far to short to tell all over again.

In spite of the rain and disagreeable condition of the streets,
the " detachment," turned out on the ever-to-be-remembered
parade, and including other "regulars," about twenty-five men
ibllowed the " old castle Hag "" throughout the entire march and
attracted deserved attention.

At the last meeting an informal organization was made by
electing comrade Vved. Vogl, President, and comrade Gilbert
Thompson as Secretary and Historian. Membership to consist
of those who had ever served in the U. S. Engineer troops ;
there to be no dues, whatever expenses there might be incurred
to be liquidated by voluntary contributions, the indication by
letter or otherwise of a wish to be considered as a member be-
ing the only formality. The place of reunion to be the same
date and place of the National Encampment of the (trand Army
of the Republic.

The thanks of the comrades jn-esent was extended to the
officers of the Department of Kansas, G. A. M. for their kind-
ness and courtesy, and in jierson to [.ieut. Col. Suter antl
Lieut. Bingham, when the re-union of 18.S7 was at an end.

All of which is respectfully submitted,


Approved: Scn'd((i'i/ (did lfi'^f'>i'i<'ii.

Fred. Vogl,


XoTK. — Ii wiis expected that this ripoit would liave been printed hv Comrade Kviiiis.
but a severe iUiiess lias imich ai^aiiisl his will forced him to reliiu|uish what would
hiive been a pleasure to him and to all. Those desiring co])ies of the photo can procure
them by enclosin<jf fifty cents to 1'. \\i.i,'l. M. I)., Junction Citv. K.ansas.


Principal Events in the History


Company A, "sappers and iniuers," was organized by Act of Congress,

May i6, 1846. Tlife discussion of this measure began as early as 1S42.

Recruiting began May 2S, and one of the first was Joseph A.

1846. Mower, who afterwards attained the rank of Major-General of
\'ohinteers, and was Colonel in the U. S. Infantry at the time of

his death in 1870. The company was officially organized by order from
U. S. Engineer Department placing Capt. A. J. Swift in command, and
also 2d Lieut. G. \V. Smith and Bvt. 2d Lieut. Geo. B. McClellan. (All
the officers in command of V. S. Engineer Troops are necessarily of the
Corps of Engineers. )

On September 26, the company sailed for the Campaign in Mexico and
landed at Brazos vSautiago, Texas, on October 12, and was attached to
the command under Gen'l Zachery Taylor.

February 24, was transferred to the army under command of Cxen'l

Winfield Scott, and tdok part in the S/fi^r of I era Cruz, and battle of

Cciro Gordo. (Names in italics indicate that the troops were

1847. mider fire. ) At Conhras, C/icnibiisco, Molino del Rev, Chapul-
tepec. City of Mexico was part of the storming party.

1848. June 6, ordered by Capt. R. E. Lee to proceed to its Headquarters
at West Point, X. Y. , via New Orleans, La.

1853. A detachment under command of Lieut. A. J. DouaULson, accom-

jKinied Pacific R. R. Expedition in Oregon.
The company, Capt. J. C. Duane in command arrived at Fort Bridger,
Utah. August I, after remaining there eight days returned to West

Point, N. v., on October 13, and during this trip marched iioo
1858. miles in 56 days. In September a detachment, Lieut. I). C. Hous-

tan in commiuid, left for Vancouver Island, W. T.


1858 'I'hifi ilelaohiiuut acroiiipaiiieil an i-xpeililioii to C'.reat Salt Lake,
to ami rclurncd to the Dalk-s in tlie fall of JS.Sy, fortified San Juaii
I860. Island, ri.-turnedto the Cascades in January, iS6o, and in tlie sprinj;
of iS6i arrived at Washiniiton, I ). C.

The company, Capt. Duaiie in command, arrived at Washington, 1). C,


Online LibraryGilbert] [ThompsonReport of the reunion of the veterans of the U. S. Engineer battalion, at St. Louis, Mo., September 26-29, 1887 → online text (page 1 of 2)