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Record of the Rhode Island excursion to Gettysburg, October 11-16, 1886 (Volume 2) online

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authority, and where they could be found— or, rather, where they were re-buried. These
three facts my letter contains.

"You will understand why Col. W.'s remains were not packed in a separate box. I sent
a list of the names to the Association, so that by referring to the list they can ascertain in
which one of the 8 boxes any one of the remains, sought after, may be found, for the names
on the list correspond with the number on each box. Col. W.'s bones are in box No. 5, with
the bones of 8 other comrades, and among which are the bones of Lt.-Col. D. R. K. Winn,
4th Ga. (You mind he was buried at Blocker's, and it was his gold-plate teeth that I paid

$5 for through you. You expressed the teeth and receipt to me, and I expressed them

to Savannah.) I will be pleased to reply to any inquiry you mayjmake at any time. Hoping
that you may continue in good health,

"I am, with best wishes, R. B. W."

Dr. Weaver is at present Demonstrator of Anatomy in the Hahueman Medical School,
Philadelphia.



26 RHODE ISLAND EXCURSION TO GETTYSBURG.

liouses we passed were filled with them ; and it seemed as if
there was no end to them. More or less able-bodied stragglers
were picked up, and I recall the tone and manner of one of
them as I was giving orders how to guard a squad of a dozen
or fifteen that I had in charge. I spoke of them as " Gray-
backs," and he smilingly looked up and said : " Colonel, I
never heard us called by that name before." We followed
Lee down to Virginia, capturing some prisoners, skirmishing
heavily at Funkstown, where several of the regiment were
wotmdcd, and where we thought we were going to fight. The
Confederate army was allowed to cross to Virginia practically
unmolested, and the Gettysburg campaign ended.

The casualties in the* Second Rhode Island in the famous
battle fought here*, were utterly disproportioned to the services
rendered and the sufferings endured, as it had but one man
killed and five wounded. The smallness of the loss, however,
was largely due to the regiment's having been studiously
spread out while it was exposed to the furious cannonade of
July 3d, so that a bursting shell could hit but a single man,
whereas one of the other regiments of the brigade that marched
with closed ranks lost nearly five times as many as we. An-
other favoi-ing circumstance was that our brigade, like most
of the Sixth Corps, was in the reserve, and this at once con-
duced to our safety and afforded us superior opportunities to
observe what was transpiring around us ; but it was, neverthe-
less, a trying and onerous position, as reserves are called on
in emorgcncii'S, and are, therefore, of the flower of the army,
that can lie lelicd on at a pinch. Napoleon's Old Guard was
always in his reserve. It is an infinitely harder strain ujjon
the nerves of men to watch and wait, often enduring a fire
they arc forbidden to return, than it is to actually fight, for
the pent-up feelings find relief in the excitement of action.

This, Comrades, and Ladies and Gentlemen, constitutes the
record of the Second Rhode Island at the great battle fought
here, and it is to iterjietuate this record that the Gettysburg
IJutllefield Memorial Association has invited us to place a
memorial upon this field. In response to that invitation this



RHODE ISLAND EXCURSION TO GETTYSBURG. 27

bronze surmounted granite, bearing, besides its other orna-
mentation, the arms of the State and an appropriate inscrip-
tion, has been erected at the joint expense of the State of
Rhode Island and the Second Rhode Island Veteran Associa-
tion, and we confide it to your keeping, Mr. Secretary, as the
representative of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Associ-
ation, to guard with the other memorials of both opponents
on this historic field, that have been, and are to be, placed
here, and which for all time to come will attest the constancy
and the valor with which this people. North and South, con-
tended for their princii)les. But, while this memorial is in-
tended to commemoi^ate the honorable part we of the Second
Rliode Island bore in the most memorable struggle of the late
civil war, it is intended to represent nothing more. The din of
battle is over, the animosities of war have ceased, and Yank
and Reb., Unionist and Secesh, Federal and Confederate, have
laid aside both their arms and their bitterness, and having
fought their differences out like men, now greet each other as
fellow-countrymen, and point with pride to a common flag as
the aegis of our liberties.

ADDRESS BY HON. JOHN M. KRAUTH,

Secretary op the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association.

Veterans of Rhode Island, Ladies and Gentlemen : — It af-
fords me very great pleasure, as tlie representative of the
Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, to receive into
our care and custody this monument. This beautiful struc-
ture, as already stated, has been erected by a grateful State,
supplemented by the subscriptions of the survivors of the
regiment, to commemorate and perpetuate the gallant deeds
of the gallant men who here fought for the integrity of the
Union. I can assure you that it will give this Association and
its successors the greatest pleasure to see that no harm shall
come to these monuments, to so guard them that they shall
be preserved in their beauty to be handed down to the latest
generations, in order that they who come to this great field



28 nnoDK island excursion to getttsburo.

of battle may see what the citizens of your State and the citi-
zens of tiie noithern portion of the country sacrificed for this
country. Again we thank you and congratulate you on your
distinguished service, and renew our assurances that we shall
guard this memorial to perpetuate the services and gallantry
of the Second Rhode Island Volunteers.

BENEDICTION BY CHAPLAIN WEBB.

The Peace of God, which passeth all understauding, keep your
hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his
Son Jesus Christ, our Lord ; and the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you and
remain with you always. Amen.

The party then proceeded by train to Hancock Station,
whence a few minutes' walk brought it to the memorials of
Batteries A and B, where the following dedicatory services
were had, beginning at the memorial of Battery A.

INVOCATION BY CHAPLAIN WEBB.

Most Mighty and Merciful Father, we come before thee in an
liumlde sense of our own unworthiness, beseeching thee to assist
us in the solemn duties of the present hour. Be with us as thou
hast promised to be with those who make their petitions in thy
Son's name. Give us wisdom from on High that we may faith-
fully observe thy laws and do thy will. May we preserve ever-
more the remembrance of our departed comrades. May their
heroic deeds be held in grateful esteem by those who enjoy the
bl(!Haiiigs tliey helped to gain for our country. Let thy good
Spirit abide in our midst that so we may perform faithfully and
well the duties of this day. As we gather here in thy presence,
help us to realize the greatness of the work performed by those
whose bravery we commemorate. May the good example of our
fallen conuadcs be had in mind. May we wisely improve our
opportuuitii's and shew forth thy glory l)y upholding the principles
of equity, freedoui and patriotism. Have mercy upon our laud
and all who dwell therein. Keep them from all evil, prosper their
efforta to promote peace and happiuess on earth. Look iu mercy



RHODE ISLAND EXCURSION TO GETTYSBURG. 29

upon the distressed of this and other lands. Bless all in author-
ity over us, aud so rule their hearts and strengthen their hands
that they may punish wickedness and vice, and maintain thy true
religion and virtue. May we in our present life serve well the
great Captain of man's salvation, and in thine own good time be
received into the Church triumphant. All which we ask through
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

ADDRESS BY LIEUT. BENJAMIN H. CHILD,

Who Served as a Sergeant with Battery A, at the Battle op
Gettysburg, in which he was Wounded.

Mr. C/tairmnn, Comrades, and Ladies and Gentlemen :

Hardly had the first call for tliree months' men, in 1861,
been responded to, when the military authorities of Rhode
Island contemplated the organization of the Second Regiment
of Infantry and a second battery. Enrollments progressed
rapidly, and but a few days after not less than 400 men were
desirous of linking their fortunes with the battery. The arm-
ory on Benefit street in Providence, was the rendezvous of
men from sunrise till late at night eager to accjuire the knowl-
edge of military tactics, foot drill and manual of the piece.
Some men were so anxious as to come before daylight, and
would not leave in the evening until the armorer persuaded
them to. We expected to get mustered into three months'
service, but the Federal Government by issuing a call for
75,000 men for not less than three years, left no other alter-
native but to serve the said term. At last the day that was
to transform us from citizens to soldiers arrived, the required
number to man the battery being selected, out of 400, by Sur-
geon Wheaton. On the 5th day of June, 1881, at 5 o'clock
p. m., we were mustered into the service of the United States
for three years, unless sooner discharged. The 19th inst.
witnessed our departure for Washington, D. C. On July 9th
a sad accident occurred at section drill. Through some un-
known cause a limber-chest of Lieut. Vaughn's section, filled
with cartridges, exploded, while Gunner Morse and Privates



30 RHODE ISLAND EXCURSION TO GETTYSBURG.

Brown iind Freeman were mounted. Morse and Brown died
within an hour. Freeman was badly injured, i)ut recovei^ed
after a lingering sickness. Sunday, July 21st, we received
our first baptism liy fire at the battle of Manassas Plains, or
Bull Run. We advanced steadily from Centreville until ar-
riving at Bull Run and Sudley Churcli, where a halt was made
to rest our men and horses. At this moment the brave Rhode
Island Infantry, commanded by Col. Slocum, came upon the
enemy, who were concealed in the woods. Their situation
was getting critical ; the report of cannon and musketry fol-
lowed in rapid succession. Our battery, after passing Sudley
Church, commenced to trot in great haste to the place of com-
bat. At this moment Gen. McDowell rode up in a state of
great excitement, shouting to Capt. Reynolds : " Forward
with your light battery." This was entirely needless, as we
were going at high sjieed, for all were anxious to come to the
rescue of our Second Regiment. In quick time our guns were
unliiubered, with or without orders. No matter, it was
done, and nevei- did better music sound to the old Second
Regiment than the quick report of our guns, driving back the
enemy. For nearly forty minutes our battery and the Second
Regiment defended that ground before any other troops were
brought into action. The setting sun of that day found the
fragments of our army not only in full retreat, but in a com-
plete rout, leaving most of tlje artillery in the hands of the
enemy, oui" battery being the only six-gun battery taking all
its guns off of the battlefield, two guns being in a disabled
condition. Five of our guns were lost at the Cub Run bridge.
The following morning we arrived in Washington with one
gun and a six-horse team, all that was left of our battery.
We lost one man killed and several wounded and prisoners.
On the 13th of August, the State having organized a regi-
ment of light artillery, we were no longer called the Second
Buttery, but Battery A, First Rhode Island Light Artillery.
The battery was engaged in/iost of the battles in the Penin-
sulu campaign of 1802.

September 2, 18(i2, we were in the Second Corps at the



RHODE ISLAND EXCURSION TO GETTYSBURG. 31

second Bull Run. We left Fairfax Court House at 8 a. m., form-
ing in line of battle on Flint Hill. Not being attached, our line
of march was resumed. Soon a rebel battery opened on our i-car
directly from the town. Gen. Sumner, commanding the Sec-
ond Corps, ordered one section of our battery and the First
Minnesota Infantry, commanded by Col. Sulley, to take posi-
tion, planting the two guns of the right section on each side
of the road. About dusk the enemy appeared. We could
hear the unlimbering of the artillery. At that moment we
opened lively with shell and canister, while Col. Sulley threw
his regiment across the road and kept up a brisk musketry
fire on the advancing cavalry of the enemy. Being unable to
use their artillery, the rebels retreated. The First Minnesota
lost seven men killed. One of our limber chests was upset
and the pole broken, injuring one man and a horse. Col.
Sulley was anxious to fall back, and advised our captain to
lose no time, and, if necessary, to abandon the gun. Capt.
Tompkins replied he would carry the gun along or share its
fate. We all went to work tying the two guns and limbers
together, and they were carried safely away.

September 17th — Battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg.
Since 4 a. m. the battle has raged furiously. Gen. Hooker
gained some ground early in the morning, but was wounded
soon after the ball opened. Our battery was ordered to take
position close to Hooker's line. The battlefield wore a terrific
aspect at our arrival. Before reaching our designated position
we had to pass through the enemy's artillery fire for nearly a
mile. Two of our men were wounded before getting into
position. While marching through a corn-field we saw one
of our batteries entirely demolished, and hundreds of dead and
wounded, both the blue and the gray, lay everywhere around
us. Crossing the field we were heartily cheered by the famous
old Sedgwick's division, which was advancing on the enemy
like veterans. We took our position near a cemetery and in
front of a burning farm house — a place already fought for all
the morning, as could be seen by the dead and wounded strewn
around. We relieved a battery of Gen. Hooker's command,



32 HIlOUi: ISLAND EXCURSION TO GKTrYSBLRG.

anil were supported by two companies of the Twenty-eighth
Pennsylvania Infantry commanded by a sergeant. Here we
fought steadily against infantry and artillery for four hours
and a half. At one time our situation was very critical. The
enemy, after driving Gorman's brigade on our right, came
charging from that direction. We used double canister.
There was a time when half of the battery w^as compelled to
cease firing. The order " Limber to the rear " was given, but,
fortunately, not heard, as it would have resulted in the certain
capture of the battery. At this critical turn Capt. Tompkins
called on our infantry support to advance, which they did,
enal)ling us to load again. The enemy failing to take the
battery, retreated slowly, leaving a battle flag behind, which
by right should have been given to the battery, as it fell before
the infantry advanced. Our ammunition giving out, Capt.
'l\»mj)kins sent w^ord to be relieved. Our bugler, John Leach,
deserves due mention here for carrying notice through the
hottest fire, regardless of his personal safety, to bring rescue
to his comi'ades. Shortly afterwards, Battery G, Rhode Island,
came to relieve us. We left our position under a heavy fire
of the enemy's batteries, leaving our dead and wounded be-
hind. Battery G was driven from the position we had held
for four hours, when the ground was taken by the enemy.
(Jill- losses were : killed — Sergt. Reed, Privates Lawrence,
Boswarth and Stone, and 13 wounded, and 9 horses killed.
The foil wing morning Lieut. Jeffrey Hazard with eight men
tried to obtain the bodies of our killed, but was not success-
ful, as the enemy's sharpshooters fired at our approach. Later
ill the day tlic bodies were recovered in a mutilated state, and
l)uried in the evening in the presence of the battery.

December lolli — Battle of Fredericksburg, Va. Firing
commenced aljout 1 1 a. m. Capt. Tompkins, having been
promoted to major, left the battery, and after making a fare-
well speech to the boys, introduced our new commander, Capt.
Win. A. Arnold. Shortly after, the command "Forward!"
was given, and we took oui- position on the outskirts of the
town. Shot and shell were ploughing through the street al-



RHODE ISLAND EXCURSION TO GETTYSBUK(4. 33

ready. We took position on the road leading to St. Mary's
Heights, and we kept up a constant fire during the afternoon.
Owing to our position being protected by houses, our losses
were small. Private Hicks was shot throngh both feet, ren-
dering amputation of both members necessary. On June 14th,
1863, the Second Corps left its position in front of Fredericks-
burg, Va., for Gettysburg.

Let there be a lasting place in our memoi'y for those who
sleep forever on the blood-stained fields of Virginia, Maryland
and Pennsylvania — not forgetting comrades Lonnegan, Zini-
nila. Creamer and Higgins, who were killed on this very ground
and now rest in yonder cemetery.*

Comrades, until within the past few days, I had expected
our old commander, Capt. William A. Arnold, to be present
with us on this occasion. Instead of coming, however, he has
sent a communication giving an account of the battery's doings
on the eventful days of July 2d and 3d, 1863. wishing it to be
read at the dedication of the battery's memorial, and I will
accordingly read it.

CAPT. ARNOLD'S REMINISCENCES.

To the Surviving- Members of Battery A, First R. I. Light
Artillery, that meet on the historical field of Gettysburg-
to dedicate a monument erected on the ground occujtied
by the Battery on the 2d and 3d of July, 1S63.

I assumed command of Battery A on the 13th of December,
1862, in the streets of Fredericksburg, Va., the battery being in
the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac, and always remained
in that grand old corps. The company and myself were com-

* The bodies of the following named Rhode Island dead are buried in the National Ceme-
tery at Gettj'sburg, viz :



1 Charles Powers, Co. C, 2d R. I. Vols.

2 Patrick Lonnegan, Bat. A, 1st R.I.L.A.

3 John Higgius, " "

4 John Zimnila, " "

5 Corp.HenryH. Ballou, Bat. B, "

6 Alfred G. Gardner,

7 Corp. William Jones, " "



8 John Greene, Bat. B, 1st R.I.L.A.

9 David B. King, " "

10 Ira Bennett, " "

11 William Beard, • Bat. E, "

12 Francis II. Martin, "

13 Alvin Hilton, " "

14 Hrnest Simpson, " "



34 KHODK TSLANT) EXCURSION TO GKTTY6BURG.

parative strangers to each otlici-. Confidence was established
between ns in that battle, and as far as I know, that confidence
was never impaired. As is well known to you, Gen. Hooker suc-
ceeded Gen. Burnside in command of the Army of the Potomac.
Sliortly after Gen. Hooker took command he issued an order
for the inspection of the entire army. Batteries that passed
an Al inspection would be allowed one officer and five pri-
vates leave of absence at the same time. Battery A came
within the list, and it always maintained that high reputation.
The army left the front of Fredericksburg, Va., to find the
enemy. They were found at Gettysburg. The battle of the
first day of July took ])lace while we were at Taneytown, Md.
As is well known, Gen. Hancock was sent forward to Gettyg-
burg. Gen. Gibbon took temporary command of the corps.
We moved that night to within a few miles of the field. The
battery was assigned to the division of Gen. Alex. Hays, and
arrived upon the field with that division at daylight on the
morning of the 2d. It was supported by the First Delaware
and Fuui'teenth Indiana infantry regiments. Battery I, First U.
S. Artillery, commanded by Lieut. Woodruff , was on the right,
and Battery A, Fourth U. S. Artillery, commanded by Lieut.
Cusliing, was on the left. Both of those gallant young officers
were killed. The battery was on the ridge to the left of the
cemetery, and immediately in front of Gen. Meade's head-
(juarters, which were on the Taneytown road. It kept that
position during tlie two days and until the battle was over,
and tiien withdrew badly shattered, to make room for a fresh
battery, the ammunition being entirely exhausted. The
morning of the 2d was rather quiet; some artillery firing.
Aljoiit midway between the position of the battery and the
• ■ncniy was tiic Enimetsburg road, on both sides of which
were fences. 'J'hc rebel skii-mishers, under cover of the fences,
jiieked olV some of the men of the centre section, about dis-
aliliiig the right gun of that section. I asked to have our
skirmish line withdrawn. When done, several rounds of
canister were li red :it the fences. No further trouble was
experienced from that (piarter. There was more or less ar-



RHODE ISLAND EXCURSION TO GETTYSBURG. 35

tillery work during the day, we blowing up a caisson of the
enemy in our front. The advance of the Third Corps caused
the most desperate fighting. Battery A, from its position,
took its part. The morning of the third was quiet and omin-
ous. In the forenoon it was noticed that artillery shots came
from new places in the enemy's line, shots being fired to
get the range. The fact was, they expected to destroy our
batteries, preparatory to a charge of their infantry. This
was not accomplished. Suddenly, about 11.30 or 12 o'clock,
they opened from all their guns on the Second and Third Corps,
to which we all replied. This lasted about one hour, and
nothing was ever heard like it before, or in after battles. The
men of Battery A sprang to their guns and did their part in
a noble manner. During this time we lost most of our men
and horses. It was a terrible ordeal, but bravely borne. The
firing of the enemy suddenly ceased when we ceased firing,
and, as the smoke rose from the field, it was seen that the
enemy were advancing their infantry on a charge. Three
lines of infantry emerged from the woods. As they arrived
out on the open field it was a beautiful sight, and one ever to
be remembered. They came as if on parade, with the green
grass, their red battle flags flying, the sun shining on their
bayonets, the officers riding up and down behind the lines to
keep them closed up — a sight never to be forgotten. There was
not a sonnd until the fii-st line reached the Emmetsburg road,
when the guns on Round Top and from the Third Corps played
upon their right flank, and we all gave them a fire in front.
This flank fire caused them to crowd to the left, and the whole
force of the charge came upon the second corps. Their lines
did not look as pretty from the Emmetsburg road up. The
enemy met with a crushing defeat. Battery A was com-
pletely disabled by the loss of men and horses, and much
material destroyed, and taken from the field.

The faces of all men on that field were very notieealile with
an expression of determination on them to do or die right there.
They did do, and many died right there. The enemy met with
a repulse from which they never recovered.



36 RHODK ISLAM) EX( UKSION TO GETTYSBURG.

After all was ovor, the next day or two, I was directed to
take the material from Battery A, Fourth United States Ar-
tillery, the men and horses from Battery B, First Rhode Is-
land, to put the battery into moving condition. This was done,
and the battery performed its part afterwards. It was a fa-
vorite with such generals as Couch, Howard, Alex. Hayes,
Birney, Barlow, Gibbon, and Hancock, the magnificent com-
mander of the grand old Second Corps, to which we had the
honor to belong. We all remember Fredericksburg, Gettys-
burg, the Wilderness, Spottsylvauia, Cold Harbor. It is al-
most impossible to tell the number of engagements and battles
the battery was engaged in.

It was enlisted for three years, not during the war. The
term of enlistment expired at Cold Harbor, Va., on the 6th
of June, 1864. It was kept up to the extreme front until
almost the last hour of its enlistment. The battery — what
was left of it — was turned over to Lieutenant Dwight, and I
started for Providence with fifty-three men, all that remained
of 150 oi'igiually enlisted. During the time that I commanded
the battery, from December, 1862, to the muster out in 1864,
not one man died from disease. The men lost were killed in
battle, a record to be proud of. 1 often wonder how many of
the fifty-three men that came home with me, are alive to-day,
and how many have passed over the river to join their com-
rades that went before. We are all growing older, and in a
few years none will be left to tell the tale, but this monument
will last as long as granite will stand to perpetuate the mem-
ory of those who fought and died there to save their country


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Online LibraryHoratio RogersRecord of the Rhode Island excursion to Gettysburg, October 11-16, 1886 (Volume 2) → online text (page 3 of 6)