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History of the Twelfth Regiment, Rhode Island Volunteers, in the Civil War, 1862-1863 online

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COLONEL TWELFTH REGIMENT R. I. VOLUNTEERS.



Tj YxodU^ /iMnaf

" HISTORY v?



OF



The Twelfth Regiment



Rhode Island Volunteers



IN



TH E CIVIL WAR



1862-1863



PREPARED BY A COMMITTEE OF THE SURVIVORS,
IN 1901-4







, 5

&

TL-55



SNOW & FARNHAM, PRINTERS AND PUBLISHERS
Providence, R. I.



The Committee appointed to pro pare this ttis to ry con
sisted of the following named members of the Regiment,



PARDON E. TILLINGHAST,
JAMES SHAW,
C. HENRY ALEXANDER,
GEORGE A. SPINK,
OSCAE LAPHAM,
MUNSON H. NAJAC,
DANIEL R. BALLOU,
LUTHER COLE,
ARNOLD F. SALISBURY,
EDWIN H. TILLEY,
THEODORE A. MANCHESTER,
JOSEPH W. GRANT,
WALTER A. SCOTT,
FRANCISCO M. BALLOU.

The Committee organized by the election of Pardon E .
Tillinghast, Chairman, and Munson H. Najac, Secretary.



M203692



H.Y. Slats



COMPILER S PREFACE



ALTHOUGH forty years have elapsed since the TWELFTH
REGIMENT RHODE ISLAND VOLUNTEERS was mustered out
of the military service of the United States, no permanent
history of the part which it took in the Civil War has yet
been written. Many, if not most, of the other regiments
and military organizations which went forth from this
State have put into enduring form a record of their deeds
and experiences while in the service of their country. And
a goodly number of the survivors of the Twelfth Regiment
now feel that they owe it to the memory of the many who
have departed this life, as well as to the honor of the few
who still remain, to do likewise.

Animated by this feeling, a committee was appointed, at
the annual reunion of the surviving members of the regi
ment held in August, 1901, to prepare and publish a his
tory of the regiment, and that committee hereinafter pre
sents the result of its labors.

It is true that the brief term of service of the Twelfth,
by comparison with the longer terms of several Rhode
Island regiments, may seem small, yet the service it ren
dered during its ten months in the field was high up in the
scale of active duty and efficiency with that of the veteran



VI PREFACE

regiments to which it was attached. That it performed its
service with the same degree of patience, courage, self-
sacrifice, and patriotism which signally characterized that
of the other Rhode Island regiments, will not be questioned
by the impartial critic.

The Twelfth was a nine-months regiment, but it re
mained in the service for fully ten months.

The Hon. William Sprague was governor of our State
when the regiment was formed, and by his superior execu
tive ability and ardent patriotism he caused to be brought
together and duly officered and equipped a thousand or
more men, who, like the other military organizations from
this State, which he had been so instrumental in placing
on a war footing, rendered valiant service in upholding and
defending the honor and integrity of the nation.

He appointed Hon. George H. Browne, of Glocester, who
at the time was a member of Congress from this State, to
the office of colonel of the regiment ; and a more upright,
conscientious, broad-minded and patriotic leader it would
have been very difficult to find. It is true he was not
versed in military science, but he was possessed of those
qualities of mind and heart which made him a most popu
lar and acceptable commander. And, with the efficient aid
of Lieut.-Col. James Shaw, Jr., who was an officer of very
superior skill and knowledge in military tactics and affairs,
the regiment had all of the advantages necessary to a suc
cessful career.

The praise which was bestowed upon the regiment in the
formal and official orders which appear in the following
history, from commanders occupying high positions, show



PEE FACE Vll

the character and standing attributed to it by those who
were best competent to judge.

Although the services which fell to the lot of the regi
ment to perform were especially trying and exacting to
new beginners, yet they cheerfully and manfully accepted
the situation and, by strict obedience to orders and the
faithful discharge of whatever duty was imposed upon
them, showed that they were of the stuff of which good
soldiers are made. This fact is well illustrated in many of
the trying vicissitudes related in the following history, but
perhaps in no one of them more signally than in the
famous march of the regiment from Nicholasville to James
town, Kentucky, a distance of fully one hundred miles,
which it made in six days under a broiling sun and over
dusty roads. And when the arms were stacked and the
roll was called, at the end of that never-to-be-forgotten
journey, every man was found to be at his post.

Probably few regiments covered more miles on foot,
during the same length of time, than did the Twelfth.
Notably, during the spring and summer of 1863, although
footsore and sweltering under a tropical sun, the regiment,
scarcely without rest, was chasing the ubiquitous guerilla
Morgan up and down the State of Kentucky to head off
his threatened raids across the Ohio. Indeed, so constantly
was it on the march, from one point to another, that it
came to be familiarly known as " The Trotting Twelfth."

The history which the committee has prepared is a com
posite one. Each contributor has in his own way related
the experiences, and characterized the services rendered by
the regiment from his own standpoint, and has added



Viii PREFACE

thereto such personal incidents and reminiscences as
seemed to him pertinent and proper in connection there
with. That there will be more or less repetition in a his
tory thus made up is evident. But while this must be so,
it does not necessarily follow that the narrative as given
by each will not be both interesting and useful , for while
it may be similar in a general way, yet each one, having
witnessed the transaction from a different standpoint, is
able to add variety and interest thereto.

Part First of the work has been prepared by Private
Joseph W. Grant, of Company F, who kept a daily record
of the doings of the regiment while it was in the service,
and who was therefore specially qualified for the task
which the committee assigned to him. I feel sure that the
diligence and care with which he has performed his task
will be highly appreciated by all of his comrades, and also
that the product of his assiduous labors will be both inter
esting and useful to the general reader. Comrade Grant
has strongly fortified the positions taken by him relating
to the part which the regiment took in the battle of Fred-
ericksburg by adding numerous general orders of com
manders high in authority relating to that terrible battle.

Part Second is a narrative of the regiment from Jan. 8,
1863, to July 17, 1863, carefully compiled by Lieut. Daniel
R. Ballou from letters of Lieut.-Col. James Shaw, Jr., writ
ten to his wife during the time that he was with the regi
ment. This compilation gives a very full and accurate
account of the doings and experiences of the regiment
from the time when Lieutenant-Colonel Shaw joined it
until it was mustered out of the service.



PREFACE IX

Part Third consists of a paper which is a digest of a series
of army letters written by Rev. Charles M. Winchester,
lieutenant in Company B, to the Providence Press, under
the nom-de-plume of " Minnick." It is full of interesting
incidents and experiences, and is written in a style which
is characteristic of the genius, raciness, and good taste of
the author, who was highly beloved and respected by all
his comrades.

Part Third also contains interesting personal reminis
cences by Theodore A. Manchester, of Company B,
and a contribution from Theodore F. Dexter, of Com
pany F, which latter contribution contains, amongst other
things, an account of his thrilling and never-to-be-forgotten
experience, while in the Quartermaster s Department, in
a lively brush with a detachment of Morgan s forces at
Green River, Kentucky, also contributions from. Comrades
Edward F. Gurry and Walter A. Scott, of Company F.

Part Fourth contains papers relating to the regiment,
prepared and read on various occasions since the war by
members of the regiment, and now brought together and
published in permanent form. Amongst these papers will
be found full and graphic accounts by Capt. Oscar Lap-
harn and Lieut. Daniel R. Ballou of the part which the
regiment took in the bloody strife at Fredericksburg in
December, 1862.

Comrade Erastus Richardson, quartermaster s clerk, who
was the poet of the regiment, and who, since the war, has
treated his surviving comrades to a number of racy and
beautiful specimens of his production, has kindly permitted
us to publish some of them in our History.



X PREFACE

Part Fifth contains personal sketches of Col. George H.
Browne, Lieut.-Col. James Shaw, Jr., Maj. Cyrus G. Dyer,
Surgeon Benoni Carpenter, and Chaplain Samuel W. Field.

Part Sixth contains the roster of the regiment, to
gether with a concise index, and a list of organizations that
are mentioned in the work.

P. E. T.



\



\




LIKUT.-COL. JAMES SPIAW, JR.



CONTENTS



PART FIRST

REMINISCENCES AND OFFICIAL ORDERS. Compiled by

Joseph W. Grant g

PART SECOND

A NARRATIVE OF THE TWELFTH RHODE ISLAND VOLUNTEER
INFANTRY IN THE CIVIL WAR FROM JANUARY 8, 1863,
TO JULY 17, 1863, Compiled by Col. Daniel R. Ballou
from Letters of Gen. James Shaw, Jr. ... 135

REMINISCENCES OF THE TWELFTH RHODE ISLAND VOLUNTEER
INFANTRY FROM ITS ORGANIZATION TO THE RECROSSING
OF THE RAPPAHANNOCK AFTER THE BATTLE OF FRED-
ERICKSBURG. By Col. Daniel R. Ballou . . . 163

REMINISCENCES OF THE TWELFTH RHODE ISLAND VOLUN
TEERS FROM FALMOUTH TO KENTUCKY. By Col.
Daniel R. Ballou 180

PART THIRD

MEMORIES AND MEMORANDA OF THE TAVELFTH RHODE ISLAND
REGIMENT IN GENERAL AND COMPANY B IN PARTICU
LAR. By the Rev. Charles M. Winchester, formerly
Second Lieutenant of Company B . . 197

PERSONAL REMINISCENCES. By Theodore A. Manchester 214
REMINISCENCES. By Edward F. Gurry .... 223
A PERSONAL REMINISCENCE. By Theodore F. Dexter . 225
REMINISCENCES. By Walter A. Scott .... 231



xii CONTENTS

PART FOURTH

REMINISCENCES OF SERVICE WITH THE TWELFTH RHODE

ISLAND VOLUNTEERS. By Pardon E. Tillinghast . 237

RECOLLECTIONS OF SERVICE IN THE TWELFTH REGIMENT

RHODE ISLAND VOLUNTEERS. By Capt. Oscar Lapham 261

VERSES READ AT THE ANNUAL REUNION OF THE TWELFTH
RHODE ISLAND VOLUNTEERS AT ROCKY POINT, AUG. 7,
1894. By Erastus Richardson 279

THE LAMENTATIONS OF THE CHAPLAIN OF THE TWELFTH
RHODE ISLAND VOLUNTEERS. RECITED AT THE ANNUAL
REUNION AUG. 3, 1897. By Erastus Richardson . 283

FACE TO FACE WITH TIME. VERSES READ AT THE TWENTIETH
REUNION OF THE TWELFTH RHODE ISLAND VOLUNTEERS
AT CRESCENT PARK, AUG. 4, 1903. By Erastus Rich
ardson 291

PART FIFTH

PERSONAL SKETCHES:

Col. George Huntington Browne .... 303

Lieut.-Col. James Shaw, Jr. 304

Major Cyrus G. Dyer . . . . . . .306

Surgeon Benoni Carpenter . ... 307

Chaplain Samuel Wheeler Field . . . . 308

PART SIXTH

ROSTER OF THE TWELFTH REGIMENT RHODE ISLAND VOLUN
TEERS . . 311

INDEX 389



ILLUSTRATIONS



Col. George H. Browne Frontispiece

Lieut-Col. James Shaw, Jr. . . . Opposite page xi of Preface
Major Cyrus G. Dyer ... . Opposite page 15

Surgeon Benoni Carpenter . . . . . " 25
Chaplain Samuel W. Field ....."" 43

Lieut. John L. Clarke (Quartermaster) 47

Capt. James M. Longstreet c; " 53

Lieut. Albert W. Delanah 57

Lieut. Luther Cole, Jr. . . . . . . " 61

Capt. Edward S. Cheney " " 69

Lieut. John S. Roberts " " 73

Lieut. Joseph C. Whiting, Jr. 77

Capt. George A. Spink " " 83

Lieut. Munson H. Najac " " 91

Capt. William E. Hubbard 97

From a recent picture " "313

Lieut. Francisco M. Ballou "103

From a recent picture " "317

Capt. James H. Allen . . . . . . "107

Lieut. George Bucklin . . , . . . "111

Capt. John P. Abbott . . . . . "113

Lieut. George F. Bicknell . . . . " " 117

Lieut. Henry M. Tillinghast " "125

Capt. Oliver H. Perry "131

Lieut. Arnold F. Salisbury " " 139

Capt. C. Henry Alexander " "149

Lieut. Daniel R. Ballou " "163

Lieut. Fenner H. Peckham, Jr " 187

Lieut. Charles M. Winchester " "197

Theodore A. Manchester " " 215



xiv ILLUSTKATIONS

Edward F. Gurry Opposite page 223

Theodore F. Dexter . v "225

Walter A. Scott " " 281

Quartermaster Sergt. Pardon E. Tillinghast " " 237

Capt. Oscar Lapham " " 261

Erastus Richardson " "279

Joseph W. Grant, in uniform as captain of Rhode

Island State Militia " " 291

From a recent picture MM 3

Edwin H. Tilley " " 347



Camp Stevens, Providence, R. I. . . Opposite page 7

Map of Battlefield of Fredericksburg " " 21

Crossing the River in Pontoons ...."" 29
Location of Upper Pontoon Bridges nearly opposite

Lacy House " " 33

Water Street, looking north, our position on morn
ing of Dec. 13, 1862 37

Steamboat Landing, foot of Water Street (Wash
ington farm in the distance) . . . . " "173
Stevens House, 1902, better known as "Cobb
House," on Sunken Road, foot of Marye s
Hill, near Cobb s Monument . . . . " "181
Sunken Road, Marye s House on Hill " " 205

Strutton House, better known as the Brick House . " " 249
Sunken Road, north of Stevens House " " 269

Brompton, better known as Marye s House, General

Longstreet s Headquarters ...."" 273
Battle Flag of the Twelfth Rhode Island Volunteers " " 389



PART FIRST




JOSEPH W. GRANT.

(From a recent picture.)



REMINISCENCES AND OFFICIAL ORDERS



COMPILED BY

JOSEPH W. GRANT



. . . On what condition stands it, and wherein ?

Even in condition of the worst degree,

In gross rebellion, and detested treason. ..."

KING RICHARD II.



"WITH the election of Abraham Lincoln as President Nov. 7,
I860, the rebellion of the Southern States may be said to have
begun as the work of organizing the Confederacy assumed defi
nite shape from that date. . . .

"Jefferson Davis was inaugurated President of the Confed
erate States of America Feb. 18, 1861, and three days later Gen
eral Twiggs of the United States army surrendered 6,000 men
and 11,200,000 worth of property to the State of Texas. . . .

"The day after the surrender of Fort Sumter April 15th,
President Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 men
to volunteer for three months. . . . On April 16th, the day
after the President s proclamation, Governor Sprague issued an
order for the organization of the First Regiment of Infantry.

"This was accomplished so promptly that on April 20th the
first detachment left Providence under command of Col. Ambrose
E. Burnside, and the second on April 24th, under command of
Lieut.-Col. Joseph S. Pitman. . . . Call after call for troops
followed in rapid succession and drafts were ordered in most if
not all of the loyal states.



i . .\KI^ORV .OP* irilE TWELFTH REGIMENT



"The clen^nd , fQf Wiejn by the government was continuous and
imperative. V ." . " r>

In the\bbp ; ^ e&tfi(5- by Edwin W. Stone, in 1864, entitled Rhode
Island in : t}ie Rei)(3lU6ti, ifte situation which prevailed at the time
of the call for nine months volunteers, is described by a member
of the Eleventh Regiment (see page 345) as follows: "Various
causes combined to promote enlistments for the nine months
regiments in the fall of 1862. The disastrous issue of McClel-
lan s Campaign on the Peninsula had impressed on every loyal
mind the need of new sacrifices and of more strenuous efforts.
Still, under the delusion that the failures of the Army of the
Potomac were caused by inadequacy of force, the North believed
that overwhelming numbers of troops must be at once mustered
to prevent yet more fatal calamities. The timid gladly offered
exhortations and money in order to hasten volunteering which
was to avoid the necessity of a draft. The short term of service
attracted many, whom duties at home . . . forbade to enter
for the longer period, on the duties of the soldier. . . ."

The influence of the press and the pulpit all over the North
also contributed largely towards the immediate enrollment of
thousands in answer to the urgent call for more men. The
rapidity with which men came forward for enlistment in Rhode
Island resulted in the formation of two full regiments of one
thousand men each, in a remarkably short period of time.

The Eleventh Rhode Island Infantry commencing to recruit
early in September, left the State for the front on October 6th.
The Twelfth commenced its recruiting a little later in the month,
and, on the 13th of October, was mustered in, and left for the
front on the 21st.

In this regiment could be found men from all the varied walks
of life. The laborer from the fields of the country and the
streets of the city, the artist from his studio, the mechanic
from his shop, the collegian who had laid aside his books, the
farmer owning his broad acres, the lawyer from his clients, the
doctor from his patients, and the merchant and manufacturer
from their stores and their mills.



i From a history edited by Edward Field A. B., published in 1902, entitled
State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at the end of the century.
Vol. I, Chapter XXII, page 376.



RHODE ISLAND VOLIJ^EE^S 5

The intelligent boy much under the age required by strict in
terpretation of military rule, but well developed, was enabled to
find a rating and he was also present vdth us in the ranks, at
tired in the uniform of the soldier auo pledged :o support,
through weal or woe his country s cause.

The writer enlisting on the 16th day of September, on the
22d reported at Camp Stevens, Providence, R. I., for duty, and,
on the 13th day of October, as a member of Company F, Twelfth
Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers, was mustered into the ser
vice of the United States.

Has any of us forgotten his first lesson in camp life and mili
tary discipline as inaugurated at the "old Dexter Training
Ground?" With what interest we would fall into line and listen
for the orders: "Attention! Company!" "In Two Ranks!"
"Right Face!" "File Right!" "March!"

After the duties of the day were over with what enjoyment we
would listen to the jokes and comments concerning our situa
tion, present and prospective, relieved by an occasional song from
Sergeant Lindsey of Company F, or a grand old piece of sacred
melody as rendered by Comrade Kimball.

What a magnificent specimen of the "fine old Irish gentleman"
we always had before us for contemplation in the person of Com
rade Houlahan, and, as a light weight, what other member of the
regiment could compare in continuous resistance to real or
imaginary wrongs with Comrade Monaghan, the redoubtable
Cornelius.

Who of us will ever forget our rations of "pea soup" and a
certain beverage, generously supplied under the name of "cof
fee," a liquid of very peculiar odor and color, supposed at the
time, by some of the more curious who investigated, to have been
the medium wherein our supervisors, medical and surgical, en
deavored to eliminate from the system all things relating to civil
life, that we might the sooner become the full-fledged soldier.
And with what success we can all bear witness as we call to
mind the extraordinary developments resulting therefrom.
What subsequent manoeuvres could be compared with those pre
vailing at this time all along the line? Here upon Camp Stevens
who could fail to discern the unmistakable evidence of the ele
ment belligerent, and tactics "Killkenny," which, under the in-



6 IN -TORY O&-THE TWELFTH REGIMENT

fluence of jmlftaiiv. restraint and discipline, rapidly developed?
At first we could Hear the occasional low, subdued, suggestive
roar, increasing itTjyohime until later, at the camp near Fairfax
Semi nary,, -r-fuiry developed, the Lion s den became an estab
lished institution. How fresh in memory we call to mind our
honored colonel, as, booted and spurred, he assumed command
of the regiment at Camp Stevens. How vividly we call to mind
Sergeant Lindsey of Company F, with improvised sabre, giving
an illustration of Colonel Browne s impressive presence, and
unique and vigorous action.

It was generally understood that the volunteer was to receive
his bounty before leaving the State. The boys of the Eleventh
received theirs accordingly. But the promptness of the paymas
ter, though very satisfactory to the boys, proved to be not alto
gether satisfactory to the authorities, as a number of the men.
taking advantage of the opportunity afforded in transit to the
front, dropped out and disappeared. After this experience it
was resolved to postpone the payment of the bounty due the
Twelfth regiment until after their arrival at the front. This be
ing decided upon, it was so announced to the regiment while un
der review at Camp Stevens, by our colonel, together with the
information that Ave were to proceed at once and take trans
portation. By a large majority of the regiment this information
was received with enthusiasm and without question, and when
the order to "march" immediately following this announcement
was given, it was responded to promptly and with cheers, as
rapidly we moved to our point of embarkation. Quite a number
of disaffected ones, however, dropped out of the ranks to consider
more fully before leaving the State, this suspension of payment.

It was not at all surprising that some display of insubordina
tion, the cause of which came unexpectedly and without con
sideration, should thus have manifested itself. To many of our
comrades, turning from their homes for long, weary months,
perhaps forever leaving anxious and needy relatives, this sus
pension of payment proved a grievous disappointment. We
were powerless to assuage the grief of anxious, loving hearts, and
many of us were now equally unable to provide for those slighter
comforts which might have been imparted by the possession of
the promised bounty.



RHODE ISLAND VOLUNTEERS 7

By threatening the "bounty jumper," however, who was dis
covered and held up for inspection, and conciliating the honest
and well disposed, who were soon led to see the necessity of the
measure, the authorities rapidly gathered together this install
ment of delinquents who were forwarded in due time and
arrived to join us at Camp Chase.

As before stated, leaving somewhat reluctantly our com
rades to consider the change in the programme concerning boun
ties we arrived at our point of embarkation and between the
hours of six and seven p. M. on the 21st of October, the first con
tingent of the Twelfth Rhode Island Volunteers was safely
aboard the cars en route for the front. At 9.30 we arrived at
Groton, boarded the steamer Plymouth Rock, and, at eleven were
moving down the Sound. A heavy blow from the south pre
vailed throughout the night changing to the northeast at day
break, and at sunrise the sky was perfectly clear. We arrived
in Jersey City at eight A. M V and, embarking on the steamer
Kill Von Kull, at ten o clock steamed toward Elizabethport.

Passing Staten Island we received our first ovation. The
streets and grounds, also the tops of many of the buildings, were
thronged with people, all intent on their kindly greetings, wav
ing flags and handkerchiefs, and loudly cheering as we passed
along.

Responding to our country s call,
What inspiration we receive,
As strangers ceasing from their toil,
Give cheers and kindly words
To help us on.

While leaving friends and home behind

We journey on,

Who but can feel, within his breast,
That what betide, in comradeship,
He may be spared the fate,
That may await, in battle s crash,
And once more see his native hills,
Illumined by the gilded rays

Of lasting peace.

We arrived at Elizabethport about twelve M. and left at three
p. M. en route by rail for Baltimore by way of Harrisburg, halted
at Phillipsburgh and at Easton ; passed through Reading in the



8 HISTORY OF THE TWELFTH REGIMENT

night, and the next morning found ourselves close by Harris-
burg, and at sunrise on the morning of the 23d, entered the city.
We left the cars here, formed in the street for roll-call, and, im
mediately after returning to our places, continued our journey.

The road we found to be strictly guarded long before we came
to Baltimore, passing detachment after detachment on picket,
who cheered as we went past. We arrived in Baltimore just at
nightfall Thursday evening. Leaving the cars, the regiment
formed, and proceeded through the streets of the city to our
resting-place for the night. While on our way we halted at the
special rendezvous established for soldiers, unslung knapsacks,



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