S. Millet Thompson.

Thirteenth regiment of New Hampshire volunteer infantry in the war of the rebellion, 1861-1865: a diary covering three years and a day online

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Online LibraryS. Millet ThompsonThirteenth regiment of New Hampshire volunteer infantry in the war of the rebellion, 1861-1865: a diary covering three years and a day → online text (page 2 of 81)
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raised all so speedily ; and not only this Regiment, but five others in
New Ham})shire all within the space of a few weeks. New Hampshire
exceeding her quota by over 1,300 volunteers. AU these six regiments,
with the Thirteenth, are composed of the best material which New Hamp-
shire can furnish. All are entitled to equal credit, but we cannot in-
clude in our sketch more than its special subject. As for the Thirteenth,
almost every man has received a common school education, and many
have advanced much farther. The Thirteenth comprises farmers, manu-



1862 CAMP COLBY. 5

facturers, mechanics o£ almost every trade and men o£ almost every call-
ing, bookkeepers, clerks, tradesmen, the substantial, intelligent, energetic
doers of the country's work, and well infoi'med in the country's needs
and resources. Its officers comprise lawyers, physicians, students of law,
medicine, mining and engineering ; and representatives of large wealth
and homes of luxury. The Thirteenth is emphatically a body of con-
genial comjjanions, its companies formed of fellow townsmen, school-
mates, playmates and lifelong friends, and of the entire Regiment there
are scarcely a score who cannot read and write. Insult a man of this
command, and you will equally insult almost every man in it ; offer a
worthy purpose, and the most will join in securing its best ends.

Such are our men and officers. Now let us see why such men fly to
arms. As for the bounties paid, they are generally regarded merely as
means to help cai-e for families and dependents in the absence of princi-
pals. Many a man of the Thirteenth gives up from two to five dollars for
every doUar which the service yields, counting bounties and all. This is
actual fact, and susceptible of proof. Some need the bounties ; to some
they are a mere bagatelle ; while the cravens, to be found everywhere,
are with us very few indeed. These men go in to win back a country.
They feel that there is a burglar in the house, and either proprietor or
burglar must remove. 300,000, 600,000, 1,000,000 men are now
wanted. The South is arming every man and boy, and the war is as-
suming stupendous proportions.

In April and May (the early part), affairs with our anny in Virginia
turned out badly ; before May was out the whole North was in extreme
excitement, almost a panic, on account of the dangers to Washington ;
England, and wavering France, appeared ready to recognize the Confed-
eracy in the event of any apparently decisive disaster to the Union
Army ; the air was overflowing with discouraging rumors ; the very par
triotism of some of our prominent generals was in doubt, and June gave
its terrible battles before Richmond, its seven days' retreat to Malvern
Hill, and rapid changes among the highest commanders in our army.
%hile the South moved steadily, determinedly, sternly on in its pur-
po^>e ; every loss it met but seemed to rouse it to more mighty efforts to
retrieve them all, with solid gains in addition. The heat of July only in-
creased the heat of the contest, in which the North seemed to make no sub-
stantial headway, while its confusion and doubt continued. August came
in with the South at the flood tide of confidence, now sure of sweeping
away the Northern army like chaff ; while the repeated calls in the North
for more troops, and in almost countless numbers, threw more and more
of burden upon our people and shook the confidence of many. August
went out in blood, disaster and retreat ; another Bull Run. Alarm for
the Capital spread anew, and the calls for lint, bandages, nurses and
medical help, covipled with the vast lists of the dead and wounded, sent
a shiver of horror throughout the whole North. September found the
South magnificently victorious, and our army in Virginia terribly shat-



6 THIRTEENTH NEW HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT. 1862

tered, ending, in short, with the drawn hattle of awful Antietam, " The
bloodiest day America ever saw." And the far away successes in the
Southwest have had but little effect in raising the depression in New
England, caused by the terrible disasters nearer home. To cap the
whole. Gen. Lee, in these very days, has raised himself apparently above
all our Generals, and almost to the level of the greatest military names
in history. His prowess and ability are greater causes of anxiety than
our country has felt at any time during this war ; while the English
aristocrats, using the rebellion sympathizers in the Northern States, the
Copperheads, as a cave of echoes, praise and extol him without measure.

Surely the Thirteenth enlisted, and came into camp, on a day, when
war, despite all our successes, never in this country wore so grim a vis-
age, and was so monstrous in every aspect ; and to sign an enlistment
paper seemed like signing one's own death warrant, to be executed by
the slow torture of labor, exposure, danger, hair-breadth escapes, fear,
sickness, incurable diseases, wounds, pain, dismemberment, and rotting
alive ; and after death a burial, uncoffined, in some unmarked hole in the
ground, or left above ground to the buzzards, beasts and vermin, our toe
and finger bones to be picked up and wrought into necklaces and curios.

The prospect is not Elysian. Still, to-night, our camp is rapidly filling
up by our men and officers returning cheerfully from their little furlough;
and with them there also rush to arms over 80,000 men in less than one
month.

Oct. 4. Sat. Fair. All this pleasant week wives and sweethearts,
mothers and sisters, fathers and brothers, children and friends have
flocked to our camp, and still they come ; while a crowd of all sorts of
people has gathered so great that a cordon around camp is a necessity.
The Thirteenth feels the first tight grip of a provost guard. To see
friends outside of camp, or to receive them within, a pass must be
shown. The Thirteenth has the name of being the most orderly regi-
ment that has been organized in this camp. Company D claims the
honor of being the only company which came into camp with every man
sober. This statement, however, meets the following : " Company G
came into camp with 125 or 130 men, all sober. N. D. S." Every
company came in remarkably free from intoxicated men. There has
been a generous rivalry to see which company would appear the best.

Oct. 5. Sun. Fair. Thirteenth marches to Concord from Camp
Colby in the afternoon, and receives its colors — a State flag, a National
flag and two guidons — from the hands of Hon. Allen Tenney, Sec. of
State, in front of the State House, and in the presence of a large assem-
bly of the people. Later in the day the Regiment returns to camp ; sick
of buncombe speechifying, and the patting of " our departing heroes "
on the back, by the brave homesmen, the men who do not enlist. The
Thirteenth is armed with Springfield rifles, weighing with the bayonet
nine and one fourth pounds, calibre 58 ; for a minie bullet weighing 500
grains, and propelled by about sixty grains of powder. The bayonet.



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Online LibraryS. Millet ThompsonThirteenth regiment of New Hampshire volunteer infantry in the war of the rebellion, 1861-1865: a diary covering three years and a day → online text (page 2 of 81)