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 72 of 81)
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tlie soldiers who manned them — and are now surviving at all — are
scattered to the four corners of the late Confederacy, having thrown away
four years or more of the best part of their lives. Much difficulty is ex-
perienced in working the boat through the obstructions placed by the
rebels in the James, but we pass through them without accident.

The James River is now a curiosity. Here are boats scuttled and
sunk, the masts standing above water, while funnels and smoke-stacks
point to other wrecks down below ; there the broadside of a large vessel ;
yonder on the shore a huge piece of a blown-up gun-boat or iron-clad ;
higher up a cannon, sent toward the skies and then crashing down among
the trees, lies half bui'ied in the sand, with the muzzle end up ; picket
pits, and huts of the river guard, tucked in like rabbit warrens, or crows'
nests, all along the banks ; embrasures, cut as low as possible for de-
pressed cannon, look straight down at us from the forts ; now we come
to a grove of trees battered and torn with shells, as if a lightning storm
had swept through them ; log-barracks of numerous camps in the fields
and great numbers of shed-roofs over ledges or holes dug in the bluffs ;
a few huge cans stranded on the shore — once floating torpedoes ; ponton
bridge landings, and wharves, thrown deep into the stream to navigable


water, their inimnierable piles in long rows, cribbed and ballasted with
stone ; their shore ends flanked with remains of large camjjs, and point-
ing to roads leading up amotig the bluffs — roads so infernally rough and
bad that the rebel teamsters' profanity must have continued to rumble and
echo along them for several weeks after Gen. Lee's army had left these
pai'ts ; the whole region speaking of an immense amount of human labor
expended, of property destroyed to a value untold, and of unnumbered
animals and men dead and vrasted — but the anguish cry of the slave is
heard here no more forever.

Our boat winds in and out among the rows of piles set to block any
rapid navigation in the channel, dodges the sunken hulks, crosses the
river over and over again, and brings us off Fortress Monroe about 5
p. m., and we soon leave there for the open sea and home.

June 23. Fri. Fine day. True to the pursuing instinct — to chase
everything that appears to be running or retreating — that has ruled all
Vii'ginia for the last four years and more, a school of porpoises follow our
boat, like a body of skirmishers, far out to sea from Hampton Roads —
all and the last we can see of Hampton's Black Horse Cavalry.

After a pleasant sail up the coast, we arrive in New York harbor at
7 p. m., and drop anchor at 8 p. m. Many of the officers go on shore,
having permission to remain in the city until 2 a. m.

June 24. Sat. Fine. This morning the steamer hauls up to the
Government coaling station in Jersey City. Nearly the whole force
aboard are here detailed to wheel coal on board the vessel. Many of the
men, however, leave their barrows at the coal-bunkers, go up town, and
take aboard another abundant means of getting up steam — ' Jersey light-
ning.' The steamer leaves Jersey City at 4.45 p. m. for Boston — " All
hands drunk," one soldier writes.

Gen. Donohoe in command of our Homing Brigade is presented this
evening with an elegant sword, sash and belt suitable to his rank.

June 25. Sun. Fine day. " Was officer of the guard to-day.
Had a good deal of trouble with some of the men who were drunk. Lt.
Col. Smith ordered me to search the boat for two of the men, and to tie
them up on deck. The Regiment swore that it should not be done, and
violence was offered. The men were found, however, and secured from
doing further mischief." Lieut. Prescott.

There are, among all gatherings of men, a few who make trouble for
all the rest. After some of these of ours are secured so they can do no
further mischief, the voyage proceeds quite agreeably to the end. We
enter Boston harbor about sunset. We arrive in Boston about 9 p. m.,
proceed to Faneuil Hall, and there pass the night.

All are sober now ; the Jersey lightning flashed, and was expended in
the deep. Many friends, and ex-members of the loth, as also of the 10th
and 12th, are present to receive our Homing Brigade. The officers are
quartered at the City Hotel.

AVhile in Boston the men of the 10th, 12th. and 13th are free to go


about as they may please, and the Jersey City programme is not repeated.
At night, while our Brigade is quartered in Faneuil HaU, it is very hot,
and tlie most of the men of the Thirteenth go out and spread their blan-
kets upon the steps and passage ways and sleep there. About two o'clock
next morning the employees of the market appear, and rouse the whole
command with their noise, and of course the men must get up and remove
from the steps. The men of the Thirteenth take the matter good-na-
turedly, however ; but remark : " This is the only position from which
the Thirteenth New Hampshire, when alone, has ever been driven."

The soldier is proud to return home bearing his shield ; and is received
in this gold-capped, brown old city by the sea with every token of honor,
respect and welcome.

When the Great Father of nations and of men resolved to bring about
the settlement of America by the Northern white men — the best j^eople
He had on the earth for that purpose — He decided to have the very best
city in all America's broad commonwealth, founded and controlled by
that race who had English for their language ; and to have it located far
eastward on the Atlantic sea-coast, whence that city's good and grand in-
fluence, life, moral and educational jurisdiction and power might pass
free and be felt througliout the entire Nation — and He called that choice
city's name, Bostox.

June 26. Mon. Fine day. Reg. leaves Boston at the Lowell
Station with the Brigade, at 9 a. m., goes to Nashua by rail, arriving be-
fore noon, has a public reception, and remains in Nashua all night. Here
the Reg. enjoys a splendid entertainment. The officers of the Brigade
assemble at the Indian Head House, and Brev. Col. Geo. A. Bruce, on
the staff of Gen. Donohoe, in behalf of the assembled officers of the 13th
presents to Brevet Brig. Gen. A. F. Stevens, formerly Colonel of the
Thirteenth, a sword, sash and belt suitable to his rank. Gen. Stevens
appropriately replies.

In the afternoon the Reg. and Brigade is reviewed on Main street by
Col. Stevens. No picture of war's work can be more striking than the
one presented by these three veteran Regiments, as they march, at full
regimental distance and company distance, along Main street, Nashua,
to-day. Now thirty broken, straggling, squads, a few hundred men in all

— the 10th, 12th and 13th having been depleted each in about the same
proportion ; three years ago, while on their way down to the war, thirty
full companies, of a round one hundred men each, a total of three thou-
sand strong.

The Thii'teenth comes home numbering 321 officers and men all told

— Officers, 24 ; Non-commissioned staff, 4 ; Musicians, 9 ; Company A,
27 men ; B, 35 ; C, 31 ; D, 25 ; E, 26 ; F, 29 ; G, 24 ; H, 30 ; I, 33 ;
K, 24 — a Regiment whose ranks have numbered, volunteers, recruits
and all, a total of nearly 1,300 men.

While waiting at the station in Boston this morning, an officer, not of
high rank, in one of these regiments, gives the following order : " Say —


Sarjunt ! You hold on to this eend of ther Rig-ermunt — while I go down
to ther bottom of thei" colyum."

The following is said to have occurred while our Division was march-
ing from Fort Harrison to Williamsburg pike on Oct. 27, 1864 : A
few bummers from a regiment preceding the Thirteenth had entered a
house a little off the road, seeking forage. The good old woman of the
house said to them : " There is nothing in my house that can be of any
use to you, the soldiers have already taken all they could ; but there is one
thing I have which no one can ever steal from me — that is my religion."
" Don't be too sure of that," replied the awful bummer, " the Thirteenth
New Hampshire is coming along just behind us — and they need religion
more than anything else! " The good woman threw up her hands with
an expression of despair, immediately fled to her attic, barricaded the
door and hid herself until the column of troops had passed the house.

June 27. Tues. Reg. leaves Nashua at 10 a. m., goes to Man-
chester by rail, arriving before noon. Here we have a vei-y fine dinner
at the grove, followed by many congratulatory speeches. Reg. leaves
Manchester for Concord at 3.30 p. m. The cars run off the track a little
below Hooksett, and the Chaplain of the 12th and several men in the Bri-
gade are injured. Two hours' delay here. The Reg. arrives in Concord
a little before sunset — between 6 and 7 p. m. An immense crowd of
citizens have here gathered at the depot, and welcome the Veterans with
cheers on cheers. The regiments form at the depot, and are escorted by
the Veteran Reserve Corps, and the Concord Brigade Band, through Main
Street to the front of the Capitol, where they are addressed by Gov.
Frederick Smyth, and others.

Lt. Col. Smith has eight men in the Thirteenth who have no guns ; in
fact having been detailed on sundry special duties — all, however, neces-
sary and honorable — the most of them have scarcely ever used gun, pick
or shovel during their entire term of service ; so the Lieut. Colonel en-
joys a little sport, and makes these eight men useful and ornamental at
the same time, by forming them into a pioneer corps and providing them
with picks and shovels ; and now they come marching home, and parad-
ing in the revieAvs and processions, with these arms — all doubtless enjoy-
ing their position as much as any men in the Regiment.

The Brigade keeps together ; and the citizens of Concord receive all
the men and officers with the most flattering attentions, courtesies and
honors. The most of the men and the officers find entertainment with
friends or at the hotels.

Probably an extract from Gen. Devens' letter to Gov. Smyth would be
most appropriately entered here :

" Headquarters Third Division, 24th Corps.
Richmond Va. June 22, 1865.
" Sir :

The Tenth, Twelfth and Thirteenth New Hampshire Regiments are

1865 AT CONCORD. 611

temporarily organized as a provisional Brigade under command of Brev.
Brig. Gen. M. T. Donohoe. . . . The Thirteenth New Hampshire being
the first Regiment of the Army whose Colors were brought into the city
of Richmond.

'' You will see by their thinned ranks the terrible ravages war has
made. Their tattered ensigns will recall the many night marches, the
wet and dreary bivouacs, and the fierce and desperate conflicts. These
men return inured to the rugged toils of war, and bronzed with the
smoke of battle. . . .

" Charles Devens,

Brig, and Brev. Maj.
Gen. U. S. V. Comdg."

Some time after the war closed, by direction of the State authorities
there were inscribed on the window of the cabinet containing all the
flags of the Thirteenth, in the State House at Concord, New Hampshire,
the names of the battles placed on the flag of the Thirteenth, and given
on page 519 of this book, and these two in addition :

" Fair Oaks, Oct. 27, 1864.

Richmond, April 3, 1865."

And also this legend :

" The 13th N. H. headed the column that entered the city of Richmond,
April 3, 1865 ; and their colors were the first carried into the city."

To these thei'e should be added :

Siege of Petersburg — in the trenches sixty-seven days in the summer
of 1864. Burnside Mine Explosion, July 30, 1864.

Jxine 28. Wed. Clear. Thirteenth early this morning moves out
to the barracks of the Substitutes' Camp. Returns to the city again at 11
a. m. with the Brigade, and turns over its colors to the custody of the
State during a review held by the Governor at 12 noon, after which the
men receive a furlough until the night of Friday, 30th. Gov. Smyth
holds a reception this evening, a very crowded but brilliant affair.

June 14, 1864, John M. Woods of I was detailed at Point of Rocks
in charge of a dozen or more of men of the Thirteenth to guard and take
care of a park of cannon. Soon afterwards he was appointed to take
charge of commissaiy supplies, under direction of Capt. Geo. C AYitherbee,
Division Commissary, and was engaged in this duty until Aug. 15th, when
he returned to the Regiment.

Again, a few days after the battle at Fair Oaks, Oct. 27, 1864, he was
called to the same post to attend to the proper shipment of the fresh bread
for the army, and remained there until he was mustered out of the ser-
vice. The Thirteenth and other regiments may know now, if not before,
who attended to their fresh bread supply, a very important duty, and saw
it properly and timely forwarded to the several commands in our Division.
When it rained shoulder-straps what an immense body of the most faith-
ful and best men in the army were not to be caught in that shower !


The Army of the Potomac is disbanded to-day.

June 29. Thurs. Very warm. Reg. quartered at Substitutes'
camp, but the men are scattered everywhere.

When the Thirteenth went to the front in October 1862, the citizens
of Nashua presented Col. Stevens, and Lt. Col. Bowers, each with a fine
horse — both large, dark bays. Both these horses served their term in
the war, always with the Regiment, and returned to Nashua ; and both
have lived there since the war, and died of old age. Col. Stevens kept
his horse, so long as he lived, in his possession at Nashua. Lt. Col.
Bowers' horse, while in the army, passed successively from his possession
to Major Storer, Lt. Col. Grantman, Lt. Col. Smith and Major Stoodley.
After the war, Col. Bowers hunted up this old war horse, and kept him
at Nashua until he died of old age. Here indeed were a pair of strong,
excellent, noble war horses, worthy of a better mention, and a more ex-
tended history. In the most of the severe engagements, where the owners
of these horses for the time being were present, they fought dismounted
after reaching the immediate field of action.

June 30. Fri. Pleasant. Reg. quartered at Substitutes' camp.
Camp and garrison equipage of the Thirteenth turned in to-day.

When at Richmond, the key of the office, or Hdqrs. of the rebel com-
mandant of Libby prison, came into Major Stoodley's possession, and he
now keeps it as a souvenir. An old-fashioned iron key of medium size.

Ex-Governor Gilmore holds a reception at the Phenix Hotel this even-
ing — no copperheads present.

The Northern co])2ierhead is hated and condemned in the North, and
thoroughly despised in the South ; but that class of persons in the North
known as War Democrats deserve an especial praise. When the Union
and the Flag were assailed, they broke away at once from the political
and social affiliations and sympathies nurtured and prized by them for
their whole life long, and by their fathers before them, and turned their
entire interests without reserve to the cause of the Union. American
history in these last five years finds hundreds of these worthy citizens
rising high in the army and in the State. They deserve a place of great
honor, and will receive it without stint or qualification, when the passions
and bitterness of the day have run out.

The following personal items it seems best to enter here. Many per-
sons have been quite fully mentioned in the body of the book. Accounts
of living persons are open to pit-falls and objections, and the writer here,
as well as in other pages of the book, acting impartially and from good-
will, presumes u^ion the considerate lenience of his comrades.

Capt. George Farr enlisted as a private and with Lieutenants Edward
Kilburn and Marshall Saunders recruited Company D. Lieut. Kilburn
was, however, the chief recruiting officer of the Company.


Capt. Farr was present in all the marches and battles of the Thirteenth
until the battle of Cold Harbor June 1, 1864, when he was severely
wounded in the shoulder, during the charge upon the enemy's rifle-pits,
and while commanding Co. D.

In January 1865, he was, by order of Gen. Ord. placed upon a Mili-
tary commission at Norfolk, Va. He served upon this commission or as
a member of courts martial until the close of the war, crossing every
day to the military hospital at Portsmouth to have his wound dressed.
The wound did not heal sufficiently to allow of his return again to active
duty with the Regiment.

After the war he served in numerous imj^ortant public positions, and
was Department Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic in
New Hampshire for the year 1886.

" Phenix Hotel, Concord, N. H., June 8, 1887.
Dear Thompson : — I send within a biographical sketch of Major Car-
ter. Sincerely Yours, Charles B. Gafney."

" Buel Clinton Carter was born in Ossipee, N. H., January 20, 1840
he attended the common school, ' The Old Academy ' at Wolfboro, fitting
for college at Phillips Academy, Exeter. He entered Yale in 1858,
graduating in 1862. He was a classmate with the Rev. W. H. H. Mur-
ray, Joseph Cook, and D. H. Chamberlain of South Carolina. On his
return home from College his services were offered in organizing Com-
pany A, 13th N. H. Vols., and he was mustered into the service as a
First Lieutenant. At the battle of Fredericksburg Dec. 13, 1862, he
was severely wounded. In Jidy 1863, he was commissioned as Captain,
and in 1864 as Captain and Acting Quarter-master, and assigned to duty
in the Artillery Brigade of the 18th Army Corps. In 1865 he was
brevetted Major, and was mustered out of the service at the close of the
war ; and was subsequently Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue for
Southwestern Virginia.

" He was married May 16, 1866, to Ellen F., daughter of Hon. James
M. Burbank of Saco, Me.

" On his return from the army and his official duties in Virginia, he
commenced the study of his profession in the office of his father Sanborn
B. Carter Esq., a prominent lawyer in northern New Hampshire, and
after admission to the Bar, located at Wolfboro, where for ten years he
had a lucrative and successful practice, holding for several terms the office
of prosecuting attorney for Carroll County.

" In 1878 by reason of failing health — ' the sequence of exposure in
army life ' — he Avas compelled to relinquish business temporarily, and
removed to Rolluisford (to a farm two miles northeast of Dover) where
he sought to regain his health and strength by devoting his time to out of
door pursuits. In 1879 he became a member of the law firm of Carter
and Nason, and practiced his profession in Dover. In 1881 he was ap-
pointed Bank Commissioner, and held that office at the time of his death,
which occurred, at his home in Rollinsford, Dec. 11, 1886.


'• Major Carter was an officer who merited and received the esteem and
friendship of his comrades ; he was beloved by the men under him, and
while exacting in matters of discipline he was courteous in his dejiort-
ment and forgiving in his dis2)osition. He was a 2)rominent Mason, and
in religious belief a Congregationalist, but in this as in all other matters
he was broad in his views and exhibited great liberality and honesty of
purpose in reasoning with those who did not agree with him.

'' His comrades, and those who associated with him in civil life in the
active duties of an honored profession, will remember him as a faithful
soldier, a sincere friend, an able lawyer and an honest man. Noble
and generous in all the acts of an active and useful life, this brief tribute
from a friend adds but a leaflet to the bright laurel that rests on his

Brev. Lt. Col. George A. Bruce served with the Regiment until Jan.
9, 1863, when he was appointed Acting Asst. Adjt. General on the Staff
of Col. Dutton, commanding 3d Brigade, 3d Division, 9th Army Corps.
July 1863, appointed Actg. Asst. Inspector General in the same Brigade
then commanded by Brig. Gen. W. H. P. Steere. Januaiy 1864, ap-
pointed Asst. Inspector Genei-al of all the troops defending Norfolk and
Portsmouth, Va., then commanded by Gen. George W. Getty. A])ril
1864 a^ppointed aide to Brig. Gen. Hiram Burnham commanding 2d
Brigade, 1st Division, 18th Army Corps.

July 1864, apjiointed Asst. Adjt. General on the staff of Col. A. F.
Stevens commanding 1st Brigade, 1st Div. 18th Corps. September 1864
appointed Asst. Adjt. General on the staff of Gen. Gilman Marston com-
manding 1st Div, 18th Corps, and continued in the same position wliile
that Division was subsequently conunanded by Gen, J, B. Carr and Maj.
Gen. Charles Devens. While that Division, as the 3d Div, 24th Corps,
was commanded by Gen. Devens he served as Judge Advocate on his

After the occupation of Richmond he served as Recorder of the com-
mission appointed to try all criminal offenses in that city. He was pro-
moted successively from First Lieutenant of Co. B to Captain of Co. A
May 30, 1864 ; to Major by brevet April 3, 1865 ; and to Lieut. Colonel
by brevet April 3, 1865.

Since the war he has held numerous civil offices, and among them that
of Judge of the Police Court of Somerville, Mayor of Somerville for 1878,
1870 and 1880, Massachusetts State Senator from First District for 1882,
1883 and 1884, and was President of the Massachusetts State Senate
for the session of 1884.

Capt. James M, Durell was mustered in as First Lieutenant in Co, E,
having assisted in recruiting that Company. He acted as Adjutant of
the Thirteenth for a time in the latter part of 1863, previous to his pro-
motion to the j)osition of Captain. He commanded Co. C from the time


of his promotion until he was detached with his Company, and placed in
command of Redoubt McConihe on Sept. 1, 1864. This Redoubt is six
or eight hundred yards from the James, on the Bermuda Hundred line.

About Sept. 15th, Capt. Durell was appointed a member of a General
Court Martial convened at Gen. Stannard's Hdqrs, There were about
ten officers in this court, which was adjourned on account of thg battle of
Fort Harrison. Capt. Durell was ordered back to Redoubt McConihe ;
the rest went into that battle, and eight or nine of the number were
either killed or wounded. The smoke could be seen, and the cannonade
heard at Redoubt McConihe, while the battle was going on.

Nov. 27, 1864, Capt. Durell was appointed Acting aide de camp on
the Staff of Brig. Gen. C. K. Graham, commanding Defenses of Bermuda
Hundred, and afterwai'ds in command of the Naval Brigade.

Gen. Graham and Staff were invited by Gen. Butler to accompany
him while on the first expedition to attack Fort Fisher, and did so, Capt.
Durell being one of the party.

A flag of truce appeared from the rebel lines in front of a fort, built
in the corner of the wheat-field where the 13th were encamped May 22,
1864, and now commanded by Lieut, Day. Capt. Durell was sent to
meet the rebel officer bearing the flag, between the lines, and to do so
passed through the deep ravine in front. On this occasion Capt. Durell
received a letter from Gen. Lee to Gen. Grant, concerning an exchange
of prisoners, and returning with it to Gen. Grant's Hdqrs., gave it to a
member of Gen. Grant's staff, who read it, and then passed it to Gen.
Grant, who happened to come into the tent while he was reading it.
Gen. Grant at once read the letter, and then referring to the second attack
upon Fort Fisher remarked : *' Terry is going to take Wilmington — but
we will allow the exchange to be made." He then replied by letter to
Gen. Lee, and Capt. Durell again passed through the lines, and this ra-
vine, and delivered the letter to the member of Gen. Lee's staff appointed
to receive it.

March 3, 1865, Capt. Durell was ordered to proceed on board the
gunboat ' Chamberlain,' and notify the commanders of gunboats ' Moss
Wood ' and ' Jessup ' to report at Fortress Monroe. The three boats
were to move from Fortress Monroe by noon on March 4th, upon an
expedition to Fredericksburg, under command of Gen. Roberts. Capt.
Durell then proceeded in the night to the mouth of the Rappahannock
to notify the commander of the naval forces there that the troojis for
the expedition would be up by midnight that night. As Capt. Durell's
gunboat was approaching the guard-boat, on duty there, within hailing
distance, the commander of the guard-boat trained his guns and made
ready to fire, thinking that Durell's gunboat was approaching a little

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 72 of 81)