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

. (page 73 of 81)
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 73 of 81)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

too near, and shouted that he would blow them out of the water if they
advanced another fathom, or less polite words to that effect, and com-
munication had to be made from an open row-boat approaching under
the rifles of the guard-ship's ' marines.' Capt. Durell, as aide, represented


Gen. Graham on this expedition, which proceeded ta Fretlericksburg,
destroyed twenty car loads of tobacco, toi'e up a portion of the raih-oad,
and burned a large amount of supplies collected for the rebel army.

From this expedition Capt. Durell was ordered to report at White
House Landing, to Gen. Sheridan by 10 a. m., on March 24th. Here
Gen. Sheridan ordered Durell to remain in the river until his entire force
of cavalry was out of sight, then to return to Bermuda Hundi'ed. While
at White House Gen. Sheridan and his staff, and other officers in his
command, were very short of provisions, and DurelFs boat steamed to
Yorktown and 2)rocured supj^lies, and among the lot were several barrels
of oysters procured especially for Gen. Sheridan and his staff.

April 2d Capt. Durell was appointed Actg. Asst. Adjt. General on the
staff of the Naval Brigade, where Capt. Nathaniel Low Jr. was serving
as Asst. Quarter-master.

May 9th he was appointed a member of a board of three officers
convened to examine the list of indigent persons receiving Government
aid at Portsmouth and Norfolk, Va., from which duty he was relieved on
June 8th.

Having served on several other special duties, in boards of survey, ap-
praisal, etc., Capt. Durell was relieved from his position on the staff of
Gen. Graham and the Naval Brigade, in order to be mustered out of
the service ; and being furnished with letters of high commendation, was
ordered on June 14, 1865 to report to the Thirteenth.

Capt. Lewis P. Wilson was mustered into the service as Second Lieu-
tenant of Co. G. He served with the Regiment tlirough the Battle of
Fredericksburg, Siege of Suffolk, and the Battle of Providence Church
Road. Here he was severely bruised by a spent bullet, but continued on
duty and was not reported as wounded.

In July 1863 he was ordered to report with a detachment of three offi-
cers and six men for duty at the draft rendezvous at Concord, N. H., Gen.
Hinks commanding the Post. Here Lieut. Wilson had a varied series
of duties, on court martial and guard duty, as Post Adjutant and Com-
missary of recruits, etc., until April 16, 1864, when he was ordered from
there to report for duty to Gen. Devens at Galloujj's Island. On the
23d he was ordered to proceed to Fortress Monroe with a party of re-
cruits. He then reported for duty to the Regiment at Yorktown.

May 3, 1864, he was by order of Gen. W. F. Smith, commanding
18th Corps, appointed Cliief of Ambulance Corps of the First Division
18th Army Corps, in which duty he served until the end of the war. He
had about 150 men. Acting for a long time in this capacity in the 1st
Div. 18th Corps, which afterwards became the 3d Division of the 24th
Corps, Capt. Wilson had the pleasure and honor of serving in succes-
sion on the Division staffs of Generals Brooks, Marston, Stannard and
Devens commanding Division, and on Acting Corps staff with Generals
Smith, Ord, Terry, Gibbon and Weitzel, commanding Corps, and was


with the command in every fight the Corps had. He took his ambu-
lance corps also into Richmond at the earliest moment.

During the more than a year of this service, Capt. Wilson states that
he was enabled to avoid leaving a single wounded man on the battle-field
over night, excepting once. On October -8, 1864, in the flank movement
to Fair Oaks, though he had over forty ambulance wagons and also used
all the baggage wagons there were to be had, he could not transport all
the wounded ; and left two hospital tents standing, and many wounded
men in them, in charge of a Surgeon, who was captured, taken to Rich-
mond, and in a few days released and sent within the Union lines.

Capt. Wilson was specially commended by Surgeon General Barnes,
who inspected his ambulance train, while the Corps was operating in
front of Petersburg. Turning to Dr. Sukely, Medical Director of the
18th Corps, Surgeon Gen. Barnes remarked that " Capt. Wilson's Ambu-
lance Corps and train was the best one in the whole army ; " and this was
considered a well deserved compliment.

On June 20, 1865, he rejoined the Regiment, was mustered out with
it the next day, and placed in charge of all the muster-out papers, blanks
and records of the Companies and Regiment, and turned them over to
Major Silvey, chief mustering officer, in New Hampshire.

Capt. Charles H. Curtis of C served with that Company in the Battle
of Fredericksburg Dec. 1862. When Lieut. M. A. Sliav/ of I was
wounded Dec. 13th, Lieut. Curtis was placed in command of Co. I on
the battle-field, and retained the command until some time in January
1863, when he was relieved at his own request, and rejoined Co. C. He
remained on duty with Co. C until Sept. 1863, meanwhile commanding
it on the raid ujj the Peninsula in June and July, and serving frequently
as Judge Advocate of regimental courts martial. In September 1863, by
order of Gen. Getty, commanding 3d Div. 9th Corps, he was detailed as
Judge Advocate of a General Court Martial convened at Portsmouth, Va.
On completing that duty and shortly after rejoining the Regiment, he
was detailed by order of Gen. Butler as Judge Advocate of a General
Coui't Martial convened at Norfolk, Va. On completing that duty in
February 1864, he was granted a leave of absence, and went home to New
Hamjishire to vote.

On the day the leave expired, he was detailed to command the ])rovost
guard stationed at Portsmouth, Va., the guard being composed of about
one hundred men and Lieutenants Sherman and Dustin, all of the Thir-
teenth. The accident to this detachment while on its way to Yorktown
is mentioned under date of May 11, 1864. While on his way to rejoin
the Thirteenth he was by order of Gen. Burnham detailed as Actg. Asst.
Quarter-master on his staff. This service continued until the Brigade
was reorganized in July 1864, when he was appointed temporarily as
acting regimental Quarter-master by Lt. Col. Smith, then commanding
the Thirteenth. Soon after this he was promoted to Captain, axad as-
sumed command of Co. F.

618 thirtep:nth new Hampshire reglment. isc5

He was appointed Actg. Asst. Inspector General by order of Col.
Edgar N. CuUen, commanding 3d Brig. 3d Div. 18tli Army Corps, tak-
ing the position vacated by Capt. Julian's expiration of term of service.
His services were continued in this position by Brig. Gen. E. H. Ripley,
who succeeded Col. CuUen in command of the Brigade, until his muster-
out on June 21, 1865. Capt. Curtis says — as well he may : " The
greatest satisfaction I have in thinking of my army experience is from
the fact that I was always in good health, ready and able to do any duty
when my services were required, during my entire term of service."

Capt. William J. Ladd, when Second Lieutenant of Co. K, was ap-
pointed Ordnance Officer on the staff of Gen. Getty, at Suffolk, Va., in
AjH-il 1863.

Just before Gen. Getty was succeeded in the command of the Third
Division of the 9th Corps by Gen. Heckman, Lieut. Ladd was appointed
assistant Commissary of Musters by the Secretary of War, and held that
office until the close of the war.

May 30, 1864, he received a commission as First Lieutenant.

He was appointed aide on the staff of Gen. Brooks, commanding the
1st Div. 18th Army Corps, in place of Capt. Parsons, who was killed in
the Battle of Cold Harbor, and served on Gen. Brooks' staff until he re-

He was promoted Captain United States Volunteers by brevet, for
gallant and meritorious services, to date from March 13, 1865.

First Lieut. Milton H. Hardy, Co. G, was mustered as a private, and
rose through the several non-commissioned grades, while serving with his
Company, to First Sergeant, being appointed as such August 20, 1864.
In October 1864 he was detailed fi*om his Company to act as Sergeant
Major of the Thirteenth, and served in that capacity for a considerable
time, in jilace of Sergt. Major Hodgdon, who was wounded Sept. 30 at
Fort Harrison. March 9, 1865, he was commissioned as First Lieuten-
ant of Co. G, and immediately took command of that Company in the
absence of Capt. Wilson ; and retained that position until mustered out of
the service with the Regiment.

Jan. 16, 1864, he was, by command of Gen. B. F. Butler, detailed to
report to Capt. Brown, at Norfolk, Va., and by him placed in charge of the
famous Sylvester Farm, bordering on the Dismal Swamp. Here his
duties were to look after and provide for the colored people, about fifty
In number, an irregular band who were quartered upon the farm, and also
to cultivate the farm as much as possible. The work was done, mostly,
by colored help and condemned horses. With this ii-regular sort of help,
however, Sergt. Hardy succeeded in bringing about 300 acres of the farm
under a luxuriant crop of corn and grain, when August 16, 1864, he was
relieved and joined his Company in the trenches before Petersburg ; there-
after remaining with the Regiment until mustered out of the service.


Lieut. Nathan D. Chapman was mustered In as a private in Co. B, and
served through all the grades of Corporal and Sergeant to First Sergeant
of his Company, and while First Sergt. of Co. B he served for seven or
eight days as commander of Co. D, during the Battle of Cold Harbor.
He served with his Company and Regiment in every one of its battles
and marches during its term of service, and commanded Co. B after the
occupation of Richmond, in the absence of Capt. Marshall Saunders, who
was detailed on sjjecial service. June 15, 1865, he received a commis-
sion as Second Lieutenant of Co. B, but owing to depletion in the num-
bers of the Regiment he could not be mustered.

At the first competitive examination for prize furloughs under the
orders of Gen. Gibbon, Sergt. M. C. Shattuck of B received the prize
due to the Thirteenth. See Jan. 21, 1865. At a later examination
an amusing scene took place at Division Hdqrs. Sergt. Nathan D. Chap-
man of B, the subject of this sketch, and another soldier in the Division,
were sent there on March 5, 1865, to compete for the prize furlough.
They were a well matched pair, and had already baffled the discrimina-
tion of the Brigade commander. Arriving at Division Hdqrs. the Gen-
eral commanding put them through the entire manual of arms several times
apiece, stood them up together and turned them to all views while they
drilled, and in his puzzled frame of mind would probably have ordered
them to stand upon their heads, if that had been regarded as a military
exercise ; finally after a long drill and examination, the lookers on being
as much puzzled as he was, in sheer desperation at his inability to justly
decide between the two, the General cut the knot by passing out a twenty
days' furlough to each competitor, and directed them to report to their
connnanders forthwith.

The Medical and Surgical, or Hospital, Department of the Thirteenth,
from the beginning to the end of its term of service, was honorably offi-
cered and ably managed, and never referred to as second to that of any
other regiment. This Department was organized with Dr. George B.
Twitchell of Keene as Surgeon, Dr. Samuel A. Richardson of Marlboro
as 1st Asst. Surgeon, Dr. John Sullivan of Exeter as 2d Asst. Surgeon,
and John J. Whittemore of Nashua as Hosjsital Steward. Whittemore
was the first to withdraw — having been taken seriously ill on the first day
the Reg. spent in Virginia. His place was filled soon afterwards by Royal
B. Prescott, of Nashua, as Hospital Steward. Dr. Twitchell was called
to a higher position early in 1863, and his place was taken by Dr. Rich-
ardson as Surgeon ; Dr. Sullivan moving up to First Assistant.

Of Surgeon Richardson, Prescott — Hospital Steward — writes as fol-
lows : " He was detached from the Regiment a great deal, both as Bri-
gade Surgeon, Surgeon of special expeditions, and as Surgeon-in-chief of
the Corps Hospital at Point of Rocks, on the Appomattox, but he made
frequent visits to the Reg., and was always glad to extend to it whatever
privileges and favors it was in his power to bestow. There is not a sur-


vivor of the Reg. who does not reniembev that jovial soul with feelings
of the liveliest gratitude and pleasure. He was as a father to all of the
' boys.' and his interest in them never wavered nor abated. The sick
looked forward to his visits with pleasure, and took fresh hope and cour-
age from his inspiring words ; his expansive smile was in itself sufficient
to light up the entire hospital. He was universally beloved for his
geniality, his deep and ready sympathy, and his boundless charity and

In the absence of its own Surgeon while Surgeon Richardson was near,
either at Brigade or Corps Hdqrs., he interested himself in all severe
cases of wounds or sickness occurring among the members of the Thir-
teenth, and thus a feeling of confidence was inspired. The men believed
that somehow " Dr. Rich " would take care of them. His promotion to
Surgeon took place April 1, 1863. On April 25, 1864, he was appointed
Acting Medical Director of the 2d Brigade, 1st Division, 18th Army
Corps. Dec. 6, 1864, he was assigned to duty at the Corps Hospital,
following in the same position in the 24th Corps, and on June 8, 1865,
was appointed Surgeon-in-charge of the same. He died at Marlboro,
N. H., June 19, 1884.

Surgeon Richardson had a most remarkable faculty for story telling,
and for finding and 'drawing out ' the odd characters among the citizens,
soldiers and negroes ; they were always ready to talk with him, and to
exhibit to him their peculiar traits without reserve.

He enjoyed repeating his side-splitting accounts of this or that affair,
to the patients in Hospital — declaring that a hearty laugh would do a
patient more good than a pint of medicine.

Dr. Horatio N. Small came to the Reg. in May 1863. Upon his leav-
ing the Reg. in the following August, to accept promotion as Surgeon of
the 10th N. H., his place was supplied by Dr. Ezekiel Morrill, of Concord,
until Nov. 1864, when he was promoted to Surgeon of the 1st N. H.
Heavy Artillery. Meanwhile, in August 1864, Asst. Surgeon SuUivan
had resigned because of long continued ill health.

Hospital Steward Prescott received promotion Oct. 28, 1864, to a First
Lieutenancy, after over two years of incessant toil, and care of wounds,
breaks, burns, cuts, smashes, crushes, perforations, amputations, and all
the ills that the flesh of thirteen hundred soldiers can possibly be heir to
— to say nothing of the special gratuities ; and the only furlough, vaca-
tion or respite he had in all that time was a brief detachment as patient
in the small-pox pest house. Even after his promotion as Lieutenant, he
was called upon to prescribe in numerous cases of sickness, in the absence
of Surgeons.

The Thirteenth in the changes and losses in its Medical Department
was deprived of medical servi(!e, for long periods, by its own skilled and
experienced medical men, and had to ' borrow ' from other regiments.
However, by this time the survivors present for duty were so tanned, in-
side and out, and callous on all surfaces, like hand-palms inured to con-



stant contact with rough and hard materials, that it mattered little what
the doses were, or whether the drugs were taken allopathically or homoeo-
pathically ; at retail or at wholesale ; it was safe to practice on the rule
that " A pint is a pound the wide world round." One memher of the
Quarter-master's department (13th) could with impunity take quinine hy
the spoonful, and wash it down with any fluid that first came to hand.

Daniel W. Butterfield succeeded Prescott as Hospital Steward (and
we think his family, to this day, somewhere, has possession of the medical
chest and its apparatus belonging to the Thirteenth Regiment, and sev-
eral books and records besides). Butterfield had a long experience as
assistant about the hospital, and as nurse, and became very proficient, and
far better qualified than many Hospital Stewards.

Prescott writes of him in this capacity : " A man was brought to the
hospital sick. Butterfield took the first prescribed dose of medicine to
him. The man inquired what it was ; ' 'T ain't none o' your b-b-b-usiness
what it is,' stammered Butterfield, taking his short black pipe out of his
mouth, ' that is the d-d-doctor's affair. All you have got to do is to
t-t-t-take it.' ' I won't have it,' retorts the man, ' itsmells nasty and I won't
take it,' and he set down the cup in a determined manner and laid his
head wearily on the pillow. In a moment more he raised his head and
said : ' I 'd like some of that gruel, though.' ' All r-r-right,' said Butter-
field, and taking up the rejected cup of medicine he started for the cook-
house for the gruel.

" Arriving again at the hospital door, Butterfield slyly poured the medi-
cine into the gruel and advanced briskly to the bedside stirring the villan-
ous mixture vigorously with a spoon as he went. ' H-h-here you are now ;
drink it right down while it is h-h-ot,' remarked Butterfield, and the man
drank it to the last drop without a word. Receiving the bowl again,
Butterfield turned away, a smile of triumph lighting up his face, remark-
ing : ' T-t-there 's more than one way to k-kUl a c-c-cat. The c-c-country
would go to the d-d-dogs pretty quick, if these fellows were allowed to
h-h-have their own way about things.' "

Butterfield served as Hospital Steward to the end of the Regiment's
term of service, and was mustered out with it. He had small mercy
with ' playing sick ' — malingering. One morning at a Surgeon's call
the writer heard a man — a malingerer — say that he was too sick to
be in his tent and ought to be sent to the hospital, and went on describ-
ing his diseases, a long list of them. Buttei-field near by remarked :
" Y-y-yes, Doctor, send him in. Any man who w-w-w-wants hospital, ouglit
to have all the h-h-h-hospital he wants — that's m-m-miiitary."

Manson S. Brown of C carried the Hospital knapsack upon all marches
and battle-fields. He represented a traveling drug store, stocked and
provided, from the inside of his boot legs up through all his pockets to
the lining of his cap, with medical materials and appliances of every de-
scription known to the army practice. No one would have been much
surprised at any time to see him pull a stretcher, or a hosj^ital cot-bed


of some folding pattern, out of liis capacious pockets. What he carried
with him no one knew — hut whatever was wanted he could somehow
produce at once ; straps, strings, handages, bottles, paper, thread, twine,
needles, plates, knives, spoons, tumblers, surgical instruments, and drugs
in almost any variety.

Surgeon Horatio N. Small first entered the United States military ser-
vice as Asst. Surgeon in the 17th New Hampshire, which was consolidated
with the 2d N. H., April 16, 1863. ■ He was commissioned Asst. Surgeon
in the 13th N. H. May 7, 1863, and served with the Thirteenth until
August 20, 1863, when he received a commission as Surgeon in the 10th
N. H. For a part of the time while the 13th was in the 9th and 18th
Corps, he acted as Brigade Surgeon. He was also a member of the
operating sui-gical staff of the 24th Corps until the close of the war.

During the hard work and exposure of the spring and summer of 1864,
he contracted the prevalent malarial disorders in a severe form. Early
in September 1864 he was ordered upon a tour of Hospital inspections,
with orders to report to the Surgeon General at Washington. On his
arrival there he was suffering from chills and fever to such a degree that
he was granted a leave of absence for twenty days from September 8th,
instead of being ordered upon any service. He went home to Lancaster,
N. H., but had been at home only a few days, when the news came of
the two battles at Fort Harrison, and the severe losses in the 10th and
13th Regiments. His leave had already been extended, as he was still unfit
for duty ; nevertheless, he resolved to start immediately for the front,
and did so as soon as he could. It troubled him greatly that he was not
there. To use his own words : " The boys at the front need me. I
have promised to look out for them. I must go back at once." He left
home for the front about October 8th, and before the extension of his
leaA'e had expired. He was really unable to travel, had to take short
distances, and did not reach the Regiment until October 17th. He re-
mained with the 10th Regiment and Brigade nearly all the time after
this until the end of the war ; and after leaving the Thirteenth he was
many times called upon in the interest of sick and wounded men in the
13th, always responding with a willing hand.

After peace was restored he settled in Portland, Maine, where he soon
acquired an extensive medical practice, and to the day of his death justly
occupied a foremost place among the practitioners in that city and vicin-
ity. In 1866 he was appointed one of the United States Pension Ex-
aminers, which office he held mitil 1885, when he resigned. In 1874 he
was appointed Instructor in Portland Medical School, which position he
held until he died. In 1878, when the Marine General Hospital was es-
tablished, he was elected Attending Physician on the Hospital staflF, which
position he also always retained. He was also Asst. Surgeon on Gov.
Connor's staff.

He was intensely devoted to his profession, and to the interests of his


patients, quickly winning the confidence of all persons with whom he
came in contact. The clieerfulness of his face and voice was but the out-
ward manifestation of his happy disposition, and this with his sterling
qualities made him always welcome in every company. He maintained
a most lively interest in all his old army comrades and acquaintances,
with ever an open and helping hand and heart for all who needed his
aid or assistance. His conduct through all was marked by the qualities
which ever distinguish a pure, noble and exemplary life. As his work
grew hartler with the incessant calls of his ever extending practice, and
of his public jiosition, the malarial infirmities contracted in the army
increased, and he died, in Portland, December 29, 1886, from a brain
disease caused by malarial poisoning and excessive hard work.

Lieut. S. Millett Thompson was born in Barnstead, N. H., April 27,
1838, the son of Stephen Jones Thomjjson and Nancy (Griffin) Thompson,
of Durham, and Lee, N. H. Besides the families here mentioned, he is
descended from Hon. Thomas Millet, of Dover, N, H., prominent in Col-
onial affairs, Capt. AVilliam Gerrish of Berwick, the Emerson, Waldron,
and several other families of Dover district ; and it maybe proi)er to
add is a lineal descendant of David Thompson, Gent., Scotchman, the first
permanent white settler in Massachusetts Bay, he having settled there
on ' Thompson's Island,' in Boston Harbor, in the spring of 1619, and
in 1623 was leader of the Laconia Colony settling at Piscataqua, New

On both the paternal and maternal sides his ancestors were officers and
soldiers in the Indian wars, the war of the Revolution, and later on in
the New Hampshire militia organizations ; besides others his father (S.
J. T.) having between 1832 and 1835 risen from private to Captain in
the Sixth Company of the old Tenth Infantry ; and his great-grandfather
John Griffin having served as an officer in the Continental Army under
Gen. Greene, and later holding commission in the New Hampshire
militia, with rank of Lieut. Colonel, under Maj. Gen. John Sullivan.
See also page 199.

Lieut. Thompson fitted at Phillips Exeter Academy for the Sophomore
class at Harvard, studied medicine for a year with Dr. Ira Allen, at Rox-
bury Mass., and then enlisted as a private in the Thirteenth. Four
months' sojourn in a military hospital so utterly disgusted him with the
medical profession, thqt after his discharge from the service he went to
work as a book-keeper, being unable from lameness caused by his wolind
to engage in any more active calling. Later he engaged in business con-
nected with machinery and steam work, still later in Insurance and as
Treasurer of a Western Land Company.

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 73 of 81)