Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

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• land) Hodges. He attended school in his native city until
August, 1858, when he entered Harvard College as a Fresh-
man. The coming national storm had already increased the
interest in military matters in Massachusetts, and this rather
interfered with his scholastic progress. In the middle of his
Junior year he left college to return no more. The degree
which he afterwards received was a compliment to his patriot-
ism and success.

Previous to the war he joined as a private the Salem Light
Infantry, better known as the Salem Zouaves, where an un-
usually high standard of discipline was enforced and an un-
common proficiency attained. The rules of the company were
rigid ,to the extreme, and Hodges showed his aptitude for true
soldiership by the readiness with which he obeyed. When the
first call for troops was issued in April, 1861, he eagerly hailed
the opportunity. His company was attached to the Eighth
Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, as right flank company, being
detached from its proper regiment, the Seventh, for that pur-
pose. • There was much hard work and exposure to try the
fortitude of the young soldier during those first three months
of real service, though the regiment did not take part in any
engagement.

This campaign resembled a protracted picnic rather than the
stern realities of war, so soon to follow. Floral decorations,
flag presentations, boxes and visits from friends, and one enor-
mous wedding-cake, varied the monotony and relieved the
hardships of camp life in very essential particulars. More no-



286 Harvard Memorial Biographies.

table incidents were the seizure of the ferry-boat at Havre de
Grace, the capture of the Rebel Tilghman, and more especially
the securing and bringing round from Annapolis to New York
the old frigate Constitution. Our young heroes had their first
taste of soldiers' hardships on board this ship, for she was, in
the hurry, most inadequately provisioned for the voyage. The
decision, energy, and generosity which made our young soldier
so successful amid his later responsibilities were developed, as
might have been expected, in directions slightly abnormal and
amusing, at this stage of his career.

He was exceedingly popular in the company. "Johnny,",as
he was then called, always brought two sticks of wood when
his turn came to help feed the camp-fire, thus sparing a com-
rade his share. Baked beans were for the company, as they
frequently are, a cherished solace after the fatigues of picket.
One morning Company I came in and found beans enough
and to spare in a neighboring company, while for themselves
there was displayed a barrel-cover of hard-tack only. Captain
Devereux not approving of reciprocity in the matter of rations.
A somewhat animated discussion ensued, which culminated in
Johnny's kicking the hard-tack into the air, a feat which he im-
mediately expiated in the guard-tent with sincere repentance.
Such was his popularity, however, that the whole company laid
down their arms at the news of his disgrace, and were with dif-
ficulty pacified and induced to return to duty.

The Fourth Wisconsin Regiment was stationed near the
Eighth, and John, with others, was detailed to drill them.
They gave him their company letters to wear, offered him a
commission, and parted with him on the very warmest and
pleasantest terms.

On the return of his regiment, at the expiration of its term
of service, he was offered and accepted a position as First
Lieutenant in the Nineteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, then
organizing at Lynnfield. On the way to the capital, when he
was prevented from reaching a certain railway train in season,
his men demonstrated his popularity by unshackling a car from
the train to keep the tardy officer from being left behind. For



yohn Hodges. 287

three months after leaving the State, in August, 1861, his regi-
ment lay at Poolesville, on the Upper Potomac, occupied in
the work of making a thoroughly disciplined force out of raw
material. This was the only time the regiment ever had for
instruction, but that time was well used, and it afterwards
found itself in a condition of proficiency that was never lost.
It was frequently selected for exhibition by its corps command-
er. Hodges kept his place throughout this period as one of
the assistants detailed for instruction. The winters of 1861
and 1862 were spent in hard work on picket and fatigue duty,
guarding twelve miles of the Potomac and building forts. The
regiment formed part of the force in the battle of Ball's Bluff,
but was not engaged. It joined the Army of the Potomac at
Fortress Monroe, early in the spring of 1862, participating in
the siege of Yorktown and the battle of West Point, hi this
time Hodges had become very much reduced by sickness, and
was sent to Baltimore to recruit. His ardor would not allow
him to remain long away from his post Though entirely unfit
for duty, he went back to Fortress Monroe. Thence he was
misdirected to Newport News, where he could find no trans-
portation, nor even join any military force on its way to the
army. But being resolute to join his regiment in time for any
new ordeal of battle, he set off on foot. His tramp through
woods and swamps, excited and enfeebled as he was, pulled
him down the second time. When, from sheer exhaustion, he
finally gave up the effort to find his regiment, he had aban-
doned everything, even his overcoat, except his letters only, a
large bundle of which had been intrusted to him by anxious
friends. These he kept and had the pleasure of delivering,
after a second more successful attempt.

His health being already impaired, the new sources of dis-
ease in the Chickahominy swamps proved too much for his
strength. He became completely prostrated by fever and
dysentery, and reached so low a point as to make his comrades
fearful of his death. He was compelled reluctantly to resign,
the surgeons pronouncing him incurably disabled. Incessant
watchfulness one moonlight night, followed by a wearisome



288 Harvard Memorial Biographies.

twenty-four hours' advance in line with axes through the
swamps and brush, brought on a crisis, but a discharge was
obtained from General McClellan in time to save his life. He
brought home, as a token of regard, a sum which his men con-
tributed, and which he then intended to devote to the pur-
chase of a medal with appropriate inscriptions. After his
promotion he consented to purchase a beautiful sword and
scabbard, suitably marked in memory of the givers, from
whom he was now separated. His loss was severely felt by
his comrades in the regiment, several of whom were serving
now as officers, and, like himself, had marched in the ranks of
the same company in the three months' campaign.

He was then but twenty years old, yet had performed duties
above his rank and years. Such was his popularity at home
that Jiis name sufficed to raise one hundred and twenty-five
men in two days for a company in the Fortieth Massachusetts
Volunteers, after his return. His next actual commission,
however, was as Major of the Fiftieth Massachusetts Volun-
teers, a nine months' regiment, which passed through Boston
on its way South, November 14, 1862. Here again, for va-
rious reasons, the command devolved largely upon the Major.
Being destined for General Banks's expedition, the regiment
went into camp on Long Island, near Brooklyn. On the 12th
of December it embarked on board transports for the South.
Six companies had marched from the camp in East New York
to Brooklyn, under orders to embark on the steamer Niagara.
The men on the way down had contrived to obtain liquor, and
one company, never very well disciplined, was particularly
unruly. Five companies, with their baggage, had been trans-
ferred from the shore to the steamer, loading her down so that
her guards were scarce three feet from the water, and the com-
pany previously mentioned was nearing her on the tug, when
the men, in open defiance of their officers and in the noisiest
and most offensive manner, refused to go on board. The con-
fusion was such that their officers could not make themselves
heard, and were evidently powerless to suppress the disorder.
Major Hodges stood on the promenade deck of the Niagara



John Hodges. 289

watching the scene. As the tug ranged alongside, he drew his
revolver, and springing to her deck, where the crowd was
thickest and most threatening, he shouted " Silence ! " threaten-
ing to shoot the first man who dared to open his lips or
disobey an order ; and the sudden hush that followed sufficient-
ly attested their belief in his truth. Tfeey were 'afterwards
heard to remark that the Major was the only man who could
have cowed them.

In different detachments and under divers experiences, the
regiment reached New Orleans about February, 1863, and
was soon sent up to Baton Rouge, being assigned to Gen-
eral Dudley's brigade, Augur's division. It accompanied Gen-
eral Banks in his first advance to Port Hudson, and after
returning from this expedition remained at Baton Rouge until
arrangements had been perfected for the siege of Port Hud-
son. An officer of the regiment says : —

"We arrived at Baton Rouge at nine, A. m., and were ordered
into a field for rest. The storm had ceased, and the heat of the sun
was intense. While here, I had occasion to consult with the
Major, but he was not to be found. We were wondering where he
could be, when he hove in sight, dashing with his usual headlong
speed down the road and into our midst. Unnoticed by us, on our
arrival there, without even dismounting, he had ridden back to
Montecino Bayou and obtained a bag with some coffee in one end,
and some hard-tack in the other, and returned to us again. Call-
ing the officers around him, he ordered them to see that every man
had his share of the food. I have thus particularly related this
:ihcident, at the request of some men who were members of my
company, and were present at the time, in order to show the self
sacrificing care he manifested toward his men. As in this instance,
without thought for himself, after having passed two nights and
nearly two days of exposure, fatigue, and hardship, without rest or
sleep, he flew to minister to the wants of his command.

" Our division, being nearest the scene of operations, was the first
to invest the place. We left Baton Rouge, May 4th, for the front,
and were first assigned the defence of a bridge upon one of the
principal roads leading to Port Hudson, and thus protecting the rear
of our army. The night before the assault, on the 27th of May,
we marched to Port Hudson, and at daylight were assigned to sup-



290 Harvard Memorial Biographies.

port an Indiana battery. About noon four companies, including
mine, were assigned to the storming column. These were under
the command of the Major, and all applauded his courage and
steadiness. Soon after we began to advance, one of my own men
was struck in the leg by a grape-shot. He fell quite near the Ma-
jor, and he pulled off his neck-tie and hastily bound it round the
poor fellow's leg, bei«g all the while under fire.

"Then followed several weeks of siege. In the assault on the
14th of June, only the Major took the field with the regiment. We
were obliged to perform a long and difficult march in the night, pro-
ceeding through the woods. The Major dismounted, led us in, and
participated in the work of the next day. We arrived at the end
of our march, if march it could be called, at three o'clock in the
morning, when we stacked arms and lay down behind the stacks, to
await further orders. After seeing every man lie down in his
place, the Major accepted a portion of my blankets, and we lay
down and entered into a short conversation, during which I took
occasion to say, that I thought it would make but little difierence
to him when we returned home to Massachusetts, as I thought he
would immediately enter the service again. He replied, that such
was his intention, and also that he intended to stay in the service,
if he should live, while the war lasted. I said, ' I am afraid you
will lose your life in the service.' Said he, ' Captain, I expect it.
I have no doubt I shall lose my life in the service.' "

The two following letters will tell the conclusion of this
story.

" Before Port Hudson, July 2, 1863.
" Dear Mother, — Our time is out, but we can't come home.
I hope this will be over soon, and then we can come back better
satisfied. The regiment offered its services to General Banks till
July 14th. The men are very much worn out, and I never was so
puzzled and tried in my life. I am in command of two regiments,
the One Hundred and Seventy-fourth New York and the Fiftieth
Massachusetts. Give my love to all.

" From your affectionate son,

" John.
" All are weU."

" Port Hudson, Louisiaita, July 15, 1863.
" Dear Mother, — I don't know when we shall come home. I
hope we have done our duty. My hand is a little sore. All are
well. General Augur gave me his picture himself. I have been



John Hodges. 291

an Acting Brigadier-General in front of Port Hudson. I send you
the official order received by me as General, announcing that Viclcs-
burg had surrendered. This is a hard, hard life. All are well.
■Most of the regiment have gone off with the Rebel prisoners. Give
my love to all. May Heaven help all, guide and protect you and
me. You receive this rough epistle from

" Your affectionate son,

" John.

" I burnt my hand with powder. No harm, but I can't write."

Port Hudson surrendered, and the FiftietK came home by
railroad. The quondam mutineers, whom he had controlled,
kept together, and inspired through unusual temptations and
dangers, parted with their "little Major" amid the wildest
enthusiasm. But it was not long before ■ he was again in the
field as Lieutenant-Colonel of the Fifty-ninth Massachusetts,
for which regiment he began recruiting on the 23d of No-
vember, at Salem. The regiment left the State in April,
1864, and after only three weeks of quiet was repeatedly in
action. Then fbllqjwed the arduous final campaign. Many
anecdotes became current in the Fifty-ninth Massachusetts,
as to traits of generosity or self-devotion in their young Lieu-
tenant-Colonel, — his yielding his horse to' a worn-out soldier
on the march, and carrying the man's rifle, or his pulling
off his own stockings to cover the blistered feet of a private.
On one- occasion a force of veterans was ordered to charge
a battery, and the Fifty-ninth was to support them. Three
several times they saw them march up with firm step, and
three several times they saw them waver and fall back under
a tremendous fire from the Rebel works, — a sight which
might well have caused an older regiment to falter. At this
juncture Colonel Hodges received the order to advance with
his regiment. For a moment they hesitated, and but for a
moment, and it was a critical moment. Colonel Hodges
saw it, and dashing towards the color-sergeant, caught the
colors from his hand, and without uttering a word, advanced
towards the battery. The effect was magical. A sergeant
rushed forward and, waving his cap over his head, shouted,



292 Harvard Memorial Biographies.

"Look at your Colonel with the colors. Come on, boys!
come on 1 " A charge, and the battery was carried.

On the way to Petersburg he lost men by scores, and
officer after officer, until one captain, nine lieutenants, and
two hundred and fifty men only were left An eyewitness
thus describes the eventfiil day at Petersburg, July 30, 1864 : —

" I was at the battle of the 30th, and then for the first time met
Lieutenant-Colonel Hodges, in the crater, about two hours after
the explosion of the fort. His regiment, as well as mine, had ad-
vanced beyond the fort that was blown up. I advanced with my
regiment, and was wounded, and returned inside of the crater of
the fort. On my way to the rear, after being relieved, I saw your
brother sitting and leaning back against the embankment, and also
near him Lieutenant-Colonel Wright (Twenty-seventh Michigan),
both of them being wounded, Colonel Hodges through the thigh,
Colonel Wright through the shoulder. I stood in front of them,
and talked with them about their wounds, the war, and the pros-
pects. After a moment, they made room for me, and invited me to
sit between them, we aU wishing to be on the ground awhile to see
the colored troops make a charge, as we had expressed a doubt as
to their bravery, and wished to see them personally. After I sat
down, your brother leaned lightly on my shoulder, and appeared
weak. Colonel Wright spoke, and asked if we had not better go
on to the rear. Your brother said, ' We can't get there until the
colored troops pass by.' They were then going through the ex-
ploded fort to make the charge. As the colored troops passed, the
Johnnies ranged their batteries so as to throw their shells into
the crater of the fort, and some twenty exploded there within half
as many minutes. On the explosion of a shell some ten or twelve
feet from us, while sitting in the position I have described, a piece
of shell struck him on the back of the head, killing him instantly.
He did not fall, as he was supported by me on one side and the
bank on the other. I spoke to a soldier to assist me, and he laid
him down carefully, examined his pockets, found his watch, some
papers, and a pencil, which I here^vith enclose. The man took a
blanket, after laying him in an easy position, with one hand by his
side, the other across his breast, and covered him up, where I left
him, and where I doubt not he was buried, as the enemy afterward
took the fort, and buried all the dead in the fort in reconstructing."

This surmise was afterwards ascertained to be correct



John Hodges. 293

through a flag of truce. Thus died at the early age of twen-
ty-two, after serving his country from the very outbreak of the
war, in almost all parts of the field, and faithfully sharing the
fortunes of four different regiments, the brave, generous, and
ardent John Hodges.



294 Harvard Memorial Biographies.



ARTHUR CORTLANDT PARKER.

First Sergeant 33d Mass. Vols. (Infantry), July 21, 1862 ; Second Lieu-
tenant, March 3, 1863 ; killed by guerillas near Bristow Station, Va., Au-
gust 24, 1863.

AT the end of the undergraduate course at Harvard
University each student is requested to write an auto-
biography, which is preserved as part of the Class records;
and perhaps this memoir cannot be better prefaced than by
a part of the brief paper which Lieutenant Parker then con-
tributed.

"I was born in Boston, October 21, 1B40. My father, William
Parker, is the Superintendent of the Panama Railroad, — formerly
Superintendent of the Boston and Worcester, Baltimore and Ohio,
and Boston and Lowell roads. He was educated at Captain Par-
tridge's military school. I belong to the Parkers of New Jersey,
who came over from England in 1670. All my paternal ancestors
held numerous offices under the Provincial, State, and general gov-
ernments, and seats in Congress, the New Jersey Legislature, and
the Governor's Council. The family mansion, a large stone build-
ing, called the Castle, was fortified in the Revolutionary War.

" I am descended, on my mother's side, from the Scollays and
Whitwells of Boston, — the former, an old Norse family (mentioned
in the life of Sir Robej-t Strange), came over from the Orkneys in
1640 ; the latter, from Colnsbrook, in England, in 1735. My moth-
er's name was Lucy Gushing Whitwell.

" I Uved in Boston and Newton tiU 1848 ; went to Baltimore in
that year ; returned to Boston in 1853 ; went to Chicago in March,
1859 ; and returned to Boston in December, i860. I have attended
in Boston the Latin and High Schools, graduating af the former in
1857, and spending the next year at the latter. I received at, these
schools four prizes for Latin and English verses and for mathe-
matics.

" I entered college in 1858. At the end of six months I left and
went to Chicago, where I stayed till December, i860. I .then re-
turned to Cambridge, and rejoined my Class in September, 1861."



^rinur K^orcianai jramer.



29s



As a child Arthur was a generous, impulsive, mischievous
little fellow, very quick-tempered and fond of fun. A friend
of his mother writes : —

" I remember Arthur as the handsomest, gayest, bravest child I
ever saw. His entire fearlessness often astonished me. I can see
him now as if it were but yesterday, standing on one foot in the
hand of his uncle's outstretched arm, his other foot clasped in his
little hand while he balanced himself with his other arm. There
he stood joyous and triumphant."

When Arthur was nearly nine years old, his father removed
to Baltimore. Here he began his Latin Grammar, and was
soon brought forward as the show scholar whenever visitors
came to the school. At thirteen he entered the third class of
the Boston Latin School, and under its excellent training his
love for the classic languages increased. He spent much of
his leisure time in reading Horace and Lucretius, and in
writing Latin verses ; and when in the second year of the
school, gained for a Latin ode the prize which belonged to
the first class.

It was his way to adopt one of two pursuits, and to follow
them with enthusiasm, while he cared little for any others.
About this time he took a great interest in gymnastics, in
which he was fitted to excel by a strong and compact frame
and a fearless spirit. He graduated at the Latin School in
1857, taking another prize; and as his father thought it best
for him to defer entering college for a year, he entered the
second class at the High School. Here he wrote an English
poem entitled, Mens sana in corpore sano, on his favorite sub-
ject of physical training, and, contrary to custom, he was re-
quested to recite it on the graduating day of the first class.

He entered college without conditions, but had been there
only six months when an advantageous offer was made to him
to go into a store in Chicago, which he thought it best to ac-
cept on account of his father's circumstances at the time, and
because, although he enjoyed college life, he did not intend to
study for a profession. Arthur's experience in Chicago was
much the same as that of all young men who begin at the foot



296 Hanard MernoriaJ BiograJf/tii'S.

of the ladder and live with great economy. His chief pleas-
ures were, as before, reading the classics, studying languages,
and practising g}-mnastics. In the last he was ven- proficient
He writes : " I ended up a coil of rope weighing nine hundred

and four pounds a day or two ago I have at last

learned to pull m)-self up with one arm, hanging perfectly
taught, and starting with a little jerk.'

After he had remained at Chicago nearly two years, he ex-
pressed to his brother a strong desire to return and finish his
education ; and his parents, on hearing of it, immediately re-
called him. This was in December, i860, and he could not
be examined until the following summer. He told his iriends
that he meant to enter as a Junior, but he had secretly re-
solved to rejoin his own Class, from which he had been absent
two years. He studied by himself, and on returning from the
examination he surprised and pleased his mother by saying, in
his pla}-ful way, " Mother, the Facult}' and I have concluded
that it is not worth my while to stay more than a year in Col-
lege, so I entered Senior, and without conditions." He did
not study for rank, but preferred to devote himself to whatever
he thought he most needed. His facult)' for learning lan-
guages wtis rather remarkable. Latin \ras a passion with him.
He received a prize at college as at school for verses in that
language. He was continually making Latin verses in playing
upon words, and in the outset of the national struggle his sae-
dere est se avikre found its way into many of the newspapers.
One day he surprised his mother by asking for a copy of
Dante, as she knew he had never studied Italian. He said he
did not altogetlier like the less advanced class, and intended
to join one which was studying that book. His mother ex-
pressed her doubts of his abilit)- to learn the lessons, but
fbund tliat, with verj- slight assistance at first, he was able to
do so. He was a verj' good French scholar, and had given
some attention to German and Spanish, which last studies he
continued while in the army.

In the beginning of the war Arthur had expressed a
strong desire to go with his companions to the defence of



Arthur Cortlandt Parker. 297

his country, but acquiesced without a murmur in the ■ndsh



Online LibraryThomas Wentworth HigginsonHarvard memorial biographies .. → online text (page 26 of 44)