COLLECTANEA OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
from The National Tribune, Other Contemporary Newspapers, Diaries, Letters, Books,
Court Martial Records, Pension Files, Compiled Service Records
and Other God-Knows Wheres
How a Jerseyman Got Even with His Captain
It was during the campaign of 1864 that the cavalry under the gallant Sheridan and Gregg were engaged in covering Grant's flank movement, when the rebels were struck at Hawe's Shop by the cavalry under Gen. Gregg. The first intimation we had of the proximity of the enemy was firing along the line of the 10th N. Y. That regiment could not hold its line and the 1st Pa. went to its aid and succeeded in regaining the lost position and successfully held it until the broken regiment could again be brought into line. The 1st N. J. soon received orders to go in, and by this time the firing was terrific, telling us that there was no child's play in the woods in our front;. The order to dismount was given, and the writer found that he was one of the number to stay with the horses, but before the line had formed and moved forward, Booth of Co. G began rolling on the ground with a terrible attack of colic (caused by the firing we presume), and a recount brought me in the line to go to the aid of those already in the woods. Leaving Booth rolling on the ground, and with the line already some 50 or 60 yards away, Dehart, Siebek and the writer were hastening to catch up with the column, when Capt. Robbins came riding back in a towering rage at our not being in the ranks. We were doing our best, when, riding up to Siebeck, he struck him, and as he passed gave Dehart a dose of the same. The writer fortunately missed getting hit by the choleric Captain. Once in the woods it was every man for himself, and from behind trees, stumps and the fence we poured a heavy fire upon the rebels behind a fence scarcely 30 yards away. Some evidence of the struggle is afforded by the list of killed and wounded of the 1st N. J. Cav., which footed up 63, of whom 11 were officers. By some means Dehart and myself got side by side behind a stump, and as he fired left-handed and I right-handed we were comfortably fixed. When the order to charge was given, Dehart, still smarting from the blow of his Captain, declared that he would "plug him if he got a chance." When the charge was made the Captain jumped over the fence, calling to his men to follow, and as he came nearly in front of where we lay Dehart let go on him and sent a ball through his shoulder and would have given him another dose had not the writer stopped him. We both had a hearty laugh at seeing the Captain dancing from the pain of the shot, and the captain never knew who fired that shot, and as Dehart has passed away, we trust that Capt. Robbins will now forgive and forget.
—Warren C. Hursh, Co. G, 1st N. J. Cav., Layton, N. J., The National Tribune, 11-11-1886
|1907 Reunion, Cos. H & K, 51st Illinois
The Annual Reunion of Cos. H and K, 51st Ill., was held on Chickamauga Day, Sept. 19, at the home of Comrade M. R. Metzger, Moline, Ill. At Chickamauga, being flanked [second day], the 51st Ill. lost 61 percent of its engaged strength, yet did gallant service, capturing the colors of the 24th Ala. and recapturing two pieces of an Indiana battery, which they hauled off by hand. Next year these companies will meet at the home of Comrade S. J. Allen, Port Byron, Ill. The officers elected are; President, A. Rowland; Secretary, M. R. Metzger.
—National Tribune 11-21-1907
|We Don't Want to Fight Today
A beautiful morning. Slept well and sound. We dont want to fight today. We advanced two miles and again formed in line of battle. I visited a deserted farm house, found plenty of onions and secured a meal.
Diary of William Austen, 22nd Illinois Infantry, April 27, 1862
Many of our boys dreaded being killed because they said in publishing the list the newspapers would be sure to spell their names wrong.
—J. F. Gwynn, Signal Corps, Army of the Cumberland, National Tribune 10-28-1886
Just the Word
It happened during the battle of Gaines' Mills, Va., that we got very badly mixed up—at one time the rebels having got behind us and, as it appeared, upon all sides of us—and having expended about all of our cartridges we were pretty tired, if not a little demoralized. We were lying flat upon our faces, firing very slowly, with almost our last ammunition, when a reb, who was also in the last stages of demoralization and seemed to labor under the impression that he was running from the Yankees, (which I presume he was, for rebs and Yanks were sandwiched in through those woods to beat all calculation),
bounded out of the bushes within ten feet of a recruit who had arrived in camp from home just before the battle. The reb was a six-footer and was panting like a donkey engine. Upon seeing the recruit he stopped short and gazed at him in blank consternation for a few seconds. The recruit was equally amazed and terrified and began to stammer and "rise to explain". The reb at last threw down his gun, and the words "I-I-I sur-r-r-render," trilled through his chattering teeth. "B-b-by God!" exclaimed the recruit, "that's j-just the w-word I was trying to think of." And the rebel got away.
—Charles H. Barlow [4th Michigan Infantry], Hartwick, Mich., The National Tribune, 03-29-1883
Mortally Wounded at Belmont:
Twenty-Five Years After
William Ellis died Nov. 23 at Pataka, Ill., from the effects of a wound received at the battle of Belmont. He was a member of Co. G, 22d Ill.; also a comrade of W. A. Smith Post, No. 167, Department of Illinois. of which he was Quartermaster at the time of his death. He was a great sufferer, but was always kind and cheerful. During the Reunion at Cairo last Fall, he had the pleasure of visiting the battle ground on which he was wounded and even found the tree that marked the spot where he received the fatal ball that made him a cripple for life.
—The National Tribune, 12-12-1886
|The Dead at Belmont
In regard to the burial of the Union dead at the battle of Belmont, Mo., Nov. 7, 1861, I believe not a single one of them was buried by Union soldiers. I occupied the hospital nearest the field. I dressed the first wound of the battle and I dressed the last on the field by any Federal Surgeon. Our rear had passed on the retreat, and the Confederates advanced before I finished dressing the last wound. I then made my escape. I was with the flag of truce next day looking for Lieut. Shipley, of Co. A, 27th Ill. I found him mortally wounded and brought him back with me, but he died before reaching Cairo. I saw the rebels burying our dead in common trenches. It would e impossible to find the remains of any particular soldier.
—E. H. Bowman, Surgeon, 27th Ill., Andalusia, Ill., The National Tribune, 12-30-1886
H. C. Trent Returns to Chickamauga
Monday morning Comrades Capt. H. C. Trent, Wm. Tilbrook, Jas. Swisher, and Charles Wilson started for the Grand Army Encampment at Louisville. Capt. Trent will attend the celebration at the Chicamauga battlefield where he fought, a place he has been longing to visit for some time. Charles Wilson will be within 55 miles of the plantation where he was a slave. The scenes there no doubt will arouse memories of long ago with him, too.
Port Byron Globe, September 13, 1895. Henry C. Trent was a member of Co. H, 51st Ill.
Counting the Dead
The dead were collected in groups of a dozen or a score and laid side by side in rows while the trenches were dug to receive them. Some, found at too great a distance from these rallying points, were buried where they lay. There was little attempt at identification, though in most cases, the burial parties being detailed to glean the same ground which they had assisted to reap, the names of the victorious dead were known and listed. The enemy's fallen had to be content with counting. But of that they got enough: many of them were counted several times, and the total, as given afterward in the official report of the victorious commander, denoted rather a hope than a result.
—Ambrose Bierce, "The Coup De Gråce"
|Yankee Doodle—or Some Other Doodle
It was late in the afternoon at the battle of Wiliamsburg, and the enemy were pressing us very hard. The regiments were broken and scattered, and things were beginning to look blue. It was evident that something must be done to check the enemy. At this moment an officer of the 1st Massachusetts called for volunteers, and having gathered some two hundred about him, they formed in line and charged the woods on the left of the road. This seemed to have the effect of checking the rebels, as they made no farther advance during the day. During the melee I managed to gather in a couple of Johnnies and was taking them back to the rear, when I saw ahead of me, in the road, General Heintzelman seated on a white horse. Just then a battery came galloping to the rear, and the troops who were scattered about evidently thinking a skedaddle was in order, proceeded to join in the race. When I arrived opposite Heintzelman, he was very much excited, and crying out to the flying troops (with a nasal twang), "Halt you ---, halt!" but they did not halt worth a cent; and seeing me standing there, he pointed with his sword at the runaways and said, "Shoot the ---, shoot 'em." At this moment some members of a band happened along, and having halted them, he ordered them, "Give us Yankee Doodle, or some other doodle!" At this the musicians struck up some national air and with the desired effect, for the fleeing troops, supposing re-enforcements were at hand, ceased to fall back.
—J. H. Mace, 7th Ohio, Company B, 2d N. H. Vols.,The National Tribune, 05-29-1884
A Wholesome Suggestion
Editor National Tribune:
In reading the "Fighting Them Over" page of your valuable paper I am often very much amused and sometimes disgusted by the great "I" and "Our Regiment" that did it all. If the War Department had known at the time who these few were who did all the fighting, "got there first,", etc. what an expense might have been saved to the country by leaving thousands and hundreds of thousands at home instead of keeping them in the service, where (as would appear by reading these exploits of "our regiment") they were doing nothing. But, somehow, my own little experience leads me to doubt some of these statements. I can never be made to believe that a half dozen regiments did all the work, whether fighting, confiscating chickens, turkeys, pigs, etc., or raiding the sutler. I believe all who were there had something to do toward putting down the rebellion, whether they carried muskets or drove mule teams. A regiment, might make a brilliant assault, drive the enemy and suffer heavy loss, and while halting to reform its shattered ranks, another regiment which perhaps had been in support might rush ahead and plant their colors on the captured works without firing a gun or the loss of a man. To whom does the honor belong? The simple fact as to what flag first floated from Lookout Mountain, Atlanta, Charleston, etc., makes but little difference; the honor belongs to those who made it possible for the flag to float there, and every soldier in the army who did the duty assigned him, in whatever capacity, did his share, although he might be a thousand miles away. Now, comrades, let us stop this wrangling and, fraternally grasping the had of each who wore the blue, whether from the Eastern army or the Western army, discarding these sectional titles and sarcastic flings, be charitable enough to say if "I" or "our regiment" happened to perform some gallant deed, you helped, and without your help we could not have been successful.
—Chas. A. Tompkins, Co. E, 137th N. Y., Glen Castle, N. Y.,The National Tribune, 12-30-1886
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