Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 28, 1861: The Return of the ALFRED THOMAS

The steamship ALFRED THOMAS was built in Easton, PA in 1860 to travel up the Delaware river from its home port of Belvidere to Port Jervis, NY. However, on March 6, 1860, on its maiden voyage up river from Easton to Belvidere, the boiler exploded near Getter's Island.  Twelve people were killed, including the boat's owners Judge William Sharp, Alfred Thomas, and Richard Holcomb.  The hull was undamaged, and a new Federal gunboat was built on it.

On December 28, 1861, Lieutenant Anthony Heminover, of the Belvidere, the son of William H. Heminover - owner of the Warren Journal from 1853-1856 - wrote to the Warren Journal from the camp of the 7th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment on the lower part of the Potomac River.  Heminover was promoted from Commissary Sergeant to Lieutenant of Company H on November 25, 1861.

Heminover wrote, "Mr. Editor.  It being the holidays and thinking it would interest your readers to hear from some of their dearest friends as a New Year call, in place of a call in person, which no doubt would be very agreeable to both parties, but it is quite out of the question at this time.

"The Warren County soldiers  that are in this regiment enjoy the best of health, all improving in strength and looks, and if they don't cause a great many girls to weep after they get home, it will be strange, or else they will not have much fancy for soldiers.  They will say to their mama's it is too bad you made me marry so soon, I told you my dear Johnny would come back.  I can speak the truth and say that the Warren County men are as fine, healthy, and good looking set of men as there is in the service.

"We are encamped in a lovely clump of pines on the slope of the hill overlooking the muddy old Potomac, and opposite those famous rebel batteries, by the way six schooners ran the blockade this morning  and they fired fifty or sixty shells at them and did not touch one, the distance they shot was a half or three-quarters of a mile - they truth is they can't shoot.  We don't want to hurt them if there is any other way to do, but they do not stop firing over at us, we will get mad and then look out for breakers. 

"I got leave of absence for forty-eight hours to spend the holidays, so I thought I would take a trip to Washington.  I left camp of Christmas Eve in company with three other officers, we wandered through the pines for a boat three miles.  It was darker than a stack of 'Maryland's nigger' - at least we found the boat and got sent on board.  It was so black that he could not see how to row, the surgeon and myself came within a ace of drowning.  At 11 o'clock, we found ourselves on board the transport PHILADELPHIA, got up steam but no go, she was fast in the mud, and was good for the night, and she laid so near the Free Stone Battery that it would be of no use of making any more noise than was necessary.  She is a beautiful boat, her cabin I should think is four feet square, two chairs and an old table is her outfit of furniture, there we were jammed in for the night, almost froze.  Daylight next we were set ashore to get a better start, it was not long before we got the sight of a thing, looked like a toadfish with a fanning mill fast to its tail, we hailed her, was sent on board and soon got under way, passed the Free Stone Battery [rebel], which luckily did not get a shot at us; if one of their shots had struck, it would have mashed her, she was so little, passed the HARRIET LANE and gunboat fleet.  Soon after we took our dinner, the Captain of the boat, a good natured clever fellow, was telling us about his little craft being so unlucky, and the boat turned out to be the ill-fated ALFRED THOMAS, many of your readers will read that name and shudder. 

"We passed the spot where the Father of our Country lays, it looked deserted and forsaken, not one person was to be seen, the trees all stripped of their cover, which gave it a more forlorn appearance.  Fort Washington, a beautiful and well constructed fort, lays nearly opposite, having the whole command of the river.  Farther up we passed the brig PERRY, then the monster ship PENSACOLA; over to our left we could see the Seminary where the First New Jersey Brigade are stationed, and arrived at Washington at 2 o'clock P. M.  Made a Christmas call on Captain [Joseph] Henry, of the 9th Regiment, found them very comfortably camped on our old campground, on Meridian Hill.  The boys all looked hail and hearty, and as if they eat their share of subsistence, and could do some tall fighting.  New Jersey troops will make their mark, for our brigade is getting wild to have a fight; they all enjoy the sound of the long [drum] roll; they will form at mid-night in five minutes in heavy marching order, and the sound of the cannon is music for them; they don't care any more about the enemies shell than you would about a blue pill.  At the sound of the long roll, the hospital is rid of its sick, they will form in line of battle in spite of all; there is no use, we are all fighters here, and lay where there is fighting to be done.

"Second day in Washington took dinner with our old friend H. D. Swayze, and you can rest assured his table was spread with edibles fit for a king.  May his good wife live to cook a dinner for us all after the war is at end.

"I was at the fire of the Government stables in Washington, it was an awful sight to see, those poor beasts tied side by side in rows of fifty or more and burned to death; some would have their eyes burned out, and others the hair is all burned off.  The streets were full of loose horses running wild with fright, some into the river, others in the flames again.

"We have sent a James' projectile to Trenton as a sample of the rebel pills that they send over to us nights.  It weighs sixty-four pounds, and when they burst they don't weigh so much; we have them in all shapes, only about one in six bursts, we take the powder out and make water jugs out of them.  The shell was sent by the commander of Company H.  I will close by wishing you a Happy New Year.  Tony.   P.S. In Jersey we generally get invitations to a ball, but here the rebels send their balls without and invitations."  

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas 1861 with the 47th PA Veteran Volunteer Infantry

The men  of Warren County (NJ) and Northampton and Lehigh Counties (PA) celebrated Christmas 1861 at Camp Griffin, VA, near Washington, D.C.  Snow had covered the ground, and the cold temperatures hardened the mud that had been created by days of rain the week before.  The soldiers had decorated their huts.  All tree stumps had been removed from the regimental camp perimeter, and small cedars were planted around the parade ground, along the streets, and at the entrances to officers' huts.

Captain J. P. S. Gobin, of Company C, described Christmas with the 47th PA, "Christmas was spent in a manner entirely different from that which most of us were accustomed to spend it.  No drilling was done, and the men scattered about as their inclinations led them.  Most of us, however, dined on turkeys provided by the Sutler at $1.75 a piece."  One of the pastimes offered to the men was the use of the Regimental Library of 25 books donated to the 47th PA in September by the Sunbury Presbyterian Church.  

The regimental band, Easton's famous Pomp's Coronet Band, held a Christmas concert for the entire Brigade.  Gobin stated in his journal, "The day was very pleasant, and in the evening, the New York 33rd gave a Ball on their parade ground.  As I sat in my quarters, I could hear the familiar 'all hands round, swing your partners' sung out in a manner that showed they were going in with a will.  There were no ladies present, nor was there a bar-room for the young men to frequent, and everything passed off finely.  In one division of ten thousand men, I did not on that day see a single person intoxicated."

Captain Richard Graeffe, of Company A, was still home on furlough in Easton.  While he was away, Washington, D.C. photographer David Bigley was granted permission to set up his camera and "studio" in Graeffe's "log palace."  Bigley would make Ambrotypes [photos on glass] for soldiers of the 47th PA so they could send them to their families and friends before shipping off to Florida to man Fort Zachary Taylor on Key West and Fort Jefferson on Shark island in the Dry Tortugas. 

Private Mike Delany, of Easton, in Company A wrote wrote to the Easton Daily Evening Express on December 26, "Now that Christmas has emerged into the times that was, it may not be  inappropriate to make a few remarks concerning the manner in which the festival was celebrated by the 'bowld soger boys' in this neighborhood, a place now generally supposed to be infinitely beyond  the pale of civi, I suppose, of its youth and purity, whose internal regions betrayed the fact of its last meal, while on the land of the living, to be a highly seasoned one.  Next came sausages, interminable links of sausage, which, after officiating somewhat in the manner of 'the five loaves and fishes,' enable me to decorate the tent's interior, in an artistic manner, far surpassing the festoons or fresco paintings of the renowned Michael Angelo.  The various other items I must pass over till another opportunity, except the liquids, which I must remark was of such a quality, that before half of it was disposed of, a band of fellows might be heard indulging in the melodious strains of 'We're all a Nodding, bob, bob, a Nodding.'  We must avail ourselves of your columns to return to Mr. Seitz our sincere thanks for such unexpected, and undeserved, kindness, and we earnestly hope and pray that his wine press may never rest from its labors, nor his gobblers degenerate, either in size, quality or number.

"In the afternoon of the day, the inevitable dress parade took place, at which all the formalities were duly undergone, not excepting the company commander's advance to the center, to the tune of the Rogues March, or some other music it is our pleasure to hear frequently executed by Pomp's Band.  It is my pleasant duty to informs the citizens of Easton that Pomp's Band has acquired an ascendancy in these regions, both from the character of the pieces arranged by Mr. Coates, and manner of execution that justly renders them the 'ne plus ultra' of the musical profession.  Corroborative of the high appreciation in which their performances are held, I must say that the leader, Mr. Coates, keeps constantly employed writing music and filling orders that are incessantly flowing in from the bands around Alexandria and the surrounding camps.  To follow them while executing Captain Dachrod's Quickstep is inspiring and makes a fellow feel infinitely greater  than the Great Alexander, of sea-chastising notoriety.  Talk about storming batteries, war, and the walls of Quebec, with such music in the van, said walls would crumble, if threatened by a party with no other arms but walking sticks.  They did the Christmas night serenading through the Brigade, and of course, the General's  best rectified found itself in thousands of individuals, capable of bestowing on its distinguished honor.  

"We were agreeably occupied in reading your paper of the 23rd instant, containing a communication from a lady, who visited various camps, and portrayed what came under her observation.  She seemed to be horrified at the fact of soldiers sleeping with stockings on and bolsterifying their knapsacks, having labored under the impression, I suppose, that each soldier had an attendant to bring him in the morning hot water, shaving apparatus, moustache dying receipt, eau-de-cologne, fine tooth combs, and everything else necessary to the completion of a dandy's toilet.  Let the dear girl but visit the 47th, and she will have an opportunity of beholding the bright side of the picture.  No cases of sickness, owing to the efficiency and unremitted labors of Surgeon Bailey and his Assistant, Dr. Scheetz, and every man gay and happy, whose only ailment is a worrying state of peaceful inactivity.  In order that she may witness our expertness, where preserves are the order of t he day, she must bring some jellies, and my goodness, if we don;t clearly demonstrate the inutility of soap-suds to our fingers, its more than I conceive; besides, she will depart with the pleasant satisfaction of knowing that her relationship is vastly extended, every man failing not to observe, like the Vermonters, that there is a resemblance between her and his mother.

"On last Friday while trying to demolish a bowl of soup, which, by the way, is a conglomeration of every article in the known vegetable kingdom, with pork or beef juice and water, the long roll beat, and incompliance with its suggestions, the 47th, in a shorter time than it requires to relate to the same, uttering wild huzzahs and frantic with excitement, were in line awaiting the Colonel's orders to march.  So quickly was the movement effected, that the General was heard to remark that whatever work was to be performed give him the 47th.  The Brigade started forward, and having arrived at the place suspected of danger, Company A, under the command of Lieut. James F. Meyers, and Company I, deployed right and left as skirmishers, leaving the main corps to proceed in column along the road.  Our expedition through the woods revealed nothing save a few indications of a prior Rebel occupation, namely some fence rail sheds, covered with spruce, and the position behind a hill, on top of which rested a battery, awaiting the enemy's advance; but in this, as on several other occasions, we were disappointed and consequently returned to camp, considerably more depressed than at the start.

"It is reported by reliable authority that our stay here will soon terminate, for some destination as yet unknown, so Captain Graeffe, who is now recruiting in Easton, will perceive the necessity, or otherwise, of his reappearance in camp, an incident to be hailed with the highest satisfaction, not only by the men, but by Lieutenants Meyers and Dening, whose duties have of late become insufferably onerous.  I would recommend all who have it in contemplation to take up their country's cause, to embark under him, being from his long military experience, the only man capable of seeing them righted in every respect, as the men can fully testify, from the proceedings of the last pay day.  So wishing all a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and many recurrence of the same, I remain, Yours Respectfully, Mike Delany, Co.A, 47th Regt. P.V.    PS - Daguerreotyping has become a permanent institution with the 47th, Mr. David Bigley, a Washington artist,  having submitted his fortune to the fate of the Regiment, and is now operating in the log palace of Capt. Graeffe."    

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards                       

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December 23, 1861: Jersey 9th at Meridian Hill, VA

On December 23, 1861, Charles Hinton, of Belvidere, in Company K, 9th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment, wrote a letter to Franklin Pierce Sellers, publisher of the Belvidere Intelligencer.

Hinton wrote, "Since I last wrote you, we have moved to Meridian Hill to take winter quarters.  We left Camp Allen on Thursday morning.  We were ordered to leave our tents struck and knapsacks packed and be ready to march by 8 o'clock - all of us ready and we started off.  Our knapsacks were very heavy, as we had our blankets and other things to carry.  The distance was about four miles, and some of the boys felt pretty tired before we reached the Hill.  I had been on guard the night before and didn't feel like carrying my knapsack, but as it was the first duty of a soldier to obey orders, I did not complain, and there would have been no use to complain of a march of only four miles.  If we never march any farther than that, none of us will be hurt.

"The boys all seem willing to do their duty as soldiers, every one of them, only we would like to go a little farther South, so that we could do a little more than we have been doing.  We all came here with the expectation of fighting, and we don't want to be disappointed and kept out of it by laying here all winter where there is nothing to be seen.  We want to go where we can see something and hear and know something more about war than we do.  We did not come here to live off Uncle Sam for three years, and then go home without ever seeing a battle, or doing anything to put down the rebellion.  There are fighting boys in the 9th, and if they have half a chance shown them, they will make things tell.  The boys are in very good spirits, and there has been but little sickness among them as yet.  The weather has been very pleasant ever since we have been here, but it is not quite so warm this morning. 

"I seen Commissary [Lycidias] Hamilton, John E. Matthews and Jacob Meyer this morning.  They are all well, and as far as I know, all the other Belvidere boys are well.  Jacob Sharp and William Silverthorn were out here to see us.  We were much pleased to see them, only that they made such a short stay.  We were in hopes they would have remained with us to dinner.  The Intelligencer is a welcome visitor to us all - we are all glad to see it every time it comes.  As dinner is ready, and I am hungry, I will bring my letter to a close.  C.H."  

Hinton and the men of the Jersey Ninth wished for battle and they soon would get - and later regret - their wish in January 1862 when they shipped out for Roanoke Island, North Carolina.

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards   

Saturday, December 3, 2011

December 9, 1861: Letter from Charles Hinton of the 9th NJ Regiment

The 9th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment was camped in Washington, D.C. by December 9th 1861.  The regiment was commanded by Colonel Joseph W. Allen, of Bordentown, and Lt. Colonel Charles Heckman, of Phillipsburg.   The bulk of Warren County men in the Jersey 9th were in Company H under the command of Captain Joseph Henry, of Oxford Furnace.

On December 9, Charles Hinton, of Belvidere, a member of Company K, wrote a letter to Franklin Pierce Sellers, editor and publisher of the Belvidere Intelligencer.  Hinton was one of Sellers' war correspondents.  Hinton wrote, "Having a little leisure, I thought I could not better employ the time than by writing to you.  We left Camp Olden, Trenton, on Wednesday morning last, for Washington.  We had a fine start, the day was beautiful; the boys were all in good spirits and glad to leave their old camp for one in which they could learn more about war.  We arrived in Philadelphia about sundown - there we stacked arms and went to supper, and we had a fine supper - one that a soldier don't get every day.  We all got ready again and started on our way towards the depot, where we had to take the cars for Baltimore.  We all got aboard the train and started with the expectation of getting to Baltimore about 2 o'clock that morning, but we did not get there until 9, and then we marched about a mile through the city until we got to the depot, where we were ordered to sling knapsacks and get ready for breakfast, which came very acceptable, for we were hungry just about that time, but the boys had been paid off just before they left Camp Olden, and they made the cakes and pies suffer, which boys and girls brought down for sale; and by the time breakfast was ready, they had no wish for dry bread at all.  As I did not join the Regiment in time to get any pay, I had to take dry bread and coffee, and I ate heartily of it.

"We left Baltimore about 2 o'clock for Washington, and about every five minutes the train would stop at the passings, and they kept on that way, so we did not get to Washington until nearly daylight, where we got out of the old sheep cars and started for the Soldiers' Rest, which is near the depot - there we slung knapsacks, washed up, and got ready for breakfast. We started for the Soldiers' Retreat, where our breakfast was all ready: we had good coffee, bread, and corned beef, and we all ate of it very heartily.  About one o'clock, we started for our encampment, about a mile-and-a-half from the Capitol, there to await further orders.  It is thought we will not remain here long, but how long we cannot tell.  We don't know any more about that than you do.

"The Belvidere boys of Company H are all well and in good spirits, and want to get further South so they can play a little on the rebels.  There is nothing of importance going on in our Camp, so I will bring this letter to a close, and the next time I write you I hope there will be something more to write about.  Chas. H."

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November 1861: 2nd NJ Brigade Leaves NJ

By late November 1861, the regiments of the Second New Jersey Brigade were trained and ready to be transported to Washington, D.C. and Virginia. 

In July 1861, during the State's second call up of three-year volunteer troops, the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Infantry Regiments were created along with Batteries A & B of the NJ Volunteer Artillery.  The 4th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment and Battery A were assigned to the First NJ Brigade to join the 1st, 2nd and 3rd NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiments, which were already in Washington, DC and had taken part in the 1st Battle of Manassas [Bull Run].   The 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th NJV regiments along with Battery B were to form the Second NJ Brigade. 

Warren County men who enlisted in the 4th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment in August 1861 were: Company B: George W. Acker, of Mountain Lake,  Company C: Hiram Schultz, of Belvidere; Company D: John W. Whittey, of Washington; Company I: Corporal Joseph L. Young, of Phillipsburg; and Company K: George W. Hartman, of Hope.  

Men who enlisted in the 4th NJV later in 1864 and 1865 - many as substitutes - were: Company A: Frederick Fisher, of Phillipsburg; Company D: William Hoff, of Harmony, and William G. Tomer, of Phillipsburg; Company E: John Donovan, of Millbrook, and John Madigan, of Hackettstown; Company G: Reverend Isaac J. Cooke, of Phillipsburg, and William B. Smith, of Asbury; and Company I: Daniel O'Brien, of Dunfield/Belvidere.  John Hart, alias Jacob Hart, of Hackettstown, enlisted in Company B on 2 February 1864 but deserted en route to the regiment. Hart enlisted in Company A as a substitute on 19 June 1865 and deserted in February 1865. 

Warren County men who enlisted in the 5th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1861 were: Company G: Thomas M. Baker, of Port Murray; and Company H: John David Ensley [Inslee], of Phillipsburg, and William Reimer [Ryman], of Washington.   In 1864, William Cole, of Belvidere, and Frederick Kling, of Phillipsburg, enlisted in Company A.

Warren County men who enlisted in the 6th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1861 were: Assistant Regimental Surgeon: Dr. Redford Sharp, of Belvidere;  Company B: Corporal Peter S. Mutchler and Corporal George R. Shebbard [Shebbeard], of Phillipsburg; Company F: James M. Tate, of Phillipsburg; Company H: Augustus Fisher, of Riegelsville, and Simon Snyder, of Hope; and Company K: William H. Randolph, of Phillipsburg.  Joining the regiment later were: Assistant Regimental Surgeon:  Dr. Henry M. Fagan, of Oxford (1863); and Company I: Albert Herman, of Phillipsburg (1864).

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards

Saturday, November 5, 2011

October 29, 1861: 47th PA In Vienna, VA

On October 29, 1861, the men of the 47th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment were in a picket line near Vienna, VA.  Captain J. P. S. Gobin's Company C was assigned to picket duty near a farm house owned by a man named Stewart.  Stewart was married to the sister of James Jackson - the hotel owner who killed Colonel Elmer Ellsworth in Alexandria, VA at the start of the war a few months earlier. 

Stewart was a quartermaster in the Confederate Army.  Mrs. Stewart had been arrested and sent to Washington, D.C. after she was caught passing information to Confederate spies. 

Gobin went through the house and found a note addressed to Mrs. Stewart from two Confederate cavalry officers.  the note stated, "Mrs. Stewart: Please accept our most hearty thanks for the nice breakfast we have partaken of, and of the kindness manifested to Southern soldiers.  May your sorrows be dreams, and your joys bright realities.  Your Friends, J. R. Rambo and J. B. Edmundson.  Sept. 10, 1861"

Captain Gobin reported, "This was written on the back of an envelope directed to James Rambo, 1st Regiment Virginia Cavalry, in care of Capt. W. E. Jones, of the Washington Mounted Rifles... We found several slaves and two small children at Stewart's, who are all in a state of want, and dependent upon our army for their daily subsistence."

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October 1861: Jail-Break of Andrew Hiram Ackerman

At dusk on October 10, 1861, three men broke out of the Northampton County Jail, in Easton, PA.  Two of the men were career thieves, Stephen Gross and a man only identified as Bowen. The third man was a Belvidere soldier,  Andrew Hiram Ackerman, who would die a hero's death at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863.  Gross and Bowen were awaiting trial for a robbery committed in Bethlehem.  Ackerman was awaiting trial for stealing $40 on September 3, 1861 from his uncle, William H. Hutchinson, a magistrate in Mount Bethel.

Ackerman, 25, had joined the Warren Guards in Belvidere on April 18, 1861 as a private.  In early May, he was elected Lieutenant of the Belvidere Company of Zouaves.  On May 20, 1861, he left the Belvidere Zouaves to enlist for Federal Service in Company I, 2nd NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment as a private. 

The regiment was camped in Newark, NJ for training.  On September 3, while on leave from the 2nd NJ, Ackerman stole $40 from his uncle and returned to camp.  Hutchinson pursued Ackerman to Newark, where Ackerman was arrested.  Ackerman was sent to Warren County Jail in Belvidere, where authorities were leaning toward sending the soldier back to his regiment.  On the insistence of Hutchinson, his nephew was extradited to Northampton County.

Ackerman wanted to return to his regiment.  On October 10, Ackerman, Gross and Bowen cut the iron bars of their jail cell window and lowered themselves into the jail yard.  The men scaled the jail yard wall and "left for parts unknown."  Ackerman returned to his regiment and went off to war.

In June 1862, Ackerman was commissioned 1st Lieutenant of Company A, 11th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  On March 6, 1863, Lt. Ackerman was transferred to Company C, replacing Captain John Willis, who was disabled from wounds.  On March 29, 1863, Ackerman was promoted to Captain.  Captain Ackerman was with his men in the peach/apple orchard of the Smith Farm  at Gettysburg when the Confederates attacked on July 2, 1863. 

Colonel Robert McAllister, of Oxford Furnace and Belvidere, was wounded as he shouted, "Fire!"  Ackerman and Adjutant John Schoonover, of Oxford Furnace, learned that McAllister and senior Captains Luther Martin and Dorastus Logan were wounded.  Ackerman would have been next in line to command the regiment, but Ackerman was killed instantly after hearing the adjutant's report.  Ackerman was treated to a hero's burial, but had he survived the war, he probably would have been arrested to face Northampton County charges.

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 1861: Charles Heckman, Joseph Henry & The 9th NJ Regiment

In October 1861, the 9th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment was created.  Major Charles Heckman, of Phillipsburg, resigned from the 1st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment in September 1861 on the promise he would be the lieutenant colonel of the "Jersey 9th" under the command of Colonel Joseph W. Allen, of Bordentown. 

Heckman had served in the Mexican War of 1846-1848 as a lieutenant of Company H in the 1st US Voltigeurs.  He had participated in battles at National Bridge, Contreras, Cherubusco, Molino del Rey, Chapultepec, and Mexico City.  After the Mexican War, Heckman became a conductor on the newly created New Jersey Central Railroad.  In April 1861, Heckman raised a company of volunteers for the 1st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

In Oxford Furnace, Lieutenant Joseph Henry, late of the Kansas Regiment, decided not to enlist in a New York regiment.  Instead, Henry decided to recruit a company of men for the "Jersey 9th."  Whether it was a coincidence or a deliberate action, Henry's company of men was designated Company H. 

Joseph Henry was the son of William Henry, manager of the Oxford Furnace.  He was the brother-in-law of Colonel Charles Scranton.  Henry had been an aide to Congressman G. W. Scranton (Penna. 12th District) in Washington, D.C.   He attended Abraham Lincoln's inauguration on 4 March 1861 as a friend of the new President.  In March 1861, when the nation was on the verge of civil war, Henry enlisted in General James Lane's Kansas Regiment.  In June 1861, Henry was honorably discharged from the Kansas Regiment by President Lincoln and Secretary of War Cameron.  After the Federal defeat at Manassas , VA on 21 July 1861, Henry planned to enlist in a New York regiment.  After he was commissioned captain of Company H, 9th NJ Volunteer Infantry, Henry was appointed by President Lincoln to be US Consul to the Balearic Islands, but Henry turned down the appointment to remain commanding officer of Company H.  [Henry would become the first NJ officer killed in battle on 8 February 1862 at Roanoke Island, North Carolina.]

Warren County men who enlisted in Captain Henry's Company H were: Jacob Aumick, John Lewis Aumick, William Aumick, Peter B. Beam, Timothy Callahan, Edward Clayton, Nelson Cramer (company baker), John Dickey (wagoner), Jason Garis, Lycidious Hamilton, Lieutenant Joseph B. Lawrence, Corporal John E. "Father" Matthews, Jacob Meyer, and John B. VanNorman, of Belvidere; Sergeant Austin E, Armstrong and Jacob Hadley, of Hope; John F. Butler, and Lieutenant James Stewart, Jr., of Greenwich Township; George F. Ribble, Corporal Daniel W. Shoemaker, and Jacob S. VanGordon, of Pahaquarry Township; Abraham Van Gordon and William Van Gordon, of Hardwick Township; Joseph R. Wilgus, of Blairstown; Wesley Comer, of Oxford Township; Ammadee DeForest, of Hackettstown; Marcus M. Fiske, Isaac W. Haggerty, Corporal Charles P. Levers, Edward Levers, John Levers, and Corporal Robert Phillips, of Phillipsburg; Henry Pittenger (wagoner), Corporal George W. Taylor and John P. Taylor, of Hazen (White Township); and from unidentified municipalities: John Brown, Harvey Cook, John E. Cook, Elisha Cooley, Corporal John W. Creveling, William D. Forgus, Spencer A. Hagerman, John Hirt, Marshall Howell, Andrew D. Staples, and Joseph Warner.

Warren County men who enlisted in other companies of the "Jersey 9th" were: Company A - Peter Hermes, of Phillipsburg; Company C - Joseph B. Cline, of Washington, and Jerome B. Cunningham, of Hope; Company D - John M. Clayton, of Belvidere; Company E - George Cooper, of Belvidere; Morris Breslin and Isaac June, of Mountain Lake; Company I - Reuben Seagraves, of Phillipsburg; and Company K - Henry Cook and Charles Hinton, of Belvidere, and Captain J. Madison Drake, of Trenton [later of Belvidere].

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

Monday, October 17, 2011

October 17, 1861: Letter From Gideon Angle, 11th PA Cavalry

By October 1861, Lt. Charles Butts, of Belvidere, and the men of "The NJ Company" (Company I) of the 11th PA Volunteer Cavalry were stationed in Virginia at Camp Palmer.  Butts had recruited Company I in Belvidere, Hope and Blairstown in August and September.

One of the men who joined Butts' company was Gideon C. Angle, a book seller from Belvidere.  In May 1861, Angle was the sole agent in Warren County, NJ selling a 500-page book entitled The Teachings of Patriots and Statesmen, or The Founders of the Republic on Slavery.  The book sold for $1.00.  the book was a compilation of reports and speeches on the issue of slavery made by such statesmen as President John Quincy Adams,  Silas Wright, Thomas H. Benton, President James Buchanan, Daniel Webster, Henry clay, John C. Calhoun, Sam Houston, Lewis Cass, and Robert Toombs.  The book contained a history of the Ordinance of 1787 [predating the Constitution, the ordinance regulated the creation of new states within the Northwest Territories], the debates in Congress between 1790 and 1850, the Missouri Compromise of 1820, Congressional debates of 1831 to 1836, and Clay's Compromise of 1850. 

Warren Journal publisher/editor John Simerson, a Democrat, wrote of the book, "This is a work which every man needs, who wishes to be fully posted upon slavery agitation, from the formation of this government to the present time."

On October 17, 1861, Angle wrote to Simerson from Camp Palmer, "Friend Simerson: Having been solicited by many of my friends to write them and give them some idea of camp life, I shall comply with a short epistle.  Since leaving Belvidere (a place in which I have always delighted to live, and with whose townsmen I have been so long associated, some of whom I shall always hold dear to memory for their kindness bestowed on me when leaving for the war), I have had the pleasure of seeing many things that were entirely new to me, and have gone through many things that I have never been accustomed to, and have learned some things that I never knew before, and trust that they shall be a lesson for me through life.

"To give an idea of what would be most interesting to those who read this letter, I will commence at Camp Harlan, two miles northwest of Washington city.  We arrived at this place on Sunday, the 15th of September.  While there, I had the pleasure of visiting some of the most important places in the city and district.  Having heard much said of the Patent Office, my curiosity led me to see it, and through the kindness of my friend, Dr. Wilson (who is a clerk in the department, and by the way was my school teacher in the village of Paulina when I was at the age of nine years), was conducted through the office and had pointed out many relics of antiquity, the most important of them were Washington's camp equipage and the same uniform that he wore during the revolution, the original Declaration of Independence, and many other things of less note. In passing through, we met with H. D. Swayze, Esq. and Mr. Henry Hartung.  These gentlemen are also clerks in the department, and by an invitation went with them through the Capitol, and on the part of the dome that is finished, although it was a cloudy day, we had a beautiful view for many miles in any direction, and no person can imagine the magnificence of it without actual experience.

"It being dinner time, they took us to Mount Pleasant Hotel (their boarding place), corner of Delaware Avenue and A Street, conducted by Moses Foster, formerly of Bridgeville, had an excellent dinner and relished it more than any I have taken in a long time.  To say the least of Mr. F., he is a whole-souled man, ever ready and willing to accommodate his customers.  Don't forget to stop with him when you come to Washington.  His place is about twenty-five yards from the Capitol.  The Smithsonian Institute, the Hospital, the Soldier's Home, and other places of the kind, are of much interest to the visitor.  The Soldier's Home is on an elevation about three miles north of the city.  I visited this institution on Friday, October 4th, and gathered some information concerning it.  I was informed by one of the inmates that it was erected in James Polk's administration. There is a main entrance with right and left wings, making in length 350 feet and 60 feet wide, four story high, with an observatory on the center of the main building; the material is solid marble; the grounds surrounding are handsomely laid out and beautifully decorated with all the choicest flowers; over the door of the main entrance of this building is a solid marble plank on which is engraved this motto, 'A grateful country to her defenders.'  Much more can be said concerning this institution which would be interesting to those who have never visited it, but time and space will not permit me to describe it all in full, but shall leave it until another time.

"Just four weeks have elapsed when the order came for us to march; we did so by striking our tents on Monday morning, the 14th, marched across the Long Bridge, on the Potomac, to a distance of five miles into Virginia; we arrived at our place of destination about noon, pitched our tents, and remained till next morning, when orders cames to march; we struck our tents, packed wagons, saddled horses, mounted and remained on the ground to ascertain the next camping place; finally General Palmer came and soon found us a place, which is in an adjoining field of about 40 acres, our regiment taking up the whole ground. After pitching tents and getting all things to rights, an exploring party headed by Captain Cornog, of Company A, discovered a line of telegraph under ground; with some difficulty I procured a small piece, part of which I send to you for those who would like to examine it.  I am told the same party found under ground a keg of powder.  This is truly a land of wonders.

"Before closing, I wish to say a word in regard to our officers.  Our Colonel is the well-known General Harlan, of Philadelphia.  I am told by a nephew of his, (who is a Lieutenant in the regiment), that he was five years in the English service and twenty years since a General-in-Chief of the Persian Army.  It is evident from his deportment that he is a true soldier.  Hon. S. Wetherill, of Bethlehem, is one of our Majors.  I had the pleasure of conversing with him one cold morning about 5 o'clock; from my short acquaintance I pronounce him a true gentleman and a superior officer; he is affable and kind, just what inferior soldiers want.  As I am not acquainted, I can speak of no other officers save those of Company I, the one to which I belong.  Hon. Daniel Herr, of Columbia, Pa., who was four years Colonel of the Pennsylvania volunteers, and two years a member of the Legislature, is our Captain; his words of command are clear and distinct; in this respect he has few superiors; he is beloved and respected by his men, especially by your humble servant.  Our 1st and 2nd Lieutenants, Kensinger and Butts, are good, whole-souled fellows, and it gives me pleasure to speak in their praise. They have robbed themselves of money and clothes to befriend their men, and will do all in their power in having justice dealt to them.  At some future time (if spared to do so), I will give you further information concerning our men and their movements.  Very respectfully yours, Gideon C. Angle."

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October 1, 1861: Letter from Aaron Watson Smith, 7th NJ Infantry

On October 1, 1861, Aaron Watson Smith, of Belvidere, wrote to his brother John from Camp Casey.  Private Smith was a member of Company E, 7th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  Smith and many other Belvidere area menhad joined Company E of the NJ 7th in August, during the call for three-year volunteers.  In 1861, Smith's brother, Joseph C. Smith, had enlisted in The Anderson Zouaves (62nd NY Volunteer Infantry Regiment), the infamous "Zou-Zous."  Joseph would die in a Washington, DC hospital at age 25 on February 16, 1863 from wounds received during the 2nd Battle of Fredericksburg, VA.  The letter follows as Smith had written it, including the misspellings.  The letter was saved by Fannie Smith, of Belvidere, and now remains in the family with Judy (Johlman) Cheatham, of Belvidere.

Smith wrote, "Dearest Brother, I received your kind and welcome letter to day and was very happy to hear from you But very soorey to hear that you have met with sutch & soriful accident. But I hope it will not turn out to be so bad as what I think it is.  Dearest Brother keep in good hart And as long as I live I will do All that's in my position to help you.  Any thing that I have got home take it and converte it to your own use I give it to you freely.  When I return I think I can do a good deal Better for you.  I was telling Joseph who I left take care of his things And he was very well pleased you take his Clothes and if there is any you want to use, use them in Welcome that is what your Brother Joseph told me to tell you.  John I was very soory to hear that mothers Arm is so Lame it appears to me that all the bad luck must happen after I leave.  If I had been with you that accident never whould happened to you. But it is so and can't be helpt maybey it has All bin for the Best that I an hear.  I forgit weather I told you in my other letter that Joseph's Regiment had left hear one last Thursday to join the Army Along the Potomac. He told me he whould right and tell me ware he was But I have not receaved Any word from him yet.  Although I can see thiose Baggage wagons pass hear Everyday. Every thjing is quiet around hear at present.  little Jersey is All right. The Jersey Troops took possession of Munson Hill one Saturday. it was the hid quarters [headquarters] of the Rebels But now the stars and stripes are planted On the Rebels ground to wave in triumph Again over the oust land of the free and home of the Brave. today We can hear canonading over in Virginia. I don't think we will ever be cauld in to Battle. if I can keep my health and don't git sick I will be all Right. I suppose you hear more about the war in Belvidere that We do hear. don't Believe All the news you see in the daley papers.

Tell Jacob Smith to send me a Bottle of Good Gin as he promist.  he told me the night I was in town that he whould send me anything I rote fur.  now tell him I will take a small Bottle of Gin don't send a very Big Bon of you please.  I now must begin to draw my short letter to a close. I have bin sick since I have bin hear but not to goe in the hospital But I am a Good deal Better so that I am around and got a good Apitite and plenty to Eat. I noe feal Good.  John as soon as I Receave my money I am going to send it home in your care till I return then you shall Receave your REward from me.  tell mother I hope she will Be better.  Until I hear from Sally...[the ink was too faded to read].  tell Georgey and Sally that I am coming home to see them. Direct your lwetters the same as you did. I Remane your Affectionate Brother Aaron W. Smith."

Smith wrote a postscript, "right soon. I like to hear from home. Tell Call that I am very glad to hear that she is taking care of mother while she is sick.  Tell her I will send her a nice Present as soon as I receave my money if she stays home. John, I can't git any stamps hear..."

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sept. 25, 1861: Letter from G.W. Hahn, of the 47th PA Infantry

On September 25, 1861, George Washington Hahn, of Washington, serving in Company E, 47th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and his comrades, David Huber and F. J. Scott, wrote a letter to the editor of the Easton Daily Evening Express.  They wrote the letter in Camp Kalorama, near Washington, D.C.

Hahn and friends wrote, "Most likely you have already published the letter from the headquarters of the company, but it may also be interesting to some of your readers to hear from the boys.

"We left Harrisburg at 1-1/2 p.m. on Friday last, and after a ride of about twenty-four hours in those delightful cattle cars, we came in sight of the Capitol of the U.S. with colors flying and the band playing and everyone in the best of spirits.  After waiting a few minutes, we were provided with an excellent dinner of bread, beef and coffee, and then proceeded to Camp Kalorama, near Georgetown Heights and about three miles from Washington.  We have one of the best camps in the Union; plenty of shade trees, water and food at present; we have had no 'Hardees' [hardtack] yet in this camp, but no doubt we will have them in abundance by and by.  But we can cook them in so many different ways, they are better than beef.  We soak them over night, fry them for breakfast, stew them for dinner, and warm them over for supper.  Who wouldn't be a soldier and get such good living free gratis?

"We are all happy boys.  The way we pass our time in the evening is as follows: first, after supper, we have a good Union song, then we read, write, crack jokes and sing again. We are 'gay and happy' and always shall be while the stars and stripes float over us.

"We have one of the best regiments we have yet seen, and no doubt in a few months, it will be the crack regiment of the army.  We have a noble Colonel and an excellent Band, and the company officers throughout are well drilled for their positions.  Our boys are well and contented; satisfied with their clothing, satisfied with their rations, and more than all satisfied with their officers, from Captain to the 8th Corporal.  Our boys will stand by the Captain till the last man falls.  We had the pleasure this morning of meeting an old Eastonian, Major Baldy. He looks well and hearty and says he is ready for action.  His men are in the rifle pits every night and think nothing of facing the enemy.

"This morning we took a French pass [an unauthorized leave] and visited Georgetown Heights; we stood on top of the reservoir and from there had a fine view of the Federal forts and forces on the other side of the Potomac.  It looks impossible for an enemy to enter Washington, so strongly fortified is every hill and the camps connect for miles along the river.  We saw General McClellan and Professor [Thadeus] Lowe taking a view of the Confederate army from the balloon. The rebels are now only four miles from here.  But we are afraid we have taken too much of your room.  You may expect to hear from us again soon.  Yours, etc., George W. Hahn, David Huber, F. J. Scott."

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

Saturday, September 24, 2011

1861 Innovations: "Movable Tent Church" & the Push for Modern Rations


The volunteer soldiers spent much of the early weeks and months of the war in camps training.  Soldiers had to find ways to pass the time away from home.  In late May, a group of New York volunteer soldiers sat in the U.S. Senate chambers to hold a mock Congress. A Washington correspondent for the Providence Journal wrote there was a motion on the floor to send a message to President Abraham Lincoln requesting he send a gallon of his best brandy to the senate chambers.  A disagreement over whether it should be brandy or old rye ensued, and when "disorderly" persons in the gallery tried to interject, they were ordered out of the room for "behaving in a manner not consistent with the dignity of the Senate."

Many local chaplains wrote of the large number of soldiers attending church services while in camp.  Some churches in neighboring Northampton County, PA created "The Union Tabernacle" or "Movable Tent Church," which could be transported to larger encampments and be set up to handle a large number of soldiers. 

The August 16, 1861 issue of The Belvidere Intelligencer reported, "The superintendent of the above [Union Tabernacle] is Reverend Edwin M. Long, who announces that it will be open for religious services at Williamsburg [now Mount Bethel], Northampton County, on Sunday, the 25th of August instant.  The tent, when the sides are extended, will accommodate 3,000 persons.  No charge for admittance - simply taking up collections, and placing boxes at the entrance of the Tent to receive free offerings.  Several speakers will be in attendance."


There was a push to modernize the soldiers' rations.  Attached to an August 1861 U.S. Senate bill aimed at improving the organization of the military establishment was the call for an increase and improvement of the army rations.  The Easton Daily Evening Express stated, "The allowance of bread is increased by 4 ounces; fresh beef is ordered instead of salt [beef]; and potatoes are to be served three times a week, whenever they can be obtained.  This will be good news to soldiers! Our volunteers did not get even a sight at a potato until they got on 'Old Virginia' soil -- and almost forgot how a potato looked.  Their principal dish was 'hardees' and bacon -- 'hardees fired' --'hardees soaked in coffee' and 'hardees plain' -- 'hardees' for breakfast, "hardees" for dinner, and "hardees' for supper, and "hardees" all the time.   Some of the 'hardees' served up to the 9th (Penna.) Regt. had the brand on them of '1845.'  Potatoes and fresh beef are always relished and give the men spirit for any duty that may be required of them.  The people are inclined to look to it sharply that those who go out from among us to fight the battles of the Union shall at least be supplied with wholesome provisions."  [For those who have not eaten them, "hardees" refers to hardtack.] 

Whether the bill passed into law or not, fresh beef was not a dish served up to most soldiers in the field.  It was more practical to serve bacon and salt pork.  Most soldiers refused to eat salted beef.  If hardtack crackers were stored properly, they were a good source of nourishment and easy to carry in the haversacks, but many times the boxes of hardtack were left out in rain and the contents went moldy or were infested with weevils.  Many times, soldiers formed foraging parties to gather what food they could find in southern farms and towns. 

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 5, 1861: Rumors of Jeff Davis's Death Spread

With recruiting underway for three-years troops, northern newspapers began to spread the rumor of Confederate President Jefferson Davis' death.  Some people hoped this could mean a swift end to the war.

The September 6, 1861 issue of The Easton Daily Evening Express stated, "The little boys on the streets hurrah after this style just now: 'Hurrah! Jeff Davis is dead!'."

The Easton Daily Evening Express printed the following dispatch in the September 6 issue, "THE DEATH OF JEFF DAVIS RE-AFFIRMED.  Louisville, Sept. 5. A gentleman just from Richmond, who passed through this city this morning, says that on Saturday evening the serious illness of Jeff Davis was freely canvassed on the streets, and little hope was entertained of his recovery.  The probable changes which would ensue on his death were freely mentioned.  On the gentleman's arrival at Nashville, he learned that the rebel Congress, which had adjourned at midnight on Saturday, has been called together by Alexander H. Stevens, the serious illness of Davis being the ostensible cause.  My informant considers the flags at half-mast, as reported, indicative of his death.  Positive assurances are said to have been received this morning by a prominent Secessionist and ex-Mayor of this city, of the death of Jeff Davis."

History shows the reports of President Davis' death were very much premature.  Davis survived illness and the war.

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 1861: Warren County Men Join the 8th NJ Infantry

In August and September 1861, the majority of the Musconetcong Rifles Company enlisted in the 8th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment - making up a large part of Company H.  More than 100 men reportedly enlisted in the 8th NJ from the Musconetcong Rifles. The following list is of the early members of the group to join the regiment. 

Company H: from Asbury and South Asbury - Moses Benward, Samuel Berry, William Berry, John M. Britton, John W. DeHart, George Garrison, John H. Gustus, Sylvester Heath, William Heath, Edward Hicks, Elias Hoffman, Captain George Hoffman, Morris Hoffman, Andrew J. Hoppock, John R. Howard, Robert W. Johnson, Valentine H. Lockwood, Lieutenant Frederick Longer [Lunger], Henry B. Longer, Amos Lunger, William R. Lunger, James McClary, William McClary, William McCrea, Edward Miller, Henry L. Miller, Robert S. Millham, Charles O'Hara, Andrew Palardy, William Petty, Alexander Philips, Thomas Kennedy Riddle, Edwin H. Sheldon, Michael Silverstone, Martin V. Smith, Joseph Thomas, Christopher Vanacker, William P. Weller, and Ervin Wilson; William J. Donelly and Jonas W. Longenheuer [Longenour], of Musconetcong; John B. Stewart, of Greenwich Township; Isaac S. Thatcher, of Still Valley; William Transue, of Hackettstown; Jacob S. Unangst, of Finesville; Alexander Cook and Philip Cook, of New Village; Joseph Scott Drake, John Carling, and Lawrence Cravat, of Andersontown; William Bowlby and Henry H. Musselman, of Washington; Lewis T. Brant, Edward L. Hight, Ervin James Lake, and Calvin W. Rugg, of Phillipsburg; and John Edenger and William S. Steinmetz.

Company B: Byron A. Hedden and Theodore Hedden, of Washington; Company C: Aaron Henderson, of Oxford Furnace, and John D. Ketcham, of Karrsville; Company D: Henry F. Ward and Captain William Deemer, of Carpentersville (October 1861), and Stephen Vanatta, of Phillipsburg; and Company K: Grantum Peter Oblinger, of Belvidere.

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

Saturday, September 3, 2011

August-September 1861: Warren County Men Join the 47th PA Infantry Regt.

In August 1861, Colonel Tilghman Good's 47th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment was created.  In Easton, Company A ["Easton Rifles"] was recruited in Glantz's Saloon and at F. Beck's Saloon on Northampton Street by Captain Richard A. Graeffe; and Company E ["Honor Colors Company"] was recruited at Lafayette Yard's Saloon on Northampton Street by Captain Charles H. Yard. 

In August, the following Warren County, NJ men enlisted in the 47th PA: Bernhard "John" Brahler, of Phillipsburg, joined Company A; John Laudenslager, of Phillipsburg, joined Company F in Catasauqua; Musician William H. Nagle, of Phillipsburg, joined the Regimental Band; John Stem, of Belvidere, joined Company A; Daniel and James Vansyckel, of Hope, joined Company I in Allentown; and Musician William Wilhelm, of Phillipsburg, joined Company E.

In September, more Warren County men joined the 47th: Joseph B. Bower, of Phillipsburg,  age 49, enlisted in Company A;  Lewis Bower, of Phillipsburg, joined Company A following his father; John and Thomas Callahan, of Belvidere, joined Company E; Jacob Cohler, of Phillipsburg, Company A; William A. Force, of Phillipsburg, Company E; George W. Hahn, of Washington, Company E; William Hall, of Danville (Great Meadows), Company A; William H. Jackson, of Belvidere, Company F (in Catasauqua); Amos Jumper, of Belvidere, Company A; Jacob M. Kirkendall, of Belvidere, Company E; George R. Nicholas, of Phillipsburg, Company E; Frederick Sheninger, of Easton/Harmony, Company A; Peter C. Sleath, of Belvidere, Company A;  Andrew Thoman, of Phillipsburg, Company A; and John H. Wilhelm, of Phillipsburg, Company E.  

During the war, other Warren County men enlisted in the 47th PA:
December 1861 John Cohler, of Phillipsburg, joined Company A; January 1862 Jacob Eckert, of Phillipsburg, joined Company A; and Sgt. Francis J. Mildenberger, of Phillipsburg, Company A;  October 1862  Jenkins J. Richards, of Easton, Company E; January 1864  Eli Moser, of Phillipsburg, Company E; George W. Rockafellow, of Belvidere/Tatamy, Company E;  J. Rockafellow, of Belvidere/Tatamy, Company E; William Rockafellow, of Belvidere/Tatamy, Company E; and Jefferson Stem, of Belvidere, Company A; February 1864 John Gross, of Mansfield Township, Company I (in Allentown); Peter Kirkendall, of Belvidere, Company E; Abraham "Peter" Osterstock, of Phillipsburg, Company A; Martin and Oliver Van Billard [also known as  Van Billiard], of Phillipsburg, Company B (in Allentown); and Bernard Zearfoss, of Washington, Company E; May 1864 Jacob, Thomas and Tobias Bower, of Phillipsburg, Company A; February 1865 Uriah Myers, of Phillipsburg, Company F (in Catasauqua); John Nagle, of Phillipsburg, assigned to Company H; John J. Paxton, of Phillipsburg, Company A; and John J. Schofield, of Phillipsburg, assigned to Company H.

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

August 22, 1861: "Venus in Distress"

The 47th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment was one of the first volunteer three-year regiments created in 1861.  Colonel Tilghman Good, of Allentown, was appointed regimental commander.  Originally touted as "Col. Good's Zouaves," the 47th was a conventional infantry regiment, wearing the standard Federal blue uniform. 

Col. Good had been the Captain of the Allen Rifles in the Pennsylvania Militia when the war broke out in April.  The Allen Rifles served in the three months service as Company I, 1st PA      Regiment.  During that service, Good was appointed Lieutenant Colonel, under Colonel S. S. Yohe. 

In Easton, two companies of the 47th were recruited. Captain Richard A. Graeffe, age 33, recruited men for Company A ["Easton Rifles"] at Glantz's Saloon and at F. Beck's Saloon on Northampton Street.  Captain Charles H. Yard, age 33, recruited men for Company E ["Honor Colors Company"] at Lafayette Yard's Saloon on Northampton Street.  Yard had been a lieutenant in the 1st PA Regiment during the three months service.  Patriotic music, alcoholic beverages and Victorian bravado helped with the recruitment process. 

Pomp's Coronet Band, led by Professor Thomas Coates, became the regimental band.  Coats has been called "the Father of Band Music in America" and was the most famous bandsman of the 1860s.  Coates was the first coronet soloist in America; he played in the band that escorted General Marie Joseph P. Y. R. G. du Montier, Marquis de Lafayette, during his visit to the US in 1824; and he later played at the funeral of President [Hiram] U. S. Grant.

Captain Charles A. Heckman, of Phillipsburg, and Lieutenant W. H. Abel, of the 1st PA Infantry Regiment during the three months service, had set up a recruiting office in White's Hotel in Center Square, Easton.  the two officers were forming an infantry company known as Company D ["Scott Guards"].  Company D became part of the three years enlistment troops of Colonel James Miller's 1st PA Volunteer Infantry Regiment at Camp Washington. 

Camp Washington, a National Guard camp, was located outside of Easton. The new recruits were sent to this camp to begin their training while further recruitment continued.  In the Easton Daily Express issue of August 22, 1861, the headline "VENUS IN DISTRESS" could be seen.  The story was of a patriotic camp follower who became a little too popular with the recruits in Camp Washington.  The newspaper reported, "It was discovered in Camp Washington this morning, that a certain young lady of easy virtue and strong Union proclivities had testified her loyalty to the Federal cause by establishing her headquarters at camp, where she passed a restless night in exhorting the military to patriotic deeds of daring when they should be brought face to face with the Southern foe, etc.

"The commanding officer, being apprised of the fact and being unwilling that her health should fall victim to her zeal, ordered a military escort to conduct her beyond the boundaries of the camp.  Accordingly, our Amazon was marched off with military honors, but terrible to relate so thoroughly had she ingratiated herself into the good graces of the soldiery, that they refused to leave her without some substantial token by way of a remembrancer. The result was, that in the absence of anything else, they stripped her of her clothing, and when   our informant got a glimpse of her, she was seated on a log, dressed in the style of the utmost simplicity, her entire wardrobe being limited  to a pair of boots and a capitola.

"Actuated by instinctive modesty, she had erected an earthen breastwork around her person to protect herself from a battery of curious and prying eyes.  Our informant compares her to 'Eva Repentant,' 'Powers Greek Slave,' or 'Patience on a Monument'."

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

Monday, August 15, 2011

August 19, 1861: Veterans Riot in Easton

After the First Battle of Manassas, VA (Bull Run) on July 21, 1861, most of the three months militia soldiers were sent back to their home states since their enlistments were to expire on July 31.  At the Belvidere-Delaware Railroad station in Belvidere, Warren County, NJ and the Lehigh Valley Railroad station in Easton, Northampton County, PA  people welcomed the returning veterans with cheers.  The veterans were happy to be home but they were also angry with several newspapers and the Democratic Party politicians for not supporting their fight to save the Federal Union.  On August 19, 1861, the anger would result in a riot in Easton.

On August 19, the Northampton County Democratic Party met in the Court House in Easton to elect officers and to adopt a policy resolution objecting to fighting a war over political disagreements.  The resolution stated, "Resolved, that while we look upon and condemn secession as revolutionary and as unjustifiable, on the one hand, we do no less disapprove of abolitionism with all its evils on the other; that we are in favor of the Union as our fathers framed it in the spirit of compromise, upon the great basis of justice, equality, and fraternity, that we are now more than ever convinced (and we charge this more in sorrow than in anger) that the sectional doctrines inculcated and taught by the Republican party, of 'no more slave states; no more Union and intercourse with slaveholders; that this Government cannot permanently endure half slave and free - the fugitive slave law must be repealed - the equality of the Negro to the white race, and his right to vote and hold office - denouncing slavery as a great moral wrong and a relic of barbarism,' and kindred heresies so utterly subversive of the Union and at war with the Federal Constitution; pandered to the worst passions of the human heart, around the demon spirit of sectional hatred, fanned into a flame the embers of civil war and brought the nation to the verge of ruin and destruction."

The Democrats pledged their support to the Government inasmuch as civil war had actually commenced.  They agreed to co-operate in a "vigorous prosecution" to bring the war to a quick end but stated they would not support "a war of conquest and subjugation."  The Democrats opposed the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus by the Federal Government.  The group also resolved to favor the passage of a law "to prevent the emigration of Negroes in our State. If slavery should be abolished by the southern States by the Constitutional or unconstitutional action of the present Administration [President Abraham Lincoln] in the prosecution of this war, tens of thousands will find their way in the Free States, to be supported as paupers or take the place of our free white laborers." 

After adopting the above resolution, the Northampton County Democrats adjourned to Center Square, where local Congressman Philip Johnson made a speech to the public in support of the Democratic Party's position.  Johnson's speech against the war created a series of heated debates and rebuttals from other political parties and the returning veterans.  The arguments soon escalated from debates to shoving matches and fisticuffs.  The seeds for the rioting that occurred later in the evening were sown when a man named Mitchel tried to rebut Johnson's speech.  A fight broke out when some Democrats tried to silence Mitchel.

Early that evening, a large group of men, 80 percent of whom were returning veterans, marched out of local saloons and went to the home of Congressman Johnson. They found Johnson sitting on his front porch with a couple of friends.  The crowd assembled in front of Johnson and proceeded to burn Johnson's effigy.  When the effigy had burned out, the mob rushed toward Johnson, who ran into his house.  The crowd shouted to Johnson, demanding he show his colors.

Johnson appeared in a window holding a small American Flag.  Johnson assured the men that he was devoted to the Union.  He said he would gladly convince anyone of his loyalty, if they come to him at calmer moments.  The crowd decided to move on to another target.

Many of the three months veterans were angered by the lack of support they perceived came from several Easton newspapers: The Sentinel, The Argus, and Josiah Cole's German newspaper, The Correspondent & Democrat.  After leaving Johnson's house, some of the veterans yelled, "To The Sentinel office!"  The mob shouted the phrase in unison and marched to The Sentinel office.  The mob broke into the office. Type cases, desks, stands, stoves, the partially printed new edition of the newspaper, cards, books, and any other movable objects were thrown into the street.  The mob completely gutted the newspaper offices.

Next, the mob charged on to The Argus.  the crowd found the second floor offices were well barred, denying entry through the doors.  Rioters climbed onto an awning to enter through a window.  Little was destroyed in The Argus offices because some of the rioters felt it would require too much effort.

The mob had grown to more than 2,000 people in front of The Argus.  The crowd decided to move on to The Correspondent & Democrat. the mob broke down the door and had begun ransacking the offices when someone had suggested giving the owner time to publish a card on which his sentiments about the Union could be stated.  The mob agreed to leave the newspaper and move on to several homes of prominent Democrats.

The mob arrived at the home of the Honorable Richard Brodhead and saw the Stars & Stripes hanging over Brodhead's door.  The crowd decided not to disturb Brodhead.  In front of Brodhead's house, William H. Thompson addressed the crowd urging them not to disturb any more people.  Thompson pointed out that there were other ways of exhibiting their displeasure.

Hutter, a Democratic Party secretary. Seeing the Union flagon display, the crowd moved on to the home of Northampton County District Attorney W. W. Schuyler.  The crowd shouted until Schuyler came out to state his views on the Union.  After stating his "sentiments on the present crisis," Schuyler thanked the crowd for giving him "an opportunity to express his sentiments before so large and respectable a crowd."

At 11:00 p.m., the mob arrived at the Spring Garden Street home of Isbon Benedict.  Benedict was awakened by the pounding of fists on his door.  Benedict came to a window, and the crowd demanded to know his sentiments.  Benedict told the mob, "I am for the Union!  I fought through the Mexican War for the Stars & Stripes and have always been a Union man!"  The crowd moved on.

The crowd moved on to the home of Democratic Party vice-president George Able. Able was awakened by the crowd.  The mob demanded Able display a National Flag. Not owning a flag, Able was asked to address the crowd.  After being convinced of Able's support for the Union, the mob moved toward the home of Oliver W. Meyers.

Meyers talked to the mob from his bedroom window, "I have made Union speeches in the county and in our beautiful borough.  I am a firm Union man!  I have freely expressed my sentiments whenever desired to do so, on the street, at my office, and elsewhere, and I trust that this hideous rebellion might be put down."  The mob gave Meyers three cheers before moving on to the home of John Sletor. Sletor, too, declared that he was always a Union man.

The mob decided to make one last visit before going home.  they marched to the office of Democratic Party secretary Colonel D. H. Neiman, publisher of The Sentinel.  After tossing Neiman's furniture into the street, they set fire to the furniture pile.  At 2:00 a.m. on August 20, the mob broke up and went home.

Fearing a resumption of violence later in the day, business and home owners were quick to display the Union flag or red, white and blue bunting.  Patriotic music filled the air in the evenings as members of various local bands attempted to keep the people calm.

The day after the riot, Hutter, Neiman and Cole wrote letters to the editor of the Easton Daily Evening Express condemning the rioters.  Hutter wrote, "I feel as though injustice has been done me in the attack made on my office last night.  I wish to correct any erroneous impression that may exist in the public mind regarding my views on the war.  I never have had, and have not now, the first spark of sympathy with secessionism.  If I know my own heart, I love our great Union with my whole soul and am willing to make any sacrifice for its preservation.  I have always been devotedly attached to our Union and Constitution and wish to see both preserved for ourselves and posterity.  I would cheerfully grant all the means and men required by the National Administration, for a vigorous prosecution of the War to an honorable conclusion, satisfied that there is now no other mode of settlement and that our existence as a Republic and our liberties as a people, are at stake.  For this purpose I am willing to bear my share of the necessary taxation without a murmur.  I would not throw the slightest obstacle in the way of our Government in its efforts to suppress rebellion and enforce the laws.  I have but one wish in this matter, faithfully to discharge my duty as a loyal citizen and support, as every patriotic American should, the Government under which we live and have so long prospered.  I stand by the flag of my Country, now and forever."

Neiman wrote, "To the Patrons of The Sentinel, In consequence of my office being partially destroyed by a mob, on Monday night, the 19th instant, no 'Easton Sentinel' will be issued this week.  Next week, we will be out again as usual.  Persons having property in charge, belonging to me, saved from the wreck on Monday night, will oblige us greatly by returning it to the old office, on Thursday."

Cole wrote, "The subscriber was in no small measure astonished by the assembling, last night, in front of his office, of a large number of persons, who demanded that he should give expression to his sentiments, both through our journal and otherwise, that we thought they were known to those capable of reading and understanding the German language.  We have always been the firm friend of the Union; its friends we have encouraged and its enemies we have despised.  We now repeat what we have always declared, that 'the Union must and shall be preserved.'  Not only by word, but by deed have we shown our devotion to the Union and its defenders.  We were instrumental in inducing the County Commissioners to pass a resolution making an appropriation for the benefit of the families of the volunteers.  We have also cheerfully contributed for the same purpose.  The flag of our union has floated over our office ever since the beginning of the present difficulties.  While we have acted for the Union both by word and deed, we have done so with the consciousness that such a course was perfectly consistent with our character as a loyal citizen.  The persons who congregated in front of our office last night were evidently misinformed of what we had said and done for the Union, and were driven to extremes, which in calmer moments they must regret.  In the future, as in the past, I shall continue to defend in every respect the National Government."

In anticipation of further rioting during the days that followed, the Northampton County Sheriff called out a posse to assist in suppressing any violence that might flare up.  The slavery dispute remained unresolved.

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards


Sunday, August 7, 2011

August 1861: Charles Mutchler's Bull Run-Related Gunshot Wound

In early August 1861, First Sergeant Charles Wesley Mutchler, of Company D ["Phillipsburg Garibaldi Guards"], 1st Regiment of New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, returned to Phillipsburg on a 30-day medical furlough.  Mutchler was shot in the hand by his own revolver in Washington, DC on July 21, after returning from the Manassas, VA area.

The 1st New Jersey Volunteer Infantry (three years enlistment), commanded by Colonel William R. Montgomery and Lieutenant Colonel Robert McAllister, had been assigned rear-guard duties near Centerville, VA as the Federal Army of the Potomac retreated to Washington, DC after the First Battle of Manassas (or Bull Run).  After returning to Washington City, Mutchler, age 20, was shot in the right hand as he was putting his pistol in his pocket. 

Two or three Army physicians looked at the wound, but Mutchler preferred to return home and go to Dr. C. C. Field, of Easton, PA, to have the bullet removed.  Dr. Field removed the bullet, and Mutchler recuperated at home for a couple of weeks. 

On September 18, 1861, Mutchler was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Company D, 1st NJV Regiment.

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August 1861: Charles Butts & the "NJ Company," 11th PA Cavalry Regt.

Charles W. Butts, of Belvidere, was one of the guests of honor in Washington Borough on August 3, 1861, after returning home from three-months enlistment in the 2nd NJ Militia.  Sharing the honor at the celebration were Abram Depue, of Belvidere, and Washington residents John Longstaff, Joseph W. Johnston, Jacob T. Thomson, and James Vannatta.

After resting at home in Belvidere for a short time, Butts decided to form his own cavalry company.  He learned that "General Harlan" (Colonel Josiah Harlan) was forming an independent volunteer cavalry regiment in Pennsylvania and was enlisting companies from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania.  Harlan had 20 years of military experience, including service in India during the Sepoy Rebellion of 1858.  Butts contacted Harlan and received authorization to form a New Jersey company. 

Harlan's Cavalry soon became the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment.  First Lieutenant Butts'  "New Jersey Company" became Company I.  Butts set up his enlistment tables in Belvidere, Blairstown and Hope.  

One of the first men to join Butts' company was Jacob P. Wright, of Belvidere.  Other Warren County men who joined the "NJ Company" were: Corporal Jacob B. Anderson, of Belvidere; Saddler Gideon C. Angle, of Belvidere; Corporal (later Sgt.) Henry D. Bray, of Belvidere; John Brink, of Belvidere; James M. Clayton, of Belvidere; John P. Dickey, of Belvidere; Alfred L. Hann, of Hope;  John H. Robeson, of Belvidere; William L. Slack, of Columbia; and  George G. Wright, of Belvidere.

Alfred Hann was killed at Front Royal, VA in September 1864 by a Confederate guerrilla named Smith from Mosby's Rangers.  Smith was hanged by Company I under orders of General A. T. A. Torbert.  Smith was one of three Mosby's Rangers hanged by Federal troops.

Warren County men who joined the "NJ Company" at later dates were: Milo G. Doud, of Belvidere, March 1864; James Slack, of Columbia, February 1864 (died at Point of Rocks, VA on July 21 1864); Bugler Alfred VanScoten, of Belvidere, January 1864; Chaplain J. Addison Whittaker, principal of the Belvidere Seminary for Young Ladies, February 1862; and Alonzo R. Wright, of Belvidere, February 1864.     Joining other companies were William Fisher, of Phillipsburg, Company H, January 1864; and William H. Marlatt, of Hackettstown, Company F, June 1864. 

Some of the men of Butt's cavalry company wrote letters to family and to Belvidere newspapers.  Some of these letters will be quoted in later editions. 

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards

Thursday, July 28, 2011

July 27, 1861: Return From Manassas

On July 21, 1861, the Federal Army of the Potomac was defeated by Confederate troops near Manassas Junction, VA at Bull Run.  The army retreated to Washington, DC.  The three months enlistments of many state militia soldiers would expire on July 31. 

On July 27, Charles Butts and Abram Depue, of Belvidere, returned home on the Belvidere-Delaware Railroad from Trenton.  Riding the train with Butts and Depue were John Longstaff, Joseph W. Johnston, Jacob T. Thomson, and James Vannatta, of Washington.  Their three months enlistment in the 2nd NJ Militia Regiment was almost up.  When the militia veterans arrived at the Bel-Del Railroad Station in Belvidere they were welcomed by a cheering crowd.  The men returned to Trenton by train on July 31 to muster out of the three months service. 

On August 3, 1861, Butts, Depue Longstaff, Johnston, Thomson and Vannatta were the guests of the Borough of Washington.  A public reception was held in their honor .  The men were met at the train depot and were escorted into town with a parade led by parade marshals J. E. Lynn and Cadet James M. Sanno and the Washington Brass Band.  The returning veterans rode in a fine carriage surrounded by citizens of Washington, who were on foot.  Following a number of speeches, the veterans were escorted to the Washington Hotel for a feast sponsored by the Weller family, the hotel owners.  The dinner was followed by a band concert.  Butts and Depue were transported back to Belvidere in the carriage of Alexander P. Berthoud, Esquire - the man who would command the 31st NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1862.

[Cadet James Sanno later joined the 7th US Infantry Regiment and would fight in the Civil War, the Plains Indian Wars, and the Spanish-American War.]

One soldier returning from the war, who was riding the Belvidere -Delaware Railroad, became a hero.  The newspapers only knew his last name was May and did not know his hometown nor his regiment.  The August 10, 1861 edition of the Easton Daily Evening Express [Easton, PA] wrote, "A GALLANT SOLDIER. A few evenings since, just as the Belvidere train was leaving Moore's station, a little boy fell from the bridge into the water.  The instant the splash was heard, a soldier, who with his company was on the train, sprang out of the cars, plunged into the canal and saved the boy's life. So quietly was this done that very few on the train knew anything of it, and the gallant soldier was left behind.  We understand his name is May.  All honor to the noble fellow."  There was no follow-up story detailing what happened to Private May and the boy he saved.

Returning Pennsylvania regiments' veterans arrived at Lehigh Valley Railroad Station in Easton for a welcome home parade complete with bands - led by Pomp's Cornet Band - and "three cheers and tiger [a howl]" from residents standing along the streets.  Church bells rang throughout the borough and an artillery salute was fired on Mount Jefferson.  The veterans in Easton were happy to be home, especially those who survived the battle at Manassas, but many were angry with several newspapers and Democratic Party politicians for not supporting their fight to save the Union.  This anger would boil over on August 19, 1861.     

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards   

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July 21, 1861: First Battle of Manassas [Bull Run] - Part Three

Confusion from the assorted uniform colors caused Federal and Confederate troops to fire on their allies and, in some cases, to allow their enemies to pass.  Both sides had blue and gray uniforms, and Zouave uniforms were even more confusing to green soldiers who had never seen them before.  Lack of proper training failed to prepare civilians for the fierceness of battle.  In some regiments, green troops fired volleys into their own front ranks from behind. 

On Henry House Hill, Captain James B. Ricketts' field guns were back in Federal hands for a third time after the 69th New York Irish Regiment and the 38th New York Infantry Regiment pushed back Colonel Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's regiments, but the arrival of the 8th and 18th Virginia Infantry Regiments tipped the balance back to the Confederates on the hill.  After fighting over Ricketts' cannon for two hours, approximately 500 men lay dead and hundreds more were wounded. The battle moved on to other locations: Chinn Ridge and the stone bridge. 

Federal troops started an orderly retreat toward Centerville. Several Confederate cavalry attacks and Confederate artillery fire turned the withdrawl into a mad dash for safety.  The broken Federal ranks ran into Brigadier Theodore Runyon's New Jersey troops, who were moving forward. 

Lt. Colonel Robert McAllister, of Oxford Furnace, and his 1st NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment were ordered to move forward from Centerville to secure road intersections for the retreating Federal troops and to act as a rear guard as General Joseph E. Johnston's Confederate troops pushed the Federals farther away from Manassas Junction.  Officers of the NJ units tried to rally the retreating troops to bring order and to assist in the rear guard action.

John Schoonover, of Oxford Furnace, Adjutant of the 1st NJV Regiment, wrote to the Belvidere Intelligencer on July 22, "We were stationed at Vienna when the cannonading commenced at Bull Run, which was distinctly heard, and many of us expressed a wish to be present.  To our great pleasure at ten o'clock A.M., we received orders to march to Centerville.  Owing to the absence of two companies 'out scouting' we remained until one o'clock then took to our march, leaving them behind.  This delay alone prevented us from participating in the battle.  About two miles this side of Centerville, we met the retreating army.  As their number was but few when they first appeared, with the exception of the provision train, our Colonel supposed them to be fugitives, and many were compelled to retrace their steps.  I feel happy to say that Lieutenant Colonel McAllister exhibited unflinching valor and determination upon the occasion. All except the wounded were arrested in their flight.

"The scene which followed, my pen utterly fails to describe.  Men exhausted and spiritless came streaming along anxiously inquiring where we were going and what was our number; others for fear of being arrested in their flight turned in the woods; riderless horses were running in every direction; and I am glad to inform you that many imagining the battle was to be renewed turned and said they would try again.  As we passed along, a number of Ellsworth's Fire Zouaves were standing in a body and exclaiming, 'Give it to them, Boys!  Only about 200 of us left,' showing the cause of the many exaggerated reports which were given to the public.  Many of the teamsters seemed  foolishly frightened and came driving down the hills with headlong speed, their wagons frequently turning over and over in one confused mass.  Amidst all this tumult, our little band of 600 men march coolly and deliberately forward; and contrary to the reports of the city papers, the Second Regiment   turned back against the orders of Colonel [William] Montgomery, then commanding [the NJ Brigade].  We marched to Centerville, where we made a halt, lay down tired and wearied, and awaited further orders.  About midnight, it was ascertained that the First NJ Regiment was the only one remaining in the place.

"We shortly received orders to retreat to Arlington Heights and accordingly took up our march, scarcely stopping on the way, which brought us to camp about seven o'clock, having marched since one o'clock of the previous day at least 40 miles, which many of us were disposed to think was a good tramp for the first one...I forgot to mention that five companies of the 1st Regiment were ordered to Arlington Heights, after the retreat, in order to throw up some sort of defense and guard the road."

On July 24, Private Theodore Carhart, Jr.,  of Belvidere,  Company D, 1st NJV Infantry, wrote a letter to his family and friends, "Friends at Home: I hear that you are worried about me, hearing that our Regiment was cut all to pieces; that is not so, we have not lost a man since we left Trenton.  Zach [Zachariah Nye, of Belvidere] received a letter stating the above, but I told him  that I had wrote to you since we got back, and that you must know better, for I told you that I was safe and that I would write when I got time; so I will give you a short history, which I know is true, for I was there myself.  Now, after this, I don;t want you to worry about me, for you will receive a letter, if not from me it will be from somebody, so that you know      all about it.

"I wrote to you that the 1st and 2nd Regiments was ordered down to take charge of Vienna; well, we did until Sunday, 21st, when we were ordered off to Centervillehorses as fast as they could go.  We went on for a few miles further and met a part of the army in retreat; we tried to stop them, and did to a great extent; but when we came on to the main army, running as if the old boy was after them, and it was an awful sight then; some of them were so badly wounded that they could not get any further and had crawled in the woods to lay down and die.  They were shot in the head, arms, body, legs, and in fact all over; it was awful, but on we went with our little band (the 2nd Regiment had left us    on the first sight   of the retreating army and went back to Vienna); our party was about 800 strong; we went on to Centerville, arriving there about nine o'clock in the evening, and found it all deserted, but we went on 'til within three miles of the enemy, and then drew up in line and laid down to take a little rest, not leaving the ranks at all; we laid there for an hour or so, then the officers thought it best to shift our quarters; we got up and moved off to another place, then formed, of the right and left wing, hollow squares on both sides of the road, then laid down for a second time, but had not laid long before the order was given to move again, marching back to Fairfax.

"We left Centerville that morning at 10 o'clock; after we had got some eight miles on the road back, we got news that a Regiment of their celebrated cavalry was after us, (by this time, we had caught up to a part of the retreating army), and after we received that news, there were two Regiments detailed to meet them, and the remainder of Ellsworth's Zouaves - 70 of them - they hid themselves in the woods, and when the cavalry came along, the Zouaves fired into them, confusing their ranks and shooting them down like dogs; the Regiments came up to their assistance, and out of 600, there was only 6 of them to go back and tell the tale.

"After this, we marched straight on through Fairfax to Arlington Heights, where we arrived at 11 o'clock, and at the fort at 11-1/2 o'clock.  The main cause of this defeat was the provision train that was coming up in the rear of the army got scared and turned their teams back and began to retreat; their officers tried to rally them, but if they had had good Captains and other of this kind, they could have made a stand as easily as could be.  Why, I believe that we, as small as we were, could have held it, if we stayed, which the colonel wanted to do, but the orders were to move and we had to go.  The teamsters made such a hasty leave that they threw out all (or nearly so) of their loads and drove some of their wagons off n the gutters, upturning them and killing some of their horses.  When we came back that night, the road was fairly strewn with everything you could think of.

"We are now encamped right along side of Fort Albina [Fort Albany].  Five companies of our Regiment went to Arlington Mills to dig ditches and throw up embankments to protect that place.  I did not go with our company, for I did not feel very well.  I think that I shall go up to-morrow or the next day; our boys are having a gay old time; we move nearly every day.  I just heard that our tents are to be moved down to Fort Runyon, and in a few days take charge of that fort, for the three months boys are going home.  There is more excitement here now than there had been at all since I have been in this section of the country.  The enemy has taken Vienna again.  Well, I must close, so good bye for the present; love and respects to all."

Lt. Colonel McAllister   wrote a letter on July 25, "The whole scene beggars all description; and yet, strange to say, our officers and men, raw as they were, remained cool and collected, and marched through these retreating columns with a firmness which astonished all who saw the regiments, and which has since been a theme of universal praise...Had it not been for our regiment, an immense number of wagons would have been left along the road, and would now be in the hands of the enemy with all stores they contained.  We saved the Government, too, a large amount of other property.  When we went up, parts of the road were literally covered with picks and shovels - in a word, with articles of every description usually belonging to an army.  When we came back, nearly all was picked up, owing to our having stopped the retreat, and so given the fugitives confidence and inspired them with some sense of discipline...A great many claim the credit of protecting the retreat, and being the last to leave the field; but it is all in the imagination.  We were the very last to leave Centerville.  We remained two hours after Colonel [Louis] Blenker left, and we would have been left to be cut to pieces had we not accidentally discovered that his command was retreating."

Dr. Edward Taylor, of Middletown, the surgeon of the 1st NJV Regiment, decided to stay behind in Centerville with the wounded at the field hospital.  Taylor was later captured with the wounded.  McAllister wrote, "Before we moved off, I sent a messenger to inform Dr. Taylor, our surgeon, of our orders to retreat.  the Doctor came to me  and asked permission to remain with the wounded, as all other surgeons had left with the retreating forces.  I told him I knew not the moment we would want his services ourselves, but was willing to grant his request if the Colonel would agree to it.  The Colonel did agree, and this is the last we have seen of that noble-hearted man." 

Private Jacob Cole, the fourteen-year old soldier from Paterson, who was a member of Company A of  the New York Fire Zouaves, recalled in 1906, "The army, meeting with defeat, retreated to Washington, where we found that the city     was filled with stragglers on the retreat. The roads were filled with carriages and baggage wagons. Under the excitement, men cut  horses and mules loose from the wagons, jumped on their backs, and started helter-skelter for Washington.  The roads were so crowded that it was more like a mob than an army.  When we reached the Long Bridge to cross over into Washington, there was such a crush that it was impossible to keep any formation, so it became a case of everyone for themselves.  When we arrived in the city, we found it filled with stragglers, and all was excitement.  After the regiment got into Washington and the excitement began to cool, the officers found that there was about 200 men missing.  when we reached New York, we ascertained the whereabouts of the missing men.  Some had been killed, others were prisoners, and still others had never stopped retreating     until they reached home.  the regiment left Washington for New York on August 4th, and was mustered out of the service as a regiment on August 8th, 1861."   Cole went home to Paterson, NJ for only a couple of days.  He enlisted in Company A of the 57th New York Volunteer Infantry on August 11, 1861, for three years enlistment as a 14-year old veteran soldier.

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards