Monday, December 24, 2012

December 20, 1862:James Prall & the 31st NJ Regiment

In 1861, James Prall joined the Belvidere Infantry Company of the Warren Brigade of NJ Militia.  On September 10, 1862, Prall was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant of Company I (Belvidere Infantry Co.) of the 31st NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment    (9 months service).   Prall served his full enlistment. After he mustered out of service, he purchased a country store in Delaware Station, Knowlton Township from John I. Blair.  In 1863, Prall was appointed Postmaster of Delaware Station.  He opened a post office in his store at 9 Clinton Street.

On December 20, 1862,  Lt. Prall wrote a letter to his brother from camp in Belle Plains, Virginia.  Dear Brother: I now on this Saturday afternoon seat myself to answer your long wished for letter which I received on Wednesday last.  I was very glad to hear from you as it was the first letter I received since we left Camp Warren and I was glad to hear that you was all well.  Now in the first place I will ask you how many letters you have received from me since we left there.  I have written three besides this.  We have not got any regulation yet about our mail and have not received but one mail mail since we came here but I think there will be some arrangement soon so that we will get our mail twice a week.   Now I will tell you how we have been getting along and what we are at.  I will be two weeks on Monday [December 22, 1862] since we moved where we are encamped.  Since we have been here our Regiment has been engaged in different ways.  Two companies is doing guard duty down at the wharf which is about one mile from our camp.  Two companies goes down to the wharf every day to unload Boats that comes in with Grain & Hay for the army.  One company goes out on picket duty and five companies is at work making and corduroying a new Road that was from a new wharf that we have built to where the main army lays our camp and has been to work and is at work now at the wharf and on the road. 

"I have been on duty every day until this afternoon and came to camp to get men and axes to go into the woods to cut some spikes for the wharf and I saw the colonel and he told me he would give me clear this afternoon as he thought I had done my share of duty. So I get clear and thought I would improve my time in writing to you as I suppose we will all have to work tomorrow. 

"Clark, the fighting at Fredericksburg had stopped again and I are afraid that we have had the worst of the Bargain.  We certainly did not gain anything and all say we lost it.   [It] is said that our loss was from twelve to fifteen thousand in killed, wounded and missing.  I have been goin over to see the army.  They have all came back this side of the river but I have not got away yet.  There has been lots of them over here to see their friends in our Regiment.  The whole army appears to be down on [General Ambrose] Burnside and say that if [General George] McClellan had have been there, they believe we would have had a victory with nor so heavy a loss.  McClellan is the man.  Yet in this army he is the man that has got the confidence of the men and he can do with them what no other general can.  It is possible that the army will not make another strike here again this winter.  When this war will ever close is hard to tell but I think it is doubtful if it ever can be settled by fighting.  They have good fighting men and good Generals to manage them and they appear to be more determined.

"May [Prall's sister],  It is now Sunday morning and I have got clear of going out to work this morning.  It is a fine morning and I suppose you are about getting ready to go to church.  I think I will go this morning.  I have not been to meeting for some time.  We have had very fine weather since we have been here only a little cold but not much storm that is what makes it so unpleasant here.  Elijah Burd [of Hazen] just came in.  He says I must tell you all that he is getting along all right.  He says when you have nothing else to do to write to him.  I have not received but one letter from home in four weeks now but we will get a mail today and I hope I may get one.  I got one from Geo. Prall this week.  I would write often home but the only time I have had has been nights and I have to write to some others too.  As long as I write once a week I think I do very well but I want you all to write as often as you can.  When I write to one I write to you all.  I will now stop again until this evening and see if we get any mail or not now.

"May, I just received the mail and Brown Clark's letter & one from Mary and Sam.  I was glad, very glad, to hear from you all. I also just received some of my butter & mangoes that I left at Mr. Swayze's which I are very glad to get.  The butter & mangoes & some bread & pies & some chicken he sent to Israel Swayze, he is in our Company, we will have a good time New Year.  That will do me as much good as the whole bag at Washington and are glader to get it.  I will get the balance of the butter now when I want it.  Elijah Burd wanted me to write father and tell him to get his folks to move there by you that he wanted them to do it.  I hope it will be so that father and Clark can get down this winter.  There is close by us I suppose about 2,000 Soldiers from all parts.  I must now close hoping to hear from you all soon.  I will write Mary as soon as I can.  Tell George I are glad.  I want all to write.  Happy New Year to all.  As ever, your Bro., James Prall."

Copyright 1999-2012: Jay C. Richards     

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 1862: 9th NJ Regiment in North Carolina

December 1862 was a time of battles for the Jersey Ninth.  On December 8, Colonel Charles Heckman, of Easton/Phillipsburg, was assigned independent command of a group consisting of the 9th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment, a detachment of the 3rd New York Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, and a battery from the 1st Rhode Island Volunteer Artillery.  Heckman's assignment was to capture the railroad junction at Goldsborough, North Carolina.
On December 13, Heckman's force approached Kinston.  The bridge over the Southwest Creek had been destroyed, and a Confederate entrenchment had been set up at the site.  While Heckman;s artillery exchanged fire with the rebel guns, he sent three companies of infantry to cross the river to outflank the rebels.  The remainder of the infantry was to cross the river over a nearby mill dam.  The rebels ran from their fortification as the Jersey Ninth advanced.  It was reported that a Confederate officer had been heard yelling to his men, "There comes that Dutch Heckman! You had better save yourselves  while you have the time!"
Outside of Kinston, Heckman found a heavily fortified Confederate artillery battery, covered by swamp on three sides and the Neuse River on the fourth side, and which was overlooking a bridge leading into the town.  Heckman ordered the Rhode Island battery to set up its guns on a commanding position and fire on the rebel artillery.  With reinforcements from the 17th Massachusetts, the 99th Pennsylvania, the 52nd New York, and 89th New York Infantry Regiments plus another battery of artillery, Heckman ordered the attack on four rebel infantry regiments positioned in the woods outside of town.
When the rebel infantry was sufficiently moved away enough to allow Federal forces to approach the bridge, the rebel artillery abandoned their position and also ran toward the bridge.  After escaping over the bridge, with the 9th NJ and the 17th Massachusetts right behind them, the Confederate rear guard set fire to the bridge.  Unfortunately, the burning bridge took the lives of other Confederates who had tried to cross the burning bridge.  More than 400 southern soldiers were taken prisoner since they could not cross the bridge to Kinston.  Under fire from sharpshooters, Heckman's men extinguished the flames on the bridge before it was completely destroyed. 
Annoyed with the sharpshooters, Captain William Curtis and the 9th NJ Regiment's Color Guard ran across the smoldering bridge and into an earthwork at the end of the bridge and captured 50 rebel soldiers.  The captured flag was sent to the governor of New Jersey. 
Proceeding toward Goldsborough, Heckman's force fought its way through Whitehall on December 16.  The force set up camp eight miles from its destination.  The group had been ordered to destroy the tracks of the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad and the Atlantic & North Carolina Railroad as well as a bridge spanning the river, which was 1/8 of mile in length.  After two hours of continuous fighting, Heckman's troops reached the bridge. 
Many of the men of the Jersey 9th volunteered to set fires on the bridge, which was still covered by enemy artillery and muskets.  Corporal James W. Green and Private Elias C. Winans, both of Company K, were selected.  After several attempts, and while under constant musket fire, the two men finally got a fire started with leaves and kindling.   Heckman's aide-de-camp Lieutenant Graham and Private William Lemons, of Company E, ran onto the wooden bridge carrying fusees [magnesium flares] to help get the bridge burning.  Soon the bridge was afire.  The four men ran back to their units.  The troops then destroyed railroad tracks. 
As the infantry began to leave the site, two brigades of Confederate troops advanced to attack Heckman's artillery batteries in the rear of the Federal column.  The infantry rushed to the aid of the artillery. The artillery crews set up their guns and poured grape and canister shot into the southern troops, forcing the rebels to retreat.  Heckman's command returned to Newbern, North Carolina on December 20. 
On December 22, Colonel Heckman finally received his commission promoting him to  Brigadier General.  the commission had been issued in Washington, DC on October 29, 1862 but did not arrive in North Carolina until December.  Heckman was assigned to 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 18th Corps.  His brigade consisted of the 9th NJ, 3rd Massachusetts, 8th Massachusetts, and 23rd Massachusetts Infantry Regiments.  On December 24, a new stand of colors [National & Regimental flags] were presented to the 9th NJ by the New Jersey Legislature.  The flags cost taxpayers $700.
Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards                                            

December 1862: Battle of Fredericksburg (Part Three)

On December 12, 1862, Colonel George W. Mindil and his 27th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment were ordered to be the first to cross the newly constructed pontoon bridges  over the Rappahannock River to enter Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Guarding those bridges were the men of the 11th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment.   Not far behind the 27th NJ marched the men of Colonel Edward Campbell's  15th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the 6th Corps.  During the day the 27th NJ took up a position behind the Fredericksburg Gas Works in the second line of battle.  The regiment spent the day under fire from Confederate artillery batteries.

The men of Colonel Robert McAllister's 11th NJ Regiment were ordered to cross the Rappahannock River from Falmouth to Fredericksburg on December 14th. The 11th NJ relieved the battle-weary men of the 26th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  Two companies were dispatched to relieve the 26th PA Regiment's pickets. the pickets had exchanged fire with the rebels for several hours and sustained a loss of four men wounded and six men missing. On December 15th, the 11th NJ Regiment was ordered to cross the river back to Falmouth.
Reverend Alanson Haines, Chaplain of the 15th NJ Regiment, praised the work of Dr. Redford Sharp, of Belvidere, Surgeon of the 15th NJ.  "Doctor Redford Sharp, the principal surgeon, was most active and efficient.  Though detailed to the Division Hospital, he was able to do much for the wounded of the regiment brought to him, and was specially tender and careful of all under his charge.   He gave nearly five years to the cause of humanity in the army, and his name deserves remembrance along with the good and the brave."

On December 13, Sergeant Cicero H. Drake, of Belvidere, serving in the 142nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, was wounded in the leg by shrapnel.  He was transported by railroad to Washington, D.C. to Finley Hospital, 6th Ward.   Drake wrote in a letter to J. R. Butts, of Belvidere, "I am now comfortably housed in this hospital.  We have a warm room, good beds and good attendance. My wound is not a bad one, and is doing well.  Beside the hole made by the slug that wounded me, I have six ball holes through my clothes.  Our company lost, in killed and wounded, that I know of, 37 - perhaps not more than 6 or 8 were killed.  Among the killed was Charles Wallace, cousin to Isaac Wallace.  He was a favorite of mine, and I regret his loss very much.  William Divit [or Davitt], son of Matthew Divit, formerly of Warren County, was among the slain."

Many of the NJ troops returned to Belle Plain, Virginia.  Lieutenant Birdsall Cornell, of the 1st NJ Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, visited some of the Knowlton Township men of Company G, 31st NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment for the Christmas season.  Cornell wrote, "On Sunday, the 28th, I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting my old friends Captain B. F. Howey and Lieutenant James F. Green, Co. G, 31st N.J. Vols. and partook of their hospitality in the shape of a splendid dinner of roast beef, chicken, eggs &c., quite a rarity for a soldier to enjoy; Captain Howey, I am happy to state, is enjoying excellent health, but Green has been indisposed for some time, but is now improving.  1st Lieutenant [William C.] Larzelier, of the same company, is also in good health.  All the officers of this company enjoy the respect and confidence of their men to an unusual degree.

"The 31st Regiment, I learn, have had very arduous duties to perform since they came into the service.  While in Maryland, they were engaged in the construction of a Fort, and since having crossed the river into Virginia, they have been constantly employed , through all kinds of weather, in repairing roads, rebuilding bridges, &c. This is an unthankful service for a soldier, and it is very seldom they receive sufficient credit for it, as the movements of our armies depend very much upon the energy and perseverance of this class of men."

Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 1862: Battle of Fredericksburg (Part Two)

On December 12, 1862, the battle at Fredericksburg, Virginia was well underway.  Men from Warren County, NJ serving in many units within the Army of the Potomac were coming together for the battle.  Belvidere resident Sergeant Cicero H. Drake, was advancing with the 142nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment toward the Confederate fortifications outside of town. His brother, Sergeant Levi Drake, of Blairstown, was wounded as they advanced together.

Drake wrote, "We had now gotten within full range of their guns, and we, for the first time, began to fire.  We halted, but the whole regiment squirmed like a snake.  We had now got within 75 yards of their first line of entrenchments and at this moment, their whole line opened on us a fire that no man could describe.  The balls flew like a storm of hail.  And at the same time, a heavy battery commenced a crossfire from the left, completely raked us from left to right, and poured into our ranks all sorts of death dealing missiles.  Not a man turned his face to the foe, but like veterans stood up and were shot down.  No troops in the world could stand such a fire, and again we fell on our faces.

"We lay perhaps for three minutes, but those three minutes contained the horrors of the ages.  On my left and right, at my side, lay a man shot through the breast by a grape, and on my right lay one terribly mutilated by a shell.  As we lay, I could hear those poor fellows praying and beseeching High Heaven for protection, while others were groaning and yelling  most vociferously.  All these, with the wild whir of bullets, the singing of grape  and the bursting of shells.  All these, I say, formed a spell of terrors that will never be forgotten.  At one time, I raised my head and looked about me.  I saw dead men and horses scattered in every direction over the field, while great pieces of railroad torn from the rebel batteries plowed the earth in our front and rear.  Again, we were ordered to up and charge.  At this time, we had lost many of our best officers.  Our fellows kept advancing and firing.  Most of them would fall on their backs, load, jump up and fire.  Our line became a little confused.  
"A young officer - I do not remember his name, where he came from or anything about him - sprang up in our midst, and with sword drawn, leading his horse, pointed to the woods and shouted, 'charge in the woods, on them, with your bayonets; I will go with you, my brave boys!'  His noble face, so young and boy-like, glowed with valor.  I thought if he could go, I could, and I followed him.  I fired quite a number of times, and my gun barrel got so hot that I could hardly hold it.  I dropped on my back, loaded, jumped up and was in the act of of placing a cap, when a shell burst near me, a piece of which hit me between the thigh and knee joint. I thought a forty-pound cannon ball had taken it, but on examination, I found that, at least, my leg was left. However, my fighting was done for that day [December 13], and I fell to the rear.  I got behind a clump of earth, lay down with other wounded, and watched the progress of the conflict.
"I saw our fellows steadily advance, and saw the enemy fall back, but they rallied on their reserve and fell on us in overwhelming numbers.  They got us started back, then, having a full opportunity, they played on us at an awful rate.  At one time it seemed like the gates of hell had opened, and all the furies of the infernal region were pouring a perfect stream of death into our ranks.  After laying on the field about half an hour, I hobbled to the hospital.  I could a dozen sheets more in telling you what I passed through after the battle, but I have not time.  But this I will say, our drunken doctors used us worse than did the rebels.  One man, of our company, was wounded about noon, Saturday, and lay on the field till Monday night.  It was found necessary to amputate his leg, and he told me that the surgeon that had operated on him was so drunk that he staggered during the operation."  [The appearance of drunkenness may have been the effects of prolonged exposure to ether, which was used as an anesthetic.]
Reverend Alanson Haines, Chaplain of the 15th NJ Regiment, who acted as a messenger between brigade and regiment during the battle, reported, "The rebel fire was direct and close, and the exposure of a little knot of men or officers would bring a shell just over their heads or into their midst.  Colonel Ryerson had ridden up the further bank and was seated on his horse, when a shell came directly towards him and seemed to explode      on the very spot he occupied. Doctor Oakley exclaimed, 'Harry Ryerson is gone!'  The smoke cleared away, and he was seen to ride on unharmed, having marked the coming missile and thrown himself down on his horse's neck just in time and far enough to escape."
Reverend Haines reported on the first death in the 15th NJ Regiment during the battle, "Mitchell Mulvey, Company G, was the first man of the regiment killed.  At the time, shots were being exchanged with the rebel pickets.  He was cautioned not to expose himself, but he exclaimed, 'Hush, don't tell a Jersey boy to keep back when the enemy is in sight!'  He had fixed his attention on a rebel sharpshooter who fired from behind a tree.  When, at length, the rebel exposed himself in firing, he took aim and fired.  the rebel was seen to tumble over, evidently killed.  At the same moment, Mitchell fell back dead, shot through the brain."
During the fighting on the morning of December 13, the 15th NJ Regiment was stationed along a railroad line keeping up musket fire on the rebels.  In the afternoon, the 1st NJ Brigade was forced back. A large number of soldiers from the 4th, 23rd and 15th NJ Regiments were captured.  Colonel Hatch of the 4th NJ Regiment, was wounded in the knee.  He died a few days later after his leg was amputated.  Sergeant Major John P. Fowler, of the 15th NJ, was killed, and Captain William Slater and Major James M. Brown were severely wounded.
Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards            

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 1862: Battle of Fredericksburg (Part One)

On December 11, 1862, soldiers of the 7th Michigan Infantry Regiment, the 19th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, and the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment launched an amphibious assault across the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg, Virginia. 
Warren County soldiers were on the march toward Fredericksburg.  The 11th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonel Robert McAllister of Oxford Furnace, was assigned to General Daniel Sickels division when it began its march to Falmouth, Virginia, located across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg.  Sickels' father had founded The Belvidere Apollo newspaper in Warren County, and young Daniel Sickels had for a time worked in his father's newspaper in Belvidere.
The newly created 15th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Edward L. Campbell, of Belvidere, was assigned to the Sixth Corps.  The 15th NJ was ordered to proceed toward Fredericksburg. 
Second Lieutenant Birdsall Cornell, of Branchville, and the 1st NJ Volunteer Cavalry Regiment were one of the first Federal units to engage in the battle.  Cornell wrote to The Belvidere Intelligencer [formerly The Belvidere Apollo], "Our Regiment has the distinguished honor of being the first to commence the engagement on the left at the great battle of Fredericksburg.  We moved across the river early in the morning, and were thrown immediately to the front as skirmishers. In about an hour, the infantry came up and we were ordered to the rear.   Strange as it may appear, although we were under galling fire during this time, both of infantry and artillery, not a man was injured, and only two horses were killed."
Sergeant Cicero H. Drake, of Belvidere, had joined the 142nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment in Stroudsburg. He was wounded in the leg during the battle on December 13 and was sent to Finley Hospital in Washington, DC to recuperate. He wrote a letter to J. R. Butts, of Belvidere, while in hospital.  "On the 10th instant, we encamped near White Oak Church, three miles from Fredericksburg.  On the morning of the 11th, we were aroused at 2:00 by the long [drum] roll, and we started for the Rappahannock.  Shortly after, on our way, we heard the thunder of cannon in the direction of Fredericksburg and knew that the first scene of the great drama had opened - the bombardment of Fredericksburg.  About 9 a.m. we formed in line of battle in the woods, a mile or two from the town.  All day the fire continued, and about dark, the town was taken by a detachment of two regiments."
The Confederate troops had fortified the heights just outside of town.  A stone wall gave many cover from Federal rifle and musket fire.  The 15th NJ Regiment arrived at Stafford Heights on the morning of December 11.  Lt. Colonel Campbell was in command because Colonel Samuel Fowler was ill with typhoid fever.   While awaiting orders, the men of the 15th NJ watched the town being shelled by rebel guns.
Colonel McAllister's 11th NJ Regiment also arrived at Stafford Heights.  Pontoon bridges were under construction down on the Rappahannock.  On the morning of December 12, McAllister was ordered to have his men guard the bridges.  Campbell was ordered to have his men cross the river and prepare for battle orders. 
Sgt. Drake wrote, "On Friday, 12th, our forces crossed the river and took a position beyond. All this time, the mighty hosts of the rebels lay strongly fortified in the mountains back of Fredericksburg and directly in our front.  Although they were not a mile from us, and had a large army, that night not a sign of them could be seen.  No campfire, no noise, but all in that direction, silent as death.  The next morning (Saturday), we were led in the direction of the enemy.  The ground between us and the rebel works presented a level appearance.  As we came out in this open field, the lines were formed.    Our Regiment was on the left of the 2nd Brigade Pennsylvania Reserves, and in the 2nd line of battle.  After forming, we were ordered to advance, which we did, and took a position near to and in the rear of  our batteries.  Our batteries were placed on a ridge, perhaps a quarter of a mile from the enemy's works.  They had been shelling the enemy for some time. 
"Occasionally solid shot came whistling over our heads but doing no damage.  About 12, we shifted our position a little to the left.  This attracted the foe, and they opened on us with solid shot and shell.  We fell on our faces, everything, so as to escape the fire.  At the same time, the battery attached to our Regiment opened in return, firing right over our heads, and poured into the ranks solid 24 and 48 pounders.  Although we lay flat on the ground, their shot came unpleasantly close.  One cannon ball came so close to my head that I felt the wind from it  on my ear.  Sometimes I would look up and around me.  I then could see balls bounding majestically over the field.  They sometimes would strike a hundred yards front of us, throw up a sheet of sand, bound over us, and light perhaps fifty yards in our rear.  At this time, along the line, there was a perfect thunder of artillery. 
"Although we were on the left, we could hear the conflict rage on the right several miles off.  Between us and the rebels was a rise of ground hiding them from our view, but between this hill and them was a level field, occasionally cut by deep rifle pits.  On this rise, our batteries were planted, and in their rear, we lay.
"Soon after 12, the command, 'Attention, Battalion - Forward - Double Quick - March' was given, and we advanced to storm their stronghold.  When we reached the top of the rise before mentioned, we came to a deep rifle pit; we broke over this and formed beyond.  then the command, 'Fix Bayonets,' and the order for a grand charge across the plateau, but here they opened on us a most awful fire, but on went the 142nd; soon our advance was checked, and we were compelled to fall on our faces to escape total destruction.  Again we up and pressed forward.  Here I saw my Captain fall, and a moment after, my brother [Levi C. Drake, of Blairstown] fell by my side."
Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

1861-1863: Belvidere's Newspaper War (Part Two)

On August 16, 1861, Franklin Pierce Sellers, Republican owner/editor of The Belvidere Intelligencer, published an attack on John Simerson, the Democrat owner/editor of The Warren Journal.  Sellers accused the anti-war Simerson of being "a most miserable tool" and a "most willful perverter of the truth."  [See 1861-1863: Belvidere's Newspaper War (Part One).]

Simerson wrote in response, "'Peace, Peace, Peace' is the language of all democratic papers in the country, and peace meetings are a good deal thicker now than war meetings were eight weeks ago."
Sellers replied in his next edition, "Yes, if you would have peace 'at the price of chains and slavery.'  In the language of the eloquent Patrick Henry, 'Gentlemen may cry peace, peace, but there is no peace,' nor there never will be, or should be, until either the rebels now in arms against the government lay down their arms and become loyal, or 'until the last armed foe expires.'  As well might the authorities of this town or county make peace with the prowling midnight thief or assassin, or with a band who premeditated the murder of their fellow men in our midst.  Be it ever remembered that the present rebellion against this Government has been long premeditated by bad men...We admit the laws allow of Free Speech, and of Free Press, when it does not amount to treason, but we ask the question -- Is not that man who wishes success to rebel arms, who extols their acts, and who condemns the whole course of the authorized powers that be to suppress rebellion, a guilty man in point of the letter of the law, as if found in arms against the Government?  We are willing to let a virtuous and free people set their seal of condemnation upon the author of such traitorous articles as appear from week to week in The Journal.  In the very last issue of that paper may be found a 'puff' in favor of the New York Day Book, an acknowledged traitor paper.  It seems not a little strange that such daring traitorism should be tolerated in Warren County, whose inhabitants, as a quite general thing, are intelligent and loyal."
In September 1861, Simerson, tiring of the public attacks by Sellers, challenged Sellers to prove The Warren Journal was a secessionist newspaper and "have us arrested."
Sellers replied, "The Journal calls upon us to make it out a Secessionist paper.  We have done this to our own satisfaction, and to the satisfaction of all persons outside of its own kind.  The secessionists here and elsewhere claim it is 'our paper' --this is evidence enough if there were none other.  'Have us arrested,' says The Journal.  We profess to be loyal, but we have more decent business on hand than to undertake so dirty a job as that.  It is all folly for The Journal to attempt to make it appear that it is anything but a disloyal paper.  It has gone so far in that, that people really laugh at its attempts to make a show of decency.  The Journal is a fit subject for the consideration of the Grand Jury. The Jury will find no trouble in obtaining evidence that the paper is a treasonable institution.  We therefore hand it over to the jury now about to enter upon its duties.  'Let justice be done though The Journal should fall'."
In addition to his vituperative attacks on Simerson, Sellers is known for his use of the phrases "Shamocracy" and "Shamocrats."  Here is an example of Sellers' use of the words in an article dated September 6, 1861: "ANOTHER HOWL!  John Dean, a Republican, has been appointed Post Master at Stewartsville, in this county, and a tremendous howl is set up by the Shamocracy, in which, of course, the filthy organ of the party, The Journal, joins most heartily.  It is a most dreadful matter with the Shamocracy that they are being debarred from further share in the emoluments of public office!  Mr. Fulmer, who has been ordered to make place for Mr. Dean, it appears, has held the office for forty years, yet the howl is created because of his removal.  What makes the removal of Shamocrats from office more sore now than formerly is the fact that they know they will never again be suffered to have the ascendancy.  They know this and feel it.  We hope Mr. Dean will not feel bad because a man having held the office for forty years has been removed to make place for him.  Such things happen - especially when men are not of the 'right stripe'."
Sellers attacks on The Warren Journal and on "Shamocrats" continued until his death in 1863.   The Belvidere Intelligencer continued to be the favorite newspaper of Warren County soldiers throughout the war.   The Belvidere Intelligencer was the oldest Warren County newspaper. It was originally created as The Belvidere Apollo in the 1825 by George G. Sickles, father of General Daniel E. Sickles - who commanded many Warren County soldiers in the Third Corps. After the war, the newspaper reverted to its original name.
Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards

Sunday, November 25, 2012

1861-1863: Belvidere's Newspaper War (Part One)

Politics, in one form or another, was a major factor in the cause of the American Civil War and of the division among the people of New Jersey.  Warren County was not exempt from political division.  Although Asbury was the original headquarters for the Musconetcong Rifle Guards and Company H of the 8th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment, it also had a sizable pro-Southern contingent.  Bridgeville also had a group of anti-war/pro-Southern residents who were soon called the "Bridgeville Thinking Man's Club."  In Independence Township, a group of anti-war Democrats were soon nicknamed the "Knights of the Golden Circle" after a pro-Southern group in Pennsylvania.  The Republicans, in support of President Abraham Lincoln, were joined by pro-Unionist Democrats in opposing: "Breckenridge Democrats" or "Copperheads," who opposed the war against the southern states.
Franklin Pierce Sellers, a Republican owner/editor of The Belvidere Intelligencer, was a staunch supporter of preserving the Union at all costs.  John Simerson, a Democrat owner/editor of Belvidere's other newspaper, The Warren Journal,  did not see the need for a war to save the Union.  Thus, the stage had been set for a second war - a war of newspapers.  The war was waged between the two newspapers until Seller's death in 1863.  The news war continued, but not with the same intensity, when Andrew Jackson Shampanore, a pro-Unionist Democrat, took over The Belvidere Intelligencer.  If nothing else came from this war of newspapers, it was guaranteed that each newspaper had one definite sale - to each other.
Sellers, whose sons and stepson were volunteer soldiers, was very popular among the Warren County soldiers.  Sellers offered to print local soldiers' letters and reports of the war in his newspaper.  These letters of soldiers' first-hand accounts of the war are really the basis for this blog.
Simerson's motto was clearly stated in the April 26, 1861 edition of The Warren Journal, "The Union of the Fathers! The Flag of the Thirty-four States. Free Speech - Free Press! NO MOB LAW."  The flag of his newspaper also stated weekly, "Equal Education, Equal Rights, Equal Laws. Day Light and Fair Play -- and the Democracy of New Jersey ask no more."  
The newspaper war in Belvidere began in July 1861 around the time of the First Battle of Manassas Junction, VA (First Battle of Bull Run).  On July 26, Simerson wrote in The Warren Journal, "We have been informed that the Reverend George B. Day, of the M.E. [Methodist-Episcopal] Church of this village, preached a sermon last Sabbath evening for the especial benefit of the editor of this paper."  Simerson's anti-war stance had apparently been discussed in the Belvidere Methodist Church, and Reverend Day felt a need for his congregation to pray for Simerson. 
Simerson tried to defend his view that there could be peaceful ways of working out the political differences between northern and southern states of the Union and noted it was inappropriate  for the minister to attack another person's freedom of speech in church.
Sellers, after reading Simerson's article in The Journal, wrote in the August 2 edition of The Intelligencer, "If this be so, Mr. Day certainly is entitled to the thanks of this community.  We understand that some persons are disposed to censure Mr. Day for what he did.  This is ungenerous, inasmuch as it shows that Mr. Day feels it his duty to attack sin wherever it shows itself in a way calculated to deceive the unwary.  He could not have chosen a more fit subject upon which to exercise a reformatory influence.  The man who dares attack a prominent and dangerous blackguard, deserves more credit than he who directs his attention to one of less note and of less injurious influence.
"The Journal's sins of treachery are well known, and its disloyalty a foregone conclusion.  Abundant proof has been adduced to prove this fact -- now we may have mention the publication by that paper last week of Vallandigham's speech in Congress! So universal is the belief in Vallandigham's traitorous principles, that no one, except he of like feeling, speaks in praise of his speech.  Is it to be wondered at that The Journal should be            made the object of an especial sermon?"
Sellers reprinted an article from The Sussex Register on August 9, 1861, "Nearly every paper in New Jersey, which supported [John C.] Breckenridge for President last fall, is now insidiously at work undermining the Government, and trying to sow distrust and dissension in the ranks of the supporters of the Union.  They hold up the famous Vallandigham as a model of patriotism, while they studiously ignore the existence of such Jersey Democrats as John R. Thomson, George T. Cobb, Nehemiah Perry, and W. G. Steele.  But a day of reckoning is approaching.  We shall soon be engaged in the fall elections, and then it will be discovered that no man who shall be urged for office by such papers as The Sussex Herald, Warren Journal, &c., will have the remotest chance of success.  The people of this State, by an immense majority, are true to the Union, and they will not permit a single traitor to gain official position.  The candidate who seeks or receives endorsement from any of the editorial Iscariots, who now disgrace New Jersey by their shameless disloyalty, is a doomed man; he will be indignantly put down, and his name thenceforth   be loathed and execrated."
On August 16, 1861, Sellers wrote, "WHO ARE THEY? -- The Journal man asks us to name the twenty male secessionists in Belvidere.  If he had called upon us for nineteen out of twenty, and we furnished them, he would have been as completely informed on that subject as if we had added the name of the editor of The Journal to the list.
"The editor of The Journal, in the same article, says: 'We do not believe that we have a single Democrat in Belvidere, or in the County of Warren, who is a secessionist, or a sympathizer    with the secessionists;' and in the same column of his paper, he tells us that the Democrats of Hope have adopted the Oxford Club preamble and resolutions, and approvingly says: 'Thus the good work goes bravely on. The people of Warren are firmly attached to the Union, but they did not believe that the present Black Republican war programme is the proper mode of perpetuating it, or restoring peace'!  What does The Journal mean  by the first part of the last quotation?  Does it mean that the good work that goes so bravely on in the townships of Oxford and Hope, by men it styles Democrats, is the banding themselves into semi-secret politicals clubs, being emphatically a cheap edition of 'The Knights of the Golden Circle,' revised and adopted to suit the circumstances of Northern sympathizer with Southern Rebellion?  And while they commit no oopen act of legal treason, from which they are only restrained by fear for the safety of their necks, they go stalking through the community and hypocritically denounce the misfortunes of our country, crying peace, peace, compromise, fraticidal conflict, imbruing your hands in your brother's blood, and you can't subjugate the South -- that war was commenced by Lincoln, &c. &c., and after they have gone through with all this, and much more of such  sniffling, blubbering, lying pretense, they will declare their real sympathetic feelings -- the 'South are only fighting for their rights, and they will have them in spite of the d----d abolitionists;' never uttering one single word of sympathy for the Government at Washington, that has been, and is at this moment contending against the most wanton, atrocious and gigantic rebellion that modern history has, or ever will record.  Thus the 'good work goes bravely on,' as The Journal styles it, of embarrassing and paralyzing the power and energy of the government -- debauching public patriotism and weakening the love and veneration which every citizen should bear towards his, the only great free Government on the globe.  In the face of all this, The Journal says it 'does not believe there is a single Demorcrat in Belvidere, or in the country, who sympathizes with the secessionists'!
"If John Simerson -- a most miserable tool at best, besides a most perverter of the truth -- does not sympathize with speeches of such Union Democrats as Holman of Indiana, McClerand and Richardson of Illinois, Wright of Pennsylvania, Dickinson of New York, Crowell and Stratton of New Jersey, Frank Thomas of Maryland, Holt of Kentucky, the successor of the thief and traitor John B. Floyd, in Buchanan's Cabinet?  And above all, why has he excluded from The Journal those thrilling appeals to democratic and national patriotism, and the scathing denunciation of secession and treason by glorious Andrew Johnson, a Democratic Senator fronm the once loyal State of Tennessee, whose name and fame are so completely embalmed in the hearts of the true Union men of the nation that, like William Tell, it will need no historian to transmit it to future generations.  Why has The Journal excluded from its columns the last two great speeches of the dying patriot and statesman Stephen A. Douglas?"  [Seller's literary attack on Simerson went on in a column from the top to the bottom of the page.]      
Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards

Saturday, November 10, 2012

October 29-November 1862: 27th NJ Regiment On The Move

Colonel George Washington Mindil's 27th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry regiment had originally set up camp on East Capitol Hill in Washington, District of Columbia in October 1862.  Mindil had ordered all his officers, without exception, to attend schools of instruction in tactics and the practical duties of soldiers .  Mindil wanted to make sure his officers could lead their men into battle and keep as many alive as possible.Mindil had seen the effects of good and bad leadership during the battles at Williamsburg, Fair Oaks and at Manassas during the second battle of Bull Run.

On October 29, 1862, the Regiment set up camp near Fort Albany, Virginia.  After a few days of rest the Regiment was ordered to march to Alexandria, Virginia.  A camp was set up on a hillside outside of the town. Mindil named his new encampment site Camp Philip Kearney in honor of the first commanding general of the First New Jersey Brigade. 

Mindil drilled and trained his men at Camp Philip Kearney.  The regiment would remain in Alexandria until December 1, 1862, when the regiment was ordered to march to Fredericksburg, Virginia to join the 25th NJ Regiment, the 13th New Hampshire Regiment, and the 15th Connecticut Regiment as part of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division of the 9th Army Corps.  The troops were sent to reinforce General Ambrose Burnside's Army of the Potomac for the attack on Fredericksburg. 

Copyright 1999-2012: Jay C. Richards

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October 5, 1862: Conrad Miller - first to die in the 31st NJ Regiment

In October 1862, the men of the 31st New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment left Camp Belvidere, in Flemington, NJ, and traveled to Washington, D.C.  The 31st was joined by the 30th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which also contained some Warren County volunteers.  Under the guns of Fort DeRussy, the 31st NJ Regiment established Camp Warren on October 6.  The 30th NJ Regiment was sent to Fort Baker on the Potomac River.
William H. H. Warman, of the Belvidere Company [Company I], wrote a letter to The Belvidere Intelligencer to report the regiment's first death.  "Our regiment has enjoyed tolerably good health - have but one death among us, and that, perhaps, was occasioned by improper indulgences in eating and drinking stuff containing poison.  The person referred to was Conrad Miller, a married man from Blairstown, in Comp. G, who was suddenly attacked on Friday, p.m., the 3rd instant [October 3, 1862], and died on Sunday about 10 o'clock a.m.  The Doctors say it was a case of poisoning.  He was embalmed and sent home.  Our regiment is much saddened by this occurrence, and I hope it will be a two-fold warning to others of the 31st and may it extend and have good influence in other regiments.  It seemed like a warning from God."
Conrad Miller, of Blairstown, enlisted in Company G of the 31st NJV on September 3, 1862 at 33 years of age as a Drummer.   According to regimental records, Miller died on October 5, 1862 at East Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. of cholera morbus.
Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards  

Monday, October 1, 2012

October 1, 1862: Lt. Charles Butts at the Blackwater River

On October 1, 1862, Lieutenant Charles W. Butts and the Belvidere boys of Company I, 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, went into their first battle. 
The company adjutant sent the following dispatch to The Belvidere Intelligencer, "On the first instant, company I was sent out on a scout toward the Blackwater River, it having been rumored that the enemy was crossing in strong force.  As the company neared Carrsville, a little village about half way between Suffolk and Franklin, on the Blackwater, Lieut. C. W. Butts was ordered to proceed with the advance guard through Carrsville. On doing so, he came up on the enemy's pickets in the village, who fired upon Lieut. Butts and his men and then fled; Lieut. charged upon them, wounding several, when he found himself in front of two or three hundred cavalry drawn up in a line of battle. He wheeled his men as soon as possible, and retraced his steps at full speed but not until the rebels had fired a volley into his ranks.  The balls whizzed over and through them, but fortunately not one was struck.  Lieut. Butts hurried back to the main body of the Company, informed the captain of the strength of the enemy, and erelong all were safely out of the reach of the rebel force.  But their retreat was ascertained afterward to have been necessary, for the rebels as soon as they recovered from their surprise at the approach of Lieut. Butts, started off toward Franklin as fast as their horses could carry them.
"Captain [John] Herr, commanding the company, dispatched a message immediately to camp, with the facts, and awaited further orders. Colonel [Samuel Perkins] Spear, on receiving the message, ordered Lt. Colonel Stetzel to take three companies, overtake Company I, and then proceed, if possible, to the Blackwater, and find out the strength of the enemy and then learn his intentions.  He proceeded as far as the Sommerton Creek, about three miles this side of the Blackwater, and on learning from the contrabands [slaves] that the enemy had crossed it the night previous and afterward destroyed the bridge; he sent Lieut. Basset, of Company A, to ascertain if the report was true, and if so, whether it would be possible to ford the creek.  Lieut. Basset found the enemy's pickets on the other side, in pretty large numbers, and soon returned with the report of one    of his horses killed and exhibited a wound in his waist.  Lt. Col. Stetzel then came forward himself, with a body of troops under his command, and satisfied himself the rebels were too strong for him to attempt to cross.   He, therefore, fell back to within ten miles of Suffolk and sent information to Col. Spear of the strength of the enemy, and waited further orders.  On reception of the dispatch, Col. Spear referred the matter to Major General [John James] Peck, commanding this post, who immediately ordered out three regiments of infantry, the remainder of the 11th Penna. Cavalry, and a section of Captain [Frederick M.] Follett's battery.  Thus with seven companies of cavalry, two howitzers, two rifled cannon, and three regiments of infantry, all under the command of Col. Spear, acting Brigadier, we felt strong enough to drive the enemy before us and over the Blackwater, should he make a stand on this side.
"We marched all of Thursday night and reached Franklin about 3 o'clock P.M. the next day.  On nearing it, Lieut. Butts was sent out to reconnoiter and see what had become of the enemy, whose pickets had been driven in at our approach.  He was found posted in a pretty strong force, on both sides of the river; and as we neared it, he soon let us know where he was posted by firing a few shells, which fell in the woods on our right.  No sooner was the challenge given that it was accepted by our Colonel, or rather acting General.  He immediately assigned the battery and howitzers their positions, overlooking the river, supported them by the regiments of infantry, and drew up the cavalry on the edge of the woods, on the right, to be in readiness to co-operate at a moment's notice.  We did not have to wait long to ascertain the strength and position of the enemy.  The balls and shells soon began to whiz and buzz around and over us, here and there cutting down the infantry and frequently making the cavalry change their positions.  We drove him over the river, and then our little howitzers and pet rifled cannon got their range, grape and shells poured profusely into their midst.  We riddled all the buildings in the village, which they were going to occupy as winter quarters, and must have scattered death and destruction far and wide.  The shore was shelled for a mile up and down, with terrible effect.  After having pretty well silenced their guns and accomplished our object, we calmly withdrew, bringing our dead and wounded with us.  WE lost one killed from the 13th Indiana, two wounded from the 103rd Penna., and one from the 9th New York.  We heard the next day that the enemy had lost 30 killed and 60 wounded.  Our boys behaved in a most soldierly-like manner.  They rushed into the engagement with a simultaneous yell...I take pleasure in speaking of the conduct of the Belvidere boys.  All were intent on the great object of their visit to the place, namely: cleaning this side of the Blackwater of the foe, who had been pestering us day and night, ever since we occupied Suffolk.  I cannot speak too highly of the valor of Lieut, Butts, who was  in command of Company I.  The utmost confidence is placed in him by his superior officers, and was evinced particularly on this occasion by the hazardous duties assigned to him, at three different times, in finding out the strength and position of the enemy.  We have not a cooler officer and one of better judgement in our ranks than Lieut. Charles W. Butts."
Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards  

Monday, September 24, 2012

September 1862: George Mindil's 27th NJ Infantry Regiment

In September 1862, recruiters in Sussex and Morris Counties were signing up volunteers for a nine months   infantry regiment, the 27th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  The 27th NJV was the last of the nine months units created in New Jersey so it was divided into 11 companies instead of 10, which gave the regiment an extra 160 men.  This made the 27th NJV one of the largest regiments in service, totaling 1,088 officers and men.
The officers could decide on a commanding colonel.  Attorney Cortland Parker, a friend of the late General Philip Kearney of the 1st NJ Brigade, the officers elected 19-year old Captain George W. Mindil as the colonel commanding the new regiment.  Mindil had been the general's Inspector of the 1st Division.
Mindil was commissioned a 1st Lieutenant of Company B, 23rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment in July 1861.  By October 1861, he had been promoted to Captain.  In March 1862, Captain Mindil was appointed to the staff of Brigadier General David B. Birney, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division in the 3rd Army Corps.  Mindil was in General George B. McClellan's staff after General Kearney was killed.  Mindil was cited for gallantry at Williamsburg and had received testimonials from Generals Kearney, McClellan, Nathaniel Banks, Samuel Heintzelman, and Birney.  During the  Battle of Williamsburg, Mindil led the decisive charge.  He distinguished himself again at the Battle of Fair Oaks and during Kearney's retreat from Richmond.  During the Second Battle of Manassas, Mindil was the only member of Kearney's staff present on the battlefield.
The following Warren County men enlisted in the 27th NJV:
COMPANY A: Henry D. Fields, of Frelinghuysen; George Hendershot, of Washington; Andrew G. Hill, of Marksboro; Corporal Thomas Potter, of Frelinghuysen; Fred H. Wildrick, of Phillipsburg; and Bartley VanCampen, of Pahaquarry;
COMPANY B: Joseph S. Hart, of Mount Bethel, and Sergeant Theodore McEachron, of Rockport;
COMPANY C: Theodore Neighbor, of Hackettstown, and Jacob W. Yauger, of Port Murray;
COMPANY E: Ezra P. Gulick, of Vienna;
COMPANY G: Samuel Reeves, of Belvidere; Peter Bird, Jr., George Morgan, and John Morgan, of Port Murray; and John R. Taylor and Thompson Taylor, of Oxford;
COMPANY H: George W. Hoyt, of Phillipsburg; and Corporal Fletcher B. Longcor and John Longcor, of Washington;
COMPANY I: Peter Carroll, of Vienna; William K. Hoffman and Tobias Lyon, of Hackettstown; and Aaron Rolph;
COMPANY K: Wagoner Charles Kennybrooke, of Washington; and
COMPANY L:  Corporal  Jacob Switzer, of Buttzville; and Corporal David DeGraw, Lemuel DeGraw, and Joseph DeGraw, of Hackettstown.
Copyright 1999-2012: Jay C. Richards  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 1862: Warren County & the 31st NJ Infantry Regiment

The 31st New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment was created in August 1862 as a nine months enlistment unit.  In September, recruiting was filling the ranks.  The 31st was Warren County's regiment and was comprised of more Warren County men than any other regiment. It's first commanding officer was Washington Borough attorney Colonel Alexander P. Berthoud, a political officer with little or no military experience.
The following Warren County men joined the 31st NJV:
COMPANY A: Captain Samuel Carhart, of Phillipsburg; Hulet Apgar, John R. Apgar,  Wesley L. Apgar, and Corporal Francis A. Gulick, of Washington;
COMPANY B: Benjamin Ward, of Belvidere; Corporal Jacob W. Baker, Lewis [Bergenbach] Balkenberg, Robert M. Bodine, Whitfield W. Bowlby, James L. Boyd, John W. Bray, Samuel A. Bristol, Corporal Robert A. Brown, Edward Bryan,  Joseph G. Bryan, Joseph S. Carter, 1st Sergeant Westley W. Castner, Isaac Cole, Sergeant Henry C. Cotton, George R. Creveling, Alpheus Cyphers, Charles Cyphers, John Davison, William Doolittle, Clark Felver, Peter C. Felver, 1st Lieutenant Joseph C. Felver, George Fennel, Joseph H. Force, Daniel Gardner, Oscar Godley, George W. Hansler, Newbold J. W. Hess, Caleb H. Hollingshead, Charles K. Hornbaker, William Hornbaker, Philip C. Hutchings, James Irwin, John Keldron, James Kelly, James W. Kemmerer, Jeremiah Kiefer, Samuel Lambert, Sergeant Charles E. Lancaster, Nathaniel Libby, Corporal James Lillie, William Lillie, Corporal Charles R. McFern, John H. Nightingale, Thomas L. Norton, Corporal Benjamin Opdyke, Samuel R. Opdyke, William S. Opdyke, Christopher F. Petty, Morgan Petty, Seth Petty, William I. Powers, Andrew J. Price, Fanton Quigley, Morris Scott, Elias Slack, James M. Smith, John S. Smith, John W. Smith Jr., Jacob Stone, Sergeant Washington Stout, Sergeant Jacob T. Thompson, William C. Thompson, Lewis Troester, William C. VanDoren, George C. Wandling, Henry B. Wandling, Jacob C. Wandling, Jacob S. Warne, James S. Warne, Peter B. Weller, Andrew J. Wiley, Peter R. Winter, Anthony O. Wintermute, Jacob Woolston, William C. Yard, John Youmans, of Washington; Justin P. Egarton, of Hardwick; Henry S. Pence, of Mansfield; Philip Deremer, James Dugan, William Dugan, Isaiah W. Emans [Emmons], James C. Hummer, Peter Hummer, David Kreis, Richard Mackler, George J. Maxwell, Andrew J. Raymond, Edward Taylor, William H. Thompson, Lawrence L. Weller, Mathias B. Wilson, Corporal William Wilson, Peter C. Woodruff, of Franklin; and Henry R. Woolverton, of Lebanon;
COMPANY C: Captain Andrew Jackson Raub, of Phillipsburg; Christopher S. Sellers, of Belvidere; Andrew Abel, Thomas Abel, Edward Butler, Sergeant Robert C. Carpenter, John T. Case, James A. Creveling, Martin Foose, William L. Foose, Lafayette Gardner, Corporal John B. Hand, Philip C. Hartung, John S. Hawk, Sergeant Abraham E. Hinley, Sergeant Abram C. S. Hulsizer, 2nd Lieutenant Silas Hulsizer, William W. Inscho, Aaron Keichline, Henry Lehn, Henry W. Long, John Loudenberry, William S. Mettler, Jacob F. Parker, James Parker, John Parker, Willis Pearson, Josiah P. Plattenberg, Corporal William M. Plummer, Albert Powelson, Corporal Daniel Purcell, Drummer Peter Purcell, George W. Schooley, Isaac Schooley, Henry W. Siders, Corporal David Stamets, 1st Lieutenant Thomas T. Stewart, Isaac B. Thatcher, John T. Thatcher, William K. Wallace, Henry Warman, William Wheelan, John Wheeler, Isaac L. Wyant, Robert Wyant, of Greenwich; Drummer Jacob A. Allshouse, John M. Benward, Joseph M. Benward, John Dilts, John S. Gardner, John Hager, Peter H. Hager, Thomas W. Kitchen, Simon A. Leibelsperger, John H. Melick, Samuel Sickles, and Peter S. Sickles, of Harmony; William H. Bachman, Abram O. S. Carpenter, William Cease, William Crace, Edward Deremer, Corporal Lewis Diesle, Zealous Donaho, Jacob M. Fisher, Robert W. Fisher, Martin Fisher Jr., Jacob S. Iliff, William Koose, Corporal Charles Pardoe, Wagoner Hugh R. Person, Patrick Rodgers, Edwin Roath, Christopher T. Staats, John Y. Stevenson, William H. Weldon, Andrew Young, and Jacob F. Young, of Phillipsburg; James Barber, James Bell, Joseph Y. Housel, John S. Lott, John Mettler, and George M. Young, of Franklin; Jacob Osmun and William C. Osmun, of Rockport; Henry E. Butler and Jonathan G. Robbins, of Washington; Corporal John R. Cyphers, James T. Dalrymple, Sebastian Meyers, Joseph H. Searfoss, and William S. Searfoss, of Pohatcong; and William Hagerman; 
COMPANY D: William Cronce, of Phillipsburg; and Elias M. Rake, of Harmony;
COMPANY E: 1st Lieutenant William Rodenbaugh, of Phillipsburg; Henry L. Cummings and Bennett Gano, of Belvidere; Peter Y. Chandler and Corporal Sylvester Groff, of Washington; George W. Creager, Elias Lewis, James M. Lewis, and Alexander Mulligan, of Franklin; Henry P. Ely, Samuel Hoppock, and Aaron H. Lanning, of Mansfield; John Robbins, of Buttzville; John W. Smith, of Frelinghuysen; and Samuel Wagner, of Greenwich;
COMPANY F: Captain Joseph McLaughlin, of Phillipsburg; Robert Gano and Augustus Shaw, of Belvidere; Wagoner Godfrey Bellis, Christian Brotzman, John Dalton, Sheridan W. Dean, Elias Deemer, Phillip Dilgart, Henry Edinger, Francis Eisle, Corporal Joseph W. Fackenthall, Charles Hartman, Samuel Leidy, William W. Lockenour, William G. Melick, Aaron Miller, William Moore, Wilson Moore, Isaiah W. Piatt, Jacob H. Piatt, William Piatt, Benjamin Franklin Sailor, Jacob Sailor Jr., Quintus Seip, Jacob E. Seylor, Isaac H. Smith, Jacob Super, John Super, Hugh Thorn, George VanNess, Barry Wetzell, Solomon Woolfinger, and Corporal George L. Yard, of Greenwich; Hugh H. Harrison, Skidmur W. Mettler, Hugh Thompson, Corporal Dervillious Vanderbelt, and Furman Vanderbelt, of Pohatcong; John Carling, James Devins, Drummer John Duckworth, John W. Harrison, Joseph L. Lesher, James Rouke, George Snyder, Stewart C. Warman, and Daniel M. Young, of Phillipsburg; and 2nd Lieutenant Frank P. Weymouth, of Washington; 
COMPANY G: Captain Benjamin Franklin Howey, of Knowlton; George Harris, and Theodore Harris, of Belvidere; Emellious Able, Escularius Able, Jacob J. Angle, Alfred Aten, Sergeant William C. Bloom, 1st Sergeant William Bowers, Peter Carey, John W. Case, Jonas Case, Corporal Martin L. Chambers, Wagoner Elisha H, Christian, Jabez G. Cowell, Peter Dennis, Edward Freer, David X. Gardner, Drummer Robert L. Gibbs, Abraham Gilbert, Ephraim Gilbert, 2nd Lieutenant James F. Green, George Harris, Isaac Harris, Ogden Harris, Theodore Harris, Charles E. Hartung, David M. Kitchen, Jesse Kitchen, Corporal David R. Kunkle, Andrew D. Litts, Samuel Litts, Benjamin Franklin McCormick, John Adams McCormick, George D. Nixon, Owen Phillips, Cornelius S. Robbins, Jacob Winemaker, and William B. Winemaker, of Knowlton;  Sergeant Theodore H. Andress and  Drummer Embla D. Mann, of Marksboro; Marshall J. Koyt, Isaac L. Lanterman, 1st Lieutenant William C. Larzelier, Drummer Conrad Miller, Henry Oberkrick, William Parr, George Quick, Abram Rice, Nathan H. Rice, Austin Stile, Uriah Stiles, Abraham K. Wintermute, and George M. Wintermute, of Blairstown; Austin Emmons, David M. Emmons, William H. Emmons, Elijah S. Snover, Corporal John Snover, Manuel C. Snover, and Nathaniel C. Snover, of Hardwick; Samuel Babcock, James L. Berry, Samuel Brittenheimer, William S. Burdge, Corporal John B. Corwin, Jacob Cruser, William Cyphers, Sergeant Aaron W. Davis, George W. Dell [Mt. Lake], Jacob Gunderman, George Hays, William Lusk [Mt. Lake], Theodore Maines, Daniel P. Matlock, Thomas B. Matlock, George W. McKnight, Corporal Amos H. Merrill, John W. Millburn, Aaron Pool,  Charles W. Poyer, Henry R. Poyer, Daniel V. Poyer, Abraham S. Price, Nelson R. Shotwell, John Smith, Oscar Smith, Philo Story, Samuel Stout, Henry Sutton, Joseph Sutton, Andrew R. Wildrick, and John B. Wolf, of Hope; Alfred S. Henry, of Danville [Great Meadows], Lewis P. Creamer, Sergeant William K. Evans, and Charles A. Hall, of Delaware Water Gap;
COMPANY H [Hackettstown Company]: Captain David M. Trimmer, of Hackettstown; William L. Shipps, of Belvidere; Edward H. Albertson, of Hope; Conrad P. Anderson, Daniel H. Anderson, Nicholas S. Bilby, Henry J. Bird, Samuel Carhart, William R. Carpenter, George B. Cole, Lawrence Culver, Phillips W. Emmons, John W. Gruver, and David Hart, of Mansfield; John Applegate, Sergeant Talmage L. Bell, Henry D. Bilby, Thomas S. Bird, William D. Coleman, company clerk Aaron Cramer Jr., Corporal Frederick L. Crammer, Lawrence H. Dilley, Drummer Jacob N. Downs, William Efnor, Ordinance Sergeant Charles Freeman, Wagoner Cornelius Gulick, Charles H. Haywood, Edward Heid, Ezra Marlatt, William H. Marlatt, Andrew J. Mattison, Amos McLean, Charles Parson, Daniel S. Rice, William R. Stewart, Adolphus Stillwell, Michael Verden, Corporal Marshall L. Ward, Jacob Wiley, Samuel Wire, and Stewart Wire, of Hackettstown; James E. Ayres, George Best, Moses Gray, 2nd Lieutenant Henry Hance, Edmond Hogan, John H. Mott, William Staples, and Philip G. Vroom, of Independence; Drummer Samuel B. Hartpence, of Washington; David B. Ball, Azel Edgarton, John Hogan, and John D. Staples, of Hardwick; Andrew Beam, Benjamin Felver, Mahlon Force, Alfred Humler, Isaac Lee, William H. Marlatt Jr., Joseph C. Ruppell, Sergeant John O. Schomp, William Sowers, William H. H. Stires, William P. Turner, Aaron Washburn, and Andrew M. White, of Port Murray; Thomas Karr and Corporal George T. Nunn, of Karrsville; George Mowrey, William Mowrey, and Corporal William H. Nunn, of Mount Bethel; Andrew J. Dennis, of Townsbury; Charles France, George W. Frazier, Musician Isaac Givens, John N. Givens, John O. Griggs, John M. Gulick, Alexander Hardin, David Hardin, Andrew H. Hibler, David Hill, Silvester Koyt, Henry Losey, William McClain, William L. Shipps, Jacob Smith, William C. Staples, Alexander Stine, Tobias S. VanHorn, Robert Wallace, Isaac L. Willet, and Roderick B. Willet, of Frelinghuysen; Levi H. Newman, of Hope; and James M. Staples, of Allamuchy;
COMPANY I [Belvidere Infantry Company]: Captain Calvin T. James, Elias W. Allegar, Corporal Hiram W. Allegar, Robert Bishop; Corporal Samuel Braider, Daniel Butts [Buttz], William Crammer, John Diesel, David H. Drake, 1st Lieutenant Richard T. Drake, John H. Eilenberg, Phineas K. Haze, William H. Hetfield, Seneca B. Kitchen, James G. Mace, George W. S. Norton, John A. Person, 2nd Lieutenant James Prall, Drummer William Ripple, William S. Robeson, John Rowe, Corporal William Penn Salmon, Roderick B. Stephens, Augustus Struble, Joseph C. Titus, John G. Twining, Sergeant Matthew VanScoten, William H. H. Warman, Wagoner John T. Widenor, and Thomas M. Williams, of Belvidere; Sergeant Derrick Albertson, Samuel Bachman, John V. Crutz, John M. Dalrymple, Peter A. Frye, James G. Galloway, Reuben Glass, Morgan L. Hineline, Michael Houseman, Theodore Meddock, Elijah Melroy, John Melroy, Robert Miller, Burris Osborn, William Pelts, Timothy Rake, George W. Rush, Isaac D. Rush, John Smith, John Sowders, and John M. Young, of Harmony; John H. Beschever, Sergeant Israel Swayze, John Folkner, Phillip Hopkins [Mt. Lake], James Slack, Dennis Titus, and Wesley R. VanGilder, of Hope; Henry J. Burd, of Bridgeville; John S. Banghart, George A. Bemler, Charles Flatt, and Thomas Shafer, of Buttzville;   Elijah C. Burd, Sergeant George Fox, Christopher J. Cole, Wagoner James Pittenger, and John Rasely, of Hazen; Musician Joseph N. Bogart and Corporal Charles Johnson, of Knowlton; William Boofman, Irvine Rodenbaugh, and William E. Stiles, of Phillipsburg; Corporal John Fallon, Charles Lanning, Corporal James L. Pierson, and Alden Wilkinson, of Washington; George A. Gray, Henry F. Luse, and George S. Osmun, of Frelinghuysen; John Deremer, John Fagan, George Ganoe, Corporal David C. Gardner, James Goodison, Mathias P. Hart, Aaron V. Hulsizer, Stephen D. Lanning, Baltzer T. Laycock, Jesse V. Lomason, Marshall T. Lomason, Thomas Lomason, David Lomerson, James A. Lukens, Aaron Mershon, Miller Mershon, Thomas L. Randall, Augustus Struble, Lafinis Wambold, and Benjamin Warner, of Oxford [including White Twp.];
COMPANY K: John M. Bryan and John O. Shay, of Belvidere; Samuel S. Allen, Frederick H. Apgar, Christopher Bryan, John M. Bryan, William H. Conover, Godfrey H. Hardy, James Horning, Joseph Leigh, Henry McClary, John Nier, John Snyder, Joseph Snyder, Stephen W. Whitbeck, and George F. Woolston, of Washington;  William Bodine, of Knowlton; Samuel Comer and John McNear, of Oxford; Mathias J. Crammer, of Hackettstown; Moses F. Hann and William S. Mitchell, of Greenwich; Enoch Hartpence, of Franklin; Sergeant James McBurth and Corporal George Walters, of Phillipsburg; James Gary, James Hand, Benhart Krouse, William H. Petty, and William F. Thompson, of Mansfield;  Phillip Smith, of Hope; and Warren Hagerty, of Independence; and
REGIMENTAL STAFF: Lt. Colonel William Holt, of Hackettstown; Adjutant Martin Wyckoff, of Asbury; Dr. Robert Browne, of Franklin, Surgeon; Dr. Joseph S. Cook, of Washington, Assistant Surgeon; and Dr. Nathaniel Jennings, of Washington, Assistant Surgeon.
Copyright 1999-2012: Jay C. Richards

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September 17, 1862: Battle of Antietam [Sharpsburg]

It was the bloodiest one-day battle of the war of the rebellion. The southern troops called it the Battle of Sharpsburg, Maryland, and the northern troops called it the Battle of Antietam Creek.  The battle began at daybreak on September 17.  The Federal 1st Corps fought the Confederate troops alone from dawn until 9:00 a.m. 

Fifteen-year old Jacob Cole, of Paterson, of Company A, 57th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment had been a veteran since the war began, when he joined Colonel Elmer Ellsworth's 1st New York City Fire Zouaves [11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment]  and survived the First Battle of Manassas [Bull Run] in July 1861.  After the Zouave unit's three months enlistment expired, he joined the 57th NY. 

Cole wrote, "General [Joseph King Fenno] Mansfield  had been killed, and General [Joseph] Hooker disabled."  Cole's regiment was in the 2nd Corps, which crossed Antietam Creek at 9:30 a.m., with the Irish Brigade in the lead, and took a hill overlooking the Piper House and the sunken road filled with Confederates.  "We are lying behind the hill that overlooks the field of action, every moment expecting to be ordered into action.  The bullets are whistling over our heads, and our hearts are beating as fast as the lead is flying.  Whose head will be first to come off, we are asking each other, when shall we rise  and move forward?  The worst of a battle is this waiting to go in.  'Fall in!' The word has come at last.  We jump up, get into line and march steadily in battalion front to the brow of the hill.  Now we are in it, and the minnies are plenty!  As we pass the 69th [NY Irish Regiment], or what is left of them (about a hundred men) with colors in tatters, they cheer and we return it.  Down the side of the hill toward the sunken road, the 67th and 66th [NY regiments] charge together, and over the ditch they go, stepping on bodies of the rebel dead.  Yet another charge and we have taken the Piper House and are in the cornfield beyond.  All along the path of this charge, our men have fallen, killed or wounded, but victory is ours. 

"Earlier in the day, several attacks have been made upon the sunken road, but without success.  It afforded great protection for the enemy, and to take it was like taking a fort.  In charging forward, we captured several prisoners and stand of colors belonging to the 12th Alabama [Infantry Regiment].  It was said that the words 'Captured by the Fifty-Seventh New York Volunteers at Antietam, September 17th' would be painted on the flag, and that it would be deposited with the War Department for safe keeping."

There was a brief lull in fighting around the Piper House area of the cornfield, and Cole and his buddies "charged" a pile of potatoes in the corner of a fence, and "every potato was captured."  As they ate the raw potatoes, Cole and his unit watched the rebel guns destroy battery after battery of Federal guns.  
Corporal Andrew Neal, of Belvidere, in the 4th Pennsylvania Veteran Reserve Infantry Regiment, had returned to his unit after the prisoner exchange in Ohio.  He reported, "I have been on the field in the advance, with our army, for the last three days, and I saw the hardest fought battles ever fought on this Continent.  The fight commenced about four miles southwest of Boonsboro, on a long range of hills, which the rebels held.  We drove them from there to Keetsville with but little loss.  Our army pushed forward about two miles, when our whole force was engaged.  The rebels fought desperately and determined, and contested the ground inch by inch.  There we lost a great many men.  They were mowed down by whole regiments.  The enemy turned our left, at this point, by sharp maneuvering.  We formed again, but it was with great difficulty, to hold the ground as there were a great many new troops at this point.  The 13th New York Volunteers broke twice but was rallied with considerable loss.  On farther to the right, in a thick woods and cornfield, the battle raged with the greatest fury: artillery against artillery, here was the greatest slaughter."
Theodore Carhart and the 1st NJ Volunteers had been burying the dead at Crampton's Pass when the battle near Sharpsburg began.  "Dora" wrote to his brother, "We were ordered to the battlefield on a forced march, and we arrived about one o'clock; then were sent to the extreme front to hold the position until other points were gained on the left, and we did do it in noble style.  It was a very remarkable thing - we were there under fire for four hours, and of our regiment, we never lost a man.  Our Regiment and the 2nd were the extreme front line.  The 2nd, 3rd and 7th [NJ Regiments] lost about 25 men in all, and the most of them were killed.  The firing ceased about five o'clock on both sides, but we never left our position until Thursday night, when we were relieved by a New York regiment for us to get a little something to eat."
After the battle Neal wrote, "I was over the field this afternoon, for five miles, and I saw not less than 1,500 dead rebels  and as many wounded.  The slaughter was so great that not one fourth of our men are buried yet, nor will not be for three days; they are all turning black and smell dreadfully.  The battle commenced on Wednesday, and I arrived on the field in the afternoon  where our men were fighting, and this afternoon [Friday, the 19th], on my return over the same ground, I saw wounded rebels wallowing in their own blood, the poor creatures, some of them had wheat grains  for eating - that was all they had to eat.  It was enough to make one's blood run cold.  I saw one whole division of rebels, or nearly so, cut down with grape and canister, and they lay just as they fell, and if I am not mistaken, will lay there and rot for they never can be buried for the smell.
"I have a number of rebel trophies - some fancy uniforms and caps, and a fine rebel rifle.  I saw Hooker before he was wounded, if he was wounded at all.  I was at the mill where he was, or reported to be, under Surgical attention but could not see him.  This country, for fifteen miles, is one Hospital - every house and barn is filled with our own and the rebel wounded.  I suppose you know more about killed and wounded than I do, for there are scores of reporters taking names and sending them on."
Cole recalled, "On that morning [September 18], men were detailed to go out under the flag of truce to bring in our wounded and bury the dead, but the rebels did not honor our flag of truce, but at every opportunity fired upon our men.  To those who do not know how the dead are buried upon a battlefield, I will explain by saying that we would dig a trench about twenty feet in length, seven feet wide and about six feet deep.  In this we laid them, one on top of the other until the trench was nearly full, and then we would cover them over with the dirt. We buried as many as possible, and brought in all the wounded we could, but as the rebel sharpshooters continued to fire on our flag of truce, it was impossible to bury all our dead or get all the wounded."
On September 18, Corporal Isaiah Nelson Albertson, of Hope, in Company D, 11th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment, wrote to his sister Ella and brother Jay, "This is for Jay.  Let him read it first. Brother Jay, You must not spose I have forgot you, not a bit of it.  I think think of you often and I spect you think of me.  Well, bub, I feel bully ceptin [except] a little lameness in a leg and I hope this letter will find you perfectly well.  I spect you work pretty hard now, but this fall I spect you will hunt the quails and cottontails with old London and Turk.  How does Turk look? Is he a good sized dog?  Have you seen any pigeons yet this fall?  I have seen some but I will hunt bigger game pretty soon.  Jay, I would like to see you and talk with you but az I can't you must write and tell me all about things around home.  How many pigs and how many turkeys and how the corn looks, weather there is many pumpkins and any thing you have a mind to write about.  I think you have plenty of apples and very likely peaches.  Well eat a few for me will you?     Virginia has a good many peach orchards, but peaches don't stay on long unless guarded.  There is some for sale here but they want as much money a peach nearly so I say let them keep them.  I say our living does pretty well.  We get fresh beef once a week, coffee twice a day, boiled rice or bean soup once and the rest of the time is made up with crackers and bread, salt pork, beef or 'hoss' as we call it.
"There has been fighting all of this week near Sharps ferry and our men have thrashed them pretty decently, but the exact truth I can not tell now.  I guess I will stop writing for I think that I have done pretty well for one day.  Jay, you must certainly write soon and then Old Nels will write again.  So be a good boy.  Good By, I. N. A."
Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards 

September 14, 1862: Battle of Crampton's Pass

On September 14, 1862, the Southern forces were fighting Federal troops at Turner's Gap, Fox Gap and Crampton's Pass in South Mountain in Maryland.  Jacob Cole, of Company A in the 57th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the 15-year old battle veteran from Paterson, felt he was marching in the most beautiful part of Maryland.  Cole and his unit marched through flower decorated hills toward Crampton's Pass, but as they reached South Mountain, the reality of war returned. 
Cole wrote, "Singular experiences come to a soldier sometimes from what to him is usually ordinary causes, to see men lying around dead in every shape and in every degree of repulsiveness, torn to pieces, black and bloated, is nothing to a man of battle.  Yet, such a sight coming in an unexpected manner or out of time has all the shock natural to such an experience.  The soldier will sleep soundly amid the dead and the groans of the wounded and dying companions.  It will not keep him awake on the battlefield, but let him lay down among the dead at the hospital, and he is likely to feel cold chills creeping over him.  He will be restless, will rise and seek companionship.  So at South Mountain.  A soldier is climbing through the woods with head down, slowly dragging his weary limbs after him, when suddenly his thoughtless sight rests upon the form of a dead soldier with bulging eyes and swollen face lying directly at his feet. The shock stuns him, the blood rushes to his heart, and his lip quivers.  When he turns out and goes on, he instinctively looks back to see if the man has moved.  Of such stuff are mortals made." 
A special correspondent of the Philadelphia Press filed this report, "Col. [Joseph Jackson]Bartlett's Brigade first attacked the enemy, and, after expending all its ammunition, was relieved by the First New Jersey, under the command of Col. [Alfred T. A.] Torbert.  Perceiving that no impression was being made on the enemy, who largely outnumbered us, and were pouring grape and canister into our ranks, Col. Torbert ordered a charge, which was promptly responded to by the 4th [NJ Regiment] under Col. [William B.] Hatch, in a splendid manner; they charged across a ploughed field at least 500 yards, in the face of heavy enemy fire, and drove the enemy back into the woods to the entrance of the pass.  The other regiments of the brigade followed closely with them; the enemy were completely routed and fell back to the top of the mountain, where there was a heavy reserve of them, five to ten thousand, under the command of Gen. Thomas Cobb.  The Jersey troops continued in their pursuit up the steep slope of the mountain, killing large numbers of the enemy, including many general and field officers, among whom were Gen. [Paul J.] Semmes and Lt. Col. Lamar.  The charge was one of the most brilliant of the war, maintained against an enemy outnumbering us five to one, and in a position almost impregnable by nature...Gen. [Henry Warner] Slocum, who commands our division, was ever in the thickest of the fight, waving his cap and cheering the men on.  Col. Torbert, who commands the New Jersey Brigade, distinguished himself upon the occasion for  his skill and bravery, and the courage with which he led the brigade into action."

[According to the Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army 1789-1903 by Francis Heitman, Brigadier General Paul J. Semmes, Confederate States Army, did not die at Crampton's Pass.  He died on July 10, 1863 from wounds received in battle at Gettysburg, PA.]
Theodore Carhart, of Warren County, NJ, of Company D, 1st NJ Regiment, wrote to his brother, "At Crampton's Pass, on the 14th of September, we had six men wounded, and I think the loss in the Brigade was about 100, all wounded more or less.  That was one of the grandest affairs we have ever been in.  Our Brigade was brought up to support [Brigadier General John] Newton's Brigade of our Division, which was about breaking or falling back.  The rebels were on one side of stone fence, and they were on the other, and both at the foot of a large and steep mountain.  Well, when we came up, we charged over the fence, up the mountain and above them, entirely from their whole position.  They had a whole battery on the top of the hill playing down on us as hard as they could all the time, until they saw that they could not break our lines, then they up and got out of that.  We killed and wounded about 500 and captured over 1,000 prisoners.  The war cry was 'REVENGE FOR KEARNY.'  They said they thought we were perfect fiends, and bullet proof at that, the way we came hooting and hollering, and so few falling.  They did not know either that we had been marching all day before we made the charge."  
The 1st NJ Regiment stayed at the pass to bury the dead, until ordered to join in a new battle near Antietam Creek at Sharpsburg, Maryland.
Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards