Sunday, January 29, 2012

January 27, 1862 Letter from Andrew Neal, 4th PA Veteran Infantry Regt.

On January 27, 1862, Corporal Andrew Neal, of Belvidere, in Company F, 4th Pennsylvania Veteran Reserve Regiment, wrote to Franklin Pierce Sellers at The Belvidere Intelligencer.

Neal wrote, "As it has been some time since I wrote to you, I thought a few lines from Dixie Land might interest your numerous readers.  We are still encamped where we were when I last wrote to you [Camp Pierpont, VA].  The past two weeks have been the most gloomy and disagreeable that I have yet experienced in camp - snow, rain and hail all the time, and mud knee deep in every direction.  Our hearts were glad last Saturday, the 18th instant, by the presence of Major Oakley, Paymaster of the Second Brigade, in camp.  The men each received $26 for the months of November and December, out of which sum many of them have sent $20 to their homes.

"The Second Brigade is composed of the following Reserve Regiments: the Third, Fourth, Seventh and Eleventh, numbering nearly 4,000 men, commanded by Brigadier General Meade, of Philadelphia, who is a graduate of West Point, and as brave and efficient an officer in every respect as can be found in General McCall's Division, which Division can't be beat. 

"The Quartermaster's Department of our Regiment gets better every day under the untiring attention of our worthy Quartermaster, Lieutenant Lechley.  We get a good quality of light bread, and mess pork in our Regiment is about played out; it is replaced by nicely preserved hams and shoulders, with plenty of good fresh beef...As the tattoo is beating , it admonished me that I must bring my scribbling to a close, which I will do by wishing The Intelligencer success - may its shadow never grow less.  Yours for the Union, Corporal Neal."

Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards 

January 1862: New Market: First Skirmish of 11th PA Cavalry, Co. I

On January 23, 1862, Jacob P. Wright, of Belvidere, wrote to Franklin Pierce Sellers, editor/publisher of The Belvidere Intelligencer to report on the first skirmish of the "New Jersey Company" of the 11th PA Volunteer Cavalry Regiment.  

Wright stated, "Friend Sellers: I write to say that the Belvidere boys are all well and in fighting order.  We went out the other day to New Market Bridge [Virginia] to see what we could see.  The first thing that drew our attention was some secesh cavalry, about fifty in number.  We made a charge on them, and they on us, but when they saw that we were too strong for them, they went back all standing; but we still went a mile further and crossed the bridge.  

"After going about a half a mile, we saw a company of infantry.  We took after them, but we soon discovered that they were our pickets, and we turned back.  It is raining today or we would be out.   Yours, J. P. Wright, of Belvidere."

Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards     

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jauary 19, 1862: Letter from Theodore Carhart, Jr., 1st NJ Regiment

Private Theodore Carhart, Jr., Company D, 1st NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment, of Belvidere, was known to readers of The Belvidere Intelligencer as "Dora." 

On January 19, 1862, Carhart wrote a letter to his family while in Camp Seminary, Virginia, "Father and Mother: I received your letter this morning, and, as usual, felt glad to hear from you.  It always makes me feel good to receive a letter from home.  I feel lost if I do not get one a week, and I suppose it is the same with you.  

"The weather has been very bad for the last week.  The sacred soil of old Virginia has been almost knee deep.  There has been no drilling for over a week on account of the mud.  It has rained steady for three days, but slacked up a little tonight.  It was warm enough today to work outdoors with the coat off.  If the army should attempt to move while it is so bad, I think it would meet with failure, for it would be a thing almost impossible to move the artillery; and I think further, that if it should freeze up any time, that there will be a move of the Army of the Potomac; and in McClellan's words, 'it will be short but desperate.'  As I have said before, the hardest fighting will have to be done in Virginia.  You say the army has been lying idle       about long enough; so we all think, and have to take it out in thinking.  I don't believe there is a man in the Brigade but would jump and give three hearty cheers to hear an order read for an advance movement.

"Yesterday, there was a rumor in camp that there were two companies to go out of each Regiment in the Division to strengthen the outposts, and you could hear almost every private exclaim, 'Is your company going?  I only wish ours would, for I am tired of laying here and doing nothing.'  The boys who have gone in the different expeditions are having all the fun, and we are idling away our time.   Our good old General [Philip Kearny] has done more to make the men of his Brigade happy and contented than any other General in the army.  He has constructed a log hut to serve as a dining room, and for boxing and fencing - the gloves and swords free for all.  There are a dozen pair of different kinds of gloves and an equal number of swords, headplates, breastplates and jackets made for the purpose; and in fact, there is everything there that a person could ask for in the way of amusement; and this is not all - he allows troupes (not secesh) to come here and amuse the boys.  Last week, the 'Hutchinson Family' were here, and this we would like to make an engagement with our troops, and we feel confident we could fulfill it.  Only let the General point out the place, and we would get there in double quick.  

"I see, in my last week's Intelligencer, a letter from my old friend Knox [Thomas A. H. Knox].  He and Andrew Neal were down to see me some time ago, and I promised to return the compliment, but the weather has been so bad that I thought it useless to undertake the journey (it being near 20 miles to where they are) but will try the first opportunity I get, and I think I can get through safe.  Last week, we were visited by a few friends from Jersey, but not liking camp life, or the lay of the country, left rather suddenly.  All the Belvidere boys are flourishing grandly.  I receive The Intelligencer regularly every Saturday afternoon.  As I hear tattoo beating, I must close, so good night - love and respects to all. Respectfully, your son, Dora."

Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards    

January 18, 1862 Letter: Jacob Wright & James Clayton, 11th PA Cav.

In January 1862, Company I ("The New Jersey Company") of the 11 Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry Regiment was encamped at Camp Hamilton at Fortress Monroe, Virginia.  The Warren County members of Lieutenant Charles Butts' Company I adopted a motto: "We Swear to Conquer or Die." 

On January 18, 1862, Jacob P. Wright and James M. Clayton, of Belvidere, wrote a letter to Franklin Pierce Sellers, publisher/editor of The Belvidere Intelligencer, "We now take the opportunity to write to you a few lines and let you know how a soldier's life is about here.  The soldiers are all gay since pay day.  The regiment was paid off on Tuesday last, and before night, they were all gay.  They had to double the guard around the camp, but for all their trouble, some of them got out. 

"The boys of Belvidere are well.  We have good new stables for the horses and good cavalry tents for ourselves.  We are in good quarters for the winter - as good as soldiers generally get.  We find our feather beds on the soft side of a plank, and two woolen blankets to cover us at night.  If we can get a bundle of hay under our heads instead of our boots, we think ourselves well off.  We are getting fat on salt meat and hard crackers.  The rebels haven't bothered us yet, and they had better not, for there are fighting boys in this regiment.  They are anxious for a fight, and they say they will not return until they have one.  We send our respects to all the friends of Warren.  The Intelligencer is a welcome visitor on our camp.  We are Harlan's Regiment, Company I, Captain Herr, Camp Hamilton, Fortress Monroe, Va.  This is written by J. M. C. and J. P. W."

Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

January 1862: Seeking Recruits in Warren County

By the middle of January 1862, Lieutenant Anthony A. Heminover, of Belvidere, in Company H, 7th NJ Volunteer Infantry, was back in Belvidere seeking new recruits.  Lt. Heminover was the son of William H. Heminover, owner/editor of the Warren Journal from 1853 to 1856.  Anthony Heminover had enlisted in the 7th NJV Regiment as a Commissary Sergeant on September 13, 1861.  He was promoted to first lieutenant of Company H on November 25, 1861. [He was discharged on May 12, 1862.]

Heminover set up a temporary recruiting office in the Warren House on Front Street in Belvidere.  Heminover's recruiting advertisement stated, "VOLUNTEERS WANTED. Able-bodied, active young men wanted for the New Jersey Regiments, to serve for three years, unless sooner discharged.  Pay, board, clothing, and medical attendance furnished from the date of enlistment.  All persons enlisting with me will receive the State Pay of Six Dollars to married men, and Four Dollars to single men.  Apply at the recruiting rendezvous, Warren House, Belvidere, to A. A. Heminover, Recruiting Officer, 1st Lieutenant, Co. H, 7th Reg., N.J.V." 

On January 17, 1862, the Warren Journal announced, "It is that there is in contemplation the organizing of a grand division of the Army of the Potomac, to be comprised of Irishmen, twelve to fifteen thousand in number, with General [Thomas Francis] Meagher; Colonel [James A.] Mulligan [23rd Illinois Infantry Regt.], of Lexington fame; Colonel [Thomas] Cass, of the Ninth Massachusetts regiment; and Colonel [Michael] Corcoran [69th New York Irish Regt.], when he returns from captivity, as the Brigadiers.  General [James] Shields is to be the Major General. "

Copyright 1999-2012: Jay C. Richards

Monday, January 9, 2012

January 8, 1862: Thomas Knox's letter from 4th PA Veteran Infantry Regt.

On January 8, 1862, Corporal Thomas A. H. Knox, of Belvidere, wrote a letter to Franklin Pierce Sellers, publisher of the Belvidere Intelligencer, from Camp Pierpont in Fairfax County, Virginia.  Knox and his lifelong friend Andrew A. Neal, of Belvidere, enlisted in the Pennsylvania Militia in April 1861. After the first Battle of Manassas (or Bull Run), Knox and Neal mustered out of the militia on July 30, 1861 and enlisted in the 4th Infantry Regiment of the Pennsylvania Veteran Reserve Corps.  [Knox was killed in action on June 30, 1862 near Charles City Crossroads, VA at Frazier's Farm.]  

Knox wrote, "Thinking a line from one of the P.R.V Corps might interest your readers, therefore I attempt to drop a line to your paper of Belvidere.  About the 20th of December last, we had a long and forced march, expecting to have a hand in the Drainesville fight, but the rebels rather dislike the square-toed Penn's Yankees, therefore took to their heels and went double quick faster than they came - just thirty-five minutes too soon, as we had about fourteen miles to tramp before we could reach the battleground.  The Fourth Regiment considers that they are the boys to whip any two of the secesh regiments.  They can send in the field and out march anything they can put before us, as we march just twenty-eight miles in just seven hours time.

"Our winter quarters are now complete, and the boys are snugly housed up against the inclemency of the cold and dreary winter before us.  But should any forward movement be made, we are ready at a moment's notice to sacrifice our comfortable quarters to wipe out the Southern rebellion.  The notice of Sergt. J. W. Burnett's death in the last issue of the Warren Journal was an error for he was in camp at the time of the issue, and I must say that the Journal published what was not true.  My friend Corporal A. A. Neal is in blooming health and in fine spirits, and stands the cold weather and toils of a camp well.  From yours &c., Corporal T. A. H. Knox, Co.F, 4th Reg. P.R.V.C."

Sergeant John W. Burnett, mentioned in Knox's letter, enlisted as a sergeant in Captain Keller's Company F in the Pennsylvania Veteran Reserve Corps at age 17 in Stroudsburg, PA on June 8, 1861.  The Warren Journal, of Belvidere, erroneously listed Burnett as dying of typhoid fever in December 1861.  On March 1, 1863, Burnett was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant of Company F.  He mustered out of service on June 17, 1864 and became a watch maker in Belvidere.

Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January 4, 1862: 9th NJ Regiment leaves Meridian Hill

On January 4, 1862, Captain Joseph Henry, of Oxford Furnace, received orders that Warren County's Company H and the rest of the 9th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment would break camp, move out of Meridian Hill, Virginia  and board a train for Annapolis, Maryland. 

Once in Annapolis, the "Jersey 9th" boarded transport ships to join General Ambrose Burnside's expedition to Roanoke Island, North Carolina.  The 9th NJ Regiment was  attached to the brigade of Brigadier General Jesse L. Reno.  From Annapolis the regiment steamed to Fortress Monroe, VA on January 10.  The regiment would leave Fortress Monroe on January 12 heading for the Hatteras Inlet.

On this fateful trip, the "Jersey 9th" lost its commander, Colonel Joseph W. Allen, and regimental surgeon, Dr. Frederick Weller.  [Some first-hand accounts of the voyage will be coming in another installment.]

Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards