Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February 23, 1862: Capt. Joseph Henry's Funeral

On February 22, 1862, Belvidere held its annual George Washington's Birthday Parade, but this time the parade had a duel function. The parade began at 9:00 a.m. with the Belvidere Coronet Band and the Belvidere Infantry Company in the lead. This time the parade stopped at the Belvidere-Delaware Railroad depot to honor Captain Joseph Henry, whose body was shipped to Belvidere by train.  The Belvidere Infantry and the Coronet Band escorted the coffin through Belvidere as the hearse traveled to Oxford Furnace to the house of his sister, Mrs. Charles Scranton. 

On Sunday, February 23, funeral services were held in the First Presbyterian Church of Belvidere.  Franklin Pierce Sellers, editor/publisher of The Belvidere Intelligencer, wrote in the issue of February 28, "The funeral was the spontaneous outburst of feeling of our whole country, not less than 1,000 to 1,500 persons from every part of the country attending.  Though a young man, and very little known among the people of the country, yet his character was so well established that everybody felt an interest in him.  He was the son of William Henry, Esq., formerly the esteemed and efficient manager and conductor of Oxford Furnace; schooled in the midst of us; of naturally a most amiable, quiet and retiring disposition, he was the last man you would have expected to offer his services in the defense of his country.  The disaster at Bull's Run, however, stirred the spirit within him, and he had no peace until he offered himself and was accepted as Captain of Company H of the 9th Regiment, NJ Volunteers, which he chiefly raised. 

"His company was comprised of our most respectable young men, and many of them devotedly pious; and it is but a feeble tribute to him to say that his Company all loved and esteemed him as an able, brave and devoted soldier; a devoted man to his God and his country, he had no fear about him and, of course, he was found among the foremost to land in the mud and water and face the enemy entrenchments."

Captain Henry, age 27, was buried in the Belvidere Cemetery in the Henry/Scranton family plot.

Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards

Saturday, February 18, 2012

February 18, 1862: Letter From H.D. Bray - 11th PA Cavalry at Big Bethel

On February 18, 1862, Corporal Henry D. Bray and Bugler Alfred M. VanScoten, of Belvidere, members of Company I ["The New Jersey Company"] of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry, wrote a letter to John Simerson, editor/publisher of The Warren Journal. They wrote, "Mr. Editor: Having a little spare time, I thought perhaps you would have no objection to publish a small note, for our friends in Belvidere, they at least would hear of our locality.

"We are encamped one mile from Fortress Monroe, on a level plain or neck of land, in full view of the fort.  I am sorry to say that the weather is exceedingly wet, and we are in the mire knee deep.  However, we live in cotton houses, and we have a fine stove in them, which makes us very comfortable.  Our horses are finely stabled and cared for.

"Last week, the Regiment made an advance on Big Bethel.  When we arrived within a small distance of their fortifications, our advance guard discovered a large army of infantry stationed there.  Our Regiment returned to camp, but with reluctance.  However, the boys was bent on some kind of a charge, and you can rest assured that pigs and chickens and turkeys had to suffer.  They are about eight or ten thousand strong at Bethel, but we intend in the course of a week to make another advance on them, but shall send out the artillery and perhaps from twenty to thirty thousand infantry in our advance, and I assure you that the charges will not be at pigs and poultry.

"This was our muster pay day, and it was very unpleasant.  The boys from Belvidere are all well and in fine spirits and hearts aching for a fight.  I must close my letter as it is taps.  Yours, very respectfully, H. D. Bray, A. M. VanScoten"

Copyright 1999-2012:  Jay C. Richards     

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February 15, 1862 Letter: Peter Beam Recalls Battle of Roanoke Island

On February 15, 1862, Peter B. Beam, of Belvidere, a member of Company H of the 9th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment, wrote a letter to William Carhart, of Belvidere.  Beam enlisted in Company H of the Jersey 9th on October 3, 1861 at the age of 21 years. 

Beam wrote, "Dear Sir: It is with a great deal of pleasure to think that I have the opportunity of once more writing to you and letting you know where I am, which you will perceive by the head of this letter is Roanoke Island.  We landed here on the 7th and on the 8th we had a nice little battle and came out victorious, as perhaps you are fully aware.  We took about thirty-six hundred prisoners (so our officers say) and our Brigade took four forts and about 40 cannon.  We had to wade through the mud and water up to our middles, and that is what I call soldiering in earnest; but we were bound to win the day or die, we were Jerseymen (that is the 9th) and we were not going to be behind some of the rest, and then the honor of our State was at stake; if we did not fight well when we had the chance. 

"One of the prisoners told that they would not have had to surrender half so soon if it had not been for the damned Jersey blue-coated sons of bitches, for they shot lower than the rest of the Hessians, and they also call us the 'Bloody 9th;' they said they were more afraid of us than all the rest.  Do not understand me that the other regiments did no fighting for they did, and we all had enough to do.

"I am sorry to say we lost our Captain [Joseph Henry] and Sergeant [Austin] Armstrong, from Hope. We lost about 150 killed and wounded in the Brigade.  Edward Clayton [of Belvidere] was shot close in the corner of the mouth and the ball came out near his ear, but he is getting over it quite fast.  William Aumick [of Belvidere] had a ball put through the fleshy part of his arm. 

"We was on board ship for five weeks, and I would not like to be on water so long again.  We landed on the night of the 7th and laid on our arms all night and was ready to go into action by 7 o'clock on the morning of the 8th, and we did go into it, and you have the result.  Yours &c. Peter Beam."

Copyright 1999-2012: Jay C. Richards 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

February 13, 1862 Letter: Aaron W. Smith, Co.E, 7th NJ Regiment

On February 13, 1862, Private Aaron W. Smith, of Belvidere, serving in Company E of the 7th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment, wrote to John Simerson, editor/publisher of The Warren Journal, from camp on the lower Potomac River.  Smith, at 22 years of age, had enlisted in the 7th NJ with Captain Edward Campbell and other men of Belvidere in August 1861. 

Smith wrote, "Nothing of any importance has transpired for the last week, but I have not thought it worth while to write sooner, but concluded to wait for something to turn up.  An experienced correspondent might write a very interesting letter, giving the description of the country, the situation and names of the different batteries along the Potomac, &c., but for one like myself it is no easy matter.  However, I shall send you what little news I can in as few words as possible.  You are aware that we still remain in our old position opposite Cockpit Point, which place it seems the rebels intend making one of their strongest batteries.  They have erected a large flag pole and now have their flag floating defiantly in front of us.  On no occasion, since our arrival here, has this battery allowed our vessels, however small, to pass without sending a dozen or more shots after them, and singular to say, one have taken effect.  We have stood and watched them for hours, and in every instance have had the satisfaction of seeing the shell burst either in the air or too far away to do any damage.

"We have been engaged for the past two days in building a new road from our camp to Rum Point, the old being entirely impassable on account of the mud.  I understand that not only our Regiment has been engaged in the work, but that others of our Division have been or are to be. This in in contemplation of an early movement of the whole of [General Joseph]Hooker's Division.  Friends at home think the battle field is terrible, but the field of disease is more so.  They think only of bullets and bayonets dealing out death, while these comparatively bring but few to the earth.

"The daily routine of a soldier's life becomes rather irksome when there is nothing to do but eat and drill and drill and eat, with a variation now and then.  The reveille, as you are aware, beats at daybreak, when every son of Mars turns out and faces in on the color line for roll call.  You can imagine that this cold weather makes us step briskly at so early an hour of the day.  This done, we march back in two ranks to our company street, break ranks, hurry away to our tents, roll up blankets, and bind them on top of the knapsacks, double up our ticks and arrange things properly; last of all giving the greenery a thorough dusting.  Presently the breakfast call sounds, when we walk up and make a fare to the cook and kettles and are helped to the healthiest of food and as much as any common man could wish to eat.  Garret Vreeland [of Danville - now called Great Meadows] is boss of the pots, and the boys have reason to congratulate themselves that they have so good a governor in this department.  At ten o'clock is guard mounting; from ten 'til twelve is either battalion or company drill; and again from from nearly two 'til sunset. 

"Saturdays the boys convert themselves  [into] washerwomen, when there is a great wash of soap and little rubbing, as such business does not agree with their feelings and digital extremities.  You can rest assured that I do as little as possible.  The evenings are spent in as many different ways almost as there are persons.  Writing, reading, telling stories, smoking the fragrant Havana [cigars] or the weed [tobacco] raised on the 'sacred soil,' broken and pressed into the clay pipe.  Roll call at eight P.M., taps  at half past.  All lights in the tents must then be extinguished, before we spread our blankets, preparatory to taking a journey to the land of dreams.  We soldiers have the advantage of you civilians in one thing, no time is spent undressing or dressing; down we lie at night, ready to jump at any time the long roll may beat, and fall in, if necessity requires it, to march three or four miles to strengthen our pickets.  I now must close my short letter for the present.  You soon shall hear from me again, and then I can give you a true account of our doings.  A. W. Smith, 7th Reg't. N.J. Vol., Co.E"

Copyright 1999-2012: Jay C. Richards   

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February 8, 1862: Roanoke & the Death of Captain Joseph Henry

On February 7 and 8, 1862, the men of the 9th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment got their first taste of battle as they attacked Roanoke Island, North Carolina.  The regiment had been trained in conventional land warfare, but the men soon learned they were in an amphibious war for which they were not trained.  The "Jersey 9th"  would earn a new nickname, "The Muskrats." 

Roanoke Island stands in the middle of a narrow strait which separates  the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.  On this 12-mile stretch of land, the Confederates constructed a series of artillery earthworks.  The battle began with Federal gunboats firing on the island defenses at 9:00 a.m. on February 7.  At 3:00 p.m., the First and Second Brigades  were ordered to land on the island in small boats.  The 9th NJ Regiment was attached to Brigadier General Jesse Reno's Second Brigade. 

The troops landed without opposition but had to fight nature as they moved through a heavy swamp as they tried to reach solid ground.  After reaching solid ground, a small skirmish with Confederate pickets took place.  The Confederates retreated to a large earthwork known as "Center Battery," which was surrounded by swamp and brush.  As the Union forces bivouacked for the night in a corn field, another storm rained down on the unprotected soldiers.  

At 6:00 a.m. on February 8, the Union troops advanced on the Confederate earthwork.  The troops had to advance over a narrow road through the swamp.  First Brigade's advance was stopped at the earthworks by heavy musket and artillery fire.  Second Brigade waited for orders approximately one half mile away.  Finally at 8:00 a.m., Colonel Charles Heckman, of Phillipsburg, received orders to advance the 9th Regiment and join the First Brigade.  The "Jersey 9th" was to flank the earthwork fort  by moving through hip-deep swamp to a timber line approximately 100 yards from the fort.  Heckman ordered his sharpshooters to aim for the Confederate cannoneers.

The Warren County soldiers of Company H were advancing under the command of Captain Joseph Henry, of Oxford Furnace.  At his side was Corporal John E. Matthews, of Belvidere,  known as "Father Mathews"  by the younger soldiers.  Matthews wrote an account of the battle to Franklin Pierce Sellers, editor/publisher of The Belvidere Intelligencer, "We defiled into a thick woods, on a tolerably good road, for three quarters of a mile, only   we waded a deep pond about 100 yards wide.  Here a sharp turn in the road brought us to a masked battery of four 24-pounders, which were throwing grape and canister at a considerable rate.  The rattle of musketry was deafening, until about five minutes before we got into action, and we were afraid that our men had either given way, or hoped that the enemy had retreated.  On our way up, a procession of dead, wounded and dying met us, and I must confess that I felt a little squeamish, but never thought of turning back.  At last a Colonel, who was mortally wounded, met us and asked what regiment we were.  We told him we were the Jersey Ninth, and his reply was 'hurry up, for God's sake, the day depends on you.'

"We hurried up and were soon at work.  The rebels, I guess, thought we had retreated when our fire slackened and so renewed their fire.  We defiled to the right of the battery into a very heavy swamp and stood to our middle in the water for nearly three hours.  During the night, our men managed to land  two small field pieces, but they did not do much, as their ammunition ran out, and we were left alone with our rifles to contend   with their heavy guns.  At last, our pluck and perseverance was too much for the rascals, and they had to leave, but before leaving, their fire slackened for we found where they were and as soon as one of them showed his head to load or fire his piece, one of our 'humming birds' whistled in his ear and down he tumbled into the ditch.  They fought well, however, and it took a good many     of our 'messages' to convince them that the Jersey Ninth meant to have their four guns.

"Finally, we rose, as they were about retreating, to charge upon the battery and take it  at the point of the bayonet, when the 9th New York Hawkins Zouaves came up and fired right square into us, mistaking us for the enemy.  They fired two or three volleys, compelling us to lie flat to prevent being shot, before they discovered their mistake, by which time, the enemy had spiked their guns and fled.  The Zouaves charged  on an empty battery, but did not deserve, nor I do not believe, will get the honor of the victory - which I think, and all here allow, belongs to the Jersey Ninth."  Matthews noted the swamp in front of the battery had been man made to help camouflage the guns.

Private Daniel W. Shoemaker, of Pahaquarry Township, a member of Company H, recalled in a February 15th letter to Sellers, "Get Frank Leslie's illustrated paper, and there you will see true sketches of our battlefield and the fight; it will give you a very good idea of it; the sketches are nearly true; the artist was with us all the time.  You will see Ninth New Jersey midway between the right and left flank...I have not ascertained how many were killed or wounded of our regiment, but there were some killed and many wounded by the New York Hawkins Zouaves; they fired three volleys   into us, and had we not sat down almost under water, they would have cut us all down.  It appears that we were favored by a Power that was more than earthly.  We received volley after volley from the rebel infantry - the balls and grape came over us in showers, but ours came too low for them. Captain Wise, son of Governor Wise [of Virginia], was killed when he was about to discharge a cannon; he could not rally his men.  His father sent for his body under a flag of truce. We gave him up, together with two others - one colonel and one lieutenant  [Selden], who were killed at the same time."

The battle had lasted from daylight to a little after Noon.  It was a victory for the Jersey Ninth, but the price was high.  Warren County had lost its young captain, Joseph Henry, early in the fight.   Matthews wrote, "I must now record what I wish I had to need to do.  Our beloved Captain fell dead in my arms 15 minutes after we went into battle.  He was gallantly leading his men on, directly in front and center of his company, and immediately in front of me, when a grape shot - some think, and other seem to think a piece of shell which had previously taken the legs off another - struck him   a glancing blow on the sword belt, knocked him down, and paid me a small compliment by merely striking on the left shoulder and tossing me backwards without any inconvenience save a slight bruise.  Captain Henry did not speak but groaned three times, 'ah, ah, ah,' and then was silent.  Jacob Meyer and myself, who were standing, or rather kneeling (for whenever the rebels fired, we were ordered to kneel, and thus the ball passed over our heads at first) near me, carried him to the rear where the surgeon was in attendance, and seeing no wound, hoped that he would soon be better, but hurried back to our places in ranks, and told the boys that we thought that he would soon come round again; that we thought the ball only knocked the wind out of him, as a severe blow in the short ribs will, and in fact he opened his eyes and looked round but did nor speak before we left him.  

"In the excitement of battle, he was almost forgotten, as no one thought he was seriously injured.  When I fell, a comrade exclaimed to those near him, 'My God! Father Matthews (my cognomen in the company) is gone,' and did not know until the fight was nearly over that I was alive, and then he saw me just as I pulled my feet out of the swamp to the road.  He had heard, however, that the Captain was carried from the swamp - I cannot call it 'field'."

According the unit history, a Confederate artillery officer, Lieutenant Selden, was under sniper fire from three men of Company D, 9th NJ Regiment, as he fired his guns within the earthwork fort.  As he seized the match to fire one of his field guns, the three sharpshooters fired, shooting Selden in the head.  However, just before he died, Lt. Selden fired one gun - the gun that killed Captain Henry.   The shell fragments or grape shot ripped into the Jersey Ninth severing both legs of Corporal John Lorence, of Carpenter's Landing, of Company K; severing one leg of Private Jonathan Bural, of Company K; passing on to kill Private Blackwell, of Company F; and then striking Captain Henry and Corporal Matthews.

Private Blackwell reportedly shouted, "Remember thy God" as he fell back into the arms of his brother.  As Lorence was being carried back to the aid station, he reportedly told other soldiers, "Go in, Boys. Go in. Give it to them!  I can't do any more." 

General Ambrose Burnside later visited Lorence several times in hospital.  According to Captain Jonathan Townley, Jr., of Company K, "Once when I was with him, as he lay suffering, he said that is his limbs would only heal, he would procure a pair of wooden legs and fight on them.  Of this I told General Burnside, who came in just at that moment, and who replied, 'Coporal Lorence has done enough for his country; it is time now for the country to do something for him.'"

Matthews reported, "None of the Belvidere boys are hurt, except [Corporal Edward] Clayton, who got a buckshot through the cheek and saved him the trouble of having toothache in one of his upper teeth.  He is doing well and is running around the camp lively as a cricket.  Corporal [Lycidias] Hamilton was too sick to land and so missed the fight.  Several others of our regiment were taken sick on the trip and could not come with us,  the measles were pretty bad on our ship, and there were several cases, but a good many of them did not break out, and I believe most of them are well now.  Sergeant [Austin] Armstrong, of Hope, I forgot to say, was killed in the fight.  There were three wounded in our company, but the wounds were slight and none of them are in the hospital at present."

Captain Henry had the feeling he was not going to survive the battle.  In a letter to his sister, Mrs, Charles Scranton, written on board the ship, he wrote, "The sun is coming out beautifully; we shall weigh anchor immediately and join the rest of the fleet, and then, I suppose, we'll soon land and attack the rebels.  Do not cease to pray for me , for mercy - forgiveness - and should it be ordained that I shall perish on the field, that through the merits of the blessed Saviour, I may obtain an entrance  to the abode of the Redeemer on High.  I can write no farther; with my best love to my brothers and sisters, father and all the family, I am your affectionate brother, Joseph."  Captain Henry was the first New Jersey officer to die in battle during the war.

Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards     

Friday, February 3, 2012

January-February 1862: 9th NJ Infantry Regiment & the Perils of the Sea

Someone once wrote a warning to be careful for what you wish because you might get it.  When Charles Hinton, of Belvidere, wrote to The Belvidere Intelligencer on December 23, 1861 that the men of the 9th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment wanted to move farther south to fight the rebels, he clearly did not know that his and his comrades' wish would soon be granted - with a terrible result.

On January 4th 1862, the "Jersey 9th" was ordered to board a train to Annapolis, Maryland to join an expedition to Roanoke Island, North Carolina.  The 9th was attached to the command of Brigadier General Jesse L. Reno.  On January 10, the regiment steamed to Fortress Monroe, Virginia, and on January 12, the 9th NJ embarked on transports heading toward the Hatteras Inlet. 

While on board the brigantine DRAGON, Hinton, of Company K, wrote,"We left Meridian Hill on the 4th, and got on board the sheep cars, of course, and started for Annapolis.  We arrived there at Midnight, and were taken to the navy yard to quarter for the night.  On Sunday, the 5th, we were put on board the brig to be ready to start on the Burnside Expedition, but we layed in the bay for three days, then started for Fortress Monroe, and arrived there on Friday afternoon.  We layed there for two days without being allowed to go ashore.  On Sunday, the 12th, we spread our sails to the breeze and sailed down along the coast finely.  It was the first time that a good many of the boys had ever been to sea, and they were nearly all seasick.  After sailing a day and a half, we arrived off Hatteras Inlet; we layed three days along the coast.  We did not like the idea of lying out there so long as it was stormy most of the time."

On January 14, the steamer CITY OF NEW YORK, carrying ammunition, foundered at the mouth of the inlet.  The USS CONNECTICUT sunk inside a bar.  The steamer POCAHONTAS, carrying horses for the cavalry and officers, ran ashore in the storm.  Corporal Samuel J. Dilkes, of Company K, swam ashore in the storm with a rope, which he attached to the POCAHONTAS   and to a stake driven into the sand on shore. Because of Dilkes' actions, the crew of the POCAHONTAS was able to hold onto the rope as they headed to shore and safety.  When the POCAHONTAS' cook, an elderly woman of color, was too frightened to escape the sinking ship, Dilkes swam back to the ship, tied the woman to him, jumped into the water, and swam the two of them to shore.  The men on shore and on the other ships cheered a Dilkes saved the woman.  

On January 15, the storm had passed and the water seemed calm enough for the staff officers of the 9th Regiment to meet with General Ambrose Burnside aboard the US Steamer PAWTUCKET.  Colonel Joseph W. Allen, of Bordontown; Lt. Colonel Charles Heckman, of Phillipsburg; Surgeon Frederick Weller, of Paterson; Adjutant Abram Zabriskie; and Quartermaster Samuel Keyes left the steamer ANN E. THOMPSON in the captain's gig and arrived safely at the PAWTUCKET.  After meeting with Burnside, the officers of the 9th Regiment got back into the gig.  As the crew of twelve sailors rowed back toward the ANN E. THOMPSON, a water-spout or large wave hit the bow of the boat. A second, larger wave hit the bottom of the boat and heaved it into the air, capsizing it.  Heckman and Zabriskie made several unsuccessful attempts to save Colonel Allen, Dr. Weller, and one of the sailors.  They watched their colonel and surgeon struggle to keep their heads above water - only to be swallowed up by the sea before Heckman and Zabriskie could reach them.

Heckman realized the capsized boat, on to which the survivors were hanging, was washing out to sea.  He grabbed an oar and tied a sailor's shirt to it to make a flag, which he raised into the air to catch the attention of the crew of the PAWTUCKET.  The steamer quickly came to the rescue.  The survivors received medical attention on board the steamer, and the bodies of Colonel Allen, age 51; Dr. Weller, age 44; and the sailor were retrieved.  Lt. Colonel Heckman, although prostrate from exhaustion, took command of the 9th NJ Regiment. 

On January 16, the DRAGON, carrying Hinton and five companies of the 9th Regiment, struck a sand bar.  First Sergeant Thomas W. Burnett, of Company B, ordered his men to fire signal shots with their muskets to attract one of the steamers.  Hinton recalled, "On the third day, the steamer PAWTUCKET came to tow us in; she started with us, but only took us part way in, and left us on the bar.  By the time she returned, we found out the dangerous position she had left us in.  We did not know what to do at first; the men were all in confusion.  At last Company B was ordered on deck with their rifles and fired volley after volley until we saw him [the PAWTUCKET] coming back, and the steamer PILOT BOY with him."

Belvidere folks would say they would go without rather than eat such food: if they were here, they would not talk so  - they would seize fast a big piece of fat pork and think it was good.  I have not seen any of the Belvidere boys [in Company H] since we left Annapolis, but they were well and in good spirits.  I suppose we shall soon have a brush with the rebels, and if I come out right side up, I will let you know something about it."

Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards         

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January 27, 1862: 47th PA Infantry Regt. Ships Out to Florida

On January 22, 1862, the 47th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment traveled by boats to the Georgetown Arsenal to exchange their muskets.  The soldiers exchanged their old Harper's Ferry Arsenal Model 1842 "Mississippi Rifles" for the new Springfield Arsenal Model 1861 rifled muskets.  After receiving their new rifles, the regiment traveled by train to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.
At Annapolis, Samuel Lightcap and other members of Allentown's Company B received passes to go tour the town.  After eating a hearty dinner at the Hotel Metropolitan, Company B returned to camp and was ordered to go back and round up the other members of the regiment who had slipped into town without passes.

The regiment loaded its equipment on transports, and on January 27, 1862, Colonel Tilghman Good's 47th Pennsylvania Regiment steamed out of the Chesapeake Bay toward the Atlantic Ocean on the newly built steamer ORIENTAL, commanded by Captain Benjamin Franklin Tuzo.  Three men from Easton companies - two from Company E and one from Company A - deserted before the ship sailed.  The ship anchored at Fortress Monroe, Virginia for the night and weighed anchor in the morning for Florida.

After a few days at sea, the men of the 47th began to suffer from seasickness as they passed around stormy Cape Hatteras.  Captain J. P. S. Gobin, of Company C, recalled in his letters and journal, "Nearly every one of them became seasick. The bulwarks, the deck, and every available spot was filled with them, emptying the contents of their stomachs.  At the supper table (on Wednesday), I nearly died laughing to see one after another of the officers get up and leave for their rooms.  I began to feel rather serious, and as I was resolved that those left should not have a chance to laugh at me, I started for my room.  When I got there, I found [Lieutenant] Reese in it, awfully sick, and making as much fuss as if he was trying to get his boots up through his stomach.  I was laughing at him when all at once it caught me. and oh Jerusalem, but I was sick!  After throwing up all I had in me, and trying hard to hunt something else, I laid down and did not get up until Friday morning.  No matter how sick anyone became, he got no sympathy.  The well ones would laugh at him, knowing there was no danger.  On Friday, I staggered on deck and by noon was all right again.  But of all on board, over 1,000, I do not think there were 50 who were not sick."

While at sea, Francis J. Mildenberger, of Phillipsburg, in Captain Richard Graeffe's Company A, was promoted to 5th Sergeant.  Jacob Beck, of Easton, also in Company A, was promoted to Sergeant.

The ORIENTAL steamed southward.  The soldiers were amazed at the sight of flying fishes, sea turtles, and dolphins that passed the ship.  Lieutenant Charles Abbott, of Company K, passed his collapsible telescope around so the men could see the sea creatures and the islands of the Bahamas as they steamed past them. 

When the ORIENTAL arrived in Key West, Florida, an officers' meeting was called, and a committee was elected to draft the customary resolution thanking the ship's crew for their safe passage.  The committee consisted of Colonel Good, Chaplain W. D. C. Rodrock, Major Gausler, Captain Gobin, Lieutenant Bonstein and Lieutenant Stuber.  The resolution was presented to Captain Tuzo and his officers: William Swaney, Van Wit, and Antonio Labens.  

On February 6, 1862, Captain Charles H. Yard, of Company E, wrote to the Easton Daily Evening Express, "Having a few spare minutes, after the labor of the day, I thought it best to write a few lines to you and get it off with to-morrow's mail, to let our friends in Easton know our whereabouts.  We started from Annapolis twelve days ago, on the steamship ORIENTAL for this place, where we arrived the day before yesterday.  We had a very pleasant voyage, and the only thing to mar it was sea-sickness.  Altogether, I think we have made quite an agreeable change from the mud of Virginia to the sandy beach of Key West.  It is about the same warmth here at the present as it is in summer in Easton, and it is the winter season.  The members of the company are all well and enjoying themselves.  Oranges, cocoa-nuts and fish are in great abundance here.   

"We are preparing our camping place out of a thicket.  The average height of the bushes is fourteen feet and very dense.  I will write as soon as possible and give you a description of our trip, and also one of the island. There are at present on the island five companies of regulars and three regiments of volunteers, the 90th and 91st New York and the 47th Pennsylvania.  I will  try and give you all the particulars in my next letter and hoping this short letter will prove satisfactory for the present.  I remain, Yours Respectfully, Capt. C. H. Yard."

Copyright 1999-2012: Jay C. Richards