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Williamsport, Maryland, 1861.

October 13th - December 31st.

Williamsport 1910

This poor quality image of the town of Williamsport, Maryland comes from a 1999 issue of North & South Magazine.  The original

is supposed to be in the collections of the Library of Congress, though not yet digitized..  I offer this image until something better is found.

Sixty-one miles to Williamsport.

From the Regimental History:
Wednesday Oct.  9 [Darnestown] Orders received to march to-morrow.  Much joy thereat.  Notwithstanding our beautiful camp, we were glad to break the monotony of camp life.  The hats are disappearing.  The comical shapes into which some of them are turned excites a good deal of merriment.

Thursday, Oct. 10.  Marched to Hyattstown, fifteen miles, and bivouacked.  Another batch of hats gone.  We now march like veterans, it is said.

marching graphicFriday Oct. 11.  Marched to Frederick City, thirteen miles, and bivouacked in a jail-yard.  It rained hard.  The few hats that remained seemed to be ashamed of themselves.  During a temporary cessation of the rain we had dress parade before a large crowd of people who had gathered about us.

Saturday, Oct. 12 At 1 P.M. resumed the march in company with the [Twelfth] Indiana regiment and Captain Matthew’s battery, [2nd Pa.] which accompanied us from Darnestown.
Bivouacked at Boonsboro’ after a march of seventeen miles. During the last two days a pleasant rivalry had been excited as to the marching abilities of the two regiments.  Although we were much heavier loaded than the Twelfth, we were in too good shape to be beaten.  Both regiments enjoyed the excitement.

Sunday, Oct. 13.  Marched at 9 A.M. for Williamsport, sixteen miles, where we arrived about 4 P.M.  Pitched our tents for the first time since leaving Darnestown. Wondered what had become of General McClellan’s order, of September 15th, about marching on Sundays.  Later on, when his downfall was announced, it was no surprise to the men who marched this day. 

Monday Oct. 14.  Put things to rights in camp. Paymaster arrived; he to whom we all bow with obsequious respect. A paymaster’s arrival will produce more joy in camp than is said to have been produced in heaven over the one sinner that repenteth.

Tues., Oct. 15.  Received the first installment of mint-drops from the government, and found them a balm for every woe.  They threw a lustre on the camp such as we had not seen since the last brass-mounted hat had departed. Company B detailed for provost duty in the town. (Drawing by Charles Roundy courtesy of the Army Heritage & Education Center, Carlisle, Pennsylvania).

Two Letters Describing the March to Williamsport

Chelsea Telegraph and Pioneer, November 9, 1861.
(Letter transcriptions taken from the now defunct web-site "Letters of the Civil War").

Williamsport, Md., Oct. 30th, 1861.
To the Editor of the Chelsea Pioneer:

     We started for this place with six other Cos. Of this Regt. Oct. 10th and after marching 15 miles – passing through Clarksburg – we arrived at Hyattstown, where we bivouacked for the night in a drizzling rain.  The next morning we took up our line of march for Frederick City – arrived at Frederick at 6 o’clock p.m., and slept on the “Frederick County Fair Grounds.”  During the night it commenced to rain, so we all crept into the pens and stalls previously used for hogs and horses; but we were glad to get any place to sleep, as we had marched 14 miles that day.  Next morning we left for Boonsboro’, distance 16 miles; after six hours’ marching, we arrived at Boonsboro’.  There we encamped for the night, and on Sunday evening, Oct. 13th, we arrived at this place (Williamsport), after marching 61 miles with knapsack, - the longest march we have experienced.  We were all tired enough to lie down and sleep.  But after a march there is always plenty of work to be done, - such as pitching tents, unpacking wagons, bringing wood and water for our supper, &c., so it was very late before we could get asleep.

Tuesday, Oct. 15th, - Capt. Cary is appointed Provost marshal of Williamsport, and Co. B are the Provost Guard.  We have better times than the rest of the Regt., as we are quartered in a large stone house in the town and manage to keep warm and comfortable.   We have very heavy frost, and sleeping in tents is not very desirable.

Friday, Oct. 25th.  This morning about 2 o’clock, six Cos. Of our Regt. with three Cos. of cavalry and two pieces of artillery crossed the river into Virginia, and went insight of Martinsburg.  On the road they encountered the enemy’s pickets, and were fired upon by them.  Our boys returned the fire, and shot one secesh horseman through the thigh. He was made prisoner, and brought to our quarters. He told me that he had been in the Confederate army three days, and was pressed into it.  But this is the story most of them tell when they are caught.  Yesterday a deserter from the Martinsburg mounted rifles came across the river and delivered himself up to the Provost marshal, saying he wished to join the Union army.  Every day some of them desert and come across at various points of the river.

We are expecting to have hard fighting very soon; reinforcements are expected here every day, to join us and cross the river.

Chelsea Boy
Co. B., 13th Regt., M.V.

Letter of James Ramsey, Company E; giving details of the march.

Head Quarters 13th Regt. Rifles, Mass. Vol.
Williamsport, Md.  Oct. 13th 1861.

Dear Father,

I received a letter from Ella and from John McCrilles on our march from Darnestown to Fredricks city about 5 miles from our old camp.  I was glad to hear from home it cheered me up for 60 miles march.  It took us two days to march to Fredrick, the first night of our march we encamped near Hyattstown in a wood and it rained pretty hard.  The next evening we reached Fredrick and encamped in the Fairgrounds.  I slept the first part of the night on the roof of a sheep pen but it rained so hard that I was soon soaked through and had to leave my bed and go to some dryer quarters.  I went into the barracks occupied by the Maryland volunteers they were very kind to us they give up their beds to us and built fires in the barracks.  The barracks are very strong built, they were built by the English in the time of the revolution.  Next morning I went out of the camp and took a walk around the city it is not very large city it is about a mile long.  There was a peace meeting in one of the halls and some of our boys went into it and give three cheers for the union and the president of the meeting called for order and said put them out, our boys called them rebels and the president had to adjourn the meeting. We left Fredricks at one o’ clock and marched 16 miles that day in 6 hours only resting 4 times we halted that night in Boonsborough on our way from Fredricks to Boonsborough we passed through Middleton a very pretty town we were escorted through by a company of Home guards the ladies presented the officers with boquets.  By the way, We were marching with an Indianna regiment, the 12th.  When we started they thought they were going to walk over us but they soon found out their mistake before we made our first halt for the night we left them way behind they said that they had marched with the Mass 12th and 2d, and had left them behind but we could beat anything in marching, we marched into Fredricks with them they started next day two hours before us for Boonsborough without knapsacks we marched with knapsacks and was a half hour behind them. That night we had to sleep out on the ground it was pretty cold our cooks were cooking all night for the rest of the march.  Next morning and Sunday morning but we had to march all the same we started with the Indianna and when we come into Williamsport they were a half a mile behind us and they are called the best marching regiment in the division but I gess they arnt now they found their match this time.  When we were in Boonsbourough our 2d  Lieut was informed that there was a gun belonging  to our regiment in possession of one of the inhabitants he took three men with him and went to the house and searched the house and found all of the equipments a knapsack and haversack.  The gun was marked with the name of Stewart on the strap.  Stewart used to belong to our company, when we marched through Boonsbourough on our way to Sandy Hook we missed him and thought he had deserted.  We enquired of the man if he knew anything about Stewart, he said he heard a gun fired that night up in the woods and when he went up there he found the knapsack hung up in  a tree and the other things laying around we think their is foul play for on that same march when we passed through Middleton the rear guard was about a mile behind us and they were fired at by a man but they did not think anything of it at the time.  Oct. 14th.  Last night it was quite cold here and we had all we could do to keep warm. To day our company is on guard.  I am on the third relief which goes on at one o’clock and stays till three.  There are three regiments ordered to report to Gen’ Banks.  We have heard Gen Banks with all of his command has crossed the river and taken Leesburg with a gun fired the same day we left Darnestown.  Williamsport is a very pretty place it is right on the river bank our camp is back on a hill as I set now in my tent writing  I can see some of the houses and the sp steeple of a meeting house and the Virginia side of the river they say there is a brigade of rebels encamped over their.  We expect to march over before this week is over.  The people of Williamsport say they will build barracks for us if we stay and guard the town.  We may stop here sometime.  I hope so.  We are only six miles from Ramsey's sketch of the Devils' backboneHagerstown and hereafter you must Direct your letters to Williamsport Md.  No division you must not direct them to Washington. We are 80 miles or over from Washington so they would not send a mail that distance with a railroad.  I have a great many things I would like to say about our march but I have not got time to spare one thing on the road from Boonsborough there is a place in the road called the Devil’s backbone the road is about the usual width and on each side is a river running in opposite directions till one of the rivers breaks through the road and runs into the other at the top of the road it is about a hundred feet down to the river but the road runs down hill till the two rivers meet  here is a plan of it.Ramsey drawing of the tent

There is a rough sketch of  a view from where I am setting.  The mountains in the distance are in Virginia.

Direct your letters
Jas -  
Company E 13th Mass regt
Williamsport, Md.

Ps  Give my love to all.  I will write soon again

From your

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The Camp at Williamsport.

Letter of James Ramsey, Company E.

Williamsport, Md Oct 23d

Dear Mother

        I received your letter dated the 21st  6 oclock this morning I was glad to hear from you.  Since I wrote to you last we have moved our camp about a half a mile from where it was before.  there we could have been shelled from the hills in Virginia now we are protected by a hill.  I like the camp ground we are in now for some reasons, we are nearer water then we was before.  We have made an underground stove in our tent we have made it of stone the stove part is in the centre of the tent and covered by a large flat stone.  There is an underground flue for the smoke to be carried out of the tent at the end of the flue is a barrel with the bottom knocked out which serves as a chimney.  We built the first fire in it last night it worked very well  You want to know if I want any under clothes or a blanket  I can get plenty of under clothes and another blanket.  I have not got that box yet but I may get it if it is directed right.  If a box or paper is directed to Washington it is throne one side when it gets to Washington such is the doings of our splendid republican government and I gess I aint the only one that thinks so either.  If you direct the papers to the place I am in I will get them if I don’t happen to be at the place at the time they will send them after the regiment.  If you can get a heavy gray blanket and think it is worth while to send it you can put it in a box and send it by Adams express (and no other)  to Hagerstown Md  here is the direction written large and very plain

Jas F. Ramsey
Company E. 13th Regiment Mass Vol
Hagerstown, Md.
Care of Capt. Pratt.
Direct letters to Williamsport, Md.

I should like to have Hugh’s daguerotype  I had a daguerotype sent to me in a  letter this morning it was taken on sheet iron about this size. (Drawing)  have you got the one I sent to you  I hope so. I was not in that fight I was 26 miles from it only three companies are there.  I. K and C.   There is some talk of going over into Virginia I hope it is true. To day it is pretty cold and windy there are plenty of nuts in the woods.  Last [night] some of the men had a bivoac fire and they sat around it and cracked nuts and told stories. I gess they had a good time.  I was pretty tired myself and went to bed early.  sometimes I wish I was at home to see the folks from New York. I am enjoying myself very much.  I never was so healthy and fat most of the men envy me  I have gained 15 lbs.  It is dinner time  I cannot think of anything more to write just now. I wish you would send me a map of the seat of war.  Give my love to all

Kiss Hugh for me
From your son James.

Companies C, I & K rejoin the regiment from Harper's Ferry.

From Austin Stearns memoirs “Three Years with Company K” Fairleigh-Dickinson University Press; 1976, Used with Permission; ( p. 39-42).

     At night we tied up at the mouth of Antietam Creek, and resumed our journey the next morn.  When tired of riding, all we had to do was to jump off and travel on the tow-path. Co. C, who had the start of us by several hours, reached Williamsport before dark, where the regiment was drawn up to receive them, and with the band playing and colors flying they escorted them to camp, where coffee and soft bread were in waiting. Speeches were made and Co. C were lauded to the sky. I and K did not arrive till after dark; only a messenger was there to pilot us to camp, no band, no speeches, no welcome awaited us, who had for nine long weeks worked hard and gained for the regiment an honorable name. Co. G. came over with coffee and in many ways showed their interest in us; tired and without tents we laid our weary selves down to sleep.  Company C were the lions of the hour, not enough could be said in their praise.  Chaplain Gaylord preached on the following Sabbath, taking for his text Co. C.  He could hardly find words to express the fullness of his love and gratitude for that noble company.  “I thank God for Co. C.,” he said; not a word did he utter about I and K, who had labored hard and exposed their lives in an equal degree with the favored company. The reason for this was [that] we did not belong to the “Fourth Batt.” That fever was raging very hard at this time.

     Our camp was about a mile from the village in a pleasant grove just off the Hagerstown Pike.  After being here a few weeks we built houses, as we were rather cramped for room in our tent.  We lay around within a circle with our feet inside.  If anyone from the side fartherest from the door wanted to go out – nine times out of ten, he would step on every man’s gut as he went out; then there would be language used neither complimentary or of a high order.

     The second mess thought they did not need a house, so they dug out the earth to the depth of two feet within the tent and battened up the sides and thought they were comfortable for the winter.   As long as the weather remained fair they were all right, but there came a storm of rain and the wind blew, and one night when they were sleeping sound and thought they were all right, the earth around the tent gave way, and down came the tent; the water ran in and filled the hole.  Out from the debris crawled the half drowned boys, more like fish-worms than soldiers. They got permission to go to a straw stack a short distance from the camp. I was one of the boys of our mess who opposed building a house, thinking a tent would do as well; after the experience of the 2nd mess I was heartily glad that we were so comfortably housed.

     Our cooking was done by men detailed for that purpose, in a building or shed made for that purpose and called the cook house.

Company K cook house

    Company K Cook House, from W.H. Forbush's diary.  The oven is marked with an 'X' lower right.  Pictured (left to right) is presumed to be: Dan Warren, John Flye, & Alden Lovell, (seated).

Stearns continues:
       We built an oven where we could bake meat and beans. On the whole we lived quite comfortably. Lyman Jones, John Flye, Dan Warren, and Alden Lovell were the cooks for a considerable portion of the time.

     Lovell wore a pair of over-alls which by long wear had become pretty well saturated with grease. We used to have a good deal of sport over them, and with him, by advising him to try them out and make a soup, as we thought they would make a richer one than we had had for long time, but he would not listen to our advise and we did not have the pleasure of partaking of an over-all soup.

Provost Guard Duty; Description of the Town; Letter of John B. Noyes, Co. B

MS Am 2332 (19) By Permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Williamsport, Md., November 1, 1861

Dear Mother,
As I have a good opportunity this evening to write a few lines I take it.  Since my arrival at this place I have written a letter to you dated the 19th, one to George of the 23d, one to Charles dated the 27th & one to father dated the 25th ult.  I have received Martha’s letter of the 18th (on the 30th) and fathers of the 25th on the 28th ult.  In one of my letters I asked you to send my mittens, and a pair of stockings by express.  I hope you have not sent the package, as I have no use for the stockings as Chandler has given me a couple of pairs of the same kind as the one you sent me.  I shall need no more for months to come.  As to the gloves I hope you will send them forthwith, as it is by no means a warm operation standing guard at dead of night.  The stockings you & Martha make for me will do when I get home where I may need them.  Besides there is no knowing how long the war may last, though I hope it will be of short duration.

     I have never given you a description of the town of Williamsport which contains within it a goodly number of secessionists.  How many open ones the vote next week will show.  We came to Williamsport by the high road which leads from Boonsborough & does not pass through Hagerstown, and encamped just outside the village. As you come from camp to our quarters you pass by the Eagle Hotel, which is a moderate size boarding and drinking establishment.  A large number of exiled Virginians including a sheriff of Berkley County make this hotel their exchange.  The sheriff is a very intelligent gentleman, but most of the “crowd” are tradesmen & farmers of very moderate attainment, their chief occupation now being to sit all day in the bar room, taking a glass now & then, and to walk by way of  variety 3 times a day to the dining room for the purpose of supporting their constitutions.  When their money and credit is gone they will probably join the 1st Va. Regt, or enlist in some of the many cavalry companies hereabouts.  I have been on guard at the town twice.  My duty is to see that no soldier procures the draft, that oft, inebriates.  Passing up the street some distance you arrive at Wilson’ s grocery store which is at the corner, a street running by at right angles with the main one.  This store is Post 7.  I have been there twice on guard.  Turning the corner to the left you walk a few rods and halt at the Globe a very respectable hotel where you get a dinner for 38 cents quite as good as what you pay 25 cents for at the other hotel in the place.  Crossing the street and walking towards the main street you pass Ma’m Longs candy and fruit store & turn in at the apothecary’s shop and post office.  The store is well stocked for Maryland & the Post Master is a union man to the back-bone.  Having deposited your letter you leave and drop in at Parker’s a couple of doors below.  Parker’s I say, for by this name a very neat oyster saloon is distinguished, in memory of the School Street palace.  I come here occasionally & take a very comfortable seat before a glorious soft coal fire.  The best lager beer in the village is to be found here.  You cook the oysters yourself in a chafing dish.  Though 25 cents is not a very exorbitant price for this delicate dish, still not so many oysters are called for as would be acceptable to my palate. Lager unfortunately is fluid and disappears with mysterious rapidity.  If in a hurry we rapidly walk down the street and enter Culbertson’s at the corner to buy some cheese.  (Culbertson’s is the dry-good cheese & butter store of the place; all stores here being variety stores.   Crossing the main street you enter the door of the Potomac the largest hotel in Williamsport. I haven’t sat guard here and do not know the frequenters of the place.  Suffice it to say that in the rear of the building we draw all our water.  From the “Potomac” to our barracks is but a short distance.  Crossing the street again you pass by a house where, when we first came, over a hundred pies a day were baked and eaten by our company.  Very nice pumpkin and apple pies the good women of the house supply us with.  But we do not now patronize them as at first, for now we fare well out of Uncle Sam, where as at the first naught but tough salt beef greeted hungry stomachs, - salt beef not to feast upon while milk is 3 cents for 3 half pints. Next to the pie house is the old brick house, (the front of which bears vestiges of mastic,) which constitutes our barracks. Going up 3 or 4 steps you enter a room used for the storage fireplace by Forbesof salt.  The next room on the same floor has a large fire place. The room which was very dirty, was cleaned by 5 or 6 boys and is now occupied by them. They sleep in bunks made by themselves.  From this room by a stair case you ascend to the story above where are two rooms and a roomy entry.  My mess occupies the smaller room which has a fine place and two windows opening upon the South East.  As there is not room for the whole mess to have separate places here I spread my blanket in the entry with Chandler.  Occasionally however I occupy the place of one on guard in the mess room.  A bench 10 feet long, prigged from the guard of the next building where the quartermaster’s stores of the 1st Va. are kept, is placed on one side of the room opposite the fire place.  This with several nail kegs and boxes form our sitting accommodations. 

A couple of shelves have been set up opposite the fire place. Between the windows is a board fixed on hinges, which serves alternately as a writing desk and a dining table.  Opposite the desk at which I now am writing is another wall table which also serves as a desk.  Tin mugs canteens, haversacks, & various articles of clothing hang from the nails on the walls.  Guns hang from nails, or are placed in the corners, or on the tables and shelves and bench, late papers, a few magazines including Harper’s & Atlantic for November, and a ten cent novel or two are laid.  The knapsacks line two opposite sides of the room, - the bench & fire side.  On the mantle piece you would notice two or three small bottles of ink, a pen or two, brush broom, blacking brush and a small card game by Forbesmirror.  Let four boys be seated around a board playing whist, two or three at a table writing, & two or three reading and you will form quite an accurate picture of my mess room.  The other room is as large as two of ours, but has no fire place.  An immense stove however warms the 4 windowed room.  This room occupied by two messes sports a couple of tables, prudently covered by two red blankets.  Short benches abound.  Pleasant as the rooms are in the day time, give me the entry to sleep in especially where the rooms are heated as they are apt to be at this period of the year.  Going down stairs & out of the outside door you turn to the left and immediately ascend a flight of 8 or 9 steps to a platform & thence enter the guard house, quite a large room from which a door opens into the office of the Provost Marshall, the sanctum sanctorum of the establishment.  Passing through the guard room you find yourself in an entry on one side of which is the turnkeys room & the other the orderly’s; before you a narrow entry leading to a door in the rear of the house, opening upon a platform with steps leading to the yard below where at all times in the day men may be seen pitching quoits with horse shoes. – Secession prisoners & their guard mingling contentedly in the same spot.  If you don’t want to see the game of quoits walk up stairs and call on the non coms, who have a pleasant front room at the head of the stair case.  They have plenty of room and indulge in cots of various descriptions.  Over the guard house Mess. I live in a smaller room.  The two rooms looking upon the yard are occupied by prisoners.  A cellar kitchen with supply rooms completes the view of our barracks, not half so good as we might to have, but which will be better furnished when we are certain of taking up winter quarters here.  I have described the rooms; suffice to say of our occupancy of them that we have to stand, which means to sit guard every other day.

Roll call is at 6 1/2.  How slow we have got to be answering that call!  Breakfast at 8 % (o’ clock) Guard mounting at 9 %.  Roast beef at 1 % Drill commenced to day from 3 to 5 P.M.  Peas or trencher at 6 %; tattoo at 8 1/2; taps at 9 or 9 ½  I don’t know which.

Our Regiment is at last together, Co. C, I & K returning last night.  To day I visited the camp & talked over the battle, in which Co. C had been engaged, with Corporal Russell, late of Cambridge Law School.  He said it was providential that no more were killed as the bullets rattled around them like hail. By order every one in Co. C shifted for himself, protecting himself by stores, trees, & what not, lying on the belly when the enemy fired.  By marching solidly the Wisconsin men lost almost all who suffered in the engagement.  At one time the Company fired upon a Company of cavalry, at within 100 feet, yet they could not tell whether they shot any or not.  After the fire they picked up a sword, a couple of guns & a blanket or so which very likely belonged to wounded men.  The Co. destroyed an iron foundry by fire which was used to make arms or cannon balls.  This was in Virginia.  Add Williamsport to all the letters you now send, and direct to J.B. N. Co. B. 13th Regt Mass. Vols.  Williamsport, Md. as father has done in his letter of the 30th ult. just received.  Do not add “Gen’l Bank’s  Div” as this delays the letters several days.  As this letter may interest all, though I thought it might particularly interest you, I expect it to be considered as a reply to Martha’s and Father’s letters. That is to say they need not wait to have me answer theirs if they have any news to transmit. Send me my world regularly.
With regards to friends I am Your Aff. Son
                John B. Noyes

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A Freak and a Fiend.

By C. E. Davis, Jr.

     The following article, written by Charles E. Davis, Jr. was printed in the Thirteenth Massachusetts Regiment Association, [Circular #20] Dec., 1907.   This article describes some of the locals encountered  in Williamsport when Company B, did provost duty there.

Our regiment reached Williamsport, Md., early in October. The town was situated on the north bank of the Potomac river and prior to the war had acquired an unenviable reputation by reason of its being the winter rendezvous of canal boatmen who made the place lively with drinking and gambling, to the very great annoyance of the good people who resided there and whose feelings were often outraged by disturbances that grew out of cards and alcohol a combination that rarely brings pleasure or happiness to a peaceful community. Affairs were said to be in a wretched state when we arrived, and a guard was requested for protection. A provost-marshal was thereupon appointed and a detail of men from Company B to act as Charles Davis, Jr. provost guard with headquarters in one of the houses on the main street of the town. There were about a dozen “secesh” prisoners confined in the same building, awaiting discharge or commitment to some more secure prison. For a few weeks the guard patrolled the streets at night as police officers, with loaded guns and with orders to arrest any persons disturbing the peace. After a few weeks of this duty we were transferred to the bar-rooms, where we remained all day. Our instructions were to prevent soldiers from drinking, and citizens from drinking too much. The custom of drinking in that town was very much aggravated by the quantity that many men imbibed on each occasion. A man would fill a large tumbler with whiskey and another with water. The whiskey was generally new and swallowed with rapidity immediately followed by water, which latter was called by the odious name of  “chaser.”  We had read considerable about southern ladies, their beauty and general attractiveness, and our curiosity was quite excited to see some evidences of this distinction. There were some pretty girls in Williamsport and we had the pleasure of meeting and becoming acquainted with some very charming people during the five months we were stationed there, but the person whom we have selected for consideration belonged to a very exclusive set and few ladies in the town were admitted to her society. Her name was Marie Antoinette Lydia Corbay. Our acquaintance began on the first night we were on guard in town. While standing after midnight on the corner of the main street she approached us and with upraised fist remarked that she could lick any Massachusetts "nigger-lover” with one hand. On close examination we believed her and proceeded at once to transfer our Commonwealth affections to some other race. "Niggers" having been wiped off the schedule of complaints against our State she referred to others, ending up with wishing we were all in h--l. In physical strength she was much our superior and we had a feeling of gladness when the interview ended. The next time we had the pleasure of meeting her was while stationed in the bar-room of the Eagle hotel. It was during the morning, after the early drinkers had subdued their thirst, and an interval of quiet had occurred before the eleven o'clockers appeared, that she made her appearance. Our interest in "southern ladies" was renewed and we carefully inspected her appearance. Marie Antoinette Lydia Cor bay was not a beauty and took no pains to supply the defect. She was about five feet eight inches in height, with light hair, strongly-marked features, broad shoulders, and a strong body. Her hair was cut after the fashion adopted by Richard the Third.Richard Mansfield as Richard III She had the same nervous gait that Richard had and was also like him in disposition, though she discarded the use of the hump as being unfeminine. She resembled that tribe of Amazons we read about as inhabiting the forests and banks of the mighty river of that name and who are very unlike the Amazons we have seen on the Boston Theatre stage. Marie Antoinette Lydia Corbay was a person of simple tastes. She wore a calico dress, no hat or extra covering except a long narrow woolen scarf which she wore hanging untied from her neck. She wore her overcoat on the inside and when it became too thin for protection she swallowed another one. Her manly breast differed in contour from her sisters of the Boston Theatre and her general appearance was otherwise noticeable from the fact that she wore no hoops as did the rest of her sex in the early sixties. A less independent woman would have shrunk from so violent a contrast with the prevailing fashion. In spite of her Amazonian resemblance she could speak English, Scotch, and Irish with fluency and could accept a drink of whiskey in many other languages. She had none of the polish that people have acquired by a residence in the French capital. She didn't require it because in the exclusive set to which she belonged veneer was not considered an evidence of gentility.  On taking a seat beside us she announced that after she had had three drinks she felt like a "son-of-a-gun;" a remark that we felt no inclination to dispute. We were invited to drink but declined on the score that we had never tasted liquor, which wretched lie was protested by the blush on our face and prompted her to say we were a d--d liar. She made other remarks that would have seemed disagreeable if repeated in New England. She was charmingly frank, as southern women are said to be. It is difficult for a person brought up in New England, enduring the rigor of a fickle climate, to appreciate so artless a nature. So much depends upon the point of view that what is considered beautiful in one locality is hideous in another. Very likely we might change our opinion after becoming more familiar with the grace and polish attributed to southern ladies, but at this time we declined to believe she was one not withstanding she repeatedly said she was.

  Marie Antoinette Lydia Corbay was fond of cards and, as bridge-whist was at that time unknown, she made choice of poker as a game fit for her intellectual abilities. Not finding the ladies of Williamsport to possess sufficient capacity to play the game as it should be played, she was obliged to seek the companionship of men, among whom we are told were several members of the Thirteenth.  The familiarity growing out of this communion led to her being called "Lid Corby," though familiarity is said to breed contempt.  As she believed in the freedom of women she was obliged to submit to the liberty taken with her name by the men with whom she associated, and so when they called upon " Lid " to " ante up " she expressed no offence beyond a few casual remarks that any lady might possibly make on being reminded of her negligence.

  Among the people who came to Williamsport to spend the winter was Mr. John Henry Pott, a gentleman who had traveled much about the world, having enjoyed the society of many brilliant and renowned men, without diminishing his respect for lesser lights.  Like many great men, the affection felt for him found expression in the abbreviation of his name, as everybody called him “Jack” Pott instead of Mr. Pott.   He had no occupation, so far as we have heard, was never seen about town, which fact, to those un- acquainted with him, lent an air of mystery to his habits. In the evenings he might be seen at a game of poker, though he played very little, preferring to watch the game. Now and then he would take a hand in response to earnest demands of others, and at the close of an evening when urged he would join in a final round of hands.

playing cardsHis winnings he distributed among the lucky ones. Those who were unlucky at cards received no sympathy from “Jack” Pott. Marie Antoinette Lydia Cor bay took a great shine to Mr. Pott, but received very little encouragement, and so transferred her affections to Mr. Hall, another gentleman who was spending the winter in Williamsport, and with whom, for some time previous, she had been flirting.  His name was Albert Coe Hall, but people generally called him “Al” Coe Hall. He was very proud of his middle name. He was always seen at card parties where poker was played, and was a very pleasant and companionable person. He was often seen walking about town or in hotels and bar-rooms and frequently visited our camp, about a mile from town, where he was sure to meet a warm welcome.  Although a charming companion he often proved a treacherous friend.

   Not to prolong the account of this "southern lady" we must proceed to say that Marie Antoinette Lydia Corbay, presuming on the rights which she claimed for her sex, became boisterous and unruly, wholly oblivious to the rights of others and so was arrested, brought to the guard-house and placed among the other prisoners, all of whom were men and all occupying one room.   Among the prisoners confined in the building occupied by the provost guard was a man named Speroe, whose reputation was un-savory. He was commonly mentioned as “Old Speroe” by people in Williamsport, but on the opposite side of the river he was designated as "an old reprobate," while some called him a “fiend.” The unanimous feeling was that he was a terror. His arrest and confinement was considered by many as a protection, and the government was criticised for its mercy in preventing his being hanged. 

 No one unacquainted with the situation can form an accurate conception of the persecutions to which people living on the border-line of the two armies were subjected during the civil war. Persons having a grudge against a neighbor found an easy means of venting their spite by turning informer and reporting stories about their neighbors, often with the grossest disregard of truth.   During the first year of the war officers were easily impressed with stories related by these "informers," but as time wore on experience taught them to be cautious about accepting statements uncorroborated by facts. Persons with union or secesh sentiments suffered alike in persecution by their neighbors.

Southern Gentleman  Speroe took upon himself the duty of punishing union women on the Virginia side of the Potomac river, their husbands being away, by making them disrobe and dance while he sat with a loaded gun and watched them. Those who refused to obey he drove into the river to be drowned. Many horrible stories were told of his doings so that other prisoners confined in the same room despised him. He was the only one among the number who had a mattress, which he had procured prior to our coming, and which excited a lot of wrangling and disturbance that frequently required the efforts of the guard to quell. The house was heated by fire-places, so that it was necessary to have wood prepared daily, and it was our occasional duty to take the prisoners out into the yard and make them chop wood for the whole house. Speroe objected to this labor, because, as he said, he was a "southern gentleman."  One day we reminded him that his deeds were not those of any kind of a gentleman, much less a "southern gentleman," whereupon he assailed us with an axe, but he came in contact with a bayonet which slipped into his flabby flesh so easy that we were surprised.  His screams brought the guard and he was soon relieved of the axe, which he held in a threatening attitude.

  Now when Marie Antoinette Lydia Corbay was thrust into the room her eye lighted on old Speroe, and she assailed him with language too picturesque to be repeated, recounting the deeds in which he had played the hero, and then made for his corner, hauling him from his bed, and while he begged and screamed for mercy smacked him first on one side of the head and then on the other with the flat of her hand. She was very strong and her hand was like that of a longshoreman. Having relieved her rage she again hauled him from the mattress and kicked him into the middle of the room, throwing his boots and clothes after him, then laid down on the vacated bed and went peacefully to sleep while he groaned in the middle of the floor.

  When a man proclaims himself to be a gentleman it is pretty safe to believe that his conscience assures him that he is not one.  Gentlemen do not announce themselves as such, for "actions speak louder than words." Prior to the war we had read with much delight the works of Gilmore Simms and had acquired a love for the southern gentleman because of his sweetness of character, his generous impulses, often ruinous we admit, but self-sacrificing. His high breeding and courtly manners were often ruled by his emotions, but he was honest from the ground up. To have 'a fiend like Speroe calling himself a southern gentleman was an outrage we could not endure with patience, therefore we experienced a feeling of satisfaction to see him basted by Marie Antoinette Lydia Cor bay, though it may argue our lack of Christian forbearance.

  On the first of March, 1862, we crossed the river into Virginia, leaving old Speroe to the consideration of our successors, and our interest in him ceased. Two years or more after our departure from Williamsport we learned that Marie Antoinette Lydia Corbay, being impressed with the idea that divided skirts were more suitable for one of her disposition, had adopted the habit later worn by Dr. Mary Walker, commonly known as trousers, and proved conclusively that she was a freak

The 39th Illinois

     For a brief time the fortunes of the 39th Illinois Regiment intersected with the 13th Massachusetts.  Following the attack on Fort Sumter some patriotic Chicago citizens met to see if something could be done to help the government.  In less than six weeks 1300 recruits were organized, eager to be mustered into Federal service as a result of this meeting.. The regiment had taken on the name “Yates Phalanx” in honor of Illinois Governor Richard Yates. The government in Washington could not accept their services at this time, as presently the requirement for troops had been met. This broke up the initial organization with some companies leaving to join other organizations still looking to fill their ranks.

 Field and Staff of the 39th Illinois    When the Federal forces were defeated in battle at Bull Run, July 21st, the Federal Government made its 2nd call for troops.  By August 10th, 806 Chicagoans were organized into the 39th; they were  partially equipped and drilling.  Company H was not yet full and continued to recruit to fill its ranks. October 11th the regiment moved to the training camp 'Benton Barracks' in St. Louis. Two weeks later Colonel Ward H. Lamon arrived from Maryland with orders for General Fremont to send the regiment to Williamsport to be joined with ‘Lamon’s Brigade,’ Army of the Potomac, under General Banks. The 39th Illinois Regiment left Missouri for Maryland October 31st.  By train the 900 men traveled 36 hours to reach their destination of Hagerstown, Maryland.  En route in Pittsburg they received an enthusiastic welcome and collation. Afterwards, the train proceeded to Harrisburg where the men transferred to cars on the Cumberland Valley RR. The train arrived in Hagerstown, midnight, November 1st. The falling rain kept them bottled up inside the cars until morning.  On November 2nd the 39th Illinois Regiment trudged in a drenching rain storm 6 miles toWilliamsport.  They were quartered in vacant warehouses along the canal.

John Noyes of Company B, wrote "the 39th Illinois Regiment arrived here from St. Louis on the 2nd inst. and is attached to Col. Leonard's Brigade.  They marched here from Hagerstown in a driving storm with overcoats on and were thoroughly wet through, from top to tow."  

The regiment was un-armed. The guns they received in St. Louis were un- acceptable and they waited for Col. Leonard in command of the post to supply them. (field and staff of the 39th Illinois pictured; from their official history).

Measles Outbreak in the 39th Illinois

     The following reminisence is from the book "The History of the 39th Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, "Yates Phalanx" in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, by Charles M. Clark, M.D.

"Dr. De Normandie On Guard"

     Soon after we arrived at Williamsport, Md., an extensive epidemic of measles broke out in our regiment. About five hundred members of the regiment had the disease,—most of them, however, in a mild form; and as it was mild and very pleasant weather, only about ninety were obliged to be taken care of in the hospital.

     Of course there was no regular hospital in a small village like Williamsport, consequently Surgeon Blake was obliged to extemporize a hospital. The ninety patients in this hospital were very sick and caused the attending surgeons a great deal of anxiety. Among others, Company A had quite a number of very sick members. Captain Munn, of this Company, afterwards Major of the regiment, was very solicitous about his men, and anxious that they should have the best of care. He, like many other officers, had recruited his company from among his neighbors and acquaintances, and was prompted by his warm heart and patriotic zeal to promise the wives, sisters, and sweethearts of the recruits that he would see that they were well taken care of, and especially when they were sick or wounded; and now it seemed to these officers the time had come for the fulfillment of these promises.

     Surgeons Blake and Clark fully appreciated the responsibility so suddenly thrown upon them, and were obliged to make very stringent rules for the government of the hospital, and in order to prevent interference with their duties, Surgeon Blake issued an order that no one should visit the hospital unless having a pass either from the Surgeon or Assistant Surgeon. . As soon as these officers learned this fact they were very angry, and boldly announced that no d—d surgeons were going to interfere with their looking after their men, and that they would soon convince these surgeons that they would visit the hospital when they pleased.

     Consequently a number of officers, headed by Captain Munn, in a very determined and boisterous manner started for the hospital. Upon arriving at the door of the hospital they were halted by a guard, who of course had not seen much real service, and as his superior officers demanded to pass, the guard was trying to persuade them to desist and first get a pass; but Captain Munn told the guard that lie would give him to understand, and also Surgeon Blake, that no d—d surgeon could keep them from visiting their men when they pleased. De Normandie, who was then hospital steward, hearing the noise at the door of the hospital went to ascertain what the trouble was, and Captain Munn informed him; the Dr. stepping back a few feet, placed the gun to his shoulder, saying, 

"Captain Munn, you are my friend and the captain of my company, and you ought to know better than to attempt to force a guard; and I can assure you that unless you have a pass from one of the surgeons you cannot enter this hospital, and if you attempt it I will put a bullet through your body or the body of anybody else who attempts it."

     Captain Munn afterwards said that the "old Doc," as he called him, showed by his eye that he meant business. These officers, now more enraged than ever, started for the headquarters of the commander of the regiment, Colonel T. O. Osborn. As it happened, Colonel Osborn, with the Colonel of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Regiment, and other officers, was visiting Surgeon Blake at his quarters, and while pleasantly conversing about affairs of the command in rushed Captain Munn with his fellow officers, and in great excitement began to abuse the surgeons and especially Surgeon Blake, telling the Colonel what an outrage had been committed towards himself and comrades. To the great chagrin of both Captain Munn and his comrades, the Colonel coolly informed them that he had no control over the medical department of the regiment, and advised them to go to their quarters and look at the army regulations, and see what sort of a position they had placed themselves in.

     On the next morning after this episode, as Surgeon Blake was sitting on the front porch of his quarters, he saw coming down the street a little squad of officers, but they looked very meek and were apparently in very earnest conversation about some serious affair. When they saw the Surgeon, Captain Munn called him one side, and in a most anxious manner asked him what he was going to do about the affair of last night. The Surgeon, with an apparently offended air, very coolly said to the Captain that he had not yet determined what he would do about it. Whereupon the Captain in an excited manner replied that he had heard that the Surgeon intended to have them all court-martialed; and then in a most imploring way, said:

     "Blake, do you know that if you call a court-martial we shall all be shot? The regulations say that to attempt to force a guard while in active service shall be punished by death! For God's sake, let's settle the matter. We made d—d fools of ourselves, and will assure you that we will never be guilty of such foolishness again." Surgeon Blake, after keeping them on the anxious-seat for a few days, never had occasion to mention the matter again. This incident did more to establish discipline in the regiment than anything that ever happened to it. It is gratifying to be able to state that every man who was sick at that time recovered, and that this severe attack of sickness thoroughly established the surgeons in the confidence of the entire regiment, which was never lost during the war.

Letter from Company K.

Copies of the Westboro Transcript, December 22nd, 1860 - January 10th 1863, are stored on Microfilm at the Westboro Public Library.

Westboro Transcript, November 30, 1861.

From Co. K. – A letter from ‘Camp Jackson,’ under date of Nov. 20th and 21st, says:  ‘The Thirteenth have just been down to the village to escort off the Illinois Regiment. The Illionians (I refer to this particular Regiment) are as shabby a set as I ever saw.  Only two companies of them had any guns, and what they did have were rusty.  They had a band of music with them; but their so called ‘music’ was even a greater misnomer than the energetic blasts ‘executed’ by the Westboro Band of a year ago.  (Whew!)  I think we were taken down there more for the purpose of stimulating our pride by showing us how we looked beside other Regiments then simply to do escort duty.  Positively and without boasting, Massachusetts troops do make the best appearance of any in the service.

While returning to camp we drilled in a movement called ‘street firing.’  It is a neat movement and with the practice we have has we are vain enough to think we could clean a street in a ‘thorough and workmanlike manner.’

‘Possibly the next letter I write you may be from Western Virginia.  Col. Leonard has gone to meet and consult with Gen. Kelly, whose brigade is a part of Rosecranz’s force.  If we join him we shall see some fighting very soon.

‘The Col. tells us that we can have Lieut. Hovey for Captain by petitioning for him, which we shall probably do, as he is a splendid officer.

‘Since I commenced writing our officers have brought in for our Thanksgiving dinner eight turkeys, a lot of nuts and a box of raisins.

‘This is Thanksgiving morning, and the boys are picking turkeys all over the camp.  During the day a match game of ball is to be played, - the right wing of the regiment against the left wing.  Three men are to be selected from each company, making fifteen men on a side.  Co. K, is in the left wing which is to be the winner, of course.

(digital transcripton by Brad Forbush).

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Thanksgiving in Camp, November 21, 1861.

Thanksgiving photo, 1861

Thanksgiving with members of the 13th Mass., 1861.  This photo was shared with Art Rideout by Thomas Traxler; descendant of William G. Ward, Company G.  (It has been heavily touched up in photoshop).   

Thanksgiving; Hagerstown Herald & Torchlight.

Hagerstown Herald of Freedom & Torchlight

November 27, 1861.

13th Massachusetts Regiment – Its Thanksgiving Day.  Thursday last having been the day designated by the Governor of Massachusetts for Thanksgiving, the soldiers of the 13th Regiment from that State, now encamped near Williamsport, paid their respects to the day in an old-fashioned frolic.  Thanksgiving day originated with our Pilgrim forefathers, and was held in commemoration of their landing upon Plymouth rock, in 1620.  It was an appropriate and special recognition of the Providence of God, in bringing them safely through the perils of a long and adventurous voyage; and in New England it is still associated with such reminiscence, although they are gradually receding from public attention, and the day partakes more of the modern sentiment as it prevails with us.  This innovation upon time-honored custom the brave sons of old Massachusetts now in our midst fully illustrated by devoting the day to a grand festival, which terminated at night in a joyous dance upon a large platform erected for the purpose in their camp.  We understand that the Regiment was paid off on the previous day, which, in addition to the presents of pumpkin pie, turkeys, &c. received from home, enabled its members to do the occasion ample justice. It was a curious sight, however, to behold these descendants of the old pilgrim fathers celebrating a Thanksgiving day within full view of Virginia, the land of Secesh, and the “mother of statesmen,” but they came from their far-off homes as the defenders of the stars and stripes, and we honor them as friends and loyal citizens, while we despise the traitors who have dishonored that flag and rendered necessary the presence of an armed soldiery upon the soil of Washington County.

(Newsclipping courtesy of Timothy Snyder; digital transcription by Brad Forbush).

Thanksgiving; Letter of John B. Noyes, Company B.

MS Am 2332 (22) By Permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Williamsport Md.  November 22nd ‘61

Dear Father & Mother,

    Your letter of the 14th inst. was received on the 17th.  I concluded to wait till after Thanksgiving before writing to you.  Perhaps you will like to have me answer your note before telling how I spent my first Thanksgiving day in Md.

    I am sorry to hear of the death of Mrs. Campbell.  She has long been feeble and a great care to her friends, who on that account must feel the loss the more.  Miss Popkin must feel quite lonely these long winter nights.  I suppose Martha will cultivate her acquaintance even more now than ever.  From life to death is but a single step, and I am glad that cousin Sumner rejoices in a second grand daughter.  May he live to have a grandson to relieve somebody of a gold watch, if for nothing else.  But who is that somebody ?  I have forgotten if I ever knew.  Alice’s sinking hope of getting the watch are again revived. Who knows but the tortoise may yet win the race? What is Mr. White’s name and address?  So Dr. Whitney is not going home.  I don’t know what reports you have heard of the Surgeon I have seen nothing in him to unfit him for his duties.  He is not very popular, in the Regiment, partly owing to his infirmities, that is his fatness, and partly to the fact that Dr. Heard, the Ass’t. Surgeon is the favorite.  Hurd is a slim built man, very dark in complexion, quick, active, and more neat in attire than his superior officer.  Of two Doctors, one must in time fall under when their patients are the same.  The chief complaint against Dr. Whitney, however is his giving too much quinine to those affected with the chills.  Several men in our Company haven’t ceased to shake since we left Antietam & will not feed on quinine.  Now Dr. Hurd prescribed for those cases, although his sickness prevented his constant attendance.  Dr. Whitney agreed with Hurd on the quinine subject; that is on its use, and the benefits to be derived from it by those affected with chills & typhoid fever.  So you see Dr. Whitney suffers where Hurd should bear the burden, unless we adopt the principle “qui facit per alesin(?) facit per se.”  Dr. Zeller, as he informs me himself, agrees with Dr. Whitney with regard to the applicability of quinine in the cases I have mentioned, and in addition is very favorably impressed with the knowledge, and attention to patients displayed by him.  It is worthy of note that notwithstanding the fact that several of our Reg’t. have been very sick, some with no expectation of recovery, not one has died from disease.  This fact speaks much for the merits of the Dr. as a physician.  No one doubts his abilities as a surgeon. Indeed the Dr. asserts what is true when he states that the men have not followed his prescriptions & have refused to take the quinine they talk so much about.  I do not intend to praise the Surgeon, I only say that the only complaints I have heard are on the subject of quinine.  Surgeons are almost invariably unpopular.  There is a petition to remove the Surgeon of the 39th Ill. Regt.  As to drinking, no man in our Co. has seen him drunk, & I do not hear that complaint made against him.  He believes in making some men do duty who say they are unable to.  Perhaps the Dr. is right.  Perhaps also he is obliged to act as he does by orders he is bound to obey.

    Allyne’s package arrived safe.  The stockings were very acceptable and are much better than those I have by me.  The mittens are ne plus ultra.  I did not see Allyne as I was on picket the night he came, and he started immediately for Washington.  The pair of stockings not quite finished will do to send next spring.  The catalogue sent by father reached me yesterday morning.  I have given it to Zeller.  No apples came with it.  There may be some by the time I get home.  Meantime what of the pears?  Stephen wants to hear from me.  Why does’nt he write then?  I believe he has not written for some months, save just before I left Darnestown which letter I immediately answered. He is somewhat remiss in his correspondence.  I wrote him a day or two ago & the letter being a business one like the last one he answered.  It makes very little difference as to Stephen’s writing and visiting habits, whether he has plenty or no time.  He is sometimes busy when he has absolutely nothing to do.  Perhaps you recollect my old friend Geo. D. Rice, son of M.M. Rice, lately deceased.  His brother Edmund is Captain, and now acting Major of the 19th Mass, Col. Hank’s Regt.  George has been on a business tour among the western soldiers, and has seen most of the camps out west, including Kentucky.  He is now visiting the camps on the Potomac.  For the last week he has been in Williamsport, but is going directly home in a day or two. By him I shall send a couple of pair of woolen and two or three cotton socks besides my Horace, the gem of my books.  I don’t want the Horace lent.  Put it in my bureau drawer.  Next Summer I may want a pair or so of the summer socks.  I send also $15.00 in treasury notes by the same hand.  Perhaps Rice can give you some interesting information about the affairs hereabouts.

    And now for Thanksgiving.  Of course it was a holiday.  Some spent it one way, some another.  Co. E. had a dinner at the Globe, for their friends at home sent them Turkeys, plum puddings &c.  Other companies fared differently.  In my company one mess dined together down town.  No others of that mess could get out of the lines on passes.  Never the less by hook, or by crook four of our mess dined together at the Eagle.  Six others in 3 different parties got out of the lines & rendezvoused at Parker’s.  I was one.  We had the parlor of the establishment which was the front 2nd story room, the gayest looking room I have yet seen in Md. We invited in one of our men who was stationed at the Eagle on guard.  We had no cranberry sauce.  That was because we had plenty of others such as peach, apple & pear; for one of the Co. had cranberry sauce in his box which came from home a couple of hours before dinner time.  I did’nt have the folks at home at the table; that was impossible, we however made ourselves at home, if we could not bring you to us.  A roast turkey & chicken, a la Massachusetts graced the board, into which we soon made inroads with fixed knives and forks.  Floating island succeeded the main staple of the dinner.  To that home made pudding & mince pies.  We could not proceed to the sardines and nuts we had at hand, but turned our attention to, - dulce est despere in loco – champagne, and cigars.  After dinner we sauntered round the streets, and finally five of us rode up to camp in a hack !!  and were landed at our tents.  Perhaps others may have had as good a dinner as I did, but they did not drive up to camp in that luxurious style.  The hack ride was free of expense, the driver fancying my looks.  I got to camp just in time to witness the pig- tail chase which was a failure, owing to the fact that the tail was not greased.  Dress parade followed the pig-tail scrape.  No one wanted supper.  In the eve’g. came the ball, for which a board floor had been made in the grove near the Col.’s tent.  Only half a dozen ladies graced the floor.  The ball did not amount to a great deal, though it well rounded off a very pleasant day.  There are very few girls in Willliamsport – very few indeed.  Such was the day & so I spent it.  When I was in town A.M. & P.M.  a base ball game between the right & left wings of the Reg’t. was played by three men from each Company.  A mule race followed which was said to be successful.  I forgot to mention that the Chaplain had services, which however four fifths of our company did not attend.  Among the majoritie I regret to say, pars magnus fui.  Various are the rumors which fill the camp.  Scarcely one who believes any of them.  The latest is that we are to march for Cumberland, 80 miles from here.  This report seems to have several roots to it, besides one or two branches.  Still incredulous, I do not allow any expectation of an 80 mile march to disturb my sleep.  I received a letter from Charles just as I was wrapping my blanket around me for dreamless slumbers.  This was the end of Thanksgiving.  I am out of postage stamps.  With love to all

    Your Aff. Son
        John B. Noyes.

(I apologize for mistakes in transcribing the latin.  If any readers have corrections please let us know - webmaster).

Surgeons Whitney and Heard with Servant, 1862.
Pictured are John Theodore Heard, Asst. Surgeon, Allston Waldo Whitney, Surgeon, & Servant.  This photo was in W.H. Forbush's diary.  The original image was flopped.  Through the miracle of photoshop the image has been corrected, but the handwriting still corresponds to the original mirror image.  The regimental history; "Three Years in the Army" was dedicated to Whitney.

    Surgeon Allston Waldo Whitney of Framingham proved his skill on the battle field as Noyes would later attest. His reputation as a confident and successful surgeon spread among combat surgeons in the field. During most of his service he served as Surgeon in chief of brigade or division. He was captured June 1, 1863 while in charge of a hospital in Falmouth Va, and released from Libby Prison, somewhat thinner, in November of that year. He died November 11, 1881. The regimental history "Three Years in the Army" was dedicated to him.

     Asst. Surgeon J. Theodore Heard’s record from the reg’t. history is as follows:

Age 25 born, Boston; physician; mustered in as asst.-surg., July 16, 1861; mustered out as surg., Oct. 25, ’65; promoted to surg., U.S. Vols., May 1, ’62; brevetted lieut.-col., March 13, ’65; May 1, ’62 assigned as brig. Surg., 1st Brig., 2d Div., 1st A.C. (then Durea’s brigade of McDowell’s Corps); Oct. 28, ’62, assigned as surg.-in – chief, 2d Div., 1st A.C.; Nov. 10, ’62, assigned as medical director of the 1st Corp, Army of the Potomac, commanded by Gen. John F. Reynolds, remaining in that position until the 1st Corps was consolidated with the 5th Corps under Gen. Warren, March 23, ’64;  March 25, ’64, assigned as surg. –in-chief of artillery reserve, Army of the Potomac; Aril 30, ’64, assigned as medical director, 4th Corps, Army of the Cumberland; promoted to lieut. – col. by act of Congress ( dated Feb. 25, ’65), March 13, ’65; residence, 20 Louisburg square, Boston.

Thanksgiving; Letter in the Westboro Transcript.

Westboro Transcript
Dec. 7, 1861

Camp Jackson, Williamsport, Md.
Nov. 28th 1861

Mr. Editor, - Thinking a few stray items from the 13th would be of interest to some of your numerous readers, I take the liberty to note them down hoping that they may prove crumbs of comfort to the unenlightened.

Thanksgiving was a notable affair with us, or as the boys have it ‘a big thing,’ the weather was splendid, and they made themselves comfortable in almost every conceivable way.  Foot balls were kicked, bat balls were batted, greased pigs were chased and caught, the tilt was in full blast on horse back and foot, the air was filled with shouts and ebullitions of mirth, and all went merry as a marriage bell, our thanksgiving dinners allow me to say can't be beat easily.  Turkeys and chickens graced every mess pan and to give you something of an idea of the extent of our feasting I will state that Co. F. had 22 turkeys and 14 chickens, these were all stuffed and cooked by our neighbors of Williamsport.  This I think is about a fair sample of the whole, though Co. E of Roxbury was more fortunate than the rest of us in having had an excellent dinner all ready for the table brought to them by some of their friends in Roxbury; the weight of the whole I believe was about 1500 pounds.  During the day our excellent Chaplain delivered an eloquent discourse on Temperance, Virtue, Patience &c., which was well received by the men and we trust was as seed sown on good ground.  In the evening there was a social hop by the boys with a very slight sprinkling of ladies from Williamsport and Hagerstown.

Another feature peculiar to this Regiment is a “picture gallery,” conducted by Crosby, (George Crosby-B.F.) formerly of Union Block, Marlboro; this was also in active operation on Thanksgiving day, and since; and probably many a wife, mother and dear one has received “shadows” which they will hold sacred until the return of the soldier from the war.  Yesterday four companies, A, B, H, and E, left our camp for Hancock, which lies up the river about 24 miles – What the movement means, or how long they are to be gone, or any thing in regard to them, or us, in the future, is a perfect blank.  Truly, we live in a blissful state of uncertainty.  Co. F. has at present 20 men stationed at Hagerstown, under Provost Marshall C. F. Morse.   Co. I, is here with us, and also Co. K, generally in good health, I believe, with the exception of prevalent colds.  I believe I have gleaned most of the items of interest.

(digital transcription by Brad Forbush).

Thanksgiving; Letter of Edwin Rice; 13th Mass Band

Williamsport, Maryland
November 28th 1861

            I suppose you will be looking for a letter from me. Haven’t heard as you have gone to Walpole but suppose so.

Thanksgiving passed off very well with us. The stuff which was sent to the Band from Marlboro we took downtown to a hotel and put some more with it and had a first rate dinner. We had the Adjt., Capt. Pratt of Co E, Lieut. Frost, Co E, Lieut. Richardson of Co G. The Lieut. Col. and Chaplain were invited but could not be present. We bought all the extras besides what was sent to us, and we had to pay a dollar a plate for what there was there, 24 of us. As there was nothing said about the price, we paid the bill and took away what was not eaten.

Last Saturday, myself and 7 others of the Band crossed the river with Capt. Carey on the ferry. The boats cross every day. No one except the soldiers are allowed to cross over unless they are pretty well known.  When we came back there were three or four men, one women, and three children coming over with us. They come over every day and are mostly from Martinsburg.

Tuesday, Companies A, B, E, and H had sudden orders to start for Hancock, 27 miles from here up the river.  They left about 6 p.m.  They expected to get there the next morning.  A part of Company D has gone down the river 17 miles to dam no. 4 and part of Company F is at Hagerstown.  Since we in this vicinity were paid off, the Illinois boys have gone to Hagerstown on a drunk and raised the Old Harry and frightened the citizens half to death and so a detachment of Company F were sent there to keep them straight.

The nights are quite cool now. Last night there was such a heavy white frost that the ground looked as though it was covered with snow. I don’t think the men suffer much from the cold except those who are on guard as they have fires in their tents nearly all the time. The horses, I should think, would suffer a good deal from the cold. As wheat straw is plenty around here they have lots of that to sleep on, but they have no blankets.  

Yesterday it was cold and rained nearly all day.  In the morning it hailed nearly an hour.  It has got to be so chill around here that I hope we shall move soon for some other place.The trraveling now is quite bad except on the turnpikes as the ground freezes a little every night and then thaws during the day and makes it very muddy traveling.  Today is Thanksgiving in this state and tonight there is going to be a Thanksgiving Ball downtown.  I should like to go to it and see what kind of a thing it is but don't suppose I can.

I received a letter from Henry, Tuesday morning.  My ear does not trouble me any now. I received a paper and some pills from Mother yesterday.  The blanket which Mother sent is a first rate one.  I think it is beter than a bed blanket would be for me to use. I saw some horse blankets the other day that they asked $1.75 a piece for.  I had rather have mine than three of them.  They were coarse and were not more than 2/3 as large.

Gassett had a letter this morning and it said that Sidney Learning was going into my old place of business.  Hope he won't give much for the goods in there and hope he will be used better than I was.

Edwin Rice

P.S.  The companies have had orders to pack up and cook two days rations, and to have 25 rounds of cartridges dealt out.  The Band has not had any orders yet.  We may all leave tonight or may stay 2 or 3 weeks.  If we go anywhere it will be to Hancock.

(Gassett is Foster Gassett of the Band).

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Picketing the River - Detachments from the 13th Mass.

From Three Years in the Army; Estes & Lauriat, 1894 by Charles E. Davis, Jr.:

     The duty which we performed this winter was a very important and difficult one, as General Stonewall Jackson, at his own request (according to the official reports of the Confederacy), received orders to do all the damage he could to the dams of the Chesapeake and Ohio canal, and to harass the enemy in any way his genius could suggest.  General Jackson was no sluggard, as the world knows, and he made it lively for us to prevent him from carrying out his purposes. While we were at Williamsport, Colonel Leonard was in charge of all the troops on the Potomac, from Harper’s Ferry to Oldtown, a distance of more than one hundred miles, by the river, while the duties of the regiment included guarding the Potomac river from Harper’s Ferry to Sir John’s Run, a distance of more than fifty miles.  The work was so well done as to prompt a commendation from General Banks. Prior to our arrival, this part of the river was protected by troops supplied with the old smooth-bore musket of a very antiquated pattern with too little power to carry a bullet across the river, so that they were a constant source  of ridicule by the enemy, who were much better armed, and who amused themselves by coming down to the river daily, and placing the thumb of the right hand to the nose, and the thumb of the left hand to the little finger of the right hand, would make rapid motions with the fingers, to the great exasperation of the Union men, who were powerless to prevent it. After we were placed there with our Enfield rifles, there was less time spent in arranging their fingers, and more in the use of their feet. As they tried one point after another from Falling Waters to the end of our line of fifty miles, they were prompted to inquire what regiments were guarding the river, and when the oft-repeated answer was “the Thirteenth Mass.,” they were astonished at our number, and were interested to know what arms we carried.  A Virginia paper, published in Martinsburg, brought across the river by a Union man, contained an editorial warning the people about “trusting themselves too near the river, as there was a regiment from Massachusetts, several thousand strong, with a gun that could carry like a piece of artillery.”

     In order to carry out so extensive a system of pickets it was necessary to make large and frequent details of men from each company, the particular dates of which are omitted, and only the larger ones mentioned.

Nov. 5.  Co. D sent to Hagerstown.  Returned on the 7th. All of Company B, except twelve men, returned from provost duty in town, to camp.

Nov. 26.  Companies A, B, E, and H sent to Hancock.

Dec. 7.  Company C sent to Dam No. 5.

Dec. 8.  Co. G sent to Dam No. 5 to relieve Co. C.  Company K sent to Dam No. 4, but was overtaken by an order to return.  Co. C sent to Dam No. 5, but returned before night.

It was D--n the hats in summer and Dam No. 5 in winter.

Skirmish at Dam No. 5;  December 7 - 8, 1861.

Skirmish at Dam 5 by Henry Bacon, Co. D.
Drawing by artist Henry Bacon, Co. D, accompanied this article in Leslies Newspaper.  After the war Bacon studied fine art in Paris & became a noted European artist.

Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
 January 18, 1862.
(Letter transcriptions taken from the now defunct web-site "Letters of the Civil War").


      Scene of the late Skirmish between the Rebels and a Company of the Massachusetts 13th Regt. of Rifles

      On Saturday, December 7, 400 or 500 rebel infantry, with six pieces of artillery, made their appearance at Dam No. 5, nine miles above Williamsport, Md., with evident intentions of destroying the dam, so as to prevent the navigation of the canal for 18 miles below. They commenced firing at the dam, which firing was heard at Williamsport, where the 13th was stationed. Col. Leonard immediately dispatched one company of riflemen, who took position at the lock opposite during Saturday night.  On Sunday morning the rebels again commenced their work of destruction, but were soon answered by the rifles, when they precipitately retreated, leaving for a time their guns, but finally succeeded in carrying them off.  The engagement lasted for several hours. The 13th had one man wounded, receiving five shots in the legs, but who will recover. The rebels lost seven men, and 15 or 16 men wounded, without accomplishing anything towards the destruction of the dam.
      Accompanying this is a sketch of the lock-keepers's house, shelled by the rebel artillery during the skirmish, and behind which some of the 13th riflemen were stationed.

      A correspondent of a Boston paper who was present gives the following account:

Moses Palmer      "On Monday night last, at Williamsport, our 1st Lieutenant, Palmer, now in command of the company, received orders to hold himself in readiness to march at a moment's notice for Four Locks, about 10 miles up the river from Williamsport. Accordingly, on Tuesday morning we started, and arrived here about two p.m. We found a company of the 1st Virginia regiment occupying the only suitable building for quarters, and as that company were not to leave until the following day, Lieut. Palmer took possession of a barn, where, after supper, we turned in, as we supposed, for the night, having previously relieved the Virginia company's pickets, according to orders. About 10 o'clock we were awoke by the report that our up-river pickets were attacked, and Lieut. Brown immediately started with a squad to their assistance, while the rest of us went to bed again.  In about two hours from that time our pickets, who had been stationed at Dam No. 5, sent up word that the rebels were at work destroying the dam.  Lieut. Palmer immediately turned out all the men left in camp, and we started at double-quick in a bee line over hills, rocks and fences for the dam, and on arriving there found the rebels at work as reported.
      We commenced firing upon them, and continued to do so until daybreak, when we discovered that they had erected barricades across the dam, in such a manner that it became necessary for us to go down the river a short distance, and come up under the bank, in order to bring them under the range of our rifles. We managed, after sharp firing and much exposure, to drive them from their position, when they took shelter in an old stone mill near the dam, and battered out loopholes with crowbars, and opened a severe fire upon us. Meanwhile, about 200 sharpshooters (cavlary) came down into the woods on the other side, and opened on our left flank, sending their balls with remarkable accuracy. We, nevertheless, held our ground, keeping well covered by trees and fences, and called upon them to come over, which they appeared to have no idea of doing, and seemed to dread our rifles, from the distance they kept from the river. The firing was kept up all day, and at night a strong guard was posted at the dam, to repel any attempt which might be made in the night to destroy it.  Early on Wednesday morning one piece of artillery and one company of the 1st Virginia regiment arrived to our assistance. The artillery opened fire on the mill, and soon drove the rebels out, and as they left we gave them the Enfield bullets to their sorrow, killing and wounding, as we think, quite a number. About two p. m., all being quiet at the dam, we returned to camp, and on the way, by invitation of a loyal Marylander, partook of the best dinner we had eaten since we left Massachusetts. We had just reached headquarters when intelligence was received from our pickets at Little Georgetown, two miles above here, that the rebels had appeared opposite in strong force, numbering as many as three regiments; that they had yelled across the river that they should cross that night at all odds, asking if 'we didn't want some more Bull Run soup,' etc. Lieut. Palmer, with a squad, went to their assistance, and had fired several volleys at the rebels, when they suddenly opened fire upon us from a masked battery, throwing three shells directly through a barn which our pickets made their headquarters.  Our boys stood their ground, however, and about nine o'clock that evening the rebels withdrew their cannon, thinking it of no use to fight the 'miserable yellow-bellied Yankees,' as they called us. During the night the old mill at the dam, where the rebels had taken refuge during the day and night previous, was discovered to be on fire, and as no one who had an interest in the property seemed disposed to put it out, in a few hours nothing remained but a heap of blackened ruins. It isn't known who started the fire, but some fearfully accurate guesses could be made by certain parties if they were so disposed.
      On Thursday we wore out Uncle Sam's shoe leather travelling up and down the river, to see if any fresh adventures would turn up, but all was quiet until three o'clock in the afternoon, when the rebels again made their appearance at Little Georgetown, with their flag flying, and having a large number of boats with them. They swore they would cross that night, and Lieut. Brown was left there with a detachment to watch them; but the night passed and 'nary cross' took place.

      On Friday, all being quiet and no rebels in sight, Captain Kennedy, of the Virginia 1st regiment, Lieut. Palmer, Mr. Palmer, Mr. Stanhope (who built the dam), and myself, crossed the river in a crazy old skiff, to examine the dam where the rebels had been at work. We found it not very much injured, although they had been at work at it for three days. It is a splendid work, and cost, I was informed, about $200,000. During these four days we ate little and slept less, but we liked the excitement, and our lieutenants, Palmer and Brown, seemed to grow fat on it. Both lieutenants are very popular with the company, as they are afraid of nothing, and the boys are always ready to follow where they will lead. All is quiet here now, and we are ready for the next affair that may turn up."

[Contributed by Timothy Snyder]

     The man wounded, mentioned above, was James Kennay, Company C.  His wound is not listed in the roster, but was listed in corrections to the roster published in the 13th Regiment Association Circulars, (#8, Dec. 1895) to read: "wounded at Dam no. 5 in the winter of 1861."  Kennay was shot in several places but survived and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the 57th Mass. in 1864.  Warren Freeman writes about 'Kenny's' recovery in letters home December 21st (see Hancock page), & Jan. 10th: "James Kenny came into our tent yesteday; he is getting along well - he is very weak, but does not suffer much pain from his severe wounds; three rifle balls struck him, making six holes, all flesh wounds; five balls passed through his overcoat; it is said here he stood a "right smart chance" of losing his life."

On Dec. 11th, Company K was sent to Dam No. 4, but was overtaken by an order to return.  Co. C was sent to Dam No. 5, but returned the same night.

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The Story of 3 Captains.

     Newly commissioned  Captain William H. Jackson was the hero of the day for the part he and Company C took in the Battle of Bolivar Heights October 16th.  The present camp at Williamsport was named Camp Jackson in his honor.  His star continued to shine brightly for several  months before loosing some of its lustre, first with his company, then with the rest of the regiment.

       Mysterious Captain Schriber, (Company I)  had worked his way into the good graces of Major General Nathaniel Banks, and gotten himself appointed Aide du Camp for the General.  His quick rise to power was underway.  It would end suddenly in August with a fiery descent.   His absence cleared the way for First Lieutenant Moses Poore Palmer to take his rightful place as Captain of Company I.

     Captain William P. Blackmer's speedy departure from the regiment following the battle of Bolivar Heights created a vacancy to be filled in Company K.  Austin Stearns explains how Captain Charles Hovey was appointed.

Letter of Captain Schriber

"GLC03393.21  Captain Shriber to Colonel Leonard, 31 October 1861.  (The Gilder Lehrman Collection. Not to be reproduced without written permission.)"

Muddy Branch Camp :
Headquarters Gen. Banks Division:
October 31st 1861.

To Colonel Leonard 13th Mass. Vols.
Commanding Forces


        Major General Banks desires me to state to you that he wishes me to stay with him as an Asst. Aide de Camp on his Staff for a short time longer, as he is at present almost entirely reduced of Staff officers, but he expects Major Perkins and 2 more Regular officers in a week or so. You will therefore be kind enough to report me.
On special duty.

I shall be truly happy to meet you, Colonel, again as it is now a long time since I had the pleasure to talk to you - but I fear that I shall not be much longer connected with your excellent Regiment, as the Governor of Rhode Island has offered me the Command of his 6th Battery of Light Artillery with the view of becoming Major as soon as the 8th will be formed and drilled –

As much as I desire to advance, which is only natural, as much shall I feel the parting from You and your officers, the dear 13th and Massachusetts – had I any view what ever for promotion in our State Troops, I would stay, because I feel as if I tore myself from a new home away, but those who have taken an interest in me in Boston are now away and I can not hope for anything –

Trusting, Colonel, to meet you and your Staff, to whom please convey my very warm compliments, soon at Will’pt.  I beg to believe me Colonel to be
With greatest Respect
Most obedient Servant

RC. Shriber
Capt. 13th Mass Vol. Asst. Aide de Camp of
Bank’s Division.

Letter of First- Lieutenant Moses Palmer.

Westboro Transcript, Dec. 14, 1861

Williamsport, Md.,
Camp Jackson, Nov. 20, 1861.

Mr. Loring, - Dear Sir:  I believe you told me in your letter that if we needed any thing in our Company to let you know what it was, and you would attend to it. -  Now it is coming on cold weather, and we are in want of Woolen Gloves and Towels.  If you could send us, say 90 pairs of Gloves, and 90 Towels, our Company would be very thankful.  We are in want of something to keep the men’s hands warm this cool weather, and if you can do any thing in this line, just send them along as soon as possible.  We do not like here, as well as the Ferry; the boys are getting tired of doing nothing but drill.

Col. Batchelder said yesterday, at our monthly inspection, that Company I, was the best Company on the field; their guns and quarters were in the best shape of any Company here. – Four of our Companies are up the river – A, B, E, and H.  I hope they will have as good luck as we had when we were away.  Company I, has gained for the Regiment about all the glory it has had so far.  Capt. Schriber is away; has been absent about six weeks.  We get along finely.  Our boys are in good spirits, and there are but a few sick.  I suppose we shall get into winter quarters soon; that is, if we do not move forward into Virginia.  After we get into winter quarters you must come out and see us sure.  We will try and make your visit as pleasant as possible.  A good many of the Boston people have been out here to see their Companies from Boston.  This is a muddy place, and just like all the rest of Maryland.

I should be happy to hear from you, and still more so to see you out here.

Yours truly,
M. P. Palmer

(digital transcription by Brad Forbush).

Captain Charles H. Hovey, Company K.

From Austin Stearns memoirs “Three Years with Company K” Fairleigh-Dickinson University Press; 1976, Used with Permission, (p. 43-44).

Charles H. Hovey     "We were without a Captain; it was time to have one; Lieut Bacon aspired to the place. There were a few of the boys wanted he should be, thinking they would have an easy time. A petition was circulated to get signers for him. Those who brought it to our mess said if we did not have him we should have to have the seniour Lieut. of Co. A.  [Lt. Samuel Neat]  Of the two evils, we chose the least, signing for Bacon.   After doing so, some of us went out and enquired of the Field, Line, and Staff, and learned that the Col. wanted to promote Lieut Hovey of Co. D. Another petition was circulated for him without consulting the friends of Bacon, [and] the result was [that ] we had Hovey for Captain. Our nine weeks stay at Harpers Ferry gave us no time to drill, [so] when we came to the regiment we were one of the poorest drilled companies. The Boston Companies looked upon us with an air of superiority. Hovey, on taking command, said, if we pay strict attention to drill, he would do his best to make us second to none in point of drill, or anything that goes to make a soldier. He said he was satisfied the material was there, and all it needed was to be brought out, and he would do his best to bring it out.  His predictions were all filled."

     On Nov. 6, 1861, first Lieutenant Charles H. Hovey, Co. D was promoted Captain of Company K.  Hovey proved to be an able officer.  He served all three years with the regiment and completed his service with the  rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. (photo of Capt. Hovey courtesy of the Westborough Historical Society, Westborough, MA).

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Letter of Edwin Rice; 13th Mass Band

William Blanchard     According to private John B. Noyes, his best friend William F. Blanchard was accidentally shot by an Illinois man with a pistol.  Noyes was at Hancock, and wouldn't have known the details when he wrote: "One of my mess, Blanchard is at the point of death, accidentally shot by a pistol in the hands of an Illinois soldier.  He was well educated & perhaps the best informed man in the mess, had studied Virgil & was thoroughly versed in same departments of history.  He was an indefatigable devourer of knowlege and had known good society.  Add to this a thorough knowledge of common seamanship & extensive travel and observation.  I write as though he were dead.  Indeed he may be. There are conflicting reports."  The 13th Mass roster states Blanchard was wounded November 28th, 1861.   Edwin Rice who was in camp & close to the hospital was able to report on Blanchard's recovery.  [William Blanchard, pictured left]. 

     Rice also mentions the death of a third man in the newly arrived troops of the 39th Illinois.  A measles epidemic was raging through the ranks of that regiment, but their history states the 3 men died of other causes.  They are listed as Lt. Joseph Richardson; of typhoid fever, Private William Parrish, Co. G; organic disease of the heart; and Priv. Henry Hosington, Co. B; turberculosis.   A touching tribute to the 13th Mass is given in the following anecdote from the 39th Illinois history:

     "While here, First-Lieutenant Joseph W. Richardson, of Company A, was taken sick with typhoid fever. He received the best of care at the Globe Inn, where he was quartered, but after a painful illness he succumbed to the disease, November 17th, 1861.  The ladies of the house contributed a very pretty wreath of flowers, and the regimental colors, furled with crape, were hung at the window of the room where he lay.  He was buried with military honors on the banks of the Potomac river, between two hostile armies—the friends and foes of the Union.

      "The regiment had no arms at this time, and upon request to Colonel Leonard, commanding the Thirteenth Massachusetts and the Post, to send a firing party, he responded with his whole regiment, which turned out with the Thirty-Ninth to do the last sad offices for the dead lieutenant. This, perhaps, is the only instance during the war where two regiments, at the front, attended the burial of a soldier, no matter of what rank. Chaplain McReading read the impressive burial service of the Masonic Order, to which the deceased belonged, and soon after the hills echoed the salute which Massachusetts fired over the grave of a patriot son of Illinois."

Letter of Edwin Rice

Williamsport, Maryland
December 2nd 1861

    I received your letter which was mailed the 28th, Saturday night.  I should have written to you yesterday but I wrote to Mother and that took about all the spare time I had.

    For a week past we have had a considerable rain.  Last Friday it rained nearly all day and it was quite warm too.  Saturday it was very pleasant overhead and very unpleasant underfoot.  Yesterday it was cool and cloudy and I thought that by this morning we might find some snow on the ground. But it cleared off last night and this morning it is very cool but pleasant.

    What kind of a place have you got?  What sort of a place is Walpole?  Seen anything of “Tab Lass” yet?  When I wrote you last, I thought we might leave here, and hoped we might.  But we are still here and if the different reports are true we shall stay here during the winter.  I heard yesterday that the Q.M. was going to look up some lumber to build barracks to live in this winter. Another report is that four companies are going to Sharpsburg and the other two were going to Hagerstown where the headquarters will be.  The Band will stay where the headquarters are.

    Blanchard who was accidentally shot is much better.  The doctor knows where the ball is, but it is so far in that he cannot get it out the way it went in.  John Burnap of Co K is very badly breached and the doctor says that he cannot live but a short time longer.  He has been so about a week.  Gassett has got a very bad cold, and has been spitting blood this morning. He is feeling pretty blue.

    The Chaplain got back from Boston Saturday afternoon and yesterday instead of preaching a sermon, he gave a short account of his adventures in Boston.  John Brown has just come in and says he heard the Chaplain say that we should know by Wednesday where we shall stay this winter. He thinks it will be about a mile from here in or near a large wood lot, in huts.  It takes three days for letters to come here and I suppose about the same to go to Mass.  I haven’t written Uncle Edwin for some time.  I don’t like to write letters unless I get answers to them.  Haven’t had one from him since September 22nd.

    The Illinois 39th buried another of their men last Friday afternoon.  This is the third one that has died since they have been here.

    It is so cold here today that my feet have got cold whilst sitting in the tent with a fire in it all the time.

    Had a letter from Wm. Piper Saturday night. He wrote that Willis was having a good time.  He says his patriotism is not up to the sticking point this cold weather.

    I don’t know as I can think of anything more to write about.  It will not take much colder weather to put a stop to our playing outdoors.  There is always a little water in the valves of our horns and one of these days they will be freezing up.  One morning last week, 2 or 3 horns did freeze up.

Good Bye,
Edwin Rice

Death of John S. Burnap, Company K

      There were two deaths in the 13th Mass camp.  John S. Burnap, age 21 died Dec. 10th, and George C. Haraden, age 18, died December 22; both of Company K.  On the home-front, the townspeople continued to worry and provide for the comfort of the boys away from home.

Westboro Transcript
December 14, 1861

Company K, has at length been visited by death. John S. Burnap died at the Camp Hospital, Williamsport, on Tuesday, 10th inst., at 5 o’clock A.M., after a painful illness of nearly a fortnight.  His father was with him at the time of his death, having left home the previous Thursday in response to a summons by telegraph.  Deceased was the elder son of Albert J. Burnap, a well known citizen of this place, and was twenty one years and four months of age.

He was entitled by reason of threatened physical disability, to be honorably excused from military service; but ignoring his privilege he promptly responded to the government’s call for aid, and marched to the field with as patriotic impulses, as high hopes and as firm a purpose as those which animated his comrades.  The spirit was indeed willing, - but the flesh was weak.  After a brief but faithful service of four months the young soldier sank under the hardships and exposure of the Camp, and died a martyr to the sacred cause.

At the time of writing the body had not arrived in town.

Among the goodies lately sent out to Co. K, was a large cheese donated by Mr. And Mrs. Emory Bowman.  So pleased were the boys with the gift that they passed a special vote of thanks to Uncle Emory and his wife.  Two cheeses sent out by Dea. Lyman Belknap were also handsomely acknowledged.  People may rest  assured that such kindness is not thrown away.

(digital transcription by Brad Forbush).

Letter of Edwin Rice; December 15th

13th Mass Band

This is the only known image of the 13th Mass Band in service, taken at Hagerstown, Maryland, December 11th 1861, by photographer E. M. Recher, at his Hagerstown Public Square studio.  Bandleader 'Tom" Richardson, age 26, is standing to the left. Next to him is Edward Bond. Edwin Rice, age 22, stands behind Bond, 3rd from left.  Stephen A. Howe, age 20 is next, then  Silas Ball, age 24, behind him.  Francis Knapp, (or Frank), age 25,  the founder of the band, is standing in the center of the photograph.  Charles F. Witherbee, age 21, is tucked behind Knapp in the back.  Charles H. Williams, age 32, is the tall man with the full beard. Charles was married to Sophia Forbush of Westboro, who was my Great-Great-Grandfather William Henry Forbush's little sister.  The two men were brother-in-laws serving in the same regiment.  Next is Thomas Lane, age 47,  behind Williams.  Foster W. Gassett, age 28, next to Williams, James B. Fuller, age 20, and Austin B. Lawrence, age 32, on the end with the bass drum.  In the front row are, William R. Witherbee, age 21, (brother of Charles) William G. Howe, age 23, James M. Holt, age 24, John Brown, age 30, and Frank W. Loring, age 28.

Other band members listed in the roster but not pictured here were,  Edward P. Richardson, age 24;  John Viles, (arrangement), age 44; and, Frank O. Ward, age 20.  This photograph has been enhanced in Photoshop by webmaster Brad Forbush.  The original is very washed out.  It comes from the booklet "Civil War Letters of Edwin Rice" Edited by Ted Perry; 1975.  The key to the names is referenced from an anotated copy of this image at the Army Heritage Education Center, (AHEC) in Carlisle, PA.  There were still some discrepencies in the identification.  I have alternate images of 5 of the bandmembers, as well as a positive id for Francis Knapp, who was mis-labeled, which helped me to sort out the problems.

Williamsport, Maryland
December 15th 1861

    I received your letter Monday night and should have answered sooner if I had anything in particular to write about.  The general complaint here seems to be “nothing to write about”, though I suppose that those who belong to the companies find more to write about than we who belong to the Band.

    It is thought in camp now that there is a larger force of the rebels from dam No. 4 to dam No. 5 than there has been since we have been here.  Wednesday, Co’s I and K were ordered down to dam No. 4 but before they had got down there they were ordered back.  A capt. and 9 men of an Indiana company who are stationed there crossed the river and were taken by some rebel cavalry who were concealed in the woods.  An attack was expected and they sent up for reinforcements.  About 2 o’clock yesterday morning Co’s D and K were ordered up to dam No. 5.  They came back last night without seeing anything or anybody on the other side of the river.  We expect to hear soon of battle between Gen. Kelly and the rebels near Martinsburg.  The 39th Illinois have at last got their arms and equipment and I have heard that they were going to join Gen. Kelly’s forces.

    Burnap of Co K died last Tuesday morning.  The Chaplain preached a funeral sermon Tuesday afternoon down town.  Co K with the band attended it.  The Chaplain made a few very good remarks.  We played the Vesper Hymn, Russian Hymn, Dead March, a dirge Come ye Disconsolate and Peace Troubled Soul.  His father was here and took the body to Massachusetts on Wednesday.

    Wednesday the band went to Hagerstown to have a photograph taken.  The artist could not take a photograph outdoors, and so we cuddled up into a heap in his room and he took us the best he could which is not saying a great deal for him.  We got them last night.  I have one which I am going to send home and am going to get another one and send to you.

    Kennedy {Kennay} who was shot a week ago today at dam No. 5 is getting along pretty well considering his wounds.  He was wounded in his thigh, hip, and calf.  I heard the doctor say that Blanchard was getting along very well, and would get well.

    I bought a Harpers for December yesterday and as soon as I finish this I am going to enjoy myself for a time reading it.  The time during the day passes away pretty slow but the weeks pass away so fast that it does not seem as though there were more than 4 days in a week.  I am expecting another box from home with a few things in it.

Sergeant William Pfaff    The boy that Tom had did not like it very well so he left. He is with Seargent Paff, the boss teamster.  Paff has a brother here who is going home in a few days.  The boy (Jim Brown) told me this morning that he was going with him.  He says he will have to go to Greencastle in Pennsylvania before he can get onto the cars, as he will not be allowed to take the cars in Hagerstown.  He is, I should judge, about 12 or 14 years old.  His masters’ name is or was Bill Poole and lives in Poolesville.  He says Mr. Paff is going to send him to school after he gets to Boston where Mr. Paff belongs.  If he only had some education he would make a pretty smart boy. (Sgt. William Pfaff, pictured right).

    I don’t think of anything to write about now. Oh yes, we had a very good time at Hagerstown.  We were there nearly all day.  We took our horns with us and played a number of pieces which seemed to take very well.  The best piece we have got, we got of the Illinois band.  It is “Then You’ll Remember Me” from the opera of the Bohemian Girl.  It is not very hard but is the best tune I ever heard a band play.  It is a serenade.  

The Illinois band is not a very good one.

Yours &c
Edwin Rice

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Oliver H. Walker

Head Quarters 13th Regt. Rifles, Mass. Vol.

        Camp Jackson
            Williamsport, Md  Dec. 2nd/61 (?)

                Dear Father and Mother

     I put a little note for you in a package that I have sent to Julia to day but I have thought it also better to write you by mail, because a note is a poor return for your kind letter that was most gladly received though long time in coming.  I should have answered it before I know, but very many reasons have I to allege for the why and wherefore of my not writing. I did receive that box long ago. It came to me when we were in Camp at Monocacy and I do not know how I came to be so stupid as not to acknowledge its receipt.  It was most welcome and the cake was pronounced excellent by all hands.  I also believe that I have forgotten to thank Edward for the Balsom and slippery elm that he so kindly sent to me.  He wrote to me some time since saying that he was trying to get an appointment in the Navy, and I was much pleased to receive a letter from him a few days ago, stating that He is going as Surgeon’s Mate in the U.S. Ship Huron. I am very glad for him and feel that he is well placed.  I think it the duty of every capable young man who desires to serve his country in her hour of trial, to place himself in as good a position as possible, and I am truly glad that Ned is not going in a humble capacity.

     You tell me that Martha wondered that I did not write to her. I have been obliged to neglect her as well as others of late, but she has heard from me since you wrote me, and I must be more prompt to you all in future. Until I received your letter I was not aware of the arrival in New England of Uncle and aunt Hilton. I am very much relieved to hear that this is so. I have heard all sorts of stories; that Uncle Oliver and Henry Wirren? went in the rebel army; that Uncle was killed at Bull Run, and a great deal more of the same; now if the rest? can only get away as safely how nice it will be.  Julia wrote me that she has seen Aunt Ellen and was much pleased with her; she said she thought her very pleasant and chatty.  I fancy she must be as chatty as ever.  I wish with you that I could see your dear little birds, I do not know when I shall come to take mine away.  I do certainly think that little Cherry has done very well, she is a fine little Mother.  You ask when I heard from Lizzie Ball.  I wrote to her some time since, but have not heard a word from her in reply, most probably one of the letters miscarried.  I was thinking a few days ago of the same subject that you mention, the time several years ago when you were a bride.  It does not seem to be so long ago, I can not realize that so long a time has passed, and I seem to be a great deal younger than I am when I think how near??? and yet how far away the happy days of child hood are.

     Father asks me if I do not need my flannels.  I am beginning to need them, now that winter is on us.  And if you please you may send them to me as soon after you receive this as you can do so conveniently.  My two under shirts are all that I need, if you will please put them in a box they will come to me safely. Julia is to send me some little articles and I have asked her to send them with the flannels, so you can make a little package together.  Please direct to “Oliver H. Walker Co. C. Capt. Jackson, 13th Regt Mass. Vols.  Williamsport Md. via Hagerstown” Adams & Co’s Express.  I will pay the expense.  Please send as soon as convenient.  And write me a good long letter and send in the box.  When did you hear from Grandpa and Grandma.  Please let me know.  Do take good care of your health both of you.  My regards to Joseph and to all friends and with much love

  I am your son Oliver

      In mid-December, 1861, Oliver H. Walker obtained a commission in the 24th Massachusetts Volunteers and left the 13th Regiment.  He wrote home on December 10th, "I have received an appointment in the 24th Regiment as Orderly Sergeant, and leave for Annapolis tonight to join my new company."  Then, from the 24th Regt. on December 29th; Camp Foster, Maryland: 

"The Regiment is going South in Gen. Burnside's Expedition... my place is really the one involving more labor than and quite as much responsibility as, any other in the company; and it takes some little time to fit myself perfectly in the position so that everything will work smoothly.  I am gald to say however that my experience as a private in the 13th Regt. has proved beneficial to me...I like my company very much, the men are smart and willing, mostly young men, many from the country and are just the stuff for which to make good soldiers.  My Officers are splendid young men and are just such men as I should select to be over officer in my position is hardly watched and severely tried and this knowledge if none other would keep me humble or at least free from anoyance... 

     "We are destined to make a heavy stroke (as I believe) with this division and our Regiment will have an honorable past, perhaps one of much danger, and some of the young and brave who hold commissions here can hardly fail to fall in the struggle, and sad hearts will be in many proud homes in Boston; those who fight in the ranks have dear ones at home also, and if any of us fall, there will be weeping for us also..."  

     Burnsides expedition to Roanoak Island was a success.  Oliver followed the successful fortunes of Union campaigns in North Carolina, South Carolina and finally St. Augustine, Florida through 1863, when Lieutenant Walker of the 24th Mass, was mortally wounded in action, December 30th of that year.  

Twelve of his letters are in the Pierce Civil War Collection, Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas.

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Stonewall Attacks Dam No. 5.

Lieutenant Colonel N. Walter BatchelderCol. Leonard's vigilance continued.  From the Regimental history the following pickets are listed:

Dec. 14.  Companies D and K sent to Dam No. 5, but returned the same night.

Dec. 17.  Company I sent on picket (to Four Locks)

     On Dec. 17 Confederates showed up again at Dam No. 5.  This time Stonewall Jackson was leading them in person.  For several days he tried to throw the Union troops off guard, while dam-wreckers worked away at destroying the structure.

     With Colonel Leonard acting Brigadier, Lieutenant-Colonel N. Walter Batchelder was in command of the regiment in camp.  During  Stonewall Jackson's second attempt to destroy Dam No. 5, of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, (Dec.17-21) he sent a diversionary force to Falling Waters, in an attempt to draw away federal troops from his true object.   In response,  Lt.-Col. Batchelder was dispatched to Falling Waters.  His report to Col. Leonard describes what happened.  (Photo of Lt.-Col. Batchelder).

Report of Lieutenant Colonel N. Walter Batchelder, commanding regiment.

"GLC03393.31  N.W. Batchelder to Colonel Leonard, 21 December 1861.  (The Gilder Lehrman Collection. Not to be reproduced without written permission.)"

Head Quarters 13th Regt. Mass Vols
Camp Jackson near Williamsport, Md.
December 21, 1861.

It is with pleasure that I have to report to you the result of the late skirmish with the enemy, near Falling Waters.

In obedience to orders received from you on the night of the 18th inst, I marched my command, consisting of Cos. C, D, & G of this regiment, with a section of Capt. Best’s battery under command of Lieut. Crosby, in the direction of Falling Waters.  Arriving on the main road, Co C was deployed as skirmishers on both sides of the road, and advanced very cautiously, expecting every moment to meet the skirmishers of the enemy.  Companies G & D, with the artillery in front, followed on the road, in the rear of Co C.  I advanced in this way until we arrived at the road leading to Falling Waters.  Co G was then ordered to deploy on the Downesville road and Co C on the road to the right leading to Falling Waters.  Co D acted as a reserve. One gun was planted in the main road sweeping the Downesville road and the other was planted in a field to the left of the main road, so as to command the road leading to Falling Waters.

We remained in this position until near morning when Co D was sent to Falling Waters, to reinforce Co K.  At this time, considerable firing was heard from the direction of Co K’s pickets on the river, and heavy firing from Dam No 5.  The enemy appeared to be in considerable force, but made no attempt to cross the river.  The section of artillery before mentioned, was then ordered to Falling Waters, where they opened fire on the enemy, but with little effect.  The enemy replied with their guns, and finding ours of little or no use, owing to their short range, they were ordered to retire out of range of the enemy’s fire. We remained in this position during Wednesday and until Thursday P.M. when we were reinforced by a Parrott gun from Lieut Ricketts command, which was immediately sent down to the river.  Several shots were fired at a large barn (which appeared to be a rendezvous for the cavalry of the enemy) one or two of which took effect.  The gun was then sent to Falling Waters, and having taken up a good position, immediately opened fire on the enemy, who were seen in large numbers behind some hay stacks.  They consisted of Infantry and cavalry; several well directed shots, caused them to dispurse in every direction.  Company G. Capt Fiske, was ordered in from the Downesville road at 7 o’clock P.M. on Thursday and ordered to picket the river, connecting with the line of pickets opposite Falling Waters.

Company K was then ordered in and sent to camp.  Everything remained quiet during Thursday night.

Friday morning at 10 A.M. Co D returned to Camp, together with the three guns.  In the afternoon, the enemy having entirely disappeared, the remaining Companies of my command, C & G, took up the line of march for the camp, where they arrived at 8 o’clock P.M.

I am happy to state that there were no casualties on our side, while the loss of the enemy must have been considerable.
 N.W. Batchelder Lt-Conl 
                                      To Col S. H. Leonard
                                                      Com Post.

Letter of Charles B. Fox, Company K.

December 22 Jackson departed and things remained relatively quiet for the next two weeks.   Second Lieutenant Charles B. Fox, Company K, writes to his father and describes the situation in camp.

Charles Barnard Fox to Rev. Thomas Bayley Fox, letterbook, 23 December 1861, Fox Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society; used with permission.

Camp Jackson Md. Dec. 23/61.

I shall try to remit about $50- per month if possible.  Circumstances are rather against me for saving, as Capt. Hovey and Lieut. Bacon wish to live rather higher than I care about doing, and besides, as they both have private servants, a division of expenses brings some what more to my share than belongs there – However, I don’t complain for it might be worse by far.  Dr. Heard has returned to his post, rather soon for his own good I fear, but much to my satisfaction for Dr. Whitney, by reason of much drinking, is at times entirely unfit for his position and duties. And the times come quite often I fear. If our officers are not careful the Regt. will lose more men from disease than in the field.  Some exposure cannot be helped, but unnecessary evils should be avoided.  Our guard quarters for the last month have been uncomfortable in the extreme, and yet no effort has been made to improve them.  The officers do not suffer much, it is the enlisted men. The crying evil in our regiment, in my opinion is, to use a common phrase, “Muchness of Whiskey” – But I did not commence this to fill it with grumblings, and will hold up, though sometimes I feel awfully like grumbling.  If this war is to continue, a more thorough system must be observed in our volunteer regiments – Nothing but strict observance of the regulations will ever make them serviceable as they should be. Now an officer who tries to do his duty, only incurs the ill will of men favored and flattered by those who wish popularity. I think Senator Wilson’s bill, abolishing the differences between Volunteers and Regulars, will if a good one in its conditions, pass.  From the movements of the rebels in this neighborhood, I think the intention is to decoy us over the river and then meet us with a much superior force. I don’t think they will succeed – Col. Leonard is not I think, to be entrapped that way. They annoy us very much however, as the distance from Dam No. 5. to Falling Waters, owing to the bend of the river, is about 15 miles on our side of the Potomac and only about 4 on theirs.  The consequence is that we have occasionally to move around rather lively.  I do not believe Jackson’s force opposite is over 9000 – and he will hardly attempt crossing as yet, with that.  If he does he ought to be very severely whipped. Their advantages for re-inforcing are superior to ours however, and Gen. Banks needs to keep his eyes open.  They have an especial dislike to the 13th Mass. as they say “ they can go nowhere, from Harper’s Ferry to Hancock, without some of them turning up within 24 hours with those damned rifles.”  Rather profane but very true, for we have bothered them with the long range of our guns exceedingly.

Report of Colonel Leonard to Major-General Banks.

On Dec. 24th Col. Leonard was able to report to General N.P. Banks "I have the honor to report everthing quiet all along my line."  On the 30th he sent the following report:

(Banks Papers; Library of Congress).

                           Head Quarters
                                        Williamsport Md
                                Dec. 30, 1861.

Major Gen’l Banks
    Com’g Div’n U.S.A.

                Your communication came duly to hand having received them last evening on my return from Hancock, having been there in Company with Capt. Shriber A.D.C.  I have given him all the information in regard to the troops, positions and regiments that I was possessed of.  Mr. Spates has not called upon me neither has he commenced operations yet, and I cannot ascertain what his intentions are. The Arms received for Lamon’s Brigade, were two thousand of the Springfield rifled Muskets.  One Thousand were delivered to the 39th Illinois Vols.  And I have about six hundred on hand. Two Thousand French Rifles came also and they have been sent to Hancock by  Gen’l Kelley’s order.  They are I believe for two Pennsylvania Regiments.  The Rebels have again appeared at Dam No. 5. and at Falling Waters. The force I have not yet learned but it is evidently smaller than before.  I think their intentions are to destroy the rail road from Bask Creek, as they are running cars to that point. I have sent a Parrott Gun to try and stop them. I am momentarily expecting an attack from them, and feel fully able to take are of them. I will Keep you fully advised as to their movements.

    I send you two more applications for furloughs.
    I have the honor to be
            Yours Very Resp’y

                S. H. Leonard
                Col. Com’g Post.

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Letter of Edwin Rice; Christmas Eve

Williamsport, Maryland
Eve of December 24th 1861

    I received my box and a letter from Mother last night. The box was nearly two weeks in coming.  She did not write much.

    The weather since Saturday has been pretty cool.  Yesterday it rained, hailed, and snowed, and froze.  It was a disagreeable day outside but was comfortable in the tents.  Yesterday morning the trees were all iced over and the limbs of the trees would keep breaking off and the ice would rattle down on the tents.  Last night it cleared up a little and the wind blew very strong during the night.  We expected it would blow the tents down but it did not. It is bad weather for the horses.

    There is not much doubt now but that we shall quarter in this vicinity during the winter.  The Quartermaster has received orders to get the lumber to build barracks with.  It is reported that this regiment has done more picket guard duty than any other regiment in Bank’s division.

    There has another death occurred in Co K.  George [Harraden] died in the hospital yesterday morning of the dropsy.  He had been sick about two weeks and it was thought that he was getting better as he sat up nearly all day on Sunday. He died quite suddenly.  Funeral services are to be held this afternoon.  His body is to be sent to Westboro.

    The rebels are pretty quiet around here now, though they are still at Falling Waters and dam 4.  Co F is at dam 5 and Falling Water and Co G is at dam 4.  We got our winter regulation blankets.  They are between 5 to 6 feet wide and 8 to 9 feet long.  They are first rate blankets.  Mother sent me some sausages, butter, a small loaf of bread, a sponge cake, a mince pie and a lot of apples, some shirts and drawers.

    I received a letter from Henry last Saturday. He did not write much but from what he did write I should think that soldiering with him was not what it was before he left the fort.  I suppose he feels about the same as we did when we first got to Sharpsburg.

    He will feel better after he gets settled down the same as we have.  If we can’t get what we want, we take what we can get, and thank our Stars that it is not worse.

    I haven’t read that piece by Mr. Bird, but shall this evening. I have just received the paper which you sent me.  Uncle Edwin sent me a Boston Journal of the 16th which I got this morning.

    The troops that are around Washington, I don’t think have the luxuries that we do, such as milk, eggs, chickens etc. I don’t mean to say that I have all those things for I don’t.

    Yesterday I did a little tailoring. I put two pockets in my overcoat.  Had better luck than I expected and flatter myself that they are done pretty well. 

    As tomorrow is Christmas and to be in season, I shall wish you a Merry Christmas.

Edwin Rice

Returns for December

(Letter transcriptions taken from the now defunct web- site "Letters of the Civil War").

Roxbury City Gazette

January 16, 1862.

    Returns from the 13th regiment, for the month of December, have been recieved at the State House.  Two men have died of disease - John S. Burnap and Geo. C. Haraden, of Co. K, at Williamsport.  Charles F. Mose, 2d Lieutenant, is Assistant Commissary at Hagerstown.  Capt. Rob't. C. Schriber is Acting Aid-de-Camp to Gen. Banks.  Charles H. Hovey promoted to be Captain of Co. K.  Col. Leonard commands a brigade.  Lieut.-Col. Batchelder is in commmand of the regiment.  Major Gould has reported to the Commissary General at Washington.

     The Mass. 13th are feared by the rebels, as will be seen by the following conversation, which took place between the rebels on one side of the Potomac River, and Co. C, [13th] on the other: - "What regiment is guarding that place?'  "Mass. 13th.'  'Where in time aint the Mass. 13th?  We have travelled up and down this river for fifty miles, and everywhere we find the Massachusetts 13th, and every man appears to carry a small cannon on his back.'

(digital transcription by James Burton).

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To read a very thorough article about Jackson's attempt to destroy Dam No. 5, follow the link from the 1861 page on this website.

Page Updated March 10, 2014

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