THE IRON HEARTED REGIMENT
BATTLE OF MARYLAND HEIGHTS.
On Saturday, September 13th, a severe engagement was fought on Maryland Heights,
in which the three companies of the 115th took a prominent part, and did severe
execution. They occupied some slight breast-works, and the rebels made three
distinct charges to drive them out, and were three times gallantly repulsed.
The fight now became brisk, and the rattle of musketry was incessant.
The remainder of the 115th with other troops were now ordered to the heights
as reinforcements, and the rebels were repulsed at every point.
THE EVACUATION OF THE HEIGHTS.
This took place on the eve of success. The Union troops could have held the
place against almost any force that could be brought against in, but were ordered
away, and the fate of the army sealed.
As the Union troops were marching down the steep sides of the mountain and
the flashing of bayonets lit up the scene, I was lying on Bolivar Heights suffering
from the effects of poison eaten in rebel cake.
Just then, General Miles and staff rode up, and were looking very attentively
toward the scene of conflict. Suddenly, the General started as though thunderstruck,
and exclaimed: "They are all abandoning the heights!" and he dashed
down the hill like a madman, to learn the cause.
THE LOSS OF THE 115TH was not large. Captain William Smith, of Company K,
was severely wounded through the leg, and subsequently had to be left in the
hands of the enemy.
Sergeant Stephen Morris, of Company A, was hurt in the scalp; and when he
fell blinded with blood he told the boys to "Give it to them." Several
other were more or less injured.
THE 126TH NEW YORK.
This regiment was engaged and was cut up considerably. The colonel was shot
through the mouth and was borne from the field covered with blood. A large number
of severely wounded were carried four miles from the battlefield, by Company
A of our regiment.
fought like a tiger. He seized a gun, and standing upon the top of the breastworks
blazed away at the rebels. He was like a host himself, and his company fought
and repulsed five times their own numbers.
A rebel sharp-shooter took deliberate aim at him seven times, but failed to
bring him down.
A veteran officer rode up, just as the lieutenant's company had received and
returned a severe volley, and said: "Lieutenant, I guess that your company
have smelled powder before."
"No sir," he replied, "my men have never before been under fire."
They fired so deliberately, and took matters so coolly, that the strange officer
thought it impossible that it could be their first fight.
PEACE OR BLOOD--THE STARS AND BARS.
Rebel camp-fires were burning for miles around, and they waved white flags from
all the surrounding hills to make us believe that they were planting batteries
in those localities. Some believed it, and the artillery shelled the flags furiously,
while the cunning rebels were leisurely building their batteries in places where
our missiles did not reach. At one time, they flung out red and white flags,
which they afterwards informed us meant "peace or blood."
During the day, a column of rebels marched up the road from Charlestown with
the "stars and bars" flying at their head.
Rigsby's battery of flying artillery thundered down the road and opened on
them at short range, when the "stars and bars" disappeared in the
At night, all firing ceased, and the stillness of death reigned along the
lines until morning.
BATTLE OF HARPER'S FERRY.
On Friday, September 14th, the battle of Harper's Ferry began. At 8 o'clock
A.M., all of our artillery opened on the rebels, and at 2 o'clock P.M., fourteen
or their batteries replied with compound interest.
At first, their missiles of death, fell far short of our camp; but each succeeding
shell came nearer and nearer, until the earth was plowed up at our feet, and
our tents torn to tatters.
A shell struck among a group of brave, true, and noble men, and they lay on
the cold ground, bleeding and mangled corpses. The purple tide of life flowed
from their hearts, and the tints of their own life's blood crimsoned each pale
FORMING LINE OF BATTLE.
At 4 o'clock P.M., we received orders to fall in line of battle in the rear
of Bolivar Heights, along the edge of a piece of woods. The regiment was promptly
on the march, and our beautiful flags were unfurled to the breeze. The red,
white, and blue, floated proudly and defiantly above us, while artillery thundered,
and shell after shell exploded around about us, and among the marching column,
yet strange to say, no man was hit. The ground was finally reached, and a single
line of battle formed of all the Union troops, the 115th holding the extreme
A SHOWER OF REBEL SHELLS.
The Union soldiers all lay flat on the ground to avoid the shells which the
rebels were pouring in upon them.
They would get a complete range of our line, and then concentrate the fire of
all the batteries they had on a given point. In that way they made it too hot
for any troops to stand; so we were obliged to change our line very frequently,
to save the men from slaughter.
The infernal screech owls came hissing and singing, then bursting, plowing
great holes in the earth, filling our eyes with dust, and tearing many giant
trees to atoms.
OUR AMMUNITION EXHAUSTED.
All at once the Union artillery ceased firing, and the cry ran along from regiment
to regiment, " the ammunition is all gone." The rebels observing that
something was the matter among the "Yankees," redoubled their fire,
and soon made sad work among our artillery. Several powder magazines were blown
up with a terrible crash, and almost all of the best guns were speedily dismounted.
As soon as possible a detail of tailors were at work, making powder bags of
government shirts and drawers, and what was yet serviceable of our artillery,
fought until the last.
THE REBELS CHARGE A BATTERY. TERRIBLE SLAUGHTER AMONG THE FOE.
Hark! what means that ringing cheer on the left? It is the Union boys, for we
know their hearty yell.
The rebels made a desperate bayonet charge on Rigsby's Indiana battery at
dark, and were sent howling back to the woods.
The gallant captain saw them stealing up, and quickly ordered the guns to
be double shotted with grape and canister. He then mounted one of the pieces,
and, with swinging sword cautioned his men not to fire until the whites of the
rebel's eyes could be seen.
The command to fire was given and executed. The awful storm of iron swept
like a dreadful tornado through the enemy's ranks. When the smoke of battle
lifted, swaths of rebel dead and wounded lay on the ground; while their comrades
uninjured, were hurrying from the field of carnage.
Our artillery had thundered the knell of death into the ears of scores of
poor deluded rebels, and wrecked the forms and happiness of many more forever.
The Union forces lost scarcely a man.
A NIGHT ATTACK.
All night the Union army lay on their arms, expecting each moment to engage
in the shock of battle. The night was cold and damp, and each man shivered beneath
his thin blanket.
At 10 o'clock, General Arthur's brigade of rebel Tennessee troops advanced
in front of the 115th and 111th New York, with the hope of surprising them,
and forcing the Union lines.
The rebel general commanded his troops to move forward in a loud tone of voice,
which, fortunately for us, was overheard by an officer, who immediately communicated
the fact to the proper persons. The rebel column was advancing through the thick
darkness with confidence, when suddenly, the 111th New York and our left company
opened fire, and immediately afterward the whole line was one stream of fire
and poured forth a storm of bullets.
The result was, that the enemy were repulsed so severely that they were glad
to retreat, and did not care to renew the assault. It was with the greatest
difficulty that the officers prevailed upon the men to cease firing after the
rebels had disappeared, for they were bent upon having a fight.
SIGEL IS COMING!
At sunrise, Monday morning, September 15th, the rebel batteries opened upon
us with redoubled fury. Very early, we heard the heavy booming of our guns at
South Mountain, and it told us that the army of the Potomac was engaged with
The joyful news soon reached us, that Sigel with 20,000 men was on the way
to reinforce us. The distant thunder of cannon sounded nearer and nearer, the
heavy volleys of musketry rolled sharper and sharper, until at last thousands
caught up the cry of hope, "Sigel is coming! Sigel is coming!" But
Sigel was not coming, and all hope of victory soon fled.
THE SITUATION A GLOOMY ONE.
Our guns were now all silenced. Rebel batteries frowned from every hill, five
times our own numbers held every avenue of escape, and rebel bayonets confronted
us on every side. Forage for horses could not be had, and rations for the men
were nearly all used up.
The Union generalship was so bad that the enemy were allowed to occupy every
strong position, and to hold every vital point. Maryland Heights, the key to
Harper's Ferry was thrown open, and Loudon Heights abandoned without a fight.
The Union troops were on low ground, while the rebels held all the commanding
positions. Treason or cowardice in high places had already placed us at the
mercy of the foe, and it was now almost madness to resist.
General Stonewall Jackson himself could not have arranged matters more favorably
for the rebels than our own generals did. The men were willing and eager to
fight, but were powerless to do good.
KEEP YOUR POWDER DRY.
Early in the morning, General D'Utassy rode along our line, encouraging the
men to get ready for action, and ordered the regiment to fix bayonets. He spoke
hopefully as he rode along from company to company, and cheer after cheer went
up from the ranks. "Keep up coot courage, and keep your powder dry, mine
fine fellows," said he, and then disappeared from view.
THE UNION ARMY SURRENDERED.
The rebels demanded the surrender of Harper's Ferry and the Union army; and
General Miles, the Benedict Arnold of modern days, complied with the demand
without hesitation. General D'Utassy was soon observed approaching again, but
not with smiles playing on his lips as before.
A dark cloud overshadowed his face, and he rode up to Colonel Sammons with
streaming eyes, and said: "General Miles has surrendered de place, and
you will blease march your regiment on de color line, and stack arms."
AN AFFECTING SCENE.
The cruel news spread with lightning speed throughout the whole army, and immediately
one universal cry of indignation went up to heaven. It was like a dagger to
every heart. Strong men wept like children, and thousands were in tears. A dark
cloud of sorrow hung over all hearts, while tears and threats of vengeance against
the traitor who sold us were mingled freely together.
The 115th regiment was deeply moved, and for several moments after the startling
tidings came, no man spake.
Lieutenant Ferguson dashed his sword to atoms against a stone, declaring that
no rebels could ever pollute his blade with their touch.
Cavalrymen smashed their sabres systematically, infantrymen broke their guns
over trees and stones and the artillerymen begged on their knees for the privilege
of spiking their pieces.
Slowly and sadly the 115th marched back to the color line, and stacked arms.
Although we were prisoners of war, and the stars and bars and the white flag
floated side by side in our front, it made no difference with, the rebels, for
they continued shelling us as hard as before.
The regiment stood in solid rank at parade rest, and for nearly an hour they
received the murderous and cowardly fire of the rebels, without flinching.
Further shedding of blood was considered wicked and criminal; so all of the
officers did all in their power to put a stop to murderous fire of the unprincipled
foe. No one cared to be shot after he was a prisoner of war.
Aaron Dillingham, of Company H, took off his white shire and waved it with
the hope of thus saving some precious lives.
Chaplain Clemens mounted a work, and proceeded to display a white flag, but
the enemy sent a shell after him for his pains, which must have cut him in two,
did he not jump down. Finally, a prominent rebel general who was shocked at
the inhumanity of the thing, succeeded in putting a stop to the fire; but not
however, until one of our brave boys had laid down his life.
DEATH OF GENERAL MILES.
Speedy vengeance fell upon the head or our traitor commander. General Miles,
it is said, mounted a cannon, and proceeded to wave a white flag, as a token
of submission, when a shower of shells and bullets fell around him. A piece
of shell tore a limb from his body, and the wretched man dropped to the ground
bathed in his own life's blood. His hair was snowy white, and the hot crimson
tide covered his pale face, giving him a ghastly look. A staff officer wrapped
the dying general in a common soldier's blanket and bore him to the valley,
where his candle of life went out with the setting of the sun.
The rebels of course took possession of nearly everything. They made haste to
cart away our heavy guns, which I have no doubt they used against our brave
men on some other field. The lousy and ragged troops of the Confederacy were
clothed and shod at Uncle Sam's expense, and our stores satisfied their cravings
of hunger. They triumphantly took possession of 20 stand of colors, and 12,000
stand of arms, and looked upon an army of 12,000 men, who were treacherously
sold into their hands.
REBEL HORSE THIEVES.
After the surrender, it seemed as though the whole rebel army had suddenly turned
into a great band of horse thieves.
They swarmed in every camp, and speedily swept away all horses. Every rebel
strove to be mounted.
An amusing scene occurred in front of the headquarters occupied by Colonel
Sammons. The Colonel had a beautiful coal black horse standing in front of the
tent, when a party of mounted rebels rode up, and proceeded to appropriate it
to their own use.
The Colonel soon saw what was going on, and stepping in front of the thieves,
suddenly drew a revolver and cocked it. He then boldly informed them that he
would put a bullet through the first man who attempted to carry of his horse.
The rebels looked on in wonder and admiration at the pluck displayed, and seeing
the Colonel was in dead earnest, they quickly wheeled their houses and rode
away, amid shouts from blue coats and gray backs alike.
The same night they entered the stable and stole the horse. A fine black,
owned by Lieutenant Colonel Batchelor was taken at the same time. In fact, all
kinds of horse flesh were in great demand among the chivalry, and even old mules
were not passed by.
THE TERMS OF CAPITULATION
were as follows: The troops to be paroled and not to take up arms against the
Confederate States until exchanged. All the officers' side arms and private
property to be retained by the owners; the men to be allowed knapsacks, haversacks,
canteens, and all private property.
All muskets to be stacked, and all war materials to be turned over.
The rebel officers generally respected private property, but the men plundered
everything. They demanded revolvers and knives from our men, who, instead of
complying, deliberately broke them in pieces before their eyes, informing them
at the same time that they would rather put a bullet through them. They coaxed
us tohome and let them alone, then they promised not to molest us; but the boys
replied: "We will be back again to see you in a couple of weeks."
THE DEAR OLD FLAG PRESERVED.
The surrender of all the Union flags was expected, but brave boys of the 115th
were determined to save their banners freedom and glory from the touch of traitors.
They were quickly torn from the staffs, and two members of the regiment wound
the folds around their bodies under their clothing.
Soon, a couple of rebel officers bearing at least twenty flags taken from
various regiments, came along and demanded the flags of the 115th. Two empty
flag-staffs with oilcloth covers tied down were presented to them, and the cheat
was not found out, at that time.
The flags were thus saved, smuggled through the rebel lines, and carried by
the regiment on a score of battle fields, until riddled with bullets like a
THE FIRST MAN KILLED IN THE REGIMENT.
The first man killed in the regiment was John Van Brocklin. He was struck in
the side by a piece of shell, which made a frightful wound, and he died soon
SLEEPING WITH REBELS.
We remained one night with the rebels, and they made very good bedfellows.
A detail of grey backs came up to guard the arms stacked on the color line.
As soon as posted the sentinels stuck their muskets in the ground, and left
them (the muskets) to do duty, while they proceeded to plunder Union soldiers.
The chivalry were very ragged and lousy, while a large majority of them had
no shoes. Being almost famished, the rebel officers and men ate hardtack and
sugar as though they were the greatest luxuries of life.
On Tuesday morning, September 16th, the following troops were paroled, and marched
from Harper's Ferry, viz:
12th New York Militia, 39th New York Volunteers, 111th New York Volunteers,
115th New York Volunteers, 125th New York Volunteers, 126th New York Volunteers,
32d OhioVolunteers, 65th Ohio Volunteers, 82d Illinois Volunteers, 9th Vermont
Volunteers, Rigsby's Indiana Battery, Phillips New York Battery, Independent
New York Battery.
A HUNDRED MILE MARCH
At 9 o'clock on the morning of September 16th, the 115th moved from Harper's
Ferry, and make a hard and rapid march of 25 miles during the day, camping at
night in a piece of woods three miles from the city of Frederick, Md.
The day was exceedingly warm, the men tired and supplied with but few rations,
so that knapsacks and extra clothing were mostly thrown away.
TRUE TO THE LAST.
At a little place called Sandy Hook, a beautiful and affecting incident occurred,
which shows how much good a true woman can sometimes do.
The men reached there nearly crazy with thirst, and had been wondering in
vain, how and where water could be procured.
The stars and stripes displayed from a window, suddenly attracted our attention
and all quickly forgot the agonies of thirst; for it was an unusual thing to
behold the American flag hung out in those parts. A nearer approach enabled
us to see the flag, supported by a noble-looking lady and her two daughters.
It was refreshing to our hearts, to behold such a sublime exhibition of loyalty
in that region of midnight darkness, during the blackest hour. The ladies declared
their determination to stand by that flag, and would let it wave if Stonewall
Jackson himself came along. As each company approached the flag, heads were
uncovered, and one continued huzza rent the air, until the last of the 12,000
had marched by. The old lady took the last morsel of bread in the house and
gave it to the soldiers as an offering to her bleeding country. The young ladies
went half a mile with two pails each and brought pure cold water, which might
have flowed from a crystal fountain. "God bless you ladies," and "Heaven
protect you," were the words last spoken by the soldiers; and away in the
distance, the resplendent folds of the old flag could still be seen, floating
On September 17th, the regiment marched to Monocacy Junction, a distance of
seven miles and lay in a field where cattle had been slaughtered, until the
SCENES AT FREDERICK CITY.
We reached Frederick City, Md., on the morning of September 17th, 1862. A few
days previous McClellan had driven the rebels out of the city, and fighting
took place in the very streets, much to the terror of a large majority of the
inhabitants, who were loyal. The people told us that the rebels had pulled down
all the Union flags, and in several instances, had tied them to the tails of
cows and horses, and trailed them in the dust through the streets to taunt the
The Confederate officers cleared out all the Union stores and eating saloons
paying their victims in rebel currency, thereby ruining many business men; while
not a dollar's worth of goods was taken from any disloyal person. We found the
city full of life and bustle, and the large store-houses packed full of ragged
rebel prisoners taken at South Mountain, who looked daggers at every blue coat
who chanced to pass by them. We rather pitied them, for they looked wretched
A large majority of the people hailed with undisguised joy the arrival of
Union troops, and even the bitterest rebel did not care to see the southern
army among them again; for they committed all kinds of excesses, while the Union
army was quiet, affording them sure protection, paying for what they received
of them, and were subjected to strict discipline.
I bought a good breakfast of mutton chops, warm biscuit, and coffee, for the
moderate sum of fifty cents; and change being scarce, paid one half of a $1
A few miles out of Frederick, sutlers lined the road, with wagons and stands
full of goods. They charged and received exorbitant prices for everything which
they had for sale, for soldiers had to live regardless of the cost.
Rancid cheese was bought up eagerly at $1 per pound, and the thirsty soldiers
paid a dollar each, or more than two days' wages, for pint bottles of sour beer.
Small sweet cakes sold readily for fifty cents per dozen, and hundreds were
pressing and crowding up to the wagons, all striving to be waited on first.
The troops camped at night near a field of green corn, and ten acres of it
were soon stripped, and sweet-corn hissed and sputtered form a hundred fires.
On September 18th, we made a hard march of twenty miles. Some were sun-struck,
and some died on the road. I saw one poor fellow lying by the side of the road
in a frightful fit; and the surgeon said that he could not recover.
Hundreds and thousands tired out and were left behind; and hundreds more were
crawling along with blistered and bleeding feet. Scarcely any rations were to
be had, and all suffered from hunger. At night it rained very hard, and we camped
in an open field.
At Ellicott's Mills, 1,800 of the sick were packed into freight cars, and
reached Annapolis on Sunday evening, Sept. 21st, at the same time that the regiment
A SOLDIER MURDERED IN THE WOODS.
While on the long and dreary Harper's Ferry march, one morning I concluded,
as by feet were very sore, that I would start of quite early, so as to be up
with the regiment at night. At three o'clock I arose from the ground, tied my
around my shoulders, and moved off at a limping pace in the direction of Annapolis.
I soon came to a dense piece of woods, three miles in length; and as it was
not yet quite light, the place looked lonesome and dismal enough. Upon reaching
the centre, a soldier suddenly appeared before me, and in a solemn tone which
startled me said; "There is a man murdered out here in the woods, come
and see." I at first hesitated about going, thinking perhaps it was a plan
to murder or rob me; but on reflection, I concluded that my escort did not look
like a murderer or robber, and followed him among the thick darkness of the
We came to the bank of a small running brook, and there lay the body of a
young soldier covered with blood. His coat and shirt were thrown open at the
breast, and a deep stab, inflicted by a knife or a dagger, and penetrated the
heart. The blood was slowly oozing out, and his white shirt was deeply crimsoned,
while the ground was drinking up a pool of blood. He had been dead but a short
time, for his body was scarcely cold, and had we known of the terrible struggle
going on, perhaps we were near enough to have prevented it. A white handkerchief
was thrown loosely over the murdered man's face, and upon removing it, we saw
a shadow of great agony resting upon his countenance, which plainly told us
that he had fought and resisted hard with death, but at last died amid much
suffering and agony. A desperate struggle had evidently taken place between
the assassin and his victim, for the wrists of the latter were nearly severed
from his arms, his hands were terribly gashed, and it seemed as though he had
grasped the blade of the assassin's knife with desperation to prevent the fatal
blow, and that the murderer had repeatedly wrenched it away.
Upon making enquires of every one who passed we could only learn that the
handsome young soldier belonged to a Maryland regiment, and that like myself,
had started off early in the morning, so as to be up with the regiment at night.
After that I did not care to march through the woods alone and unarmed.
September 16. -- I paid a silver quarter of a dollar for a poor breakfast, the
same for dinner, and one quarter of a dollar for a little cider.
September 18. -- Could not get anything to eat at any price. Money was of
no more value to purchase food, than grains of sand. The soldiers were ordered
out of nearly every house which they stopped at.
September 19. -- Bought six large peaches for a penny.
September 22. -- -Found 16,000 paroled prisoners at Annapolis. Among the number
was a portion of the Havelock Battery, taken at Malvern Hill. The Harper's Ferry
troops ate a hearty meal for the first time in many days.
Annapolis City is not a pretty town. Although noted in history, there is nothing
grand or imposing in her appearance in 1862. The streets are narrow and dirty.
The building, even on the principal squares, are fast going to decay. The marts
of trade are nearly closed. The once sparkling halls of fashion cease to dazzle
with jewels and shine with beauty, and an air of sadness seems to pervade everything,
as though crying for the vengeance of heaven to descend upon the heads of traitors,
who brought ruin to so many homes.
The military have full possession of the city, and armed bands of soldiers
meet you at every corner; while one person here, and another there, with an
arm or leg off, are seen in every street. The Naval academy, and almost all
of the fine public buildings serve as hospitals for sick and wounded soldiers,
who arrive from the cruelties of rebel dungeons.
The population is made up of various classes. There are a few ladies, who
turn up their noses in a very unladylike manner at the sight of a Union soldier,
and who delight to spit on the American flag.
There are multitudes of negroes of all ages, sizes, colors and conditions,
who are indebted to the war for freedom. You may see a few men who put on airs,
and declare themselves southern born; a sprinkling of mean whites, plenty of
hungry, thieving sutlers, who would sell their country for gold, besides a host
of honest Union soldiers.
HO! FOR BALTIMORE.
On the morning of September 25th, all the Harper's Ferry troops received orders
to proceed to Chicago, Ill. Our brigade broke camp at 8 A.M., and marched to
the dock, where a barge was waiting to convey us to Baltimore.
"My Maryland" was waving in her richest green, blossoming in her
sweetest flowers, and resplendent in all the glories of nature; yet we gladly
bade her adieu.
We traveled in "style." Soldiers generally do. Twenty-five hundred
of us were packed on board of a small Hudson river boat, like herring in a box,
and when one of the officers ventured to remind the captain of the boat that
she was too heavily loaded he laughed, and said: "That is nothing, she
took 3,000 the day before."
In the course of time, with bands playing, flags floating, and men cheering,
we left the capital, plowed through the blue waters of the Chesapeake for two
or three hours, when we caught sight of Baltimore. Spires and monuments looked
down upon the city. A forest of masts clustered around the harbor, and frowning
batteries and heavy guns looked threateningly upon us. The dock was soon reached,
the ropes made fast, and the men soon filed off the boat in anything but military
order. Silently, sadly, and with heavy hearts, we trod the streets of the southern
metropolis. The column moved like a long funeral train, while each heart beat
true to the music of the Union, and we loved the "starry flag."
No wonder that we should mourn; no wonder that we should weep for our country
in her darkest hours, and pray for heaven's richest blessings to descend upon
At last, we reached a large building. A thousand lights flashed from its windows,
and the flag of our country waved proudly from the roof. It was called the "Soldiers'
Rest;" one of the noblest institutions of the city; for there, every regiment
passing through, received a good meal. Our men were very hungry, and partook
of a hearty supper.
We left for the west in thirteen long trains of freight cars, and the magnetic
telegraph flashed the news of our approach to every city and village through
which we were to pass.
On September 26th, we passed through the city of York, and the pretty villages
of Perrysville, Mifflin, and Altoona, Pa. At every station we received a hearty
Never in all our days did we see anything to equal it. It was one continued,
Altoona spread out her flags, and opened wide her doors of hospitality.
New Brighton poured forth her concourse of beauty, and we reached the depot
to receive a storm of kisses, and to hear the thunder of applause.
All through Pennsylvania, day and night, ladies crowded up to the cars with
pails of hot coffee and tea, baskets of cake, pie, chicken, biscuit, apples,
and in fact, everything which the appetite could crave, or the heart desire.
Young ladies and old ladies, young men and old men, took hundreds of the soldiers
captive, and gave them hearty and even splendid meals in their own homes.
The dwellings, stores, and hotels along the road were thrown Mothers took
their last loaf from the oven, daughters carried jars of jelly and nice preserves
from the cellar, and with tearful eyes begged their acceptance. As the cars
moved from each station, the fair sex showered apples, peaches, pears and oranges
among the men like rain.
In the afternoon we passed through two long tunnels, over the Alleghany Mountains,
and struck the coal and iron mines at dark. We reached the city of Pittsburg
about four hundred miles distant from Baltimore, at 4 o'clock on the morning
of the 27th instant.
We breakfasted at the Soldiers' Relief, a magnificent building in the heart
of the city of Pittsburg. We had coffee, crackers, and sausage.
A banner was suspended at our end of the hall bearing these words:
"Pittsburg welcomes her Country's Defenders."
The city boasts of the finest meat markets in the U.S., also the most extensive
We left on the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago R.R., at 9 A.M., on the
THROUGH OHIO, INDIANA AND ILLINOIS.
September 28th was a noisy Sunday for us. At Fort Wayne, Indiana, the whole
population came from the various churches to welcome and feed the soldiers.
Long rows of tables spread with pure white table-cloths, were arranged along
the track, and filled to overflowing with everything good. A committee of two
hundred young ladies had charge of the affair.
Thousands blocked up every avenue leading to the cars, and the greatest excitement
and interest prevailed. Chicago was reached at 9 o'clock in the evening. It
was very dark, and the men were about worn out. As soon as the train stopped,
the conductor ordered every man to leave the cars immediately. As we were strangers
in that part of the world, the majority of us concluded to camp in a field close
by until morning. In an hour or two it began to rain, and by midnight it poured
down in torrents.
We were drenched to the skin, and upon consultation, we resolved to separate
into squads and go in search of shelter. Seven of us started off together, but
made wretched slow progress through the mud and thick darkness.
At last, we saw a light flickering from the window of a small shanty, and
we made for it.
I'LL KILL EVERY MOTHER'S SON OF YE.
The stoop of the shanty was reached, and one of the party knocked loudly at
the door; and in a moment a bolt was pulled back, the door opened, and Bridget
stood before us, while Pat lay drunk upon the floor.
The following amusing conversation then took place while we were soaking in
Soldier . "Mrs., can we stay in your barn over night? We are wet to the
Bridget . "Och! yes, of course ye can, and may the Lord have mercy on
Husband "H-o-o-l-d your tongue, Biddy. By the powers of Saint Patrick,
I'll kill every mother's son of yee's if ye don’t be after gettin' out
o' this, ye murderin' palpeens."
Bridget "Be aisey my darlint, the boys must have some shelter. Soldiers
go in the barn and lie until mornin,' an' meself 'll take care o' Pat."
Husband . "Bad luck to yee's."
Soldier "Good night, Ma'm. We're much obliged to you for your kindness,
but that old reprobate on the floor there needs tanning."
The party went into the barn, but as it leaded badly, and there was no floor
in it, we shivered until morning, and did not close our eyes in sleep.
In the morning all hands wrung out their wet clothes, and warmed themselves
by Biddy's fire. We gave her postage stamps (common currency then) for milk
and bread, and then left, thanking the good old lady for her kindness.
CAMPED IN HORSE STALLS.
Almost all of the regiments were quartered in Camp Douglas. But the 115th, 39th
N.Y. (Garabaldi Guards), and the 9th Vermont, occupied horse stalls, in the
Illinois state fair grounds.
From four to sixteen men were placed in each stall. The camp was named Tyler,"
in honor of our Brigadier, but it ought to have been named "starvation," in honor of Chicago rations.
SICKNESS AND DEATH.
Owing to the damp quarter, poor ration, and little care, almost all of the regiment
were more or less sick by the first of November, and large numbers soon died.
The hospitals were crowded to overflowing; and none of the poor sick soldiers
were carried from the wretched horse stalls, until death was close at hand.
Each company had from twenty to forty sick with the fever.
The dead house was always full, and the dead cart constantly moving. Six weeks
saw at least forty of the regiment placed beneath the sod.
By the 20th of November everything began to look hard at Camp Douglas. The troops
were badly treated, and half starved. Rations were furnished by contract, at
10 3/4 cents per day.
The bacon was alive with maggots, the bread hard, sour, and black, and the
sugar the color of sand.
MUTINY, RIOT, AND ARSON.
At last, almost all of the men refused to do guard duty, or take a gun in their
hands; and those who were better disposed were overawed by the majority. At
one time, the 115th regiment alone, did not refuse to take guns; and during
all the trouble and excitement, they remained firm for the right. Although threatened
by the other troops, they never refused to do duty, and even assisted in putting
down mutiny in the other regiments. A heavy detachment that undertook to preserve
the peace and perform guard duty at Camp Douglas, were pelted with clubs, brickbats,
and stones, but held their ground until ordered away. Scenes of riot and arson
were of frequent occurrence, and a regiment's barracks were burned up nearly
The soldiers blocked up the road with lumber, so that the steam fire engines
from the city could not reach the flames. All this took place at Camp Douglas,
half a mile from the stalls occupied by the 115th. The ---N.Y. refused to take
guns, declaring that their paroles would not allow it. But the General commanding
thought differently, and determined to bring the mutiny to a speedy close. For
that purpose, the 115th were ordered to prepare to form line, and a certain
length of time to be given to the---to obey commands. The General addressed
them in the meantime, telling them that unless they submitted, he would have
the last man of them shot, and place all of the officers in irons.
The ----th concluded to accept the terms; so they declared themselves ready
to take guns.
Soldiers from the regular army were finally sent to Camp Douglas to do guard
duty, and they received orders to shoot any man who attempted to cross any of
the beats without a proper pass. Some of the soldiers did attempt to pass, contrary
to orders, and one or two of them were shot. This incensed the soldiers so much,
that they threw stones and clubs at the Regulars, and hooted at each one showing
himself. Things went on from bad to worse until November 20th, when orders came
for the Harper's Ferry troops to ø report at Washington.
A SAD CONFLAGRATION.
A very unfortunate occurrence took place, just as the 115th were about leaving
camp to take the cars for Washington, which afterward came within a hair's breadth
of destroying the entire regiment. They had abandoned the stalls, when suddenly
flames burst out from half a dozen different parts of the late barracks; and
in a very short space of time the whole of them were a heap of smoldering ruins.
The cause of the fire was this: A large number of the 115th had stoves in their
quarters; and as soon as they left, hundreds of soldiers from other regiments
rushed in and took possession of the stoves for their own use, emptying the
ashes and live coals in the straw. The result of course, was a fire, which destroyed
the whole concern very quickly. The officers of the 115th had taken every precaution
to prevent a fire. After the regiment had entirely abandoned the quarters and
were formed on the color line several hundred yards away, the roll was called
in every company, and each man found to be present. One officer from each company
passed through the vacated company quarters, and found everything in proper
order. Consequently no member of the 115th could have had anything to do with
the fire, in any shape or manner whatever. Yet strange to say, they were afterward
charged with the crime, and suffered terribly for it.
Colonel Sammons offered to take the regiment and put out the fire, but one
of General Tyler's staff officers ordered him to march them to the cars without
GOOD BYE CHICAGO.
We bade good bye to Chicago with few regrets. Farewell "paradise of mud,"
"City of stairs, rats, and lager beer saloons." Good bye shivering
fevers, wretched horse stalls, and rotten bacon, Farewell!
To a few kind and noble-hearted young ladies of Chicago, we all owe thanks
while we live, and may heaven bless them, is our prayer.
The regiment reached Baltimore at sunrise, on Sunday morning, Nov. 23d. We had
breakfast at the late hour of 11 o'clock, and stood in the street, waiting for
the cars, until 2 P.M.
A number of Baltimore rebels gathered around us, and one began to declare
that we were not exchanged, and advised the men to desert. Captain --- overheard
the remarks, and springing forward, quickly struck the fellow over the head
with his sword hilt several times, telling him to learn better manners. The
remainder of the party then sneaked off.
We embarked on board hog cars for the National Capital. It was a cold day,
and snow fell quite fast, while the wind blew almost a hurricane, searching
through the open cars, and obliging us to rush from one end of the car to the
other, to keep warm. We arrived at Washington at 7 P.M., and marched to the
Soldiers' Relief, where we partook of supper and then bunked on the floor for
A COLD NIGHT ON ARLINGTON HEIGHTS.
On the morning of November 24th, we took breakfast at the Relief, and at 11
o'clock received marching orders. The regiment was soon proudly tramping through
the streets of the Federal Capital, and large numbers of people lined the streets,
asking all sorts of questions; where we were from, where we were going, what
regiment it was, &c., &c.; and frequently we overheard such remarks
as follow: "A fine lot of men," "Noble looking fellows,"
"Good stuff there," &c. We crossed the long bridge and trod the
sacred and bloody soil of Virginia once again. We made a halt at Camp Seward,
Arlington Heights, where we remained for the night. No tents were put up, and
the night was bitter cold, so that but few slept at all; and almost all of the
men walked about to keep from freezing. Fuel was scarce, but some small fires
were kindled which helped somewhat. At last, although it seemed an age, the
welcomed daylight appeared and every heart was made glad. Six soldiers in a
camp near by froze to death.
SIXTEEN DAYS ON ARLINGTON.
On the 25th, each man received a spoonful of sugar and coffee, and a small piece
of pork; the first rations furnished in twenty-four hours.
At noon of the same day, tents were struck and the men carried them on their
backs to Camp Chase, where our camp was again pitched. From the 26th of November
until the 12th of December, the regiment labored very hard. They worked on unfinished
forts, and engaged in putting up comfortable winter quarters.
On Sunday, November 30, Enfield rifles were given to the regiment, and an
order of exchange read. Chaplain Clemens preached a sermon in the afternoon.
On the 4th of December, many of us obtained passes to Washington. We visited
all the places of interest, including the Senate Chamber and Hall of Representatives.
All were deeply impressed with the necessity of defending Washington against
every December 6th --Snow fell to the depth of several inches, and nearly all
of the men manufactured stoves out of old camp kettles, to keep warm.
Sunday, the 7th, was a bitter cold day, and all suffered extremely.
On the evening of December 9, news came, that Burnside had burned the city
of Fredricksburg. The soldiers from all the camps turned out in large force,
and formed a procession headed by the brigade band, celebrating the event in
A HARD MARCH TO HUNTER'S CREEK.
On Friday, December 12, the regiment was again under marching orders. Reveille
sounded at 5 A.M., and at 8 o'clock they were on the march.
The whole brigade moved together, and consisted of the following regiments:
111th New York Vols., 115th New York Vols., 4th Delaware Vols., and the 27th
The roads were horribly muddy, and those who were unfortunate enough to wear
shoes, left them buried in their tracks. In some places mud was knee deep; and
the perspiration rolled down in the eyes of some, rendering them blind, while
others were exhausted, and at least one unconsciously let his gun drop from
At 11 o'clock A.M., a halt was made for a lunch, and at noon we passed through
the city of Alexandria, reaching our destination at Hunter's Creek, at sundown.
We relieved the 2d Vermont Brigade of nine months troops ordered to the front.
Company H, 9th Vermont, made Company H, 115th New York, some hot coffee, when
the latter gave hearty cheers for the Green Mountain boys, and a tiger for the
THIRTEEN DAYS AT HUNTER'S CREEK.
On the 16th, the regiment began building winter quarters for the second time.
On the 15th, a furious storm of wind and rain lasted the entire night, and
large numbers of tents were blown down.
On the 17th, the regiment took four days rations and went on picket five miles
from camp. Winter quarters were nearly completed, and more than two hundred
neat log houses stood there on the 18th.
On the 24th, we received orders to be ready to march within thirty-six hours.
Arms were inspected for the first time.
TO YORKTOWN, VA.
December 26. --We marched from Hunter's Creek at noon, and reached the dock
at Alexandria, at 2 P.M. Embarked at dark on board the steamers Robert Morris;
and after proceeding a few miles down the Potomac, anchored until morning.
On the 27th, we made slow progress, passing Mt. Vernon, the grave of Washington,
Fort Washington, and Acquia Creed. We anchored at night under the guns of a
Man-of-War, it being dangerous to proceed in the dark.
On the 28th, we sailed into the Chesapeake bay. The wind blew fresh, the waves
rolled up pretty strongly, and some of us were sea-sick.
Fortress Monroe was reached at noon, and General Dix ordered the Regiment
to report to General Keyes, at Yorktown. The boats immediately sailed up York
river, and were made fast to the dock at Yorktown, by 3 P.M.
We marched one mile outside the fort, and occupied the beautiful camp of the
The breastworks and rifle-pits erected by McClellan, stood out in bold relief
on all sides.
YORKTOWN AND THE SURROUNDING COUNTRY.
On December 29, several of us took a walk on the banks of the York. We picked
up a variety of shells, tasted of the water flowing at our feet (and were surprised
to find it nearly as salt as brine), and looked along at the fleet of oyster
boats dotting the noble river. Beautiful peach orchards stood within a stone's
throw of our camp, and all the scenery around served to remind us of home.
We took much interest in visiting the spot where the closing scene of the
Revolutionary war took place. The spot was pointed out to us, where General
Cornwallis surrendered his army of 7,073 men to General Washington. A cedar
fence once surrounded the place where the British general handed his sword over
to Washington, but it is now in the thousands of northern homes, preserved as
Everybody dined on oysters three times during the day. They sold at forty
cents per gallon, and the soldiers ate them fried, stewed, and raw.
December 31.--Regiment on guard at Headquarters. Inspected, and mustered for
January 1.--A happy new year! Many boxes, barrels, and packages of mince pies,
cakes, roast turkeys, chickens and ducks, arrived from home. The poultry was
covered with ugly blue mould and spoiled, and extensive preparations were made
to bury them with military honors. Their lamented forms, covered with mould,
were placed in on common coffin, when the funeral procession moved through the
various company streets to the burying-ground in the following order, viz:
1st, A drummer boy slowly beating the dead march, on a muffled drum.
2d, A company of soldiers marching with arms reversed.
3d, The coffin, borne by four soldiers, dressed in deep blue.
4th, The venerable sexton, carrying a long-handled shovel across his right shoulder.
5th, The chief mourners and sufferers, who were sadly weeping, with onions in
The vast throng of spectators, except a couple pairs of shoulder straps (pity
such narrow minds), split their sides with laughter. After all the dead were
decently placed beneath their mother earth, the audience joined in singing the
following appropriate stanza:
Go tell Aunt Nabby,
Go tell Aunt Nabby,
Go tell Aunt Nabby,
Her old grey goose is dead.
One she's been saving,
One she's been saving,
One she's been saving,
To make a feather bed.
The customary salute was not fired by the escort, for fear that the militia
garrisoning the fort, might think that the rebels were coming; then they would
either shake to death with fear, or run to "Old Pennsylvania" for
January 2.--A colored rebel spiked several of the heaviest guns on the Yorktown
fortifications, and was caught in the act.was tried by courtmartial, and sentenced
to be shot to death with musketry. A detachment of the 115th executed the sentence.
They fired at the condemned, and he fell over dead on his coffin.
January 3.--After we retired for the night, the heavy boom of he signal gun
summoned us all to arms. Instantly the long roll sounded in camp, and the loud
commands for the different companies o fall in, rang along the streets. The
men flew to arms in a moment, and we were soon flying towards the fort. Headquarters
were reached, and we stood in line of battle awaiting orders. Col. Sammons rode
in front, and commanded in a loud, clear tone of voice:
"Attention Battalion! Load at will, Load!"
General Keyes rode up at that moment and countermanded the order; said that
the alarm was a false one; thanked us for our promptness and readiness for duty,
and then retired.
It was found that from the time the first alarm sounded, until we were in
line of battle at Headquarters, was just twenty-two and one-half minutes. The
men had to dress, take a supply of ammunition, form on the color line, march
over one mile, and dress up a line upon halting; but did it all in the short
space of twenty-two minutes and one-half.
January 8.--Eighty volunteers from the regiment, with a detachment of cavalry,
embarked on board three gun-boats at dark, and landed at West Point at midnight.
The infantry instantly surrounded the town, and the cavalry swept around toward
White House, capturing much property. The rear portion of a rebel baggage train
A quantity of pig lead which the rebels had intended to mold into bullets
for the purpose of killing "Yankees," fell into our hands. A rebel
sutler with all his stock in trade was snatched, and he looked the picture of
despair when ordered to Yorktown. The commissary stores were visited, and large
quantities of oats, corn, and salt, destroyed.
The rail road track was pounded to pieces with cannon balls, and locomotives,
cars and bridges, left to the red flames of the torch. The troops returned to
camp without the loss of a man. The rebel Gen. Wise was said to have been very
much incensed against the regiment, on account of the complete success attending
the expedition; consequently, he offered a $300 per head for every officer of
the 115th caught. He didn't get any.
January 9 and 10.--The usual guard duty; had the same battalion, company,
and squad drills; went through the manual of arms, the wheels, the facings,
the loadings and firings, until our bones ached again.
Ate our "Virginia shingles" with keen relish, and drank our cups
of coffee with a good grace.
January 11 to 15.--Drilling hard, and engaging in target practice.
January 16.--Two rebel cavalrymen deserted to our lines.
January 17.--Brigade review, and company inspection. The following regiments
were on review: 115th New York, 172d Pennsylvania, 176th Pennsylvania, and 179th
January 20.--At night we experienced a genuine southern storm of wind and
rain. Many of the tents blew down. Our hard wood ridge-pole cracked like a pipe-stem,
and it required the united strength of two to hold the tent down.
January 21.--Marching orders. Began to pack up.
January 22.--Struck tents at 10 A.M., and had all the stores on the dock at
2 P.M. The regiment marched to the residence of Major General Keyes, who appeared
on the Piazza, and addressed them briefly as follows: Officers and Soldiers
of the 115th: I must say that I sincerely regret to part with such a fine body
of men, but you are ordered elsewhere, and I know that you will always do your
Col. Sammons replied in a feeling speech, when the men cheered, the band played,
and the pleasant interview closed.
Just before evening, we embarked on the iron transport Matanzas, and lay at
anchor in the stream until morning.
January 23.--Sailed for Fortress Monroe at daylight. On reaching there, we
anchored off the Rip Raps, and the Colonel reported to General Dix for orders.
Received sealed orders to report to General Hunter at Hilton Head, South Carolina.
WHERE ARE WE GOING?
was the inquiry that went from lip to lip, for none of the soldiers knew. Some
of them declared that we were not exchanged, never would be, and were going
to New York to be mustered out of the service.
Others affirmed that they heard a man say that he heard one of General Keyes's
staff inform an officer that the 115th were going to Washington to do guard
duty. Little did the brave men then imagine what trials, suffering, and insults
awaited them. Little did they dream that those sealed orders contained a sentence
of cruel banishment. It was well that they did not.
THE MATANZAS DUNGEON.
Eight hundred of us were crowded, packed and pressed into the dark, dismal,
and suffocating hold of the Matanzas. The crowded bunks were swarming with vermin,
and not a single breath of pure air ever reached that dreary dungeon. Almost
all of us were deathly sea-sick for forty-eight hours; cared not whether we
lived or died, and were unable to walk a single step. We had to vomit on the
floor, and the stench was almost beyond endurance.
THE PANGS OF HUNGER.
While the soldiers were sea-sick, they needed nothing to eat, and could not
bear the sight of food; but as soon as they recovered from their sickness they
had ravenous appetites. To their sorrow they had little to eat. A few dry hard-tack,
a small piece of half rotten bacon, and one cup of milkwarm coffee was the daily
allowance. This of course, did not begin to satisfy the cravings of hunger,
and was barely sufficient to keep body and soul together.
Three times each day, tables filled with plenty and groaning with luxuries
were spread out before our longing eyes; yet we could not procure a single morsel
for love or money. When the perfumes of roast-beef and boiled potatoes floated
past us, it made our eyes swim, and we longed for a few crumbs of bread from
the tables in our northern homes.
the chaplain preached in the dining-room of the vessel. But few attended. A
dense fog covered the water, and we anchored until morning.
Schools of porpoises rolled in the water near by, and hundreds of sea-birds
of large size flew close to the ship.
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New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military
March 19, 2006