THE IRON HEARTED REGIMENT
PORT ROYAL HARBOR.
The land! the land! the land! shouted many of the soldiers at once; and sure
enough, the palmetto groves and sandy islands of South Carolina were plainly
Every heart was light, and every eye sparkled with pleasure at the prospect
of setting foot on land once more.
We steamed into the beautiful harbor of Port Royal at 11 A.M., on the 26th of
January, 1863, and found no less than a hundred vessels carrying the American
flag. At 4 P.M., we disembarked, and marched through the streets of Hilton Head.
A halt was made outside of the fort, arms were stacked, and beds made on the
sand, when all lay down for the night.
SAD TIDINGS ------GOOD NEWS.
The regiment was terribly shocked on the morning of January 28th, to learn that
it was under arrest for burning barracks at Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois.
We learned for the first time why we were banished to a sandy island of South
Carolina, and why the camp was pitched so that the guns of the fort could blow
us in pieces.
The cruel sentence declared that all pay and allowances would be stopped until
further orders, and the meanest kind of work was given the men to do. All felt
badly, yet they were conscious of being innocent, and felt sure that truth and
justice would finally prevail.
Enemies brought those infamous charges forward; and without the knowledge of
any in the regiment, tried them, and passed the wicked sentence.
The duties imposed were of the most laborious kind; and officers and privates
were daily insulted by those who ought to have known better.
After a short time, the regiment began to suffer for the want of money. The
officers had equipped themselves, and had never received a cent while in the
service. The men received but small bounties, and they were all expended long
Some received sad letters from home, saying their dear ones were suffering for
the want of bread. One lady wrote to her husband, that herself and her children
went to bed without any supper the previous night, because they had not a penny
to purchase a morsel of food.
Others wrote they must soon go to the poorhouse or starve, unless relieved.
It was at last decided, that a great effort must be made to relieve the regiment.
For that purpose, Col. Sammons after much trouble, was allowed to proceed to
Washington with an address from the regiment, to the Government.
Upon reaching there, he was at first refused a hearing at the War Department,
but by continued perseverance, at last succeeded in having the matter investigated.
The regiment was found to be innocent of all the charges brought against it,
and ordered to be instantly released from arrest, and placed on an equal footing
with any troops in the service. The Secretary of War complemented them for good
conduct, dispatched a special paymaster on the first steamer to pay every man
to the latest date, and gave them the choice of remaining in South Carolina,
or returning to Virginia. As active operations were about taking place around
Charleston, the regiment volunteered to remain.
A CHAPTER ON SNAKES.
Snakes of many varieties are to be found on Hilton Head. Some of them are of
the most poisonous and deadly species. Among the number may be mentioned the
Moccasin, Copperhead, Rattle, Adder, Black, &c., &c.
The water Moccasin was considered the most venomous, and all stood in great
fear of them, as their bite was declared to be sure and speedy death. A soldier
killed one measuring eighteen inches in length, and placed it in the road. Shortly
afterward, a party of negroes came along, and were about to step on the serpent,
when one of the number saw it; and supposing it to be alive, gave a scream of
terror, and ran from the spot followed by all the others, who cried, "A
Moccasin!" "A Moccasin!"
Seeing that the negroes were so much afraid of them, the soldiers were very
careful when traveling through the swamps. A snake called the Wood Rattle abounded
at Braddock's Point, and the soldiers made great slaughter among them. Many
measured seven feet in length, and but few were seen less than five. One of
our pickets upon awaking in the morning, found a huge snake coiled up in his
blanket fast asleep. Not liking such bedfellows, he beat his head to a jelly
with the butt of his gun.
Along Broad river, close by a picket post, we used to call No. 1, was a den
of snakes; and the soldiers on duty there amused themselves hours at a time
in shooting them as they crawled out to bask in the sun.
A New Hampshire officer found a black snake seven feet long, in bed with him
one night; and after that he built his bunk up from the ground, so that the
reptiles could not reach him.
A cavalryman sabred two snakes in front of my tent door, and when one of them
was cut in halves the head part ran off into the bushes and escaped. A hollow
log was brought into camp one day for fuel, and when it was split, a black snake
six feet long rolled out, much to the terror of the chopper, but to the great
amazement of the other soldiers; who, taking it by the tail, threw it high in
A member of Co. H was out in the woods one day, and while there, was attacked
by a monstrous adder eight feet in length. Having no weapon to defend himself
he shouted for help. A soldier who happened to be near by, with an axe, cutting
tent poles, upon hearing cries of distress, ran to the spot, and after quite
a struggle dispatched the snake.
Long, slender snakes, as green as grass, and some as red as blood, were seen
on the roofs of the houses.
INSECTS AND REPTILES.
During the summer, the gnat, the musquito and the sand flea, are among the soldier's
greatest enemies. The gnat is about the size of a pin head, and swarms around
every tree by the million. Pickets and guards stand in great dread of them;
for they light on their faces and necks, and get into their hair in spite of
everything that they can do; and nothing but tobacco smoke will drive them away.
The red sand flies are the worst of all. They will get into a person's stockings
and clothes, and murder by inches. At night they cover the soldier's blanket,
and keep him in agony until morning. Some of the regiment were so badly bitten
that their legs and bodies were bleeding sores. Insect powders are a partial
The musquito also pesters the soldier considerably, and some regiments use musquito
nets, fixing them around their beds in a frame.
Alligators also, are to be found on Hilton Head.
A party of soldiers from Companies H and K,were out one day cutting tree tops
for an abattis, when they thought something was paddling in a swamp close by.
On going to the spot, an alligator was observed, slowly moving around. None
of the soldiers had guns, so one of them ran to camp and brought. The piece
was fired, and the reptile badly wounded in the head, but as none cared to tackle
him even then, a noose was fixed and thrown over his head, and the soldiers
pulled him on dry land. The alligator showed fight, and swept his ugly tail
around in all directions, with a force that would have cut a man in two, had
he been within reach.
YANKEE ENTERPRISE. HILTON HEAD.
When the Union troops first landed at Hilton Head but one or two buildings were
to be seen; but since the "Yankees" have gone there whole streets
of stores, saloons, and other places of business have been built; and when the
runaway planters come home again, they will, no doubt, be a little astonished
at the vast improvements.
The government buildings alone, are a mile in length, and it is said, contain
provisions enough to feed an army of 25, 000 men for five years. The arsenal
is of immense proportions, and contains shot and shell enough to rain an unceasing
stream of iron upon any city for months.
Port Royal harbor is one of the finest in America, yet previous to the war,
a vessel was seldom seen in her waters. Now, at least an hundred vessels of
all kinds, lay at anchor between Hilton Head and Beaufort.
In the city, rail roads urn from the dock to all the store houses and the arsenal.
Steam saw-mills and bakeries are carried on by the U.S.; tow newspapers with
a large circulation enlighten the public, and the sandy streets are generally
crowded with people. Some of the merchants sell an incredible amount of goods,
and I need not say, realize large profits.
On Thursday morning, March 12th, 1863, the rebels crossed Broad river in row-boats
and attacked Spanish Wells. They marched boldly up to the picket line, and when
halted by the sentinel replied that they were friends with the countersign.
The sentinel, thinking that they were a party of Union troops, ordered them
to halt, and allowed one of the number to advance to the point of his bayonet,
so as to receive the countersign.
Several of the rebels slipped past, unnoticed in the darkness, and in an instant
presented a couple of revolvers to his head and soon put him out of the way.
The daring raiders then marched for the signal station, and although there were
10,000 Union troops a short distance away, before any alarm could be given,
they were making tracks for the main land with the entire Signal Corps prisoners.
Some of the gang fired the lookout, and it was burned to the ground.
All the troops on the island were under arms as soon as the alarm was sounded;
but by that time the rebel crew were safe in their retreat.
The 115th marched some miles, but came back to camp without seeing a Johnny.
Duty at Hilton Head: The regiment engaged in every variety of duty. Large
details of men were working on forts and magazines, loading and unloading vessels,
provost duty, picket, guard, and in fact every variety of work that soldiers
are called upon to perform. Five months were occupied in that way.
SCENES IN THE PROVOST QUARTERS. ----CAPTAIN GLADDING.
A rebel officer confined in the provost quarters breathed his last during the
evening of June 25th 1863. His history is a sad one, and ought to be a solemn
warning to those in rebellion against the best of governments.
Before the war he was a wealthy, respected, and worthy merchant of the city
of Savannah, Ga. When his state seceded he espoused the rebel cause with all
his soul, and devoted his ample fortune, his rich talents, and his life to the
south. He purchased a fast vessel, loaded her with cotton, and attempted to
run the blockade; but the ship was captured, and himself taken prisoner. After
a while he was exchanged; but instead of going home, proceeded direct to a foreign
country; and after loading a powerful vessel with goods of great value, at the
south, attempted to run the blockade a second time. As before, his vessel was
captured and himself and crew taken prisoners. For sometime he was closely confined,
but at last was allowed the liberty of a large room. He died of consumption.
The Union officers connected with the office, true to their feelings of humanity,
purchased a beautiful and costly rosewood coffin, and in it forwarded his remains
through the lines to his family in Savannah.
This would have been a worthy example for the rebels to follow, who were murdering
our man by thousands, but they did not.
STORIES OF REFUGEES.
Large numbers of refugees and deserters came in from the rebel cities of Charleston
and Savannah, and gave quite interesting accounts of matters in Dixie.
A deserter from the 4th Georgia Cavalry made the following statement: "I
am a native of Ulster County, New York, and was south when the rebellion broke
out. I was forced to join the army. There are but few troops in Georgia, nearly
all having gone to reinforce Pemberton at Vicksburgh. My regiment is badly demoralized,
and almost all of them are ready to desert at the first opportunity. A large
number are northern men, and the remainder are heartily sick of the cause."
A refugee, who appeared to be a very intelligent man, said: "I was a
telegraph operator on the great southern line for the Confederate government.
I am a native of northern Georgia, and my father is a large slaveholder. I can,
and am willing to pilot a body of men to a point where they can cut off all
communication between Richmond and the cotton states. I could give the strength
of all the rebel armies now in the field, and their respective locations. I
have important information for Gen. Gilmore. "Eight deserters came in from
Fort Sumter, and the reader will observe by the following account of their escape,
what men had to go through with who managed to get away from rebeldom.
They were ordered on a certain island to build a mortar battery. While thus
engaged, they resolved to desert. During the day they discovered a small boat
lying in the water and instantly laid plans to escape that night.
Accordingly after dark, with the boat on their shoulders, they stole away
from their comrades and soon reached the bank of a river. To their consternation
it was found that a heavy cavalry picket were patroling the beach to prevent
deserters from reaching the Union lines. They secreted themselves in the bushes,
to avoid detection and certain death, until a good opportunity presented itself.
Then four of the number placed the little boat in the water, paddled off from
the shore noiselessly, and soon left their enemies in the distance. In due time
they reached the Union line at Folly Island, when they wept tears of joy.
The other four who remained behind hid themselves in a dense swamp for a couple
of days, and although hunted by blood-hounds and fiends in human shape, at last
stood on free soil, and under the protecting folds of the Stars and Stripes.
"WE ALL YANKEE NOW"
On asking a colored soldier of the 3d South Carolina Vols., if he liked to be
a soldier, he made the following characteristic reply: "Oh yes Massa, we
all berry willin' to be a soger we all Yankee now. I want a little fight and
a little rest. When my ole' massa, he heerd de big Yankee gun, he took legs
an run away. We all prayed de Lord to hang up the Yankee peoples. Den Colonel
Montgomery he com, an we all j'ined de Lincoln army, massa."
THE BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE.
A brave and noble-hearted soldier of the 3d Rhode Island regiment was fearfully
mutilated on Morris island. Both of his arms were shot away, and two mangled,
bleeding stumps, were all that remained. Both of his eyes were blown from their
sockets, and the sightless eyeballs were awful to look upon. His face was mashed
to a sickening jelly, yet wonderful to say he lived—a monument of the
cruelties of war. Though racked with terrible pain and suffering, he boldly
cheered for the flag of his country, and said he gloried in his wounds. His
only regrets were, that he could fight no more for the Union.
At one time, a rebel sergeant lay on an adjoining bed in the hospital cursing
the Yankees, while our hero was cheering spirits of the Union boys by singing
patriotic pieces. That was too much for the brave man to stand, so he requested
to be helped out of bed, that he might give the noisy rebel a good thrashing.
After many months he was well enough to be removed from the hospital, and he
joined his family in his native state.
REBEL MODE OF PROCURING GREENBACKS.
Captain M----------, of the First South Carolina Regular Artillery, with his
entire company, were taken prisoners on Morris island.
Like a great many other rebel officers, he was devoid of all principle and
humanity, and his chief virtue consisted in his knowing how to curse and murder "Yankees."
While a prisoner of war, a package of money was sent to him by some friends
South. One of our officers visited his room, and proceeded to count out the
money for the purpose of seeing that the amount was correct. It consisted of
greenbacks, and horrible to relate, the bills were all clotted together with
human blood; the blood of brave Union soldiers, who died defending their country's
flag. The money had evidently been stolen from their bleeding corpses, and was
baptized with many hearts' best blood.
The Union officer was greatly shocked, and with burning cheeks held up the bloody
bills before the rebel captain's eyes, and bade him look at them. The rebel
turned deathly pale, and trembled from head to foot at the sad sight. He was
a cold-hearted man, but could not stand that.
On one occasion he had the brass to address one of our officers in a very insolent
manner, and demanded to know why he was not exchanged and sent through the lines
like other prisoners? The officer replied in a manner that put a damper on his
insolence, and greatly shocked his southern sensibilities.
"Sir," said the Union officer, "you are held to await the doom
assigned you by your own brethren. If they carry out their threats, and execute
the negro prisoners in their hands, you are the first man who will swing with
a Yankee halter around your neck.”
When first captured he pretended to be very proud and haughty, and put on
far too many airs for a prisoner of war. He would turn up his nose and curl
his lip disdainfully, declaring that he hated the whole Yankee race. He got
cured of such notions before he left, for everybody laughed at him for his pains.
His company, captured at the same time, were mostly men from Troy, Boston,
and New York, who went to South Carolina with a contractor to build a rail road.
When the war broke out they were forced to enlist, and never received six months
wages which was due them. They were but too glad to get out of the rebel service;
and notwithstanding the captain's threat of vengeance, took the oath of allegiance,
almost to a man.
The Free South, in speaking of the captain and his company says: "Nearly
the whole of Captain Macbeth's company captured at Morris island have taken
the oath of allegiance. He seems to chafe more over this fact than ever. He
one day remarked to a provost officer that it was as much as a man's life was
worth in the rebel army to neglect any opportunity to hang an officer of a negro
"It will be as much as your life is worth, if they hang a single one,"
said the officer. "What! do you propose to take me as a hostage for officers
of negro troops?" inquired the indignant Macbeth, and then added tragically,
"Oh, brute! brute!"
LARGE MORTALITY IN THE REGIMENT.
Owing to hard duty and warm weather, the regiment had become very sickly, and
by the 20th of June the men began to die off at a fearful rate. It was thought
that Beaufort would be a healthy locality; so on the 27th of June they were
released from all duty and ordered to proceed there. Tents were struck at 9
A.M.; we embarked at 7 P.M.; and reached our destination at 10 1/2 P.M., on
At sunrise on the 28th, we marched through the streets of the "Saratoga" of South Carolina. Our martial band played one of their finest pieces, and it
sounded sweet and beautiful beyond description on that quiet Sabbath morning.
The people were captivated, the same as the regiment had often been; and good
judges of music living in Beaufort declared that they had often heard some of
the best bands in our own country, as well as the finest in the British service,
but had never heard anything to equal the sweetness of that piece. It was quite
a feather in Ripley's (our fife major) hat.
For a long time after our arrival in Beaufort death continued to visit our ranks
nearly every day, and a long row of graves soon helped to fill up the graveyard.
Typhoid fever and chronic diarrhea made our camp a great hospital, and everything
wore a sad and gloomy look; and it was not until cold weather came on that the
tide of disease and death was stayed.
November 28.--The enlisted men of the regiment presented Colonel Sammons with
a fine horse and equipments, valued at $400.
November 30.--Marched to Port Royal ferry, on the Broad river, to do picket
duty for twenty days.
December 3.--Made a midnight raid on Barnwell's island for the purpose of
attempting the capture of rebel pickets, but they had fled. Private John A.
Hogan shot a colored man dead, who refused to halt when ordered.
December 15.--We met the officers of the "Georgia Tigers" under a
flag of truce, at Port Royal ferry.
December 20.--Received marching orders for Hilton Head. Embarked at midnignt
on the steamers Delaware and Island City.
December 21.--Landed at Hilton Head at daylight; lay out in the cold all day
waiting for tents.
December 22.--Brigade received by General Seymour. It consists at present of
the 47th N.Y., 48th N.Y., 115th N.Y., 6th Conn., and 1st S.C. Colored Volunteers.
February 4.--Marching orders; the entire division to carry six days' rations--three
of them in haversacks.
February 5.--Seymour's division, 10th corps, numbering 7, men, embarked on thirty-five
vessels for the state of Florida. The object of the expedition is said to be
to obtain a firm foothold in the heart of the state, and to capture, if possible,
its capital. The 115th left tents and baggage behind.
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New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military
March 19, 2006