New York Volunteer Infantry
Civil War Newspaper Clippings
From New Orleans.
ON BOARD NORTHERN LIGHT, OFF NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 15, 1862.
Editors Telegraph: According to me promise, I sit down this evening to inform you of the events transpiring in this quarter as far as they have come under my observation. The company to which I am attached is company K, of the 161st N. Y. V., Col. Harrower. Company K was raised for an old regiment and was by an order transferred to the 161st.
We suffered much from sickness while at Elmira, and 800 of our regiment were at one time on the sick list.
We form part of Banks' expedition. We embarked on board the Northern Light, at N. Y. City, Dec. 2d, and set sail Dec. 4th; arrived here Dec. 14th in the evening, being about 12 1/2 days on the passage. When we came on board ship at N. Y., we found the 159th N. Y. in possession of all the available sleeping bunks, state-rooms, &c., and, it being late in the evening, the 161st had to sleep on the open deck, which was rather uncomfortable, the weather being cold and freezing. The weather was fine and pleasant during all of the voyage, with the exception of Friday, and a part of Saturday, Dec. 5th and 6th, which were rather rough days. So thought we landsmen. Rations were at a discount.
Our destination was a poofound [sic] secret to all on board, the Captain of the ship perhaps excepted. For the first day, rumor had it for certain that we were bound for Fortress Monroe. After we had passed the Fortress, then Key West was to be our landing place. We passed this point on the 9th. Then for a day or two speculation ceased. No one could be found credulous to take stock in any stories circulated as to our probable destination. The weather was extremely warm off Key West, and we of the 161st could now enjoy on deck the beautiful soft moonlight evenings, and pity the poor fellows of the 159th confines between the closed decks with the air hot and suffocating.
No place on t he globe I believe is more lovely than Key West, in the winter. It appeared to us on shipboard to be a perfect paradise. As we sailed along the shores of the Island the wind blew off shore, fragrant with the smell of orange groves. The trees were clothed in verdure of the deepest green, and every one has loaded, in our imagination, with tropical fruit.
On the morning of the 13th inst., we came in sight of three or four steamers loaded with troops and bound in the same direction as ourselves. Soon land hove in sight, and the ships ahead hoisted the signal for a pilot, and one of them, the North Star, sent up the Stars and Stripes to the mast-head, to signify that the Commander of the Expedition was onboard. In an hour we were anchored at Ship Island. Soon we were joined by the other ships of the Expedition. Then we learned that the 114th regiment set sail from Fortress Monroe about the same time we did from N. Y.; three companies, A, B, and C, on board; the Arago, three on board the Atlantic, and four on board the Thames. Fears were entertained as to the safety of the Thames, as she was, when last seen, rolling badly in a storm off Cape Hatteras. The others are all safe. We did not land at Ship Island, but sailed about 2 P. M., arrived at the mouth of the Mississippi the morning of the 14th, crossed the bar without difficulty in single file, a line of steamers as fair as one could see. I was informed by the Pilot that 26 steamers and 21 sail vessels had passed up ahead of us. For the first twenty or thirty miles along the Mississippi, the river is higher than the land, which slopes away to the ocean, which is visible on either hand. It is a river of fresh water in the midst of salt ocean. About noon we passed Forts Jackson and Phillips; the scene of Commodore Farragut's exploits, on the 16th of April. A little above Fort Phillip lie the wrecks of the Verona and Morgan, the former a Union and the latter a Rebel gun-boat. Above Fort Phillip the country improves, and as we approached New Orleans, extensive sugar plantations line both sides of the river. Many are entirely deserted, thousands of acres lying idle and grown up to weeds; on others a luxuriant crop of sugar cane was being cut and carted to the sugar mills. The negroes all leave their work as we steam past, and line the banks of the river and welcome us with every demonstration of satisfaction. Here you will see demonstrated the real negro character rolling, pitching, tumbling over each other, and trying to make every limb and muscle laugh with delight. All the negroes I believe are Union men, at least one would judge so from appearances here.
We arrived opposite the lower end of the city and dropped anchor about 8 o'clock last evening, expecting to land this morning. New Orleans may well be called the Crescent city. The lights along the levee, in the evening, extend for miles, and form the arc of a circle. To-day we got up steam and steamed past the entire fleet, and to-night are anchored at the upper end of the city. No communication has been allowed with the shore, the Captain of the ship not allowing even a news boy to come along side with the papers. To-morrow we are expecting to go into camp 12 miles up the river.
We have suffered much from hunger since we have been on board the ship. Not half rations have been dealt out to the men since we set sail. I have eaten a bitter, half-cooked potato without salt or other seasoning, and pronounced it excellent eating. The fault is with the Commissary of the ship, as Government has provided bountifully for all on board. As a specimen of our living, I will take to-day's rations as drawn by a company of 50 men on board: 10 A. M., 5 gallons coffee; 2 p. m., 10 pounds salt boiled pork, from one peck to 12 quarts half-rotten potatoes, 40 pounds hard bread. As I write, the men are holding an indignation meeting on deck, and it would amuse you to hear their speeches. One says he is hungry enough to eat a horse and chase his rider—another, that he is so hungry that he would steal the "Lords Supper," an assertion doubted by no one, as I do not believe there is a private on board the ship but would confiscate any and everything in the shape of edibles he could lay his hands on.
New Orleans from the river has the appearance of a deserted city. No trade, no business but what is connected with our expedition seems to be going on. The Store-Houses along the wharves are all closed and silent, but few people are seen along the Levee, and all seems as silent on shore as if it were a city of the dead.
When we left Elmira we left behind some 30 men of our company. They were mostly at home sick. They have been ordered to report to Maj. Strong at Elmira. We left behind in N. Y. City, Corp. Totman, and several others of the company. Private Hollister Gale was left at the quarantine below this city yesterday, sick with the fever. Though very sick, hopes are entertained of his recovery. The remaining men in the company are well. 1st Sergeant Lucius Sherwood, of Guilford, omitted to come on board at N. Y., and was left behind.
Yours, etc., A VOLUNTEER.
From the 161st Regiment.
WINTER PLANTATION, 4 MILES BELOW PORT HUDSON, ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE RIVER. HEADQUARTERS 161ST REGT. N. Y. V. MAR. 25, '63.
MESSRS. EDITORS: A few words at this time will relieve the anxiety of many in Chenango, especially the friends of those in Co. K, concerning our whereabouts and movements. For the past week we have encamped in three different places. Our first move was on Saturday, the 14th inst. We were called up at 2 o'clock A. M., and commenced our march at 4, (it will be remembered that a forward movement had been expected for several days) in the direction of Port
Hudson. The day was warm and the men suffered much by being in heavy marching order although resting several times. We marched eleven miles and encamped 7 miles from Port Hudson for the night. Heavy cannonading was heard during the night until 3 in the morning when it ceased by the blowing up of the gunboat Mississippi. We were called up in the morning, at 2 o'clock, and were in line at the time, but could not see the boats, being 4 miles off, also a piece of woods intervening. We plainly saw the flash, and the explosion was like a very heavy clap of thunder, and that too near by.
At day light brigade line was formed in the road with intimations that an attack was expected immediately. We stood thus, until 10 A. M., when orders came for us to move back 7 miles to Bayou Monticeno--lying there till the 18th we were ordered to move to Baton Rouge in as quick time as possible--rested two hours--went aboard a steamer and landed at this place at 8 o'clock P. M. Three divisions of infantry and four batteries of artillery constituted the forces, Grover's and Emory's divisions with the artillery lying between us and Port Hudson, the first night out, ours commanded by Augur being in the rear. The chief of Gen. Bank's staff had his leg broken by his horse being shot and falling upon him, also several of our pickets were shot. Grover's and Emory's still remain near Bayou Monticeno--our brigade being the only one ordered to move here. The object of every movement or order is kept from us. We know not what is coming from one hour to another. When ordered to march, we know not where we are going or when we will stop, and have no means of knowing anything until the commands are fulfilled. From what we had gathered we supposed without, that we were going directly into a fight when ordered first from Baton Rouge; and so with every command, and we nerved ourselves for the contest. It appears the object of the move, and the only immediate one, was for the land forces to attract the attention of the rebels in the rear, to give Farragut time to pass with a portion of his fleet the batteries on the river side, in order to form a direct communication between New Orleans and Vicksburg, which was accomplished in part, he having succeeded in passing with his Flag Ship, the Hartford, and two other boats. The Mississippi, which was one of the largest and best of the fleet, carrying 32 guns, some of the largest caliber, ran on a bar directly under the rebel batteries. Orders were given to burn her rather than to have her fall into rebel hands, but we were saved the trouble, for the enemy's shells soon did the work. She floated off down stream and exploded as I have stated. The rest of the fleet sustained but little damage. By report, near 100 lives were lost during the engagement, the majority aboard the Mississippi.
We are lying here now in comparative ease and safety, not having any idea what the next move will be. The boats send over a few shells every day among the rebels, but being at long range it is of little effect. A few rebels have been captured by our Cavalry pickets, and any quantity of mules, horses and contrabands—some four or five hundred of the "color" have come into our lines.
Gen. Banks has inaugurated the right principles here; he is confiscating all that is of any value. This plantation is one of the largest on the river, and the sugar machinery is extensive, a good deal of it being copper, which is being taken out and transported down the river. All the cattle, sheep, &c., that can be got hold of are driven in and taken off by boats.
Yesterday our Cavalry went up nearly opposite Port Hudson, burnt one rebel steamer, two stores, and came in at night with one prisoner. The secesh have cut the levee above us, thereby cutting us off from any extensive exploration in their rear.
We are now upon an Island but a few miles in extent, and it is the general opinion we will not stay here any length of time, for our operations can not be very extensive. I have just read in the Chenango Union of an attempted assassination of Gen. Banks at New Orleans, which is wholly untrue; also a sad state of things at Vicksburg, which is doubted very much—not having heard anything like it here. Many reports are put in circulation without any foundation whatever, merely for effect. The Opposition seize upon surmises and report as true what they know to be false, in order to deaden the efforts made to put down the rebellion. Some things are discouraging, but upon the whole, we are progressing as fast as can be expected, considering the magnitude of the undertaking. It looked rather dark with our company and regiment when we came here. Many were sick and disheartened, but now the sky is brightening. We have confidence in our leaders, and the men, as far as my observation extends, are contented and cheerful, having enough to eat and that which is good, and not much hard work to do.
Company K is all right, except four that are really sick. Beebe, John Lloyd, and Button of Columbus, and Henry Isbell of New Berlin. It will be some time before they recover.
Winters, upon whose plantation we are encamped, is said to be a rebel General now in the service. The weather is fine and vegetation is starting rapidly.
Yours truly, M. B. L.
FROM THE 161ST:—
CAMP OF THE N. Y. VOLUNTEERS,
Natchitoches, La., April 5, 1864.
We left Alexandria on Monday, 28th ult., and on Saturday passed through the old Spanish town of the above name, one of the oldest in the State, the distance marched being seventy-five miles.--Gen. Lee, in command of the cavalry, had daily skirmishes with the enemy, but they steadily fell back, perfectly astonished at our strength and rappid [sic] advance. When we reached this town handbills were found posted at sundry places, calling upon the citizens to turn out in defence of their houses and property, for that the "invader" was again at their door! A pretty call, forsooth, with the air black from the smoke of burning cotton for a hundred miles—cotton that was their only resource to avert starvation, yet burned by order of such traitors as Dick Taylor & Co. Porter's fleet of gunboats is at Grand Ecore, and we are only waiting for the transports with supplies, to hasten on to battle and to Shreveport. The rebels are concentrating as fast as possible to oppose us, and yesterday a courier was captured with a dispatch that if Price would hold out for a certain length of time, that he would be reinforced with eighteen Regiments of Texas troops under Magruder. Time will not be given them. They little expected our advance would be so rapid. They were not quite ready for us, and I think their doom is certain. Never were our troops in better health and spirits, and I hardly know how we can fail. A Brigade of the Corps d'Afrique arrived this morning from Alexandria; and better than this, as far as the 161st is concerned, Lieut. Davis, with ninety of the one hundred recruits sent from Elmira on the 9th of March, (ten being left sick at New Orleans) also arrived, all armed and equipped. Lieuts. Luther and Boss missed the boat and were left in the city. We now number 500 men for duty. As I write loud shouts proclaim the arrival of a mail. During the coming week something decisive may be expected, and some of us may fall. We hope for good things, however. F.
From the 161st.—We learn that the Regiment left Alexandria, on the Red River on the 13th ult., and with the remainder of Gen. Banks' army, reached the Mississippi about eighteen miles above Port Hudson, on the 21st. They met with little annoyance from the enemy until the 16th, upon their arrival at Avogelles Prairie, when they were attacked by a large force, who had taken a strong position to dispute our passage. The 161st was at once deployed as skirmishers; and for a short time had to withstand the fire of seventeen rebel guns, which fortunately did but little damage. Soon, however, about thirty pieces of artillery came to their support, and opened on the enemy in splendid style. The Cavalry also became engaged, and for a time had a hand to hand fight. This was followed by an advance of the whole infantry force, consisting of the Divisions under Gen. Grover and under Gen. Dwight, and the 16th army Corps under command of Gen. Smith, who came up in solid line, and poured into the enemy's ranks several volleys of musket-ry, when the panic stricken rebels hastily retreated, carrying their dead and wounded with them from the field. The entire engagement lasted about four hours. Capt. Fitzpatrick, Company G., of Corning, was wounded, but how severely the letter before us does not state. Just as the rebels began to retreat, Company C, under command of Lieut. Laidlaw, was sent forward as skirmishers, and when within ten rods of the rebel lines began to fire briskly into the rear of the retreating columns of the enemy. The rebels halted for a few moments and replied very vigorously, their bullets flying around and about the gallant boys of Company C. very lively for several minutes, but luckily only one person was wounded, Edgar L. Dewitt, son of W. P. Dewitt, of this city, who was shot through the leg. They followed up the retreating foe for about four miles, when the chase was abandoned. Lieut. Col. Kinsey highly complimented the Company on its return. On the 16th the army reached the Achafalaga, which they crossed by a most remarkable and novel sort of a pontoon bridge, formed of twenty transport steamers put stem to stern across the whole width of the river. Lieut. Amey, with twenty recruits from Elmira for the Regiment arrived on the 20th, as did also a large mail. The weather was very warm, but the health of the Regiment continued good.
FROM THE 161ST REGT.--The following is an extract from a private letter received from a member of Company C, 161st Regt., dated Alexandria, La., (on the Red River,) April 28th.
"Since we left Franklin, about six weeks since, we have traveled between five and six hundred miles, and in the meantime have had three heavy battles with the enemy, resulting in severe losses on both sides. We have been 180 miles up the Red River from this place and have had to retreat back here, with the enemy in strong force close upon us all the way. We had to march night and day during the retreat, starting at one or two in the morning, and frequently not halting until late the next night. We traveled forty-five miles, at one stretch in twenty-four hours! Our cavalry burnt every building on the route. They must have destroyed over a million dollars worth of cotton alone, besides corn and other stuff. Before we left Grand Ecore our men set fire to the town and burnt to the ground nearly every house in it. The enemy are in strong force here, they having concentrated all their available men at this point. The prisoners that we have taken say that the rebels are determined upon capturing our whole waggon [sic] trains, which is over eight miles in length [sic], when they accomplish that, they will have to pay dear for it. They have tried it all the way down here, so far, but without success and much loss on their side. At Cone River Crossing, where we fought them for six or seven hours, they left all their dead and wounded in our hands. They attacked us in front and in rear, and on each flank, with great fury, but held our ground. Our brigade was deployed out in the woods on the left of the enemy, and to keep them from flanking us we had to wade through swamps, up to our hips in water and mud, the cannon balls and shells flying all around us all the while, cutting down the trees in every direction. At last Gen. Burgess, of the 13th Army Corps, took about six thousand infantry and one thousand cavalry, and forded the river, while we were fighting the enemy in front he succeeded in getting in their rear and on their right flank, when a general engagement commenced, resulting in our favor, as we drove them from their position. We then crossed the river, and proceeded on our way back to Alexandria, where we arrived on Monday afternoon, April 25th, all of us sore-footed and otherwise pretty well tired out. How long we shall stop here, I connot [sic] say. We have heard nothing from Lieut. Fitch or any of the other missing men in our Company.
ELMIRA, N. Y.
WEDNESDAY MORNING, APR. 27, 1864.
THE GALLANTRY OF THE 161ST.
The New York Herald correspondent says of the recent fight near Sabine Cross Roads:
GALLANTRY OF THE 161ST NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS.
Brigadier General Emory, leading his division, immediately deployed the four companies of the One Hundred and Sixty-first New York Volunteers, which formed his advance guard, as skirmishers, and, urging the flying, panic-stricken crowd to halt, ordered his skirmishers through it to meet the enemy, who were coming on in the flush of victory, and to check if possible his further advance. These brave men responded promptly to every demand, and the check they gave the enemy allowed time to deploy the division, and to enable it to meet the attack. This was most successfully performed, under the direction of Brigadier General Wm. Dwight, commanding 1st brigade of Emory's division, and in the face of this flying mass of fugitives, who were constantly sweeping by and breaking through the troops of this command, they steadily obeyed every order and struggled to their places in the ranks, until they formed the line which changed the fortune of the day. This line consisted of the three brigades of Emory's division--the First under Gen. Dwight, the Second under Gen. McMillan, and Third under Col. Benedict, and they were posted at the crest of a hill in the following order:--The brigade of Gen. White occupied the centre, with two of McMillan's regiments on the right, with the Third brigade and two of McMillan's regiments on the left. Gen. Dwight's admirable disposition of these troops and their heroic conduct throughout cannot be too highly praised. The passing through of our stragglers, thanks to the admirable conduct of Gen. Emory and the few companies of the One Hundred and Sixty-first which he had deployed, was more safely accomplished than could have been expected; but it brought them suddenly and closely upon the First brigade, which, under Gen. Dwight's order to reserve their fire till they could see the enemy's eyes, opened with a deadly and withering volley of musketry that checked and threw him back.
After deliberation it was determined to fall back to be the better position Pleasant Hill. The complete disorganization and demoralization of the cavalry command, and of the Thirteenth army corps, and their temporary loss to the enemy as troops, except so far as they were a burden, made this necessary, while the certainty of reinforcement by the Sixteenth army corps, under Gen. Smith, made it expedient, as it became evident that the enemy were receiving reinforcements.
THE ARMY FALLS BACK TO PLEASANT HILL.
To retire from the face of the enemy, whose pickets were in constant conversation with our own, was a movement of much difficulty and delicacy; but it was determined upon and the conduct of the retreat and the defense of the rear entrusted to Brigadier Gen. Dwight, with the First brigade of Emory's division. The army having silently moved off at midnight, Gen Dwight's brigade closed the rear, the pickets slowly and silently withdrawing; and this movement was so quietly and safely performed that the enemy were unaware of our retreat, but supposed us to be in position till after sunrise the next morning, when he commenced shelling the place we had abandoned. The march to Pleasant Hill was slow and fatiguing, involving as it did the collection of stragglers and negroes, most of whom were safely brought in; but at nine o'clock the next morning Gen. Dwight's rear guard marched up pleasant Hill, and at this moment were threatened with a force of the enemy's cavalry, which was the first notice we had received of his consciousness of our movements. Thus ended the battle of Sabine Cross Roads, with its mingled story of humiliation and of glory.
The instances of individual bravery were constant, from the young artillery officer who stood alone by his gun after all had fled, and fired his revolver at the advancing enemy until he was shot down, to the Commanding General, who cheered on his men and helped Emory's division to save the day, when, under a heavy fire, he assured them they could do it. At Pleasant Hill, General Smith, with his division, relieved General Emory's division, which rested for a time from the labors of the last twenty-four hours, in which they had marched forty miles, fought successfully and accomplished a successful retreat.
PREPARATIONS FOR THE BATTLE AT PLEASANT HILL.
The trains had been sent to the rear, and all were prepared for an engagement should the enemy incline to another contest. About three o'clock in the afternoon the cannonading in our front indicated the approach of the enemy in force, and it soon became evident that he had determined to press the matter to a general engagement, under the impression that, with considerable reinforcements, he should be able, by a sudden and overpowering attack to wrest a victory from a foe he knew to be tired and hoped to find dispirited. Gen. Smith's division received his first attack, Gen. Emory's division forming the inner line, the strength of Gen. Smith's division forming our left flank, and the strength of Emory's division forming our right. The disposition for this battle, with the many elements that guided its wavering and changing fortunes, and insured its final and complete success, must be studied carefully, and must be narrated minutely, to do justice to a description of one of the most remarkable battles of the war, in which the fighting and manoeuvring on both sides was excellent, and in which the result was doubtful to the last.
The enemy commenced by a vigorous and somewhat successful attack on our left and centre, the fighting being mostly in an open field, where the contestants could see each other and be distinctly seen by the looker on. Our outer line wavered, was broken in pieces, and fell back and the day looked gloomy, when the enemy struck its inner line, received its heavy volleys, fell back and massed his forces on the unshaken right, was met and hurled back, and again retired before the stubborn resistance of the veterans of the Nineteenth army corps, acknowledging the battle of Pleasant Hill as ours. With us, however, the question of water and rations had become a serious one, while the disasters of the previous day were yet unrepaired, and it was decided to fall back to our original position at Natchitoches, there to reorganize. The low state of the Red River also made it unwise to trust for supplies at a point higher up than this.
At this point Admiral Porter, after a contest with the enemy, in which the rebel Gen. Green is said to have been killed, returned with the transports of the army. The enemy then re-formed and attacked simultaneously the right flank and centre, and, meeting the deadly volleys of our unmoved men, were again repulsed. The firing of the enemy during this attack was most severe. The enemy again re-formed, and, with reinforcements, attacked our left flank and center with increased impetuosity; but after a prolonged contest, in which our lines did not move, he was again and finally repulsed. The fire of Emory's division during this whole contest was fearful, and its effect most withering, as was attested when, in the quietness of that night, from one end of our line to the other, the groans of their wounded and dying told of the fearful sacrifice the had made. The negro brigade did good service in guarding our trains, bur from its position did not become engaged with the enemy. The enemy say they lost fifteen hundred killed and wounded in this engagement. The conduct of the division during this terrible contest, is worthy of the highest praise. Coming to the field to meet an army corps and several thousand cavalry, with their trains in full, panic-stricken retreat, they preserved their coolness, re-formed their broken ranks under a heavy fire, encountered an elated and victorious enemy, checked and finally repulsed him, and the sun went down upon a defeat suddenly changed to a victory, and the army which an hour before was threatened with destruction was saved. With such troops, disciplined to obey directions, under all circumstances, victory is sure, and the humiliation of the enemy is certain.
From the 161st Regiment.
Baton Rouge, May 4, 1863.
EDITORS:--The monotony of our camp life was suddenly broken on Saturday by the announcement that a heavy cavalry force had cut their way through from Tennessee, and were now waiting for orders to enter our outside picket lines. The news soon spread through the different camps like wild fire, and men and officers thronged the highway leading into town along which the expected cavalry were to advance. A long line of dust stretching for a mile or two towards the country marked the approach. Soon their leading squadrons emerged from this cloud of dust and as they came in sight they were welcomed with cheer upon cheer by the 5,000 soldiers gathered to witness their triumphant entrance into town. They proved to be the 6th and 7th Illinois cavalry, under Col. Grierson, about 800 men. They started from La Grange, Tennessee, upon an expedition to destroy all the railroads and Confederate property they could find, with orders to report back to La Grange or any other place in the Federal line they could in safety reach. They were sixteen days in the saddle, marched a distance of 800 miles, averaging fifty miles a day, destroying over $2 000 000 worth of Confederate property, took and parolled [sic] 780 prisoners, fought several successful battles, lost but five or six men all told, brought into Baton Rouge an immense quantity of Rebel property, besides 300 or 400 horses, 200 or 300 contrabands and 150 prisoners. A more daring exploit was never performed by an equal number of men in any age. Compared with it the raids of Stuart or Morgan sink into insignificance. It shows what daring courage and activity can do when directed by a bold and fearless leader. The expedition travelled [sic] nearly the entire length of the State of Mississippi, between the lines of the Rebel armies, passing through the most populous partion [sic] of the State, seeking, not avoiding, the largest and most populous towns, their arrival expected and announced beforehand in many instances by the public press, and large bodies of troops were massed to cut off their escape, and yet, though it seems miraculous, they passed through, by, and over, all the traps laid for their destruction in safety. When we contemplate their daring deeds, we are carried back in imagination to the days of Chivalry, and think of the gallant Illinoisians in connection with Richard "the Lion Hearted," and his Knight Templars charging through the countless hosts of Saladin, and that beautiful description of the charge of the Light Horse Cavalry at Balaklava, by Tennyson, slightly changed in words, is brought to one's mind.
"Armies on the right of them,
Armies on the left.
Armies in the front of them.
Right into the jaws of death
Rode the gallant 800."
The advance guard of Col. Grierson's command were dressed in Rebel uniform, and often rode into the enemy's lines unsuspected. Many an interesting story is told by these cavalry men of relieving Rebel pickets and ordering them to fall in, which they cheerfully obeyed, thinking they were really relieved by their own videts, and never ascertaining their mistake until they formed themselves in the midst of the blue uniform of the Federals. My informant stated to me that one morning he formed part of the advance guard, and just as day was breaking they met two Rebel officers and commanded them to halt, a command which they unwillingly obeyed.
"By what authority do you stop us?" demanded one of the Rebels. "I, sir, am a Chaplain in the 37th Mississippi Regiment, and my friend here is a Captain in the same Regiment. We are on our way home with a leave of absence from Vicksburg, and we both hold commissions signed by Jeff. Davis, and don't like to be interfered with in this manner."
"And I" replied the officer in command, "am a Lieutenant in the 6th Illinois Cavalry, and hold a commission from Old Dick Yates, and you are both my prisoners."
Captain Forbes was dispatched eastward after the destruction of the Railroad at Newton with a force of about 100 cavalrymen, he proceeded as far as Enterprise, where he suddenly came upon a large Rebel force, consisting of between three and four thousand men, a large proportion cavalry. Nothing daunted at the unexpected discovery he boldly sent into the town a flag of truce demanding its surrender, stating that his force consisted of 10,000 men and resistance would be useless. The Rebel commander requested two hours to consider upon the proposition, which was granted, but before the expiration of the time
Cap. Forbes had placed a score of miles between him and his enemies. About five miles from this place the advance guard came suddenly upon the encampment of Stuart's Cavalry, while they were at breakfast. Suddenly charging upon them they captured the whole party consisting of two officers and seventy-five men. This company was composed of citizens from this place, and it was pleasing to witness the chagrin and mortification of their friends when they saw them prisoners in the hands of the Yankees. Many a dame who had passed herself off for a widow had p.. pointed out to her by her unsophisticated offspring, to the great amusement of the soldiers. Several of the soldiers are said to have passes in their pockets signed by Gen. Auger, the commandant here.
The Illinoisians were completely encased in mud and dust, and one could not distinguish the Captain or Col. from the subaltern or private.
They started with three days rations of cooked provisions, and when that was exhausted lived off from the enemy. They exchanged horses when theirs became fatigued, and they scarcely had in the whole command a dozen horses with which they left La Grange. The Contrabands brought in by them have nearly all enlisted into Ullmann's Native Brigade. I was informed by them that they could have brought in 5,000 of them had they dared so to do, but they found they would embarass [sic] and hinder their movements, as they doubtless would.
You have no doubt long before this received the news of the successful advance of General Banks up from Berwick's Bay, a movement predicted by me in my last. They are now about fifty miles west of us as I learn by New Orleans papers. The country between us is completely innundated [sic] and no communication can now be had with them except by the way of New Orleans and Berwick's Bay, a distance of 300 or 400 miles. The river is falling fast, and in a week or so communication can be opened with Gen. Banks directly west from here. There is an old railroad running from the west bank of the river opposite here to Opelousas, which as soon as the river falls sufficiently it is contemplated to repair. This will put us in direct communication with the richest portion of the State. The recent movement of Gen. Banks has placed the greater portion of the State under the Federal rule, and if, as we are now led to believe, the iron clad fleet is to reinforce us, the south west will be speedily cleared of Rebels.
Sickness prevails to a considerable extent among the troops here. We have lost three of our company by death since I wrote you last. Reynold M. Harvey of McDonough, died April 11th; Charles Fisk of Guilford, died April 27th, and Francis R. Slack of Norwich, died May 1st; all of them at the Regimental Hospital. The last two died very suddenly and unexpectedly. They were about camp in the forenoon of the day of their decease apparently gaining in health, and before the next morning were sleeping in death. In marked contrast with the health of the army here is the sanitary condition of the recent arrival of Cavalry Regiments from the North. An inspection by the Medical Director of the post discovered but 8 out of 800 unfit for duty, which seems conclusive evidence that there is much more danger from disease in a life of inactivity in camp and garrison, than there is in one of activity in the field. Hoping we may soon change our condition from the former to the latter.
I am yours, &c. S. E. W.
FROM THE 161ST:
Baton Rouge, July 11, 1863.
My Dear Wife.--I arrived in this city from Port Hudson, early yesterday (Friday) morning, where I expect to remain until about Tuesday. On Thursday morning Gen. Banks, accompanied by his staff and two batallions [sic] of the "stormers," entered the rebel works at Port Hudson, and took formal possession of them. The rebels numbering about 3,800 were drawn up in line, and stood at order arms, as Gen. Banks and the stormers marched past them until our right arrived opposite their left, when our men were fronted and came to an order arms. The rebels then received the order from Gen. Gardner to ground arms, which they did, some of them throwing their guns violently to the ground. I should have stated that the stormers were headed by the excellent brass band of the 116th New York, and as they entered the "sallyport," struck up 'Yankee Doodle,' followed by 'Hail Columbia," the 'Star Spangled Banner' and the 'Gem of the Ocean'. A battery of Artillery followed close upon the heels of the stormers, and just as the rebels had ground their arms, the Stars and Stripes were floating to the breeze in different parts of the fortification and the battery commenced firing a full national salute. By this time several regiments near the 'sally port,' commenced crowding into the works and as the dear old flag proudly floated from one flag staff after another, such a shout as those stormers and regiments sent up, was perfectly deafening, and would have thrown a genuine Copperhead into "coniption [sic] fits." It was a proud hour for Gen. Banks and his gallant soldiers, but the butternuts looked on with stoical indifference, one of their officers remarking, as the battery was firing the National salute, 'what a waste of powder!' Among the brigades which early entered the works, was that of Gen. Dudley, including the 161st New York. Gen. Dudley and Gen. Gardner were both Captains in the same regiment in the regular service at the time of the breaking out of the rebellion. Gen. Gardner claims to be a New Yorker, whilst Gen. Dudley is a native of the Old Bay State. For some reason Gardner turned traitor and joined the rebels, but Gen. Dudley stood true to the old flag, and no truer or braver officer is to be found in the United States service than Brigadier General A. M. N. Dudley. It is said their meeting was an affecting one, for up to the breaking out of the rebellion they had been warm personal friends.
In addition the 2,800 men who laid down their arms, 2,500 sick and wounded were found in their hospitals, making six thousand three hundred in all who surrendered, including four Major Generals. About one hundred cannons, including fifteen or twenty large size guns, together with seven or eight thousand stand of arms and a small supply of military stores and ammunition [sic], constituted the trophies of the surrender. Their small arms were a miscellaneous collection, and might be classed under three heads, good, bad and indifferent. The officers were allowed to retain their side arms, and all the prisoners were to be paroled. I had rather have seen them sent North and kept there until they were regularly exchanged. I had no opportunity to converse with the prisoners, but as a general thing they were a fine looking lot of men. They gave a doleful account of their starved condition, and averred they never would have surrendered had their provisions held out. They say our sharp-shooters killed nine men to every one killed by our shell; and no wonder for they kept close to their breast works night and day, and had little caves to run into whenever a shell exploded near them. But whenever they exposed themselves above the breast works, a dozen Yankee rifles were fired at them, and with such precision that scarcely a man of them escaped, who thus exposed himself. They will not admit how many they have lost during the forty-four days siege, but it must be heavy for I noticed along the short road I traveled, from the "sally port" to the river, a large number of newly made graves, and those who have gone around and through a considerable portion of the works, say that new graves were to be seen at almost every step. It looked desolate enough inside, and wherever my eyes wandered, I could see evidences of the destructive effects of our shot and shell. Trees were cut down in all directions by our solid shot, and scores of log shanties lay level with the ground in the more central part of the works. Dead horses and mules lay around everywhere, and the smell which they emitted was anything but agreeable to those with sensitive olfactories [sic] and weak stomachs. For my simple self I hastened, on rather rapidly for a man just up from his sick bed, to escape the stench, and when I reached the high bluff which overlooks the Father of Waters I was completely exhausted as the sun was scorching hot. The grounds inside the works are very uneven and are cut up by ravines in all directions.—About the center of the river front of the works, the rebels have erected a large flag staff; but the stars and bars had been pulled down, and from it now floats majestically a large and handsome American flag, with not a star dimmed or stripe faded. It can be seen a great distance up and down the river.—The bluff has a perpendicular descent of about seventy feet to a sort of a road along the river bank, and from this road to a level with the river must be thirty feet or more. When the river is at its full highth [sic], it overflows the roads, which gives the river a much wider appearance than it seems to have now; besides, the banks on the opposite side are low, and during high water are regularly overflowed. About 4 o'clock the same (Thursday) afternoon our brigade, together with a number of other regiments, took transports at Port Hudson, and that night started for Donaldsville, about sixty miles below, for the purpose of cleaning out a nest of Guerrillas in that neighborhood. The surgeon decided that I and Lieutenant Smith must get off the steamer at Baton Rouge and recuperate for a few days and rejoin our regiment as soon as we were able, for duty, and were satisfied we could travel with ease on foot twelve miles a day, with an almost tropical sun burning you up, and the thermometer at 96° in the coolest place you could hang it. We will endeavor to report ourselves without delay, for I feel lonely enough when absent from my company and regiment. To-day more troops have come down from Port Hudson, and after a short delay here, passed on down, intending to stop at Donaldsonville. The guerrillas have troubled us considerably in that neighborhood lately, preventing all boats from passing up or down the river at that point. We have not had a boat up from New Orleans for over a week, thus preventing us from getting our mails; and when you get this letter you probably will receive some more from me of prior dates. I trust we will soon receive our mails by way of Cincinnati and St. Louis, for we would get them here by the river route several days sooner than by the ocean route. They are always delayed at New Orleans from two to three days before sent here, and when we were up at Port Hudson, they remained here two or three days more before they reached us. Who is to blame for all these provoking delays I cannot find out; but of this fact I am well assured, that the mail arrangements in this department could not be worse. Baton Rouge is a dull looking city just now, there being but few troops here at present, excepting those in the hospitals and convalescent camps. The regular hospitals are all crowded with the sick and wounded, and all the public buildings and empty private houses have been turned into hospitals, the demand for hospital accommodations being so great. There is not less than six thousand sick and wounded officers and soldiers in the various hospitals here; but this number is not very large when we recollect that we have had about thirty thousand troops here and at Port Hudson during the past two months and all the sick and have been sent here for treatment during that time. R. R. R. Dumars.
LETTER FROM LIEUT. DEWOLFE.
Knocking at the door of Port Hudson, Sunday, May 31st, 1863.
In the last one of my letters published in the Courier, I promised not to bore the public with any more,—1st, because the weather was too hot to write, and 2d, because I presume, that, without incident, nothing which I could write would be of sufficient interest to repay a perusal. But "things have changed since Henry died," and I am once more at it. From the time of my last writing, up to the 12th of May, our brigade lay in camp, in Baton Rouge, with nothing to do except, fight mosquitoes, until we were furnished with mosquito bars, when that source of employment failed us; only one notable circumstance transpired during the time, viz. the payment of the reg't. I need not attempt a discription [sic] of the effect produced upon the men by the appearance of the "greenbacks." Just imagine five or six hundred starving pigs turned loose in a nice big potato patchy and you may form some idea of it. A very noticable [sic] feature of the transaction, was the settlement of all the "old scores" among the officers and men. After receiving our pay, we began and paid every man we met during the next half day sums varying from $5 to $20, and at the close of business hours, called the transaction ended and ourselves square with each other and the rest of the world. The allotment checks did not come to hand, and indeed, have not yet, but the moys [sic] did remarkably well in sending money home, most of them retaining but very little for their own use. The allotment system may do well enough for regiments composed of men incapable of transacting their own business, but ours is not of that sort, and, thus far, it has been a curse rather than a benefit to us. We now hope to receive our pay more nearly on time hereafter.
But we are no longer in Baton Rouge and I presume many of you may have some curiosity to know how we came where we are, what we are doing, &c., &c.
First, then: We left our old camp, on the morning of the 12th, and started, for where, the Lord, and Gen. Dudley only knew, but after marching towards our picket lines a short time, we struck into the Clinton road, which we followed until about 2 o'clock, P. M., when we bivouacked, in the woods, on Merritt's Plantation, about 5 miles from Port Hudson. We were all quite sure that we were only going up to destroy the railroad between Port Hudson and Clinton, and thus cut off the rebel supplies. Here we lay until the next day but one, when we moved up about two miles, to a large plain, where we were placed in position for a fight, but as no enemy appeared, we lay around a while and again started for our bivouac. Here we remained until Chapin's brigade came up, and then started once more up the road. We came again to the plain and, there being no one to hinder, crossed, moved on up through the woods, to the rebel picket lines, appropriated the pickets, and then kept on until we arrived at the point where the road emerges from the woods into the next plain, which is quite small, and entirely surrounded by dense forest. As our battery, which headed the column, came in sight, we were greeted by a shot from the rebel batteries, at very short range. This was sufficient inducement for us to put ourselves in fighting trim, which was only the work of a moment. Our regiment was ordered to support the battery upon the right, and were formed in line of battle, and lay flat upon the ground, our left resting on the battery. Here we lay, for an hour and a half, under about as lively a shower of grape, canister and shell, as is often met with. The boys could not have behaved better, nor the officers been more cool, were they born salamanders, but, at first, as the shot and shell went ripping and tearing through the trees over our heads, I noticed a general ducking of heads and shortning [sic] of necks, altogether so lud..... as to provoke a smile throughout the entire line. Many of our men have pieces of shell, &c., which fell among our ranks during this part of the engagement. The artillery practice thus far was beautiful on both sides. Since the breaking out of the rebellion, I have read many descriptions of the sounds produced by shot and shell in their flight through the air, but none of them seem to do the subject justice. I will not attempt the task myself, for it is useless,—the thing can't be did. If you can imagine a threshing machine, a freight train, a Mississippi steamboat, two blacksmith shops, and a hardware store, on a grand old "bust," the whole superintended by a legion of devils, you may get some sort of an idea of it, but it will be only a poor one. The fight here lasted only about an hour and a half, when the enemy's force, consisting of eight pieces of artillery, and three thousand infantry, were driven from their position, and we were occupying his ground. Just in rear of where their batteries stood, is a white building formerly used as a store.
After remaining here until nearly night we were again opened upon by the enemy, who supposed we were only Dudley's brigade with the amiable intention of gobbling us up. We again drove them away, this time polishing them off, "secundem artem," in just two hours and a half.
Our loss in this fight was not large, being only about 150 in killed and wounded in both brigades. Our regiment was peculiarly fortunate,—not losing but one, (wounded and he by the accidental discharge of one of our own guns. This fight occurred on Thursday, and we held the place until the following Sunday morning, when Gen. Banks made his appearance With his army and immediately moved down to our present position, viz: the back door of Port Hudson and commenced knocking, and have done so ever since—about eight days. They don't invite us to walk in, but we know they are at home, and intend to go in, notwithstanding their exclusiveness. Port Hudson is a big thing, and no mistake. I cannot undertake to write particulars, but only give you one or two hints. The rebel fortifications in the rear are about three miles long, and are mounted at intervals with light and heavy artillery, which they know well how to use. They have also some mortars, from which we receive an occasional compliment in the shape of a big shell. There is a force inside variously estimated at from five to fifteen thousand. At all events, enough are there to make it dangerous to attempt to storm the works. On the other hand, we have not far from 30,000 men, and artillery in any quantity. We have them surrounded, our forces reaching from river round to river again.—They try occasionally to break through our lines, but we go to work and drive them in again. It is of no use, we've got them, and we intend to hold fast. It beats all how they hold out. Since last Sunday morning we have been plugging it into them continually, and still they return u shot for shot. On Thursday last there was a cessation of hostilities, to allow them to take care of the dead and wounded. This was to last until 7 P. M. When the hour arrived, it seemed as though every gunner and soldier had stood with lanyard in hand and finger upon trigger, ready to pull. The air was literally full of bullets.
Our loss thus far is estimated at 2,000 killed and wounded, mostly by sharp-shooters. We are within rifle range of their works.—Our regiment has stood fire like veterans.—Gen. Dudley has the confidence in us to keep us continually in the front. We are quartered right under the fire of the enemy, and as I write, the bullets from the rifles go whizzing over our heads at a rate more or less suggestive. We are now so accustomed to it, however, that it don't disturb us much.
Our loss thus far has been remarkably small,—only three killed and eight wounded.
Killed—Serg't BINGHAM, CO. C; Privates STRATTON and RETAN, CO. A.
Wounded—Corporal M. HALLETT, CO. D, right leg off. Private PATRICK FLYNN, CO. A, in head. FRANCIS MCDONALD, Co. F, in
thigh. EUGENE BARRETT, CO. F, in leg. PETERS, CO. C, in arm. COOK, CO. H, in leg, and one other in same Co., and one in Company G, names not remembered.
You need look for nothing but a good report from us. There are many little incidents, which I know would be interesting to those having friends in the regiment, but which I cannot pretend to give. I am writing in the woods, sitting on the ground, with but very few conveniences, and very little time. Indeed I could not have written this much, only I am sitting in the shade, waiting for my shirt, which I have worn about a month, to dry. Capt. Biles, and Lieut. FAUCETT, are again with us. FAUCETT, not very well. Capt. Stocum is the same. We have not a man in the regiment who has shown fear. As soon as we get inside I will try and give some particulars. Stop now for want of time, &c. Yours truly,
FROM THE 161st REGIMENT.
Baton Rouge, Lou., July 13th, 1863.
Stress of circumstances force me to date my letter at this place, immediately after the commencement of the unfortunate assault upon Port Hudson, early on Sabbath morning, June 14th, finding, from the position of our Regiment and Brigade, that my services would probably not be required at our Hospital, and anxious to be of some use to our poor soldiers, I went over to the field Hospital (a cleared, circular spot in the edge of the woods) of the 3d division.—The wounded were being brought in very fast, and help was much needed. I remained there until nearly noon, giving instructions as to how the wounded should be placed, and then attending to their immediate wants, giving them ice water, or whiskey, and, when I could, words of encouragement and hope, and directing the dying in the way of life, until I found myself so exhausted and afflicted with a raging headache, that I was compelled to desist. Perhaps, also, the touching and painful sights that met my eye had something to do with my sufferings, I was threatened with chills and fever that evening and for several days, until, finding myself no better, and at the repeated advice of the Col., I left on the following Sabbath, in an ambulance, for this place.
Oh, the sufferings of our wounded soldiers! Enter the Hospital I have already spoken of. The whole space is being rapidly filled up.—At your right lies a man whose left knee has been completely shattered by a cannon ball; he is rolling in agony and calling for help.—By his side you see a Colonel, wounded in the lungs, and quietly breathing away his life. A little farther on, passing by several others, you come to another, sitting up, mortally wounded, but not aware of it. Behind him to the right, is Col. CUBBY, badly wounded in both arms; and, to the left, a Major, with a very pleasant countenance, who appears to be sleeping the sleep of death. Close by you, as you turn to the left, is a young man sitting against a tree, and held by two others, while the Surgeon amputates some of the fingers of his right hand; the perspiration is rolling off him in streams, and his screams thrill you. Near him a very young lad attracts your attention by his loud crying and the entreaty,
"Oh, Doctor, Doctor, don't use the knife;" while in the centre of the group are the amputation tables, from which some of our brave fellows are to go forth cripples for life.
One of the saddest scenes painfully impressed upon my mind, was that of a father kneeling by the side of his dying son, with one hand fanning his child, and with the other brushing away the big tears that rolled down his own cheeks. This was at the Hospital of our Division, on the day following the assault under Col. Chapin, May 28th. The next evening I was called to a very sorrowful duty, to bury two members of Co. A, of our Regiment, who had been killed during the day, but could not be removed from the field until dark. The grave was dug within the outer rebel rifle-pits. It was half past nine P. M., and the moon was shining brightly on the scene. Side by side the young men lay in their narrow house, while around stood their companions in arms; the solemn funeral service was conducted amidst the greatest silence and the shedding of many tears, and then we sadly turned away, wondering who would be the next.
So far, our reg't has been very fortunate in losing so few killed or wounded. God grant it may continue so! But it has been in scenes of danger and done its duty nobly. It has earned a name—a good name— and it is no mean praise to say that I am proud to belong to the 161st Reg't N. Y. V.
On Tuesday, May 26th, Gen. DUDLEY rode up to our regiment, drawn up in line, and informed them that he wanted 30 privates, 1 captain and 1 lieutenant, to join a storming party, that it would be a difficult and dangerous work which would be assigned them and none must volunteer who had not the requisite courage. Never can I forget the peculiar thrill that ran through me as I saw two or three times the required number step forth from the ranks, in answer to the call. The line officers all volunteered with the exception of one or two, who were physically incapacitated, so that the Col. was obliged to leave it to them to select a Capt. and Lieut. And when another storming party, of a thousand men, was being organized, the Major, Adjutant and a number of of [sic] the men gallantly volunteered.
The day following the surrender of Port Hudson, our Brigade, and WEITZEL'S, marched through that place and took boat for Donaldsonville, sixty miles below Baton Rouge, to scatter the rebels who have been firing into our boats as they passed up and down the river. As the fleet neared the place they were fired into, and one of our reg't, HUGH CARNEY, was wounded in the leg by a rifle ball.
But my letter is growing long, and I must pass over a great many little matters af [sic] interest.
I have received every mark of respect and kindness from both, officers and men, and feel quite "at home." Indeed, as Chaplain, I can truly say the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. Your friend, the Col., has been particularly kind to me. With esteem, I remain Yours sincerely,
WM. E. JONES.
Tuesday, July 14th.--Since writing the above, we have sad new from the Regt. On last Sabbath Gen. DUDLEY'S brigade, with our regiment in the advance, together with another brigade on the other side of the bayou, moved out from Donaldsonville about 6 miles, driving the rebels before them, and there camped for the night. Yesterday morning the artillery, on both sides, opened fire, and at noon the Rebels began to press heavily, in superior numbers, upon our men, until they were forced to retire, which they did in good order, contesting every foot of the ground. Our Reg't, of course, covered the retreat, and fought bravely; officers and men did all that could be done, nnder [sic] the circumstances.
I am very sorry to say that our Regiment lost in killed, wounded, and missing about 45 to 50 men; the number was, at first, 70, but some afterward came in.
The following are the names of the killed and wounded so far as I have been able to learn them:
Company A.—Corp. Clinton Wilcox, head.
Co. B—Serg't Hibbard, wounded in both legs, Geo. Brown, in the head, Corp. Beales, in the leg, G. N. Wright, missing.
Co. C.—O. A. Walker, reported killed, Amasa Squares, killed, Serg't L. E. Fitch, wound in the foot, Corp. Jas. Maher, body, slightly, Corp. S. A. Johnson, leg, Frank Litterman, neck, Hiram Francisco, hip, R. B. Murray, shoulder, Hiram Clark, arm sprained.
Co. D.—Lieut Cadmus, ball passed through both cheeks, Serg't Otis H. Smith, both arms, B. Sanford, nose, Dennis Locy, neck, Jas. Borden, left shoulder, Newman Filley, leg, David Bryant, leg, Alex. Carman, both hips, Ezeriah Genung, missing.
Co. E.—Leroy Brodirick, in shoulder, Henry R. Smith, left arm, Geo. Dates, nose, slightly, Geo. Edget, shoulder, slightly, D. Redner, missing.
Co. F.—Stephen S. Read, shoulder, Wm. T. Davison, head, Rich'd Harvey, arm.
Co. G.—Serg't Thomas McCulloch, leg, Serg't Hugh Carney, leg, Serg't Patrick E. Brown, foot, Andrew Snlvon, arm, Austin O'Melia, leg.
Co. H.—Corp. Robinson, reported killed, R. Miller, thumb, C Dibble, hand, Frank Wait, H. Sibley, arm.
Co. K.—Serg't Sliter, leg, Serg't Thatcher, killed, Erastus Booth, killed, Hiram E. Storrs, leg.
Tuesday Evening.—I have just come from the General Hospital, of which Dr. DOLSON formely [sic] had charge, where I conversed with several of the wounded of our Regt. I was very anxious to find DENNIS LOCY, whom I knew to be severely wounded. I found him perfectly sensible, able to talk in a whisper, and free from pain, but, sad to tell, the Surgeon says he connot [sic] live. Yours, &c.,
WM. E. JONES.
LETTER FROM LIEUT. O. M. SMITH.
The 161st in Battle—List of Killed and Wounded.
Baton Rouge, La. July 14, 1863.
* * * Still I must make another addition to this letter, no boat carrying mail being ready to go yet.
Our Brigade, (the 3d,) was engaged in a desperate battle yesterday at Donaldsville, or 6 miles above rather. They advanced on Sunday up the Bayou, Weitzel's brigade on the other side. Our Regiment was in advance, of course. They drove the rebels gradually by skirmishes, to 6 miles from D. Here they stopped and encamped. Yesterday, Monday, the rebs kept playing on our troops with artillery, of which they had plenty, and our guns, four in number, replied. About noon the rebels in strong force attacked our position.—Weitzel, on the other side, having no artillery, retreated, leaving our men exposed to a cross fire, which was said to have been terrible.—Our boys of the 161st fought well, and not a man left the ranks to skulk, while the 30th Mass., an old Reg't, broke and run. Finally the battery which our regiment was supporting, left, and then the rebs got close on to us, when we raised and fired, making then retreat. Then we had to help the Artillery out of the mud, &c., and the rebs came back again; being Texans, all mounted, the order was given for our regiment to fall back, and our's was the last to leave, as it was the first to advance. We had to retreat back to Donaldsonville, pursued) by the Texans on horses. Our Regiment has suffered badly, losing 77 men killed and wounded.
Our company lost the most, having 2 killed and 7 wounded.
NAMES OF KILLED IN CO. C.
Otis Walker and Amasa Squires.
Wounded.—Corp. Samuel Johnson, badly; L. E. Fitch, very slight; R. B. Murray, contusion of shoulder by shell, slight; Ja's Meeher, contusion on the bowel, not bad; Frank Lettemar, slight wound under the ear; Hiram Clark, shoulder out of joint; H. Francisco, slight wound.
I am afraid Johnson will not get over his wound, as the bone is broken probably. He was shot through the hip, and the doctor says it entered the joint. If so, his leg cannot be amputated, and will soon mortify in this climate. It is almost sure death to be badly wounded here now this hot weather.
Lieut. Cadmus of Co. D. was shot through both cheeks, and the Orderly Serg't of the same Company was shot through both wrists. The 2d Serg't of the same company was killed. It was the next company on our right.—Company H. on our left had 2 killed and several wounded.
There may be some errors in this account, which was brought in by our wounded men. I shall get full particulars to-morrow and will write again.
It was a bad thing for our men to be drove back so, but the enemy was 4 to 1. We shall flax them out though, before the week is out.
A large Union force is coming up from below, and we have got a large force also at D. now, and getting the rebs between them they will cut them to pieces. It has so far been one continued success, and a repulse under such circumstances is nothing strange.
Yours, as ever,
O. N. SMITH.
The Elmira Press of Monday, contains a long letter from Capt. Dumars, giving the particulars of a recent severe contest near Donaldsville, La., in which the 161st, Col. Gabriel T. Harrower, commanding, acquitted itself nobly. We copy all that space permits and also a list of killed and wounded.
On Monday morning at 4 o'clock, the brigade was in line, the enemy opening on us with artillery and musketry about five. We returned the fire briskly, and for about an hour, the contest raged spiritedly on both sides, the rebels finally retiring. About one o'clock in the in the afternoon the enemy renewed the attack with great spirit. After the artillery on both sides had fired for some time, our brigade was attacked furiously on the right, the 161st being on the extreme right. The fight here lasted for about an hour, our brigade maintaining its ground without faltering, firing steadily and effectually during all the time. About this time Col. Morgan's command was attacked by about four thousand of the enemy, and having but one company of cavalry, was compelled to retreat. This left our brigade, and especially the 161st, in a very exposed position and Gen. Dudley at once ordered our brigade to fall back. The enemy at once opened fire from both sides of the Bayou, and Phelps' battery having run out of ammunition, we could not return their fire from the other side of the Bayou as spiritedly as we wished.—About this time the 161st was ordered up to the support of the 16th Mass. Battery, consisting of twp guns, one of them being partially disabled. Col. Harrower was instructed to hold the position at all hazards, and most gallantly did he do it. The regiment was here subjected to a heavy fire for about half an hour, the rebels with musketry and shell, attacking it on both flanks and in the front. In the meantime Phelps' battery and the 30th Mass., and 174th N. Y., both in our brigade, had retired; and close upon their heels followed the 6th Mass. battery. The battery in attempting to cross a ravine got stuck in the mud, when our regiment advanced and assisted them out of this difficulty, and was again fired into. The battery then took the road, and the 161st formed in line of battle, and slowly took up its line of battle for Donaldsville, having to pass through gardens and glowing fields of corn, nearly all the way, but halting every few rods, faced about, and fired into the rebels with great effect each time, keeping them back effectually.
KILLED, WOUNDED, MISSING.
Co. A Capt. Van Tuyl, Bath. Wounded Color Corporal Clinton Wilcox, through face serious.
Co. B Lieut Clark, Watkins. Wounded —1st Lieut. Wm. H. Clark. Contusion.—Sergeant Wm. Hibbard, flesh wound in both thighs; Corporal B. J. Beals, flesh wound in right thigh; Private G. W. Brown, through the head, mortal. Co. C Capt. Dumars, Elmira. Killed—Otis Walker, shot through the neck.— Wounded—Sergeant L. Edgar Fitch, bayonet wound in left foot, slight; Corporal Jas. Maher, flesh wound in abdomen, slight; Corporal S. A. Johnson, right hip, serious; Private Frank Lettermarr, in the neck, slight; Private Hiram Francisco, flesh wound in hip, slight; Private Robert Murray, contusion; Private Hiram Clark, bruise of right arm and side; A Squires, left shoulder, seriously; Private J. Kyrk, right thigh; Taken prisoners—Private Joseph Seymour.
Co. D Capt. Biles, Bath—Wounded 1st Lieut. J. M. Cadmun, thro' the face, seriously; 1st Sergeant O. H. Smith, in both arms; 2d Sergeant L. Losey, through the neck and left shoulder, seriously; 5th Sergeant Bradford Sanford, flesh wound in nose; Private Luman Philley, in right leg; Private Jas. E. Borden, in left shoulder, seriously; Private David G. Bryant, flesh wound in right leg; Private Alexander Carman, flesh wound in both buttocks [sic]; Private Geo. F. Blakesly, contusion, right arm; Private Orville C. Boorman, contusion left arm. Missing—A. O. Gennings.
From the 161st Regiment.
Donaldsonville, La., July 15th, 1863.
MESSRS. EDITORS:—Two months have passed since I last wrote to you. My negligence arises from the fact that I have no pen, paper or ink available. I will now give you a brief account of our movements since. Our Regiment and Brigade left camp at Baton Rouge on the 13th of May, as we then supposed for a day's march towards Port Hudson, taking with us no baggage except our guns and equipments. Grierson's Ill. cavalry accompanied us. We marched 19 miles and encamped within 6 miles of Port Hudson. The next day we moved up and supported the Ill. cavalry who cut the rail road and telegraph leading to Clinton. We remained in camp until the morning of the 21st, when being joined by Gen. Augur with the 1st Brigade of his Division, we marched up in the direction of Port Hudson. About 9 o'clock, just as our leading columns were emerging through a piece of woods and into a tract known as "Store Plains," they were opened upon by a rebel battery about 800 yards in advance. The shells went whizzing thick and fast by us, and bursting closely around. It was the first music of the kind I have heard, and from the general ducking of heads I presume it was new to most of the Regiment. The column was brought to a halt for a moment, and then deployed in line of battle to the right and left. Our Regiment was on the left of the right wing which placed us near the center of the whole line, and directly in front of the rebel battery. We moved through the woods up to the edge of the clearing, and in plain sight of the enemies batteries. Our own batteries were soon placed in position directly behind us, and were ordered to lie close, in which position we remained about an hour, with the shot and shell of both batteries flying over. The 2d Louisiana deployed to the extreme right, outflanked the enemy and drove them from the field; the firing ceased and we were masters of the position. We stacked arms in the center of the field, and in about two hours the battle was renewed, the enemy receiving reinforcements from Port Hudson. They opened upon us from two sides with 12 pieces of artillery, and at the same time charged upon us and took two pieces of artillery, owing to the cowardice of the 48th Massachusetts who broke and run at the first fire of the enemy. The 49th Mass. also broke and run when ordered to charge. The 116th N. Y. was then moved forward to the rescue. They charged at the point of the bayonet, drove the rebels from the field, took 100 prisoners, retook the 2 pieces of artillery and closed up the fight. Gen. Auger was under positive orders to advance no further than the Store Plains, and could not follow up his victory. The force of the enemy opposed to us was about 300 infantry, a part of the garrison of Port Hudson. On the 23d Gen. Sherman occupied Springfield Landing on the left, and
Gen. Banks moved down from Bayou Sara to the right, and from that moment the fate of Port Hudson was sealed. They were completely surrounded. On the 26th preparations were made for a general assault; storming parties of 25 men, volunteers each regiment in our Division to lead the advance. Such was the zeal which animated the men that 150 of our Regiment were anxious for the honor of the position. Three men only could go from a company. Chenango was represented by Charles A. Herrick of Columbus, Wm. Wilson of Norwich, and the 1st Sergt. of Co. K. Early on the morning of the 27th the ball opened, and the troops moved forward. They had nearly 2 miles to advance through woods and deep ravines running in every possible direction, forming the strongest kind of fortifications, every rod of ground was contested by the rebels, and every inch of our advance stubbornly resisted. On the right and left of us the fight was the most severe. About 10 A. M. our Brigade moved to the right of our line to take the place of Grover's Division who moved down to assist Weitzel's Brigade, who was hard pressed by the rebels. Our Brigade occupied the outer lines of the enemy's work's, but they were so situated that all the approached to them from the rear could be raked by the fire of the enemy's cannon from his main works. To silence these works the storming party moved forward in column along the Bayou Sara road leading directly into the fort. 600 yards from our Brigade we met about 300 of the enemy, who opened fire upon us, which we as promptly returned, and charging them, drove them behind their main works. We then deployed as skirmishers, protecting ourselves as well as we could behind logs, and in ravines. They fired upon us about half an hour with musketry and grape, which we returned with interest. In an hour we silenced every cannon upon the works, and not a rebel dared to show his head over the parapet. We were within 50 yards of the main works of the enemy, and expecting and hoping orders to move over the works; but orders soon came from gen. Banks to permit no more charges, as he had already lost heavy on the right and left, in vain attempts to carry the earthworks. I shall ever believe that had we been permitted to charge at this time we could have easily carried their works. We had lost but few men out of our storming party, were flushed with success, behind us was one of the best Brigades in the Corps, which had not been engaged in the fight, and was eager to advance. The enemy were demoralized in front of us, which was evidenced from the fact that some dozens of them jumped over the works and gave themselves up. But all of this was unknown to the Generals in the rear, and we had to content ourselves by occupying the position won, and allow the enemy to reorganize his forces in front, while we lay down, hungry and thirsty, to watch him till morning. We were relieved about 9 o'clock the next morning, having had nothing to eat for the last 24 hours.
The loss on the 27th was estimated at 1000 killed and wounded. Our lines were advanced and the enemy were everywhere driven behind their works. The Negro Brigade fought manfully and their loss was heavy, but not so bad as represented; the regiment lost about two hundred. Our storming party were kept together until the 30th, when our regiment was ordered to the front to support a Massachusetts regiment which occupied the ground taken by us on the 27th. We moved in front and were met by a murderous fire of grape canister and musketry which in a few moments cut down seven out of twenty men in our squad. The fire was terrible. After lying down about half-an-hour we were withdrawn to the rear where we found the poltroons of
the Massachusetts Regiment in a ravine, instead of holding the enemy's works as they might have done; they had cowardly sneaked back into a ravine and allowed the enemy to load their cannon, and us to pass by them un-... by their retreat. Our regiment lost up to this time about a dozen men, all from the storming party except one. The 114th Regiment arrived about the 1st of June, and I was pleased to see and shake hands with many an old friend from Chicago. The time from the 27th of May to the 14th of June was occupied in bringing up and placing in position heavy siege guns which kept up a constant bombardment. On the 14th an assault was ordered over the same ground which our storming party passed on the 27th. The different regiments moved through a ravine nearly parallel with the enemy's fortifications, and to reach the works had to pass over a ridge fully exposed to fire from the entire center of the rebels' line. The 4th Wisconsin led the advance and scaled the entrenchments. They were not supported. The balance of the regiments became mixed up in the ravine; their officers in leading them on were shot down as fast as they showed themselves. The men in many of the regiments refused to advance.
No orders were given to withdraw, and they remained there from daylight until dark, when they were brought off. Cases of individual bravery and daring were here enacted, but no concentrated attack was made upon the entrenchments except by the 4th Wisconsin, who were all killed, wounded, or taken prisoners. Many companies would reach the ditch, but before doing so would be so badly cut up that it would have been madness to proceed farther. Five companies of the 11th were here engaged, and behaved with admitted bravery, two or three of them getting into the ditch outside of the parapets. It was here the lamented Col. Smith was mortally wounded while gallantly leading on his men. It was a complete slaughter pen for us; the enemy could not be seen in front, and every one of our men who showed himself was instantly shot. We lost 1000 men on a few acres and the ground to this day is moist with their blood. On the 16th Gen. Banks called for 1000 volunteers to form a forlorn hope to lead a third storming part, evidently, not liking the idea of giving up his project of carrying their works by storm. The men were very reluctant to volunteer, after being twice repulsed, and yet about eight hundred men stepped forward. These were formed into two brigades and drilled for the purpose. Charles Herrick volunteered from our company, and Sergeant Calkins and Corporal Widger, of Otselic, volunteeered [sic] from the 114th. The 114th furnished six volunteers, four of whom were from Brookfield, Company G. We occupied a camp on the right near Thompson's creek. Had but little work to do, excellent water, abundant rations, a good band of music, and had a good time of it for three weeks. The post of honor proved to be to us the place of leisure and enjoyment. Banks addressed us on the 1st of July, and promised that we should spend the 4th in Port Hudson, but it came and passed and no orders came. On the 7th we received news of the fall of Vicksburg. The next day Port Hudson surrendered. On the morning of the 9th Gen. Banks at the head of our storming brigade marched inside of the entrenchments with our band playing Yankee Doodle. The garrison were drawn in one line by which we marched the entire length. The enemy laid down their arms, and our brigade being disbanded we rejoined our different regiments. I found the 161st on board the St. Charles. We steamed down the river in the evening and the next morning landed at this place. The enemy were in heavy force in front of us, had attacked the small force here in Fort Butler and were severely repulsed. On the 12th inst. three regiments of our Brigade moved down the Bayou on the north side while Col. Morgan moved along the South. We found the enemy in force in about a mile and drove them about four miles, when we encamped. We fared sumptously [sic] on chickens, sweet potatoes, green corn, tomatoes, melons, &c. At noon of the 13th we were attacked by the enemy in heavy force on both sides of the Bayou, and Col. Morgan commenced a retreat on the south side. This left our flank exposed, and the enemy poured heavy fire into us from the levee opposite of us, and at the same time a heavy force of mounted men commenced to flank us on the right. The brigade were ordered to fall back, and the 161st covered the retreat. We fall back for five miles fighting all the way, most of the time under a flank fire from under the levee opposite, and a part of the time we were flanked on both sides, the enemy following so closely in our rear. Our men fought bravely and manfully. Scarcely a man faltered, but moved through a raking fire in almost as perfect a line as when on parade. We made a dozen halts, and then would pour into the enemy our fire, check them for several moments, and then slowly move on in line of battle. Our loss was heavy. Seventy-three men out of about two hundred and fifty were killed, wounded and missing. The loss in our Company was seven—three killed, two wounded, and two taken prisoners. Sergt. E. W. Thatcher and privates A. Wilcox and Erastus Booth were killed; Sergt. W. R. Sliter and H. E. Storrs wounded, the latter slightly; Wm. Weaver and H. Gridley taken prisoners,—the latter afterwards came in and said he was paroled. The men and officers in Company K in this, their first real battle, behaved as coolly as regulars; not a man faltered. Captain Tillson was conspicuous throughout the six hours we were under fire for his cool and daring bravery. No officer or man in the regiment was more exposed than he, and to his vigilant and watchful foresight the men and regiment are much indebted. At one time he observed a strong picket fence to our rear stretching across the line of our march. He obtained leave to send six of his men to tear down the fence, which they successfully accomplished. When the regiment arrived at the fence torn down the enemy poured a shower of bullets into our ranks and we lost many men here. Had we been compelled to have torn down the fence we must have suffered severely. At another time we came upon four or five skulkers from a Massachusetts regiment, who had thrown away their arms; he immediately ordered them into the ranks, and furnished them guns and compelled them to fight, but they left at the first opportunity. Lieut. Luddington proved himself every inch a brave man and good soldier.
The force opposed to us is variously estimated from 8,000 to 20 000, under the command of Dick Taylor. We shall clean them out soon. We have heard the glorious news from the North and it gladdens our hearts. Everywhere we triumph!
Yours Truly, S. E. W.
LETTER FROM LIEUT. DE WOLFE.
Donaldsonville, La., July 18, 1863.
The past few days have indeed been eventful. On Monday, July 6th, we received official intelligence of the fall of Vicksburg, and indulged in many a good, hearty hurrah. On the 8th, Port Hudson surrendered, unconditionally, and we marched in, or rather through it, on the 9th, to embark for this place, which is on the west bank of the Mississippi, and about 70 miles above New Orleans, and 40 or 50 below Baton Rouge. We found things in Port Hudson about as we presumed we should. The fortifications consisted of only one line, behind which, the enemy had cells, or caves, dug to enable the soldiers to get out of reach of our shot and shell, which, though they were thrown with great precision, failed, for this reason, to do much execution. Most of the damage to life and limb, which was considerable inside, was caused by our sharpshooters. There is scarcely a tree, bush, building, or anything else, reaching above the top of the line of fortifications, which does not bear upon it, in some form or other, the mark of the cannon ball, or grape shot, from our heavy guns, and everywhere may be seen the carcasses of mules, horses and cattle, putrifying [sic] and broiling in the sun, painful and striking evidences of the accuracy and murderous character of our fire. The entire ground inside of the fortifications consists of a series of "hog backs" and ravines, just such as may be seen on the grape growing side of Pleasant Valley. This is covered with a thick growth of bushes and trees, almost impenetrable. So that had the storming party been so fortunate as to get inside, the rebels could have mown them down like the grass. In marching through to the river we passed several long lines of freshly made graves, all neatly marked, with the name, rank and age, date of death, &c., &c., of the occupant. Just before reaching the river bank we passed a large number of rebels, drawn up in line, without arms, and under guard, waiting to receive us. Judging from what I saw here, I should say that army correspondents had been in the habit of greatly misrepresenting the facts, in relation to the men composing the rebel army. What I saw, taken as a body, were cleanly, well dressed, intelligent, and altogether about as as [sic] fine a looking a set of men as one would wish for soldiers. There was a good variety of expression exhibited upon their countenances; some looking as if pleased with the idea of capture, others wearing a sullen aspect, while still another class could not prevent becoming visible in their countenance, their supreme contempt for the d___d Yankees. The river batteries are impregnable, and situated as they are, might be shelled by gun and mortar boats till doomsday, without material damage. The bank, here for three or four miles, is perpendicular and about 60 feet above the present level of the river. There are still, in position on the bank, six or eight very heavy guns (some 11 inch, made at Richmond), and up to the time of our advent here, the front was lined, besides, with seige [sic] pieces and field artillery making it sure death for a vessel to attempt the passage up the river. Here, also, as in the rear, were dug caves for the protection of the gunners, and troops, the only difference being that these last were intended to shelter a larger number, and being under fire of the mortar boats were dug deeper and covered with a greater depth of earth. The rebels might, and I have no doubt did, frequently see a shot start from one of our gunboats, and walk leisurly [sic] into their holes and sit down and laugh, as our boys at home would over the explosion of a bunch of fire-crackers. All about their batteries were the evidences of the accuracy with which shells can be thrown from mortars, many of them having fallen within a rod or two of the guns. The shells thrown from the mortar boats are 13 inches in diameter, and, consequently, very heavy, and, falling as they do from a very high elevation they bury themselves in the earth, and exploding, dig a hole, which "Bob" likens to the first day's work of a great stout Irishman, upon a cellar. The village of Port Hudson has been about as large a place, as Kanone, but there is very little left of it now --only a very few houses. There is a small printing office, from which is now issued a little Union paper, about one-quarter the size of the Courier. In capturing this place, we came into possession of about 70 pieces of artillery, 7,000 small arms, and 5,000 prisoners, altogether, a pretty good haul, besides having the satisfaction of removing the last barrier to the free and uninterrupted navigation of the river.
We found lying at the levee 7 steamers waiting to receive us, and at dark were on our winding way toward Donaldsonville.--Just before landing, our boat was fired into, by the rebel pickets from behind the levee. The upper deck was crowded, and the paddle boxes covered with men, amongst whom were BILES, BURNHAM, and myself. As the bullets went whistling past, you would have laughed to have seen me lie down and roll off behind the wheel house. One man standing beside me was wounded, Sergt. KEARNEY, of Co. G, shot in thigh.
This Donaldsonville has once been a fine place, numbering about as many inhabitants as Bath, and situated upon both sides of the Bayou Lafourche. There is but very little left of it now, it having been burnt by the gunboats, for having fired, repeatedly, into our transports. Fort Butler is a strong little work, situated at the junction of the river and the Bayou. It is built in the shape of a star, mounts six siege pieces, and is garrisoned by a force of about 125 convalescent, soldiers.—About three weeks since the rebels, 4,000 strong, made a descent upon it, but failed to get possession of the place. The garrison fought like devils, killing and wounding hundreds, and capturing a number of prisoners fully equal to their own force. The Confederates were surprised to find no force in the fort. A Major, who was made prisoner, told one of our officers, that if what he had just witnessed was a specimen of our sick men's fighting, he did not want to meet our well ones.
Immediately after the landing we moved down the Bayou and bivouaced [sic] behind the levee, where we lay until Saturday morning, when our brigade started back into the country, down the Bayou, on a sort of reconnoisance. We proceeded about four miles, to Cox's plantation, driving the enemy's pickets all the way after having accomplished the object of our expedition we retraced our steps.
The next day, (Sunday), we started again, over this same ground, and after leaving our own picket line had a sort of running skirmish all the way up to Cox's plantation, where we stopped and bivouacked, apparently with the intention of holding our position. Here Gen. DUDLEY gave permission to the various commands to forage, and it was but a very short time before we were all living like fighting cocks. We were frequently greeted by a shell from the enemy's artillery, but the firing was so poor as to frighten no one. We lay here during the night, our regiment being in the advance, a position which we had from the start. In the morning, BURNHAM and myself were unceremoniously shelled out of our position at a breakfast table, which we had extemporized; but the firing did not last long, and we did not go hungry. About noon our pickets were driven in and reported the enemy advancing in force. The opposite side of the Bayou was occupied by a brigade of our troops under command of Col. Morgan, so we at first felt no fear of being flanked. Our regiment still kept up its position in the front, and, indeed, during the whole of the fight and the retreat, stood between the enemy and the balance of the troops. The fighting commenced in earnest about 1 p. m., and the musketry fire, to which we were exposed was very severe. Our regiment took position with no thought of abandoning it, and, I presume, would have been there now, had not Gen. DUDLEY ordered us to fall back. After the firing had continued about an hour, the brigade on the opposite side of the Bayou, which was expected to support us, fell back, and allowed the enemy to pour a murderous fire into us from the left flank. We, at the same time, were receiving the same in front and from the right, so that we were under a fire concentrated from three sides at once. It was here that we suffered the heaviest loss. I saw four men wounded out of my own company, within half a minute, and could hear upon all sides of me a succession of "Oh's," as the men were struck. Men could never stand up and fight better, and more obstinately than did the 161st Regiment. We now feel like standing up by the side of any veteran regiment and telling what we can do. I saw no officer in the regiment show any inclination to exhibit the white feather. Col. HARROWER and Lt.-Col. KINSEY behaved admirably. Maj. STRAWN, especially distinguishing himself by his coolness and courage. Serg'ts LOCY, SMITH and SANFORD fought bravely, and their courage and manliness cannot be appreciated, except by those who saw them, as I did, on that occasion. But where all did so well I can scarcely particularize without injustice.
The fight was kept up all the way back to Donaldsonville, about four miles. Captain BILE was not with us, he having been sent to Baton Rouge a day or two previously on the business of the regiment. Lieut. Cadmus was wounded after we had fallen back about two miles. His wound is severe but not mortal. I have had the reputation of drawing always a prize when engaged in a lottery, but this time it was a blank, and I feel very thankful for it. Co. D. had 21 men engaged, and lost 10 of the number wounded, and 1 missing.
Yours, etc., T. S. DeWOLFE.
ELMIRA, N. Y.
WEDNESDAY MORNING, DEC. 14, 1864.
The 161st Regiment is at present at Memphis, Tenn. The camp is just outside the city, on the fair grounds, and the men have fitted up a most excellent set of quarters, much more comfortable than those they had been occupying at Columbus, Ky. They are now prepared to spend the winter at Memphis, but whether their wishes in that respect will be acceded to, is doubtful, considering the situation of military affairs in Tennessee. The new recruits for the regiments, sent from here during last summer and fall, have all arrived. Lieut. Col. Kinsey is drilling them and the entire regiment, about four hours each day.
A private letter from Memphis, states that the recruits are improving very fast, and are as fine and intelligent a lot f men as were ever got together in a regiment.
The regiment turns out quite a handsome line now. Six hundred men are now reported present for duty, with very few on the sick list.
FROM THE 161ST.—The Regiment was still at Franklin, La., when last heard from. The detachment of new recruits under command of Lieut. Soper had not yet arrived, but were expected daily. The health of the regiment was excellent, and not a man in Capt. DUMARS' company was on the sick list. The regiment—and, in fact, the entire Nineteenth Army Corps—was never in a better condition for active service, and it is generally believed in camp that Gen. Banks would give them something to do, in the way of offensive operations, during the present month. The First Division of the 19th Army Corps, consisting of three Brigades, is now commanded by Brig. Gen. EMORY. The First Brigade has the 161st, 114th, and 173d New York, 30th Massachusetts and 15th Maine Regiments, and is commanded by Brig. Gen. DWIGHT. The second Brigade consists of the 28th Massachusetts, 13th Maine, 8th Vermont, 160th New York, and 40th Pennsylvania regiments commanded by Gen. McMillen. The third Brigade consists of the 14th and 30th Maine, 162d, 165th and 116th New York regiments, commanded by the senior Colonel, Lieut. Col. Kinsey, of the 161st Regiment, had been in command of the First Brigade. During the temporary absence of Gen. Dwight at New Orleans. The Paymasters were expected to arrive about the first inst., to pay off all the regiments in the 19th Army Corps.
Mr. George C. Coleman, a young man who enlisted from this Office in the 161st Regiment N. Y. V., and under Gen. Banks, at the late battle in Western Louisiana, was wounded in the hip and leg.
We understand that Capt. Nicholas McDonough, of the 160th Regiment, who went from this place, was also wounded in the same battle. His name is not reported among the wounded, in the papers, but the news was brought by a private letter. These are the only two from Geneva that have received any injuries.
PROVOST JUDGE AT BATON ROUGE.—We have a copy of the Baton Rouge Gazette of August 29th, from which we copy the following notice of Capt. Walling of the 161st N. Y. V.: The Office of Provost Judge has also shown recently the evidences of an active dispatch of useful business by its present incumbent, Capt. Walling, distinguished alike by urbanity as a gentleman and efficiency as an officer, and favorably known before assuming his present position as the Assistant Provost Marshal to Capt.
FROM THE 161ST.—Lieut. Col. KINSEY is in command the 161st during the absence of Col. HARROWER. The Regiment is Brigaded with the 30th Massachusetts, Col. DUDLEY; 2d La., Col. PAINE; 174th N. Y., Col. PARMALEE;—N. Y., Col. LOVE. This Brigade is in the 1st Division, which is under the command of Gen. GODFREY WEITZEL.
Maj. Strawn, of the 161st N. Y. V., has been compelled to resign in consequence of continued lameness, caused by his horse falling on him, previous to his leaving with his regiment.
Sergeant DENNIS LOSEY, of Co. D, 161st Regt. N. Y. V., died at the hospital in Baton Rouge, La., on the 19th of July, from the effects of wounds received at the fight near Donaldsonville a few days previous. Sergt. LOSEY was a member of Capt. BILES' Company, and enlisted in this village in August last. As a soldier, he was regarded the best in the company, and his loss will be keenly felt by the officers and men, to whom he had always been an example worthy of imitation. He was kindly cared for, and received every attention that could possibly be bestowed. His age was about twenty-six.
FROM THE 161ST.—A squad of seventy-six new recruits for the 161st Regiment, left last night for New York, en route for New Orleans, under the command of Lieut R. R. Soper. A larger number will leave here for the same Regiment in about two weeks. (Feb. 13, 1864)
We are permitted to publish a very interesting letter this week, from the pen of Rev. Wm. E. Jones, Chaplain of the 161st Regiment. It gives a complete list of all the wounded in the late engagement at Donaldsonville, La., and will be read with the deepest interest.
MATTERS IN THE 161ST.—By letters from Baton Rouge we learn that Capt. "Gat Harrower, formerly of the Pennsylvania Bucktails, has received the appointment of Adjutant, vice Kinsey promoted to Lieut. Col., and Capt. Craig promoted to Major, vice Strawn resigned. Quartermaster "Mac" Brown has resigned his commission, and will soon be home. The regiment has returned to its old camping ground at Baton Rouge, where it will probably remain for some time.--Advocate.
DISHONORABLY DISCHARGED.—On the 4th inst., by order of the President, Capt. H. B. BROWN, of Co. B, 161st Regiment N. Y. Volunteers, was dismissed from the service for violation of the 52d and 77th Articles of War and absence without leave. Capt. Brown, was formerly a resident of Watkins.—Elmira Advertiser.
In Geneva, Mr. ELI S. WHITAKER, aged 24 years. He was a Printer. In 1862, he volunteered in the 161st N. Y. V., and went with the Regiment to Louisiana, where he was attacked with Chronic Diarrhea, and was sent to the hospital, in which he lay until a few weeks since, when he came home on a 60 day furlough, and died on the 1st inst. He was a genial companion, and a brave and noble soldier.
161st N. Y. REGIMENT.
The following are the names of those who were inmates of the "Mansfield Hospital," and were in the late fight at Mansfield. They were made prisoners of war and have been but recently paroled by the enemy. Those marked paroled were in New Orleans on the 21st. The disabled will be discharged, and all judged unable to do duty for thirty days will be furloughed.
The 161st regiment was raised at Elmira by Col. Harrower.
J. Murray, E, face, paroled.
Corp. C. S. Wheaton, A, shoulder, died
G. Grant, K, leg, paroled.
G. Folmsbee, E, thigh, paroled.
W. Watkins, K, back, died April 11th.
N. parker, E, leg, died April 15th.
T. J. Hanford, D, knee, paroled.
S. Ingrom, E, ankle, paroled.
D. Conner, C, back, paroled.
B. Mund, E, thigh, paroled.
A. Ayres, D, leg.
SWORD PRESENTATION—We noticed a few days since, that Sergeant DEWITT C. AMEY, of Company H, 161st Regiment, had just been commissioned a Second Lieutenant. A day or two following the reception of his commission, he was sent in charge of a detachment of new recruits, principally for the 50th Engineers, to Washington; and so well pleased were the men with the treatment they received at his hands, that during a short stay in Baltimore, they made up a purse of eighty dollars and purchased a splendid regulation sword, sash, belt and haversack, and through Lieut. E. B. Austin, of the 50th Engineers, presented them to Lieut. Amey in a neat and eloquent speech, which we loudly applauded. The presentation took place at
Union Hall, and about four hundred persons were present. Lieut. Amey was suffering from a severe cold, and was unable to more than thank the donors for their unexpected gifts. We can assure them that they were most worthily bestowed.
THE ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIRST
This regiment is at present in New Iberia, in Western Louisiana, near the Texas State line; but the probabilities are that it will shortly leave for the Rio Grande, or some other point in Eastern Texas. Those of our young men who want to see the country, as well as have a hand in restoring that line State to the Union, cannot do better than enlist in the 161st regiment. Capt. DUMARS, in command of the detachment here from his regiment, is anxious to take back with him a number of able-bodied young men. He expects to leave about the middle of January. Corporal R. B. MURRAY will be found, until the 5th of January, at the recruiting head-quarters, opposite the Brainard House, to receive the applications of all who wish to join this fine regiment. The following authorized recruiting officers have also been sent to Steuben County: Sergeant D. C. AMEY, Corning; Sergeant MURRAY NASH, Corning; Corporal GEO H. SNELL, Bath,
Promoted.—We are glad to lean, as we do by letter from SILAS E. WARREN, ESQ., who enlisted as a private in Capt. TILLSON'S company, attached to the 161st Regiment N. Y. S. V., that he has been promoted to a Sergeant's position. The interesting letter from New Orleans, which we publish in another column is from his pen. He will keep our readers well posted as to the exploits of the Chenango boys in the 161st. His letters will be read with interest.
MATTERS IN THE 161ST.--By letters from Baton Rouge we learn that Capt. "GAT" HARROWER, formerly of the Pennsylvania Bucktails, has received the appointment of Adjutant, vice KINSEY promoted to Lieut. Col., and Capt. CRAIG promoted to Major, vice STRAWN resigned. Quartermaster "MAC" BROWN has resigned his commission, and will soon be home. The regiment has returned to its old camping-ground at Baton Rouge, where it will probably remain for some time.
The casualties in the 161st Regiment in the last battle of Banks' army in Western Louisiana were as follows:
Sergeant Major Richard L. Guion, breast; John Lloyd, Co. K, thigh; Jacob Swartwood, Co. G, groin; Lieut. James M. Cadmus, Co. D, both thighs; Wm. E. Spencer, Co. D, thigh; Eben Boynton, Co. B, shoulder; G. D. Bryant, Co. D, arm; Sergt. Geo. S. Prentiss, Co. A, shoulder; Lieut. John Gibson. Co. A, thigh; Sergeant Chas. H. Beyer, Co. I, breast; Waldo W. Brooks, Co. I, shoulder; Horace Clark, Co. C, hand; Geo. W. Edget, Co. E, arm; L. G. Tremain, Co. C, arm; Wm. Norton, Co. H, hip; Robert Moore, Co. I, arm; Wm. Egelson, Co. A, back and shoulder; Nicholas Wagoner, Co. I, hand; Sergt John H. Campbell, Co. I, arm; Wm. Woodhouse, Co. C, arm; Capt. A. Walling, Co. I, eye; Theron F. Miller. Co. D, leg; Henry Brown, Co. D, bruise; Franklin Holmes, Co. E, thigh; G. C. Coleman, Co B, hip and leg; Wm. Henry Garvey, Co. A, leg; Capt. Geo. M. Tillson, Co. K, right arm amputated; A. R. Page, Co. B, arm and leg; Jas. Anderson, Co. B, arm fractured; Walter McCormick, Co. D, arm and head; Tyler Congdon, Co. D, abdomen; Elijal Sprague, Co. A, Henry Shaw, Co. I; Wm. Langton, Co. H; Oscar Johnson, Co. D; J. M. Burrell; Franklin Holmes, Co. D; Chas. Devens, Co. A.
A pleasant impromptu Sword presentation came off at the Brainard House parlor, last evening. Lieut. R. R. Soper was presented with a magnificent sword and appointments, the gift of friends and members of his Company, which he has recently raised. The fine weapon was received direct from New York, being the manufacture of one of the celebrated houses who make that branch their exclusive business. The scabbard was shark-skin richly mounted with gilded ornament. The blade was fine steel, beautifully etched with National emblems. The handle was delicately chased silver mounted, and the guard was elegant in design and highly gilded. The presentation was made by STEPHEN MCDONALD in a few and appropriate remarks, to which Lieut. SOPER responded in a feeling and grateful manner. A very pleasant social time followed after the presentation. (Feb. 8, 1864, Elmira) Lieut. Soper and Company have selected the 161st Reg't, with which to cast their lot, and expect to leave for New Orleans this week, going from Elmira probably Wednesday. Lieut. Soper has the good wishes of many friends who hope he may return in safety laden with the hard won laurels of a successful warrior.
THE 161ST REGIMENT.—Capt. Dumars, of Elmira, now at Port Hudson, writes to the Advertiser, under date of May 30th from which we copy the following list of killed and wounded in the attack on Port
KILLED.—Anson Retan and Edward Stratton, of company A; Sergeant Geo. G. Bingham, of company C, and Corporal Halleck, of company D,—all of the storming party.
WOUNDED.—Patrick Flinn, company A; Erin M. Peters, company C, (in hand); Abram Cook, (shot in knee,) and L. H. Cushman, company H; Eugene Bassett, company F.—None of the wounded are seriously hurt.
Col. Harrower is well, and his boys will follow him wherever he leads. The 161st has a good name here, and I hear compliments for it every day from those who only give them where they are deserved. We will strive still further to merit them, should occasion offer.
The contest is still raging, and when it will end, I cannot even guess. This is the severest day of the fight, but I have hopes it will be brought to a close tomorrow or on Monday. The rebels are desperate but sooner or later they will have to yield.
Our readers will recollect that in Sept. last, during an action between the U. S. gunboat Sachem and the rebel batteries at Sabine Pass, Texas, a shot from the fort went through the boiler of the Sachem, scalding many on board of her. Among those on board was Co. D, 161st N. Y. V. The Sachem then surrendered, since which time no tidings has been received from the prisoners, until last week, when a letter was received from Lt. W. W. Lindsay, dated "Austin Co. Texas, Oct. 19, 1863." He says the prisoners were allowed to run about the camp, play ball, &c., and are tolerably well used. Anthony Compton, of Bradford, was killed on board the Sachem. Patrick Hart and Adam H. Wilcox, of Bath, Garry Didge, of Bradford died at Sabive village, the same night. Abram Blakesly, of Bath, died the next day. James M. Snyder, of Cameron, and George T. Gannon, of Bradford, died 5 days afterwards, at Beaumont. Joseph Bartholomew, of Sonora; Isaac J. Lewis, of Bath; Ira Chubb and Thomas A. Sawyer, of South Bradford, were badly scalded, but were recovering. Sawyer had two fingers shot off and a severe wound in the leg; Orville C. Booram, of Bradford, was badly scalded during the action, jumped overboard, but what became of him is not known. Arnold Shults is in good health.
161st, N. Y. V.—The following is a list of the wounded of the 161st N. Y. V., in the battle of Grand Ecore, Louisiana:
Major Richard L. Guion, breast; John Lloyd, Co. K, thigh; Jacob Swartwood, Co. G, groin; Lieut. John M. Cadmus, Co. D, both thighs; Wm. E. Spencer, Co. D, thigh; Eben Boynton, Co. B, shoulder; G. D. Bryant, Co. D, arm; Sergt. Geo. S. Prentiss, Co. A, shoulder; Lieut. John Gibson, Co. A, thigh; Sergt. Chas. H. Beyer, Co. I, breast; Waldo W. Brooks, Co. I, shoulder; Horace Clark, Co. C, hand; Geo. W. Edget, Co. E, arm; L. C. Tremain, Co, C, arm; Wm. T. Norton, Co. H, hip; Robt. Moore, Co. I, arm; Wm. Egelson, Co. A, back and shoulder; Nicholas Wagoner, Co. I, hand; Sergt, John H. Campbell, Co. I, arm; William Woodhouse, Co. C, arm; Capt. S. A. Walling, Co. I, eye; Theron F. Miller, Co. D, leg; Henry Brown, Co. D, bruise; Franklin Holmes, Co. E, thigh; G. C. Coleman, Co. B, hip and leg; Wm. Henry Garvey, Co. A, leg; Capt. Geo. M. Tillson, Co. K, right arm amputated; A. R. Page, Go. B, arm and leg; Jas. Anderson, Co. B, arm fractured; Walter McCormick, Co. D, arm and head; Tyler Congdon, Co. D, abdomen; Elijah Sprague, Co A; Henry Shaw, Co. I; Wm. Langton, Co. H; Sergt.-Major Richard M. Giles; Oscar Johnson, Co. D. J. M. Burrell; Franklin Holmes, Co. D; Chas. Devins, Co. A; Capt. Jas. Gibson, wounded.
The 161st Regiment, N. Y. V.
This regiment bore a gallant part in the late battles in Western Louisiana, and distinguished [sic] itself for coolness and bravery at a time when the greater part of the army engaged was panic-stricken, and flying before the victorious foe. The following are the casualties reported in this regiment, though it is feared that there may be a list of killed yet to come:
Sergeant Major Richard L. Guion, breast; John Lloyd, Co. K, thigh; Jacob Swartwood, Co. G, groin; Lieut. James M. Cadmus, Co. B, both thighs; Wm. E. Spencer, Co. D, thigh; Eben Boynton, Co. B, shoulder; G. D. Bryant, Co. D, arm; Sergt. Geo. S. Prentiss, Co. A, shoulder; Lieut. John Gibson, Co. A, thigh; Sergeant Charles A. Beyer, Co. I, breast; Waldo W. Brooks, Co. I, shoulder; Horace Clark, Co. C, hand; Geo. W. Edget, Co. E, arm; L. G. Tremain, Co. C, arm; Wm. T. Norton, Co. H, hip; Robert Moore, Co. I, arm; Wm. Egleson, Co. A, back and shoulder; Nicholas Wagoner, Co. I, hand; Sergt. John H. Campbell, Co. I, arm; Wm. Woodhouse, Co. C, arm; Capt. S. A. Walling, Co. I, eye; Theron F. Miller. Co. D, leg; Henry Brown, Co. D, bruise; Franklin Holmes, Co. E, thigh; G. C. Coleman, Co. B, hip and leg; Wm. Henry Garvey, Co. A, leg; Capt. Geo. M. Tillson, Co. K, right arm amputated; A. R. page, Co. B, arm and leg; Jas. Anderson, Co. B, arm fractured; Walter McCormick, Co. D, arm and head; Tyler Congdon, Co. D, abdomen; Elijah Sprague, Co. A; Henry Shaw, Co. I; William Langdon, Co. H; Oscar Johnson, J. M. Burrell, Franklin Holmes, Co. D; Charles Devens, Co. H.
ELMIRA, N. Y.,
From the 161st Regiment N. Y. SATURDAY MORNING, JAN. 14, 1865
[Correspondence of the Elmira Advertiser.]
CAMP OF THE 161st REG. N. Y. Vols.
WHITE RIVER, ARK., Jan. 2, 1865.
MESSES. FAIRMAN & CALDWELL:--By the above you will see that the 161st has again changed its base of operations. We reported here one week ago last Wednesday, pursuant to orders, and our boys have comfortable winter quarters. Our encampment is at the mouth of the river, up which is situated Dewall's Bluff and Little Rock, at which points the rebels are said to be massed in considerable numbers. How long we shall remain here, or whence we shall go of course we don't know. The gratifying news of the triumphant march of Gen. Sherman's army through Georgia, the utter route of Hood, and the subsequent capture of Savannah, has had a most cheering effect upon the spirits of both officers and privates in the several regiments in this Department. The fact is, secession is emphatically upon its last legs. Uncle Sam has complete and entire control of the Mississippi river, and although straggling bands of guerrillas keep up their peculiar (cowardly) mode of warfare at intervals, it cannot materially effect the final result. These gentry have holy horror of our gunboats, with which the river is well supplied, and generally endeavor to give them a pretty wide berth.
On the night of the 21st ultimo, a party of cavalrymen, from these head quarters, made an excursion a few miles down the river and succeeded in surprising a party of Johnnies who were celebrating the marriage of one of their number, capturing sixteen, besides thirty horses. The (our) happy bridegroom passed his bridal night in the stockade at this post. Pleasant wasn't it? The prisoners were sent north.
Subsequently two of our Companies were detailed to go up the river to a place called Napoleon, about sixteen miles distant, to procure a supply of brick, boards, &c., for building purposes. "Ye valiant chivalry" were not over courteous, and the consequence is that seven full blooded rebels, including a First Lieutenant, and several horses, were captured. The boys returned at night, having succeeded in fulfilling their mission, to say nothing of the large number of hens brought back into camp, the procuring of which I do not believe was included in the orders issued by the commander of the regiment. The boys say they bought the poultry. Why, of course.
The old members of this regiment may well be proud of their justly conceded and hard earned laurels. It was this regiment that assisted at the early engagements and hard fought battles which have made the Mississippi open for the transit of Union Vessels. It has never, in any engagement with the enemy, occupied a secondary position, but has been commended by General Banks and other distinguished military men, for its bravery and efficiency in many a hotly contested conflict.
The officers of this regiment so far as I have been able to ascertain, are all patriotic, trustworthy and brave. Capt. John F. Little, of Company F., a citizen of Bath, and a lawyer by profession, came out with the regiment in 1862, as First Lieutenant, and upon the resignation of the Captain (Stocum) of the same place, was promoted to his present position in 1863. He has been with his company in every engagement—has never asked or received a furlough, and as an efficient officer, and a man whom his company generally respects, has no superior in the regiment.
Lieut. John Laidlow, of Co, C, (Elmira boys) formerly in the employ of McDonald & Palmer of Elmira, in the absence of Capt. Dumars of your city, has command of the company.—His 2nd Lieutenant is a Mr. Slater, brother of the late "mine host" of the Brainard House.
The weather here very much resembles the October weather experienced at the north.—The health of the regiment is excellent, and the boys are, as general thing, well contented. Quite a number of copies of the Weekly ADVERTISER find their way here to camp, and it is surprising to see with what avidity their contents are devoured by those to whom they are sent by friends from home.
By the way, while I was in New Orleans, I came across George S. Melville, Esq., formerly associate editor of the now defunct Elmira Daily Press. He occupies the responsible position of Captain and Aid de Camp on General Canby's staff. He is looking well and in the enjoyment of excellent health.
The regiments term of service well expire on the 27th of October next, although it may possibly arrive in Elmira previous to that date. When it does come home you may look for a high old time.
Yours truly, "Zack."
ELMIRA, N. Y.
MONDAY MORNING JAN. 23, 1865.
Painful Intelligence from the 161st.
We take from the New York Herald of Saturday the following painful intelligence from the 161st N. Y. V. We are glad to learn that it is no worse:
Vicksburg, Jan. 10, 1865.
One of the most painful accidents in river navigation happened yesterday afternoon twenty-five miles below here. The transport John H. Dickey, from the mouth of White river, heavily laden with troops, horses, mules, and stores of various kinds, was proceeding on her way to New Orleans, when she met the steamer John Raine, bound up to this port.—The steamers were both in a great bend of the river at the time of meeting, and could be seen for a long distance before nearing each other; besides, it was before six o'clock P. M. and daylight—so there can be no excuse for the criminal negligence of the pilots of the boats, who allowed them to collide with each other, where the slightest attention to their duty would have made such a conjunction impossible.
It is not known yet who the guilty parties are in causing this accident, but an examination will soon be had which will probably elicit that information. At present the pilots of both boats accuse each other of the gross negligence which resulted in the accident.
TROOPS ON BOARD THE DICKEY.
The One Hundred and Sixty-first New York Veteran Volunteers, Lt. Col. Kinsey commanding, and a portion of the Twentieth Iowa Tolunteers [sic], were on board the John H. Dickey when the collission [sic] occurred.
THE EXTENT OF THE CATASTROPHE.
The John Raine had no cargo of any kind, but she being a much newer and stronger boat than the Dickey, the latter steamer, although heavily freighted and bound down stream, suffered the more destructive shock. The Dickey was struck on the larboard guard, near the wheel house and every thing was cut away on that side to the bare hull. The chimneys were thrown overboard by the jar, and it was at once necessary to put out the fires in the furnaces to save the wreck from burning by the flying sparks. The engineer of the Dickey did almost heroic service in their successful but dangerous efforts to suppress these fires, which threatened serious consequences if not instantly put out. The effects of the collision were scarcely visible on the guards and upper works of the John Raine.
THE CASUALITIES IN THE 161ST NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS.
Surgeon Wm. D. Murray, N. Y. V., has kindly furnished me with a complete list of casualties resulting from the collision:
WOUNDED—Sergeant George S. Prentice, A, three fingers of left hand amputated, Angelo Prentice, A, bruised head and left hand; Charles Williams, compound fracture of cranium, mortally, Lucius D. Caldwell, E, simple fracture of left leg, Erastus Sheldon, E, sprained right ankle, Jas. Kennedy, G, bruised head and back, Jacob McGuire, G, bruised slightly, Terrace Crllaban, G, bruised left knee, Valorus D. Starr, G, sprained left knee, Geo. Cable, bruised knee and back slightly, Corp. Hugh O'Niel, G, lacerated wound over left eye, Stephen H. Marsh, G, sprained right leg, Corp. Warren S. Knoght, G, incised wound in the right hand, Miles Gatch, G, compound fracture of cranium, left side severely, Serg. Theron B. Moore, E, sprained left ankle, Nelson Barnes, incised wound right hand, L. C. King, F, bruise slight, Samuel Nostrand, I, bruised right side, Charles E. Beyer, I, bruised right leg, slight, Corp. Eli Rogers, K, bruised back.
DROWNED.—Sergeant Everill F. Jewett, E, Thomas Murphy, G, Wesley Winship, H.
In addition to these there were three soldiers of the Twentieth Iowa Volunteers wounded.
The 161st was raised for the most part in Steuben and Allegany counties, containing also one full company and many other representatives from Chemung.
ELMIRA N. Y.
TUESDAY MORNING, JAN 24, 1865
Correspondence of the Elmira Advertiser,
From the 161st N. Y. Volunteers.
ON BOARD U. S. TRANSPORT, JOHN RAINE, MISSISSIPPI RIVER,
January 16th, 1865.
MESSRS. FAIRMAN & CALDWELL:
By order of Major General E. R. S. Canby, of the Gulf Department, the 161st N. Y. V. embarked at White River about noon on Sunday, 8th inst., for the purpose of reporting at New Orleans. We took passage on board the John H. Dickey, which boat had also on board the 20th Reg. Iowa Infantry. Nothing of moment occurred until about the middle of the afternoon, whis whiz, whiz, whiz! went six or eight guerrilla shots into our midst, fired from the shore, which was only a short distance off. Of course, great excitement prevailed for a few minutes, as our boys' guns were not loaded. The officers of the several companies assembled their respective commands, and, our boys poured a sharp but brief fire of musketry into the vicinity where the Rebels were, but with what effect I know not. No one hurt on our side.
About half past nine o'clock the same evening we were suddenly aroused by the startling cry of "a steamboat on fire!" On arriving on the deck one of the grandest and most sublime spectacles met the eye. The boat which was but a few rods distant, was completely enveloped in flames, the lurid glare being reflected for a great distance around.—It appears that some Union men had purchased a quantity of cotton, and it was being conveyed on board the boat, when the rebels, outnumbering our men, appeared on the spot, and after overcoming them, burned the boat. We presume necessary steps will be taken to prevent a repetition of these outrages.
The most unfortunate occurrence of our trip thus far, is yet to be related. We were compelled to remain at Vicksburg several hours to coal up, and did not leave there until late in the afternoon. We had got fairly under weigh and had made about ten or fifteen miles, every one on board being in the best of spirits, the boys contented, the sick comfortably provided for, those aft singing, nine dreaming of danger--when suddenly crash! crash! went one side of the John H. Dickey, knocking everything concave. The utmost excitement and consternation prevailed on deck and in the cabin. Some imagined the boiler had bursted, others, (novices,) that the guerillas were shelling us, while many were too much frightened to form any opinion about the matter. In the cabin the stampede was tremendous. Fright overcame every other consideration and each one's sole aim seemed to be to look out for No. One. Many of our boys were quartered on the hurricane deck. Guns, knapsacks, straps, cartridge boxes, &c., &c., were swept overboard in the twinkling of an eye, and many a poor fellow lost all he had except what was on his back. Men jumped overboard, and those that were not drowned swam to the shore. The cause of the accident was a collision, the John Raine running into us striking our boat amidships.
You will see in Harper's illustrated newspader [sic] a sketch of the burning of the boat on the 8th, and also of the collision, made by Lieut. Slater, of Co. C, in a reasonable time. I am particularly indebted to Lieut. John Laidlow also of Co. C, for the following particulars of the casualties.*
This makes a total of twenty-three wounded and three drowned of the 161st N. Y. V. Many others were slightly hurt by being run over and trampled upon, but their injuries are not sufficiently serious for public mention.
The officers of the entire regiment behaved with the utmost coolness and self-possession, calming the fears of their men and directing and overseeing their safe transit from the ruined boat to the John Raine.
Too much praise cannot be awarded Lieut. Col. William B. Kinsey for his bravery and promptness on this occasion. He was assiduous in taking measures for the recovery of the missing men. He immediately set pickets, and all the men that could be be [sic] found were were [sic] brought on board the boat. The boat on which we now are remained at the scene of the disaster until the next afternoon, before she proceeded on her way. More anon. ZACK.
* We published them yesterday.
ABOUT THE FORTUNES OF WAR.
PORT HUDSON, LA., MARCH 16, 1864.
Mr. Editor: Much has been said of the changes brought by a state of war and the devastation which must, and does necessarily occupy a prominent place in the train of evils brought into it by such a condition. I doubt however if the people at your remote point of observation, have a very clear perception of the extent of those changes. Below, I give a copy of the muster roll of my old Company (D) 161st N. Y. Vols., and can assure you that it may be taken as a "sample brick." We were mustered into service at Elmira, October 27th 1862, with 88 men for duty, including officers. To-day there are present for duty just twelve all told. I cannot promise to give the remarks in full as they appear upon the roll, but will give particulars enough to account for each one. Comment is useless.
Your Obedient Servant,
T. SCOTT DE WOLFE,
Capt. 17th Inf'y C. D. A.
Capt. Geo. E. Biles, promoted Lieutenant Colonel 17th Infantry, C. D. A.
First Lt. James M. Cadmus,--present.
Sec. Lt. T. S. DeWolfe, promoted to Captain 17th Infantry, C. D. A.
Sergt. Wm. W. Lindsay, promoted to 2d Lt. Co. H. Captured at Sabine Pass.
Sergt. Denis Locey, died of wounds received at Donaldsonville.
Sergt. Otis H. Smith, present--promoted to 1st Sergt. April 6th, 1863.
Sergt. Hiram F. Scofield, promoted to 2d lt. 17th Infantry, C. D. A.
Sergt. Bradford Sanford, taken prisoner at Sabine Pass.
Corp. Cornelius H. Callaghan, appointed Sergeant April 6th 1863. Taken prisoner at Sabine Pass.
Corp. Arnold Shults, appointed Sergeant 19th April 1863. Taken prisoner at Sabine Pass.
Corp. Andrew P. Snell, discharged August 24th 1863.
Corp. Phillip L. Beach. Dead.
Corp. George H. Snell; present.
Corp. Isaac Dykes Jr., discharged May 1863.
Corp. Mahlon W. Barber; present.
Nehamiah Yeomans, died Nov. 27th 1862.
Ira Buckley, discharged.
Monroe Ames, taken prisoner at Sabine Pass.
M. D. Armstrong; present.
Rufus S. Alderman, appointed commissary Sergeant Oct. 27th 1862; since made Quarter Master.
Andrew Brinniger, taken prisoner at Sabine.
Geo. Blakesly, discharged January 23d 1863.
Geo. T. Gannon, taken prisoner at Sabine.
Patrick Hart, taken prisoner at Sabine.
Martin Hallett, wounded at Port Hudson May 28th 1863; supposed to have died at Springfield landing May 29th 1863.
Josiah D. Hiler, taken prisoner at Sabine.
W. W. Haman, detatched to 1st La. Cavalry
Wm. J. Jaquett, deserted Dec. 2, 1862.
Partick Kough; present.
Cyrus Lachures, deserted Nov. 21, 1862.
James R. Lewis, died at Quarantine, La. December 19, 1862.
Isaac J. Lewis, taken prisoner at Sabine.
William Longcor, taken prisoner at Sabine.
Job Loder, absent with leave.
Robert M. Love, taken prisoner at Sabine.
Cornelius Lyon, died at Elmira, 1862.
Arthur McQuiggan; present.
Leonard Miller, died at Baton Rouge 1863.
Gilbert McIntyre, taken prisoner at Sabine.
John T. Marin, taken prisoner at Sabine.
Muason Morse, transferred to 6th U S Artillery, January 6th, 1863.
Franklin D Norris, deserted December 1863.
John B. Norris, died Baton Rouge, June 1863.
Luman Philley; present.
James M Snyder, taken prisoner at Sabine.
Philo Simons, discharged March 23d 1863.
Isaac C Sagar; present.
William Sanford, died at baton Rouge, 1863.
Thomas Sawyer, taken prisoner at Sabine.
Dewitt Tolbert; present.
John Van Duzen, discharged August 27, 1863. Since dead.
Adam H Wilcox, taken prisoner at Sabine.
Evi Winfield, discharged Aug. 17th 1863.
George T. Yeomans, deserted from Elmira November 3d 1862.
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New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
July 14, 2008