Military Resource Center
The Otsego Republican.
The 2d Brigade, 1st Division, 6th
Army Corps.AURORA, Neb., March 1, 1895.
A pleasant afternoon lately passed with the Reverend George W. Martin, chaplain of the state Industrial School for juvenile offenders, brought from somewhere memories of the old brigade, not before recalled for many a year. He had served in the 5th Maine volunteers during the rebellion. Nine out of ten of the survivors of the 121st N. Y. Vols. if asked the question, "which regiment of the many you fought by the side of during the war, did you think the most of ?" would unhesitatingly reply, "why, the 5th Maine, of course." And well we might, for they were like brothers to us.
When the 121st regiment joined the Army of the Potomac on the night of September 7th, 1862, we knew but little of the ways of war, nothing of camp life in the field, nor the care of clothing, arms, army discipline, guard duties, the picket line or the battlefield, We were brigaded with regiments that had been in the field for a whole year, and had participated in many a hard-fought battle. The 5th Maine, the l6th and 27th New York and the 96th Pennsylvania made the balance of the brigade. With our full ranks and new equipment it was plainly seen that the 2d brigade had been strengthened by the addition of a new regiment, and many were the remarks thrown at us while passing other troops. "If you keep up the reputation of Bartlett's brigade, boys, you have got to do mighty good work, for they are fighters from way back," was the general tone of the remarks given. We fully realized all this the next Sabbath when we saw them follow the rebels up the steep sides of the South Mountain. Our duty on that occasion was to support a battery. The 27th New York had the skirmish line, while the 5th Maine, the 16th New York and the 96th Pennsylvania led the charge, followed by the other brigades of the division. Well do I remember their passing our regiment as they went into line of battle. They had been on the Peninsula Campaign and looked pretty rough; a blanket rolled and thrown over the shoulder, a haversack with rations, their cartridge boxes tightly buckled on, their guns at a trial, and with a swinging step, the line was formed as coolly as if they were going on dress parade. This was our first battle, and I could hardly realize what was coming. But when the line of skirmishers was passed and the deadly volleys of musketry were received from the rebel guns, and thick and fast the bullets flew, yet onward, and still onward went the charging column, through the corn field, over the stone wall, up the rocky hillside, and when the joyous cheers of victory were heard we knew what fighting was, and felt proud to know the kind of troops that we were to go in by the side of when our time should come.
But the 5th Maine, I said we liked the best, and these are the reasons why: When Colonel Upton assumed command of our regiment I think it was by his request the officers of that regiment would come to our camp, which was not far from theirs, and teach us the manual of arms, the company drill, and best methods of camp life. The acquaintance thus formed made a friendly feeling between the two regiments from the beginning of our army life. Another strong connecting link was found in old Father Adams, the chaplain of the 5th Maine. If there was a model chaplain in the war of the rebellion it was the Rev. John R. Adams. He was about sixty years of age, yet bearing duties of camp life like the young men of twenty-five. A graduate of Yale College and a successful preacher of the gospel for forty years, he left a pleasant home and entered the army because be believed that he would be of value to his country. And if there was a single man that did faithful service thro' the entire war, from 1861 to 1865, it was he. He was well known through the entire corps, and was often called to preach funeral sermons and deliver discourses in other commands than his own. In the camp, on the march, at the field hospitals or with the wounded on the battlefield he was the same earnest, willing worker, with a ready hand to write a farewell message for the dying or give them words of consolation when all hopes of life had fled. Well acquainted with the officials in the Sanitary and Christian Commission, he could obtain supplies from either upon his word alone.
The 5th Maine entered the service in June, 1861, and were mustered out in June, 1864, their term of enlistment having expired. A dozen regiments at once besought their chaplain to remain in the field. He did remain, and selected the 121st New York (their chaplain having resigned) as the command with which he would cast his lot. Next to Maine, New York seemed nearest to him, for he had preached several years in that State in his youthful days, and a favorite son of his was then serving as a chaplain in the 1st New York Mounted Rifles. The regiment never regretted his coming. Excepting Colonel Upton, perhaps no one was of equal value to the regiment. As one of the regimental staff he was always ready for any duty. The boys who were in the valley will well remember his taking command of the detail that went in search of the body of lieutenant Tucker, who was killed in October, 1864, and buried in a trench with two comrades who had fallen at the same place.
At one review while the regiment was at Camp Russell, the commanding officer, Captain Jackson, was serving as division officer of the day, leaving the chaplain and adjutant as the only mounted officers on duty. Chaplain Adams led the command just as though it was a part of his business. But his grandest work was in keeping up the standard of morals among the troops. He appeared to realize more clearly than others that when the war closed these soldiers would be citizens once more, and that they should return as good and true men as they were when they enlisted, was his highest ambition. For this he continually labored. Sermons, lectures, prayers, exhortations and advice, all, of course, given in due season, was a part of his daily labor. When in camp for a time he would obtain from the Christain Commission a large chapel tent in which to hold meetings.
Dr. Duryea, a talented Presbyterian divine, and a prominent worker in the Christian Commission, visited the army several times. He was a special friend of Chaplain Adams, who, by the way, was also of the Presbyterian faith, and when the chaplain, in 1864, was made a doctor of divinity, some of us thought Dr. Duryea had something to do with this mark of distinction being given to an army chaplain. He (Chaplain Adams) had monthly reports to make to the headquarters of the Christian Commission, and, when on one occasion, he could say that not an officer present with his regiment used whiskey as a beverage, the old man was happy. Everybody loved him, and it made no difference how long or how weary was the march, when the bivouac was reached Chaplain Adams's tent must be pitched among the first. Just before the close of the war the boys presented him with an elegant saddle, saddle-cloth and bridle, which he prized very highly.
How he stood so well the hardships of army life in the field for four long years was a wonder to all who knew him. Always with his regiment, participating in the marches by day and by night, in sunshine and storm, close to every battlefield, and ever ready with advice, sympathy and aid, he was in deed and in truth a model Chaplain. At the close of the war he returned to his native state, apparently in good health, but the intense strain on both mind and body during the four years of active service, had used up the life force that might have served him another score of years, and the first sickness in the summer of 1866 took him home to the father for whom he had labored so faithfully for a life time.
We will tell more about the old brigade, and why we liked the 5th Maine in the next letter.DELEVAN BATES.
The Otsego Republican.
From Our Nebraska Correspondent.
The 2d Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Army Corps.AURORA, Neb., March 25th, 1895.
In my last letter, among the reasons given why the "Onesters" loved the 5th Maine regiment so won was: 1st. The interest their officers took in our military education, showing us how to drill, how to fix up our tents, so as to be best prepared for all kinds of weather, and, in fact, all the little details of camp life. 2d. A connecting link in Chaplain Adams, who became our chaplain after the 5th Maine was mustered out, and, 3d. Last, but not least, was their endurance on the march and bravery on the battlefield. Other regiments were, no doubt, just as good, but so many times had we been in the thickest of the combat side by side with them that whether victory came or defeat, we knew that the 5th Maine would be with us at the wind up. Salem Church, Rappahannock Station, Fredericksburg, Mine Run, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Petersburg and Cold Harbor were battles that would make a confidence between comrades that cannot be easily broken. - And yet the death roll of the 5th Maine did not reach the figures needed to place the regiment among the 300 fighting regiments. Their loss in killed and mortally wounded was only 107, while you doubtless remember the 121st N. Y. Vols. lost 226. The reason of our greater loss was this: Our three years was from 1862 to 1865, while the 5th Maine served from 1861 until 1864. The fighting of the last year of the war was, by far, the severest of the great rebellion.
The 16th New York and the 27th New York, of the old 2d brigade, were excellent regiments, but were only in for two years, from May, 1861, until May, 1863. The 16th lost 111 in killed and mortally wounded, and the 27th lost only 74.
Gen. H. W. Slocum was the first colonel, and Gen. J. J. Bartlett was the first major of the 27th regiment: both of these men are now numbered among the dead. At the close of the war Gen. Slocum became a very successful business man and millionaire in Brooklyn, while Gen. Bartlett lived and died in the employ of the U. S. Government. He was minister to Sweden under Grant's administration and then had a position for years in the Patent Office.
When these two regiments were mustered out in May, 1863, the men whose term of enlistment had not expired were transferred to our regiment, and with them came Captains Hall and Tyler and Lieutenants Bartlett and Wilson. That wasn't treating the "Onesters" exactly right, for there were plenty of men in the ranks of the 121st N. Y. Vols. well qualified for these positions. Such little incidents are not mentioned in a spirit of criticism, but simply as a recital of facts, showing why so many capable young men in our regiment did not receive higher commissions during such a long period of active service in a regiment with such a brilliant record and such a large death loss.
Well, next comes the 96th Pennsylvania Vols., recruited in the mining regions of that State. They were called the "coal heavers' while the "Onesters" went by the name of "Upton's regulars." But the "coal heavers" were fair fighters, and came out of the war as one of the 300 fighting regiments, having lost 132 killed on the battlefield. Like the 5th Maine, they went out in 1861, which accounts, perhaps, for their death rate not being up by the side of ours. Their heaviest losses were at Crampton Gap and the big charge of the 12 regiments led by Upton at Spotsylvania. In this charge the 96th Pennsylvania were in the front line of battle between the 121st N. Y. and the 5th Maine. They hung right to business, going over the first line of the enemy's works and into the second line in a hand-to-hand conflict, where bayonets were freely used, and finally a man knocked senseless with a clubbed musket. They left 59 of their number dead and dying upon the field alone. If I only had language to describe such a scene as was this, these articles would be more interesting. If the reader can just imagine a body of strong, able-bodied men, three times greater in number than the entire population of Cooperstown - men, women and children - armed with guns and bayonets and moving steadily through a dense forest until they meet another line of equal numbers, well armed and waiting to receive them with bloody hands and desperate courage. And when they meet swift and sure comes the death-dealing bullet in the rapid firing of volley, closely followed by the sharp, quick thrust of the bayonet or the heavy thud of the butt of a musket crushing the skull of the luckless victim; the lines are broken and from tree to tree, from hillock to hollow, now the shelter of a friendly shrub and then a fierce conflict in a more open space until thousands are killed, maimed and disabled, and cheers of victory arise from those who have conquered.
Groans and cries of distress do you hear from those who are wounded or dying: Not much! In thirteen heavy battles I cannot call to mind a single groan heard while the battle raged. Exultant cheers and defiant shouts were plentiful as the battle wavered; now an advantage on one side and then perhaps changing to the other, and when the route was complete, of course, we yelled, or the rebels did. Even at the field hospital where gaping wounds were being dressed, and legs and arms were cut off and thrown in heaps, from but few would you hear even a murmur. The night after the battle, when details were out searching for the wounded, cries were often heard, made to attract the attention of those who were in search of those needing assistance. I presume in hospitals where bones were fractured or wounds did not heal well, and became inflamed and perhaps gangreen had taken possession of the limb, when the bone was scraped or a splinter extracted or a probe used, more or less groans would come from the suffering patient; but from a personal experience, I can say that for the first twenty-four hours a bullet wound is not painful, so there is no particular occasion for groans, even if the victim should be a man of weak and reedy nerves. The wounds for which sympathy was most needed were those at, or near, the hip. - If the bones were seriously injured at that point it meant a lingering but a sure death. A leg or an arm could be amputated, or both legs or arms, an eye taken out, the skull patched with a piece of silver, a most dangerous cut could be sown up, a bullet through the lungs or the head was not necessarily fatal, but a severe wound at the hip generally resulted in death.
In September, 1864, the 96th had been in three years, and did not care to remain longer as a regiment and so were mustered out of the service, those desiring to remain joining the 95th Pennsylvania which had concluded to remain during the war let it continue as long as it would.
The 95th Pennsylvania, when we joined the 2d brigade of the 1st division, 6th corps, were a part of the 3d brigade of the same division and corps, and after the 16th and 27th New York regiments were mustered out in May, 1863, the 95th was transferred to our brigade where they remained until the close of the war. After the heavy losses in the Wilderness in May, 1864, the 2d Connecticut heavy artillery and also the 65th and 67th New York regiments were assigned to the 2d brigade.
Those not familiar with army usages may wonder why I hang so persistently to the brigade organization. The reason is this: the brigade was the unit in the organization of the army, and the regiments of each brigade always remained together unless a regiment was detached occasionally for some special duty where the whole command was not needed, and when such duty was completed the regiment returned to the brigade to which it belonged.
The brigade commander was held responsible for the condition of his troops and he must know just the condition of his command at all times. Well do I remember when the third day after assuming command of the lst brigade, 1st division, 25th army corps, Gen. C. J. Paine, the division commander, desired an interview. My brigade had just been brought from the 9th corps to the 25th, and Gen. Paine wanted to know in what condition the men were and how many he could depend upon for business. He started off in about this style: "General, how many men have you for duty in your brigade? Are they well armed, well clothed, and have they good tents, plenty of ammunition and plenty of rations? How many reported at the sick call yesterday? How do your regimental and company officers average? Which do you consider your most reliable regiment on the battlefield?" &c., &c., &c. His parting injunction was this: "Keep your brigade well supplied with everything needed and ready to move either by day or by night on short notice."
In battle the brigade commander, although not always in the front line must be near enough to direct the movements of each regiment and if the occasion demanded be ready to lead the charge in person. Sixty-four brigade commanders were killed on the battlefield and over two hundred were wounded. Gen. Upton was one of the best officers that I ever saw handle a brigade. He always explained fully what he wanted each regiment to do, and he was close at hand to note any contingencies that might arise requiring a change of movement or new instructions.
But I have widely digressed from the old 2d brigade, and comrades will excuse me if the 95th Penn., 2d Conn., 65 and 67 N.Y. are left until another time.DELEVAN BATES.
NOTE. - 1st. Chaplain Adams' son was a captain, not chaplain, in the 1st N.Y. Mounted Rifles. Compositors will sometimes make errors.
2d. I ought to have mentioned in the battle referred to in my last letter that the rebels here drew the first blood from the "Onesters." D.B.
The Otsego Republican.
From Our Nebraska Correspondent.
The 2d Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Army Corps.AURORA, Neb., April 13, 1895.
The 95th Pennsylvania regiment, which became a part of the old brigade in May, 1863, will be the subject of this article, and the readers of the REPUBLICAN will no doubt be surprised when I make the assertion that this regiment was not excelled by any body of troops that served during the rebellion. In some respects they were ahead of the 121st N. Y. Vols. They were in more battles, having entered the service a year sooner than we did and continued in until the close of the war, and while their total death loss did not quite reach ours, their loss of field officers was only equaled by one other regiment during the war. They lost six mounted officers in battle, while in the 121st several were wounded, but none were killed. Two Colonels, two lieutenant colonels, one major and one adjutant were on their death list. While we were from the country, the 95th boys were mostly from the city of Philadelphia, and, take them all around, perhaps just a shade higher toned than the "Onesters." Of course we had one great advantage over them. Col. Upton, like Trilby in the altogether, was above comparison with the average volunteer colonel and we shared in his reputation. The 95th officers were brave, courteous, genteel and jolly good fellows socially.
Col. Olcott and Capt. Fish occasionally visited the 95th headquarters when we were encamped on the Hazel River in the beautiful timber owned by John Minor Botts. Olcott did not have very congenial companions at the headquarters of the 121st. Upton was always studying something about the art of war or some new tactical movement, in fact be was already working on the new system that was afterward adopted by the War Department and named after him. By-the-way it may be interesting to the "Onesters" to know that Upton's Tactics were superseded in 1891 by what are called "Infantry Drill Regulations," bearing no one's name as the author. - They were compiled by a board of officers appointed for the purpose by the Secretary of War. Major Mather was also a close student in those days, preparing himself for something higher in the colored service, all of which came in due time. He didn't believe either in the "jolly good fellow" business or in singing "We won't go home till morning" songs.
Well, the 95th officers were a lot of jolly good fellows, and many were the pleasant gatherings at their headquarters when the troops were in camp. Another difference between them and us was the uniform. - They were a zouave regiment. Let me try to describe how they looked, and let each comrade recall the past and see how their memories agree with mine: Jacket of marine cloth, sacque pattern, open rounded at the waist and trimmed with scarlet braid with a row of brass buttons on each side; flannel overshirt with small silver-plated buttons; pants with pleated waist, full length, but not quite as wide as the regular zouave style; leather leggings reaching nearly to the knees; McClellan cap, trimmed with scarlet braid.
The regiment was well drilled and looked splendid on dress parade. They were fighters, too, and never hesitated when selected to lead a charge. In the desperate charge on the 12th of May at the "Bloody angle" the 95th led the brigade, losing one hundred and ten in killed and wounded. It was at this angle that the oak tree was cut down with minie bullets, and within a space of three hundred yards thirteen hundred and twenty dead rebels were found the next morning, all shot in and about the head and face. Major General Birney gave the 2d brigade the credit of saving this battle by their stubborn fighting and bull-dog tenacity. Captains Fish, Kidder and Gorton and Adjutant Pierce of the "Onesters" were all shot in this fight. Captain Kidder had command of the 121st regiment and Sergeant George Teel had command of company I. The whole brigade did well, but the zoo zoo's did the heavy work on this occasion. Regiments take turns in the "post of honor" as the most dangerous position is called, unless the commander has special reasons for making a different selection.
At Franklin's crossing, April 29th, 1863, the boys will all remember that the advance line crossed the Rappahannock River in boats, before the pontoon bridge was laid and just before day light. None but first-class regiments are selected for such an attempt, for no one knows what kind of a reception will be had on the other side. The rebel pickets will be met at the river bank, and at the first splash of the oars the reserve will be called out and as the opposite bank is reached a volley is, of course, expected, which is to be met with a dash from the boats and rush up the bank to meet, no one knows how many of the enemy. The 95th Pennsylvania take the first boats, while the balance of the division get ready to fire a volley across the stream should it be needed. The lay of the ground is well known and if we do fire it will at the rifle pits on the bluff which is high enough to clear our men who are the landing. The alarm was not given until the boats had almost reached the shore, when the crack of a rifle was heard, followed in a few moments by a scattering volley from the rifle pits. It had been raining some and was yet cloudy, so the bullets were fired at random, some of them crossing the river, wounding a few. Capt. Kidder was one of those who felt the rebel lead, but his hurt was not serious although, if I remember correctly, the bullet knocked him down. "Ready! Aim! Fire!" and a thousand bullets from our side of the river sent the rebels under cover and gave the zouaves an opportunity to form in line and move up the bank. A few prisoners were captured and the remainder of the rebels retreated towards the Bowling-Green road. Two of our brigades crossed in the boats, and then the pontoon bridge was laid, giving the rest of the corps an easy and safer crossing.
The 95th Pennsylvania was the first regiment in the army of the Potomac to re-enlist for a second term of service as an organization, and the value of this example was acknowledged in glowing words of commendation by Gen. Upton, then brigade commander. The 96th regiment was consolidated with them in the valley, as they did not care to re-enlist as a regiment. They did good service until the wind up of the rebellion, and were mustered out, I guess, about the same time as the l21st N. Y. - July, 1865. Gosline's zouaves, are numbered among fighting regiments, having lost 182 killed on the battlefield.
I have given so much room to this regiment that a short sketch of the 2d Conn. Heavy, Artillery, and the 65th and 67th New York will appear in the next article.
In looking over the list of the quota from Worcester in the 121st N.Y. Vols. I notice that the name of James H. Patrick does not appear. Now I can't place him exactly, and yet am quite positive that he enlisted under me and was credited to the town of Worcester. If any one reading this article can verify this impression and will write me it will confer a favor onDELEVAN BATES.
The Otsego Republican.
The 2d Conn. Heavy Artillery.AURORA, Neb., May 1, 1895.
This article will be very rumbling, and I mention it at the beginning, so that parties who do not care to read such writing can omit this same.
In the early part of the year 1865, one Sunday afternoon, the A. A. A. General of the 1st brigade, 1st division, 25th army corps, came to my tent with a full-fledged captain and A. Q. M., who had been assigned to duty with the brigade. His reception was very cool, and, as near as I can remember, ran something as follows: "Well, who sent you here? We do not need a quartermaster." The fact was I had one of the best quartermasters in the army. His name was Leroy Baldwin; he had been detailed from my own regiment, 30th U.S.C.T. Originally he had served in the 44th N. Y. Vols. - Ellsworth's avengers. The Q. M. has charge of the wagon train which keeps up the supply of rations, ammunition, clothing, &c. When a hundred thousand men were moving in the same direction in a wooded country and with narrow roads, it was a mighty good officer who could always reach the camping ground of his command when night came. During the big campaign of Grant from the Rapidan to Petersburg, Lieut. Baldwin only missed a prompt arrival once, when a bullying Q. M. from the 5th corps cut out his train. The next day Lieut. Baldwin asked for a sergeant and six men to accompany his wagons, which were given him, and when other arguments failed, he simply used the point of the bayonet to prevent being driven from the route which he was entitled to use. I liked the way he did business, and did not care to part with him.
I told the new captain that the responsibility for the brigade mostly rested on my shoulders, and it was nothing more than right that I should have something to say about those who were to serve on the staff. He acknowledged that I was right, but said he: "Here are my orders from the Corps Commander to report for duty to this brigade. Now what can I do?" "The Governor of New York did this same thing once with Col. Upton," I replied. A non-commissioned officer from the 121st N. Y. Vols. went home on a furlough and returned wearing the shoulder straps of a lieutenant, but he found it convenient to hand in his resignation at an early date.
The Captain's eyes flashed as I mentioned Upton's name. ""Gen. Upton of the 6th corps?" he asked. "Yes; he won his star at Spotsylvania," was the reply. "My God," said he, "Upton's voice yet rings in my ears; the last words I remember hearing before I fell pierced with a rebel bullet at Cold Harbor on the 1st day of June last were from his lips: 'Forward, boys! forward! Forward! forward! Forward!' So clear, above the din of battle, so firm in accent, so encouraging in tone were they spoken that not a man in the 2d Conn. Heavy Artillery wavered, although it was our first battle, and the boys were falling thick and fast on every side." - "Ah, and so you fought under Upton? Please tell me more of your war experience," I said. My feelings began to change a little toward him. This is the tale he told: "Our regiment was recruited in the summer of 1862, in Litchfield County, Conn., and were mustered in the service as the 19th Conn. Vols. We were ordered to Alexandria, Va., and for a year were engaged in garrison duty in the fortifications that were built to defend Washington. In November, 1863, we were changed to a heavy artillery regiment and called the 2d Connecticut, and our numbers increased from one thousand to eighteen hundred. We did not realize then what a bonanza the regiment was having, for, besides an occasional scare and a few days of anxiety when Gen. Lee would cross the Potomac River, or follow the Union Army, to almost within sight of the fortifications in which we were stationed, our time was mostly passed in drill and the ordinary routine of army life. But in May, 1864, a change came and we were sent to the front to fight as infantry. Our regiment was put into a brigade of veterans who had already made their mark on a score of bloody battlefields - Upton's brigade of the 6th corps. We joined them near Spotsylvania; lost our first man while on picket at the North Anna River, and two more at Hanover. Then came Cold Harbor; Sheridan was there with his cavalry, fighting the whole rebel army. He was a host by himself, but he now needed infantry to help hold the position, and wanted them quick. Although it was night we started for the battlefield; the rebels fell back in their intrenchments as we approached, and we were ordered to make a charge. Sixteen hundred strong, while the other regiments in the brigade numbered but from two to three hundred, the 2d Conn. took the front line under the immediate supervision of Upton himself. And such a charge! through slashings, and over trees and brush, and in and out of swamps. All that I can remember distinctly as I said before, is Upton's calm 'Forward, boys forward!' As we advanced the bullets kept coming thicker and faster, and with hundreds of comrades I fell, with a severe bullet wound in my head. Here is the scar. I was sent North for treatment, and through the influence of friends, secured my present appointment. Do you blame me for accepting it?" "No, I don't blame you in the least," was the reply. "And, in the meanwhile, Captain, you can make yourself at home, while I ride over, to headquarters and see what can be done. - The result was Lieut. Baldwin was made, acting A. C. S., (acting commissary of subsistence), while Captain Mason was duly installed as Q. M., and I am frank to say that he filled the position in a very creditable manner until the close of the war.
In the battle of Cold Harbor the 2d Conn. lost three hundred and twenty-five (325) killed and wounded. This is a large number for one regiment to lose in one battle, but remember this was a heavy artillery regiment which contains almost twice as many men as an infantry regiment. It was a sorrowful sight when the dead were gathered up for burial; the 2d Conn., just from Washington, with their nice, clean uniforms, could be distinguished from all the rest, and with their gallant Colonel, Elisha S. Kellogg, who was killed with his face to the foe, lying surrounded by his brave followers, the horrors of war were doubly intensified over the results of ordinary battles that were fought.
This is one of the battles that Grant has been criticised for fighting; a terrible death loss, with no results of value, and, to the ordinary mind, no very good reason could be seen for forcing such a fight at such a time and place.
After this battle no more heavy fighting was had until the Union Army crossed the James and appeared in front of Petersburg. The desperate fighting in this campaign, beginning at the Wilderness on the 5th of May and ending at Cold Harbor on the 3d of June, showed very plainly that the whole army had been permeated with the individuality of Gen. Grant. Then, and even at the present day, you will hear men say: "Oh, there were other generals that with the same opportunities could have done as well as Grant did." I do not believe it. He had a happy combination of qualities that were essential for such a work as was given him to do. Other generals may have had some of his qualities, but no one man showed the combination to such an extent as did he through the entire war. He had a full confidence in his own resources and ability to meet any move his antagonist might choose to make. This was a good starting point. He had the courage to fight and a stubbornness to grapple again and again in the deadliest of conflicts. Stubbornness is the correct word. Some of his charges, like the one at Cold Harbor, were, perhaps, not well advised, when the loss of lives is compared with the results obtained, but his objective point was Lee's Army, and that could only be destroyed by hard blows, every one of which could not be expected to be made effective, for in all great undertakings mistakes in calculations can be seen and better methods devised after the work is over. His tenacity of purpose was another good quality. He started out to break up the rebel Army of Northern Virginia, and he never changed the point of his compass until the desired result was accomplished. He had an infallible judgment in selecting his lieutenants. Sherman and Sheridan, next to Grant, were the men who did the work, and Grant is the man who discovered their peculiar fitness for the work assigned to each.
There was no other general in the Army of the Potomac that Sheridan could have worked with as well as with Grant. Gen. Meade could do nothing with him. As a fighter Gen. Sheridan was head and shoulders above any other general in the eastern army, and I seriously doubt whether Gen. Grant himself could have taken ten thousand cavalrymen and have done the work with them that Sheridan could do, and you might have added a couple of corps of infantry and yet Sheridan was "master of the situation." When he came to take command of the eastern cavalry Gen. Meade was nominally in command of the Army of the Potomac, and wanted Sheridan to guard his flanks and wagon trains, and keep a sharp lookout for the rebel cavalry. "No, sir," says Sheridan, "that's not what I am here for. I want to whip Jeb Stuart, and I am going to do it." Stuart was the commander of the rebel cavalry. Meade went to Grant and complained that Sheridan did not agree with him as to the use of the cavalry as flankers, but wanted to go out and fight Stuart. "Well," said Gen. Grant, "if Sheridan says he can whip the rebel cavalry he will do it. I guess you had better let him try."
The decisive cavalry engagement at Yellow Tavern, and the death of the famous J. E. B. Stuart was the result of Sheridan following his own idea of handling the cavalry in place of Meade's. Meade, Burnside, Hancock, Sedgewick and Warren had been in many severe battles, but after a fight neither of them was inclined to "push things" as Grant and Sheridan did. In this campaign there were thirty days and nights of incessant combat. Not a twenty-four hours passed without a collision somewhere on the line, and when they clinched it was with a death grip.
This article is long enough, and yet the writer has not quite finished his rambling. A few more lines must be written on this memorable campaign before we take the 2d Conn. to the Shenandoah Valley, where their next heavy death loss occurred.DELEVAN BATES.
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