PRIVATE BRIGHAM BUSWELL

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Note: Brigham Buswell was my Great Great Grandfather who had served in the Union Army during the Civil War. This is the story of his Civil War exploits that was originally compiled, by his second daughter, Mrs. Mary Eager.

Brigham Buswell commenced to compose his memoirs shortly after his release from the Army, January 1863. However, the major portion of his memoirs was completed at the insistence of his second daughter during his 73rd year of age, sometime in 1915. It was later typed for preservation and clarity in 1934 and then compiled into booklet form by my Aunt Hazel in July 1963. She made numerous copies for her siblings and immediate relatives.

It is a short account of his war experience and because he certainly was part of my family heritage, I likewise wished to preserve it. Regardless, it is fascinating reading for those who might be interested in true Civil War accounts.

An unusual addition is submitted about this story. By chance, my supervisor brought to my attention, while working at the Department of Transportation, a two part story that had been submitted to the BI-monthly magazine CIVIL WAR TIMES for the February and April, 1996 issues by a Robert S. Savage of Bend, Oregon. I could be wrong but to my knowledge, Mr. Savage is no relation to the Buswell family. I’m not sure how he obtained an accounting of this story, but it was only partially submitted for print. Whether he had only obtained a part of it or the publisher decided only to publish a portion for brevity has not been determined. I have attempted to contact Mr. Savage through telephone directory listings and even checked the Internet for an e-mail address, to no avail. Hopefully, I will learn of how he obtained a copy of it and why the story was only partially submitted before this goes to publication.

Here is the story, which I believe to be a true accounting of my Great Great Grandfather’s Civil War life. I wanted to preserve his story as it was originally written, in his vernacular and style of dialog during that period.


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I left C. H. Havley’s clothing store and Express Office where I had been employed for nearly two years, on September 7, 1861. I enlisted at West Randolph , Vermont, on the 11th, the next day being my birthday. I was 19 years old. I enlisted in Captain Weston’s Company “F”, 1st Regiment U. S. Sharpshooter. Hiram Berdan, Colonel commanding Joseph Bickford, Henry D. Stone and Joseph H. Cullingan enlisted at the same time in the same company. We mustered into the State Service (and as we supposed at the time, into U. S. service also) on the 13th and on the 14th, took the train with 116 men in the company.

We passed through Windsor, Brattleboro, Springfield, Massachusetts and Hartford, Connecticut. We then took the boat at New Haven, Connecticut for New York. We arrived in New York on Sunday the 15th. We passed through the city and crossed the Weehawkene Ferry. Encamped on Weehawkene Heights Sunday afternoon, Tuesday, the 17th. We then took a boat, arrived at Elizabeth Port, New Jersey, at 10:00 P.M. At midnight, we took the train. A crowd of drunken soldiers was in the car before us belonging to Company “F” 37th New York. They smashed all the windows of their own car to gather with as many of ours as they were able to get at. Several times they attempted to enter our car but were each time prevented by one of our men named Cross who stood in the door and knocked them over as fast as they came up.

We arrived at Harrisburg on the morning of the 18th, stopped about two hours which was long enough for the above named Company to smash in all the windows in the train which number over twenty cars and also to kill a newspaper reporter.

We passed over the Susquehanna bridge which I think must be over a mile in length and arrived in Baltimore about one o’clock. The last seen of the above mentioned Company was at the Washington Depot with every man with a five gallon keg of lager beer upon his back marching toward the cars.

We started at 4:00 P.M. in a train of 39 cars. We traveled very slowly indeed. Passed the Relay House about 9 o’clock in the bright moonlight. It was a beautiful sight as we crossed a bridge. Below, the water measured perhaps 200 feet beneath. Above [were] perpendicular cliffs rising. I should judge from the imperfect view I was able to get a distance of 500 feet. This is the junction of the Baltimore & Ohio Rail Road with the Washington.

We arrived in Washington at midnight. We were furnished with supper at the Soldiers Retreat, then lay down on the tables upon which we ate and slept sound for four hours.

The morning of the 19th, we marched to camp, a mile north of the Capitol. I was disappointed in regard to the city of Washington. I expected to see a great number of splendid buildings, the streets clean and well laid out. All of the buildings for which any beauty can be claimed are those belonging to the U.S. The Capitol, which I think, must exceed anything upon the continent for grandeur. Next are the three buildings enclosed in White House Square, Viz.: The White House in the center, the Treasury and War Department upon each side. Afterwards comes the Patents Office, then the Post Office. All of these building are of marble. The Smithsonian Institute I never visited although I was in all of the others with the exception of the “White House”. All the other buildings are of brick and wood and are of no account whatever.

I have seen droves of hogs within 40 rods of the White House wallowing in the mire of the streets. Our camp was a quarter of a mile east of the extension of Seventh Street.

On the 19th, we partially formed our camp. There were four companies in camp before us. We were not informed for several days. We remained in this camp exactly six months, drilling and becoming better disciplined each day. The weather through the month of September was warmer. I think that I never before experienced even in July. The nights were cool, however, the winter was very rainy and of course mud was abundant. Not northern mud but real Virginia mud. The soil about Washington as well as in portions of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia consists of a red clay and sometimes warm, somewhat resembling red chalk in color. When this becomes soaked by continued rains, the streets present the appearance of pudding as it is commonly made in New England. This makes it very hard traveling either on foot or with vehicles of any description, especially Government wagons which although drawn commonly by six mules, sometimes gets stuck fast with scarcely any load at all. We had in January and February, light falls of snow, which however, generally turn to rain, but occasionally laid on the ground over night. The heaviest fall was eight inches. As the rainy season approached, we commenced building fireplaces and chimneys as additions to our “cotton houses”.

There were as many different methods of building there as there were hands engaged in the work. Our first plan was to build our fireplace in the center of the tent by digging a square hole two feet in depth and about the same in width in the center and walling it out with brick, placing a piece of sheet iron upon the small opening at the top. A flue from this was dug also underground to the outside of the tents connecting with the chimney. Our chimneys were reared to the dizzy heights of two feet.

Our subterranean furnace warmed the ground and tent nobly and had but one objection. It was this: the size of our cotton house was six by seven. It was inhabited by five, each of whom called himself a hum being. It has many times, as I have looked back, seemed doubtful to me whether we were such or not, but at any rate, we all laid claim to be and passed as such. Well, we five turned up the soft side of the ground to lay on and our bed occupied a space of six feet across, measuring by the head board, of course, which was only an imaginary one. This gave to each man a space of exactly one foot, two inches and two-fifths of an inch which obliged all to lay on our sides and when one turned, we all about-faced. It came to Joe Bickford’s lot to be over the furnace aforesaid. He stood it very well for a few nights, but as it grew colder and Stone began to pile in the wood in the same ratio did the heat increase under the body of poor Joe until at last it became intolerable and we were obliged to “change the program”. This we did by building a fireplace in the side of the tent next to our feet and erecting a chimney six feet high which however did not prevent its smoking us out occasionally. We afterwards got us a stove. Tore down our chimney one day and built it up the next for several months. Of course, it never suited us. We lugged the brick a mile in our arms, only clay for mortar. Some, in order to lengthen their chimneys, placed port barrels upon the top.

About the 18th of January, I visited Uncle Edwin. He was just coming down with the measles but, was at the time he wrote, gaining and was able to sit upon the bed while he wrote although he could not speak a low word.

The next morning, February 2nd, Sunday while on inspection, I received a message by telegraph from father saying that Uncle Edwin was dead and requesting me to send the body home if possible. I immediately procured a pass from the Colonel, proceeded to the city and went Monday morning, found a friend in the person of Lt. Moore, Co. “S” 6th New Hampshire Volunteers. He gave me assistance every way in his power. I immediately telegraphed to Baltimore for a “metallic case”. He did the 24th of January and had been buried several days, otherwise I should have had him embalmed. The case came Tuesday the 4th. We disinterred the body that afternoon. I opened the coffin in order that I might be certain I was right. The face was perfectly natural, as I had seen it in life less than a month before. A small spot of blood near the mouth was all the change observable. Upon his breast was a large black spot of eight or ten inches in diameter. This spot was caused by the surgeon’s ordering on the evening of his death (the same on which he wrote his letter) a large blister of spirits of turpentine to be placed on his breast. This was about seven O’clock in the evening. At half past ten, the same evening, he died. I think there can be little doubt that this was the immediate cause of his death.

Of course, it is impossible to say whether this would have caused his death or not had he been differently treated, but to all appearance, he was gaining and was doing as well as could be expected. In a few days, this surgeon was removed through the influence of Lt. Moore and others of his company who were present at the time together with many things which I cannot now recall to my mind, it being nearly eighteen months since those events took place.

I made a long and careful memorandum of everything that I thought could ever after be of value to his friends but by mischance, it was lost during the peninsular campaign. There being a foot of snow upon the ground and the weather quite cold for Maryland, and as the body would be traveling northward, I wrote home that it was possible he might be seen. But he was so changed that it was impossible. I placed the case after everything was finished in charge of the man who came with it from Baltimore. He agreed to press it to its destination, which he did. (Wednesday, February fifth). I spent in packing up Uncle’s clothes and expressing them home. Lt. Moore was taken sick about this time, but I carried his clothes to the Lieutenant’s room and he gave me directions of the different persons to who he wished them sent as he had expressed before his death. Lt. Moore was a good man. He was afterward killed in battle at South Mountain, Maryland, September, 1862. I have omitted to mention that several weeks previous to the events just related, Joe Culligan was taken sick with lung fever and at the time I went to Annapolis was very sick indeed. The day after I returned to camp, his father arrived and took measures to get Joe home. In about three weeks, he was able to start and accordingly about the 24th of February, he left for home.

At this time, and indeed ever since the regiment was formed, there was great dissatisfaction among the men in regard to our rifles. Company “E” and “C”, New Hampshire and Michigan, were all provided with target rifles before leaving their respective states. We should have carried the same had not Colonel Berdan promised that we should have the Sharps rifle on our arrival in Washington. We were told that the rifles were waiting for us there. When we arrived, we found no rifles but plenty of assurance from Colonel Berdan that they would be along soon. As long as no arms were forced upon us other than those promised, there were no open demonstrations of any kind except now and then upon the Sutler who is always considered by soldiers a fair object of plunder. If his tent pins were loosed every windy night and the tent came down (accidentally of course) and the boys succeeded in taking prisoners, huge cheeses, tubs of butter, boxes of figs, etc., occasionally a little whiskey (the last named article is always in good demand among soldiers) why then he made just four times as much profits as a Christian conscious would allow. But, he being no Christian, but a veritable Dutchman of course, conscience was a thing unknown to him, therefore, he did not scruple to go as far as his cowardly heart would let him in the price of his goods. Whenever he sold a pie for a quarter, I think he must have shed tears to think he could not charge fifty cents for it.

At last came the climax with regard to the rifles. The Colonel had kept us quiet with promises thus far but about the middle of March, orders came for the regiment to be ready to march at short notice. But we couldn’t march without arms - - of course not. So, a meeting of the officers was called in order to decide upon the best plans of forcing or coaxing arms upon us. It was decided to procure the best arms which could be had in the city and try by every means to make us take them.

The 2nd S. S. (encamped near us) had already taken colts revolving rifles having been forced to it by threats of “shooting, Dry Tortugas Rip Rap”, etc.

About the 1st of March, 1862, McClellans Army encamped around Washington, began preparations to move. In a few days, our regiments received marching orders. We marched through the city across Long Bridge to Alexandria, ten miles below, encamping on the outskirts of the city. Our Company “F” rolled in our blankets beneath a rainy sky, dark where we encamped. Upon waking in the morning, found we had lain in an ancient graveyard all night. We embarked on government transports, of which there were a large number, lying in the river near the city.

Many of the regiments had a band. They were all playing national airs as we commenced our journey down the Potomac. Band music on the water is made finer and more inspiring than on land. We passed Mt. Vernon and the Tomb of Washington a few miles below the city. In due time, we arrived at Fortress Monroe and anchored off the town, I think of Newport. Here, we disembarked. The place was in ruins and had been burned by the Confederates a few months before. It was only a short distance across the bay to Ft. Monroe. The big gun on the beach outside the fort could be plainly seen from our position. This gun carried a 400-pound ball to Sewalls Point, a distance of seven miles. We were on the Peninsula formed by the York and James rivers and were soon starting over the road to Richmond.

We camped two or three miles from the shore for a number of days. Here, our regiment was divided. We were apportioned by companies among the different Corps. of the Army. The New Hampshire Company of our company were assigned to Fritz John Porter’s Corps., McCall’s Division Martindale’s Brigade.

While on picket duty one day, we of the reserve (not on duty) concluded we would like a taste of fresh pork and as there were plenty of hogs running loose in the woods, it would have been no trouble to have shot one or more, but we had strict orders not to fire. So, we resorted to the expedient of placing our bayonets on rifles and using them as lances or spears. As a long, lean, hungry porker passed about a rod from me at a 2-40 gait, I threw my lance, (rifle and bayonet) with terrific force and unerring aim, struck the animal just above the backbone and under the hide carrying the bayonet to the hilt, thus the rifle was fastened to the hog. Away went the pig, dragging my rifle with him. I thought my rifle was gone. The boys managed to surround him and put about a dozen bayonets through him at once. We soon had the hog cut up and roasting over a fire. Having no means of scalding him, we skinned it in the same manner as beef.

About the first of April, we arrived in front of the fortifications at Yorktown. We were welcomed by a storm of shot and shell thrown by the big parapet guns. We had a cold drizzling rain for the next two or three days and General Martindale ordered us into the rifle pits for 24 hours and finally when we crawled out, we were so thoroughly benumbed with the cold and lack of exercise that we were compelled to drag our bodies along for quite a distance, before being able to raise even to our knees. Our fingers were so numb we could not even pull a trigger let alone loading our rifles.

We remained in Yorktown about a month. I forgot to mention on the first day, there was a lull in the firing about sundown and the Confederates bands came out on the parapets of the fortifications and played Dixie and other Southern Airs and our band replied with Yankee Doodle, Hail Columbia, Star Spangled Banner, etc.

We were on duty in the rifle pits about every other day during the time we remained there, marching out before daylight in the morning and back to camp at night after dark, so as to avoid the ricochet shots from the batteries at the forts.

The New Hampshire Company were armed with heavy target rifles weighing from 18 to 32 pounds. The largest rifles had telescope sights running the whole length of the barrel and accurately arranged for different distances, from short range up to a mile and a half of possible two miles. Two or three of the large rifles trained on one of the great guns a mile distance on the parapet. After firing a few shots to get the range, they would silence the guns for quite a length of time as one of the three would be sure to pick a gunner with each shot. After a time, they forced the Negroes to load the guns. They, of course, sharing the fate of their masters. All their movements could be plainly seen by our officers through their field glasses. I saw one of those large guns carrying a hundred-pound ball explode. The large breech was hurled as nearly as I could judge, 150 feet in the air. When we marched through and over the fortifications some days later, we saw the broken gun lying in two pieces half way down the embankment. The cause of the explosion was, of course never known to a certainty, but the supposition was that a ball from one of Captain Griffins six pound field artillery was either hurled directly into the mouth of the gun or it struck so closely that it filled the mouth with sand from the parapet or the sand bags by which many of them were surrounded just at the moment it was being fired and the ball just starting to leave the gun. Either one of those causes would no doubt produce the same result. But an accident from such a cause must be very rare indeed as the same coincidence could scarcely happen again.

General Martindale commanding our brigade seemed to entertain a great dislike to our boys. We supposed it to be jealousy because we were doing good work and becoming somewhat noted throughout the corps, and in fact throughout McClellan’s entire army. Captain Griffins who commanded all the artillery in Porter’s Corps made the statement to our Captain that if General Martindale would give him command of one Company of Burdan’s sharpshooters, he would take three of his best batteries of artillery and with the help of our boys, he would silence everyone one of the big guns on the fortifications in front of us and keep them silenced during daylight.

I will give only one instance of Martindale’s petty tyranny. The night after our arrival in front of the fortifications at Yorktown, our Company was placed in rifle pits, which had been hastily dug by Martindale’s orders. We were left there for 24 hours, in a cold driving rain, wet to the hide, so that when we were finally relieved, we were compelled to crawl on our hands and knees before we were able to rise on our feet. Many of the boys had to be helped out of the rifle pits by the man sent to our relief. Martindale claimed that he forgot us, but this could not have been the case, for had we not been left here by his direct orders, the Officer of the Guard would have ordered a relief at the end of 10 hours at the most. Reader, imagine yourself as one of our members hardly room to move about, no chance for exercise at all, a hard cold driving April rain, 1st week in that month.

About the first of May, the Confederates evacuated Yorktown. The battle of Williamsburg occurred on the 3rd, I think, on the road between Yorktown and Whitehouse Landing. We were not engaged in this battle but after passing through Yorktown, we embarked on transports and sailed up the York River to WestPoint where we were ordered ashore. There being no wharves, this was affected by jumping into two or three feet of water and wading to the beach.

From this place, we marched to Whitehouse Landing on the Pamunkey River. We arrived here one night in a drizzling rain, which had been falling all afternoon. We were, of course, soaked to the hide, which was no uncommon occurrence in those days. Upon breaking ranks, we made a rush for the rail fences and soon had fires burning. Rails were laid in the mud to sleep on after eating our supper of hardtack, coffee, and sowbelly. Rolling into our blankets with our feet to the fire, we were soon sleeping soundly, forgetful of the hard day’s march, which we were just finished with and with no thought of the future or what it might bring us.

Upon awaking in the morning, we were told by the Negroes, (of whom there were a few left - - old men, women and children) that we camped in a one thousand acre field of wheat of General Fritz Hugh Lee’s plantation. This officer was a nephew of Robert E. Lee, Commander-in-Chief of the Confederate Forces, which were then retreating towards Richmond, the southern Capitol. The young Negroes of all ages up to five or six years, were running about naked near the houses in which they were living. There were about seven hundred slaves on this plantation when the war broke out but at the time of this writing, all the able-bodied men were with Lee’s army waiting on the officers, cooking, digging in the trenches, working with the pioneer Corps, and a thousand and one other things which were necessary in army life and which our men had to do ourselves.

At present, I can only give a recital of the larger and more prominent events that came under my observation during the short time I was with McClellan in his Peninsular Campaign.

My recollections are waning and there are many minor details and adventures that might be of interest to the reader were I able to recall them. (I commenced this work shortly after my discharge from the service and ought to have completed it at once, but other matters which I, at the time, considered of more importance required my attention and I dropped the work-earnest solicitation of my second daughter, Mrs. Mary Eager, who seemed desirous of getting a short sketch of my life and adventure in the Army, as a relic or keepsake for herself and her children). I kept a diary from the time I entered the service until about the 29th of June, 1862, (two days before the Battle of Malvern Hill) when I was so unfortunate as to lose it, thus preventing my giving as complete a record of the events transpiring under my special notice.

Our next march was from Camp to Gaines Hill – sometimes called Cold Harbor – near the Chickahoming River. This place where we camped was afterwards used by McClellan as his base for supplies for the armies while encamped in front of Richmond. I can’t remember the exact date of our arrival at Gaines Hill, but I think it was about the fifth of May. We did not break camp again until the third day of the Seven Days’ fight nearly two months later. About this time or a few days before they furnished us with one-man tents. These tents were “A” shaped about two feet high, two feet wide and perhaps six and a half or seven feet long. They were a dandy little rig when it did not rain too hard. We could sleep as snug as a bug in a rug. But when we had one of those thundershowers for which this country is famous, we would wake up in them with a small river running under us.

We did picket duty every other day for nearly the full eight weeks that we remained there. The river at this season of the year was very high, flooding a large tract of country called the Chickahominy Swamps.

The Chicahominy Bottoms, as I remember it, was from forty rods to one-half mile and in some places, nearly a mile in width. In doing such picket duty, we were sometimes able to get a station on a log or hillock of ground but in the majority of cases, we were compelled to stand in water from ankle deep up to knees and sometimes nearly to the waist. During several weeks of this time, out of a company of 101 men, we could muster only twenty for duty, the rest being on the sick list.

Allow me to make the statement here without any intention of boasting, that during my term of enlistment, I never answered the sick call but was always ready for duty when called upon and never failed to be with my company every night at the end of the days march. I was Company Clerk, kept all the books and papers for same. On account of this extra duty, I was relieved from camp guard and police duty, but took my regular turn at picket after the campaign opened and was in every battle in which our company took part while I remained with them. I say Company instead of Regiment because Berdan’s two regiments of Sharp Shooters were divided up and scattered through a large portion of McClellan’s Army. Our company and one other were assigned to General Fritz. John Porter’s Corps, McCall’s Division, Martindale Brigade. We were under General Martindale’s immediate command, but were expected to do duty in any portion of Porter’s Corps, when called upon. While doing duty in the cold and rain in the Chicahoming swamps, McClellan ordered rations of whiskey night and morning. The stimulus of alcohol and strong black coffee of which last article there was no limit in regards to the amount, was the only thing that kept all of us poor fellows on our feet during our six weeks of our stay here. Many of us had never tasted liquor up to this time and this, or similar circumstances was the cause of the formation of the liquor habit among the younger class of soldiers of the Civil War.

They have some terrible thunderstorms in Virginia and we experienced our share of them. One afternoon during one of those showers, I saw the lightening strike a caisson and a tent filled with ammunition. Several men and horse were killed and wounded and everything wrecked in the immediate vicinity.

Dates so far away I cannot remember, but will say about June 1st, 1862 at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, we heard the long roll beat the call to arms. Each company fell in, each on its respective camp or parade ground. We remained in line of battle drenched with a pouring rain until 6:00 A.M. when the orders came “forward march” and we commenced our tramp to Hanover Court House twenty miles away, mud and water never less than ankle deep and often half way to the knees. I Don’t remember about our breakfast, but suppose we received a couple day’s rations the evening before where we ate hard tack, salt horse or sow-belly from our haver-sacks while standing in the rain waiting for marching orders. We often did this when waiting for an immediate call to march. Sometimes the above mentioned meat was cooked but oftener not just as conditions at the cookhouse might warrant.

We reached our destination about noon or shortly after. The rain had ceased and a hot Virginia sun took its place. A fine afternoon for the battle which had commenced before we arrived. General Porter had orders to cut the railroads and telegraph communications with Richmond from that direction, also to destroy all railroad rolling stock and army supplies that he might find there. It was all so intended that he should open communications with [Brigadier General Irvin] McDowell forty miles distance on the Rappahannock thus giving him an opportunity to join McClellan with a reinforcement of sixty thousand fresh troops for the attack on Richmond. McDowell did not put in an appearance being ordered by the Secretary of War [Edwin M.] Stanton to remain where he was and guard the approaches to Washington. Many troops had already been taken from the army of the Potomac, supposedly for the protection of Washington. This was the last straw that broke the “camel’s back” and allowed the confederates to mass sufficient force in front of Richmond to produce the disastrous result that afterwards occurred compelling McCellan to retreat and form a new base near the James River. This order of Stanton’s caused a rebellious spirit to spring up in the army not only among the common solders but even among the officers, who, many of them openly expressed their wish that the Johnnies would enter Washington and make Stanton and the whole Cabinet prisoners.

We were always ready to follow little Mc C. wherever he ordered, but detested the spirit of the “stay at homes” that held him back. These same “stay at homes” be it remembered were continually urging on us to advance on Richmond at the same time the powers at Washington took away the troops needed for its advance.

Our company took no active part in the Battle of Hanover Court [House] but what was worse and required more courage. Martindale ordered us in line of battle on an open plain in front of a strip of woods as a target for the enemy’s artilleries. This is often done in order to draw the enemies’ fire from some other point. We were not held there very long but were to fall back into the timber and lie down, but they still kept shelling the woods and although they could not see us, would occasionally send us a charge of grape and canister which would come a little closer than was agreeable to us. The first man killed in our company lost his life while lying here. Our bodies were touching one another. As we lay there, I happened to glance upward at a tree near by. A canister shot struck the tree, glanced and entered his neck just at the end of the vertebrae or spinal column. After the ball struck the tree, its force was partially spent so that I was able to see it plainly in its passage from the tree to his neck. He lived three days but was unconscious from the moment the ball struck him until he died. We captured over two thousand, mostly North Carolina troops. They fought like “devils” and would hardly give in when entirely surrounded but by superior numbers. The reason for this, more than ordinary bravery lay in the fact that they were told by their officers that if they were captured, they would be all shot by the Yankees.

Long trenches were dug for the dead bodies thrown in side by side as closely as could be laid. In marching over the field on our way back, we saw many harrowing scenes; the worst of which I believed was that of a man dressed in a captain uniform sitting on the ground with his back against a stump and his bowels protruding from his body. He had been struck in the abdomen by a shell or rather a piece of one. Being twenty miles from the camp and the wounds being fatal, he was left there to die. He was a Union officer. His body was probably never buried but was undoubtedly eaten alive by the many birds of prey and half-wild hogs that roamed the country. He was rational and liable to live several days in that condition. He was begging for water. Our canteens were empty and there being no streams near by, he was undoubtedly compelled to suffer the agonies of thirst until death ended his misery. This is only one case out of thousands of similar ones that occurred during our Civil War. War is sure “hell” and we considered our struggle terrible and it was, but it looks comparatively small when we read of the magnitude of slaughters now going on in Europe. History can show nothing to compare with it.

We reached our camp late that night and remained there, nothing of interest occurred until the commencement of the Seven Days fight. Each day we could see Professor [Thaddeus] Lowe’s balloon ascent from McClelland Headquarters with rope about one thousand feet long attached. He would remain in the air until the confederates’ artillery got the range, then he would have to descend and try it again from a different position. Professor Lowe [founder of the Federal Army’s Balloon Corps], by the aid of his field glasses could for many days, see trains moving into Richmond which were supposed, or known almost to a certainty, to be filled with men, horses, provisions, guns, and ammunition. In fact, everything needed for a heavy reinforcement of [General Robert E.] Lee’s Army. Those trains came in from the south and west. Each day McClellan reported the observation from Prof. Lowe to Secretary of War Stanton but no reinforcements were sent to match those continually arriving in and around Richmond.

A few days before the massing of the Southern and Western Confederate Troops near Richmond, the battle of Fair Oaks called by the rebels Seven Pines occurred. It was a hard fight lasting two days. It was started in the early morning by the enemy under Gen. [actually Colonel] Fitzhugh Lee driving in General Case’s [Major General Silas Casey’s] pickets so rapidly and quietly that the whole brigade was surprised at breakfast. (Marshal Clay of Elma, Washington, told me a little incident in the connection that occurred at that time. He was one of the confederates that invaded Case’s camp that morning. He was on the staff of one of the generals. The first thing that struck their vision on reaching the deserted camp was a large iron vessel suspended over a fire filled with hot coffee all ready for us.)

Now across the line, coffee, of which we had plenty, was a luxury hard to obtain; therefore, they formed a circle around the fire expecting a rare treat. Picking up the scattered tin cups, they were just in the act of dipping them in the contents of the kettle when a shell struck the ground near the fire and exploded, scattering men, scalding coffee, coffee kettle and fire in all directions. Capt. Clay’s only remarks in regard to the incident was something like this: “the few of us who were left unharmed concluded that we didn’t need any coffee that morning.”

Owing to the start in the early morning, the first day’s fight was against us and victory perched on the rebel banners that night. The second day we were victorious but our losses were so heavy we were unable to follow up the advantages which we had gained. Our Company was not engaged in this fight.

We did picket duty the second day two miles from the scene of the conflict. Our camp ground at Gaines Hill [Gaines’ Mill] as near as I can remember was about 7 miles from Richmond, but our line had been thrown out of within three miles of the city.

On June 25 occurred the first battle of the Seven Days’ Fight in front of Richmond and on the retreat from Richmond, [Major General Thomas J.] Stonewall Jackson had been at his old trick again driving “[Major General Nathaniel P.] Banks out of the Valley” (Shenandoah). This seemed to be a periodical occurrence until nothing was left of the once fertile tract know as the “Spot of Virginia” or more often the Granary of the same. We supposed him far away but by a series of three or four days rapid, or what is called in military parlance forced marches, appeared upon the scene on the morning of the second day’s flight. Jackson’s Corps of forty thousand, being reinforced from Lee’s main body by thirty-five thousand, making a total of seventy-five thousand. He crossed the Chickahominy and gave battle to Porter’s Corps at Mechanicville.

This was the second day’s battle. The morning of that day, we were issued one day’s ration and ordered to picket lines. About 3:00 P.M., we were ordered from the picket to Mechanicville, two or three miles away where the fight had been in progress since noon. We took an active part in this engagement being exposed to artillery, rifle and musketry fire, returning the rifle fire at intervals until nearly 10:00 P.M. when night drew its curtain over the scene of slaughter and stopped the day’s work, only to commence again at daylight the next morning of the third day. We had some fortifications here but Porter finding there were too many for us, decided to vacate the place, which we did, the enemy pursuing us hotly.

Well, we reached our old camping ground two or three miles away. Found our company’s store burning, set on fire by orders of Q.M. General [Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs] as is usual in such cases in order to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy, filled my haversack with coffee. That was all I was able to get, but many were able to fill their canteens with whiskey, but I don’t think any of our company did not get any solid rations of any kind.

The battle of Gaines Hill now commenced in good earnest and it was hotly contested for a fight. Jackson had an army of seventy-five thousand men, thirty-five or forty thousand of which were fresh troops. All that Porter could muster was twenty-five thousand. He was ordered by McClellan to hold his place on the opposite side of the Chickahominy from the main army at all hazards. Porter’s men were compelled to remain in action with their faces to the enemy from morning until nightfall while Jackson’s men in action were relieved at short intervals.

Our regiment drilled by the bugle. In action, we were usually deployed as skirmishers five paces or more apart. This instrument was the only one that could be heard above the din of battle at any distance. Our orders were, as I think I have previous stated, to not waste any shots on common soldiers, but to pick off the officers and the first sergeant carrying the colors. We were also taught never to hurry in firing but to take careful aim that we might be reasonably sure of our man at any ordinary distance. The forests in this vicinity were quite free from underbrush and when engaged in the woods, we fired from behind the trees running from one tree to another as the enemy advanced.

Our last skirmish fight of the day was about the hottest of anything I ever experienced except at Malvern Hill four days later. About the middle of the P. M. we were again ordered to deploy skirmishers and advance from our lines to a position through the woods about, I would say, one hundred rods distant, until we nearly reached an open plain where a brigade of Jackson’s men were known to be forming for a charge on the lines we had just left. We commenced firing from the trees on their lines on the open plains and they soon commenced to advance in line of battle with fixed bayonets ready for the charge when so ordered. We commenced falling back from one tree to another leading as we ran in Indian style according to our usual custom, until the enemy had advanced to the brow of the shallow ravine, on the other side. We did such good work in our retreat through the woods that when they reached the brow of the hill, they had lost, as near as we could judge, nearly, if not quite, one half of their commissioned officers.

We dropped their color several times while falling back through the forest. An Average of one for each regiment; and three times their colors fell when they made their final charge from the brow of the hill down to the bottom of the ravine and up the hill on the other side. We continued firing as we stood in a kind of a clearing between the enemy and our lines, the two bodies of troops, the confederates and the Union, not more than four or five rods apart it looked to our little squad as though our time had come and some or all of us would go down in the finish.

As they came through the woods, they could now and then catch a view of their battered foes peppering their officers and colors.

Speaking of the colors, I might say here that the first or orderly Sergeant of the Color Company holds the most dangerous position in the regiment, which requires a brave man to carry the colors and at the same time take no action part in the fighting. He knows that he is the central figure being aimed at by many different riffles but he cannot reply, he can merely hold to his colors until he falls and the second Sergeant steps up and takes his place and so on if necessary down the line of the five Sergeants.

Instead of the old Indian style now, we were in the open. We aroused their anger while coming through the woods as they could only get a glimpse of their tormentors and now their anger seemed to increase as they could count the size of our little squad, not over a dozen in number, who had done their mischief in the latter part of the fray, for the bugle sounded the retreat sometime before; but we failed to hear it and kept right on the good work, the results of which our foes too well knew.

As I just stated, we had now reached the brow of the hill when we found our selves in a trap which looked to us impossible that we could get out alive. We could not have been at this time over two rods from the enemy’s bayonets. Our little squad had by this time, drawn in closer together when, with a howl of rage and oaths and curses, those nearest rushed forward after first firing a volley expecting to run three or four bayonets through each one of us. As good fortune would have it, they were unable to reach us. When the points of their bayonets almost pricked our backs an event occurred that stopped their further progress.

While the stumps and ground around us and the distance between the enemy's bayonets and our bodies was rapidly decreasing, one of my comrades was struck on the forehead by a glancing shot which did not break his skull but deluged the face with blood in a moment. He seemed to be crazed by the concussion or force of the ball on the brain. He sprang into the air four or five feet. As his feet struck the earth, I grasped him by the shoulder and dragged him to the ground. At this moment, from behind, they gave the command to fire. We laid as low as possible with our heads against the roots of a stump and bullets from both sides flying above our heads and around us in all directions. We were about halfway between the opposing forces and they could not have been four of five rods apart at this time. I think the rest of them reached the barricade and laid down low in front of it, thus being protected from the fire of our own men but not from that of the enemy’s. How we escaped being riddled with bullets from both sides and almost instant death is more than I can understand. They must have been a little above our bodies, as we lay there stretched on the ground.

The enemy’s ranks were by this time considerably thinned. The next order from our command officer was to charge, which they did, passing over our bodies and after a desperate struggle, which lasted for only a short time, the enemies were driven down the hill, and were captured by our forces. Jackson, however, soon sent in a large body of fresh troops thus compelling us to yield our position and retreat slowly contesting the ground as we slowly fell back towards the Chickahominy.

During this backward movement, our light artillery was ordered to fire by prolong. For those not versed in military parlance, I will explain one phase of artillery: when on the march [the gun carrier] consists of four wheels, tongue and other necessary gears called the gun carriage. When the battery comes into action or rather is getting ready for action, the first order is to unlimber, that is after the carriage is placed into position as they want it; this is done by drawing the king bolt which hitches the gun bearing on the hindward wheels to the forward axle. There are still six horses connected, two forward wheels are driven a few feet away from the gun so that the rebound caused by its discharge may not effect them. When through firing in this particular position, the forward wheels are backed into place. Then comes the order to limber up which is done by placing the gun bearing into position on the forward axle and throwing in the king bolt, the artillerymen jumping upon the carriage they are off again to a new position. But when in a hurry as necessity demands it, they do not limber up at all but fire by prolong as it is called, which simply consists of attaching a rope or small cable about 20 or 25 feet long, I should think, between the forward wheels and gun bearing; thus they can fire much more rapidly and have in many times in case of pursuit of the enemy.

Near sundown, they had driven us to within a short distance of the river when we reached an old ditch or dry canal, it might have been. There, we decided to make a final stand. Porter had asked McClellan for reinforcements two or three times but the answer was invariably the same: “Lee’s whole army in front, cannot spare a man” but when he saw night approaching and noticed also our nearness to the river and realizing what the effect would be had we been driven into it at that time in the day, (which I think we would have rather have done than thrown down our arms and surrendered) he ordered [Brigadier General Thomas] Meagher’s Irish Brigade to cross and charge the enemy back into the woods which they did with a series of those terrible yells for which this brigade was noted. They held the ground thus obtained until daylight, which gave Porter an opportunity; with what men he had left to cross the river during the night.

His men, artilleries, horses, baggage, etc. on the Pontoons were thrown hastily across for that purpose. The last of our artillery and what little baggage we had left, mostly officers’ truck I suppose, was across on the other side by daylight and ready to take up our march for James River. This was the morning of the forth day as the "“Good Book'’ has it only in the account of the creation, it was evening and morning I believe.

Now commenced our retreat for James River in good earnest, contesting the ground slowly and keeping up a strong rear guard fight. In relating the incidents connected with our little squad being in such a dangerous position between the two armies.

I forgot to mention how and why we came to be there caught in such a terrible death trap, as it seemed to us at such a time. We failed to hear the call of the bugle, which gave us the order to retreat. The rest of the two companies got inside of our lines without any difficulty and we were left out.

We were kept in the rear in order to do what we were able in connection with the light artillery and cavalry in protecting the Pioneer Corps in burning bridges, obstructing roads, etc. We had already been without sleep for two entire nights. The night of this first day’s retreat, we got a few hours sleep. That evening when we camped, we changed our shirts, throwing away the one we had on and putting our last and only one. Our remaining worldly possessions were now reduced to a minimum. They were carried in a small black rubber blanket rolled up and thrown over the shoulder and tied on the other side below the arm. This consisted of one heavy woolen shirt, one pair of socks, a spool of thread, a few buttons and needles, a diary in which I had tried as well as I could to record the incidents each day and a testament that my mother gave me when she bade me farewell. Not thinking as we had orders to change camp in a hurry, I forgot everything but the shirt, the smaller articles remaining on the ground where they fell. I felt worse on the account of losing my little diary but there was no help for it. It had to be, that was all.

On June 29, on the evening of that day, a short time before sundown, our company was ordered to the front by Gen. Porter. We marched for a long distance between lines of soldiers lying on each side of the road soundly sleeping on their arms. We felt as though we would like to sleep also, for we were nearly exhausted for lack of food and sleep and marching and counter marching.

We arrived at Porter’s Headquarters about dark. The General himself and staff made a recognizance [reconnaissance] in person in order to find out if there was any danger in their being able to flank us or get in our front with a large force and cut off our retreat, and also to find or locate as near as possible the enemy’s picket lines.

He had so much confidence in the ability of our company to fight carefully and coolly on the retreat that he selected us as his bodyguards and with the addition of a few picket cavalrymen for that night. Ordinarily, we should have considered this a great honor but in our present condition, we cared little for anything but food and sleep. The General really made a wrong choice on that particular night without knowing it as no want occurred which required our services. We came through the night’s work unharmed with a reputation unimpaired. I supposed, had necessity called for it, we would have awakened to the situation and would have done our level best according to circumstances.

It was a very dark night, sky overcast with heavy clouds. We advanced very slowly and halted often. We leaned on our rifles asleep at every halt and half-asleep while marching. I suppose we reached the enemy’s picket lines at about midnight and we maneuvered around so carefully for an hour or two that not a single shot was fired on either side, getting the locations of the rebel forces and returning to camp (or rather to our own lines, for we had no camp) which we reached about 4:00 A.M. As the order came to break ranks, we sank to the ground and were in a dead sleep instantly.

Before breaking ranks, our Captain informed us we had just one hour to sleep and we certainly did. It seemed as though we must have obtained a whole night’s rest in that one hour. It took a number of hard kicks and considerable loud talk hardly fit for anyone to repeat, to get us on our feet again but it was surely accomplished as they do anything in the army when they undertake to do it. This was the day before the battle of Malvern Hill.

On the P.M. of this day, we were ordered to the front and allowed to rest for a few hours. But, instead of resting, hunger compelled us to forage and see if we could find anything to eat. Previous to this time, it was of no use whatever to travel about for food, as, being kept in the rear, every particle was cleaned up ahead of us. But now, we were once more at the front, we had a little chance for finding something.

Remember, as I have previously stated on the morning of the 26th, one day’s rations were issued to us expecting to receive more the next day. We had consumed it all, as was our custom, so on this morning of the 27th; we were searching for another supply of food, but as before stated, on reaching camp we found our commissary stores burning. From this time until the P.M. of this day of which I am writing, the 30th, we had not a particle of any kind of food to eat, from the morning of the 27th until the afternoon of the 30th, over eighty hours of nearly three and one-half days. We subsisted entirely on coffee, of which fortunately we had a plentiful supply.

Twice during this time, we had an opportunity to build a fire and boil it. The rest of the time, we ate it raw, grinding it as fine as possible with our teeth, swallowing as best we could and washing it down with water from our canteens. If any of my readers think this might be an agreeable operation, let them try it once on a small scale and they will soon be able to understand what it would be like when taken at wholesale as in our case we were compelled to do.

Speaking of water from our canteens, I will say that the weather was intensely hot and dry during all of those seven terrible days. Some days, the opportunity of filling our canteens would be rare and they would soon be empty in that sweltering heat. Fortunately, there were many small streams or creeks running through that section of the country and as we paddled through one of these, we would take our caps and scoop up and drinking it from this receptacle, scarcely halting on our march. Probably 50,000 men or more and many thousand of horses had passed through that same stream ahead of us. This statement will be sufficient to indicate to the imagination of my readers what the water was like. It was not any too thin to say the least.

About 2:00 on the P.M., of June 30th, we arrived within a few miles of the James River and rested awhile but as I have just stated, there was no rest for us. Our first need was to satisfy our hunger and although somewhat weak and exhausted we were still able to hunt for food.

At no great distance away, we were fortunate enough to run on a granary containing several tons of corn meal. Rapidly filling our haversack, we returned to camp eating it from our hands as we went, lapping it up with our tongues in much the same manner as cattle and horses would do. We made another trip soon and ran into 50 hives of bees. We demolished them with the butts of our rifles, tearing the honey from the old-fashioned boxes or hives with our hands regardless of bees or anything else. With our faces and hands covered with bee stings and honey dripping all over us from head to foot, we must have presented a comical appearance as we returned to our comrades among whom we divided the luxury we had obtained. Towards evening, after partaking of a hearty meal of warm mush and hot coffee, we lay down to rest…. the garments covering my body consisted of one heavy woolen shirt, army blue pants, one dark blue army blouse, a pair of socks, a pair of shoes and a cap. The remainder of my wardrobe consisted of the mentioned little black rubber blanket, which I spread on the ground and laid myself thereon for a long night’s sleep.

We were fortunate not to be called out during the night but rested sleeping soundly until daylight. It does not take strong healthy boys of eighteen and upward long to recuperate and regain their wasted energies and we awoke refreshed and ready for the day’s work ahead of us.

Our last full night’s sleep was on the evening of the 25th and this was the evening of the 30th. On the night following the evening of the 25th, no sleep at all. The next night of the 27th, no sleep, night following, evening of the 28th, four hours’ sleep…evening of the 29th, one hour’s sleep, the following morning, fourth night, one-hour. Over eighty hours or almost three and one half days of continuous marching and fighting without any food whatever and only five hours’ rest and sleep during that time. I suppose some of the incidents connected with the old Indian wars might make this story seem small but I think there is no record in history or in our own Civil War could be more strenuous or severe.

During those terrible days of continuous fighting and marching without food we would every morning draw our belts a notch which seemed to increase our strength in a way that gave us the ability to march easier. I have aimed to relate facts as I remember them without exaggeration.

The morning of the first day of July 1882 opened clear and as the sun arose, bid fair to be hot and sultry like its predecessors. This was the day of the battle of Malvern Hill, the last of the Seven Days. McClellan had now reached the James River with his army and we were now under the protection of the gunboats from whom we hoped to receive sufficient aid to enable him to hold his position against the superior numbers of the enemy. We were ordered onto the skirmish line about 9:00 A.M. where we remained until afternoon when we were driven in by a charge across the open plain from a portion of Magruder’s Corps about ten thousand strong.

We were on the open plain near the woods, this plain or prairie extending back in our rear to Malvern Hill, I should judge about one-half mile away. This hill was about twenty feet in height. On the top of this and on our right while on the retreat, on our left as we turned and faced the enemy on the defensive, Capt. [Charles] Griffin commanding the batteries in Porter’s Corps had here amassed 150 guns.

Many deserters came through our lines and reported the gunboat shells making sad havoc. Especially those sent from the mortars which many times dropped among the Confederate troops while forming for an advance sometimes two or three miles away. The gunboats were the salvation of our army on that, the last day of the 7 days’ continuous fighting. As Lee sent his reinforcement towards the battlefield from a distance, their lines were continually being broken by explosion of the mortar shells dropping in their midst. A shell fell short about ten or fifteen rods inside our skirmish lines, plowed a hole in the ground large enough to bury a yoke of oxen, arose, passed over our heads, struck the trees beyond and exploded. No one being near, so no damage was done.

When Magruder’s forces emerged from the forest onto the open field, we retreated as rapidly as possible to the hill and took our position near and just on the rear of the batteries. They came across the open plain in time to battle, with fixed bayonets four files deep as near as we could see, not a shot being fired on either side. Our gunners had long before this, obtained the exact range from the brow of the hill only a few yards away. Capt. Griffin had given orders that their fire should be withheld until the enemy appeared on top of the hill and then, at a given signal, each one of the one hundred and fifty guns should be fired at the same moment, which was accordingly done.

I had seen slaughter before, but nothing to compare with this. It was terrible. I cannot describe it. Imagine 10,000 men exposed to and only a few yards away from the muzzle of 150 cannons, each loaded with a grape and canister and many of them with chain and bar shot. I suppose these shots consisted simply of two balls joined together by a bar or chain as the case may be.

At this short range however, they could not accomplish their position on leaving the gun at a distance of several hundred yards. They would mow a wide path wherever they passed. It was but the work of a few minutes for the regiments lying behind our batteries to rise and fire their charge, which completed the work of destruction and those who remained of our assailants were driven back to the forest whence they came.

This same movement was repeated the 2nd and third time with fresh troops during the P.M. with practically the same results each time with only this difference: That the last time (taught by previous experience) they were much more careful and cautious in their movements before the final attack. Sending up their sharp shooters and riflemen, who crawled slowly on their bellies through the tall grass to nearly the top of the hill they were there in position to pick off our gunmen and horses, which they did with amazing rapidity.

But this work did not last long. Capt. Griffin and the Lieutenant of our regiment came to us and asked for twenty volunteers to go to a bare knoll or small hill and lie on our bellies and engage the attention of the rebel sharpshooter’s just mentioned. Notice – They could have ordered us on this mission but did not for this reason: I suppose it was an extremely dangerous position. We were lying on the ground at the time, many more than the required number jumped to their feet instantly, myself being one of the number.

We immediately proceeded to take up our position as stated, inside of five minutes we had drawn their fire entirely from the artillery but instead it was fairly well concentrated on ourselves. As near as I can remember, our little squad and the rebel sharp shooters were about ten rods apart at this time. Our heads were the only marks but that would seem to be a ”great plenty of thousands” as the saying goes for a good marksman as the “Texas Rangers” were supposed to be at that short distance. I had fired quite a number of shots each of which seemed to take effect, when it occurred to me that I had better rise upon my feet which I accordingly did. What gave me this impression I do no know. I don’t think I had time to figure it out then. It might have been something like this: the head and shoulders was a small mark but almost sure death whereas the whole body in standing position offered a larger and better target. Still the life chances were must better than in the former position.

I noticed a rebel officer about ten rods away who seemed to be directing the movements of his men. I aimed at him and fired. He fell to the ground and a man standing at his elbow raised his rifle and took deliberate aim at me. I suppose he aimed at my belt plate for the bullet passed through about two inches below the elbow of my left arm and grazing my side in the hollow of the waist just about the hip joint. A flesh wound of no depth, one or two inches lower would have shattered the hip bone and have made me a worse cripple for life than I am at the present writing.

After firing, the next thing is to reload the rifle in your left hand. You place the right hand at your back on the cartridge box and in so doing very often move the right side of the body backward and to one side. This of course, carries the left side with it, which throws the left side forward and also to a position farther to the right. This motion probably saved my life. It must have occurred at the very moment of my assailant pulling the trigger. Had the movement taken place afterward, the ball would have passed through the center of my body and the results would have been the same had I made the movement a moment before he pulled his trigger, as that would have given him an opportunity to vary his aim to suit the action of my body. I was struck in the arm but was not aware of it.

Shells were bursting all around us. I turned around, my rifle falling to the ground, my arm hanging helpless at my side and said to the boys in the rear (for I was farthest at the front) “I have been struck by a piece of shell and my left side is torn open.” That was the feeling I experienced but such did not prove to be the same. This feeling was caused, I suppose, by the ball passing through the arm and causing the slight flesh wound at the waist line just between the hip joint and lower rib.

I was fortunate in another respect. The ball passed through my arm about two inches below the elbow joint, thus allowing a chance for the saving of my arm. The artery was struck and I lost about all the blood I was able to spare. One of the boys happened to have an old towel. Tying a knot, he placed the knot on the artery above the wound carrying the towel around the arm and tying the ends together and with the aid of a stick, he twisted it around, tightened it and thus improvised a sort of tourniquet which probably saved my life.

It was now sundown and I began to make my way slowly towards the rear. My progress was necessarily slow for several reasons such as, lack of sleep and rest for many days and nights, no food at all during the same period combined with a certain restlessness and nervous strain which always must attend a retreat of this kind, and lastly the loss of blood left me in a condition which is impossible for anyone to understand unless they have been in the same condition. Besides, the road was blocked with baggage, wagons, artillery, horses, and mules, some dead and some alive, wounded men and horses in all shapes and conditions, and among them could be heard groans of the wounded and the dying.

Very slowly I picked my way through this mass of confusion and long after dark, one of our hospitals being a large house on a plantation near Turkey Creek and not far from the James River, I made my way inside the building and lay down on the floor in one of the lower rooms.

In a short time, 1st Lieut. Seaton of our company came in and lay down beside me. He was wounded in the leg. Shortly after midnight, our Lieut. Col. came into the building and ordered any and all of our regiment who were there and who were able, to get a move on them and fall in as the army was ordered to retreat ten miles farther down the river to a place called Harrison Landing, warning us if any remained, we would be captured and taken as prisoners to Richmond. There were a large number of our Regiment there for we had been in the thick of the fight that day.

I arose, weak and dizzy headed and made my way slowly towards the door with the others who were able to walk. I remember reaching the door and peering into the darkness. I remember hearing the rain pouring down in torrents. From this moment until 9 or 1:00 A.M. of what I supposed to be the next day, everything is a blank to me.

I say I suppose – it might have been the second [day] for all I know. No one ever told me. I suppose I must have fainted, fallen down the steps of which there were four or five, and was taken inside where I remained in an unconscious condition until morning. I awoke with the feeling of one who had slept heavily for a long time.

I managed to raise myself to a sitting position, by means of my right hand and elbow, and at the same time a comrade who was lying beside me did the same thing. As we looked about us, we found ourselves in an upper room. The sun was shining brightly through the curtainless windows as we turned our faces toward one another and began to laugh at the most ridiculous sight I myself had ever beheld.

We lay on a feather bed which seemed to have been placed on the floor for our accommodation but by some means, it had been torn open and we as a consequence were lying as much inside as outside. Our clothes were covered with what had been fresh blood from head to foot. I suppose we had rolled in the feather until completely covered. Now the blood was nearly dry. We were not tarred but blood and feathered and presented a very amusing spectacle indeed.

After awhile, I managed to get upon my feet and to back down the stairs with the aid of my right hand and arm and was out in the open once more, very weak and very hungry. To my great joy, I soon found a granary containing a large quantity of wheat. This we boiled, furnishing a nourishing food during our short stay in the [makeshift] hospital.

My arm was bathed and dressed by the surgeon left in charge. This dressing was all the attention it ever received at the hands of army surgeons for a month or more. In the course of a couple of days, a number of Confederate Cavalry officers of different grades, arrived in the hospital telling us that McClellan had made the greatest and most wonderful retreat that ever was recorded in the annals of history. They also told us that every available man from the South and West had been brought to Richmond, thus concentrating an army of over 300,000 men at that point.

Military Academy with McClellan and knew him well. They said the general feeling throughout the entire Confederate army was of complete surprise at the result, which they claimed no other man in the Union Army could have achieved.

Be that as it may, the fact remains that he arrived on the shore of the James River and under cover of the gunboats, which by the way were his only salvation, and although the losses were great, still not as large as they should have been considering the great difference in numbers of 3 to 1

The Confederates were drilled under good and efficient officers and many of them had already seen considerable service and were in every way as brave and good fighters as their Northern brothers of the Union Army. They told us that it took three days to effect a passage through from Malvern Hill to our hospital so completely had McClellan’s Pioneer Corps blocked the roads, falling trees across, rolling huge boulders, etc; and as soon as they reached us on the third day, they brought down a large number of baggage wagons, loaded us in and started for Richmond. This ride was very painful. I suffered a great deal with my shattered arm sitting on the bottom of an old wagon, no springs, simply an inch of floor between my body and the axle. My sufferings were not to be compared with those who were wounded in the legs or worse still, were those who were torn by pieces of shell or suffering from bullet wounds through the body.

The roads were terribly rough, caused by the passage of large armies with large number of horses, artillery and wagons. Upon arriving in Richmond, we were placed in an old tobacco warehouse, the hospital department of Libby Prison.

There were about two hundred and fifty wounded men in the room I was in. We were laid in rows, six in number across its entire length, heads together and feet the same but room enough to walk. The floor was covered with a matting of old dry tobacco from a quarter to an inch thick. Water for drinking and washing purposes was kept in a wooden tank in one corner of the room furnished by pipes from the James River. In a short time by carrying water across the floor for drinking, bathing wounds, etc. the tobacco became thoroughly soaked. We were compelled to lie in this nasty disagreeable mess. It seemed to us but a grade higher than a hog pen.

We were placed as close as we could lie. Nearly every morning a dead comrade who had passed away during the night would be taken away from one side or the other. Their places being filled in by new ones just brought in from the battlefields and hospitals at the front. Our rations consisted of one piece of white bread cut from the end of an ordinary sized loaf of baker’s bread twice a day, morning and evening. About twice a week, they would throw a candy pail of bones that had been picked over by the guards outside among us. All that were able would scramble and fight for them like a lot of hungry dogs. Had it been divided equally, about every forth man would have a bone.

It was simply aggravation done by the guards to tantalize us and amuse them by watching us fight over the bones. If one happened to be so careless as to stick his head out of the window for a breath of fresh air, a bullet would pursue it at once.

Our wounds were not dressed while in this prison. We would take water from the tank and pour upon them. That was the only relief we had. The matter continually running from my arm was of a lead color caused by a portion of the bullet, which remained there and was afterwards extracted. Flies were plentiful and there were men, one wounded in the head, whose wounds were filled with maggots. Those who were strong enough, would take off their shirts and sit for hours and pick body lice from the seams. In fact, this was their principal occupation. I had about $12.00 in silver, which was not taken from me when searched outside. I used in bribing the guard to bring us a few pies, cookies, condensed milk, etc. which I divided among the less fortunate around me. It [the money] did not last long however.

We remained in this hellhole about three weeks. This was about all I wanted although, come to think of it, this must have been heaven compared to Andersonville, which we heard so much of. I had two schoolmates who were in that prison thirteen months. They come out alive and that was about all. They were not wounded and with constitutions of iron or they never could have pulled through.

It was a happy day for us when we were paroled and all that were able to look up the line of march from the prison across the bridge to the other side of the river. Then they loaded us into cattle cars and rolled us along slowly towards City Point, a landing on the James River.

There, we were taken on board a Government transport called the Commodore Vanderbilt, which, before the war plied between St. Johns and Boston. We were in paradise when we stood on the dock of that old vessel with the Stars and Stripes floating over us. It is impossible for any one to realize the joy that we experienced and the shouts that rose to our lips when we saw Old Glory.

We were fed very sparingly at first and the food was carefully guarded. Not withstanding all this, three men were found dead in the morning from over-eating. They had possibly broken into the cookhouse during the night and filled up with good things to eat. No doubt all of us who were strong enough would have done the same thing and have suffered the same consequences.

As soon as we arrived on board the boat, we were stripped naked and all of our garments thrown overboard. They looked like a small island floating down the river. There were 700 wounded men on board that old vessel, as we sailed out to sea.

There were no new garments enough to go around so a long cotton nightgown, which enveloped my body from neck to feet, was all I received for my share. This was an extreme change from a heavy woolen shirt, pants and blouse of the same material, just out from the hot stifling air of that city prison to a fresh cool ocean breeze blowing across the stream.

The vessel was so crowed that we could not all go below or under any kind of a cover whatever. Therefore, I was compelled to lie on the bare floor of the upper deck with the wind blowing hard and cold all night. I shook and shivered all night as with the ague. It was the longest night I ever put in and no poor cuss ever prayed for morning as I did. I would get up and walk around the small space until in my weakened condition so exhausted I could not stand any longer, would lie down on the floor again.

In the morning, a surgeon, passing along, stopped to look at an officer that lay in a berth under cover, but near the outer deck where I was lying, I heard these words from the surgeon's lips, “He cannot last long”. From that moment, I never took my eyes off that berth for I knew there were many others watching for just such a chance.

Late in the P. M., he was taken away and I crawled cautiously into the bed from which they had just taken the dead man. A bed well covered with blood, but I paid little heed to that and remained there unmolested to the end of the voyage. We sailed very slowly and after the first night, put into some harbor and lay until daylight when we took up our voyage again. We were 5 days and nights reaching New York harbor, which we did without accidents of any kind.

We anchored outside alongside the Great Eastern, the huge vessel being unable at that time to pass through Hell Gate. A few years after, rocks were blown out of this boiling canal so the largest vessels can now enter the harbor. Holes were bored in the rocks under the boiling angry waters, sticks, or cases of dynamite or nitro glycerin being inserted therein, connected made by wires. A little child, the engineer’s daughter 5 or 6 years of age, touched the button that caused the explosion and split the rock so they could be removed.

As we stood upon our ship, the deck of the great vessel seemed a long distance from us. I had never seen the vessel before; it was a monster to me.

From here, we started down the bay to David’s Island about twenty miles from New York and two miles from New Rochelle. Here, the Government had established a large hospital capable of accommodating three thousand patients. After our seven hundred wounded arrived here, it was nearly full.

With the rest of those who were able to walk, I marched from the deck to the hospital in my long cotton nightgown. Upon arriving there, they gave me a new suit of clothes throughout, al of which I was glad to get, as I had been a stranger to them for a long time.

It was now about the first or second week in August and my arm was dressed for the second time since I was wounded five or six weeks before. It was dressed every day after this until it healed which occurred during the winter following.

The wounds were dressed from seven to ten in the morning and that was the dreaded part of the day for us. The persons each side of me, were hurt one in the leg, the other in the body. When the surgeon came to dress our wounds, they would grit their teeth, grasp the bedrails with each hand and hold on. All I could do was to grit my teeth and hold up my arm with the other hand for the surgeon to investigate. This investigation consisted of an insertion of the little finger of the right hand to its full length into the wound and feeling around for fragments of bone. It any were found, the next operation was to insert the forceps and try to get hold of said fragments and pull it out. Sometimes, he would get it but oftener not, but the same performance had to be gone through with every morning for a long time.

One of the boys next to me who could use both hands took the handle of a palm leaf whittled the sides down to nearly a point. I could bend these points together until they would meet. With this, I took out several pieces of bone myself.

I regained my strength rapidly and spent my time in watching the different operations performed by the surgeons. Walking around the island which was small in extent, and sitting upon the rocks watching vessels of all kinds going out to sea and coming into port. At one time during a severe storm, we saw the Great Eastern dragging her anchor going seaward with a hole, stove into her side that appeared, a mile or more away as though it was five or six feet square. She was build in compartments, therefore could not sink.

On January 26, 1863, my wound was declared sufficiently healed for me to be able to return home so accordingly on that day, I received my discharge, was paid off and started for home.

Signed: Brigham Buswell