Tocar la armonía del caos

Reminiscences of the Nineteenth Massachusetts Regiment


Reminiscences of the Nineteenth Massachusetts Regiment


For thirty-four years I have waited patiently for some one to write a history of the 19th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, but fearing that it may never be accomplished, I have concluded to send out this story.I do not dignify it by calling it a history.It is simply a soldier's story, told by one of the “boys.”Most of it is written from memory.The account of prison life is taken from an imperfect diary, kept by the writer while a prisoner of war.

I sincerely hope the publication of this volume will inspire other comrades, and that from the memories thus evoked some one may gather further material whereby the deeds of the men who so bravely followed the flags of the State and Nation for four long, weary years may be preserved.

At the breaking out of the war I was a resident of the quiet but patriotic town of Groveland. Sumter had been fired upon and all was excitement. I could not work, and on the 18th of April, 1861, walked to Haverhill with my elder brother and Mark Kimball. We went to the armory of the Hale Guards, who were making active preparations to march, and I returned home that night resolved to go with them if possible. The next day we walked to Haverhill again, and I at once interviewed Captain Messer, but was informed that the company was more than full,[1] so I could not go with it.

I had said nothing to my brother or Mark of my intention, but as we were walking home I found that we all had the same desire,--to enlist at once. We talked the matter over and concluded that as Company A of the 1st Battalion of Rifles, an old militia company located in West Newbury, and then under arms, would soon be ordered away, we would join it. That night we walked to West Newbury (five miles, found the company at the armory in the town hall and enrolled our names. Company A was one of three that composed the 1st Battalion of Rifles, commanded by Maj. Ben. Perley Poore. They had been organized several years and were known as “Poore's Savages.” They were armed with Winsor rifles and sabre bayonets, the rifle and bayonet weighing about fifteen pounds. The uniform was dark green, trimmed with light green, and as I donned it for the first time it was hard to tell which was the greener, the soldier or the uniform. We had a peculiar drill. Most of it, as I can remember, consisted of running around the town hall in single file, giving an Indian war-whoop and firing into the corner of the hall as we ran.

I was a soldier now. I did not walk the streets as I had done, but marched, always turning “a square corner.” People grasped me by the hand and congratulated me on my courage. (I did not see where the courage came in.) The Sons of Temperance, of which my brother Isaac and myself were members, presented us at a public meeting with two suits of underclothes and havelocks, housewives, testaments, etc., so that before we received our army outfit we had enough to load a mule.

Mar Arza, Elogio del maltentendido

We waited for orders to march, but none came, and from being heroes we began to be looked upon with disgust, and we were the most disgusted of all. As we would meet friends on the street they would say, “Is it not about time to have another public meeting to bid you fellows good-by?” or, “You will want some more shirts before you leave.” So mortified did we become that, instead of marching down through the village to drill, we sneaked away through a back street.

The company began to get demoralized. Men were leaving every day, going to other States or to regiments that had been ordered to the front. At last we rebelled, and sent our officers to the Governor with a vote passed by the company, that unless we were ordered into camp at once we would disband. After a few days we were furnished with a large tent for the men, a wall tent for the officers and a supply of rations. Our camp was located on the land of one of our members, Private Sylvester, and was named “Camp Sylvester.” We were without arms except three guns for guard duty, as our old Winsors had been turned in. Company A was officered as follows: Captain, Moses P. Stanwood; First Lieutenant, J. Warren Brown; Second Lieutenant, Benjamin Wilson; Third Lieutenant, Isaac H. Boyd; Fourth Lieutenant, Jones Frankle. The third and fourth lieutenants were soon discharged, as army regulations only provided for two. Lieutenant Boyd went into the ranks, Lieutenant Frankle was made major of the 17th Massachusetts.

[1]This is footnote.

Universidad de Barcelona
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