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Title: The Last Campaign of the Twenty-Second Regiment, N.G., S.N.Y. June and July, 1863 Author: George W. Wingate Release Date: April 16, 2010 [EBook #32013] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK LAST CAMPAIGN OF 22ND REGIMENT ***
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THE LAST CAMPAIGN OF THE TWENTY-SECOND REGIMENT, N. G., S. N. Y.
JUNE AND JULY, 1863.
New York: C. S. WESTCOTT & CO., PRINTERS, NO. 79 JOHNSTREET. 1864.
Entered according to the act of Congress, in the year 1864, BYGEORGE W. WINGATE, in the Clerk’s office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.
THE LAST CAMPAIGN OF THE Twenty-second Regiment N. G., S. N. Y. On the 18th of June, 1863, it having been definitely ascertained that the rebel horde had invaded Pennsylvania in force, the call of the President was issued to the Empire State, and her militia, leaving everything as it stood—their books unclosed, their ploughs in the furrow—hurried eagerly forward in response, to unite in the defence of our sister State. All day long blue and gray uniforms were dashing frantically backward and forward through the streets, and in and out of the various armories of the city, in search of essentials found missing at the last moment; and in military circles the flurry and commotion were indescribable, particularly at the Palace Garden in Fourteenth street, where the Twenty-second regiment N. G., S. N. Y., assembling in great haste, were preparing to be “off to the war” on their second campaign. At last the manifold preparations were completed, and amid tumultuous cheering, the fluttering of handkerchiefs, the ringing of bells, and the thousand bewildering noises of an enthusiastic crowd, the regiment formed and marched away—where to, none knew and none cared, so long as they were doing their country a service. That night was spent in the cattle-cars of the Camden and Amboy Railroad, and the next morning found us entering the City of Brotherly Love, through which, after being fed and washed at the immortal “Cooper Shop,” we took our way for the capital of the state, cheered on by an enthusiastic ovation from the citizens, whose noble behavior and unstinted hospitality to the thousands of soldiers who have passed through the city since the beginning of the war, has obtained for Philadelphia the well-earned reputation of being the most patriotic city in the Union. The distance from New York to Harrisburg, I believe, may be usually traversed in about eight hours, but (as there was a great need of men), the regiment was kept precisely three days in cattle-cars before being deposited at its destination, no insignificant omen of the fate that awaited its members in the future. Finally, after an immensity of tribulation, we got to Harrisburg, and spent the last of these three days quietly lying alongside of Camp Curtin; this camp, so celebrated in Pennsylvania annals, is a wide level expanse, in the vicinity of the city, and was then crowded with the newly-raised militia, whose general appearance and condition did not inspire us with that exalted idea of their efficiency that the newspapers seemed to have; on the contrary, it seemed to us, that a more indifferent, lazy, uncouth-looking set never was seen outside of rebeldom; but as their ideas of hospitality toward us were demonstrated in copperhead talk and chaffing us with hard names, these views may be prejudiced. At some
distance from Camp Curtin, however, were a couple of batteries and some troops from Philadelphia, who really looked like soldiers, and whose appearance inspired the “Yorkers” with a feeling of respect which further acquaintance did not dispel. But notwithstanding the society, the time hung heavy on our hands, and it was no small relief, when, during the latter part of the afternoon, we were sent across the Susquehanna, some of us into the fortifications, and the others, including the Twenty-second, to camps in the different places near the river, to protect the various approaches and fords in the neighborhood of the city. It was growing dusky as we arrived at our selected camp-grounds, and, as it was a singular characteristic of the climate of Pennsylvania during our brief sojourn, that darkness is synonymous with rain (for the sun scarcely ever went down before the elements were imitating the movement), it accordingly commenced to rain, and by the time it was fairly dark a heavy storm was raging. Fortunately, an immense empty barn was at hand, into which the regiment wedged themselves, like sardines in a box, so tight, in fact, that those unfortunates who happened to find themselves under a leak in the roof —and there were many such—had to remain quiet under their douche, and take it coolly for the whole night. The Eleventh and one or two other regiments, being without either barn or tents, were obliged to sleep in the woods all night without any protection whatever, and were consequently regarded as suffering martyrs by all the rest of us, who wondered how they could possibly have lived through it. Little did those think who shuddered when they talked about sleeping in the rain without cover, that in a very short time they would be doing that very thing themselves, and come to regard it as a mere matter of course, inconvenient to be sure, but so commonplace as to be hardly worth mentioning. The next morning, having pitched our tents, we entered upon the usual routine of camp life, humdrum to the last extent. Hot as an oven, stupid and monotonous as a prison, the first few days passed quietly enough. It is true that the roofs and spires of the capital of Pennsylvania, which we had come to defend, were in plain sight, but a very few visits there, combined with the chilling reception we received in passing through it, put an effectual quietus on our hopes of the good time that was coming. Little bills, and big stories of little bills, for necessary purchases; fifteen cents for a cup of (rye) coffee, and other things in proportion, the general indifference of the inhabitants as to which side won in the contest which was impending, and the other annoyances which have been so fully ventilated in the New York newspapers, in a very short time destroyed the clamor for passes, and rendered useless the complicated system of signatures which had been devised to prevent the expected rush for those documents. By-and-by we were regaled by perusing in the New York papers the most astounding accounts of the dangers of our position, and of the uprising of Pennsylvania; unquestionably it was all true, but we hadn’t seen anything of the kind yet. Still, while laughing over much that we read, we could not help noticing, that as time wore on, a stream of skedaddlers, small at first, but rapidly increasing, was sweeping by the camp; and in a short time crowds of able-bodied natives, driving their flocks and herds, and followed by wagons heaped mountain high with their most precious household goods, blocked up every road leading into the city, and showed that the enem were ra idl a roachin .
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