Three Years in the Sixth Corps - A Concise Narrative of Events in the Army of the Potomac, - from 1861 to the Close of the Rebellion, April, 1865
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Three Years in the Sixth Corps - A Concise Narrative of Events in the Army of the Potomac, - from 1861 to the Close of the Rebellion, April, 1865

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Project Gutenberg's Three Years in the Sixth Corps, by George T. StevensThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.netTitle: Three Years in the Sixth CorpsA Concise Narrative of Events in the Army of the Potomac,from 1861 to the Close of the Rebellion, April, 1865Author: George T. StevensRelease Date: June 30, 2007 [EBook #21976]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THREE YEARS IN THE SIXTH CORPS ***Produced by Suzanne Shell, David King, and the OnlineDistributed Proofreaders Team at http://www.pgdp.netTHREE YEARS IN THE SIXTH CORPS.A CONCISE NARRATIVE OF EVENTS IN THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, FROM 1861 TO THECLOSE OF THE REBELLION, APRIL, 1865.By GEORGE T. STEVENS,SURGEON OF THE 77TH REGIMENT NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS.ALBANY: S. R. GRAY, PUBLISHER.1866.Entered according to act of Congress, in the year eighteen hundred and sixty-six,By GEORGE T. STEVENS,in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of New York.WEED, PARSONS AND COMPANY,PRINTERS, STEREOTYPERS AND BOOKBINDERS,ALBANY, N. Y.Maj.-Gen. John SedgwickMAJ.-GEN. JOHN SEDGWICKCover IllustrationPREFACE.The following pages are offered to my old comrades of the Sixth Corps, with the hope that they may pleasantly recall themany varied ...

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Project Gutenberg's Three Years in the Sixth Corps, by George T. Stevens
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: Three Years in the Sixth Corps A Concise Narrative of Events in the Army of the Potomac, from 1861 to the Close of the Rebellion, April, 1865
Author: George T. Stevens
Release Date: June 30, 2007 [EBook #21976]
Language: English
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THREE YEARS IN THE SIXTH CORPS ***
Produced by Suzanne Shell, David King, and the Online Distributed Proofreaders Team at http://www.pgdp.net
THREE YEARS IN THE SIXTH CORPS.
A CONCISE NARRATIVE OF EVENTS IN THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, FROM 1861 TO THE CLOSE OF THE REBELLION, APRIL, 1865.
By GEORGE T. STEVENS,
SURGEON OF THE 77TH REGIMENT NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. ALBANY: S. R. GRAY, PUBLISHER. 1866. Entered according to act of Congress, in the year eighteen hundred and sixty-six, By GEORGE T. STEVENS, in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of New York. WEED, PARSONS AND COMPANY, PRINTERS, STEREOTYPERS AND BOOKBINDERS, ALBANY, N. Y. Maj.-Gen. John Sedgwick MAJ.-GEN. JOHN SEDGWICK Cover Illustration
PREFACE. The following pages are offered to my old comrades of the Sixth Corps, with the hope that they may pleasantly recall the many varied experiences of that unparalleled body of men. If much has been omitted which should have been written, or if anything has been said which should have been left out, I rely upon the generosity of brave men to treat with leniency the failings they may detect. I have endeavored to present without exaggeration or embellishment of imagination, a truthful picture of army life in all its vicissitudes; its marches, its battles, its camps, and the sad scenes when the victims of war languish in hospitals. The story is written mostly from extensive notes taken by myself amid the scenes described; but official reports and letters from officers have been used freely in correcting these notes, and gathering fresh material. The narrative commences with the experiences of my own regiment; then when that regiment became a part of Smith's division, its incidents and history includes the whole. From the organization of the Sixth Corps to the close of the rebellion, I have endeavored without partiality to give the story of the Corps. If I have failed to do justice to any of the noble troops of the Corps, it has been from no want of desire to give to each regiment the praise due to it. I cannot close without acknowledging my many obligations to the numerous friends, officers and soldiers of the Corps, and others who have favored me with their assistance. I take especial pleasure in acknowledging the kindness of Miss Emily Sedgwick, sister of our lamented commander; Vermont's honored son, Major-General L. A. Grant, Major-General Thomas H. Neill, Colonel James B. McKean, Colonel W. B. French, Chaplain Norman Fox, and Mr. Henry M. Myers. I am also indebted to the friends of Samuel S. Craig for the use of his diary, extending from the early history of the Army of the Potomac, to the death of the talented young soldier in the Wilderness. The engravings are nearly all from sketches taken by myself on the ground, the others are from the pencil of the well known artist, Captain J. Hope, and all have been submitted to his finishing touch. Mr. Ferguson has executed the wood cuts in a style creditable to his art. The typographical portion of the work has been done in a style of beauty and finish for which the work of Weed, Parsons and Company is so well known. 18 North Pearl Street, Albany, N. Y. September 5, 1866.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
1. Portrait of General Sedgwick. 2. Illustrated Title Page. 3. The Old Church at Hampton. 4. The Quaker at Newport News. 5. Charge of the Vermonters at Lee's Mills. 6. Charge of Hancock's Brigade at Williamsburgh. 7. Charge of the Seventy-seventh New York at Mechanicsville. 8. Portrait of Colonel James B. McKean. 9. Charge of the Sixth Corps at Burkettsville. 10. White Oak Church, Va. 11. Storming Fredericksburgh Heights by Howe's Division. 12. "What'll Ole Missus do Now?" 13. Church Call. 14. Battle of Fort Stevens. 15. "Why Don't he Come?" 16. "Going Norf." 17. Diagram of the Charge of the Sixth Corps, April 2, 1865
CONTENTS. Chapter I. A New Regiment goes to the War. Organization of the Seventy-seventh N. Y. V.—Departure from Saratoga—Greetings by the way—New emotions—The noble dead—On board the Knickerbocker—At New York—Presentation of flags—Beauties of monopoly—Hospitality of Philadelphia—Incidents on the route—Arrival at Washington—In camp. Chapter II. Army Life at Washington. Meridian Hill—Neighboring scenery—First Sunday in camp—Drills—Sickness—The Hospital—General Casey—"Why don't the army move?"—Washington blockaded—Burnside's heroes—Orders to move—Something of a train—Smith's division—Our first reconnoissance. Chapter III. The Manassas Campaign. Orders to march—A grand spectacle—Bivouac near Fairfax Court House—The camps at night—Visits to Manassas and Centreville—Dissatisfaction in the army—A deserted country—Lawless soldiers—Fairfax Court House—A representative Southerner—Review by Gen. McClellan—March to Alexandria—"Camp Misery." Chapter IV. The Army Transferred to the Peninsula. The advance to Yorktown—A thunder storm—"Reliable contrabands"—Facing the enemy—A strong position—The Union line—A rebel welcome—Digging—On picket—A dreary country—An enterprising planter—Active work—Battle of Lee's Mills—Charge of the Vermont brigade—Progress of the siege—Ravages of disease—A front seat—Short supplies—The rebels withdraw—Entering the strongholds—Infernal machines—March to Williamsburgh—Victims of disease. Chapter V. Yorktown. The advance to Yorktown—A thunder storm—"Reliable contrabands"—Facing the enemy—A strong position—The Union line—A rebel welcome—Digging—On picket—A dreary country—An enterprising planter—Active work—Battle of Lee's Mills—Charge of the Vermont brigade—Progress of the siege—Ravages of disease—A front seat—Short supplies—The rebels withdraw—Entering the strongholds—Infernal machines—March to Williamsburgh—Victims of disease. Chapter VI. Williamsburgh. Battle of Williamsburgh—The army not organized—The medical department—Hooker's gallant fight—Hancock's charge —McClellan at Yorktown—Night on the battle-field. Chapter VII. The March up the Peninsula and the Organization of the Sixth Corps. March up the Peninsula—Joy of the contrabands—Cumberland Landing—The Sixth Corps organized—At White House —On the Chickahominy—Fight at Mechanicsville—Battle of Hanover Court House. Chapter VIII. On the Chickahominy. Gaines' Farm—The line of battle—Battle of Seven Pines—Sedgwick and Kearney to the rescue—Hooker's charge—A lost opportunity—Golden's Farm—Ditching—Malaria—Chickahominy fevers—A German regiment—Stuart's raid. Chapter IX. The Seven Days' Battles. The army united—Plans and counter plans—Battle of Fair Oaks—Lee's plan—The situation—Stonewall Jackson on the flank—Battle of Mechanicsville—Joy in camp—Porter's corps retreats—An astonished army—Battle of Gaines' Farm— Slocum's division at Games' Farm—Retreat to the river—Battle of Golden's Farm—A young hero—A Union victory—Our right exposed—The sick abandoned—A night of sorrow—The grand retreat commenced—Sad scenes at Savage's Station—A meteor railroad train.
Chapter X. The Grand Retreat. Lee's army in pursuit—Sumner and Smith at Bay—Battle of Savage's Station—The Vermont Brigade—Sick and wounded abandoned—Retreat to White Oak Swamp—Battle of White Oak Swamp—An astonished division—A night march—A mystery—In sight of the James—Battle of Malvern Hill—Departure of the princes—Gloom and anxiety—Lee's attack—The rebels demoralized. Chapter XI. Harrison's Landing. March to Harrison's Bar—A scene of confusion—A beautiful landscape—Fourth of July in camp—Gloom at the north— Cause of the disasters—Prevalence of disease—Review by the President—A night demonstration by the enemy— Reconnoissance to Malvern Hill—Departure of General Davidson—A retrospect. Chapter XII. Retreat from the Peninsula, and General Pope's Bull Run Campaign. Premonitions of a change of base—The transfer commenced—Marching down the Peninsula—On board transports—A contrast—Arrival at Alexandria—Unaccountable delays—General Pope's campaign—An obstinate general—Causes of Pope's failure. Chapter XIII. The Maryland Campaign. General McClellan restored to command—March through Washington—Leisurely campaigning—Battle of Crampton Pass—Death of Mathison—Battle of South Mountain Pass—Death of Reno—Surrender of Harper's Ferry—March to Antietam. Chapter XIV. The Battle of Antietam. The Valley of the Antietam—Gathering of the hosts—The battle-field—The battle commenced—Splendid fighting of Hooker's forces—Successes and reverses of Sumner's troops—Timely arrival of the Sixth corps—A gallant charge— Losses of the corps—Burnside's attack—Hours of suspense—The enemy defeated at all points—Retreat of the rebels— Scenes on the battle-field—At the hospitals—At Sharpsburgh—A division of militia—Couch's division joins the Sixth corps—Visit of the President—Recruits—Energy at the north—At rest—Want of clothing—Stuart's raid—Delays—Clear Spring—General Brooks. Chapter XV. The Second Advance into Virginia, and the Battle of Fredericksburgh. Marching in Maryland—Arrival at New Baltimore—General McClellan superseded by General Burnside—Thanksgiving in camp—The grand divisions organized—The march resumed—Fatal delays—In order of battle—The crossing— Fredericksburgh bombarded—Situation of Fredericksburgh—Scenes of activity—The Bernard house—Scenes at the hospital—The battle on the right—Charges of the Pennsylvania reserves—The river recrossed—Reflections. Chapter XVI. The Winter at Falmouth. Camp at White Oak Church—"The mud march"—Return to camp—General Neill—General Hooker supersedes General Burnside—Burnside's magnanimity—General Hooker as a soldier—Reconstruction—The cavalry organized—Business departments renovated—The medical department—Ambulance system—Quartermasters' and commissary departments —Life in camp—Snowball battles—In the Seventy-seventh—The Light division—Review by General Hooker—General John Sedgwick—Scene at head-quarters—Review of the army by the President—Preparing for the campaign. Chapter XVII. The Chancellorsville Campaign. Orders to move—The river crossed—Sedgwick's command—The First corps withdrawn—Gallant conduct of the Light division—Advancing to the heights—The line of battle—The columns of attack—Attack of Howe's columns—Of Newton's column—Of Burnham's—Misfortune following victory—Fight of Bartlett's brigade—The First division at work—A critical position—The Sixth corps surrounded—Savage fight of Neill's brigade—The corps withdraws to Banks' Ford— Recrosses the river—Hooker's operations on the right—Position of the corps—Rout of the Eleventh corps—The rebels repulsed—Jackson renews the attack—The rebels again repulsed—Hooker recrosses the river. Chapter XVIII. Second Encampment at White Oak Church and the Pennsylvania Campaign. The army in its old position—A trip to Dixie—The wounded at the hospitals—Introduction of army badges—Adornments
of the camps—The "Third crossing"—The Barnard mansion—Exchanging papers—A broken lieutenant—The Pennsylvania campaign commenced—Restriction of baggage—A severe march—An army bathing—At Centreville— Bristow Station—March to Maryland—General Hooker succeeded by General Meade—Position of the army. Chapter XIX. The Gettysburgh Campaign. The rebels in Pennsylvania—Panic at Harrisburgh—Alarm at Baltimore and Washington—Sixth corps leaves Bristow Station—A surprise—General Meade takes command—Position of the army—Marching through Pennsylvania—An unprecedented march—Exciting news—Battle of Gettysburgh—Death of Reynolds—First and Eleventh corps fall back —Second day's battle—The battle-field—Fighting at Round Top—On the right—The grand onset—The battle decided— Rebel and Union wounded. Chapter XX. Pursuit of Lee's Army. Scenes of the field of Gettysburgh—The rebel hospitals—The sightless rebel soldier boy—The Sixth corps at Fairfield —"Hurrah for the Union"—Kilpatrick's handiwork—At Waynesboro'—On picket—A division of militia—The Vermonters at Funkstown—The army at Funkstown—Meade's failure to attack—New York riots—Return to Virginia. Chapter XXI. Camps at Warrenton, the Centreville Campaign and the Battle of Rappahannock Station. Camp at Hart's Mills—A ride to the Sulphur Springs—Contrabands going north—The Vermonters go to New York— Jersey Brigade at Warrenton—The Sixth corps at Cedar Mountain—Retreat to Centreville—Battle of Bristoe Station— Advance to Warrenton—Battle of Rappahannock Station—Flight of Lee's army. Chapter XXII. The Army at Brandy Station. Encampment at Brandy Station—The Mine Run campaign—Crossing the Rapidan—Battle of Locust Grove—The army on Mine Run—The order of battle—The army withdraws—Back at Brandy Station—Reconnoissance to Madison Court House—Ladies in camp—Chapel tents. Chapter XXIII. The Wilderness Campaign. Preparing to leave camp—General Grant in command—The last advance across the Rapidan—The battle-ground— Battle of the Wilderness—Noble fight of Getty's division—Hancock's fight on the left—Rickett's division driven back—The ground retaken—The wounded—Duties of the surgeons—The noble dead. Chapter XXIV. Spottsylvania. Moving by the flank—The wounded abandoned—The Fifth Corps at Spottsylvania—Arrival of the Sixth Corps—Getting into line—Death of Sedgwick—General Wright in command—Battle of the 10th of May—Upton's splendid charge— Battle at "the angle"—Another flank movement. Chapter XXV. The Hospitals at Fredericksburgh. The journey from the battle-field—Sufferings of the wounded—A surgeon's letters—Rebel hatred—Assistance from the north—A father in search of his boy—The wounded sent to Washington. Chapter XXVI. Coal Harbor. At Hanover Court House—The Eighteenth corps joins the Army of the Potomac—The armies meet at Coal Harbor— Battle of June 1st—Battle of June 3d—Terrible exposure—The army strikes for Petersburgh—Charles City Court House —A centenarian—Review of the overland campaign. Chapter XXVII. Petersburgh. The march to Petersburgh—Smith's successes—The battle of June 18th—The Sixth and Second corps sent to the left— Rebels penetrate the line—Progress of the siege—Sixth corps proceeds to Reams' Station—Kautz's and Wilson's raids. Chapter XXVIII. Sixth Corps Transferred To Washington—Battle of Fort Stevens.
The Shenandoah Valley—Hunter's advance to Lynchburgh—The retreat—Rebels advance into Maryland—Battle of Monocacy—Sixth corps goes to Washington—Battle of Fort Stevens. Chapter XXIX. The Shenandoah Valley. The Sixth and Nineteenth corps follow the enemy—Crossing the Potomac—Averill's fight at Snicker's Gap—Return of the Sixth corps to Washington—March back to Harper's Ferry—Return to Maryland—Death of Major Ellis—General Sheridan assigned to command—Back in the Valley—Charlestown—John Mosher—March to Fisher Hill—Return to Charlestown—Fight at Charlestown. Chapter XXX. Battle of Winchester. Encampment at Berryville—Leaving camp—The advance—Taking position—Advance and retreat—Death of Russell—"I know they'll run"—Reminiscences—At the hospitals—A regiment going home—"Why don't he come." Chapter XXXI. Fisher Hill. March up the valley—Strasburgh—The army confronting Fisher Hill—The flank movement—Flight of Early—The pursuit— Guerrilla warfare—Southern refugees—Starting for Washington—Return to Cedar creek. Chapter XXXII. Battle of Cedar Creek. Position of the Union forces on Cedar creek—Demonstrations by Early—The morning of October 19th—Eighth corps straggling—Nineteenth corps routed—The Sixth corps to the rescue—Death of General Bidwell—The Sixth corps holds the enemy—General Wright prepares for another attack—Arrival of Sheridan—The charge—The rout—Guns, wagons and prisoners—The victors in camp. Chapter XXXIII. The Final Campaign. Sixth corps returns to Petersburgh—Condition of the corps—Sheridan joins the grand army—Capture of Fort Steadman —The last grand charge—The pursuit of Lee's army—Tributes to the Sixth corps—Disbanding.
THREE YEARS IN THE SIXTH CORPS.
CHAPTER I. A NEW REGIMENT GOES TO THE WAR.
Organization of the Seventy-seventh N. Y. V.—Departure from Saratoga—Greetings by the way—New emotions—The noble dead—On board the Knickerbocker—At New York—Presentation of flags— Beauties of monopoly—Hospitality of Philadelphia—Incidents on the route—Arrival at Washington—In camp. Our regiment was organized at Saratoga Springs, the historic scene of the battle of Bemis Heights and the surrender of Burgoyne—hence its name, "The Bemis Heights Battalion." Hon. Jas. B. McKean, then member of congress, a gentleman of well known patriotism, was made our Colonel. We left our rendezvous on the 26th of November, 1861, Thanksgiving day, having been mustered into the United States service three days before. As the long train of cars bore us from the station at Saratoga Springs, the thousands who had gathered to witness our departure united in cheer after cheer until all the groves and vales of that charming resort rang with the echoes of the tumultuous shouting. The thousand brave fellows, who were about to try the stern realities of war, were by no means backward in replying to these hearty expressions of good wishes. Long after we had lost sight of the lovely village, the shouts of the multitude could be heard and the hills rang again with the responding cheers of those in the cars. At each station, as we passed, crowds of people pressed to greet us, and loud and long were the cheers that bade us "God speed." We were now fairly off for the war. We who had followed the various peaceful avocations of life, in the professions or in the workshops, in trade or in husbandry, had now turned away from the office, the desk, the shop and the plough, to join the Grand Army upon which the hopes of the nation were staked, and which we confidently believed was soon to sweep the rebellion to destruction. Emotions hitherto unknown to us filled our hearts. We were soldiers, wearing for the first time the army blue, and perhaps soon to be called out to meet in deadly strife an enemy whose prestige for valor was already too well established. Were we to return to the friends from whom we had just parted, bearing the chaplet of victory, or were we to find a last resting place on some field of the south, never again to meet with wife or sister, father or mother? Four years have passed and those doubts have been solved. Many of those brave men have gone to their long rest. "Their graves are severed far and wide." Some sleep beneath the tall pines of Yorktown; and the bright azalia casts its purple blossoms over the graves of many who lie in the swamps of the Chickahominy. The Antietam murmurs a requiem to those who rest on its banks, and green is the turf above the noble ones who fell gloriously at Fredericksburgh. Some rest amid the wild tangles of the Wilderness, and upon the arid plain of Coal Harbor. Many of their graves are upon the banks of the Ny and the Po. The marble monument at Fort Stevens tells the names of some who gave their lives in the defense of the Capital, while the simple headboards of pine tell where repose many in the valley of the Shenandoah, and before Petersburgh. The remains of some have been brought back to the peaceful cemetery at home to rest beside the dust of loved ones. "'Tis little; but it looks in truth As if the quiet bones were blest Among familiar names to rest, And in the places of their youth." Must it be said, many of the strongest yielded to the grim monster starvation in the rebel prison pens, and found relief from their tortures in lowly graves at Andersonville and Salisbury. A little band, with bronzed faces and manly hearts, returned home. Their glorious and unspotted record had preceded them. They needed no song of victory, and they desired no greater marks of honor than their simple silver crosses, the badge of their corps. No incident worthy of note occurred until we reached Albany, where we left the cars and embarked upon the steamer Knickerbocker, an old dismantled craft, unfit for any purpose but the transportation of soldiers; whose decks were covered with mud an inch in depth, and whose doors having been thrown overboard, a free circulation of the rough November air was allowed in every part. The men had no rations, and some of them became clamorous; but order was soon restored, and rations of bread and ham with coffee were distributed. They could not, however, all be brought to a perfect state of quietude. Some were determined not to submit, and passed the night in carousal, while those soberly inclined tried in vain to sleep. The officers found lodging in the after cabin, where some in berths and some on the floor, we passed a restless night. As we approached New York in the morning, the sky was hung with heavy clouds, and as we left our rickety old craft for terra firma, the rain poured in fresh torrents upon us. We marched through 14th street and Broadway to the Park. We were to remain in New York until six o'clock in the evening, and the Sons of Saratoga were to present us with a stand of colors and guidons. They commenced by presenting us with an excellent dinner, at which speeches were made by the committee, and responded to by Colonel McKean and others on our part. Dinner over, the regiment was drawn upin front of the CityHall, where the ceremonyofpresentingthe flags tookplace.